Obama Seeks Closer Africa Ties as China Is First Choice
China trade with Africa projected to grow. SOURCE/Standard Chartered Research
When the east African nation of Uganda sought bids last month for an US$8 billion contract to expand the country’s rail network, it only invited Chinese companies to apply.
That condition, agreed to by the Ugandan and Chinese governments, illustrates the hurdles that U.S. President Barack Obama must overcome as the United States tries to challenge China’s status as Africa’s No. 1 investor and trading partner. China’s trade with the continent exceeded US$200 billion last year, more than double that of the U.S, which it overtook five years ago.
Obama will step up his efforts to forge closer ties with Africa when he hosts more than 40 of the continent’s leaders at a summit in Washington next week. While the World Bank projects African growth of 4.7 percent this year, the United States is looking beyond securing deals and access to a consumer market of 1 billion people to “promoting democratic principles” and countering Islamist-inspired security threats.
China has got a massive head start – from both a diplomatic and economic point of view, China has made all the running over the last few years so there is quite a catch-up for the United States.
China has held five conferences with ministers and leaders across Africa since 2000 as it fosters ties with a continent that provides both resources and a market for manufactured goods.
Read more: Bloomberg Businessweek