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Old 08-14-2014   #1
KingJaja
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Default What should Washington's relationship with the developing World be?

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
SWJ has id'd a Bing West article:http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...isil-bing-west

As I posted on SWJ there is something wrong with his advocacy:

I have read Bing's article twice and wondered whether these two passages negate his whole argument. Which Muslim armies are ready for such a campaign today or tomorrow? Not one I would contend, nor in an alliance of the willing. Then he assumes the very same failed leaders will act. There are few leaders in the local, Arabic-speaking Muslim world who answer to their people


Then there are the "two ladies speaking truth unto power", an article by two ex-USG (CIA) analysts in 'What the U.S. can realistically do in Iraq':http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/14/op...n-iraq-crisis/
I think the deeper question should be what should Washington's relationship with the developing World be?
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Old 08-14-2014   #2
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Thumbs up Good, no excellent question

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I think the deeper question should be what should Washington's relationship with the developing World be?
I think that might become a new thread very soon!
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Old 08-14-2014   #3
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I think that might become a new thread very soon!
I think so to - I also think US needs a bit more of pragmatism when dealing with the Developing World.

But this will require a new set of US diplomats and politicians.
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Old 08-14-2014   #4
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I think that might become a new thread very soon!
Two major regions in the developing world - The Middle East and Africa have this fundamental problem - the problem of artificial, poorly conceptualized states.

This is not that much of an issue in Latin America or much of the rest of Asia, but it is fundamental to understanding the challenges in the Middle East and Africa.

For the past 50 -70 years, the US has been content with preserving old British, Portuguese and French spheres of influence in these regions - without closely examining deeper fissures. I think in the wake of Iraq, an excessive focus on an external appearance of stability and preserving colonial era borders is no longer feasible.

Nobody is expecting US policy makers to remake these societies - but the least they can do is explain to the American people what they're all about.
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Old 08-15-2014   #5
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Default what should Washington's relationship with the developing World be?

Thread created after KingJaja's post, so in a moment that post and responses will have a new home for SWC to ponder and debate his question:
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I think the deeper question should be what should Washington's relationship with the developing World be?
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Old 08-15-2014   #6
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David,

I'll throw this back at you to start. Many European nations had hubristic policies that justified their colonization of much of the developing world, and then they withdrew for a combination of reasons. What is Europe's current approach to developing nations? What are the lessons for the U.S.?
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Old 08-15-2014   #7
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This is not that much of an issue in Latin America or much of the rest of Asia
It's worth noting, though, that both Latin America and SE Asia were for many years absolute basket cases, riddled by extreme violence and horrendous government... with the US up to its eyeballs in both. The terms "banana republic" and "tinpot dictator" were coined to describe Latin American governments. Today, both regions still have problems, but both are relatively peaceful and showing considerable economic progress.

During the dark periods in both regions, US engagement was dominated by the agenda of suppressing Communism by any means, and often neglected the actual needs and circumstances of the countries in favor of an agenda imposed by the US. In both regions, a general scaling back of US engagement coincided with 9not necessarily caused) a general improvement in political conditions. Might be some lessons in that.

Overall, "the developing world" is a very broad place and I'm not sure it's possible to outline a map for US engagement in any sense specific enough to be useful. One thing we have learned is that the US cannot solve other people's problems, but beyond that, things pretty much have to go on a case to case basis.
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Old 08-15-2014   #8
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It will be in the US interest to be transparent, honest and understanding. That will go a ways to addressing some of the concerns of peoples around the globe that are in turn exploited and co-opted by violent actors.

I know that is a very broad answer.
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Old 08-16-2014   #9
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Default US was never a European colonial power - why does it behave like one?

I think a very serious problem US analysts have is the assumption that French, British, Belgian and Portuguese intentions were/and still are pure. I've not seen much evidence of the US seriously probing say, British or French assumptions in the Middle East and Africa - instead, US takes them as gospel truth.

