A New “Free Trade” Agreement

Once again I return to my small expertise….foreign affairs….I have gotten caught up in the drama we call politics here in the US….it is a train wreck that one cannot look away from or miss the best part.

Our president is playing the trade war card these days…..everyone is in his sights……his policies reflect ideas from the 1950s not the 21st century….but that is not what this post is about……

There is a new “Free Trade” agreement now…..it is the continent of Africa…..

In a nutshell, it means a single market of goods and services for 1.2 billion people with an aggregate GDP of over $2 trillion. UNCTAD, the UN’s trade body, predicts reducing intra-African tariffs under AfCFTA“could bring $3.6 billion in welfare gains to the continent through a boost in production and cheaper goods.”

One of the more stark economic data points about Africa is just how little African countries trade with each other—just 16% of total continental trade in 2014. The UN Economic Commission for Africa thinks AfCFTA has the potential to raise intra-African trade by 15% to 25%, or $50 billion to $70 billion, by 2040.

Brookings’s analyst Landry Signé estimates that if AfCFTA works as intended, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion in 2030.

https://qz.com/africa/1633022/africa-free-trade-deal-will-boost-continent-economy/

It is good to see that Africa is trying to protect itself and to make a better economy for the people of the region.

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Wassup in Africa?

There is one continent that the western world seems to dismiss as often as it can….like it does not matter…..but it does.

For instance….China is heavily invested in Africa…..the problem is their presence is having a negative effect…..

On a sticky morning on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Solomon Wambogo Munyua sprinkles water on the long and sturdy green shoots of the garlic crop he planted in January.

His farm is just one-eighth of an acre, perched on the humid mountainside in the fertile East African Rift Valley, over which glacier-capped peaks loom.

It isn’t an easy existence, and his concerns include issues ranging from transportation costs to the low prices paid for produce.

But these complaints are dwarfed by a new challenge farmers such as Munyua feel powerless to fight: imports of Chinese garlic flooding into the Kenyan market.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-s-relationship-africa-illustrated-garlic-tensions-n994486

That is a great example…….

But China is not alone….Russia seems to be back in Africa……

Russia’s recent activities in Sudan and the Central African Republic have been the subject of intense speculation.

That’s because along with renewed economic ties, private Russian military contractors are reported to have been active in both countries.

This is particularly sensitive in Sudan, where there have been widespread, often violent anti-government protests.

Moscow has been increasingly turning its attention to sub-Saharan Africa, developing trade, security and defence links.

So, what do we know about Russia’s activities in Africa, and how extensive are they?

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-45035889

Russia is on the rise in Africa……

Six African Heads of State will be among global leaders and foreign dignitaries to eye-witness the official ceremony inaugurating the newly elected Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, scheduled to take place on May 7 in Moscow.

The importance of this ceremony is that Putin will continue to keep the symbols of power – the national seal, the national flag and a specially bound copy of the Constitution after taking the oath of office as President.

 
I bring up the two situations with two of the biggest competitors of the US because I would like to know what the US has in store for Africa……

Africa is not likely to emerge as one of US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy priorities. But the continent is almost certain to be affected by the fallout from his hardline foreign policy views, his strong anti-Muslim pronouncements, his vow to eliminate Islamic terrorism, and his “America First” economic policies.  And the prospects are probably bleak for any bold new development initiatives targeted at Africa like those rolled by his predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Over the past two decades, US Africa policy has enjoyed strong bipartisan congressional support from both Democrats and Republicans working together. But without a strong commitment to Africa in the White House or Executive Branch under Trump, the major programmes that have defined US policy in Africa for the past two decades will probably struggle to sustain the previous funding levels and state support.

https://africanarguments.org/2017/02/01/trumps-africa-policy-unclear-and-uncertain/

Newsweek offered n small look at what the Trump Africa Agenda will look like……

The U.S. faces an ever-connected, dynamic, and often dangerous world. Nowhere are the obstacles and opportunities presented by these conditions more evident than in U.S.-Africa policy.

