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
“With hundreds dead, more missing, and the threat of a cholera outbreak looming, we must do our part in providing lifesaving assistance to Sierra Leone,” said Rep. Bass. “The situation there remains dire as rainfall continues, slowing recovery efforts and bringing the threat of further mudslides. In addition to immediate live preserving support, this proactive approach combats the real possibility of another severe disease outbreak.
"The situation in Freetown, Sierra Leone remains dire as rainfall continues, slowing recovery efforts and bringing the threat of further mudslides. The Government of Sierra Leone has made an urgent international appeal for assistance and the Embassy of Sierra Leone in the United States has launched an emergency relief fund. The United States must ramp up relief efforts and join the international community and the region to provide increased aid to assist Sierra Leone during this extreme time of need. My thoughts are with the thousands affected during this difficult time."
“The Kenyan people have a lot to proud of in this election. The passionate enthusiasm felt county to county and the overwhelming voter turnout were both inspiring. The notion that Kenyans don’t care about the future of the country is just simply not true. This past election proves the opposite is true.”
Leading NDI’s international and bipartisan mission in addition to Rep. Bass will be:
AGOA is landmark trade legislation first passed in 2000 to develop a trade relationship between the United States and the nations of sub-Saharan Africa. And MCA established the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which provides large-scale grants to promote economic growth opportunities in developing countries committed to good governance. Together, these laws have helped increase trade between the U.S. and Africa.
“Dr. Yarwood comes to us from the State Department where she was the Chair of the Sub-Saharan Africa Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute. In that role, she was responsible for all aspects of the program including regional training for the Department of State and other US government employees preparing for an overseas assignment across Africa or covering Africa from the United States. Before joining the Department of State, she was a Research Staff Member in the Africa Program at the Institute for Defense Analysis where her work focused on U.S.
“The most devastating aspect of the impending famine in Yemen is that it’s man-made and preventable,” Rep. Bass, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, said. “This legislation is designed to immediately build a comprehensive strategy to address the humanitarian and security crisis in Yemen. We must continue to be an international leader in famine aid and relief. I look forward to my colleagues’ continued advocacy on this disastrous issue and thank them for their continued vigilance to end famine now.”
“The trip was extremely educational for the both of us but the main takeaway from the trip was more than clear; there’s still work to be done,” Rep. Bass said upon her return. “When you visit a camp with hundreds of thousands of refugees you begin to understand on a much deeper level the impact of man-made famine. The conditions are devastating and the international community is in a position to do something about it.”