U.S. Struggles to Keep up With China's Commercial Expansion in Africa

U.S. Struggles to Keep up With China's Commercial Expansion in Africa

the China and Africa podcast is brought to you in partnership with the Africa China reporting project at which University in Johannesburg the a CRP promotes balanced considered reporting on Africa China relations through innovative training programs helped throughout the earth more information at F Regina reporting co today hello and welcome to another edition of the China in Africa podcast I'm Eric Olander and as always I'm joined by caboose van Statten a senior China Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg South Africa a very good afternoon to you Kobus good afternoon Kobus it has been about six weeks now seven weeks since the new US strategy for Africa known as prosper Africa was unveiled in Maputo Mozambique and it came with a lot of anticipation a lot of expectation and we haven't really heard too much about it now but right now in Washington the hot topic of the day of course is China and everywhere you go in Washington they're talking about China and the coincidence of just the launch of prosper Africa with this heightened awareness of China makes for a very very interesting time to discuss us-china africa relations it's one of the topics Kobus that you and i said at the beginning of the year we were going to spend a lot of this year focusing on because it is transformational there is so much going on right now and and it's just something that we need to kind of keep up because it is changing very very quickly yes very quickly it's also very complicated because it is increasingly mixed a mix of business and geopolitics and you know a company like Huawei is a great example of how of how business and geopolitics are really kind of becoming very very entangled in this triangle between the US Africa and China and Africa is really a really an important you know case study here because Chinese companies have moved so rapidly into the African market and they've been so successful in expanding in Africa so Africa really presents a child to the US on lots of different levels political and business levels to see you know kind of not only to counter China but also to engage Africa in creative ways so just last week there was a report in The New York Times that unveiled a new or a revitalization of the Committee on the present danger now this sounds like right out of a Stanley Kubrick movie from the 1950s in the Cold War bin and ironically it was actually a group that was formed in Washington to counter the Soviet threat now they've revitalized a group of I would say you know more conservative on the far right side of the of the spectrum any time Steve Bannon is somewhere there that's probably a good definition of it but again gives you a tone with which where Washington's feeling is on China right now and so we want to talk about China Africa US relations and there's no better person to do that than Aubry Ruby and in part because Audrey came out with a new report deconstructing the dragon Chinese commercial expansion in Africa she is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council this report that she came out with this month is really just a masterclass in how China does business in Africa and how the United States should compete and her recommendations for it a very good morning to you Audrey from Washington DC thank you Eric and Cobus it's great to be on so you wrote this report at a time when boy everybody is in fact talking about Washington China in fact in Washington I know for myself because I was just there with you or you know a few weeks ago and the amount of interest is off the charts it is a decidedly negative view of China there's no doubt on that you even said right in the third sentence of your report the administration's approach to Africa is inextricably linked to its perception of China as a strategic threat talk to us a little bit about the context with which you wrote this report today in Washington and why you put that emphasis so high up in the report yeah so as I kind of framed it in the report really Africa policy and I've been thinking around Africa policy has been embedded in a larger worldview that the u.s. is in a strategic economic competition with China globally and Africa is a part of that and that view is held both by Republicans and Democrats it's true bipartisan view in Washington that the relationship with China needs to be recalibrated and that some of Chinese business practices and successes in particular emerging markets somehow pose a competitive threat to US interests so that's the overall framing that's taken hold and Africa policy is nestled within that framing so in on this show we talk a lot about about this issue of you know the Chinese preeminence in fields like infrastructure and you know how Western companies and particularly American companies frequently you know aren't as visible in Africa in the report you actually you you point out how China brings a set of tools to the table that makes it easier for them to actually dominate this space in Africa and you unpack a little bit about a little bit why China is so preeminent in these kind of these specific kind of projects in Africa yeah I've really kind of broken it down into kind of two models we can think about and and one you can call the Chinese model and one more the Western or American model the first is is doing business in a government-to-government or G to G fashion where the the infrastructure projects are actually financed based on a intergovernmental agreement for a loan and that has been kind of the backbone practice of Chinese infrastructure investment it's really built on infrastructure financing that's greed upon by two governments so for example Kenya and China on the standard gauge railway will agree on a loan package and then a Chinese infrastructure company a construction firm or what I call EP C's engineering procurement construction firms we'll actually execute on that contract that g2g model has been the historic way that China has expanded into African markets commercially on the US side the model is completely different it's more government to business or g2b so it's not based on this government to government bilateral loan agreement in fact we don't have a mechanism here to actually loan African governments anything outside of military outside of the military realm to buy us products it's always that those relationships are always construed with a government to business angle so government either supports a company or a project on the ground in African markets so if this is in fact the case which I think it is based on what you've said why is it that the United States government and I'm not asking you necessarily to speak on behalf of the government you don't work for the government just to make that very clear but you have some insights into how these people think why is it then that they are constantly saying that they want to present themselves as an alternative to the Chinese when in fact they're doing something totally different yeah I think that's an issue that we have to continue to kind of chip away at is whether these things are complementary or truly competitive I argue that we don't we mean the US and American companies don't do infrastructure well we don't do it well in our own country when we you know built the Transcontinental Railroad in this country a hundred thousand Chinese worked on it in the 1880s so infrastructure has not been an area of American strength for some time but rather we are service based economy and there are areas that are complementary there I think what's seen as competitive is particularly these two different models I mean one is based on kind of in transparent sole-source bidding to win commercial product projects and the other is way more focused on third party open kind of bidding processes if there were to be big big projects so I think it's a contrast of the models more than competition around any one project if I could kind of contrast the two models as you've laid it out in your report and I'll quote from your report Western per cube procurement procedures which involve various layers of transparency well articulated timelines third-party feasibility studies environmental impact reviews and labor condition requirements stand in stark contrast to how most Chinese infrastructure projects are secured and constructed and constructed in African markets then you go on to say the quick pace at which workers are on site and shovels are in the ground is another major competitive advantage of Chinese companies what we have heard over the years is that there is a huge demand for the Chinese way of doing business of all that report all those paperwork's all that accountability all that transparency is time-consuming it's expensive and it's cumbersome and it often times comes with political conditions as well attached to it what indication do you have from all the travels and all the the people you've spoken with in Africa that people actually want the American model and all of that bureaucracy that goes with it well I think that it is a strategic advantage this mobilization capacity the ability for Chinese to move quickly on infrastructure projects and I think when it comes to infrastructure I do think that there's probably an advantage that Chinese companies have that American companies are just not going to be able to match or the processes are not going to be able to match you do hear concerns across the continent you know I've worked in 30 plus countries and spend 50 percent of my time that there's quality issues you do hear that and that you would prefer Western quality projects but you know there are other competitors Turkish companies etc that can deliver quality products when it comes to infrastructure where I hear the demand for more of the kind of Western model if you will or in other sectors such as like entertainment venture and technology investments into you know particular software and services so I do think that there's demand for the kind of American expertise but it's just in other sectors than an infrastructure you point out in the report that even though you know you're America is this it's relatively is relatively small in the infrastructure field American companies are massive in terms of foreign direct investment over over a long time in Africa and you also mentioned that that Chinese foreign direct investment ISM isn't increasing quite rapidly in Africa in the first place like what have been some of the u.s. successes in foreign direct investment in Africa and and where are the sectors where China is starting to move in well you know there have been several American companies that have been in African markets for over a century you see General Electric there and has a deep footprint you have coca-cola you have the AG players like agricultural players like Cargill ADM they're invested on the continent you see caterpillar machines and John Deere machines so there there are American companies with kind of deep footprints and experience on the continent you have the consulting firms the PwC's the Deloitte's McKinsey the Boston Consulting Group you see the service sector there as well so I do think you have an American investment footprint it's just not been as dynamic in many ways because the same companies that were there 20 years ago or many of those that are there today and you don't see a new batch of kind of smaller American firms stepping into the into the opportunity and in those in that area you do see the Chinese kind of evolving into other sectors so for a long time it was just the infrastructure players and the e pcs that were on the ground and now you see beyond Huawei and ZTE you see transmission the phone makers all the the cheap the handset makers have invested a lot in a traditional FDI meaning off their corporate balance sheets they're investing in African markets and they're doing so often without the support of the traditional kind of China XM bank structure I'm curious about the tone in Washington right now I mentioned at the beginning of the show that this is an unusual time right now in our history in terms of how we perceive China and then that of course in fact it you know changes how we perceive Africa as well because so much of it is being run through the prism of China and it's just an interesting contrast between what's going on in China today in terms of their approach towards Africa and in the US and in China there's this sense of real optimism on the part of a lot of business leaders and we saw this at the trade Expo that happened in Hunan in Changsha last month where thousands of Africans went thousands of Chinese companies went and there was this sense that were we Africa is a market for Chinese companies and Chinese products and still in the United States there is a perception that Africa is a basket case it is the place where aids Ebola war fighting famine you name it comes from there isn't this kind of optimistic outlook towards Africa and I'm curious when you dropped this report in Washington and when you started talking with various American stakeholders what was their reaction to it what was the discussions and the topics that you engaged in when you held various meetings to talk about the report well I think as as you framed it there's a lot of interests so the report got a lot of interest and and pretty much all arms of the commercial piece pieces of the US government came to the launch and are engaging on the topic so there is a need or a desire within Washington circles to better better shape us Africa policy to areas where you know we can have successes I think on the commercial side you're right there's not necessarily a look at Africa from a lens of opportunity but I think that that's true with almost all emerging markets right now in in the US the u.s. is growing at 3.2 percent which is faster than say in Nigeria right now and because of the growth of the large domestic market here in the US Plus kind of global uncertainty given trade war conversations problems in the straits of hormuz etc I feel that most American companies are more focused at what they can do in the US market than they aren't thinking about a markets abroad period even you know safe markets and and markets you think that the US companies were were you know really well established in you know are now facing brexit in Europe and that uncertainty is adding more cause to kind of stay at home so I think it's more of an isolationist moment in American history and we've gone through many of those cycles over the last you know two hundred years and we're in an isolationist moment again so I do think American companies are not so excited about African opportunities but I think it's it's part of a larger trend not just a view a negative view of Africa on that on the theme how do you think that the us-china trade war is gonna affect Africa well I think it's creating some opportunities for for African countries that are finding interesting strategies China is now you know looking at importing more produce from African markets to offset American produce so that's fruits and vegetables I also think that companies that are sourcing apparel from African markets clothing are looking at it as as kind of a nice diversification hedge against potential tariffs on additional tariffs on Chinese made and even in in Mexico threats around tariffs for for on Mexican products over our immigration issues also gives kind of a push a potential push to sourcing in Africa so I do think that there are some opportunities for African countries to benefit during this period now if that's in fact the case the fact that the tariffs combined with the current isolationist feeling in the United States is it possible then that the opportunity the window opportunity for the Americans may close once these Chinese companies like transcend like Kwame you know car companies down the road they build up a formidable market share it may be too too late for American companies to come in because the there you only build a 5g network once right or you only you know to be able to get that amount of market share that a company like techno has so if people are sitting on the sidelines for five six years me if we come out of this isolationist kind of period of our history and we want to reengage will it be too late you know III do think that there's this race aspect there and there is a a moment for capturing market share but I don't ever think it's quite too late because I think it's a simplistic framing for example all these large infrastructure projects that are happening on the continent some of those Chinese EP C's are sourcing caterpillar machines and that becomes almost a market for caterpillar for example also I do think that companies can be you know those first movers can be bought at a later date so for example if Alibaba came in and you know but a local e-commerce play in in a particular country perhaps Amazon could buy it from Alabama in the future so it's hard to say that it's so black or white win-lose but I do think that there is need to make a significant effort to help support the American private sector in seeing African opportunities more clearly and then moving to mitigate the risks that do exist support for this podcast comes from the Africa channel reporting project at RIT University School of Journalism in Johannesburg the a CRP provides reporting grants workshops and other professional development opportunities for both African and Chinese journalists follow the a CRP on Twitter at vets China Africa or visit Africa China reporting 0.04 information about grants and up seminars as eric mentioned at the top you know there's there's a lot of lot of kind of anti-china sentimental in DC at the moment and a lot of language about containing China and Africa how is that a constraint on American companies doing business in Africa is it is it actually spurring American businesses to trafficker like how how does the politics and the business go together well I do think that there's a difference between the conversation in Washington and then what's happening in Chicago and Houston and in LA and one of the challenges that we have in in Washington is that we need to reach a larger audience and there needs to be a mobilization effort that happens because I think that there are three challenges that American companies face when looking at African markets one a lack of data second a lack of network they don't know who to work with and three a lack of visibility into the opportunities and because our country is so large both geographically and as a market it's important that we kind of go out and and mobilize some of the demand and address these data network and visibility issues and so hopefully prosper Africa will have a portion of it dedicated that kind of what I call domestic mobilization of interest well let's pick up the conversation on prosper Africa because I think it's a really important milestone for the United States in terms of the direction it wants to go in Africa now prosper Africa is this idea where it consolidates US government agencies with the idea that it's easier for both American companies and African stakeholders to engage one another to facilitate investment it does have a very optimistic view but the birth of it did not come out quite so optimistic and this was where Ambassador John Bolton national security adviser announced it on at the Heritage Foundation last year and he mentioned China 14 times and since then a lot of people have come to interpret prosper Africa as really a way less that it's about Africa and more that it's about China in fact just last week Kimberly Anne Elliot who's at the George Washington University she's a faculty there and she wrote an article in world politics review saying Trump's prosper Africa strategy is fixated on a cold war like view of China and one of the reasons why I think that prosper Africa didn't resonate in Africa so much is because it did feel a lot about China now in the unveiling of it in Maputo back in June they didn't mention China so that was nice that the administration kind of moved on from talking about China not framing it against China but actually that it's for Africa but it still brings up this idea of tone and I want to play you some sound from assistant Sakura Stu Assistant Secretary of State T borniche in an interview he did with the BBC and I want it should pick up on a couple different things here on the tone that the Americans have both about the Chinese and about African again this is an interview he did with the BBC let's take a listen well what I want to do on the continent is give to give the Africans themselves another alternative you know for too long when investors have knocked on the door and the Africans opened the door the only person standing there was a Chinese my job is to make sure that next time there's a knock on the door there's an American standing there as well investor because we get back to the same fundamental issue in Africa that's employment for young people but we're looking at a situation where China right now is meeting the continents needs very quickly infrastructure and now soon the content will have the 5g Network which is very key for the the employment issue you're talking about well I'm not sure about the 5g I don't know how many people that's going to employ and as far as meeting the infrastructure needs just when I was in Addis Ababa a couple of weeks ago it turned out that the Ring Road which was constructed by China a few years ago part of it just collapsed so you know again I want to get back to the point of giving the advantage of the Africans to be able to have more choices than one company or one country providing the you know the contracts on the labor you know in the same interview assistant secretary in Asia he also talked about how they that the United States would not come in to bailout African countries that were in debt to stress and so the the reaction to this interview online was the United States is not necessarily conveying a very positive message you know downplaying and criticizing the Chinese on 5g on their infrastructure not coming in with bailouts and again it just doesn't feel like there's a lot of optimism coming out of Washington the same way that there is optimism coming out of as you pointed out not just China but Turkey Japan India lots of other places talk to us about what you think of about of assistant secretary Neiges comments and this question of the optimistic message well I think that listen there's no doubt that prosper Africa was created in this environment of which Africa policy is designed as kind of in reaction to it's not a it's not a defined vision of the US and African markets for the next you know 20 years that is separate from China policy really these things are kind of combined and and you hear that in in in t-bars framing and so I do think that it's even you can't really look at prosper Africa even if they didn't mention China in in Maputo as separate right and I think that that's part of the challenges that the reception of prosper Africa has had in African markets because it just doesn't seem big enough it doesn't match the ambition that people have for what the US should be doing but I think it needs to be seen in a broader framework this question of you know the u.s. seems to be organizing the toolbox so the commercial tools that we have for supporting American companies while also sharpening those tools and so I do think that there are big things that have come out which are you know the new the build act in this new OPEC the overseas Private Investment Corp which is the USS dfi has been greatly expanded and enhanced and that is a sharpening of a tool that we have and that's broader than just Africa but it's very significant in terms of size magnitude and impact so I think prosper Africa's one piece of it it's certainly about organizing the toolbox but I don't think it has to be the end all of it how does prosper Africa compare with something like the the German compact with Africa that was launched under the g20 presidency where they do a lot of work on on on is instituting domestic reform working with African governments to improve you know various various kind of instruments economic instruments in their economies including things like you know improving the tax you know kind of revenue services making making corporate revenue collection more efficient you know strengthening IP law and so on and and then at the same time kind of matchmaking with with companies in Europe how's-how's prosper Africa's approach similar different from that it's very different because first of all the compact for Africa processes is one that's fairly multilateral right and it's working through World Bank structures etc I think it's because of that it's very hard to understand I spent days in Germany at the launch and try after four days still didn't understand what these things were and it really is something that's about that the capacities and the agreements that happened at a at a government to World Bank goal the government to multilateral level prosper Africa it does have a part of it that's going to be aimed at regulatory business environment reform but I think the majority of it the thrust of it is about trying to get more American companies to invest and trying to support these deals so let's take a look at the recommendations that you have you provided five recommendations in your report for what American companies or the US should do I don't know if you have them off the top you've read if not I have them here but one of the the first ones that caught my attention was you suggested that the United States should focus on the narrow areas of infrastructure that fall within the US competitive advantage and when it this is a hard thing for Americans to stomach because we're used to being all things to all people and we've never really confronted a competitor quite like the Chinese who come with the deep pockets and in some ways the expertise as you pointed out in your report to do things that we simply can't do and I'm just curious about that recommendation on this idea of focusing on the areas of competitive advantage yeah I think you're completely right Eric it's it's a hard thing to swallow here because even during the Cold War the idea was that we were kind of matching Soviet technology like head-to-head right so whether it was a missile technology or whether it was industrial capacity it was all about direct competition and and in this case the argument that we should just let certain sectors go is hard for a lot of people to swallow and so that's been an interesting conversation and one that several of us in Washington continued to hit home and so I do think it's talking about infrastructure in different ways and looking at maybe smart cities looking at renewable energy looking at data and data infrastructure those type of areas that we might be better at than for example transport roads rail and port you also talked about continued pushing for a level playing field when it comes to anti-corruption compliance you mentioned new tools like DFC and prosper Africa and then you prior said we should prioritize the creative and education sectors can you talk a little bit about education in part because I know you're very passionate about that because you think it is one of the areas where the United States really excels yeah I mean I think that globally tertiary education in the United States is seen as a gold standard and there's a huge ambition to be met among African youth to have a better up better opportunities through education and there's also a lot of education innovation and technology coming out of the US so whether that's the large online courses whether that's you know companies that are specializing in in combining gaming energy ocation there's a lot of innovation that's happening in the education space that I think could meet the demand by African youth and historically I mean next year will mark 60 years since the the Kennedy you know student airlift that brought many Africans to study in the u.s. in the 60s and 70s and that gave us you know President Obama that gave us a whole network of African elite that studied in the US and that's invaluable when it comes to making business ties and having that network so I believe that we can that time is right for a new education initiative that kind of builds those people the people ties but undergirds deeper business relationships in the future well let's end on a positive note I love that spirit the end the article is deconstruct is deconstructing the dragon China's commercial expansion in Africa III really when I was reading and I sent a note to Kobus while I was reading this thing this should be required reading for basically everybody in government everybody and every student who's studying Chinese Affairs around the world and wants to understand China Africa relations it is again as I said a master class and how it's done I am amazed at how you got insights into the procurement process and how things are done it is not that long and it's not wonky like a lot of the academic stuff that comes out of out of think tanks it's really accessible and well-written and congratulations on the report it's it's just uh again I'd seen valuable for people like me and I'm just so thrilled that we were able to have you on the show again to walk us through it if people want to follow what you're doing and you do a lot and you are often between the United States and Africa what's the best way for them to stay in touch with you sure so Twitter is a great way I'm at audrey ruby and then the report is available online and free and downloadable to anyone who wants it so it's on the atlantic council website and can be accessed from anywhere and we'll have it of course in the show notes and on our website and it's on our social media channels as well Audrey thank you so much for joining us we really appreciate it thank you it's been my pleasure Co is I you know I'm struggling with how I feel about US policy towards Africa as it relates to the Chinese and prosper Africa and all the things that that Aubry said because on the one hand I share her optimism there is so much that the United States can bring to the table and there are so many different things that we as Americans are not taking advantage of that are direct competitive advantages over China first we have a diaspora population that's huge here that is the immigrant population from Africa which we're not fully engaging we have obviously the deep historical links some of them are most of them are quite painful but we have this connection with Africa historically that is something that's very very powerful and very very important we're not taking full advantage of that we have the ability to bring private sector engagement in ways that the Chinese at this point cannot do and the transparency and the good governance issues and these are all amazing messages but I feel at the same time that this amazing message and this optimism that is innate in Americans you know and this is in this day and age it's hard to believe that we are optimistic people but at the end of the day I think Americans and it's what I'm most proud of being an American is that we always believe that tomorrow will be better than today well we used to believe that I'm not so sure anymore that we still believe that but for a lot of us that is the way that we grew up and it's that optimism that the rest of the world looks to the United States for because they don't always have that I live in Asia I've lived on in Africa I live all over the world that optimism is not innate in many a cultures as it is in the United States but at the same time when we have a u.s. policy that is framed around containing China or challenging China or providing an alternative to China the tone comes off wrong and the tone comes off bitter negative small-minded and it just doesn't feel relevant to the daily lives of many Africans and that's one of the reasons why I think the United States kind of the stock if you will the price of the stock is falling in many African countries in part because people just don't see the connection in their daily lives the same way that they see what the Chinese are doing now again I don't actually think the Chinese are that popular in Africa people are saying you know I don't really necessarily know these people I don't like them very much all the time they speak a funny language all these different things but I like the road I like the hospital I like the port I like the money I like all of these different things that are coming in I see the techno phone in my hand I understand the Huawei 4G network that I'm talking on was built by them and so there is that direct connection to daily life that people can say you know if not the Chinese then who and the United States simply will not be the alternative the way that tea burnished is presenting I don't I mean it's just as our buddy said we don't have the competitive advantage anymore to do that so so I guess that's where I'm conflicted about both being an American and thinking about American policies yeah I can completely see that you know if seen from the outside I think it seems to me that that orbit was obvious report was very smart in the in the sense that she that she really recognizes what China does very well and then she recognizes the you know that the China for being a very formidable player in a lot of a lot of these fields actually it tends to China can be quite conservative you know in terms of in terms of the fields that it that it enters so it doesn't try to do everything you know kind of it concentrates on uncertain things and totally dominates those fields and so in a lot of a lot of this spaces where the US is strong China isn't particularly playing in those spaces you know so for example you know I think she was very smart to point out whether the role of the growing role of media in in Africa so you know my my life partner works in in TV and in the South African TV scene the arrival of Netflix this was the story of this year you know Netflix is coming Netflix is working with African creatives they're doing all of these interesting interesting at the same time you're seeing you know African artists showing up in the new Lion King soundtrack you you you see African artists playing music like you know fancy music festivals in in Europe it's it's the visit there's some acknowledgement of of the creativity in the African cultural sector in in in the US and and in in Europe that you don't see in China right kind of the China China just isn't isn't playing on that field or charge the Chinese are not savvy in engaging with Africans in this kind of way the Americans are but the thing is it's one specific subset of America it's one you know it's it's it's the its coastal America it's its multicultural America it's young America and that America is in conflict with a different America you know the very somber very negative very you know scared of the outside world America and to a certain extent I think the the the success of the US and in Africa is going to a large extent be determined by what happens to the US domestically you know which culture you know predominates in in the long run because there's some some sections of American culture is very very open to Africa and Africans consume it avidly and they're very very sympathetic to it others are not so open to Africans and Africans don't find any interest in it you know so controversies within the u.s. like for example the center-back chanting against Somali born congresswoman I mean the u.s. recently it none of that goes unnoticed in Africa it all all of it gets noticed in Africa and and it and so this is currently this constant kind of revaluation of what is what African u.s. ties mean and but those that you know that fight frequently gets played out domestically in the US before even before it comes to Africa itself yeah and you've also mentioned in previous shows too that Africans follow the treatment of black Americans and African Americans very closely and in the difficulties that many have had at the hands of law enforcement what not do you go to the broader reputational issues and I think it's something very interesting to separate when we talk about soft power an American soft power oftentimes it's conflated between American cultural soft power say Beyonce Lion King and Netflix and American policy and those two are not the same and people can actually compartmentalize that they like Beyonce but they don't like American policy and in Washington oftentimes there is a mixing of those two but I think it's important to segregate the two there as well one other important point and I didn't have a chance to ask her about it but we were running short on time she's very busy and we had to let her go but was about the role of corruption and what was so interesting in her report and she talked about she walked us through the government-to-government procurement process and as I was reading it I was just making notes in the side of saying this is an opportunity for corruption this is an opportunity for corruption this is an opportunity for corruption and so on because the Chinese emphasize this opacity in their dealings with African governments and because there is no third party review there is no auditing there is no KPMG that comes in and looks at the books if you will the opportunities are ripe for corruption we know that corruption is happening and again this is where the United States can do a better job in presenting how it does procurement now again it's not going to do the same kind of procurement simply because they don't do g2g type of business as she said but the point is that corruption is really one of the areas that Africans are fed up with are frustrated with ironically the average Chinese person is also fed up with corruption and I just think that corruption is one of those areas that America can build and really have a strong message that would resonate with the the average guy on the street because people there.just they look at the Chinese and they do think of bribes and corruption and the lack of transparency and all these things and I don't see the Chinese changing that anytime soon despite the rhetoric coming out of Beijing saying that they want to be more open they want to be more transparent but it's just not in their DNA to do that quickly yeah you know it's is interesting to see that that rhetorics are starting to come out of China and also even deals being canceled because they they might have been not inflated and at the same time you know I agree with you that the u.s. is is has very high levels of transparency and and due diligence but at the same time you know appearances of corruption at highest levels in the US are at all-time high at the moment you know you know a family-run you know that's the joke that Trevor Noah has been making for many years now is that you notice that trumping the Trump family increasingly plays out like an African elite family you know so in that sense you know again that the u.s. is the u.s. is the u.s. is strength and its weakness is how incredibly transparent it is you know the you know so like all all of all of the faults are clearly visible but the transparency itself is invaluable because the thing that makes Africans so nervous about China's that it's so epic and it's such a it seems like such a monolith from the outside you know and then who knows what's going on behind you know kind of within the Communist Party where is it you know the you know the the attacks that were aware that one sees within the Trump administration against things like the EPA against these these reporting mechanisms and checks and balances those I think should be very worrying for Americans not only in relation to their own economy but in relation to their position in the world because that is a major strength that the u.s. brings to the table if that gets frittered away then it you know it's just the same as another rich country you know another rich kind of opaque country and that that I think is worrisome okay so listen we need to wrap it up there because you and I could go on for this for hours and hours and hours but I just cannot emphasize enough what an important report this is go and read it yeah this is gonna be quoted for this is I mean and again this is the bench the benchmark for me for anything on us-china Africa or us Africa policy Aubrey she for those of you are not familiar with her she's one of these people who's just I mean I don't know when she sleeps I don't know when she does anything outside of work but she is everywhere all the time it's remarkable and that she was able to get the insights I mean this is better than a lot of the academic stuff the I've seen that that I mean the research that went into producing this report was phenomenal and and I'm just I'm just I'm gushing because you know I don't come across this quality stuff very often and I yeah so I just thought it was great and I really cannot recommend it enough for everybody to take a look let us know what you think take a you know did you hear a slight negative tone in my approach I'm trying to just push the questions a little bit I don't have an anti-american view let me just put that out there I do get criticized for that a little bit my point is here is to fuss to have a kind of more dynamic conversation by kind of asking those more difficult questions that Americans oftentimes don't ask of themselves and because I'm American I think that I'm in a good position to do that but I would love to hear what do you think of what abri said what I said what koba's said you can email me directly Eric at China Africa project calm you can get Kobus at coba co B us at China Africa project comm and of course you can follow us on all our social media channels we have a new newsletter that comes out now on Fridays not on Mondays we think it's a great thing we love we spend the week putting it together and you get a wrap of all the week's china-africa news Kobus is writing this nice little blurb intro that kind of summarizes everything and it's just a great way to start your weekend if you are interested in catching up on china-africa news go to our website at China Africa project comm and you can sign up right there so we'll be back again next week with another edition of the China in Africa podcast for Cubs fans Dadon I'm Eric Olander thank you so much for listening the discussion continues online head over to facebook.com slash China Africa project to share your thoughts on today's show the guys are also on Twitter where you can find Kobus at students key or Eric at E or Lander and be sure to sign up for the weekly China and Africa email newsletter by going to WWII attica project comm you

4 thoughts on “U.S. Struggles to Keep up With China's Commercial Expansion in Africa

  1. G2G vs G2I (MF) vs G2W(B) vs G2B.
    not just
    G2G vs G2B.
    she may be remarkable, but a tiny negligence is also noticable, (Kennedy Airlift didn't gave your President Obxma…but part of his DNA, i think)

  2. USA Business is in a big Corporation Business venture and Africa Businesses are for small Business ventures and China/Africa in Infrastructures Partnerships. So, USA is hard to do Business in Africa.

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