Thursday, August 29, 2013

China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation

China's State Council published in August 2013 a white paper titled "China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation."  Trey Menefee consolidated the various pieces of the white paper as part of  a Google document.

The white paper is full of recent statistics concerning China's trade, aid, investment and soft power interaction with Africa.  It shows that in the last three years, China has run a modest trade deficit with Africa collectively.  It suggests there will be an increasing emphasis on collaboration in the agricultural sector.  It reports that total cumulative Chinese FDI to Africa as of the end of 2012 was about $21 billion, still well below the actual amount in my opinion.  The paper also emphasizes interaction with African regional organizations such as the African Union, ECOWAS, East African Community, and African Development Bank.

The Voice of America asked me to react generally to the white paper.  I made two observations.  First, the white paper underscores the magnitude of China-Africa economic interaction, which is impressive.  Second, like any government document, it puts the best possible gloss on the relationship from China's perspective by emphasizing those issues that will please African countries and downplaying those that are controversial such as the component of Chinese labor in major infrastructure projects in Africa.  

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