Deval L. Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts and candidate for 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination Photo by Kemi Osukoya

Urges closer ties with Africa, other international allies

Kemi Osukoya


January 24, 2020

Former Massachusetts Governor and United States Democratic party’s Presidential candidate Deval Patrick said it is paramount for the U.S. to develop deeper commercial and strategic relationships with African nations and Latin America.

Speaking at an event Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations headquarters in New York city, the Democratic Party candidate said America currently is missing out on crucial economic as well as leadership opportunities that could help it edged-out its famous competitor- China, in order to retain its number one spot as the world’s biggest power.

“We are missing opportunities to better secure ourselves and our interests, as well as to expand trade in new and in some cases alternative markets,” said Governor Patrick. “I think about this for its own merit, but also as we meet the challenges of a rapidly-growing China. Strengthening our diplomatic, commercial, and in some cases military ties with global allies and training partners makes us safer, more prosperous, and more effective.”

The two-terms former Massachusetts Governor, who as a 20-year-old college student lived in Sudan during his senior year at Harvard University—an experience that he said helped frame his views on America’s role in the world, earmarked a number of opportunities to engage with Africa and Latin America, including through the growing tech surge in Kenya and Nigeria as one set of opportunity, the natural resources in Southern Africa as another set of opportunity, the agriculture sector across the African continent as another set of opportunity to get involved with Africa. 

“In terms of values, frankly, throughout sub-Saharan Africa are huge and North Africa is its own wonder as a region,” he explained.

“We’re talking about trade opportunities, not extractive opportunities. We [the U.S.] have to engage. We have to get closer. I mean, China is busy building infrastructure like nobody’s business,” Patrick said “China is filling a void that certainly the United States, and much of the Western world, is missing. It’s happening in Latin America as well. And we need to be there. And it’s not about giveaway. I’m talking about partnerships. I’m talking about relationships of equal benefit and equal respect. And I don’t think that that has been consistent across the continent. So I do want to—I want to make the point that that’s how I come at it,” he said in response to a question from the Africa Bazaar magazine.

We are missing opportunities to better secure ourselves and our interests, as well as to expand trade in new and in some cases alternative markets

Governor Deval L. Patrick

The former Governor added that another very important part of his foreign policy approach would also be to build and work with other countries in Asia, Caribbean, Western Hemispheres and Europe through alliances such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization, World Trade Organization, United Nations and other international alliances to improve U.S. abilities to help resolve global conflicts and problems successfully

“There’s strength in numbers. There is also the substantial benefit of not having to address a big challenge on multiple, sometimes competing fronts,” said Governor Patrick.

“This is just practical reality,” he noted. “Some of the challenges facing the world simply cannot be addressed by America alone. The scale of the climate crisis and the existing refugee emergency it will almost certainly make worse. The aggression of Russia and Iran in the Middle East and elsewhere, or of North Korea in Asia and beyond; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the spread of terrorism; these and other challenges face all of civilized society, and we should and would be better off confronting them in partnership with others.”

On domestic matters, Patrick, who grew up in a low-income family that lived on the South Side of Chicago, said among his top priorities as President of the U.S. would be to find solutions to minimize the massive gap in wealth inequality in the country.

Watch our interview with Governor Deval L Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts and a 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate

Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval L. Patrick discusses his domestic economic agenda for closing income and wealth inequalities in America