Uganda to China: Buy our stuff!

Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 gave the work report, but here’s the guy really in charge: General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 strides into the opening meeting of the National People’s Congress this morning.
/ Credit: Image source: Xinhua.

pasted image 0 11

Uganda’s national flag.

Trump’s tariffs may have damaged the American economy, and American farmers will never again be able to rely on the Chinese market no matter what short-term promises are being made right now. All in all, it’s been lose-lose for the U.S.

But perhaps the tiny African nation of Uganda will win with a new bargaining strategy for dealing with Beijing, learned from America: “Buy our agricultural goods!”

The South China Morning Post reports:

African countries want China to open up its markets to the continent’s agricultural products, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni told top Chinese diplomat Yáng Jiéchí 杨洁篪 after Beijing vowed to boost agricultural trade with the United States.

In a meeting with Yang in Uganda, Museveni said an increasing number of African countries wanted to sell to the lucrative Chinese market. He said Africa had a surplus of agricultural products despite exporting to Europe and the US, partly because trade between African countries remained low.

“Africa’s 54 countries have come together through market integration in blocs such as Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] that are not sustainable,” Museveni said. “The surplus of production needs another intercontinental market and an external market like China to come in.”

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, having surpassed the US in 2009. Africa’s trade with China was worth US$204 billion last year, according to figures from China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Things could get interesting. The South China Morning Post says that a “giant increase in China’s imports from the U.S. would come at the expense of other trading partners, which are concerned at the prospect of the phase one trade deal:

Analysts say US$200 billion purchase agreement is mathematically possible, but wonder about long-term impact on trade and supply chains.

—Jeremy Goldkorn