Skip to content

A Flood of Cheaper Chinese Products could Set Back Africa’s Infant or Domestic Industries

China is now the African continent’s largest trading partner, accounting for US$254 billion in 2021. It’s also the main country of origin for African manufacturing imports, providing 16% of Africa’s total in 2018. In most African countries the influx of Chinese products has become a major concern because of the implications for industrialisation. There are also concerns about the impact Chinese manufactured exports are having on wages in importing countries. Researchers analysed the relationship between Chinese import competition and labour market outcomes as they related to women and men workers in Ethiopia. They merged a rich data set on manufacturing firms with trade data between 1997 and 2010. They mapped out the effect of import surges on labour force participation and compensation and found that the impact of the influx of Chinese products in Ethiopia on employment and wages differed for men and women. Employment levels declined overall for male and female manufacturing workers. But women bore a disproportionate burden. Manufacturing firms exposed to increased Chinese competition employed fewer female production workers than men.