Rice calls for US-Africa open markets deal


THE US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is currently touring Africa, putting forward the US plan to establish free trade and open markets with the states of the oil and mineral rich continent.

The US plans for Africa to be its sphere of influence, handing off its imperialist rivals, France and Britain, the former colonial powers over much of the continent.

The last 10 years have seen the US, under both Clinton and Bush, establishing free trade-open market deals that have hugely benefited US capital, while showing no great gains for their partners.

Clinton pushed through and established the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), encompassing the US, Canada and Mexico.

Under NAFTA, US factories have been moved to Mexico, costing large numbers of US workers their jobs, without any benefits for Mexican workers, except to become near slave labourers for US capital.

The US Congress is shortly to agree to CAFTA, which plans to do the same job for central America, and will include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

CAFTA is a stepping stone to the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). This will bring free trade and open markets to the whole of the continent, North, central and South.

It will give the giant of US capital, in ‘fair competition’ with the much weaker bourgeoisie of the Americas, the opportunity to privatise the entire continent, super-exploit its workers, and destroy its agriculture by flooding the continent with cheaper food produced by the huge US food combines.

The US bosses, however, do not plan to stop with that. They want to make the whole world their oyster, and the continent of Africa is a huge prize.

Rice spoke about the projected US-Africa trade deal during her visit to Senegal.

Depicting US capitalism as some kind of philanthropist, she said that aid could help development, but was not sufficient on its own, and that open markets and free trade would create wealth and would lift Africa out of poverty.

Rice announced increased US funding for African countries under Washington’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a programme that removes export duties on thousands of products shipped from the continent to the US.

An extra $1m (£580,000) in grants, not a huge sum, would be made available to be shared among West African nations to improve transportation, safety and infrastructure, Rice said.

She said the programme, so far, had helped increase non-oil African exports to the US by 22 per cent between 2003 and 2004. ‘AGOA benefits everyone. African businesses create more, better-paying jobs. And American consumers receive more goods at lower prices – products like sorbet from South Africa, wood carvings from Tanzania, and tuna from right here in Senegal,’ she said.

However, not everybody agreed. Some pointed out that the majority of AGOA exports are oil-related, providing tariff-free fuel to US consumers.

Rice is now in the Sudan where she will meet President Omar al-Bashir and Vice President John Garang, and express support for the peace deal that brought the two together and ended the civil war in the south of Sudan. She will lay down the law as to how the Sudan must develop economically and politically.

The idea that free trade and open markets between the US and mineral rich African countries is for the mutual benefit of both and specifically to raise millions of Africans out of poverty is a bad joke.

US imperialism is an economic and military giant. It will attempt to take over the African economies, privatise their infrastructures, and strip them of their natural resources like a locust. It will super-exploit African workers and use the situation to further weaken the US working class, creating what the US trade unions call ‘a race to the bottom’.

The only way to answer the predators of global capitalism is through the organisation of the world socialist revolution to overthrow capitalism and imperialism, to advance to world socialism.