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Trump’s “America First” policy and its effect on Africans and African countries

Donald Trump’s “America First” is an election promise and a policy with serious implications for both the United States and the global community. Trump positions this policy declaration primarily to address needs of the US. On the other hand, it has far reaching consequence of a global magnitude which affects the global community. It could also possibly result in alienating the US. It does have serious consequences for the global community including African countries.

Trade/Foreign Trade/ AGOA

The US quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and it is reorganizing NAFTA. Trump’s intention is to negotiate opportunities of cooperation with other countries provided it will be of interest for America. If the same logic is to apply, African countries should be concerned about the threat for the trade pact they have through AGOA. To be more precise, the policy proclaimed by Trump is a direct hazard that may eventually lead to repealing of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is crucial for African countries as it allows 39 eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries to export certain goods to the US market duty-free. (“AGOA Treaty Facing Possible Repeal in Trump Administration,” 2017).


One more Trump’s effort that impacts African countries is the issue of immigration. The President intends to alter the US immigration system drastically. He would like to remove as many undocumented immigrants as possible and that includes Africans. Trump would also like to cut the number of people admitted through legal immigration. He is determined to impose restrictions on immigration across the board. The effect of this decision on Africans is serious as it would limit their ability to travel to the US. It will also affect their option to reside and work in the US. This in turn affects remittances from the US to Africa.

Economic and military aid

Trump claimed that development of military forces of the United States will be a priority as contrasted to US previous practices of supporting other countries in military conflicts and providing them with both financial and military provision, Amanda Erickson states. The President states that US both economic state and military forces are in decay nowadays because of this excessive focus on support of other countries in terms of international cooperation, Erickson states. Hence, “America first” policy implies that the core potential of the country will be put on rapid renewal of the US power. Taken into consideration these targets of Trump’s policy, the perspective of support and aid to the African countries would clearly be on the chopping block.

Counterterrorism efforts

“America first” policy also addresses the issue of terrorism. To be more precise, Trump initiated a protectionist type of foreign policy that is aimed at eradication of the so-called radical Islamic terror as one of the major threats to peace and well-being of the United States. According to the approach adhered to by Trump, the core interests of the USA in this area encompass intelligence gathering and diverse counter-terrorism efforts. As a result, these priorities will also impact African countries as far as any kind of cooperation will be regarded via perspective of protection of safety of the United States. Radical Islamists are the core focus in the course of counter-terrorism actions.

Regional harmony

According to Erickson, America will transform from “a leader in peacemaking and poverty eradication” to the country focused on its own interests. It means that African populations will face a serious challenge because of losing such a significant partner to improvements in their countries. Along with such, the United States used to be “a champion of human rights and democracy” before Trump’s policy, we are not sure that will be a priority anymore.

The US as an example of democracy-internal political system

The United States represent a country with democracy as a core to its internal political system. The priorities proclaimed in contemporary America are benevolent and even constructive in their nature, but, apparently, they are among instruments that strengthen and nurture Trump’s dictatorship. Trump’s dictatorial tendencies and partisan bickering would dishearten democracy advocates in Africa. On the other hand, the way the US Courts mitigate Trump’s dictatorial tendencies could also be an example how a true democracy function.

Foreign relations

As it becomes obvious from prior discussion, foreign relations are considerably disregarded by the United States during Trump’s administration. Furthermore, in the list of hierarchy, Africa is at the bottom of his concerns. Trump thinks cooperation with African countries does not pursue core interest of America. From the derogatory language he used to describe Africa and Africans, it is not likely that Trump’s policy will focus on the needs of Africa or Africans in particular. 

Aligning towards China

Trump is known for years for his ultimate concern over the threat of US-China trade. The so-called trade war with China may lead the President to reconsider the terms and conditions of the US trades with African countries. This is especially true with those who have substantial trade relationship with China.


Thus, the core targets of Trump’s “America first” policy are on strengthening power and potential of the United States with little concern of supporting or aiding other countries. Hence, since African countries do not have much to offer for the US interests, impact of Trump policy may have negative effect on Africans and African Countries.

Ed.’s Note: Samuel Alemu is a partner at the ILBSG, LLP. His partner at the ILBSG, LLP, Praveen C. Medikundam, contributed to this article. They are both admitted to the bar associations of New York State, United States Tax Court, and the United States Court of International Trade. Samuel can be reached at [email protected]

Contributed by Samuel Alemu

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