A comparative analysis of United States and Chinese economic engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa
Furman, James Housley, Jr.
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Much has been written about Chinese enterprise in sub-Saharan Africa, most bad and some good, which is mainly due to the profit-driven approach, where aid distribution is tied to trade, directly or indirectly. The United States’ relationship to the region is fundamentally different, following a Western model of conditional aid attached to structural and social reform. The U.S. trade relationships with sub-Saharan Africa are separate from its aid levers, representing only 1% of total foreign business, within the time frame of this study. The literature is divided as to which of the two countries’ economic engagement is best for sub-Saharan nations. Based on the analysis, which appears to be most instructive for the United States’ and sub-Saharan African countries’ mutual development goals, this research supports a trade model, in general, and appears to be most informative for the United States’ version that separates trade and aid. China implicitly links aid to trade, which is found to benefit sub-Saharan Africa more so than U.S. aid alone, but its results are not measurable by normal foreign aid standards. The goal of this paper is to inform the broad economic engagement approach, which best achieves U.S. stated goals in the region.
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