Bloomberg: We ignore Africa at our peril

 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that America is losing Africa to Europe and China.

“The fact is, Africa is no longer emerging — it is here now," Bloomberg said in a speech at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington. "We in America want to walk by its side. But we also realize that we have some catching up to do. ... We are letting Europe and China go faster than the U.S."

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Bloomberg noted that only 2 percent of U.S. exports go to Africa, which he said means that Americans are "missing out on a major opportunity to create jobs here at home." In the end, he said, the loss will be America's.

"In America, there is a disconnect between the reality of the African market and the perception of the African market," Bloomberg said. "Countries and companies that ignore the African continent do so at their own peril, and that will become increasingly clear with each passing year."

His Bloomberg Philanthropies is co-sponsoring the Business Forum along with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is part of a larger three-day conference in Washington that has brought together dozens of African heads of state, U.S. diplomats and CEOs of companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker echoed Bloomberg's statements.

"There is clear, mutual desire to deepen our ties of trade and investment," she said. "Make no mistake, our economic and commercial partnership is a two-way street. ... As Africa's middle class continues to expand, we hope to see our export numbers expand, too."