Trends In Trade And Influence In Africa, An Africanist Perspective

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Trade between Africa and China saw growth during the last decade while the same trend was reversed between the continent and the U.S., which seems set to lose its influence in Africa.

From 2010 to 2017, trade between African countries and China rose from $91.2 billion to $165.4 billion, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

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Countries including Thailand, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia increased their trade volume with Africa during a seven-year period ending in 2017 while almost all major Western countries saw a decline in trade with Africa.

Germany is the only major Western country that increased its trade volumes with the African continent, with a boost from $22.2 billion in 2010 to $24.6 billion in 2017, the data shows.

The U.S. saw its total trade volume with African countries contract from $80.3 billion to $36.7 billion, according to a post from African academic Ken Ochieng’ Opalo.

While U.S. trade rival China and various Middle East and Asian countries are upping investment in Africa and pushing for more trade and engagement, the U.S. appears to be stepping away from the continent.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, walks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation. Lintao ZhangPool Photo via AP

Opalo is a Kenyan assistant professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., with a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and a BA degree from Yale University.

Trade affects U.S. influence in Africa

He argues that the economic policies and regulations of African countries, as well as votes at the U.N., will likely shift to reflect the changes in the strength of the continent’s trade links.

This means that the U.S. could lose out on opportunities for trade and investment, while also shrinking its influence and power in shaping outcomes in Africa in favor of China and others, according to research from the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet visited Africa and has no immediate plans to do so — a possible indication of the administration’s attitude to Africa.