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A Political Economy of African Regionalisms

An Overview of Asymmetrical Development

Wil Hout and M. A.M. Salih

This book analyses the main factors influencing the political economy of Africa’s asymmetrical regionalism, focusing on regional and sub-regional trade, investment, movement of people, goods and services. It pays particular attention to the way in which regional and sub-regional dynamics are impacted by extra-regional relations, such with the EU, US, China and India. Because African regionalism is influenced not only by economic processes, peace and security are also analysed as important factors shaping both regional and sub-regional relations and dynamics.
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Chapter 6: Africa and the world: continuing or new asymmetries?

Wil Hout and M. A.M. Salih


Chapter 6 focuses, first, on the long-standing political ties between Africa and the West, and compares these to the budding relationship between some of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and Africa. Next, the chapter discusses the asymmetries in trade relations between the African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and their most important partners, notably the European Union and the United States, and compares these to the patterns that are emerging in relations with the BRICS countries. The chapter further analyses the financial relations of the continent, in particular expressed in investment patterns, by paying attention to traditional investors, but explicitly also looking at the investment flowing from China to Africa. The last empirical analysis in the chapter focuses on trends in aid relationships, and compares the traditional donors with the new players on the geopolitical scene. The chapter concludes by emphasizing that the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world remains characterized by profound systemic asymmetries, which are obvious in a range of political, trade, investment and aid relations. While such asymmetries were traditionally characteristic of the relations between Africa and the West, they have increasingly also become visible in the context of South_South relations, particularly with the increasing activity of some of the BRICS states across Africa.

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