Beyond the Rhetoric

Chinese trade hustles in Africa and beyond

By Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow | 1/6/2020, 10:28 a.m.

Little did we know that when the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act ( AGOA ) went into law to support increased free trade between the African Continent and the United States that many other nations would profit from it. The fact is that the biggest beneficiary of AGOA is China.

AGOA is a virtual tool for trade enhancement of China and the economic exploitation of our Mother Africa. Chinese entrepreneurs are pimping America and Africa with their blatant hustles that happen right before our eyes.  Let’s look at some of the horrors we have witnessed in our travels to the Motherland.

One elaborate scheme took place in Botswana. A hustler from China came to the nation and convinced a local Botswanan businessperson to go into the textile business.  He helped organize a relationship between the local businessperson and a bank in China. The bank providing lending capital for the Botswanan to purchase machinery to make sports apparel that would be shipped to the United States under the AGOA program.  The brand would be the popular Badger Sportswear. That caught our interest as Harry is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin whose fight name is the Badgers.

They set up the factory and began making the apparel at a rapid rate. Before you knew it, they had over $500,000 worth of apparel to ship to the United States.  The destination would be Charlotte, N.C. The poor Botswana victim did not realize that nothing in North Carolina is called Badger.  North Carolina is “Tarheel” country.

They packed up the shipment and flew it to Charlotte for pick-up and delivery. Then they would receive their lump sum payment which approached nearly a million dollars by the time it was ready for market. The shipment arrived but there was no one to receive it. This was the hustle! It would sit in the Charlotte airport until it was declared unclaimed freight. 

Thus, it went up for auction to the highest bidder (pennies on the dollar). The mysterious bidder took off with the product and who knows where he went to sell his new shipload of product.  The rookie manufacturer in Botswana would receive no funds for the product he produced. He would go into bankruptcy and the Chinese bank would come and repossess the machinery and ship it back to China.

The victim was heartbroken after realizing he was used as a “sucker”. He asked us to intervene but there was nothing we could do. We approached the Botswanan ambassador’s office in the United States, and they had no interest in helping their citizen.  These types of hustle happen in Africa all the time.

Something that is more popular than textiles when it comes to fraud and abuse of the AGOA program is coal production. The environmental movement is quite active in its attempts to stop the mining and production of coal within the United States.  The more successful it becomes; the more China mines new coal in Africa to offset the reduction of coal production in the United States.