Fletcher in the News

Dean Chakravorti Weighs in on the 'Doing Business In Africa' Campaign

Bhaskar Chakravorti is a Senior Associate Dean at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

Many African countries complained during the recent U.S. Presidential election that President Obama had not paid enough attention to the continent. Among the gripes was that the United States focused too much on charitable efforts when Africa desires and demands investment and business opportunities. Other countries have taken early note of Africa´s up-and-coming economic status and have invested heavily in various African nations. China, Brazil and Japan have a growing presence in Africa, a presence that only appears to be getting bigger and bigger. Now the continent is craving a larger presence from America.

Obama seems to have heard the call. Now the Administration has announced the Doing Business in Africa campaign, "The campaign is to help American businesses identify opportunities for United States commercial and trade relationships in Africa. …

… Bhaskar Chakravorti, senior associate dean of International Business and Finance at the Fletcher School, Tufts University agrees, but adds the campaign is a long time coming. “Less than 3% of U.S. global trade volume is with Africa. So any initiative is welcome. The trade with Africa had peaked in 2008 and since then the Obama administration has not done much by way of a systematic outreach towards Africa until June. In June, they announced a new "strategy" towards Sub-Saharan Africa; the newly launched "Doing Business in Africa" program is a follow-up to that strategy,” explains Chakravorti. “The program will essentially help identify trade and commercial opportunities in Africa and facilitate trade promotion and financing through OPIC, the Ex-Im Bank and USTA. Much of the financing will focus on the clean energy sector. This is all a good start – but I would say that it is too little and a bit late.”

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