Despite offering little insight into this foreign policy thinking during the campaign, the president-elect will enter office facing a number of serious challenges to U.S. interests in Africa, but also an unprecedented chance to deepen a partnership with the fastest-growing continent in the world and advance American security and economic interests.

The following priorities should be of particular interest to the Trump administration:

https://www.newsweek.com/three-priorities-donald-trump-africa-521375

As usual the US seems to care little for the Africa nations….only what can be pulled from their natural resources…..(see map to help one understand)……

Karma Is Truly A Bitch

Closing Thought–09apr19

You got to love it when some a/hole gets his just desserts (no pun intended)…..

A big problem in Africa is poachers….those that kill animals for body parts they sell like ivory or rhino horn or a bladder or two……

I seem that Mother Nature is taking care of the poacher problem herself…….I wrote about it last year……https://lobotero.com/2018/07/07/now-thats-poetic-justice/

Sorry but that story made me chuckle a bit…..

Then over last weekend I read another story of Karma striking……

A poacher in South Africa in search of rhino horn instead brutally met his maker courtesy of a different beast altogether. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports, the unidentified man was hunting Tuesday with four other men when he was trampled by an elephant, then apparently eaten by a pride of lions. When park officials began searching for his remains, all they found was a pair of pants and a skull. “Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” says the preserve’s manager. “It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.” The four surviving poachers have been charged

Once again a story that made me laugh out loud……and lions are cleaning up the mess……

See! Karma is truly a bitch!

Africa Loves China

Recently Chief of Staff Bolton made a speech outlining the new US policy for Africa…and as usual I had to write about it……https://lobotero.com/2019/01/08/liberte-egalite-imperialisme/

According to the US point of view China is trying to get one up on the US in Africa….

A look at African natural resources distribution…..

Image result for Africa natural resources map images

But is all the US predictions actual fact or something more fanciful….

At the September 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, African Union Chairperson and Rwandan President Paul Kagame lauded the Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa as a source of “deep transformation”. Kagame argued that the cooperation between China and Africa is based on mutual respect and is for the benefit of both partners. This sentiment is perhaps shared by most African heads of states and governments if their attendance of the summit is anything to go by.

However, despite the African leadership’s embrace of China as a valued partner, the view that Beijing is a “predatory” actor in Africa, attempting to recolonise the continent is also ubiquitous in foreign policy circles, media narratives and academia.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/africa-loves-china-190103121552367.html

All I want Americans to realize is that….not everything you hear is accurate….especially from this White House.

Liberte, Egalite, Imperialisme

*********There is a wealth of information to take in but this will catch my reader up on the little reported American situation in Africa.*********

The US is not the only nation flexing its muscle in Africa….an old colonial power is back and extending its arm of power….France.

Nearly twenty-five years later, there are still no convictions for the assassinations that turned first Rwanda, then the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), into a vast killing ground. Not in the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR), where two investigations of Kagame were shut down, and where a judge told defense attorney Tiphaine Dickson, “We don’t investigate plane crashes [or Tutsis, only Hutus].” And not in the French or Spanish courts, where French and Spanish citizens claimed jurisdiction because their relatives died in the plane shot down or in the ensuing massacres.

The subtext of the Rwandan War and the Congo Wars was competition between the US/UK and France. France, which was then the dominant power in the region, had been the patron of Habyarimana’s Hutu government; the US and UK backed Kagame’s invading Tutsi army, which emerged victorious in 1994, declared that English would from thereon be Rwanda’s international business language, then invaded and occupied French-speaking Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) two years later.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/liberte-egalite-imperialisme-vive-la-france-in-black-africa/5664654

Not much is said these days about Africa even though the US has troops operating all over the continent…I try to keep up with the events in Africa for they are no less important than others…..

Our troops that are operating in Africa fall under the leadership of AFRICOM……the sad part is that in some cases the US troops appear to be an occupation force under the guise of advise and support…..

It should be noted that the US has been involved in the Sahel region going back to the early years of the George W. Bush administration, even before the establishment of AFRICOM, which was later greatly expanded by the Obama administration.

