Trade Briefs

The China-Africa trade relationship

The China-Africa trade relationship

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18 Nov 2019

Author(s): Willemien Viljoen

China is the most important individual trade partner for African countries. As a grouping, the EU member states are the most important destination and source region for African exports and imports. However, in 2018 Africa’s trade with the entire EU was only about double Africa’s trade with China. Over the last five years (2014-2018), Africa’s total trade (exports + imports) with China increased, while total trade with other significant trade partners (including the EU, India, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil) declined. China shows a trade deficit with only 15 African countries; mainly their major African trading partners, including Angola, South Africa and DRC.

The majority of China’s exports to African countries are manufactured goods levied medium to high MFN applied tariffs in the importing markets. African countries’ main export primary goods to China include crude petroleum oils, ores and concentrates and precious metals; the majority of these exports enter the Chinese markets duty-free, irrespective of being imported from the 30 LDCs granted unilateral preferential access to the Chinese market or from the 25 African countries levied China’s MFN applied tariff on imports.


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