gan to assert its global economic power at atime when western nations were experienc-ing pesky stock and housing market bubblesand ill-advised nancial dealings that result-ed by 2008 in the most serious economic re-cession since the American depression o the1930s. China’s economy held up much bet-ter than did western economies. At the sametime, western companies had been drawingback rom Arica while China and its state-owned and private companies signicantlyincreased their engagement in Arica, in partdue to China’s voracious appetite or Aricanraw materials. China-Arica trade exceeded$100 billion in 2008, ell back because o theglobal recession to $91 billion in 2009 andeasily passed the $100 billion mark again in2010. China also surpassed the United Statesin 2009 as Arica’s most important bilateraltrading partner. Even with this phenomenalgrowth in trade, Arica constitutes only about4 percent o China’s global trade. On the oth-er hand, more than 10 percent o Arica’s totaltrade is with China.While trade between China and Arica’sty-three countries has been nearly in bal-ance during the past decade, there are somestorm warnings. Because o the drop in theprice o oil, China had a $10 billion trade sur-plus with Arica in 2009. About 70 percento Arica’s exports to China are crude oil andanother 15 percent is raw materials, mostlyminerals. Some teen Arican oil and min-eral exporters have large trade surpluses withChina while more than thirty others havesizeable trade decits. In the case o thoseArican countries with consistently largetrade decits, the trade relationship is prob-ably not sustainable. China is taking stepssuch as duty ree imports rom poorer Aricancountries to rectiy the situation, but China’sexport power simply overwhelms most o itstrading partners. The Arican countries justdo not have signicant amounts o productsother than raw materials that can crack theChinese market.Chinese investment in Arica, which hadnot been a signicant actor until the begin-ning o this century, reached according to o-cial Chinese statistics more than $9 billionby the end o 2009. China actually reportedslightly higher direct investment in China byArican countries as o the end o 2009. WhileChina’s ocially reported investment in Ari-ca constitutes a modest amount comparedto western investment in Arica, it also seemsto understate signicantly the magnitude o Chinese investment, which would appear tobe at least double the ocial amount basedon inormal calculations. Although accuratestatistics are elusive, China may have beenthe single largest investor in Arica during2009. In any event, in just ten years China hasgone rom an insignicant investor in Aricato one o its most important investors.China remains well behind western coun-tries in the amount o OECD-equivalent aidthat it provides to Arica. Most o China’slarge inrastructure projects in Arica, whichare receiving signicant publicity, are actu-ally based on loans. They usually come withlow interest rates and long-term repaymentschedules. While this component qualies asaid, they are also tied to Chinese constructioncompanies, sometimes with a signicant Chi-nese labor component. China does not pro-vide annual country-by-country aid statistics.In 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao stated that Chinahad provided $5.6 billion in oreign aid to A-rican countries since the beginning o its as-sistance program. The Arican DevelopmentBank concluded in 2009 that China’s annualaid to Arica is averaging between $1.4 billionand $2.7 billion, while loans had reached $8.5billion. While China remains an aid recipient,it has also become an important aid donor toArica, although its total assistance remainswell behind that rom the West.
Motivations o China and theWest in Arica
The motivations o China and western coun-
Most of China’s large infrastructure projects in Africa, which are receiving significant publicity, are actuallybased on loans. They usually come with low interestrates and long-term repayment schedules.
tries in Arica are surprisingly similar. Both seeArica as a major source o oil and minerals. The United States and Europe each importabout one-third o Arica’s total oil exportswhile China takes only about 13 percent.Higher total oil consumption in the West ac-counts or this; about 90 percent o Aricanexports to the United States consist o oil.China does import more mineral productsrom Arica than does the United States. Nev-ertheless, western countries need to exercisecare in criticizing China’s imports o raw ma-terials rom Arica when they are doing thesame thing on a larger scale.On a global basis, Arica does not yetconstitute an important export market ororeign goods because o its relative povertyand underdevelopment. Arica purchasesonly about 3 percent o total Chinese exportsand only about 2 percent o total Americanexports. This situation is likely to change,however, now that Arica’s population haspassed the 1 billion mark and Arican coun-tries have achieved on average in the last veyears an annual GDP growth rate o about5 percent. Both China and the West under-stand that Arica is becoming a more impor-tant market or their exports; they want tobe in a position to take advantage o Arica’sgrowing prosperity.China and western countries, especiallythe United States, look to Arican countriesor political support in international orums.China has a particular interest in mobilizingArican support in the UN Human RightsCouncil where it is sometimes under pres-sure rom the West. Western nations andChina welcome Arican support in the World Trade Organization. Arican states have threenon-permanent members on the UN Secu-rity Council where China, the United States,France, the United Kingdom and Russia all
Western countries needto exercise care in criti-cizing China’s imports of raw materials from Africa when they are doing thesame thing on a largerscale.