United States interests in Africa

Oil and Global Trade

The United States has sought to increase its economic relations with Sub-Saharan Africa, and trade between the United States and Africa has tripled since 1990. In 2000, the Clinton Administration introduced a comprehensive U.S. trade and investment policy for the continent in the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA; Title I, P.L. 106-200]. AGOA has been amended by Congress on several occasions. Natural resources, particularly energy resources, dominate the products imported from Africa under AGOA.Africa now supplies the United States with roughly the same amount of crude oil as the Middle East.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest supplier of oil, and is regularly the fifth-largest global supplier of oil to the United States. Instability in the country’s Niger Delta region has reduced output periodically by over 25%. World oil prices have been affected by Nigerian political developments and by periodic attacks on pipelines and other oil facilities in the Delta. Oil prices have likewise been affected by recent instability in Libya. Former President Bush announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address his intention “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025,”echoing a commitment made in 2002 “to strengthen [U.S.] energy security and the shared prosperity of the global economy by working with our allies, trading partners, and energy producers to expand the sources and types of global energy supplied, especially in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Central Asia, and the Caspian region."

A senior DOD official reportedly commented in 2003 that “a key mission for U.S. forces (in Africa) would be to ensure that Nigeria’s oil fields ... are secure.”In spite of conflict in the Niger Delta and other oil producing areas, the potential for deep water drilling in the Gulf of Guinea is high,although not without challenges.

Congressional Research Service Report

Lauren Ploch

Analyst in African Affairs

July 22, 2011


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