Author: Heidi Østbø Haugen.
Haugen, Heidi Østbø. 2011. "Chinese Exports to Africa: Competition, Complementarity and Cooperation between Micro-Level Actors." Forum for Development Studies 38 (2): 157-176. https://doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2011.572286
China's trade relations with Africa have displayed a striking dynamism in the past decade. The spatial distribution of these trade flows is highly uneven: Chinese imports are mainly sourced from a few resource-rich nations, while Chinese exports penetrate most African markets. Small-scale business enterprises have been crucial to the recent surge in the export of Chinese manufactured goods to Africa. The scholarship on the micro-level processes through which these commodities enter Africa has so far focused on the role of Chinese entrepreneurs. This article contributes to the existing literature by addressing the ways in which both African and Chinese actors play a part in strengthening Sino–African trade relations. Based on multi-sited fieldwork with semi-structured interviews and participant observation, it explores relationships of competition, complementarity and cooperation between Chinese and African traders. The macro-level trends in Sino–African trade are described using information extracted from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database. Given the economic and social significance of the exports from China to Africa, it is important to build a better understanding of the central role played by small-scale businesses and to recognize the role of Africans in shaping Sino–African links.