US-Africa partnerships to change global trade dynamics


“I think you’re seeing trade across Africa growing very quickly. What’s interesting in terms of today and probably of tomorrow is that the dependency on Europe is somewhat diminishing, somewhat reducing, but behind that you have an increasing trade flow between Africa and the US,” DHL Express SA managing director Charles Brewer told CNBC Africa.

“If you look over the last 10 years, it’s grown 250 per cent and that represents around about 72 billion dollars. What’s equally interesting is that lots of smaller countries are getting on the band wagon, so Somalia, Mayot, Guinea Bissau, South Sudan.”

Regions such as Somalia, Guinea Bissau and Ethiopia, which were traditionally neglected in favour of more developed markets in the continent, are now as equally attractive trade regions for the United States (US).


“Ethiopia [has] a variety of different industries, but what’s very interesting is America is looking at other locations to buy its textiles from other than the traditional Asian economies. [Ethiopia is] a great example of just one country and what it’s doing to trade with America,” Brewer explained.

The US has however come under fire for somewhat lagging behind the Asian and Europe in terms of interest in Africa. Brewer however added that the US is on the path to trading with African countries, and possibly in a more dynamic manner than Asia and Europe.

“What we’ll see over the next few years [is a] shift in trade flows, with more trade going to Asia, more trade going to the US. Today, if you look at how product comes into Africa, most of it is imported from the Middle East and from Asia. Very little is produced or manufactured on the continent. We’re going to see that change,” he said.

“As markets become easier to do business, disposable income increases, [and] as the one billion population starts to spend more than they already are on consumables, we’ll see those companies and others come to Africa and start distributing in shorter zones.”