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African exports to China plunged by almost 40 percent in 2015

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Thursday, 28 January 2016

African exports to China plunged by almost 40 percent in 2015

In the course of 2015, commercial relations between China and Africa contracted by 18.3 percent, reaching only about US$170 billion, according to information provided by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China and relayed by the Xinhua news agency. While Chinese exports to Africa increased slightly, with a rise of 3.6 percent, African exports to China have for their part fallen considerably. In 2015, the later amounted to about US$67 billion, representing a decrease of nearly 40 percent from the previous year, said Huang Songping, spokesman of the GAC at a conference press. At the end of August, following a 2 percent devaluation of the yuan, a wave of turbulences shook global markets, leading many analysts to wonder about the significance of such an event in relation to the potential scale of the Chinese slowdown. In particular, many expressed concern for Africa, the largest trading partner of which is China (see Bridges Africa, 15 September 2015). With the weakening of exports from Africa to China in 2015, those fears now seem to materialize. And if it is true that Chinese trade registered an overall decrease of 7 percent in 2015, the decrease in trade with Africa is particularly strong. In effect, weakening Chinese economic growth resulted in a decrease in Chinese demand for raw materials and a weakening of prices in recent world markets. The Chinese economy grew by 6.9 percent in 2015, the lowest rate in a quarter century, according to data released Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Some observers also point out that China's growth is becoming less and less dependent on heavy industry, which further diminishes the demand for raw materials from the Asian giant. Import of natural resources from Africa, such as oil and iron ore, has helped enable the growth of the Chinese economy. In 2009, China became the largest trading partner of Africa. Nevertheless, beyond the significant revenue generated to this date, such dependence on exports of raw materials to China are also risks for Africa, which now seem to be manifesting. In such a context, some observers point out that it is important for Africa to diversify its exports destined for the Middle Kingdom (see Rakotoarisoa and Fang, Gateways, 2015).

Source: ICTSD