Connect with us
// (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


Premier Li calls for ‘innovative and pragmatic cooperation’ in Africa



Author: Lauren Johnston, Sinograduate

On his inaugural trip to Africa as China’s Premier in May 2014, Li Keqiang laid down the principles for the future of China–Africa relations. Li’s itinerary included Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. While reports of mega-deals dominated the headlines — a US$10 billion increase in Chinese credit lines for Africa, a US$2 billion infrastructure agreement, and the promise of Chinese trains and planes for the continent — it was Li’s emphasis on ‘innovative and pragmatic cooperation’ that was telling of a new phase in China–Africa relations.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shake hands at State House Nairobi, Kenya, Saturday, 10 May 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Increasingly distant from its 2001 label as the ‘hopeless continent’, Africa now has average annual growth of around five per cent. And China is very much a part of Africa’s growth story. Today, China is the continent’s largest trading partner, with plans to double trade levels and provide US$1 trillion investment financing to the continent by 2020. The internationalisation of China’s economy has hitched the nation’s future to many African nations, especially those rich in resources.

But this rapid expansion of China–Africa economic ties has not been without contention. China’s use of African primary resources for its domestic manufacturing is reminiscent of colonialism. Chinese investment data — though lumpy across countries and time — also shows that oil and mineral resource exporters have received the lion’s share of China’s investments in Africa. As former South African President Thabo Mbeki noted in 2007, ‘If Africa continues to just export raw materials to China while importing Chinese manufactured goods, the African continent could be condemned to underdevelopment’.

Studying Africa’s supply of resources rather than China’s demand, puts Africa and not China at the centre of this international dynamic — but this hardly changes the story. Gravity modelling of China’s imports from 1995–2009 shows that on average China ‘over-imported’ (imported above the predicted level) from resource-rich Africa, but it ‘under-imported’ from resource-poor states. China also disproportionately selected resource-rich countries, including Zambia and Nigeria, to host its inaugural special economic zones in Africa.

Since the highest density of ‘least developed countries’ (LDC) fall in the resource-rich category, resource-rich Africa also most qualify for China’s LDC preferential trade agreements. Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido wrote a critical op-ed in the Financial Times in 2013 saying Africa should ‘recognise that China — like the US, Russia, Britain, Brazil and the rest — is in Africa not for African interests but its own. Romance must be replaced by hard-nosed economic thinking’.

In his inaugural speech as Premier in Africa, at the Chinese-built African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Li was in step with former Chinese Premiers while remarkably newly opening channels through which to address criticisms of China in Africa. On visits to Africa in 1963–4 and 1982 former Premiers Zhou Enlai and Zhao Ziyang launched the ‘Eight Principles of Self-reliance’ and ‘Four Principles on Economic and Technical Cooperation’. Writing in China Security in 2007, Li Anshan, head of African Studies at Peking University, noted that China’s policies on Africa may change but the underlying principles do not. From China’s point of view, principles are the cornerstone of politics.

In his own speech in Africa Premier Li laid out four principles for further deepening China–Africa cooperation: ‘sincerity and equality; solidarity and mutual trust; jointly pursuing inclusive development; and innovative pragmatic cooperation’. To traditional and relatively static principles including ‘equality’ and ‘solidarity’ that is, Premier Li has added ‘innovative pragmatic cooperation’ as a crucial element to deepening China’s relationship with Africa. His language creates opportunities to reconcile the Nigerian-led call for ‘hard-nosed practical policy-making’ with the historical principles of China–Africa relations as laid out by former premiers Zhou and Zhao. This principle calls to mind China’s own process of experimental reforms.

Having linked old and new principles of China’s relationship with the wider continent at the African Union, Li’s visit took a bilateral focus. In Ethiopia, discussions were easy — President Mulatu Teshome is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, and like Li, an alumnus of Peking University. Li quickly sought to demonstrate how ‘innovative pragmatic cooperation’ might work — while also drawing attention to bilateral ties outside the resource sector — by visiting the Huajian Group’s emerging shoe-manufacturing hub outside Addis Ababa.

Huajian is in the early phases of taking advantage of Ethiopia’s abundant labour, historic expertise in leather, LDC trade preferences, and geographic proximity to high-income markets in Europe and North America. If successful, the much-cited Huajian story will be a formidable example of mutual development: mixing Chinese investment and African manufacturing exports. Huajian plans to spend US$2 billion over the next decade to achieve that goal. Another project seeking to emulate this business model is a joint venture in Nigeria between Sinotrucks and the Dangote Group, founded by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote.

From shoes to trucks, Premier Li’s trip signalled that China is pursuing its outbound economic goals while working with Africa to upgrade its economic structure. Together, these dynamics may be changing the relatively static high-, middle- and low-income divisions of the 20th century world economy. Leading China-in-Africa scholar Deborah Brautigam called Chinese industrial zones in Africa ‘Africa’s Shenzhen’. She refers to the role played by the southern Chinese city as a test-bed for economic reform.

