Recently renewed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the African Growth and Opportunity Act allows qualifying African countries to export certain products to the U.S. duty free.
American exports to Africa are subject to customs duties.
Incoming President Donald Trump isn’t going to go for that, says Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador to several African Countries.
From This Day Live. Interview by Nduka Nwosu.
Ambassador Herman Cohen was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George H.W Bush and is now the chairman and CEO Cohen & Woods International, a Washington, D.C.-based Africa-focused group helping Western companies do business in Africa. Cohen is a founding member of the Corporate Council on Africa and also has a blog, CohenonAfrica.com.
What are your expectations of a Trump presidency for Africa?
President-elect Trump has spoken of achieving “fairness” in international trade. He also wants American companies to increase their revenues, especially through exports. I have the feeling that he will ask African governments to accept reciprocity in trade relations. Right now, African countries can export their products to the USA duty free, while American exports to Africa pay customs duties. This is a one-way street relationship in bilateral trade relations. I can forecast that a future President Trump will ask for reciprocity. US exports to Africa should be duty free.
Do you think Trump’s America First policy means less money spent to help Africa and more money devoted to rebuilding the U.S.?
It is possible that President Trump will look toward reducing the foreign aid budget worldwide in order to find money to rebuild the U.S. infrastructure which is badly in need of fixing. Nigeria does not receive U.S. development aid because its income from oil is very high. So, any reduction in development aid would not be applicable to Nigeria, but it would be applicable to Nigeria’s neighbors. I imagine that President Trump would want to maintain full support to Nigeria for the fight against Islamic terrorism.
Do you think that AGOA that gives countries in the continent an almost duty free trade agreement could come under review under President Trump?
It will definitely come under review because it gives benefits to African exporters but gives no benefits to U.S. exporters.
Is it likely Trump’s America First mantra will affect the Obama project on Power Africa?
I do not feel that “America First” will impact negatively on “Power Africa”. This project encourages U.S. power companies, such as Contour Global, to invest in power generation and earn profits from the sale of power. This means there will be money coming into the U.S. from the export of power. “Power Africa” is a win-win project for the U.S. and Africa. U.S. companies make returns from their investments, and Africa gains badly needed power at economic prices.
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