Ahead of Secretary Tillerson’s visit to Africa—specifically Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria—Brookings experts Brahima S. Coulibaly, Vanda Felbab-Brown, and Witney Schneidman discuss the Trump administration’s current Africa policy, the evolution of U.S.-Africa relations, and Tillerson’s agenda items, including trade and security.
Brahima S. Coulibaly:
And as you know, sometime this month the African Union they’re going to sign a Continental Free Trade Agreement that is going to integrate the whole continent, you know, 1.2 billion people, combined GDP of about 3.5 trillion … So the continent is moving in one direction and we’re just hoping the current administration is taking note, and is also engaging this continent in a direction in which it’s trying to move.
In fact, I think that several of the [African] countries would very much like to hear to get a boost in military spending, a boost in military engagement without having to worry about accountability. Even accountability to the United States, but certainly accountability to their local population. And it’s very important that that’s not a message that’s conveyed.
The European Union has been very active in creating free trade agreements to their economic partnership agreements. China, of course, has been very aggressive in making commercial loans available, and the U.S. is sort of still dealing with this position of a non-reciprocal trade agreement. So I think the time is now for more creative thinking in a number of areas.