The protectionist and nationalist rhetoric from the other side of the Atlantic reached fever pitch in the first week of 2017, with newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump putting into action some of the weirdest decisions that everyone the world over thought to be mere ranting from extreme right-wing populist political groupings.
Not only did Trump sign the executive order to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, he also signed a draconian order that effectively locked every Muslim individual out of the US, including American Muslims, who were visiting relatives abroad.
For the politics on the extreme right this was good news – political leaders of France’s National Front literally wept with joy at hearing Trump putting into action the very decisions they sought to implement in France.
Not hard to imagine, considering that the chants at National Front’ rallies is usually the phrase ‘This is our country’. And considering that these very same politicians celebrated when Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Yet such an awakening has started to unsettle Africa, and the question now is whether Africa is prepared for such a tectonic shift in world politics.
Until now Africa, particularly southern Africa, has based its international trade approach on the concept of globalisation and multilateralism, on the understanding that the European market, as a single market, would be willing to trade with Africa on a reciprocal basis and that the U.S. government would eventually move beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to a point where African entities have firmly establish themselves within the American market.
It is for those very reasons that countries, such as Namibia, have successfully explored the export of beef to the USA, which received US Congress approval last year. That approval listed Namibia as one of the first African countries to penetrate the US market with their beef – a market that typically supplies a large share of its own beef.
It is now a question of what would happen to such agreements under Trump’s administration. Namibia intended to export some 860,000 kg of beef in the first year, rising to 5.7 million kg by the fifth year. Can these targets be ever reached under Trump’s administration?
Mind you, we are not talking about huge volumes in comparison to what is being produced in the U.S. by American farmers – who were, from the very beginning, against the very notion of Namibia exporting beef to their doorstep.
The projected Namibian beef imports in the first year would only amount to about 0.008 percent of total U.S. production and 0.07 percent of total U.S. meat imports. To date, only 33 countries worldwide have been approved to export meat to the U.S.
Yet the nationalist rhetoric of populist Trump is that America should look within her borders to meet her needs and to create jobs. Has Trump just closed the door to Namibian beef exports to the U.S.? Only time will tell.