Image: Ooooota in St. Petersburg, Russia
People make strategic decisions about nationality in the same way countries operate strategically to protect their resources. Brexit was a strategic decision designed to relieve the UK of the perceived burden in supporting non-British EU citizens. But as an African who has shuffled between emerging and established economies since birth, I know that well-meaning strategic decisions are not always thought through or well executed. The UK’s withdrawal from the European trade union is already creating complications with inventory stockpiling spanning from the food to the luxury fashion industry, where distribution is inextricably linked to production on the continent. The long-term impact on European trade relations is yet to be seen. In Africa, for instance, only 16% of total trade is between African countries, a figure reflective of our unwillingness as Africans to explore the multitude of opportunities literally at our front door. Among other factors, the intuition behind this is partly protectionist, partly ignorant, and partly because many Africans do not value the work and products of other Africans. Many of these sentiments were rife during the remain versus leave debate in 2016. In Africa, the consequence of our imperfect trading and production habits is that majority of our products (imports from the EU, the US, and Asia) remain unaffordable while domestically manufactured items are often counterfeits. After Brexit, it is unlikely the UK will retain the full advantages of being a part of the single market, including actively contributing to intraregional trade, currently an impressive 70% of total trade. But if post-Brexit negotiations are anything shy of surgically precise, complications could make life challenging for UK businesses, especially if they foresee demand within the 512 million residents of the EU.
(MORE: WHAT DOES BREXIT MEAN FOR PROGRESS?)