Biden to call for African Union to become G-20 permanent member

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 10 2022 09:58 AM

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on 'building a stronger economy for union workers and retirees' in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, 08 December 2022. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on 'building a stronger economy for union workers and retirees' in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, 08 December 2022. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden intends to announce his support for the African Union to join the Group of 20 major economies as a permanent member during next week's U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, the White House said Friday.

"We need more African voices in international conversations that concern the global economy, democracy and governance, climate change, health and security," National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters, referring to a continent where China is deepening its engagement.

The announcement, to be made at the summit starting Tuesday, comes at the request of African Union Chair and Senegalese President Macky Sall and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, according to Kirby. South Africa is currently the only G-20 member from the African continent.

The move underscores U.S.-China rivalry over the continent. Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered similar backing to the 55-member AU in a speech delivered during the G-20 summit in Indonesia.

The Biden administration views sub-Saharan Africa as critical to advancing U.S. global priorities, citing the area as containing one of the world's fastest-growing populations and largest free trade areas, as well being as one of the largest regional voting groups in the United Nations.

In its Africa strategy released in August, the administration expressed concerns over China's clout in the region, saying Beijing is seeking to use the arena "to advance its own narrow commercial and geopolitical interests, undermine transparency and openness, and weaken U.S. relations with African peoples and governments."

"We're looking forward to working with the Indian G-20 presidency on this issue, among so many others," Kirby said, referring to New Delhi, which will be hosting a series of G-20 meetings next year.

The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Separately, the U.S. president has supported increasing the number of both permanent and nonpermanent representatives on the U.N. Security Council, which has been dominated by the five veto-wielding members, namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly in September, he said countries in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere should also have permanent seats.

"This announcement (on Friday) builds on both the U.S. strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa and the president's advocacy for a more inclusive U.N. Security Council," Kirby said.