Africa in the Wider World: Africa and the Americas: Historic Ties, Future Opportunities

For several decades, the Americas have actively sought to engage other regions of the world. A significant component of this outward push is the proliferation of global partnerships, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the United States and the European Union; the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which links countries from Asia, Oceania, and the Americas; the proposed Mercosur (Common Market of the South)-European Union trade agreement; and the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American bloc that currently includes a number of Asian, African, Oceanic, and European countries as observers and is opening joint diplomatic offices in Ghana, Algeria, and Vietnam. These agreements are important tools because they serve not only to intensify commercial relations, but also to promote stronger political engagement between the regions involved. When it comes to Africa, however, similar initiatives are surprisingly scarce, considering the regions’ historical ties. Economic relations between both regions have also been modest: in 2009, trade between Africa and Latin America amounted to approximately US$23 billion, which accounted for less than 2 percent of Africa’s total imports and exports. This trend, however, seems to be shifting, as the value of trade between Africa and South America alone amounted to more than US$39 billion in 2011.

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Carl Meacham