Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Jonathan Saxty says the UK can help African countries move away from their reliance on selling raw materials to expand their manufacturing and industrial capacities. This will help to boost African economies and stem the tide of economic migrants from the continent, he suggests. He points out how the EU secures cheap raw materials, while slapping punitive tariffs on imports of processed goods from African countries.
As an example, he highlights how the EU deals with imports of coffee and chocolate from Ethiopia and Ghana.
Whereas the European Union allows tariff free imports of raw coffee and cacao beans from the two respective countries, it imposes stiff duties on imports of roasted coffee beans and chocolate bars – 30 percent in the case of the latter.
Joseph Hackett, writing for the Capx publication, said such arrangements were designed to “stop countries such as Ethiopia and Ghana processing their produce and then exporting it”.
The Telegraph columnist argues that the UK should ditch such exploitative practices and use its technological and financial expertise in pursuit of an enlightened trade policy that would be mutually beneficial to the UK and Africa.
He writes: “The EU has been a poor friend to Africa, all the while talking up its progressive ideals.
“By contrast, post-Brexit Britain has a unique opportunity to build a new type of partnership to develop African industry, starting with English-speaking Commonwealth countries, utilising diaspora networks, and demonstrating that sound ethics and economics need not be incompatible in the world of international trade.”
Currently, Africa accounts for just 2.5 percent of the UK’s trade.
South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, make up 60 percent of the entire UK-Africa trade relationship.
British investments lag well behind those of France and the United States.
Sir Richard Ottaway, a former chair of the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has argued that Africa offers huge investment opportunities for the UK – especially in energy, transport and digital infrastructure.
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As an example, he points to Nigeria, which is investing $2.63bn into the economy aimed at upgrading the country’s roads, railways and power grids.
Writing in The Africa Report, Sir Richard says: “The Buhari administration has also invested heavily in broadband to support its broader modernisation and diversification strategy.
“The UK should be facilitating trade cooperation on all of these issues, and participating in the growth of a country with unbounded potential.”