Executive Briefings

China Is Africa's Biggest Trading Partner, But Not Its Largest Investor

China has become by far Africa's biggest trading partner, exchanging about $160bn worth of goods a year; more than a million Chinese, most of them labourers and traders, have moved to the continent in the past decade. The mutual adoration between governments continues, with ever more African roads and mines built by Chinese firms. But the talk of Africa becoming Chinese - or "China’s second continent", as the title of one American book puts it - is overdone.

China Is Africa's Biggest Trading Partner, But Not Its Largest Investor

The African boom, which China helped to stoke in recent years, is attracting many other investors. The non-Western ones compete especially fiercely. African trade with India is projected to reach $100bn this year. It is growing at a faster rate than Chinese trade, and is likely to overtake trade with America. Brazil and Turkey are superseding many European countries. In terms of investment in Africa, though, China lags behind Britain, America and Italy.

If Chinese businessmen seem unfazed by the contest it is in part because they themselves are looking beyond the continent. “This is a good place for business but there are many others around the world,” says He Lingguo, a sunburnt Chinese construction manager in Kenya who hopes to move to Venezuela.

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The African boom, which China helped to stoke in recent years, is attracting many other investors. The non-Western ones compete especially fiercely. African trade with India is projected to reach $100bn this year. It is growing at a faster rate than Chinese trade, and is likely to overtake trade with America. Brazil and Turkey are superseding many European countries. In terms of investment in Africa, though, China lags behind Britain, America and Italy.

If Chinese businessmen seem unfazed by the contest it is in part because they themselves are looking beyond the continent. “This is a good place for business but there are many others around the world,” says He Lingguo, a sunburnt Chinese construction manager in Kenya who hopes to move to Venezuela.

Read Full Article

China Is Africa's Biggest Trading Partner, But Not Its Largest Investor