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2022 | Book

The Political Economy of Sino–South African Trade and Regional Competition

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About this book

This book comparatively examines the China–South Africa trade relationship over three decades through the prism of four other relationships South Africa has with states that have been China’s most contentious neighbours in the Indo-Pacific (India, Japan, Taiwan and the USA). Asia is widely expected to be the new economic centre of gravity in international relations, particularly for trade. Yet despite the story of growth for both it and its neighbours, China ranks above all these countries in terms of trade partnership with South Africa and a majority of states across the globe. This poses a puzzle answerable only through in-depth analysis. In this way, this pathbreaking new book uses quantitative data to test commonly held assumptions about the ‘new scramble for Africa’ and shines a light on the driving forces, interests and sources of agency in South Africa’s trade and foreign policies over the past three decades. The findings allow for the deduction of general patterns applicable to South Africa and peer economies, some of whom are benchmarked throughout the book for comparative insights.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction: Differentiated Engagement
Abstract
This chapter presents a review of Asia’s economic significance as well as an account of what appears to be South Africa’s China-centric foreign and trade policies. It provides a succinct overview of the problems and prospects which define the Indo-Pacific, as well as the rationale for studying the region’s importance for distal countries, South Africa included.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 2. China and the Contemporary Asian Balance
Abstract
This chapter provides a historical background of Asia and China’s relations with its neighbors. Central to this chapter is detailing what is at stake in the various formations and ambivalent rivalries observed in the relationships between the countries and China. The chapter reviews the sources of equilibria which have translated into commercial instead of military competition over the period of review.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 3. Taiwan: The International Political Economy of the One China Policy
Abstract
This chapter compares the rate of growth in South African exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan between 2001 and 2017, to gauge whether its forming of relations with China to maintain access to Hong Kong resulted in a “pay off.” In the raw and statistical data for the entire period, we deduce that exports to Hong Kong outgrew those to Taiwan by an average of 2.56% per year, and a comparative growth of 40.91% for the entire period vis-à-vis Taiwan. Thus, on the face of it, we can deduce that South Africa’s decision to switch to the PRC, insofar as it was predicated on the need to maintain access to Hong Kong, was worth it. Further, Mainland China’s outgrowing of Taiwan in importance as an export market for South Africa is evident in that its exports to Mainland China between 2001 and 2017 outgrew those to the former by 13.64% per year and by 218.28% overall.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 4. Japan: Economically Hot, Politically Cold
Abstract
This chapter tested a hypothesis postulating that increases in People’s Republic of China exports of the given products to African countries, in this case South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda, in any given year(s) between 2007 and 2017 would always correlate with decreases in Japanese exports of the specified six products to the three countries studied. Each country’s product set was chosen on the basis of the two products being primarily imported from Japan in the initial year of study, and subsequently seeing Chinese growth between then and 2017. The findings of the chapter point to uneven results among the countries, with more incidences of an inverse correlation toward China’s gain in South Africa (5/22) and Kenya (6/22), and the reverse in the case of Uganda (7/22). However, there were more incidences of correlated movement (mutual growth and mutual declines) across all countries than inverse movements, bringing the totals to a threshold-passing 35/66 (p > 33) for the former and 24 for the latter. The study indicates a general lack of zero-sum game overall as the two Asian states’ exports into the three countries on the continent have no direct impact on one another.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 5. India: Between Two Southern Powers
Abstract
This chapter is a comparative analysis of the growth in South African exports to China and India between 2001 and 2017 and assessed why India-bound exports continue to lag behind their China-bound counterparts. Specifically, the chapter sought to test the hypothesis that South African exports to India (already growing from an already lower base when compared to exports to China) observed a combination of the following: as a proportion of themselves they grew less than exports to China on an annual basis, and secondly, that South African exports to India registered fewer years of growth than China-bound exports. Both hypotheses proved true. Firstly, in terms of growth, the data indicates that exports to China outgrew those to India for the 2001–2017 time-period by an average of 1.06% on an annual basis, and by 16.97% for the entire period. China appears to be the more significant export market for South Africa.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 6. United States: An Imaginary Scramble for Markets?
Abstract
Against the backdrop of the “new scramble for Africa” literature, this chapter tests a hypothesis postulating that increases in PRC exports of the given products in the given year(s) always correlate with decreases in US exports of the specified six products to the two African countries studied. The findings of the chapter point to the lack of general replacement of the US by the PRC in the period between 2007 and 2017, however. There were, nevertheless, three (out of six) incidences of the US being surpassed by the PRC; with 1 being reversed in a subsequent year, and 2 of the 3 were in the Kenyan case study. In the case of South Africa, the PRC briefly and temporarily surpassed the US as the principal import source of mineral fuels in 2016, but this was subsequently reversed. Overall, the data characterizes more mutual growths, as well as mutual declines, than reverse correlations.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 7. The European Union: Brexit Aftermaths and Divergent Futures
Abstract
With an eye toward the future, this chapter looks at China’s growth trajectory and what implications they have for South Africa’s other highly valuable commercial partner, the EU. The chapter conducts an assessment of European and Chinese exports to South Africa over the 2007–2018 period. Findings indicate that Chinese exports to South Africa have not supplanted total EU exports to South Africa, unlike the case with the country’s other previous leading trade partners in previous chapters. However, in this timeframe, China’s rate of growth has outgrown that of Europe, and some products which were principally sourced from the EU were subsequently imported more from the PRC. This indicates that if the present trajectory continues, China will replace Europe as the principal export partner of South Africa within a decade or a little over it. The onset of Brexit, with the UK being a key trade partner for South Africa within the EU, will expedite this trend by diminishing the gap between the EU and PRC’s respective exports to South Africa.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Chapter 8. The Politics and Future of Differentiated Engagement
Abstract
Finally, this chapter reflects on the collective implications of the findings made in the preceding chapters, seeking to formulate a theoretical framework, both for policy and theory, as well as ponders some prospects. The findings of the book are overall compelling in that they demonstrate that while there may be a competition for market access, mutual growth is still possible and indeed the dominant trend, at least vis-à-vis South Africa and its peer economies.
Bhaso Ndzendze
Backmatter
Metadata
Title
The Political Economy of Sino–South African Trade and Regional Competition
Author
Dr. Bhaso Ndzendze
Copyright Year
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-030-98076-4
Print ISBN
978-3-030-98075-7
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98076-4

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