When the French and British ruled most of the globe, they picked favorites - and they still have favorites today; they haven't abandoned them. US policy has simply been to support the French and British - and their favorites - without fully understanding the societies they are dealing with. This we see in Mali, Niger, Chad and most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The British governed most of Nigeria through Muslim Fulani aristocrats - their favorites. So British foreign policy in Nigeria will always be pro-Muslim Fulani aristocrat - and since US policy in Nigeria follows the lead of British policy, it will also have the same biases.

The policy of simply supporting ex-colonial powers and their favorites or seeing the Developing World through the eyes of ex-colonial powers might have worked during the Cold War; but it isn't going to work for very much longer.

The Chinese, for example are quite pragmatic about the way they see the World; they deal with present realities.

Why does the US insist on carrying the baggage of defunct British, French, Portuguese and Belgian colonial empires in the 21st Century? Are there no new thinkers or no new ways of thinking?
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Old 08-16-2014   #10
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U.S. has biases? Of course we do. Most Africans seem to have perceptions of the U.S. that are tainted with considerable bias also. Unfortunately bias is part of the human condition and it takes considerable conscious effort to mitigate its impact on our decision making.

As for the U.S. continuing to support legacy British and French policy in their colonies, that was true in the past so some extent, but I don't see it now. The U.S. supporting Muslims in Nigeria I suspect is a perception issue on your part because U.S. diplomats are probably pushing for the government of Nigeria to ensure the government takes care of all its citizens and not discriminate against a particular group, because it will undermine their security in the long run.

Our support for British and French colonial efforts after WWII due to our alliance relationships still haunts us today in a lot of way. We even allowed France to drag us into Vietnam with threats from French political leadership not being able to support the U.S. agenda in Europe if the U.S. doesn't support the French in Vietnam. France was very unstable politically after the war, and we weren't sure what camp they would ultimately fall in.

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The Chinese, for example are quite pragmatic about the way they see the World; they deal with present realities.
If I correctly understand the Chinese approach in Africa it is one of non-interference, which I would think equates to supporting, even reinforcing, the status quo. Do most Africans enjoy the status quo. I realize their are many countries and cultures in Africa, but the problems of corruption and lack of opportunity seem to run through most of the countries. China is pragmatic about its self-interests, I think the U.S. actually has a longer term vision tied to the human condition throughout Africa.

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Are there no new thinkers or no new ways of thinking?
We have plenty of people offering new idea, concepts, etc. To get those funded you have to get them through a stagnant Congress and in some cases an overly idealistic White House (Clinton/Bush).
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Old 08-16-2014   #11
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Default Can the USA learn from Europe?

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David,

I'll throw this back at you to start. Many European nations had hubristic policies that justified their colonization of much of the developing world, and then they withdrew for a combination of reasons. What is Europe's current approach to developing nations? What are the lessons for the U.S.?
I will try to give a reply, mainly from my armchair in the UK, sorry Great Britain.

Many factors led to several European nations seeking and gaining colonies around the world. For a long period private companies drove this, notably the East India Company in India, which finally IIRC lost its power with the Indian Mutiny (as we know it) in 1854. There was a rival French-owned company before the French Revolution.

Sometimes nations cited a 'noble cause', such as ending slavery (I shall ignore how they facilitated the transatlantic trade), religion and more.

Until the period before 1914 I doubt there was any public mandate. Nationalism, being at the "high table" and dreams led to obscure places being colonised, such as South West Africa (now Namibia).

Even strategic places became colonies in effect. Such as Egypt, with the Suez Canal; in theory it remained an Ottoman vassal IIRC, but was perenially bankrupt and was violently absorbed as a 'self-governing' territory into the British Empire.

After 1945 steadily most European states dispensed with their colonies. The British fought wars in many, sometimes not against nationalism, e.g. Malaysia; others fought harder and longer in places they regarded as home territories - not colonies - such as France in Algeria and Portugal in Africa.

This history and the manner of leaving was the biggest factor in how post-colonial relatiosn evolved. As KingJaja has posted France had ways of keeping its former African colonies connected to France (a currency and soldiers). I doubt if Dutch relations with Indonesia are enduring.

