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US 'Monetizing' Approach to African Nations Won't Work at US-Africa Summit, Expert Says

© AP Photo / Jose Luis MaganaSecretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during U.S. Africa leaders Summit at Department of State in Washington, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during U.S. Africa leaders Summit at Department of State in Washington, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2022
The US-Africa Summit will be held from December 13 to 15 in Washington, DC. According to US officials, the gathering, which involves 49 delegations from African nations, as well as leaders of the African Union (AU), will enhance the country's ties with the continent. In particular, Washington is expected to provide financing for Africa.
The US approach "monetizing" African countries won't have the expected results, Sergio Rossi, professor of macroeconomics and monetary economics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, says in an interview with Sputnik.
"The US strategy consisting in ‘monetizing’ the African relationships with Washington is not going to work as expected by the Biden Administration, particularly because this strategy – and the money underlying it – is oriented to some African politicians, who in the medium-to-long run will not be in office anymore," he underlines.
Therefore, this kind of long-term "investments" in African countries won't be as beneficial for the US as it anticipates, he stresses.
According to US media, Washington aims at reinvigorating its relations with Africa, and one of the main tools is expected to be the country's commitment to provide the financial aid. Ahead of the US-Africa Summit, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the United States is bringing “resources to the table,” saying that Washington will commit over $50 billion to African states over the next three years.
However, Rossi expresses his doubts about the US commitment and overall ability to provide funds, as the country failed to fully deliver on its previous pledges made during the first US-Africa Summit in 2014.

"I am rather skeptical that the US will deliver on its promise for such an amount, in light of the macroeconomic problems that affect the US economy now and in the next couple of years probably," Rossi says.

He highlights that amid the looming presidential election, "the Biden team will likely focus on the most urgent domestic issues" rather than on international ones, as the latter in many respects depend on the "partners' behavior, which is unpredictable."
The professor also suggests what the US could give Africa instead of simply pouring in money. For example, the US could provide various assets, specifically the patents to produce drugs "such as the COVID-19 vaccines, and the intellectual property rights to develop IT products", at the same time using the raw materials some African nations have in abundance. By doing this, the US could let African countries "develop their own economic systems instead of exploiting them" in the pursuit of its own interests, he emphasizes.
However, some experts consider the summit an attempt by the US government to undermine the growing Chinese and Russian influence in Africa, saying it is "a sign of desperation," as the country is losing its position on the continent. China and Russia, in their turn, have for many years been maintaining close ties with African nations in different areas of mutual interests.
US President Joe Biden and South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa walk to a working session at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, Saturday June 12, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.12.2022
US-Africa Summit 'a Sign of Desperation,' Experts Say
One of the topics that is also expected to be addressed during the US-Africa summit is the US' plans to extend and improve its longstanding African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) system of trade preferences, which will expire in 2025. According to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who will host a meeting of trade ministers from Sub-Saharan Africa to consider AGOA as part of the summit, the country is going to update the program as "there are opportunities for it to be better," and find "the middle ground between the current AGOA system and traditional full free trade agreements."
Asked about his opinion on the evolution of the program and the possible US interest pursuing it, the expert says that the country is focusing on the long-term benefits for its own economy.
"These interests concern the long run and in particular the possibility for US businesses to expand their activities beyond the country’s borders, as regards both their exports and their imports of raw materials for producing a variety of goods and services," he notes.
He also suggests that the US may follow "a strategy to reduce the migration pressure on the European continent," which has been struggling to cope with the increasing number of African migrants, and related to this issue "growth of social and political conflicts that affect economic activity negatively – thereby reducing the volume of US exports to Europe."
The AGOA system enhancement is considered by some observers as a potential threat to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). The initiative is a trade agreement, that comprises most of the African states, aiming at creating "one African market" by eliminating trade barriers on the continent. It is expected to significantly boost intra-Africa trade.
Rossi also expresses concerns over potential impact of the AGOA on the regional initiative, saying that it "could indeed damage the ACFTA agreement."

"The majority of African countries receiving US funds could follow the 'orders' of the US Administration, [...] this might increase competition between African nations willing to obtain US funds, exacerbating thereby the international relationships in the African continent, rather than integrating their own economies for the common good," he says.

The summit agenda includes negotiations on various issues of mutual interest, such as economic cooperation and trade, peace, and security, counter-terrorism, healthcare, agriculture, climate adaptation, and energy transition, space exploration, and many other fields.
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