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Trump's tariff’s impact on Africa and the ambiguous role of African agency

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  • Kohnert, Dirk

Abstract

The international discussion of Trump's dispute over import tariffs for steel, aluminum and even cars are so far focused on the big global players. However, smaller African countries in particular suffer too from the planned punitive tariffs, similar to the famous African proverb, "When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers". After years of talk on partnership for economic development (AGOA, Cotonou Agreement, EPAs, etc) Trump’s tariffs mean a severe blow to participatory foreign trade and sustainable industrialization in Africa. Egypt and South Africa for example, the potentially most affected African countries, face massive job losses and earning opportunities, with all the consequences that this entails for their already fragile economy and the population in dire poverty. Trump’s intervention thus joins the continued power politics of former colonial powers vis à vis Africa. Nevertheless, despite these asymmetric power relations, unfair trade relations and the desolate state of African infant industries are not necessarily due to externalities but often home-made. African agency plays an ambiguous role in enhancing participatory trade and indigenous industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohnert, Dirk, 2018. "Trump's tariff’s impact on Africa and the ambiguous role of African agency," MPRA Paper 87647, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:87647
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kohnert, Dirk & Elwert, Georg & Bierschenk, Thomas, 1993. "The long-term effects of development aid - Empirical studies in rural West Africa," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 83-111.
    2. Morisset, Jacques, 1997. "Unfair trade? Empirical evidence in world commodity markets over te past 25 years," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1815, The World Bank.
    3. Michael Barratt Brown, 2007. "‘Fair Trade’ with Africa," Review of African Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(112), pages 267-277, June.
    4. Justesen, Mogens K. & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2014. "Exploiting the Poor: Bureaucratic Corruption and Poverty in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 106-115.
    5. Dirk Kohnert, 2015. "Horse-trading on EU-African Economic Partnership Agreements," Review of African Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(143), pages 141-147, March.
    6. Kohnert, Dirk, 2014. "African Agency and EU-African Economic Partnership Agreements," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 149-155.
    7. Kohnert, Dirk, 2014. "Horse trading? EU-African Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)," MPRA Paper 57070, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Jul 2014.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    foreign trade; tarrifs; USA; Africa; South Africa; Egypt; Nigeria; agency; corruption;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • N67 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N77 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Africa; Oceania
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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