A good number of ex-colonies, India is a very good example, decided that links to their former colonial master could be dispensed with. The Non-Aligned Movement (which was not that non-aligned) was seen as an alternative, plus good if limited relations with the Soviet bloc and China.

Tanzania maintained relations with the UK, but was a loud critic for example over Rhodesia (1965-1980) and found other European nations were unquestioning sources of aid till the 1990's.

Citing Bill (due to my length):
Quote:
What is Europe's current approach to developing nations? What are the lessons for the U.S.?
Europe, especially as the EU gained momentum alongside increasing trade flows within the EU, in effect largely turned inward. Yes there were frequent summits, diplomacy meandered along, sometimes military might was deployed - for short periods, some trade, a lot of aid, holidays in the sun (in a few places) and growing immigration. It is remarkable how many of the rich and powerful, plus those in opposition, frequent some cities in Europe - not that governments talk to them much (Islamists from Tunisia are cited as an example).

OK, Europe's approach is a mix of national and EU priorities. As a number of EU members were never colonisers that helps; the Irish gain being a former colony in their easy access.

Firn no doubt knows far more, but many ex-colonies have very little non-natural resources to trade with us. Oil and gas is the exception, which affected the UK's stance on Biafra's attempt to secede from Nigeria (France covertly took a different stance).

Aid I think remains large, although in the UK three times more is provided via charities & NGOs. Remittances, no idea. I suspect many former immigrants keep their money here.

Very few colonies are significant to national security. Terrorism is often cited, although rarely impacting back here. India has a major internal issue, but rarely impacts here. The ex-colonies in the Sahel are large and thinly populated.

Lessons? That will have to wait a BBQ awaits.
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Old 08-16-2014   #12
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Bill,

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The U.S. supporting Muslims in Nigeria I suspect is a perception issue on your part because U.S. diplomats are probably pushing for the government of Nigeria to ensure the government takes care of all its citizens and not discriminate against a particular group, because it will undermine their security in the long run.
I don't talk glibly. I understand Nigeria. It's not only Muslims that bear the brunt of Boko Haram - Christians in the North do.

It is one thing for US diplomats to genuinely press for human rights and another thing for them to openly advocate for a Muslim Northern president in private gatherings in Abuja and imply that in their public utterances.

This is no different from British policy in Nigeria - which was initiated by Lord Lugard in the 1910s - and hasn't changed ever since.

Nigeria has had a long history of grievances - starting from the Biafran war in the 1960s, to the Niger Delta. US diplomats never advocated handing over political power to a particular section of society as a solution to these problems - as they are advocating right now.

Anyone who knows Nigeria will know that US diplomats are merely following the lead of the British - i.e. British preferences on who should govern Nigeria.

Nigeria is a complex topic, which cannot be dealt with in one post.
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Old 08-16-2014   #13
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Davidbfo,

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Firn no doubt knows far more, but many ex-colonies have very little non-natural resources to trade with us. Oil and gas is the exception, which affected the UK's stance on Biafra's attempt to secede from Nigeria (France covertly took a different stance).
US policy is Africa is to follow the lead of the ex-colonial power (e.g Congo with the Belgians who had Lumumba killed, Francophone Africa presently) or just stay neutral (e.g. Biafra and the British).

In this the best stance to take in a Post-Cold War World, in a World where the presence of China creates facts on the ground, complicating relationships?

I don't know.
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Old 08-16-2014   #14
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Bill,

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If I correctly understand the Chinese approach in Africa it is one of non-interference, which I would think equates to supporting, even reinforcing, the status quo. Do most Africans enjoy the status quo. I realize their are many countries and cultures in Africa, but the problems of corruption and lack of opportunity seem to run through most of the countries. China is pragmatic about its self-interests, I think the U.S. actually has a longer term vision tied to the human condition throughout Africa.
I live in Africa, I'm really trying to figure out how US is changing the status quo here. You see, there's a world of difference between US rhetoric (which I admit is as intoxicating as fine wine) and reality.

A few nautikal miles from Nigeria is equatorial Guinea - its strong man, Obiang, has been in power sinxe 1979. He's worse than Mugabe - but unlike Mugabe, he has oil, lots of it - and Chevron is very happy with him.

The same applies to Dos Santos of Angola, Museveni of Uganda (apart from periodic outbursts to appease the gay lobby in the States - he's been power since 1985), Kagame in Rwanda, the Algerian generals, Mubarak - then Al Sisi in Egypt. This list is endless.

Consider Paul Biya in Cameroon - he's been on the job since 1982; but since France is happy with him and US must appease France in Francophone Africa - US has to be happy with him.

If you get beyond the sanctimonious bullsh*t from US politicians, diplomats & policy makers - there isn't much difference between US & Chinese conduct in Africa (conduct, not rhetoric).

The important distinction is that China, via trade and infrastructure is creating a lot more economic opportunities, while US is fixated on aid and NGOs - and I know that trade; not aid & NGOs will lead to an African middle class better able to challenge the status quo.
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Old 08-16-2014   #15
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Bill,

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If I correctly understand the Chinese approach in Africa it is one of non-interference, which I would think equates to supporting, even reinforcing, the status quo. Do most Africans enjoy the status quo. I realize their are many countries and cultures in Africa, but the problems of corruption and lack of opportunity seem to run through most of the countries. China is pragmatic about its self-interests, I think the U.S. actually has a longer term vision tied to the human condition throughout Africa.
A problem I have with many Westerners is they don't seem to understand how multifaceted or how dynamic the China-Africa relationship is. Most point to Chinese treatment of workers in Zambia as the sum total of that relationship. It is not.

This bus was assembled under a collaboration between Chinese and Nigerian business men - had absolutely nothing to do with either the Nigerian or Chinese governments - they are many of such collaborations in Nigeria - and the number is growing.



The average Western diplomat doesn't see Africa beyond stereotypes - talk less, the average Westerner, so the very idea that Africans have agency is novel to the Westerner - but Chinese merely see us as business partners, and that works out quite well in the long run.
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Old 08-16-2014   #16
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I live in Africa, I'm really trying to figure out how US is changing the status quo here. You see, there's a world of difference between US rhetoric (which I admit is as intoxicating as fine wine) and reality.
Kingjaja,

Your point is taken, and I can't provide a response that would mean anything other than state that our intentions are often good, but our execution to achieve those intended ends are normally terrible due to poor understanding and being blinded by our own rhetoric.

Quote:
A problem I have with many Westerners is they don't seem to understand how multifaceted or how dynamic the China-Africa relationship is. Most point to Chinese treatment of workers in Zambia as the sum total of that relationship. It is not.
When you have time I would like you to post more on this topic. When I have time I'll post some articles that state otherwise that you can challenge.

I'm not blowing sunshine up your butt, but your insights are very helpful to the SWJ community writ large since they often make us take a step back and reflect on our view of reality, which certainly isn't shared by much of the world, especially the developing world.
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Old 08-17-2014   #17
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Kingjaja,

Your point is taken, and I can't provide a response that would mean anything other than state that our intentions are often good, but our execution to achieve those intended ends are normally terrible due to poor understanding and being blinded by our own rhetoric.



When you have time I would like you to post more on this topic. When I have time I'll post some articles that state otherwise that you can challenge.

I'm not blowing sunshine up your butt, but your insights are very helpful to the SWJ community writ large since they often make us take a step back and reflect on our view of reality, which certainly isn't shared by much of the world, especially the developing world.
I'll respond in time, but let me just add that the Chinese aren't just building infrastructure or extracting minerals from the ground - they are also doing a lot of very good business with locals.

I don't know much about other parts of Nigeria, but since I come from Nigeria and a fifth of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is Nigerian; the situation in Nigeria must count for something.

