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U.S. CAN HELP IMPROVE AFRICAN INFRASTRUCTURE & TRADE, DIRECTOR GRANDMAISON TELLS LONDON CONFERENCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 23, 2004

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Andrew Yarrow, (202) 565-3200

LONDON: Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) board member J. Joseph Grandmaison today told a conference on African transportation infrastructure needs that, until African nations develop their rail systems, ports, roads, and airports, they will not be able to realize their economic and commercial potential. He also emphasized that the United States is prepared to help Africa improve its transportation infrastructure.

Grandmaison also noted that Ex-Im Bank is playing a major role in expanding U.S.-African trade. Last year, the Bank helped finance a record $700 million in U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa and another $100 million to the countries of the Maghreb. Transportation-sector exports that the Bank has recently supported have ranged from commercial aircraft for Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, and Safair in South Africa to road construction equipment and transportation security equipment. Overall U.S. exports to Africa increased by about 7 percent in 2003 to about $11 billion, and African exports to the United States increased by about 45 percent to approximately $32 billion.

Africa is becoming increasingly important to the United States when it comes to international trade, Grandmaison said in a speech at the TransAfrica 21 Connecting Africa conference in London. With the possible exception of telecommunications, there is no sector in the American economy better prepared and more able to assist Africa in meeting their infrastructure challenge than in the transportation field.

U.S. and European business and government leaders, as well as representatives from 16 African nations, attended the two-day conference.

Ex-Im Bank this year marks its 70th year of helping finance the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance, and direct loans. In fiscal year 2003, Ex-Im Bank, an independent federal agency, authorized financing to support $14.3 billion of U.S. exports worldwide. For more information on Ex-Im Bank and its initiatives to support U.S. exports to Africa, www.exim.gov.