Countries fear the United Kingdom

Brexit: what will change for Africa?

Investments of over seven billion euros were announced when Great Britain hosted the "UK-Africa Investment Summit" less than a year ago. After Brexit, the old colonial power is looking for a new role in the structure of the world - and is also extending its feelers to Africa.

But in view of the corona crisis and the not yet foreseeable consequences after the end of the Brexit transition phase, the investment mood is currently in the basement, says Dirk Kohnert, who is researching the effects of Brexit at the GIGA Institute for Africa Studies. "My assumption: Great Britain will, under the current Corona conditions, not be able to keep the generous investment promises for Africa."

Rolf Langhammer, trade expert and professor at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, does not believe in any noteworthy British investment and trade boosts for Africa as a result of Brexit: "Trade and direct investments depend on economic conditions because of leaving the EU. The import demand will be negative and that will also have a negative effect on the demand for African products. "

Will African states benefit from bilateral trade deals with Great Britain?

Equal partnership?

For some of the African Commonwealth of Nations, which include 19 out of 54 states on the continent, Great Britain is one of the most important markets for their exports. London is currently claiming that its new post-Brexit trade policy will better protect the interests of all African countries. British trade policy with Africa should be more fair and fair than that of the European Union.

In fact, by leaving the EU, the British could conclude their own free trade agreements and thus theoretically go deeper into the interests of the respective partner country, explains Melanie Hoffmann, customs expert at the German foreign trade agency GTAI. Some of these British-African trade agreements came into force on January 1st.

However, these are by no means newly negotiated contracts with completely different rules. On the contrary: The British have adopted the existing agreements with the EU for certain groups of African countries by converting them into bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom and the respective African states.

How will the new rules of the game between Great Britain and Africa be designed in the future?

"One example is the economic partnership agreement with some countries in eastern and southern Africa - explicitly with Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe - that was a kind of 'roll-over'. So this EU economic partnership agreement with these four partner states has been taken and opened transferred to the UK. "

These so-called roll-over agreements with African countries provide for customs exemption for African exports to Great Britain and at the same time give African countries the opportunity to only partially open their markets to British products and to benefit from long transition periods.

With the member states of the South African Customs Union and Mozambique (Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique), the regulations already in force with the EU have been transferred to Great Britain. Great Britain is still negotiating a joint agreement with Ghana, Hoffmann added.

Commonwealth first?

"The countries with which Great Britain has already concluded roll-over agreements are almost without exception Anglophone. The British have so far hardly concluded any agreements with the large French-speaking countries in West Africa," criticized trade expert Langhammer. "It looks as if the British are now strengthening their old colonial ties and are not paying any attention to the French or Portuguese-speaking countries, for example."

Experts warn that so far Great Britain has mainly awarded former colonies with trade agreements

After Brexit, the old colonial preferences would become more visible again, said Langhammer. "We are splitting the continent back into the old language zones that used to exist in colonial times."

Problem case Nigeria

A problem case in connection with the Brexit is currently Nigeria, also an Anglophone country and a former British colony and by far the most populous country on the continent. But no new trade agreement or rollover has been concluded with Nigeria of all places, says Africa expert Kohnert.

This will probably have a very negative impact on the African country's economy. For the time being, Nigeria will be treated according to the rules of the World Trade Organization and will no longer have a privileged partnership with Great Britain.

Nigeria is a "big chunk", says trade expert Langhammer: The country's economy is dependent on oil exports and otherwise completely unable to compete internationally. "Nigerians refuse to sign a free trade agreement with the West African economic community because they fear competition from neighboring countries."

The fear of foreign competition is probably also the reason why a trade agreement with Great Britain has not yet been concluded. Kohnert explains that Nigeria is unwilling to maintain the old trade division of exporting crude oil and agricultural raw materials and importing machinery and technology goods. "The country is increasingly getting its industrial goods from Asian countries such as China and India. Global trade is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the concept of Global Britain will be difficult to implement there."

For Kohnert, however, one thing is certain: "Sooner or later Great Britain and Nigeria will agree on a bilateral trade agreement. A few rich will even benefit from Brexit. The poor, on the other hand, will fall down."

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Extensive duty-free

    The Brexit deal does not include tariffs or export quotas if the UK leaves the single market and customs union. This should ensure a seamless transition in January 2021. The negotiating partners have also agreed on trade facilitation for key industries such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and food.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    The end of freedom of movement

    The freedom of movement and the freedom of establishment, to be able to work, study, start or live a business in the place of their own choice, ends - for British people in the EU and vice versa. Existing or acquired rights and entitlements to social benefits such as pensions, parental leave, medical care remain. You do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    The dispute over the fish has been settled

    Fish exports to the EU are subject to tariffs and the UK is committed to complying with EU food standards. Joint sustainable management of fish stocks and quotas in continental and UK waters will be guaranteed for a transition period of five and a half years. Mutual access to all fishing grounds will remain unchanged for a long time.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Aviation Safety Cooperation

    Even if passenger air traffic from the United Kingdom is no longer part of the free air traffic market within the EU, the agreement still ensures further cooperation in aviation. These include flight safety and air traffic management. Freight traffic by air between the two economic areas remains unhindered.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Tenders remain open

    Professional qualifications of doctors, pharmacists, engineers and other specialists are no longer automatically recognized on both sides. The agreement ensures equal treatment of service providers or investors. It is intended to remove barriers to digital trade and to ensure that bidders have access to job tenders on both sides.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    No more emissions trading

    The UK is leaving the EU's energy market and the European Atomic Energy Community, Euratom, and is leaving the EU's emissions trading scheme. Both sides guarantee the security of the energy supply and work together on offshore energy generation in the North Sea. The agreement stipulates obligations to the Paris climate agreement and is intended to coordinate the CO2 price rules on both sides.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Erasmus leaves London

    In education, research and technology, the UK will leave the Erasmus academic exchange program, but will continue to be part of five key joint programs: Horizon Europe, the Euratom research and training program, the ITER fusion test facility, the Copernicus Earth Surveillance System and the EU Satellite surveillance and tracking system.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Transport rights on the road

    UK truck drivers will lose the right to "cross-trade" freely in the EU. However, the Brexit agreement continues to secure point-to-point traffic between the EU and the UK as well as full transit rights over each other's territories. Agreements on working conditions, road safety and fair competitive conditions remain in place.

  • Brexit: What's in the contract?

    Cooperation instead of membership

    The UK will leave Interpol and Eurojust and lose access to sensitive EU databases in areas such as security and justice. The agreement ensures that London will continue to cooperate with these authorities. The rapid exchange of passenger data, DNA, fingerprints, vehicles and criminal files between the UK and the EU is guaranteed. +++++ Adapted from English