US-Africa Dinner: A New Era of US-Africa Relations?
Wednesday 10th June 2009 - 7:30pm - 9:30pm
• Tewodros Ashenafi • Jason Bauer • Rob Davies • Demetrios J. Marantis • J. Daniel O'FlahertyModerated by
• Alec Hogg
Wednesday 10 June
The new Obama administration is well disposed towards Africa, but will be constrained by the global economic downturn and political realities in the United States.
This was the consensus view of this dinner discussion, moderated by
Alec Hogg, Editor-in-Chief, Moneyweb, South Africa. Participants also believed a new era of US-Africa relations will depend in part on Africa becoming far more proactive in increasing its engagement with the US and drawing its needs, potential and investment attractions to the attention of US investors and officials.
Key points from the panellists:
• Africa will wait to see how far the new approach ends up in concern for development and how it will affect US policy at the Doha Round of world trade talks. A Doha agreement would not reduce current US subsidies to its farmers – the Doha proposal would cut maximum US subsidies from US$ 22 billion to US$ 14.5 billion, while the current level is US$ 7 billion to US$ 8 billion.
• Significant increases in foreign assistance in the US budget for the 2010 financial year were pointed out. The MCC is working with the private sector in Africa to leverage public sector financing.
• The benefits of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act expire in 2015. The US trade department wants to learn from Africa as it plans to step up US engagement with the continent.
• Africa cannot count on a priority place at the US table merely because of President Obama’s African heritage. The economic crisis will result in structural changes that affect bilateral relationships. However, there is a new breed of US executives with a very different view of Africa who are “looking for deals, not nirvana.”
• The risks of investing in Africa are not as high as perceived. The US focus on energy security will result in increased US engagement in the oil and gas industry in East and West Africa.
• The discussion also produced a mini-debate on US protection of its cotton farmers at the expense particularly of producers in Burkina Faso. It is indefensible to prioritize Texan cotton farmers at the expense of poor farmers in West Africa. The US, ahead of any multilateral agreements, was urged to sign bilateral concessions to the cotton farming countries in West Africa.
The consensus view of table discussions was:
• The Obama Administration is constrained by an unprecedented budget deficit.
• There will be tensions between what the Administration would like to do and what Democrats will support.
• There will be little support from Republicans for increased engagement with aid to Africa.
• US attitudes will be determined in large part by enlightened self-interest.
• The US risks losing out to executives from China, India and Europe who are active in Africa.
• Africa must clearly articulate its priorities and its competitive advantages.
• Africa must propose African solutions to be implemented in Africa by Africans.
Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa
Degree in Economics, Rhodes University; Master's in International Relations, University of Southampt...
Demetrios J. Marantis
Head of International Government, Regulatory, and Policy, Square, USA
1990. AB in Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; 1993, JD, Harvard University. Fo...
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, SouthWest Energy (HK), Ethiopia
Degree in Economics, Columbia University; Alumnus, Harvard Business School; Alumnus, Harvard Kennedy...
- Humphrey Enemakwu Abah
Director, Private Sector Initiatives, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), USA
BA in Economics and Political Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; MBA, Cornell Unive...
J. Daniel O'Flaherty
Senior Adviser, Corporate Council on Africa, USA
Franklin C. Moore
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID - US Government Agency for International Development, USA
Anchor of Power Lunch , CNBC Africa, South Africa
Media entrepreneur, broadcaster and writer. 1997-2012, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Moneyweb...