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What will it mean for Ghana if Trump wins?

What will it mean for Ghana if Trump wins?
Published date:
Monday, 07 November 2016

What if Donald Trump really wins the US election? What will this mean for Ghana, and Africa as a whole?

While we have a pretty fair idea of what this will mean to the USA, it's hard to say what that means here.

Because Trump has not really spoken of this continent – and definitely not Ghana.

But, as lecturer in communications at the University of Ghana, Dr Etse Sikanku told Pulse Ghana earlier in the year, there will be a direct impact on this part of the world once the US chooses its new leader.

Whoever wins will be responsible for foreign policy and America’s relationship with Ghana, and that will have a trickle down effect on people here in Ghana, Sikanku says.

But knowing what that effect really is, is guesswork.

One of the top things to consider is the future of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) as this will affect businesses here, particularly if someone was exporting due to this agreement.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a United States Trade Act enacted in 2000, and has since been renewed until 2025.

The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, of which Ghana is one.

AGOA builds on existing US trade programmes by expanding the (duty-free) benefits previously available only under the country’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

Through it, Ghana has exported millions of dollars of products to the USA, and been able to import products from the USA in return.

The US has stated cocoa and cashew exports from Ghana to the US went up by 300 percent within a period of 13 years under the AGOA initiative, which would have had huge impacts through Ghana.

Writing for, Ben Payton of the risk advisory firm Verisk Maplecroft says if Trump wins he will "tear up the rulebook" when it comes to the US policies towards Africa.

With the traditional emphasis the US places on Africa being aid, trade and security, Payton writes there is scope for “drastic – and perhaps destructive” change under Trump.

However, when it comes to trade, Payton writes Unlike NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, AGOA has not been a campaign issue. Trump would gain little by removing trade benefits from all African countries. Since most African exports to the US are either natural resources or low-value goods, lobby groups rarely argue that AGOA has hit American jobs, he states.

If there is controversy and pressure, chances are Trump would take an “aggressive stance.”

And as far as immigration goes, US statistics show from 2004 until 2013, numbers of Ghanaians in the USA who have obtained lawful permanent residence has increased from 5,337 people in 2004, when George Bush was president, to 7,610 in 2008, his last year. Under Obama, from 2009 the number was 8, 401 in 2013, (the most recent number available) there were 10, 265 Ghanaians given permanent residency.

The number of Ghanaians naturalized in the USA has also increased significantly under Obama. Under Bush in 2004 there were 3, 577, under Obama, in 2009 the number was 4, 819 and in 2013 5, 105.

However, those Ghanaians caught to be illegally in the country have increased under Obama, in 2004 there were 135 people this jumped to 422 in 2009, however, in 2013 the number dropped to 272.

Even last week a number of Ghanaians were deported from the USA.

What the future may hold for Ghanaians immigrating to the USA illegally under a new president would also be speculation, but Sikanku says if you looked at Republican Donald Trump’s stance on immigration “he is somebody who believes in protecting America...he believes he is going to build a high wall along the border. He is going to make sure that America is more strict on illegal immigration. At a point he said illegal immigrants, including those from Africa, will be deported.”

You'll remember Trump has said he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the USA for a period.

So – 2002 estimations of Muslims across the continent show that's 45 percent of the population of Africa. 45 percent of Africans banned – at least temporarily, under Trump.

As far as aid is concerned, Payton notes Trump has said “every penny” donated to Africa is “stolen”, and in 2014 he criticised Obama for helping fight Ebola. But he has since acknowledged that aid can stabilise vulnerable countries, and has promised to “lead the way” in Aids relief.

Payton says there are “some grounds for hope” that Trump would not make extreme cuts, even if aid spending is almost certain to fall.

But the reality is, Trump doesn't talk about Africa, except when he mispronounced the nation of Tanzania when speaking about terrorism in April this year. There was also the spectacle of Obama's Kenyan half brother Malik supporting Trump ahead of the final US presidential debate.

So exactly what a win for Trump means over here, is a dark unknown.

At least Malik Obama will be happy.

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