Sunday, May 26, 2019
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uncertainty but no panic

The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union should not have catastrophic consequences in African countries, but some export sectors could suffer a lot.

By Marion Douet Posted today at 10h42

Time to Reading 4 min.

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Cut flowers from Kenya, one of the main export products of the country. Here in a horticultural farm in Naivasha.
Cut flowers from Kenya, one of the main export products of the country. Here in a horticultural farm in Naivasha. SIMON MAINA / AFP

The feverish negotiations in Brussels are very far away. But in Africa too, Brexit is worrying. On the other side of the Mediterranean, states are wondering what its consequences will be for their economies, which are often growing but also dependent on their exports. While the European bloc is Africa's largest trading partner, England remains a key player in its own right, especially among the English-speaking countries, which were its former colonies. "In Kenya, England is second only to Uganda. It's historically a great trading partner, even if it's not the first one "analysis Peter Wankuru Chacha, senior economist at the World Bank in Nairobi. "Everyone in Africa, He added, worries about Brexit. "

Because many questions remain unresolved, starting with the dominant one of future commercial relations. Admittedly, Theresa May promised that the latter would be strengthened during her African tour (South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya) in August 2018. Admittedly, the British insist on their desire to revitalize the Commonwealth in favor of Brexit. But even though the United Kingdom does not yet know what will be its relationship with the EU, it is difficult to see clearly in what will prevail with the 54 countries of the continent.

Will Africans lose or win? The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) raised a veil on this issue by publishing a study on 9 April on the consequences of Brexit for developing countries. The answer is far from uniform. The most developed country in the diversified industry, South Africa should gain in exchange (+ 39% of exports to the United Kingdom compared to 2018 in case of "no deal", + $ 3 billion) or 2.67 billion euros). Conversely, Ghana (-39% for $ 91 million) and Cameroon (-28% for $ 17 million) are among the most negatively affected.

A dozen African countries are preparing agreements

Figures that reflect both the weight of the United Kingdom in their trade but also the type of products exported. "Brexit does not look like a catastrophe in a general way [pour les pays africains], but specific sectors should suffer more than others, notably certain raw materials or textiles ", explains Alessandro Nicita, co-author of the UNCTAD study.

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