Episode 2: African Trade and Investment Under America First

May 21, 2017

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Twenty years ago Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni shocked the world with his proclamation: Give me trade, not aid. Will America’s first businessman-president put business first when it comes to Africa? Certainly, US investment in Africa creates jobs in Africa, but it also creates jobs in the US. Lately, President Trump appears to have softened his stance on renegotiating all US trade deals, and even during the campaign, most of his focus was on China and Mexico. Recently, the US Congress renewed Africa’s major trade deal with the US, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), through 2025, and while all trade deals can be renegotiated, AGOA appears secure. Meanwhile, investors throughout the world flock to Africa as the frontier market still offers the highest return on investment and the low base for many goods and services can mean tremendous opportunities for growth. Unfortunately for American investors, their counterparts from other countries often have more support for funding and don’t have the same legal constraints. As the US looks at potential cuts in funding for trade facilitation agencies, like OPIC, EX-IM, USTDA, and others, will Africans continue the trend of looking elsewhere for investors, thereby leaving American firms out of this lucrative market and diminishing for the US the soft power that trade and investment brings?

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