UK: Parliament Member Urges Increased Trade in Africa

Chuka Umunna, a British Labour Party politician who has been a Member of Parliament since 2010 and Shadow Business Secretary since 2011 has indicated plans to increase trade with Africa in the future.  After a visit to Nigeria, Umunna noted solid business opportunities in the country and has warned ministers about a perceived over-concentration on the UK’s investments in the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, the politician has noted that Britain is behind other countries in trying to break into the BRICs after having invested mainly in Europe.  He cautions that Britain must not make the same mistake again when it comes to investing in Africa.   Umunna has requested that an industrial strategy be implemented so that British companies and London can address infrastructure projects that are needed in various African countries including Nigeria over the next five years.

He also noted that Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique and Ethiopia were four of the largest markets for growth in Africa while also pointing out that none of these countries is currently on the top 30 list of current UK exports.    Currently, only one African country, South Africa, is in the top 30.  To be fair, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and Morocco are also listed in the top 50, but the rapid growth in Africa suggests that the UK should try to keep up.  For example, the Guardian cites government figures indicated that just about fifty percent of UK goods are exported to the European Union but with the ongoing recession, exports to the region dropped close to three percent.  This drop has prompted increase government efforts for trade with the BRICs.

Umunna warned that Britain risks falling behind the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians in key business and trade opportunities on the African continent.  For example, he cites figures indicating that China has increased trade with Nigeria over the first decade of this century by 800% while Britain has made more exports to countries smaller in size and population to Nigeria.  As Nigeria closes in on South Africa to emerge as the largest economy on the continent, potential trading partners should take note.

Click here for article in the Guardian.

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