Sunday, January 10, 2010

Africa and China Need Comprehensive Trade Agreement

It is time that China and Africa reach a comprehensible, if not that a significant trade agreement. In the last five years China has made significant strides to enter Africa to exploit Africa's mineral wealth. That in itself is not a bad thing, Africa's minerals have flowed to China and more Chinese goods have flowed to Africa. China needs these minerals for its successful planned growth of 8 - 10% per annum.

However much more can come from this relationship. Africa needs to get from China what it failed to get from the West, a significant trade agreement. In return Africa needs also to be able to export to China unfettered its agricultural produce. This will employ millions of Africans, uplifting many households who in turn will purchase more Chinese goods, it will be a win win solution. The land is there in Africa, the farmers are there, with proper organization the yields will be there. Free the market between the two great societies of Africa and China and the will of the Africans will be there is there will be an avenue for them to make a living, build it and they will come so to say. This will create a harmonious relationship of growth and prosperity for over 2 billion people.

There are two valid reasons for trade, the first is the one mentioned above, obviously economics. Two people or societies make an exchange in order to both gain in material terms, the more they gain from each other the cycle will lead to greater gain for both as the trade continues and the two societies concentrate on what they are doing, that is to say specialize.

The second reason overlooked by most is the political gain. Trade leads to better political relations as both societies will cringe at the thought of loss if they do not respect each other. When two societies have trade agreements they are essentially acknowledging each other as worthy human beings. Refusing to trade means one essentially wants to keep the other down. That, through colonial past and the present the West refused to open up their markets to Africa is a sign that they never acknowledged Africans as worthy, because they wanted to make it look like they are helping Africa not equal as human beings, sad but the reality of this world, they prefer aide not trade with Africa except for minerals only because they do not have those minerals.

Africa and China must not make the mistakes of the past, this exploitation of minerals should be the foundation of better things to come, agricultural produce from Africa must be allowed to flow unhindered to China, keeping food prices stable and ensuring ultimately that more Chinese goods flow to Africa. The Africans must organize their agricultural industries and besides organization, the government must stay out of it and let individual farmers make their own choices make their own profits and losses. It is the private sector that has given China and India spectacular growth, it can only be the same in Africa, stop trying to control peoples thoughts and actions too much.

It is foolish and morally debasing for African leaders not to give the African a chance, Dubai must buy food farmed by Africans for example not rent land in Tanzania or Madagascar and the African in Africa stands aside and watches when he should be doing the job and selling the produce. It is time to grow up.

The West has refused for the last fifty years for any meaningful trade arrangement with Africa, (I have no clue why, you would have to ask those who rule the place), it is never going to happen, it is no longer needed, the image they need to keep is a diseased ridden place, but they never catch those diseases whilst mining. The time was yesterday for a meaningful trade arrangement with China, acknowledge each other as human beings.

Bhekuzulu khumalo

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Bhekuzulu Khumalo

I write about knowledge economics, information, liberty, and freedom