Foreign Policy: Definition, Features & Examples

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What is Foreign Policy?

Foreign policy is a decision directed by a government to the governments of other states. It is a policy that is meant to influence other states in the international political system. Although foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy, it isformulated to affect other countries.

Foreign Policy: Definition, Features & Examples

Foreign Policy

A foreign policy is therefore a policy which has implications for other countries. For example, the decision by the government of Ghana to deport aliens, under the Aliens Compliance Order of 1969 did not come as a surprise because there had been widespread discontent in the country that foreigners were taking over and dominating the leading sectors of the Ghanaian economy.

The implementation of the order aerefore resulted in the deportation of thousands of foreigners, living in that country in 1969.

All this created mutual distrust between the two countries and the problems created by these policies continued to affect their relationship despite official rhetoric to-the contrary. The important thing to note, however, is that foreign policy is affected by domestic pressures and policies.

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Similarly, foreign policy also determines the course of internal policies. Foreign policy is very important because there is no state that can exist on its own. It is not possible for a state to live in isolation and have no relations with other states. Even a country as powerful and rich as the United States of America (USA) needs other countries for raw materials for its indu stries and markets and for its industrial goods.

At a time, the United States of America, for example, imported 60 percent of her oil from Nigeria. In the same vein, a non industrialized country like Nigeria has to sell her primary products like oil, cocoa and rubber to other countries in order to earn the foreign exchange with which to buy finished goods such as textiles, vehicles, food items, military weapons, books, newsprint, etc.

Since no country is self sufficient, then countries have to maintain relations with one another in order to achieve their national interest.

In sum, foreign policy may be defined as a coordinated strategy by which a country’s decision makers seek to manipulate the international environment in order to achieve certain national objectives. This definition suggests that there is a close relationship between a state and the international political systems.

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Moreover, the foreign policies of a state are made and implemented by certain public officials and institutions designated by a state for that purpose.

Those who are engaged in making foreign policies in a country include the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Executive Council, the Institute of International Affairs, the military, and the universities. They are engaged either directly or indirectly in the formulation and implementation of the country’s foreign policies.


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