Africa has real needs (consumer goods) - in the absence of mains electricity, Chinese built generators are very important. Quite a few local business people collaborate with Chinese partners to manufacture tires, plastics, white goods, motorcycles - you get the drift. It leads to more jobs and greater revenues on both sides.

Nobody in Africa is under any illusion about the Chinese - they don't pretend to be what they are not (unlike the US); they are mean, but they get the job done - a job that no one else (except say Indians & Lebanese who aren't any better) will do.

A few words about US and US intentions - I think US actually believes its rhetoric a bit too much. George Bush's Pepfar was laudable, but that isn't the sum total of US-Africa relationship. The major problem in this relationship is this: US has never bothered to ask what 1. African leaders or 2.The African public wants out of this relationship. It's more like a case of "here's the aid, that's all folks".

Most Americans (ordinary folk, presidents, policy makers) are yet to internalize this: most Africans DO NOT benefit from foreign aid.

So a foreign policy that is very heavy on foreign aid and foreign aid rhetoric is neither going to be useful nor very effective in the long run.

Chinese are a bit better; they actually spend time listening to African leaders. If a leader wants a dam, there might be a good reason for it - not dismissing that request out of hand like the US is wont to do and shoving an "environmentally sustainable" bull#### "solution" down his throat - and a lot of aid advisers (on gender, sustainability - and related nonsense).

Chinese don't tend to listen to African publics - but there is a large and growing relationship between Chinese and African businessmen (at least in my native Nigeria). US-Africa trade in 2013 was $85 billion, China-Africa trade was $210 billion - that points to a growing business relationship. When fracking & shale gas fully takes off - expect US-Africa trade figures to further fall.

A new airport terminal being built in one of Nigeria's growing towns - this is the kind of no fuss projects the Chinese deliver in record time - and financing is a lot cheaper.

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Old 08-17-2014   #18
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Bill,

Nuanced view of the Chinese & Africa - nobody believes they are saints. And I'm seeing a lot more "Blackanese" kids in Lagos.

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China is now Africa’s largest trading partner, yet not an uncontroversial one from the perspective of foreign observers and African citizens. China has built up infrastructure and industry on the continent, but it has extracted many of the region’s natural resources. At the same time, China and Africa have become important political allies, and China recently sent $5 million in aid to West African nations to combat the Ebola outbreak. Is China’s relationship with Africa an overall positive or negative one?

First, the positives. China has invested extensively in Africa. Foreign direct investment in Africa has been carried out in the mining, manufacturing, infrastructure and construction, and finance industries. Much of the funding for China’s investment in Africa comes from China’s policy banks, with the Export-Import Bank of China leading the way. The Export-Import Bank of China specializes in extending investment loans to the energy, mining, and industrial sectors, as well as lending for infrastructure construction. Trade between China and Africa has flourished, with China importing from Africa minerals, petroleum and other natural goods, and exporting to Africa machinery, textiles, and synthetic materials.

China has strong political relations with African nations. China is generally accepted in Africa as an economic and political ally, since it is viewed as a fellow “southern” region, offering more than business for profit alone. By contrast to Western nations, many of whom were former colonial powers, China is viewed by African political leaders as an equal, not an imperialist, partner. China established the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to promote cooperation between China and African political and civil institutions. Diplomatic relations are genial, since African leaders are interested in building up their domestic economies.
http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/chinas-model-for-africa/

NB: No matter how bad the Chinese are today, they're never going to be as bad as King Leopold in the Congo Free State - and the expectation is that labor practices will improve with time.

What happens 10/20 years down the line if/when the Chinese improve their labor practices and US falls even further behind as a trading partner & aid is discredited as a foreign policy tool - what does the US do?

I've talked about how dynamic this relationship is - remember that China/Africa trade was only $10.6 billion in 2000. Last year it was $210 billion!

I think we need to abandon all preconceived notions & assumptions and look carefully at this relationship.
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Old 08-17-2014   #19
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Chinese merely see us as business partners, and that works out quite well in the long run.
It's worked out well in the short to medium run. The long run still hasn't come around.

