Emerging trade issues for developing countries in Africa in the 21st century

By Kudzanayi Mombeshora

Post development schools of thought see development as a cause for concern due to the imbalances and dominion from the West. Thus this has broadened bi-lateral relation of most African countries looking to the East for greener pastures in terms of trade. The creation of International Trade Organisation was meant to serve national interest between countries and reduce trade imbalances in terms of tariffs reduction amongst others. 

Dominance of Asian countries in Africa particularly China has emerged to an emerging factor dominance of trade for developing countries.

To take into consideration the dominance of the USA for the fall of the USA, it can be evidenced that up until the 21st century, USA politics continues to be more dominating in terms of trade.  Developing countries after being left out in the rise of the Havana Charter continue to seek aid for trade support in the Asian countries. This has made developing countries such as Zimbabwe to look east so as to enhance Integrated Framework for Trade related assistance.

Moreover, looking at trade barriers as was in the Havana, China offer commodities at minimum wage. Thus this has made Asian countries to be more dominant in Africa unlike in Western European countries were wages are high.

Thus this has made African-Asia trade to increase in accordance with the World Trade Organisation. However this has increased some tensions between Asia and Europe particularly China-US trade war. Small business enterprise seeks for assistance in term of trade in Asian countries like India and China.

The main reason that led to the fall of the Havana Charter was protectionism. Most countries were coming from a Cold War of the 1940s and thus they needed to protect themselves from trade deficit and thus the creation of the third world institution namely the ‘Havana Charter’. However USA, UK and France continued to have quarters that were different from the principle values of the Havana Charter. 

Protectionism led to the fall of the Havana Charter. In the contemporary economy it can be seen that protectionism still exist as evidenced by the trade embargoes put upon China’s trade by the USA. China is believed to be creating fake products and allowing companies like Apple to come and launch their products in China at minimum wage. Just like the USA, who had laws to protect them, China has also put some laws to protect themselves from selling counterfeits products.

As a result such products will be sold in developing countries in Africa for they are poverty stricken and are ‘hungrily’ in need of aid. This has caused international trade war as China continues to launch their products in neighbouring Asian countries such as Pakistan, Singapore, amongst others.  However looking at the African-Asia, it is with no doubt that trade relation between the two has been caused by the minimum wage in China.

Given the major changes in the WTO, over the past decade and recent changes in policy context, the global landscape for trade is changing significantly.  It can be seen that most developing countries are struggling more efficient to be recognised international and in the World Trade Organisation. This is a need for concern and in light of the changing landscape; there is need for renewed recognition treatment for developing countries.

For developing countries, key priorities for small states are ensuring trade to be a key priority for these small states.  Developing countries have found to endure, higher export related cost as compared to their geographical remoteness. Most African countries are land locked countries like Zimbabwe and this undermine their economic competitiveness. Thus most African countries are scrutinising the Eastern countries to utilise trade.

According to (Soorbramnien and Goset 2015), given inherent disadvantage in Africa to participate in multilateral trading, African countries wary to liberalise and pursue exemptions ir incremental obligations in the World Trade Organisation agreement. Thus, this have found most African countries to look Asia so as to liberalize trade struggles in their countries

Conclusively this publication serves to curtail the need to reduce trade imbalances in the international arena, thus the shared trade relationship for Africa-Asia.

  • Compiled by Kudzanayi Mombeshora
  • University of Zimbabwe student.

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