Shopping for raw materials: Should Africa be worried about EU Raw Materials Initiative?

ECDPM This ECDPM Discussion Paper focuses to a large extent on the EU Raw Materials Initiative, which, in itself, is a policy document of the EU, with no legal enforcement, that makes recommendations for the Commission to act in a coherent manner at different levels. The Initiative provoked numerous animated reactions among many African countries as this was viewed as a way of increasing the pressure in trade negotiations, both bilaterally (such as in the EPAs) and at the multilateral level, to eliminate current restrictions on exports or to prohibit their uses in the future, that might, as a result, limit their policy space to define their own development strategies.

Africa is well endowed with abundant natural resources. It is known to host 30% of the world’s reserves and produces over 60 metals and minerals. Much in its soil is still unexplored and therefore potential reserves are undoubtedly enormous. However, its share in worldwide production is relatively small compared to large emerging economies such as China, Russia or Brazil. As it currently stands, its overall share in global production and exports of critical raw materials to the EU is rather limited, although many African countries have the potential to produce more of these raw materials. Very few African countries, mainly South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are important producers and exporters of raw materials the EU considers as critical. This situation is however likely to evolve: the overdependence of Europe on China for most of its critical raw materials has proved particularly ‘painful’ recently, in particular with China’s decision to restrict the export of some of those critical raw materials, such as rare earths.

Access the full paper here.

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