ISSN 2330-717X

United Kingdom Plans To Cut Taxes On Products Imported From Africa – OpEd

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Besides pursuing concrete investment projects and running joint business with local partners, the United Kingdom now plans to considerably cut taxes from around 99% of goods imported from Africa. At least, after its historic UK-Africa Investment Summit held in January 2020, UK has increased its support for business on the continent, a step that aims at strengthening aspects of the planned economic cooperation with Africa.

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Monitoring developments and random research after the summit, we have noticed different priorities – all of which are supporting and strengthening economic partnerships in a number of countries on the continent. The significance of these is to help unlock opportunity, spread prosperity and thus transform lives in Africa. 

Judging from our monitoring and research indicate that while the visible practical steps aim at building a more practical partnership, it is simultaneously helping to lay the foundation for sustainable future relations. It has displayed, not only heightened interests but also delivering on its plans to engage Africa.

The Department for International Trade said in a media release that it would cut import taxes on hundreds more products from some of the world’s developing countries to boost trade links. It explained further that the measure was part of a wider push by the UK to use trade to “drive prosperity and help eradicate poverty” as well as reduce dependency on aid. The scheme covers 65 developing countries and will affect around 99% of goods imported from Africa. 

Goods such as clothes, shoes and foods not widely produced in the UK would benefit from lower or zero tariffs. But goods and services from Africa make up just a tiny share of the UK’s imports, accounting for 2.5% of the total goods imported into Britain.

South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, make up 60% of the entire UK-Africa trade relationship. Only eight nations from sub-Saharan Africa mostly former colonies count the UK in their top 10 export destinations, including Rwanda, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa. Britain has been long criticized for undervaluing trade with Africa. The amount of products Britain sends to Africa isn’t just small, it’s also shrinking. 

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As the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford, explained “the overarching aim of all this work is to try to help, build the resilience of countries and to help them have a much more durable prosperity. For far too long, African countries have endured the fallout from global forces outside their control and the compelling tasks is to build more sustainable economies in African countries.”

Over the past 12 months, we have calculated or tally, at least, 14 African countries visited by the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford. In most of these African countries, the UK-Africa’s partnership agenda is, in practical terms, working. It, at the same time, shows a huge difference between rhetoric and what it takes to deliver all that are listed on agenda with Africa.

British investors are strategically leveraging unto trade platforms, working to support the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) because trade integration is such a powerful tool to accelerate economic growth, create employment and alleviate or reduce poverty. 

The AfCFTA provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people. The growing middle class, among other factors, constitutes a huge market potential in Africa.

The UK has set a priority to help African countries to insulate themselves against these pressures. Under the current circumstances, what has Russia done to help Africa? It only contributes to deepening social dissatisfaction, increases the fear of vulnerable groups among the population to rising prices of commodities and consumables throughout Africa. 

With African partners, UK has been exploring possible ways toward achieving common or mutual benefits from partnerships, and consistently keep eyes on others such as technology, infrastructure development, agriculture and industrialization, health and education, social and cultural spheres.

African leaders and governments, the private sector operators are embracing these progressive efforts for boosting bilateral economic relations, efforts promoting sustainable economic growth. Our monitoring shows that other countries have been proactive investors in Africa in recent years. 

Now, UK businesses are expanding into African countries and is luring potential exporters to raise revenue by exporting more of their services and goods to the United Kingdom. The Developing Countries Trading Scheme comes into force in January 2023 and builds on a scheme the UK, first part of while, a member of the European Union.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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