China continues to strengthen its ties to Africa through investment, trade and military assistance. Its policy provides China access to raw materials, markets and spheres of influence. Many in Africa welcome China’s increasing presence on the continent. Others raise concerns about the economic consequences of Chinese products flooding African markets.
One of those expressing concern is John Odah, general secretary of the Nigerian Labor Congress. He told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, “One area is textiles, where most of the textile industries in the African continent have gone over. This is a result of the combined effects of WTO rulings and the effect of China’s entry into the international market.” Odah says, “The current trade arrangement has enabled Chinese industries and textile companies to continuously enjoy surplus levels. So in terms of comparative advantage, they are able to provide cheaper textiles and other materials and ship them to the African continent. So the problem that has been experienced in Europe and America is more compounded in our continent.”
Odah says, “The idea of quotas is critical, especially for young and infant industrial undertakings like those in the African continent.” He says, “The Chinese and other Asian manufacturers have the decided advantages of more advanced technology and cheaper skills. Without quotas, African industries have no hope of ever competing or even meeting the challenges which cheap imports from China and other Asian ports present.”
Odah stresses the need to link trade with human rights and governance issues. “We are very worried if China, or indeed any other country, does not take into consideration the issue of good governance and relate to our political leadership just on trade terms. We urge all those who respect Africa not to do those type of things.”