Since we’re talking trade, let’s talk about Africa

Readability

Since we're talking trade, let's talk about Africa

[cap­tion id=”” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-​Greenfield Cor­po­rate Coun­cil on Africa (CCA) Pres­i­dent and CEO Stephen Hayes CCA Chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors and Sym­bion Power CEO Paul Hinks Feb­ru­ary 2, 2016[/caption]

Pres­i­dent Trump has been mak­ing news with desire to close trade gaps with China, Europe, Mex­ico and Canada, attempt­ing to counter trade prac­tices that make it sig­nif­i­cantly more dif­fi­cult to export to these coun­tries and have resulted in a sig­nif­i­cant trade gap with the world. While we keep focus­ing on these big coun­tries, I think we’re miss­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that are pre­sent­ing them­selves in Africa.

The sec­ond Pres­i­dent Bush really pushed to expand our aid to Africa, and over­all the US has a pos­i­tive image in most African nations. We’ve had issues in the past (Libya, Egypt, etc.), but in gen­eral our pol­icy of try­ing to sup­port democ­racy and then fol­low with trade has been solid. One sig­nif­i­cant event that didn’t seem to get much press was the African Growth and Oppor­tu­nity Act (AGOA), which nego­ti­ated more open trade with an African coun­try based on it push­ing towards democ­racy and human rights preservation.

But we’re behind the ball. China has been steadily advanc­ing in Africa, glad to find a new mar­ket with so few restric­tions. The Chi­nese are con­tent to crank out cel­lu­lar net­works, naval bases and oil pipelines in Africa to help fuel its eco­nomic growth. Africa is a great mar­ket because it is easy to bribe and doesn’t really fol­low many inter­na­tional reg­u­la­tions. The con­se­quences have been pretty ugly. In Sudan, Chi­nese sup­plied train­ing and arms were used to mas­sacre peo­ple in Dar­fur and South Sudan when those peo­ple got in the way of oil drilling. It was amaz­ing to me that this didn’t gar­ner media atten­tion, while mov­ing a US oil pipeline gar­nered intense atten­tion.

China’s inat­ten­tion to human rights gives us an open­ing though. We’re see­ing an uptick in African nations push­ing for real demo­c­ra­tic reforms in Zim­babwe, Zam­bia, and Nige­ria. As Africans get more con­nected to the out­side world, they are demand­ing human rights that sim­ply can’t come from auto­cratic regimes like China.

Pres­i­dent Trump has a huge oppor­tu­nity here to expand trade with Africa. Given Africa’s phys­i­cal loca­tion, it is sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier to move goods back and forth from the con­ti­nent. Not only could this reduce our depen­dence on Chi­nese goods, but it will place a dent in China’s abil­ity to con­tinue build­ing a mas­sive war machine and make it more sus­cep­ti­ble to a naval block­ade should it decide to go to war. Even Pres­i­dent Trump’s demeanor is well matched for Africa. His track record of sim­ply get­ting things done and apply­ing sim­ple actions is a good match for a con­ti­nent that wants to see results quickly.

We’ve got a chance to catch up in Africa. Hope­fully we can take it soon.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy at the link at the top of the page!

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) President and CEO Stephen Hayes CCA Chairman of the Board of Directors and Symbion Power CEO Paul Hinks February 2, 2016

President Trump has been making news with desire to close trade gaps with China, Europe, Mexico and Canada, attempting to counter trade practices that make it significantly more difficult to export to these countries and have resulted in a significant trade gap with the world. While we keep focusing on these big countries, I think we’re missing opportunities that are presenting themselves in Africa.

The second President Bush really pushed to expand our aid to Africa, and overall the US has a positive image in most African nations. We’ve had issues in the past (Libya, Egypt, etc.), but in general our policy of trying to support democracy and then follow with trade has been solid. One significant event that didn’t seem to get much press was the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which negotiated more open trade with an African country based on it pushing towards democracy and human rights preservation.

But we’re behind the ball. China has been steadily advancing in Africa, glad to find a new market with so few restrictions. The Chinese are content to crank out cellular networks, naval bases and oil pipelines in Africa to help fuel its economic growth. Africa is a great market because it is easy to bribe and doesn’t really follow many international regulations. The consequences have been pretty ugly. In Sudan, Chinese supplied training and arms were used to massacre people in Darfur and South Sudan when those people got in the way of oil drilling. It was amazing to me that this didn’t garner media attention, while moving a US oil pipeline garnered intense attention.

China’s inattention to human rights gives us an opening though. We’re seeing an uptick in African nations pushing for real democratic reforms in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Nigeria. As Africans get more connected to the outside world, they are demanding human rights that simply can’t come from autocratic regimes like China.

President Trump has a huge opportunity here to expand trade with Africa. Given Africa’s physical location, it is significantly easier to move goods back and forth from the continent. Not only could this reduce our dependence on Chinese goods, but it will place a dent in China’s ability to continue building a massive war machine and make it more susceptible to a naval blockade should it decide to go to war. Even President Trump’s demeanor is well matched for Africa. His track record of simply getting things done and applying simple actions is a good match for a continent that wants to see results quickly.

We’ve got a chance to catch up in Africa. Hopefully we can take it soon.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy at the link at the top of the page!