ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les Etats-Unis négocient une part du gâteau africain
Translated Tuesday 2 September 2014, by
President Obama has invited about 50 African heads of state to Washington to talk trade. He’s promising 12 billion dollars “in investments” in Africa, which amounts to so many resources and men for American multi-national corporations to exploit.
“These investments are going to deepen the U.S. economic commitment in Africa, to feed growth which is going to underpin African prosperity and emerging markets for the U.S., which will create jobs both in the U.S. and in Africa,” they explain on the American side.
Behind these pious declarations of intent, for Obama it is above all a question of biting into a piece of the African pie, with its highly coveted natural resources and cheap labor, before others definitively make off with it. It must be said that China has debarked in force on the continent recently, and its exchanges with Africa are worth twice as much as the United States’, 200 billion dollars as against 110 billion dollars, an amount that has grown twenty-fold since the year 2000. China is building infrastructure, notably for the exploitation of raw materials, and is flooding Africa with cheap consumer goods. With, in addition, the historic presence of European countries, led by the United Kingdom and France, and India, Brazil and South Africa lying in wait, the U.S. considers itself to be behind.
This represents a gap in time that Barack Obama wants to close by inviting the African heads of state to a three-day meeting. For this, he has surrounded himself with over 90 American company directors, including those of Chevron, Citigroup, Ford Motor, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Morgan Stanley and Wal-Mart Stores…
“My advice to African leaders is to make sure that if, in fact, China is putting in roads and bridges, number one, that they’re hiring African workers; number two, that the roads don’t just lead from the mine to the port to Shanghai, but that there’s an ability for the African governments to shape how this infrastructure is going to benefit them in the long term,” Barack Obama said in an interview with The Economist.
Secretary of state John Kerry went one further on August 4: “So I say unabashedly: We want and we will work hard to get more American companies to invest in Africa.”
The message that the American government is heavy-handedly trying to get across is that the United States and its multi-nationals, will, of course, exploit Africa, but they will do it more morally than China. Through an unfortunate coincidence, the factory belonging to a subcontractor of the U.S. corporation General Motors blew up this week, killing 75 and injuring 200 among the cheap work-force being exploited … in China.
The African heads of state are also present in Washington to extend AGOA, a free trade treaty that allows African countries not to pay customs duties on many exports.
“We strongly believe that by endorsing the extension of AGOA, the US will be promoting African integration, industrialisation and infrastructure development,” South African president Jacob Zuma said
“South Africa is open for business, open for tourism and open for partnerships in many sectors. There are many opportunities to be explored in our country and beyond, on the African continent … We are also contributing towards the realisation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area which will combine the Southern Africa Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community. This market alone will comprise about 600 million consumers, a combined GDP of one trillion dollars and enormous opportunities for US business,” Zuma said, explaining that “Almost 95 per cent of South African exports receive preferential treatment under AGOA.”