Thirty years after reforms began, Shenzhen is one of China’s wealthiest and modern cities. If that domestic story is replicated in and by Africa in tandem with China’s outbound investment, it could be as good a time to learn Swahili, Amharic or Yoruba as Mandarin. At least that will depend on how successfully the new principle of ‘innovative pragmatic cooperation’ is applied.

Lauren Johnston is the Founder and CEO of Sinograduate.She has worked in economic policy and research at the World Bank, World Economic Forum, EIU and for the governments of Sierra Leone and Guyana, and holds a PhD in Economics from Peking University.

Read the original:
Premier Li calls for ‘innovative and pragmatic cooperation’ in Africa


ASEAN weathering the COVID-19 typhoon



Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April, 2020 (Photo:Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Sandra Seno-Alday, Sydney University

The roughly 20 typhoons that hit Southeast Asia each year pale in comparison to the impact on the region of COVID-19 — a storm of a very different sort striking not just Southeast Asia but the world.


Just how badly is the COVID-19 typhoon thrashing the region? And what might the post-crisis recovery and reconstruction look like? To answer these questions, it is necessary to investigate the strengths and vulnerabilities of Southeast Asia’s pre-COVID-19 economic infrastructure.

Understanding the structure of the region’s economic house requires going back to 1967, when Southeast Asian countries decided to pledge friendship to one another under the ASEAN framework. While other integrated regions such as NAFTA and the European Union have aggressively broken down trade barriers and significantly boosted intra-regional trade, ASEAN regional economic integration has chugged along slower.

Southeast Asian countries have not viewed trade between each other as a top priority. The trade agreements in the region have been forged around suggestions for ASEAN countries to lower tariffs on intra-regional trade to within a certain range and across limited industries. This has lowered but not eliminated barriers to intra-regional trade. Consequently, a relatively significant share of Southeast Asian trade is with countries outside the region. This active extra-regional engagement has resulted in ASEAN countries’ successful integration into global value chain networks.

A historically outward-facing region, in 2010 around 75 per cent of Southeast Asian commodity imports and exports came from countries outside of ASEAN. This share of extra-regional trade nudged closer to 80 per cent in 2018. This indicates that ASEAN’s global value chain network embeddedness has deepened over time.

Around 40 per cent of ASEAN’s extra-regional trade is with the rest of Asia. From 2010 to 2018 Southeast Asian countries forged major trade relationships with four Asian countries: China, Japan, South Korea and India. Outside Asia, the United States is the region’s major trading partner. ASEAN’s trade focus on Asia’s largest markets is not surprising. Countries tend to establish trade relationships with large, geographically close, and culturally similar markets.

Fostering deep relationships with a few large markets, however, is a double-edged sword. While it has allowed ASEAN to benefit from integration in global value chains, it has also resulted in increased vulnerability to the shocks affecting its network connections.

ASEAN’s participation in global value chains has allowed it to transition from a net regional importer in 1990 to a net regional exporter in 2018. But the region’s deep embeddedness in a small and tightly-coupled network cluster of extra-regional global value chain partners has exposed it to disruption to any and all of its external partners. By contrast, ASEAN’s intra-regional trade network structure is much more loosely-coupled: a consequence of persistent intra-regional trade barriers and thus lower intra-regional trade intensity.

In the pre-COVID-19 period, ASEAN built for itself an economic house held up by just five extra-regional markets, while doing less to expand and diversify its intra-regional trade network. The data shows that ASEAN trade became increasingly concentrated in these few external markets between 2010 and 2018.

This dependence on a handful of markets does not bode well for risk and crisis management. All of the region’s major trading partners have been significantly affected by COVID-19 and this in turn is blowing the ASEAN economic house down.

What are the ways forward? The immediate task at hand is to get a better picture of the region’s position in global value chain networks and to get on top of managing its network risk exposure. Already there are red flags around the region’s food security arising from its position in food value chains. It is critical to look for ways to introduce flexibility into existing supply chains for greater agility in responding to crises.

It is also an opportune time for ASEAN to harness the technology transfer gains of global value chain participation and invest in innovation-driven diversification of products and markets. The region’s embeddedness in global value chain networks certainly places it in a strong position to readily access large export markets not just in Asia but also Europe and the Americas.

Over the longer term, ASEAN is faced with the question of whether it should seriously look…

Source link

Continue Reading


Tiger Trade Launches SGX Trading, Meeting Demand from Asian Investors

Access to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) adds to Tiger Brokers’ current menu of stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ), the world’s two largest stock exchanges, as well as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX).



SINGAPORE (ACN Newswire) – Tiger Trade, a one-stop mobile and online trading application by Tiger Brokers, has launched access to the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Continue Reading


Can Asia maintain growth with an ever ageing population ?

To boost productivity in the future, Asian governments will have to implement well-targeted structural reforms today.



Asia has been the world champion of economic growth for decades, and this year will be no exception. According to the latest International Monetary Fund Regional Economic Outlook(REO), the Asia-Pacific region’s GDP is projected to increase by 5.5% in 2017 and 5.4% in 2018. (more…)

Continue Reading