Sino-African Trade: A Multi-layered Appraisal
Sino-African Trade: A Multi-layered Appraisal
Flora Huang and Horace Yeung
ABSTRACT: There are both believers and critics on the state and potential of Sino-African trade. For example, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is expected to benefit several African countries. At the same time, some critics refer to it as ‘debt trap diplomacy’ for China to politically and economically exploit the countries involved. Nearly a decade ago, China surpassed the US to become Africa’s largest trading partner. Sino-African trade is now four times larger than that of US-Africa. While the importance of Sino-African trade can be seen in the scale of trade and investment, this article at the same time concerns the legal, and also some non-legal mechanisms such as BRI and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, to take the bilateral/multilateral relations to the next level. Other than continental and country level perspectives, firm level considerations cannot be ignored. Chinese companies now dominate in certain business sectors in Africa and are rapidly expanding into new sectors. In light of this rapid expansion by Chinese companies, there have been concerns regarding the behaviour of certain Chinese companies in Africa. As such, this article, through a multi-level analysis of continental, country and firm level evidence, aims to form a comprehensive picture of the closer than ever Sino-African trade relations.

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