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FedEx remembers a milestone as Africa gets support

WASHINGTON, DC: Following the U.S.-Africa leaders summit this week, the U.S. Ex-Im bank says it has underwritten US$1.7 billion in export financing to sub-Saharan Africa in the past 10 months.

Flying Tiger 1The bank says it will pledge an additional US$3 billion in financing over the next two years to support American exports to the region.

One of the beneficiaries is Transnet, South Africa's rail, ports and pipelines operator, that has secured a US$563.5 million loan guarantee to acquire 293 locomotives being manufactured by GE Transportation in Pennsylvania. The railway engines are part of Transnet's locomotive fleet renewal program – a key element of the company's seven-year US$29.2 million investment program.

"Ex-Im Bank is firmly committed to equipping U.S. exporters to realize the vast economic opportunities emerging throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to seven out of 10 of the world's fastest-growing markets," said Ex-Im chairman and president Fred P. Hochberg.

According to Commerce Department data released this week, U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa were nearly US$24 billion in 2013, an increase of US$8.8 billion since 2009. The top five countries - Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, and Togo - made up 71.3 percent of total U.S. exports last year.

Meanwhile the value of U.S. exports worldwide totaled US$195.9 billion in June and US$2.3 trillion in the past 12 months – up 46 percent from 2009.

tigersFedEx Corp, which celebrated its acquisition of the Flying Tiger Line 25 years ago this week, said it welcomed the new trade opportunities presented at the Africa summit. In May, the company acquired a ground delivery network serving South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia.

Michael Ducker, FedEx Express president commented: "We look forward to being a part of improving Africa's ability to connect to global supply chains, attract investment and diversify their production base."

The Flying Tiger Line, arguably the most famous all-cargo airline in air transport history, enabled FedEx to move literally overnight into America's most important trade markets in Asia and other parts of the world.

Bill Logue, a former Tigers operations manager in Boston and now president and CEO of FedEx Freight, noted: "The Flying Tigers acquisition played a very important role in the history of FedEx, as it contributed significantly to the backbone of our very successful and important international network. We were [back then] a small group of employees from a very tight organization, and we continue to have great pride in our heritage."

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