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Accepted Paper:

Friend-shoring in Global Production Networks amid a new world of polycrisis: Understanding the economic geography of emergent Sino-Tanzanian soybean trade  
Gideon Tups (University of Cologne) RICHARD MBUNDA (University of Dar es Salaam)

Paper short abstract:

We investigate Sino-Tanzanian GPN friend-shoring amid crises and geopolitical tension through a recent soybean trade arrangement. Although such friend-shoring offers new opportunities, it typically demands substantial risk-taking in the form of sudden industrial realignment for all parties involved.

Paper long abstract:

Overlapping emergencies and geopolitical tension raise the question how states re-organize the geography of Global Production Networks (GPN) that are most essential to their economies. We investigate Sino-Tanzanian friend-shoring through the case of a recent soybean trade arrangement that links Tanzanian farmers with Chinese consumers. We analyze the motivations underpinning the agreement, the practices of implementation in Tanzania, and the circulating discourses about the long-term prospects articulated among Tanzanian stakeholders.

Empirically, we trace the historical-material conditions and motivations for China to diversify its soybean GPN away from US and Brazilian farmers amid the Sino-American trade war and the Covid pandemic. Further, we detail how the Tanzanian state leveraged this dynamic to initiate the transformation of its agrarian hinterland. Findings indicate that, although there is substantial potential to scale soybean production and couple with the soybean GPN, Tanzanian technocrats are concerned about technological and structural dependencies if soybean production occurs on the back of Chinese technology despite lacking domestic demand and value-added activities.

Conceptually, we make two contributions: we highlight the polycrisis as an explanatory driver for the reorganization of GPNs against all odds. GPN friend-shoring may then occur even if the historical-material conditions in place are marginal (e.g., production capacities, technological capabilities). Secondly, we show how global South governments may strategically leverage the polycrisis to transform principal coupling conditions to their favor. We conclude that, although crisis-driven friend shoring offers new opportunities, it typically demands substantial risk-taking in the form of industrial realignment for all parties involved.

Panel Econ25
Diversifying dependence or structural transformation: China's engagement in Africa
  Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -