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From immigration to trade, what a Biden presidency means for Nigeria

We look at how the presidency of Joseph Biden in the United States will affect Nigeria across multiple fronts from trade to immigration.

Biden has been declared the 46th President of the U.S. on November 7, 2020, surpassing his rival, Donald Trump with about 4.26 million votes as Biden raked in 290 electoral college votes while Trump only gathered 214 where 270 electoral college votes were required to win the Presidency.

In light of this, Biden’s four-year term as President of the U.S. is bound to not just impact the entire world in general but also Nigeria in terms of trade, immigration, regional security and diplomatic relations.

Trade

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. pulled out of several international organisations and treaties including the Iran Nuclear Deal, Paris Climate Change Agreement, UN Human Rights Council, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This is in addition to entering into a trade war with China.

President-elect Joe Biden will face enormous pressure from industry and allies to pull back President Donald Trump’s trade wars and ditch his tariffs.

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But unravelling many of those Trump policies may have to wait. Though the former vice president said he will immediately reengage allies to combat China, the campaign said that any

new trade deals would be considered only after investments in infrastructure and a coronavirus stimulus package.

Biden’s tenure as President is likely to further reduce America’s purchase of Nigeria’s oil which has been on a declining slope due to the US decision to grow its domestic energy production.

Earlier in August 2020, the US slashed its imports of Nigerian crude oil to 9.37 million barrels within the first five months of 2020, which was 11.67 million barrels lower than what it bought in the same period of 2019. North America’s oil purchase also depleted to 2.12 million barrels, which is the highest this year compared to 11.78 million barrels in 2019.

Immigration

Trump banned immigrants of eight countries – six of which are majorly Muslims: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen within just a few days of becoming President. January 2020 saw Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania join the list.

Joe Biden, as part of his campaign promises on immigration, has pledged to rescind that ban.

According to SBM Intelligence, such a move will please many Nigerian diaspora residents in America, whose family ties have come under pressure because of the ban especially because they are highly active with Nigerian activities through remittances for sustaining their families.

Greater Equality

With his chosen Vice President by name of Kamala Harris as the first woman of Black and Asian American origin to make it up the ranks, the influence both politically and otherwise of coloured persons worldwide is bound to accelerate.

“Three Nigerian-Americans, all Democrats, have won elective office in the 2020 election cycle, growing the ranks of Nigerian-Americans with political influence”, as stated by SBM intelligence.

Regional Security

Trump’s regime provided a rather low budget of $60 million for the scantily-clad number of 1000 men of the United States’ military base in Niger, indicating its below-par priority of Nigeria’s Boko Haram compared to the Middle East’s Islamic jihadists.

“American involvement in the Sahel is mostly associated with its support for France-led Operation Barkhane, a counter-insurgency operation in Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger”, as stated by SBM.

More recently, the hostage rescue conducted in the early hours of October 31 2020 on (northern) Nigerian soil by the US Navy’s Seal Team Six with very minimal collaboration with the Nigerian government signalled many things, particularly, impatience with the Nigerian government and its negative perception in dealing with terrorism.

In contrast, Biden’s administration will likely prioritise security defences against terrorism operations across the Sahel region, although France and other proxies will still serve as an intermediary.

Diplomatic relations

Trump’s seeming distaste for Africa as a whole is evidenced by referring to the continent as consisting of ‘shit hole countries’ and the alleged reports that Trump referred to President Buhari as ‘lifeless’ during his visit to the White House in April 2018. This is asides taking Nigeria by surprise as the foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, claimed in February 2020 that he was “somewhat blindsided” when Nigeria was banned from the U.S.

Under Trump’s Presidency, the U.S. opposed the candidature of Akinwumi Adesina for Africa Development Bank, following corruption allegations that he was cleared off by a panel of inquiry.

“The US insisted on an independent investigation, which ultimately arrived at the same conclusion” before Adesina was re-elected as President of AfDB.

The U.S. has also stood as a major opposition to crowning Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as Director-General for the World Trade Organisation.

In line with SBM’s projections, Biden’s regime is likely to be more peaceful and diplomatic in its approach to relating with other countries including Nigeria although undoubtedly the interests of the U.S. will remain the top priority before other nations.

The recent support by Biden alongside Hilary Clinton in response to the #EndSARS protests where he urged the Nigerian government to “cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths”, “engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society” and “address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria”.

Biden went on to say that “The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy”.

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