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US woos Africa as rivals eye economic growth

Published on Aug 3, 2014 1:50 PM
 
A sign is seen promoting the US-Africa Summit is seen July 31, 2014 outside the US Department of State (left) whereUS President Barack Obama will host African Leaders August 4-6,2014 in Washington, DC. African leaders head to Washington for a landmark US summit this week, with Mr Obama hoping to boost trade, development and security ties amid growing competition from China on the continent. -- PHOTO: AFP

NAIROBI (AFP) - African leaders head to Washington for a landmark US summit this week, with President Barack Obama hoping to boost trade, development and security ties amid growing competition from China on the continent.

China overtook the United States as Africa's largest trading partner five years ago, with Beijing's trade now worth more than US$200 billion (S$250 billion) a year, double that of Washington.

But while the US is playing catch-up, experts say it is wrong to view the situation as a direct competition between the two powers, since China's investments potentially boost US trade and their companies are focused on different sectors.

"The Obama administration has come under increasing pressure from the commercial sector to prioritise Africa policy. This US-Africa summit is more a response to this than a direct beauty contest with China," said Alex Vines, from Britain's Chatham House think tank.

 
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