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China-Africa supply chains disrupted by Covid: manufacturing restructuring and new trade routes 
Heidi Haugen (University of Oslo)
Mark Obeng (University of Ghana, Legon)
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Elisa Gambino (London School of Economics and Political Sciences)
Sociology (x) Covid (y)
Philosophikum, S75
Wednesday 31 May, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Chinese goods have replaced many local items and other imports in African markets. However, travel bans and logistics blockages under Covid encumbered import from China. This panel examines changes in African manufacturing and trade systems following disruptions in China-Africa supply chains.

Long Abstract:

China has become the principal source country for manufactured goods in Africa. Some of the Chinese imports have replaced locally manufactured products while others compete against imports from countries outside Africa. This panel examines how the Covid-induced disruptions in import from China have influenced African production and trading systems. The flows of goods, people, and money between African countries and China have mutually sustained each other. Human mobility between Africa and China virtually halted after the Covid pandemic due to strict travel prohibitions on the part of the Chinese. What happened with imports from China during this period? Have importers found new ways of organizing sourcing, quality assurance, packing, and payments for goods to compensate for blockades against travel between factories in China and end markets in Africa? Or have they redirected their purchases to competing global trade hubs, such as Istanbul, Dubai, and Bangkok? Similarly, we ask whether manufacturers and artisanal producers based in African countries, including Chinese-owned production facilities, were able to profit from the supply chain disruptions in Chinese goods and (re)gain market shares. In cases where limited supply from China provided new market opportunities for locally produced goods, to what extent can these advantages be sustained once trade normalizes? Furthermore, intensified economic entanglements with China mean that African producers depend on Chinese inputs, both machinery and intermediary materials for production. Considering this, is it possible or desirable to envision a future for production in Africa that is decoupled from China?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -