News / Africa

Increased China-Africa Trade Raises Questions

A Chinese salesman sells consumer goods in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
A Chinese salesman sells consumer goods in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Nico Colombant

Growing trade between China and Africa is raising new questions, analysts say, about economic competition and opportunity on the continent.  According to the African Development Bank, China-Africa commerce comprises more than 10 percent of Africa's overall trade.

A recent report by the African Development Bank says African trade with China has steadily grown, while the continent's imports and exports with other markets have mostly declined.

The bank's research director, Leonce Ndikumana, says this was particularly important during the latest economic downturn in the United States and Europe.  

"What we have seen is that when there is a shock to the economies in these regions, Africa gets hit straight in its face," said Ndikumana.  "And diversifying the destination of its exports and the origin of its foreign capital inflows is a good thing for African countries."

China imports mainly oil and other natural resources from Africa, while the continent buys equipment, machinery and inexpensive consumer goods from China.

Some economists are worried that such trade could stifle the development of manufacturing sectors in Africa, while also increasing what often is called the resource curse.  The phrase refers to the paradox that many African regions have highly sought after natural resources, but often experience repeated political violence and extreme poverty.

The senior policy manager for extractive industries at Oxfam America, Ian Gary, says he hopes Chinese companies are aware of the problem.

"Whether you are a Chinese company or a Western company, as we have seen in places like the Niger Delta, you will come into problems with local grievances, conflicts with local communities," said Gary.  "And so I think you will see that Chinese companies will have the same type of learning curve and hopefully will more quickly look at ways that they can support an environment that leads to sustainable development."

But the research director at the African Development Bank, Leonce Ndikumana, says Chinese companies have been more inclined than Western firms to invest in infrastructure such as roads and stadiums in recent years.

He says whatever the challenges, China's interests in Africa will benefit Africans.

"The only way African countries can reduce poverty is by increasing growth and sustaining growth," said Ndikumana.  "So to the extent that the increased trade with China and the increased investment from China to Africa is contributing to growth, this is good news for African countries."



But Oxfam America's Ian Gary points out that Chinese companies receive help from their government to win contracts in Africa.

"Chinese companies are often closely tied to the government and can look at sort of packaged deals and incentives, for example, infrastructure for resource type swaps and other types of incentives, that are not on the table for many of the Western companies," noted Gary.

Other economists say they hope Chinese investors will partner with African entrepreneurs to grow their countries' economies in ways that will benefit more people.  They also say they would like to see Africa expand its economic ties with other parts of the world.

Other countries showing increased interest in Africa include Brazil and South Korea.  Non-oil sectors that are attracting more attention from foreign businesses include agriculture and customer services.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid