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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid