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The Effects of Chinese Trade on Africa

And while on the subject of SA’s partners in BRICS, China is now the African continent’s largest trading partner, accounting for trade worth US$254bn in 2021. It is also the main country of origin for African manufacturing imports, providing 16% of Africa’s total in 2018. According to The Conversation ( THE CONVERSATION), in most African countries the influx of Chinese products has become a major concern because of the implications for industrialisation. There are also concerns about the impact Chinese manufactured exports are having on wages in importing countries. Researchers in Ethiopia analysed the relationship between Chinese import competition and labour market outcomes as they related to women and men workers. They merged data from manufacturing firms with trade data between 1997 and 2010, and mapped out the effect of import surges on labour force participation and compensation. The result they came to was that the impact of the influx of Chinese products in Ethiopia on employment and wages differed for men and women. Employment levels declined overall for male and female manufacturing workers. But women bore a disproportionate burden. Manufacturing firms exposed to increased Chinese competition employed fewer female production workers than men.

Alastair Tempest

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