President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a deal to strengthen trade ties between America and Africa. This agreement comes after many years of neglecting Africa in the United States’ priorities. China has made significant progress in trade and investments.
Biden stated that the United States was ‘all-in’ for Africa’s future at Tuesday’s three-day Washington summit. The meeting began on Tuesday and ended on Wednesday.
Biden’s comments and the summit aim to place the United States in a position of partnership with African countries, amid competition from China. China has tried to increase its influence on the continent by financing infrastructure projects.
China’s trade with Africa has been four times greater than that of the United States. Beijing is now a major creditor, offering loans at a lower interest rate than Western lenders.
Biden stated that a new deal with the African Continental Free Trade Area would give American businesses access to $3.4 trillion in market and will allow them to reach 1.3 billion more people. Biden listed the companies who had signed deals at summit including Cisco Systems Inc and General Electric Co.
The United States is successful when Africa succeeds. The president stated that the entire world is successful, “quite frankly.”
Biden spoke at a White House dinner to honor African leaders and their wives. He also honored the descendants of those who were enslaved and the wider African diaspora in America.
He said, “Our people are at the core of the deep connection that forever binds Africa to the United States together.” We remember those who were taken from their homes in chains and subjected unimaginable cruelty.
Gladys Knight, a singer from Gladys Island, later entertained Biden and other visiting leaders in a performance at the White House State Dining Room.
This summit will be the first since 2014’s one under President Barack Obama. Obama is also a son of an African father. The Biden administration pledged $55 million to support food security and climate change. Biden will also support the African Union becoming a permanent member of Group of 20 large economies at Thursday’s summit.
Biden watched some World Cup semifinal matches between Morocco, which was the first African country to make it into the semifinals, and France. He also viewed the remarks of Aziz Akhannouch (Morocco’s prime minister), and the other summit leaders, according to the White House. France was victorious in the match.
Biden had a meeting with leaders of Gabon and Liberia, who were facing elections in 2023, to discuss democracy and elections.
As China increases its influence in trade, investment, and lending efforts, the summit will be part of an effort to strengthen ties. Since over 20 years, Beijing holds its high-level meeting with African leaders at least once every three years.
A few U.S. officials were reluctant to portray the meeting as an attempt at influence. Biden didn’t mention China, but Washington did tone down its criticisms of Beijing’s infrastructure and lending practices.
On Tuesday, Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative told African counterparts that she would like to see the U.S. improve its trade preference program for Africa to increase investment.
John Kirby, White House spokesperson for national security, spoke Wednesday about the critical importance of U.S. investment in Africa. He said Washington is open to a “two-way conversation” regarding trade, investment, and potential opportunities for economic growth.
This approach was welcomed by African leaders.
William Ruto, Kenyan president said that instead of exporting commodity products, America should invest. They have the equipment and the know-how to produce food for Africa’s continent.
Ruto mentioned projections that Africa’s agribusiness industry will triple to $1 trillion in 2030. He also said U.S. capital could help to solve Africa’s infrastructure problem to unlock the potential for this growth.
A Eurasia Group analysis found that in 2021, China-African trade at $254 billion outnumbered U.S. trade at $64.3 billion. These figures have increased from $12 billion to $21 billion in 2002.
Western leaders have criticised Beijing’s inaction regarding the massive debt load facing African countries.
The idea was rejected by Beijing’s Ambassador to Washington. He cited a report showing that African countries have three times greater debts to Western institutions. However, the ambassador also noted that Chinese-built stadiums, roads, and hospitals are found “everywhere” throughout Africa.
China is still the largest regional bilateral investor. However, its recent loan commitments for Africa have fallen in recent years.
This is not just about economic influence. Washington was alarmed at China’s attempts to create a military base in Africa.
Many African leaders, for their part reject the notion that they must choose between China and the United States.
According to Taye Atske Selasie Amde (UN ambassador), “The difference in the level of their relations with African countries is important for Africa’s development.” However, each African country is able to decide their best interests and relationship.