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France's shifting trade dynamics in SSA: A surge in partnerships with Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa

Tuesday, 28 November 2023 13:50
France's shifting trade dynamics in SSA: A surge in partnerships with Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa

(Ecofin Agency) - While some accuse it of economically exploiting its former colonies, France has been forging diplomatic and economic ties with Anglophone African countries in recent years.

France’s trade relations in SSA has shifted. Its primary trade partners in the regions are now Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa, according to an official French Treasury document.

Nigeria now stands as Paris's leading trading partner south of the Sahara, accounting for 20% of commercial exchanges in 2022. The trade volume between the two countries, valued at $5.9 billion last year, increased by 47% in 2022, following a 14.5% rise in 2021.

As an oil-producing country, Nigeria owes this position mainly to the sale of crude oil to France. The French Treasury explains that imports of natural hydrocarbons, other extractive industry products, electricity, and waste "alone represent 85.5% of the value of commercial exchanges between Nigeria and France." Overall, according to the institution, Nigeria would account for 4.7% of French oil imports in 2022. Although the West African country imported $641 million worth of goods in 2022, its trade balance with France remains significantly surplus at over $4.5 billion for the past year.

France also imports oil and natural gas from Angola. Hydrocarbons represent 99% of French imports from Luanda, with trade estimated at $4.2 billion in 2022. According to French authorities, hydrocarbon imports from Angola surged "from February 2022, as a result of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which led to our disengagement from Russia." Hydrocarbons are also Paris' main import from South Africa.

In contrast to the prevailing perception that France exclusively maintains economic ties with its former colonies in Africa, recent data reveals a nuanced reality. Over the past few years, France has strategically engaged with Anglophone African nations, with Nigeria taking center stage. Evidencing this diplomatic shift, Emmanuel Macron conducted official visits to Nigeria in 2018, South Africa in 2021, and Angola in 2023.

Despite these figures, it is worth noting that France continues to be close to its former colonies, particularly in West Africa. The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) has two of France's top three partners in sub-Saharan Africa, namely Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal. According to French Treasury figures, Abidjan imported $1.5 billion worth of French products in 2022, ranking just behind South Africa as the largest importer of French products in sub-Saharan Africa.

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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