0807 clinton
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Mashabane on August 7, 2012. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in South Africa this morning along with other U.S. leaders. Among them, the head of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which has just announced a $2 billion loan to South Africa. That's to help the country fund green energy projects with U.S. companies.

Fred Hochberg is the president of the Export-Import Bank and he joins us now. Good morning.

Fred Hochberg: Good morning, good to be on the show.

Hobson: Well, why are we interested, as a country, in helping South Africa develop solar, wind and thermal energy as opposed to investing in that sort of thing right here in the U.S.?

Hochberg: Well, what we do at the export import bank is we finance U.S. exports. So when U.S. exports be they wind or solar or geothermal. They are competing for business with the Chinese, the Germans, the Japanese, the Koreans and others. So we want to make sure when South Africa making those purchases we rather them buy from the United States, create jobs here at home, then buy from Germany, France or other foreign nations. 

Hobson: It does seem though, in Africa we’re quite far behind China in investment at this point and even loans to the countries of Africa.

Hochberg: Well, China has been very active here and China has been particularly in an extractive mode. They’re really looking to extract raw materials and resources to be able to fuel China’s economy. Our goals are very different; some of our goals in the United States are about development but our goal at the Export Import bank is really creating jobs in the United States that’s our primary goal that’s why we were charted back in 1934 by FDR.

Hobson: And what about the risks for business doing business in Africa? There’s a lot of unstable places, and I gather there’s a fear there about governments sometimes taking over private business.

Hochberg: Well, I think that some of that’s a bit of a hangover from earlier times. But one of the purposes that we serve at the U.S. Export-Import Bank is to take away the financial risk. We want American companies to compete on price, on quality, on service and reliability. We will either guarantee a loan or make a direct loan and thereby take some of the financial risk out of the equation for U.S. companies. So we can really compete, again and create jobs in the United States.

Hobson: Fred Hochberg is chairman of the Export Import Bank of the United States, thank you so much for talking to us.

Hochberg: Thanks for having me on the show, Jeremy. 

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson