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CHINESE TRADE IN AFRICA: FOUL OR FAIR

THE AFRICAN BAR ASSOCIATION AFRICAN BUSINESS ROUND TABLE.

POLICY DIALOGUE COMMITTEE SERIES

TOPIC: CHINESE TRADE IN AFRICA: FOUL OR FAIR

Over the last few years, China has become the foremost global force in business and has dominated trade in goods and services across the world.

 Africa, mostly underdeveloped and underpriced as a result of several factors, some of which are self- inflicted and arising from corruption, lack of foresight, and armed conflict depends solely on Europe, America and Asia for survival of business, trade, infrastructural development, and recently, loan facilities. In the last twenty years, bilateral trade between China and Africa has exponentially doubled by over 65% and still growing.

However, this growth has seen Chinese businesses, mostly facilitated by the Chinese government, takeover every facets of businesses - top, middle, and low range commercial ventures in Africa. In fact, this has also led to a number of Chinese migrants, manning large business components and even retail businesses meant ordinarily, African locals.

It is pertinent to observe that, a review of the conditions, terms and agreements attached to or related to these Chinese businesses, and investments in Africa have raised several concerns on security, unfair trade balances, unfair trade terms, consumer protection, transparency, corruption, the debt trap diplomacy, immigration violations, human rights violations and neocolonialism.  These concerns are not far-fetched. For it is neocolonialism if the Chinese loan facilities are offered to African countries who do not have capacity to repay these loans and when these countries default on payments as they would invariably do, the Chinese would ponce on their national assets. It is worthy of note that most of the terms and conditions attached to these trade deals and businesses entered into by African countries with the Chinese are usually shrouded in secrecy. Further to this, Chinese business relations with Africa does not develop any local talent nor technology transfer as Chinese nationals are used to execute the contracts so funded by Chinese. 

In the wake of dwindling aid to Africa, less debt relieves, and stringent conditions attached to Western businesses; Africa is dancing to the firm grip of China and her tantalizing "Greek" offer.

Is this the case of the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea?

Is Africa not setting the stage for another throes of misery for her present and future generations? Or is this "Greek" prosperity?

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