Equal (not free) trade for Africa
What is going on in Africa defies all concepts that we hold to be true: our concept of neighbour, our concept of civilization, our concept of equality, of love. What Africa says about Europe, and America is withering. It says we’ve built our Houses of Parliament and government on sand, because if we really believed the things we say we believe, we would not let 23 million Africans die of AIDS. You can’t have the benefits of globalization without some of the responsibilities. We are now next-door neighbours through television images, through radio, through the internet, and through easy travel.
The answer to help Africa, which is definitely not more Foreign Aid (we can talk about this another time, I know FA is helpful, but it is not efficient and it is certainly not a long-run solution), is commerce and good government. We should look at foreign assistance as start-up money. Self-sufficiency is the goal. Everyone loves to talk about the free market, yet every major country treats Africa with unfair trade relationships. The poorest people on Earth are not allowed to put their products on our shelves in an even-handed way. They have to negotiate all kinds of tariffs and taxes. It’s not a level playing field. We can sell to them, but they cannot sell to us. In America we had Congress pass the Farm Bill which subsidizes American agriculture and makes it impossible for African farmers to compete.
All successful economies have protected their seed industries until they were strong enough to compete. We cannot deny for others what we demand for ourselves. Successful economies in Southeast Asia had a very careful, gradual journey to competitiveness. They are a great example of how aid can work to start an economy on its road to self-sufficiency. Now let’s give Africa a chance.