African products gain easy access to Chinese market

28 June 2010

Beijing, China, 28 Jun – China is granting duty-free access to nearly 4,000 products from more than 20 African countries, stimulating Chinese industrial development and economic growth in Africa.

Xie Yajing, Chinese commercial counsellor for Africa and West Asia, recently told the Kenyan newspaper The Standard that the effort to boost African imports also includes opening an African exhibition centre in Beijing to enhance those products’ visibility in the country.

“China has signed free access agreements with more than 20 African countries to allow imports of more than 4,000 products without customs duties,” Xie told the African newspaper.

Chinese exports to Africa have remained stable, while 23 African countries have increased their exports to China, she said.

The bilateral trade volume increased 24 percent in the first quarter of this year to US$27.8 billion, she added.

The latest figures from the Chinese customs service indicate that this rise is even greater for all the Portuguese language countries: 91 percent until April, to US$25.089 billion.

During the period, China imported goods worth US$17.459 billion (up 108 percent year-on-year) from the eight Portuguese language countries and exported goods worth US$7.630 billion (up 60 percent).

The pledge to open the Chinese market to African products was initially made by Wen Jiabao in 2003.

Some 190 product types were initially included on the duty-free access list. In November 2006, at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing, the list was expanded to include a range of 440 products.

Citing Chinese Commerce Ministry data, a recently published study by South Africa’s Standard Bank reported a list of 454 product types, of which three quarters are industrial.

Among these are car parts, bicycles, soap, plastic, leather wallets, cotton and t-shirts, umbrellas, pens, lamps, refined copper products, diesel generators and fish hooks.

In her recently published book “The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa”, US university researcher Deborah Brautigam indicates that there is a “clear correspondence” between this list and the ongoing reorganisation of Chinese industry, which is paving the way for Chinese industrial development in Africa.

African governments wanting to boost industrial investment now have a list of products for which they can offer their own incentives, Brautigam claims in her book, published by the Oxford University Press.

Some Chinese companies will weigh transferring production to Africa so that they can re-export to China duty-free, the author states, adding that other Chinese companies in Africa are already involved in the production of sesame (Senegal), plastic (Nigeria) and spun cotton (Mauritius). (macauhub)