Trump's victory is bad – for Africa and for global stability

2016-11-11 13:30
File: AFP

File: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Danny Bradlow, University of Pretoria

The most forceful message being sent by a Donald Trump victory is that the American electorate has repudiated the policies and political practices of the past – at least – eight years.

The second message is that his supporters are tired of the elite ignoring their needs and are now fighting back. There is evidence to support their claims, like the studies showing growing inequality in the US by people such as Branko Milanovic and Thomas Piketty and the reports of declining life expectancy for white working class Americans.

The third, and more ominous message, is that Trump and his supporters are rejecting the so-called “political correctness” of the past 30 years, which is really a pejorative term for tolerance and cosmopolitanism. They are embracing the racism, sexism, and xenophobia and crude nationalism of a past and darker era.

The implications of Trump’s victory are therefore likely to be very bad. Trump has made bigoted statements about Mexicans, Muslims and foreigners in general. He has also made statements about the Chinese, the Russians, the Middle East and the international arrangements in which the US participates. These statements suggest that he has little understanding of geopolitics and even less of the practices and nuances of international relations. This increases the risk that he will blunder into a foreign crisis.

Given Trump’s generally aggressive approach to those he does not like, there are reasons to fear the worst.

Implications for the world

Trump has indicated that he has little concern for the most important issue of our time – climate change. He denies it is a problem and advocates returning to the use of the most dirty sources of energy – coal and oil – as part of his effort to make “America great again”.

This will make it much harder for the world to keep climate change within the 2 degree target established by the Paris agreement and to avoid the resulting devastating effects on continents like Africa.

Trump’s “America first” policies are likely to cause him to ignore many festering problems in the world, like migration, and to respond to any that he cannot ignore in an aggressive manner designed merely to keep the problem away from the US.

And Trump has made it clear that he is sceptical about free trade. Thus, there is likely to be a resurgence of protectionism in the US, and, as a response, in other countries as well.

It is also important to keep in mind that the vote in the US is also a rejection of the policies that Wall Street and big business, and their allies in organisations like the IMF, have been advocating. We can expect the concerned reaction of financial markets to continue in the short run and there to be a general loss of investor confidence. This in turn will exacerbate economic and social tensions around the world.

If these effects continue for any length of time they could precipitate another global recession or worse. However, it is also possible that the difficult situation caused by the resurgent US will encourage some states to try and work together to build institutions for managing the global economy that are less dependent on the US and its key allies.

The Trump victory, combined with the Brexit vote, is also likely to embolden right wing voters in France, the Netherlands, and Germany to support their own right wing populist leaders in their 2017 elections.

Implications for Africa

At one level, it is hard to know what a Trump presidency will mean for Africa. Trump seems to have no knowledge about the continent and to not have paid it any attention.

But his victory is likely to be bad for Africa for three reasons.

First, his protectionist bias means that he is unlikely to be a supporter of allowing Africa favourable access to US markets through such programmes as the African Growth Opportunity Act. While he may not repeal this Act, he will be aggressive in responding to any countries that he thinks are taking unfair advantage of it. This is a potential problem for South Africa.

Second, given his general embrace of racists in the campaign, there is little reason to think that he will view Africa favourably. It is more likely that he views the continent in a generally negative light, as a source of poverty and problems rather than as a dynamic place with opportunities and a burgeoning and energetic young population.

Consequently, he is unlikely to react favourably to African initiatives to make international organisations like the UN and the IMF more accountable to Africa and more responsive to its needs and concerns.

Finally, Trump’s “America first” approach suggests that he is unlikely to see development cooperation and support for Africa in a positive light. The result is that Africa, particularly middle income countries, are likely to find their access to US and multilateral aid and cooperation initiatives reduced. While there are some benefits that could follow from this, it will entail a painful adjustment in these countries.

The Conversation

Danny Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.