Working Papers

Looking towards 2017: A Framework for Speculating about the Global Picture

Looking towards 2017: A Framework for Speculating about the Global Picture

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18 Jan 2017

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus

Implications of the election of Donald Trump as the next United States president currently dominate discussions about geopolitical developments and the prospects for international trade, but there are other concerns too. Commentaries and speculations range from warnings that Trump’s election will “mark the beginning of a new and darker global order”, that anti-globalists are on the march, and that right-wingers will win several European elections; to warnings about a trade war between the US and China. Growing inequality is said to have de-legitimized globalism.

African countries are facing specific challenges in today’s global economy; in particular, reacting to new US policies and dealing with the consequences of Brexit. They have the opportunity to change their relationship with the US (and take some degree of ownership of that process) instead of responding only to matters which Mr. Trump’s administration will raise. This can include security cooperation.

Proactive responses are necessary. Securing a certain and predictable trade environment with the UK and the EU should top African leaders’ list. This includes a specific strategy to deal with a protracted interim phase before a new FTA with the UK will be on the cards. For the SACU leaders these challenges are even more urgent. The recently-concluded EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement needs long-term certainty and uninterrupted implementation; while Washington may press them for a bilateral trade deal.


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