America and Europe Rethink how They Do Business with the Continent
“We will be the guinea pig,” said Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, before trade talks with America opened last year. A deal would make Kenya only the second African country after Morocco to sign a free-trade agreement with the United States. Officials in the Trump administration called the proposed deal “a model” for future ones. But such bilateral talks jar with Africa’s push for regional integration and with President Joe Biden’s emphasis on multilateralism. Negotiations are now on hold while America works out what to do next. The pause reflects a sense of drift in Africa’s trade relations with the West. In the past they granted concessions, such as lower tariffs on African exports, without requiring African countries to reciprocate. Now they are increasingly looking to negotiate two-way agreements which will open up African markets, too. The old approach was paternalistic and gave Africans little say. But the new one, handled badly, could put Africa’s own integration at risk.