It's important to recognize that the net capital flow between China and Africa is still inbound: the Chinese are putting more in as investment than they are taking out as ROI. That won't last forever: the Chinese are there for business and they intend to make a profit. As those investments mature the net capital flow will reverse, which is when we'll see how sustainable the relationship really is.

That's particularly true of the deals exchanging today's infrastructure for tomorrow's production. Getting a road in exchange for 20 years of cocoa production seems like a great deal at first: the road gets built and no money goes out. Down the line the cocoa will be going out and no money will be coming in... so who pays the farmers?

It will be very interesting to see how the Chinese respond when an African government unilaterally abrogates a contract with a public or private Chinese entity, or when an African government fails to pay the piper.

It is of course possible that all these things can be worked out and everything will be cozy... or not. Most likely it will work out different ways in different places. It's still way too early to reach conclusions.
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Old 08-17-2014   #20
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David,

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It's worked out well in the short to medium run. The long run still hasn't come around.

It's important to recognize that the net capital flow between China and Africa is still inbound: the Chinese are putting more in as investment than they are taking out as ROI. That won't last forever: the Chinese are there for business and they intend to make a profit. As those investments mature the net capital flow will reverse, which is when we'll see how sustainable the relationship really is.

That's particularly true of the deals exchanging today's infrastructure for tomorrow's production. Getting a road in exchange for 20 years of cocoa production seems like a great deal at first: the road gets built and no money goes out. Down the line the cocoa will be going out and no money will be coming in... so who pays the farmers?

It will be very interesting to see how the Chinese respond when an African government unilaterally abrogates a contract with a public or private Chinese entity, or when an African government fails to pay the piper.

It is of course possible that all these things can be worked out and everything will be cozy... or not. Most likely it will work out different ways in different places. It's still way too early to reach conclusions.
How did the US, UK and other European nations get African nations to pay up their debts?

I lived through it, it was the formative experience of my youth - 1980s/90s. It was tough, but we paid - and we just finished paying last decade. Real household incomes dropped 80% in Nigeria during the 80s. I lived through it.

The Chinese aren't stupid - African govts will pay; the beauty of this approach is that it is left for African govts to manage their finances - some will, some won't, but the smarter ones won't make the mistake of repeating the mistakes we made with the West in 1980s/90s. Chinese financing is a lot cheaper - and they ensure the roads are built - not like the West that simply hands in the money to the Dictator who swiftly moves it to Switzerland - and the entire nation has to pay at 20 - 30% interest rate (compounded).

Nobody is doing this kind of barter trade - exchanging a road for entire 20 years worth of cocoa production. That would bankrupt the nation and yield no benefits to the Chinese.

In addition, you haven't figured out this - the Chinese are also looking out for consumers in Africa. There are a billion people in Africa & the Chinese are dealing with a demographic crisis at home - they need more consumers and where to site new factories, 10/20/30 years down the line - Africa suits them quite fine - especially in coastal regions where literacy is quite high.

You heard Chinese already have factories in Ethiopia? Productivity isn't as high as at home - but in a few years they'll figure out how to make this thing work in Africa (logistics, supplies, partners & stuff) - & they take it up in a very big way. (Chinese are building a free trade/industrial zone in Lagos Nigeria).

As an African, I see the West stubbornly stuck in the past, while the Chinese are constantly redefining and adapting to new realities (consider how they adapted to South Sudan).

For instance, you see Africa as primarily a natural resource driven economy far into the future - Chinese are betting that consumption will be huge & light industry will pick up (hence the massive investment in electricity projects).

Chinese also know (by actually being on the ground, interacting & doing business - not "writing news stories") that Africa is not monolithic!

The Chinese KNOW that labor issues & support for dictators is a challenge, but from what I've learned from them in Africa, they're not going to simply sit down twiddling their thumbs - they are going to do something about it.

Meanwhile, the West isn't bring anything new to what has been a 400 year old dysfunctional relationship with Africa, no new thinking, no nothing - just blame the Chinese.

But it won't work.
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