This first conference, as well as Mr. Johnson’s desire, was made in the context that there were only 10 days left until the UK would officially leave the European Union (EU) – also known as Brexit. Expanding economic and trade relations with partners, especially the African region, which is viewed as having untapped potential, is clearly the goal that Prime Minister Johnson aims to.
Opening the speech, in order to draw close to the leaders of 21 African countries including 16 heads of state, Mr. Johnson recounted his previous visits to Africa when he was British Foreign Secretary and emphasized that among British officials, he is the one who comes to Africa the most.
Next, he mentioned investment in ‘green’, which is currently not only a top concern of African nations, but also on a global scale. He announced the end of the nation’s support for the overseas mining industry or thermal power plant projects, saying it was “unreasonable” if Britain called for a reduction in carbon emissions in production activities. energy production in the country, but support for thermal power projects abroad, including Africa.
Instead, the UK will focus on helping countries exploit and use oil and gas in the “greenest” ways and focus on encouraging investment in solar, wind and solar power projects. hydroelectric.
In addition, Prime Minister Johnson confirmed to African leaders that Britain would be more open to welcoming migrants from the “Black Continent”. According to him, Brexit will put an end to the mechanism that gives priority to European migrant workers as well as making the UK a global free trade partner.
It is clear that the Prime Minister’s remarks were not only “touching” the heart, but also the top concerns of the leaders of the “Black Continent”. continuously receive endless applause from the listener – these are the top leaders from Africa.
According to British International Development Minister Alok Sharma, the government views Africa as a potential investment market. Currently, the continent has 8 countries on the list of countries with the highest economic growth rates in the world. In addition, the continent’s population is forecast to grow to 2 billion by 2050. Mr. Sharma likens the impetus to a “ tripod ” that encompasses economy, trade, and investment. Anglo-African economic system will accelerate under the “supercharging” mechanism of motor racing.
In fact, besides France, the Netherlands, China and the United States, the UK is currently one of the leading investors in Africa with a total capital of around 38 billion pounds (US $ 49.5 billion). In the past two years, the British Government has spent 2 billion pounds (2.6 billion USD) to support businesses to export to Africa.
However, things do not seem to be easy and fast for the UK when they want to strengthen trade and investment in Africa in the context that the country is “wrapped up” to leave the EU on January 31, as well as problems arising from the rise of China – a country with trade turnover with Africa reached 208 billion USD last year, 4 times more than the 49 billion USD turnover between the UK and Europe. Africa.
First of all, trade deals between the UK and African countries are expected to remain in place for the next few years because the UK is not easily able to renegotiate when the country is in a “weakened” position after Accordingly, the terms of trade (taxes, quotas, standards …) are considered to be as “as they are” as the UK is still within the EU – meaning that trade turnover between England and Africa is unlikely to rise overnight.
According to Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at FXTM Investment Consulting Group in South Africa, the UK holds an investment conference with Africa with the aim of reaching framework agreements before the UK leaves the EU. After Brexit, the UK hopes that these agreements will be further improved easily. However, the happy handshakes and the greetings at the Anglo-African investment conference have not been able to say anything in the context of the chaotic challenges for Britain after Brexit.
Nor did Otunuga rule out the possibility that the UK economy would fall into a post-Brexit recession and thus would seriously affect trade and economic relations between the country and the rest of the world.
Second, Britain appears to have been the “last to Africa” compared to other powers. The Anglo-African Investment Summit is considered the latest conference to be organized under the “Africa + 1” model. In fact, the first conference of this model was held for the first time in France in 1972, and then in Japan in 1993, the United States in 2014 and in Russia at the end of last year. China, in particular, has been holding conferences in this way for the past 20 years, the last time in 2018 in Beijing with the number of African leaders joining twice as many times as the continent. attend meetings at the United Nations.
In addition, British leaders’ visits to Africa, where many former colonial countries are located, are considered too sparse. Between 2008 and 2018, China sent delegations of all levels to 43/55 African countries, while British leaders went to 23 countries only during the same period. Before former British Prime Minister Theresa May visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in 2018, the last time the British head went to Africa was in 2013. This is considered the reason that only 16/54 African heads of state attend the Anglo-African summit, compared with dozens of African heads of state to the previous Russia-Africa or China-Africa summit.
At the summit, the British Prime Minister himself had to admit that this was a “overdue” conference, implying that the British Government and its businesses should do their best to promote their relationship. trading and investment system with Africa, he likened that Africa now is not only for anyone, there are many “suitors” who have come before Britain like China and Russia.
The prospects for economic and trade development between Africa and the UK will also depend on the correlation of existing relations between Africa – EU and Africa – England. DNA Economics Institute expert in Pretoria, South Africa, Mr. Matthew Stern emphasized that African businesses currently doing business with the UK under the previous legal framework set by the EU need to be careful with the latest developments in EU policy to make a timely change in negotiating new trade deals with the UK. Any “buck” in the post-Brexit period can lead to unintended consequences for businesses on both sides.
It is the unpredictability of the British economy in the post-Brexit period that will be the biggest potential threat to economic and investment agreements. Therefore, one should not rush to assert that the handshakes or smiles at this conference are a sure testament to the British success on the road to “conquer” Africa.