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
“The international community must act immediately to contain the spread of Ebola. What we learned during the last outbreak was that only through extensive international collaboration can we stop this epidemic. I hope the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take this spread seriously and collaborate with the World Health Organization, the African Union, and the rest of our international partners on this serious matter.”
The forum was attended by more than 200 people. The expert panel, which was moderated by former Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, featured three experts on the crisis in the DRC, one of whom flew to the United States from the Congo to participate just for this forum.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing a major crisis. In 2017, two million people were driven from their homes, the number of internally displaced persons swelled to nearly four and a half million, and more than 600,000 Congolese fled the country due to political unrest and ongoing conflicts in Eastern Congo. Reportedly, at least 13 million Congolese are in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 7 million people without access to food. Women and girls have suffered horrific sexual and gender-based violence.
“Though it has taken more than a year, I am happy that President Trump has finally had an official meeting here in Washington with a head of state representing a country in sub-Saharan Africa. I hope that this visit will be used as an opportunity to unveil the specifics of the Trump administration’s policy towards Africa. This would send a strong signal to African governments that America remains committed to its partnership with countries there.
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Africa Subcommittee, applauded the signing of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act into law. Rep. Bass played an integral role in its passage in the House of Representatives in January.
“I am very relieved and excited by the announcement that Israel reached an agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to facilitate the resettling of African migrants. The plan would resettle asylum seekers to Western countries and within Israel rather than simply deporting those who sought refuge because of serious insecurity in their own countries.
“Today, the world has lost an advocate, a warrior and a champion for the rights of all people,” Rep. Bass said. “Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela’s lifelong fight for freedom and equality will be remembered in the hearts of the thousands who would not be free today without her struggle. My thoughts are with her family and her country as they mourn.”
“This budget has announced to the world that the method of choice to pay for the tax breaks the Trump administration gifted to corporations at the end of last year, is to take an axe to safety net services relied upon by millions of Americans and foreign aid relied upon by millions more around the world.
"Congratulations to George Weah and the Liberian people as they complete the first democratic transition of power in their country since 1944. I look forward to working with President Weah and the Liberian people to continue the peaceful, prosperous and unified legacy left by outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose service to Liberia, to the continent of Africa, and to the entire world, will forever be remembered.”