The Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macau are the preferred “base” for African traders in China who have found “plenty of opportunities” there, according to several researchers.
Data cited in an article in the Strategic Review for Southern Africa by Carlos Lopes, an academic from Guinea-Bissau and former president of the Economic Commission of the United Nations showed that 500,000 Africans currently reside in China, of which 100,000 in Guangzhou, with the next preferred destinations being Hong Kong and Macau.
Among the factors that have contributed to the attractiveness of the region in general and the city of Guangzhou, in particular, are the links to Guangdong province, which is a base for industrial products enjoyed in the migrants’ countries of origin, according to data collected by academic researcher Adams Bodomo.
In a recent article in The Diplomat, Eleka Watts said traders have capitalized on the significant availability of low-cost products, electronics and others, which allow for substantial profits in trade with their countries.
“Among other factors, the rapid expansion of the economic relationship between Africans and Guangzhou has created plenty of opportunities for African migrant entrepreneurs to create communities in the city,” said Lopes, citing Chinese researchers.
Between 1996 and 2008, trade between Guangzhou and Africa increased six-fold, from USD500 million to USD3 billion and exports through the city increased around ten-fold.
A study in 2014 involving 205 traders from more than 50 African countries resident in Guangzhou showed that the average income is about 30,000 yuan, close to USD4,500, well above the average of the Chinese workers.
“Most traders are self-employed, which increases the perception of success. This is certainly a surprising development for the local Chinese competitors. Gradually, it is influencing market behavior towards African entrepreneurs and show the potential of the continent to small and medium-sized Guangdong companies,” said Lopes.
Given the weight of African traders, Lopes even says there would be “a significant impact on China’s southern economy,” if they disappeared.
The importance of linguistic, cultural and commercial ties created by this community is also evidenced in the number of flights to the region by major African airlines like Egypt Air, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian.
In terms of education, the number of African students has been growing continuously, with Macau being a university hub for the Portuguese-speaking language.
The Macau Special Administrative Region has gained new institutions, in the economic and trade field, geared towards the expansion of relations with Portuguese- speaking countries.
The “One Belt, One Road” strategy and strengthening of the productive capacity of Portuguese-speaking countries are part of the next action plan of the Macau Forum, which came out of the ministerial conference on October 11 and 12, 2016, as well as the internationalization of the Chinese currency, to facilitate investment and trade – for companies – and funding – to the States, for which the Macau financial sector will be a major hub.
Another new feature of the conference was that the headquarters of the USD1 billion fund for investment in Portuguese-speaking countries announced by China in 2013 will be transferred from Beijing to Macau to facilitate contact with potential interested parties.
An African Chamber of Commerce recently opened in Macau to promote business and attract Chinese investment to Africa. MDT/Macauhub