Protect US Interests in Africa
President Donald Trump’s strategy toward Africa will not advance United States interests on the continent.
That’s the conclusion of an Africa expert who published a critique of administration policy in The Hill.
With the US manifesting weakness in Africa, “geopolitical and economic competition from China, Russia, India, France, and the United Kingdom threaten America’s national interests and soft power in Africa,” wrote Landry Signé, a fellow at Brookings’ Africa Growth Initiative.
Trump’s commitments to protecting the US homeland and promoting American prosperity leaves meager resources for countering global competition in Africa, according to the article. “Given the region’s increasing importance in an interconnected world,” Signé wrote, “Trump should demonstrate a more vigorous strength to address threatened economic, security, and influence interests.”
China, the European Union, and India have made a point of expanding economic and trade relationships in Africa. The continent will boast 1.52 billion consumers by 2025 and $5.6 trillion in market opportunities.
But US trade with Africa has shown negative growth in recent years. US goods exports to Africa fell from $38.09 billion in 2014 to $22.28 billion in 2016. China’s exports to Africa, meanwhile, have increased, from $13.22 billion in 2005 to $103.19 billion in 2015.
Signé wants to Trump to expand programs such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Power Africa, the US Africa Business Forum, and others. US exporters have benefited from AGOA, with $9.3 billion in US imports being from import taxes in 2016. Power Africa will create 40,000 US jobs and generate billions in exports by 2030. The 2016 US-Africa Business Forum, organized in 2016, generated $9.1 billion in trade and investment between Africa and the United States.
US interests in Africa include security interests. “Terrorist groups with operational bases in fragile African countries are calling for the production of chemical and biological weapons and attacks on the United States,” the article noted. “Trump’s National Security Strategy should include strengthening continental military capabilities.”
China’s growing influence in Africa means that American ideals like democracy and freedom are in danger. Chinese language and culture are being promoted on the continent as is China’s model of state-led economic development.
Civil liberties, economic freedoms, and self-government are also founding principles of the African Union, so that African leaders are in a position to deliver support for US international goals when facing challenges from North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, or Syria.
“With a sound Africa policy,” the article concluded, “Trump can protect threatened US interests and sustain a great US-Africa partnership for shared security and prosperity.”