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Subsidies and the False Promise of Fair Trade

Gold digger Labison Phinde works at a plot he bought in Lumwira village, in central Malawi's Lilongwe district where a gold rush is taking place, on October 1, 2018. AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP

Towards the end of our discussion last week with Walter Ruigu, managing director of the Beijing-based trading and logistics company CAMAL Group, on the China in Africa Podcast, he shared a fascinating insight that reveals why African commodity producers are condemned to remain at the bottom of the global supply chain.

Whenever there’s a discussion about how African can profit more from its abundant natural resources, the issue of processing invariably comes up. If only African mining, timber, and oil firms could refine, package or otherwise add value to those commodities before they’re loaded onto the bulk carriers then that would go a long way to improving the continent’s finances.

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