After 9/11, the United States began to grow its military footprint on the African continent under the guise of a ‘War on Terror’, selling this notion to a United States gripped with fear of terrorism. With programs such as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, later broadened into the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, Washington managed to provide military and financial assistance to compliant countries in North Africa – a policy whose practical application meant that the US military became the dominant force in the Sahel region, supplying the human and material resources for which the governments of the region were starved. Naturally, this meant an implicit subservience to US military command.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/11/africom-a-neocolonial-occupation-force/

AFRICOM is operating in Africa proper……and most of it is secret to top secret to higher……

As the Pentagon was in the midst of reviewing new plans for special operations missions in Africa reducing overall troop numbers on the continent, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis designated three new named contingency operations.

The most recent quarterly report from the Department of Defense Inspector General notes the creation of Operation Yukon Journey, a counterinsurgency operation in Yemen, and counterterrorism operations in both northwest and east Africa.

Those were named in February, according to the report. The report covered activities in Operations Inherent Resolve from July to September.

With that said….2019 and the Trump administration has a new African strategy……

I speech by NatSec adviser Bolton gave to the Heritage (go figure…if you want to spread BS then Heritage is your starting point)…..

Well, Kim, thanks very much, and thanks to you and Kay for inviting me here. I’m delighted again to be here at the Heritage, an institution that really has contributed so much to the public policy debate for many decades now in the United States. And I’m particularly pleased to be here to unveil the Trump administration’s new Africa Strategy, which the President approved yesterday, and which the administration will begin executing immediately.

This strategy is the result of an intensive interagency process, and reflects the core tenets of President Trump’s foreign policy doctrine. Importantly, the strategy remains true to his central campaign promise to put the interests of the American People first, both at home and abroad.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-national-security-advisor-ambassador-john-r-bolton-trump-administrations-new-africa-strategy/

This new strategy is all about China and less about Africa…..

President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton outlined the US administration’s new Africa strategy in a speech last week at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC. The main tenets of the strategy, including the prioritisation of trade and investment, combatting of terrorism, and better-targeting of US foreign aid in Africa, are on the whole sensible. The US has already increased the promotion of private sector engagements in Africa as a key lever for development and should continue to support US investment in Africa.

Unfortunately, the positive aspects of the strategy were a little lost in the speech because the new US Africa strategy is not really about Africa. It’s about China.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/new-us-africa-strategy-not-about-africa-it-s-about-china

Few African nations see this as an Africa strategy…more like trying to hedge all policies to confront China…..

The strategy calls for an end to the dissipation of aid across a multitude of projects and in the name of many causes. The US is the largest provider of development assistance world-wide and to Africa, spending $8.7 billion on the continent alone in 2017. USAID maintains more than two dozen regional and bilateral African missions. Nothing much amiss with this idea either. As Ambassador Bolton correctly noted, one of the comparative strengths of the Marshall Plan was in its targeting of key economic sectors. Yet problems in the operational ineffectiveness of aid is not only confined to Africa. It is also at least as much a donor problem as one of the recipients. The high transaction costs of aid reflect the multiple domestic constituencies in the donor countries that need to be assuaged, highlighting institutional priorities and politics that are seldom African in origin.

https://qz.com/africa/1501023/president-obasanjo-says-trumps-africa-strategy-cant-rival-china/

As usual the US African policy has very little to do with Africa and everything to do with the US and its desires for plunder.

But don’t tell anyone…US Troops expand their mission in Africa……

While the election in Congo was relatively quiet, the US is expecting that there will be protests when the results are announced. The anticipation is enough that President Trump has ordered to send troops to neighboring Gabon, and is warning the Congolese not to protest.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is reporting that the US sent about 80 troops and “appropriate combat equipment” to Gabon for the fight, President Trump has said more troops will deploy as needed to Gabon.

The election is between the ruling party’s candidate Ramazani Shadary, and opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who is backed by the Catholic Church. The Catholics appear to be anticipating a Fayulu win, and have warned of an “uprising” if an untrue result is released.

Shadary is backed by long-standing dictator Joseph Kabula’s family, and has accused the Catholics of being “irresponsible and anarchist” in their attitude toward the election.

