U. S. Decades Late to Africa

So where do we go from here now that the U. S.-Africa trade talks are over?

In early August, African business leaders and CEOs attended the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D. C. to discuss trade relations.

The three-day summit, which ran  from August 4th through 6th, brought together leaders from fifty African nations to engage in talks  with the U. S. on trade and investments that would benefit the West and  the African continent.

Africa  presents abundant  market opportunities and the U. S.  can no longer afford to sit idly on the sideline.  Mckinsey & Company, an international market research firm, reports that Africa is now “the world’s second-fastest growing region with a GDP reaching to more than $2 trillion in 2013, more than that of India’s.”   Mckinsey & Company.

The Obama administration is pushing hard to make the case that the U. S.  is now serious and ready to do business with Africa.  The fact to the matter is that the United States is decades late.  China, on the other hand, is farther ahead and firmly positioned at the head of the table.

In his August 5th speech at the Forum, the president  announced $7 billion in new funding commitment to promote U.  S. trade in Africa.  Many U.S. companies, including Blackstone, Co-Co Cola, GE, and and others have also promised to invest more than $14 billion in sub-Saharan Africa to fund various projects, such as clean energy, aviation, banking, and construction.  FACT SHEET: The Doing Business in Africa Campaign.  Obama also noted that the World Bank and the government of Sweden have pledged $12 billion to help fund the President’s Power Africa initiative.  U.S.-Africa Business Forum

While the U. S. is limping  along, China has a strong foothold in sub-Saharan Africa, making it the leading trade partner of the continent. China’s efforts in the region are paying large dividends, as evidenced  by its trade revenue.   Data shows that China’s Africa trade activities generated $200 billion in 2013, with the U. S.  lagging at $85 billion.  United States Census Bureau and The Christian Science Monitor.

The Chinese success in Africa is by no means a  mere coincidence.  Modern Africa-China trade relations date back to the 1990s, years before the  United States Congress enacted the so-called Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in May 2000.  U. S. Trade Representative. 

Meanwhile In that same year, China took  further steps to enhance its image in Africa when it created the Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC) in October 2000.   FOCAC and China-Africa Relations.

The question remains: Is the U. S. committed and ready to play ball with China?  Only time will tell.

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