(Bloomberg) -- A top US Treasury official said demographic trends mean chief executives must look to Africa and South Asia over coming decades and argued the US was a more attractive funding choice than China for those regions.
“It’s pretty clear where growth is,” Jay Shambaugh, the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, said Wednesday at a conference in Washington. “The next 50 years of the global economy, the history will be written in sub-Saharan Africa. So you should be there if you want to be in business.”
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing rapid population growth and the World Bank estimates that half of the more than one billion people who live there will be under the age of 25 by 2050.
Shambaugh’s comments come amid a push by Washington to help the region confront challenges including climate change and recovering from the pandemic, alongside broader efforts to reform debt-restructuring rules.
Read more: US Fights for Influence in Africa Where China, Russia Loom Large
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen undertook a lengthy trip to Africa in January with the goal of rejuvenating ties on the continent and to counter Beijing’s influence.
She’s been advocating for advancing debt-restructuring talks for poor countries including Zambia. Efforts to restructure debts of low-income nations, and rescue those economies from crisis, have been hampered for years over disagreements between traditional creditors like the Paris Club — mainly Western rich nations — and new entrants like China — the biggest lender to developing economies.
Shambaugh acknowledged that the Chinese presence in the region sometimes suggest there hasn’t been enough funding from global financial institutions or foreign direct investment, but stressed that the US has a lot to offer.
“If you ask them which they prefer if both are on the table, then I’d say our deal is the better deal,” he said.
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