Chinese business in Africa

China may have emerged as one of the biggest trade player in the world, but Africa is the only continent that is convinced that China is a free market economy. Most other countries, including the US, EU and India, have refused to give in to persistent demands from the Chinese leaders for market economy status.

Beijing announced recently that 14 more countries have in 2006 granted it the coveted status bringing the total number to 66. Most of the nations that have granted this status, which would make it possible for Chinese exporters to avoid anti-dumping cases in the WTO, are in Africa. The only notable exception is South Korea, which granted the status to China in 2005 owing to the large amount of trade between the two countries.

An important reason why the Chinese have managed to lure in African nations is the generous financial assistance given by Beijing to the poor and underdeveloped countries in the continent. Beijing recently hosted a major African summit, which attracted the heads of state of many countries in the continent.

African nations that have granted the market status to China include Egypt Kenya, Algeria, Sudan, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Mali, Gabon and Niger.

Incidentally, India has filed the largest number of anti dumping cases against China at the WTO, according to the China council for promotion of International trade. India is among those countries which believe that Chinese exporters obtain heavy subsidies from the government and are able to offer serious price competition in the world markets owing to government support.

Beijing has repeatedly denied this allegation saying that more than 90% of its products are not subsidized during the production process. Complaining that most of the world is not evaluating its economy in a fair manner, it China has been asking for the full market economy status at an early date.

But China’s three largest trading partners -the EU, US and Japan — have refused to accept Beijing’s arguments. All countries have time till 2016 to accept China as a market economy. Under the terms of China’s accession to the WTO in 2001, members of the trade body can treat China as a “non market economyâ€? until 2016.