The African continent has long captured international attention, for its cultural and societal diversity, its awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife as well for the social and political challenges. Over the last 50 years, the continent has emerged more peaceful and stable than at any other time in contemporary history. And for over a decade now, a number of African nations have experienced double-digit or near double-digit economic growth.
Congressmember Bass seeks to transform how we think and engage African nations and to promote the many opportunities to promote trade and economic growth between the U.S. and African nations. A top priority for Congressmember Bass is the African Growth and Opportunities Act or AGOA, our country’s trade preference program with eligible African nations. While conflict and global health challenges remain a concern and must be addressed, Africa nations are eager to engage the United States, in particular, Congress, on trade versus aid opportunities.
The tragic kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram captured international awareness in May 2014 and inspired a social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. On social media, traditional media, and in Congress, Congressmember Bass is a vocal advocate for girls' education, anti-trafficking legislation, and international efforts to stop Boko Haram.
Watch Congressmember Bass's interviews about the U.S. response to the missing Nigerian girls above.
Key Foreign Policy Initiatives & Accomplishments
Africa Trade and Investment
Congressmember Karen Bass is an advocate for robust trade and investment-oriented relationships between the U.S. and the nations of Africa with the goal of not only expanding relations, but securing and increasing jobs here at home and in Africa. One of her key priorities is the re-authorization of a strengthened Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that enables the nations of Africa to export goods to the U.S. duty free. AGOA plays a central role in efforts to expand economic growth on the continent and in so doing provide prime opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in Africa and work/partner with African companies. These initiatives are critical given the role increasingly played by Africa in the global economy. Africa is currently home to 6 out of the 7 fastest growing economies in the world and is viewed by investors from Europe, Malaysia, China, India, Turkey and Brazil as a priority region for investment.
With this in mind, Congressmember Bass places a priority on developing strong economic between the U.S. and Africa. As the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, she helped lead Congressional efforts in the passage of HR 5986 to extend a special provision (Third Country Fabric Provision) under AGOA.
Mindful of the importance of supporting AGOA, Congressmember is also an original co-sponsor of both the “Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013” (HR 1777) , and “Electrifying Africa Act of 2013 (HR 2548) – bills aimed at supporting greater U.S. trade and investment with the continent.
Other Africa-related legislative resolutions sponsored by Congressmember Bass include:
- HRes. 131 Concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need for international efforts toward long-term peace, stability, and observance of human rights
- HRes. 186 Congratulating the people of Kenya on their commitment to peaceful elections, as demonstrated on March 4, 2013, and calling on Kenyans to come together to continue to implement political, institutional, and accountability reforms envisioned in the Kenyan constitution.
- HRes. 234 Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and commending its successor, the African Union
Watch Congressmember Bass speak about U.S.-Africa Policy:
More on U.S.-Africa Policy
“It is in the best interest of the United States to maintain a strong bilateral relationship with a politically stable, democratic, and economically sound Nigeria that can play a leadership role in the region and the continent more broadly. A credible, transparent and peaceful election this coming February would further consolidate democratic gains achieved over the last two decades. Nigerians are deeply committed to democracy and ensuring transparency in electoral preparations would build public confidence in the electoral process.
“Today is a day to raise awareness, reflect on our progress, and recommit our resolve to fight HIV/AIDS throughout the world.
“This year, Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion to extend the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program which has already saved 17 million lives across the globe.
“The DRC has the potential to be one of the richest countries on earth, but it has been crippled by decades of conflict and corruption,” said Rep. Bass. “Congolese citizens have long called for the international community to play a role in holding the ruling party accountable to their country’s constitution. This bill responds to that request and also sends a message to the world that the United States has not retreated from its commitment to protect human rights and advance democracy around the world.”
“I’m encouraged that the Trump administration and the State Department are expressing interest in staffing important U.S. diplomatic posts in African countries. This is absolutely essential to bettering our relationship with the countries on the continent and the economic opportunities they offer.
“Kidnapping should always be condemned, especially if it involves more than 70 children.
“Last night, armed separatists kidnapped 79 students and three staff from a Presbyterian boarding school in Cameroon’s Northwest anglophone region. This is the most recent example of how citizens, especially children, are increasingly the ones who suffer the most from terrorist activity.
“In the wake of President Biya’s re-election to serve a seventh term, we are at a critical moment for him to work towards a nonviolent solution to the conflict in the anglophone region.”
“I am encouraged by the First Lady’s trip to the continent,” said Rep. Bass. “I hope that during her trip she was able to see the critical work of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the benefits of the contributions that our country makes every day across Africa. Successful U.S-Africa policy hinges on mutual interests on issues such as maternal and newborn health as well as education, so I was glad to see that these topics were highlighted during her time there. I hope that this visit is parlayed into continuing collaboration and cooperation with the continent.”
“The ongoing crisis and violence taking place in Cameroon at this very moment is something that deserves the attention of the world. Both the government and Anglophone separatists must be held accountable for their role in the violation of fundamental human rights. The government has violently repressed protests organized by lawyers, teachers, and students, which has resulted in deaths, imprisonments, and extrajudicial executions.
“It was an honor to host President Akufo-Addo here in the Capitol,” said Rep. Bass after the meeting. “Ghana has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and has a strong democratic tradition. The President offered a number of insights and suggestions on economic development and non-military solutions to conflict that we intend to follow up on. As the President said during the meeting, we must continue to strengthen the ties between not only our two countries, but also the entire continent and I look forward to accomplishing that.”
"Few will ever lead with the dignity and grace that Kofi Annan lead with, or accomplish more for the world than Kofi Annan accomplished.
“The first person from Sub-Saharan Africa to lead the United Nations, Mr. Annan served with ceaseless compassion and responsibility to those in need around the world. Mr. Annan’s dignified statesmanship was revealed as the legendary humanitarian’s greatest strength as he transformed relationships and improved lives, not just during his term as U.N Secretary General, but throughout his decorated career and life.
Smith and Lee were joined by original cosponsors Reps Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Karen Bass (D-CA).
The cosponsors of the bill released the following statement: