From Monday, January 20, the UK will be meeting African countries in what has been dubbed the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London.
The summit is the UK’s attempt to secure a strong trade relationship even as the country backs out of the European Union (EU). A significant majority of Africa’s countries are expected to attend.
Currently, Britain still operates under the EU Customs Union and Single Market. Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s government has 11 months to negotiate a deal with the EU after January.
Trade opportunities for the UK are therefore of premium concern. But nothing unique is expected to be realized with African countries this calendar year.
The BBC’s Matthew Davies reckons that it may take “possibly years” for this to happen.
But this does not hamper the optimism on the part of the UK government. Alok Sharma, the Secretary of the UK’s International Development, expects trade and investment relationship with Africa to be “turbo-charged”.
While Africa accounts for less than 3% of the UK’s international market, South Africa is the UK’s leading trade partner on the continent to the tune of about $11 billion as of 2017.
There are existing trade agreements between the UK and regional blocs on the African continent.
The Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union between the UK and South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland as well as Mozambique, is one of the biggest on the continent.