US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday touted the fruits of a brand new “mutually useful” economic strategy towards Africa, contrasting the damage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s practices.
“The United States is all in on Africa, and all in with Africa,” she mentioned throughout a go to to Senegal, a part of a push by President Joe Biden’s administration to spice up relations with a continent the place the United States faces elevated competitors from different main powers.
“Our engagement just isn’t transactional, it’s not for present, and it’s not for the short-term.”
Yellen, who had attended a US-Africa summit hosted by Biden in Washington last month, said the president, vice president and other cabinet secretaries would travel to African countries this year.
“The world is finally catching up to recognising Africa’s contributions — past and future,” she mentioned on a go to to a enterprise incubator within the Senegalese capital Dakar, her first cease on a three-country tour of the continent.
She mentioned the US had outlined a brand new technique in the direction of the continent, looking for “to modernise our relationship by specializing in what we will do collectively, somewhat than what we will do for one another”.
The relationship, she said, would be “based on mutual cooperation and greater ambition”.
Yellen cited the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as main financial headwinds for Africa.
“Let me be clear: the one neatest thing we will do to assist the worldwide financial system is to finish Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked struggle in Ukraine”, she said.
“Russia’s war and weaponisation of food has exacerbated food insecurity and caused untold suffering, and the global economic headwinds caused by the actions of a single man — President Putin — is creating an unnecessary drag on” economies.
In her speech, which adopted a gathering with Senegal’s Economy Minister Oulimata Sarr, Yellen highlighted the continent’s promising demographics.
But she cautioned that momentum might solely propel financial progress if mixed with enough job alternatives and investments.
US investments on the continent, she mentioned, are “motivated by our mutually useful, long-term partnership — the purpose is to generate optimistic financial returns whereas fostering sustainable debt.”
She said African governments need the “fiscal space” to have the ability to make “necessary” public investments.
“We believe that the international community, including China, needs to provide meaningful debt relief to help countries regain their footing,” she mentioned.
Yellen’s speech got here a day after she introduced the Treasury had begun taking measures at house to stop a default on US authorities debt.
In Dakar, Yellen described US plans to accomplice with African nations on local weather change, well being and safety points.
She reiterated US help for the African Union to hitch the G20.
She mentioned worldwide establishments wanted to be reformed, but additionally that African governments wanted higher accountability and transparency.
“Countries must be cautious of shiny offers that could be opaque and finally fail to really profit the folks they had been purportedly designed to assist in the primary place,” Yellen mentioned.
“This can leave countries with a legacy of debt, diverted resources, and environmental destruction.”
In an implicit distinction with China, which takes a hands-off method in nations the place it invests, Yellen mentioned the US has taken a “completely different” tack, prioritising “transparency, good governance, accountability, and environmental sustainability.”
“While our method could also be exacting, we consider it delivers lasting outcomes,” she said.
Yellen was expected to meet Senegal’s Minister of Finance Mamadou Moustapha Ba and President Macky Sall later on Friday.
She is scheduled to travel to Zambia on Sunday, and later to South Africa.
At the Washington summit, which brought together 49 African leaders in December, Biden called for a long-term partnership with Africa rooted in good governance.
It was the first such gathering since Barack Obama invited African leaders in 2014.
In August, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, while the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, visited Ghana and Uganda.
Those visits followed a four-nation tour of Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo-Brazzaville by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
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