(antiwar.com)

While American troops are deployed in Gabon because of situation in Congo….a coup breaks out in Gabon…..

Soldiers from Gabon’s Republican Guard have appeared on state television saying they have launched a coup “to restore democracy” in the West African country. Early Monday a soldier who identified himself as Lt. Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military has seized control of the government. He was flanked by two others holding weapons and all were dressed in camouflage uniforms and green berets, the AP reports.

A curfew has been imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet has been cut. The city is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles, but no violence has been reported. President Ali Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment. In his brief New Year’s speech, the 59-year-old Bongo declared that the country was “indivisible” and acknowledged his health problems without giving details. “A difficult period,” he called it, and a challenge that he surmounted “thanks to God.”

US Troops seem to always be in the wrong place at the right time…..hopefully this will not get uglier.

Need we say more?

The Great Cashew Riot

My Sunday and cooler weather it is enjoyable……maybe enjoy some fruit and nuts in the garden….speaking of nuts…….

Did you know there was a great cashew riot?  We have seen all kinds of riots…race riots, Zoot Suit riots, even some milder form of food riots…..but a nut riot?  A Cashew Riot?

In 2013 the shortage of cashew nuts led to about 20 farms being burned down…….well it is happening again….the problem is so severe that the army has been put on call…..

Traders have been given a Monday deadline to buy crops from farmers at an approved price, and not below.

If this does not happen, Mr Magufuli said he will send dozens of military trucks to collect the entire crop.

Cashew nut exports are a major foreign-currency earner for Tanzania.

Farmers have for weeks been refusing to sell their harvests, arguing that the private traders’ offers are too low.

On Saturday, Mr Magufuli accused traders of attempting to rip off thousands of farmers and ordered them to increase their price offers to around $1.3 (£1; €1.15) per kilogram (2.2 pounds).

The president says he is working to ensure thousands of farmers get a fair price for their cashew nuts and also so that the country does not miss out on vital export earnings.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46166985

That is right…..cashew riots are possible…..I love my cashews but I do not think I could riot over the lack of them….but then I do not depend on a harvest now do I?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend…..we will pick up where we left off Friday come Monday morning…..

Be well, be safe!

Secrets The Dead Reveal

I once heard a major say that the “dead reveal their secrets”….he was referring to the Viet Cong that been killed and the intel that was garnered off their bodies…..but the same could be said for many other dead….like those Americans killed around the world or more specific in Africa…..

Because of American dead we learned that we have troops operating in countries like Niger and Mali to mention only a few……in Niger we had 4 Americans killed in an ambush and in Mali we had friendly killing friendly…..

Further Reading:

https://lobotero.com/2017/10/27/what-are-u-s-forces-doing-in-niger-anyway/

https://lobotero.com/2018/11/07/suspicious-death-in-mali/

As the Pentagon was in the midst of reviewing new plans for special operations missions in Africa reducing overall troop numbers on the continent, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis designated three new named contingency operations.

The most recent quarterly report from the Department of Defense Inspector General notes the creation of Operation Yukon Journey, a counterinsurgency operation, and counterterrorism operations in both northwest and east Africa.

Those were named in February, according to the report. The report covered activities in Operations Inherent Resolve from July to September.

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/11/06/report-reveals-few-details-about-new-named-contingency-operations-in-africa/

Another report is out and it looks like AFRICOM will be losing some of its operating overhead…..

The Pentagon is mulling plans to wind down special operations missions on the African continent and reassign troops to other, more in-demand regions.

The plans, submitted by a top U.S. military commander, align with the Trump administration’s strategy to focus on near-peer threats from countries like China and Russia.

“No decision has been officially made regarding the U.S. counterrorism forces operating in Africa,” a Pentagon press official told Military Times. “In light of the [2018 National Defense Strategy’s] updated priorities, the [DoD] is reviewing plans, operations, and military investments across the globe to develop the best options that address the evolving threat to U.S. national interests.”

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/08/02/report-africom-looks-to-cut-special-ops-missions-pull-out-hundreds-of-troops-from-africa/

I for one would like to see more of our troops return home…..we already have enough wars we are fighting why look for more?