Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 10 March 2018

Africa and UK Brexit

By Ambassador Dhano Obongo

Brexit is the media usage for Britain exiting the European Union (EU). After four decades of membership, last year England voted to quit the EU. Trade impacts will result from this decision as the United Kingdom (UK) forges into new ground in worldwide economic relations. It was Great Britain’s sovereign choice to relinquish continuation with EU trade agreements and some African observers forecast emptiness as a result of Brexit. Trade in both commodities and services will be affected. These are big items in England’s economy. On March 27, 2017, the English called for Article 50 imposition of the trade agreement to start separation procedures and negotiations for exit. The European Council set rules demanding that first stages of talks deal exclusively with England’s departure. Future affiliation was postponed. So far, the English have been pleased with first stage talks and are proceeding with various proposals. A Norwegian option on a nonvoting status was considered politically unusable. A Canadian suggestion of free trade form was rejected as unable to cover the services sector of the economy. We note that Great Britain in?uences about 8% of the UK economy. Weakening access to the European economy would not appeal to the English. They do want to do business in Europe. Great Britain has been a tough member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but May and loss of some advantages as a result of Brexit taking away membership in the EU. Switzerland has an arrangement of accords with the EU permitting for sector by sector contributions in a single market without the supervision of implementing deals. Such an agreement might seem prudent to the English, but that might seem too unwise to the EU and not for offer to the UK. WTO accords do not allow distinguishing between treading partners except for states which have similar markets and can honour member and nonmembers equitably.

This indicates that England as a nonmember will miss certain tax advantages it has enjoyed as a member of the EU. The WTO alternative would allow a tax evasion situation if there were no trade accord between the UK and the EU when England ?nally departs the EU. The UK will have to pay the same taxes and follow procedures on all imports including those from the EU. This is impossible to change whether any trade agreements are achieved or not. When the UK was implementing the referendum last summer, there was grave anxiety that it would be difficult for the UK to get its own timetables to the WTO. Observers differed on the concept that individual member states are entitled to dispensations in the WTO saying that there is no reason that the UK should be an exception. The UK does not need to reapply to the WTO on departure from the EU; t is a member in its own right even though it has been working through the European community. The UK will need to have its own agendas and for those agendas to be veri?ed. There must be no opposition by any other WTO members. The skill of any member of the WTO a proposed alteration could render the UK fragile to dirty politics of states with hidden reasons such as Spain over Gibralter or Argentina over the Falklands. Some observers say economic conserving by the UK has in?uenced African labour market and consequently decreased the quantity of payments coming to our beloved African continent. According to the World Bank’s relocation and fact book for 2016, the UK is rated as the tenth largest payment dispatcher with Nigeria listed as England’s second largest receiver of payments after India. As a consequence, any delay of payments worsens the African continent’s economic situation. These observers see that economic recession in Great Britain signi?es Lower Purchasing Power (LPP) and shipping of African commodities. However, some African academicians think that in the long term, Africa could be a stopgap from impacts of Brexit. Some 18 African states are members of the Commonwealth body and supply the best option to England’s usage of the European Single if the Republic of South Sudan becomes a member of Commonwealth Organization.

Thus, I am appealing to our beloved President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, to consider this year the Republic of South Sudan joining the Commonwealth bloc. We in South Sudan have supposedly been part and parcel of it for a long time since separation from the united Sudan in 1947. Once again, some African economists believe that if England was to centre its investment, commerce, and trade endeavours on Africa in general and the Commonwealth states in particular, Africa would become one of the key recipients. Nevertheless, there is also still likely that the African states who are not members of the Commonwealth family would not see a renovated interest. Business lost to Brexit could be recovered on the African continent. I know that Great Britain has tons of information on South Sudan past and present. This information on various ?elds of interest is available in London’s archives. It shows that South Sudan is very rich and has great potential for investment, business, and trade to help any loss due to Brexit.

The author is a former state Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Bor, Jonglei State, 2014 - 2015. He may be reached at email address: dhano01obongo@gmail.com