Foreign policy debate ignores Africa and its growing economic presence




If it were not for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s brief mention of Mali, Latin America and China, I would have forgotten that other regions and issues exist in terms of foreign policy.  Monday night’s foreign policy debate focused mainly on the Middle East and North Africa.

Whereas the foreign policy discussions focused on national security threats, it ignored U.S. efforts to build bridges with other regions, such as throughout the continent of Africa, to promote economic development and stability. What does the U.S-African economic relationship look like? Why is it important?

It is important to also turn our attention towards Africa, because it is an emerging market. Whereas, other countries such as China, Greece, Spain and the United States are facing economic slowdown, the African region is actually experiencing a continuous and quick economic upturn.

For example, the region has experienced an annual GDP growth of 4.9 percent per year from 2000 to 2008. The McKinsey Global Institute, a global management consulting firm, reports:

Africa’s growth acceleration was widespread, with 27 of its 30 largest economies expanding more rapidly after 2000.

Unfortunately, few businesses are taking advantage of this fast-growing market.

U.S. policy presents some opportunities to expand trade with Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States currently has a unilateral trade deal with eligible Sub-Saharan African countries–African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). AGOA allows eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export their goods to the United States duty-free.

The United States just renewed the Third Country Fabric Provision of AGOA, which allows apparel manufacturers from eligible countries to use inputs from any country around the world and export the final garment to the United States duty-free. This provision has been extremely beneficial to apparel exporters  from countries such as Lesotho seeking access to the U.S. market.

Outside of the Sub-Saharan African region, the United States has a bilateral free trade agreement with Morocco. The US-Morocco FTA was signed in 2004 and took effect in 2006. The United States currently has a $1.9 billion trade surplus with Morocco. Both US and Moroccan exporters have duty-free access to each other’s market.

Whereas Governor Romney focused on expanding trade with Latin America, which I agree is a significant market and presents economic opportunities for both the United States and Latin American countries, we should also turn our attention towards the African market. Discussions on global political and economic strategies should include a greater focus on the continent of Africa and its fast growing economy.

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About Dr. Sarita D. Jackson

is the President and CEO of the Global Research Institute of International Trade, a think-tank/consulting firm that examines trade policies and their impact on domestic businesses. Prior to heading GRIIT, Dr. Jackson was a tenured associate professor of political science in North Carolina and worked as a trade policy consultant for an Arlington-based consulting firm. She has participated in trade policy projects and conducted research on free trade negotiations in Botswana, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama. Dr. Jackson has also traveled to Chile and Argentina to study their political systems and economic integration policies.
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4 Responses to Foreign policy debate ignores Africa and its growing economic presence

  1. Wininfred says:

    In relation to the U.S-Sub-saharan Africa relations, it is vital to the economy of the US to establish a good record and sound policies towards the region to benefit from the emerging markets in Africa. While U.S businesses are not taking advantage of this growth, the Chinese are and they are being criticized for it. The Chinese should not be scrutinized for their economic advances. This is what the candidates should have kept in mind. If you claim to be a global power, your competitive edge must be challenged and that is what is occuring between China and America. However, ignoring Africa or sub-Saharan Africa does not benefit America and actually demonstrates ignorance as far as the continents progress is concerned.

  2. Taylor E. Chavis-Banks says:

    I agree that the United States is not taking advantage of emerging markets. China has progressed so much economically and is doing things to partner up with many countries to help boost their own economy and others’ at the same time. I feel Africa is being ignored in any type of economic growth because of the exploitation and stereotypes of Africa. I believe China working with Africa should boost their economy and could be beneficial to both continents.

  3. Carrie Robertson says:

    I agree that the U.S. has not taking advantage of the growing economy of Africa. The U.S. spends too much time,money and effort towards country’s such as China where they are facing the same trouble we are as a country and are not showing increased signs of improvement. If the U.S. would focus on other ways to improve the economy such as taking advantage of Africa’s economic start up good things could come for us as a country. If what we gave been trying has not worked why not try something new?

  4. Pingback: U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit a Good Opportunity to Move African Free Trade Area Forward | International Trade Examiner

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