Working Papers

BRIC-Africa trade – is it all about China’s trade with South Africa?

BRIC-Africa trade – is it all about China’s trade with South Africa?

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18 May 2017

Author(s): Margot Sheldon, Willemien Viljoen, Talkmore Chidede, and Ron Sandrey

In the past two decades, Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) have had growing trade and political relations with Africa and South Africa (SA) culminating in the formalisation of the BRIC forum whereby South Africa became one of the BRICs (known as BRICS). Meanwhile, Africa’s trade ties with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) have remained strong. The objective of this paper is to outline and examine BRIC-Africa and BRIC-SA trade profiles from 2001 to 2016 against this background. This will entail an assessment of Africa’s trade with the BRICs relative to its trade with the EU and the US in the last 15 years, and in particular over the 2016 year.

The paper first compares BRIC-Africa trade with that of trade between Africa and traditional trade partners like the US and EU. This evaluation compares both imports and exports to and from Africa from BRIC, the US and the EU. Secondly, an analysis is done to exemplify the trade relationship between the individual BRIC countries and the African countries. Lastly, the focus shifts to an evaluation of the trading relationship between the individual BRIC countries and South Africa. Although declining over the last years, the BRIC trading relationship with Africa, bar petroleum oils from Nigeria and Angola, seems to be all about China’s trade with South Africa – mainly China’s imports of unspecified commodities.


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