The so-called “new political economy war” between the United States and China, and Russia, has created an uncertain environment in which many developing nations are forced to choose sides or risk being left behind.

Sayidcali Ismail AhmedBy Sayidcali Ahmed

As the world’s biggest economies continue to battle for economic supremacy, developing countries have become increasingly vulnerable. The so-called “new political economy war” between the United States and China, and Russia, has created an uncertain environment in which many developing nations are forced to choose sides or risk being left behind.

The new trade policies of these rich countries often prioritize their own interests over those of less developed nations. For example, US tariffs on Chinese goods have had a devastating effect on many African exporters who rely heavily on Chinese imports for parts and materials that they can no longer access due to increasing costs imposed by Washington.


Similarly, rising tensions between Moscow and Washington have seen Russian sanctions hit some of its former Soviet neighbors such as Belarus hard economically—a situation made worse by China’s refusal to step in with aid or investment.

This is not just an economic issue; it also has far-reached implications for global security and human rights. With many developing countries reliant upon foreign investments from powerful states like China and the US for development projects such as infrastructure or energy sources, there is a danger that this reliance could be used to manipulate them into taking sides in geopolitical disputes or accepting unfavorable terms when making deals with large investors.

This could leave them open to exploitation both financially and politically while simultaneously limiting their ability to pursue independent paths towards long-term prosperity without fear of retribution from larger powers.

Meanwhile, much-needed international aid programs designed specifically for poorer nations may struggle if resources are diverted away from them towards more urgent matters related directly to the ongoing conflict among major players—such as military spending or diplomatic initiatives intended solely at bolstering one side over another—at the expense of those most affected by poverty across regions like Sub-Saharan Africa where aid remains essential for progress against endemic maladies like HIV/AIDS.

In light of all this uncertainty facing developing countries caused by this new political economy war amongst rich nations, we must recognize that ultimately only they themselves can shape their own future.

The new political economy war between the US and its major rivals has created a situation in which developing countries are increasingly vulnerable. In order to ensure their own future prosperity, these nations must take measures to empower themselves through increased autonomy, better governance systems, improved education opportunities, and other initiatives that foster entrepreneurship and innovation.

Only then can they stand up against attempts at manipulation from outside forces while still having enough leverage within regional dynamics to secure equitable deals with richer partners.

One economic policy solution for developing nations to survive economically amidst this war is to invest in their own people and infrastructure. This could include increasing access to quality education, providing incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation, promoting sustainable agriculture and energy production, investing in local infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges, reforming government regulations that hinder business development, improving tax systems to ensure they are fair and equitable, establishing financial institutions that promote economic growth through responsible lending practices, creating trade agreements with other countries outside of the power dynamics of the major players involved in the new political economy war, implementing tariffs on goods imported from those countries who have imposed sanctions or otherwise hindered international trade with them, among many others.

By taking these actions, developing countries can become more self-sufficient while also positioning themselves to take advantage of any opportunities which arise due to changes in the geopolitical landscape.

The African Union and the World Trade Organization could take several steps to help African countries in this case. Firstly, they could provide technical assistance to help strengthen the capacity of governments in Africa to develop their own economic policies that are tailored to their respective countries’ needs. This includes providing expertise on trade negotiations and dispute resolution, as well as helping them design effective social safety nets for vulnerable populations.

Second, the AU and WTO could work together to promote regional integration by encouraging free trade agreements between African nations or through establishing common tariffs for imports from outside of Africa. This would give African nations greater bargaining power when negotiating with foreign investors or trading partners such as China or Russia who have become increasingly influential in the region.

Finally, both organizations should also advocate for fairer international rules around investment flows into developing countries so that those funds are used responsibly and do not lead to exploitation or environmental degradation. They should also look at ways of increasing access to affordable finance options for small businesses in Africa so that local entrepreneurs can benefit from global markets without having to rely on large multinationals who may seek unfair advantages over them due to competition laws within certain countries like the US.

To do so successfully will require greater fiscal autonomy, stronger institutions, better governance systems, and improved education opportunities alongside other measures which foster entrepreneurship, innovation & investment within local communities —all things which empower citizens rather than leaving them dependent upon external assistance.

Only then will these states be able to stand up against any attempts at manipulation & coercion from outside forces while still having enough leverage within regional dynamics (through collective action) to ensure they remain adequately represented & protected during negotiations with wealthier partners.

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NB: This article by Dani Rodrik has inspired me to write an op-ed about the new political economy war and how developing nations can empower themselves.
Project Syndicate. (2023, April). The New Rich-Country Trade Policies: Developing World Must Shape Its Own Future.

About The Author

Sayidcali Ismail AhmedSayidcali Ismail Ahmed

Sayidcali Ahmed is a MasterCard Foundation’19 scholar currently studying at Westminster College (USA), double majoring in Political Science and Global and Transnational Studies.
He works for the Senate of the Student Government Association and as a treasurer of the Global Development and Progress Club. Ahmed also serves as a resident advisor and Math tutor.
In addition, Ahmed is a fellow of The Public Policy & International Affairs Program at Princeton University. After graduating from Westminster College, Ahmed plans to pursue a career in public policy, especially in Education Policy and Analysis (EPA), to participate in policy development, research, analysis, and organizational leadership in developing countries and worldwide.

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