A US Congress decision to close the country's Export-Import Bank would damage American companies trying to do business in Africa, says the head of a leading US company.
The warning by Jeff Immelt, chairman of General Electric, came as Washington tries to boost US-Africa trade in an effort to catch up with China, Japan and the EU, whose economic links with Africa are booming.
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The charter of the ExIm Bank, which provides credit to foreign buyers of US products, expires in September and attempts to reauthorise the bank have faltered amid strong opposition from conservative Republicans who see it as a form of crony capitalism. Congress is now in recess until September 8.
Mr Immelt said the ExIm Bank was crucial for US companies operating in Africa because it showed the government was prepared to have "some skin in the game." The closure of ExIm Bank would mean "we are basically making a statement as a country that we do not think that exports are important," said Mr Immelt, who will announce on Monday $2bn of new investment by GE in Africa.