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Research Report

Chinese trade and investment and its impacts on forests: A scoping study in the miombo woodlands

Laura A. German
George C. Schoneveld
Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff
Davison Gumbo
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2011
Pages: 74
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    African trade is rapidly re-orienting from the ‘Global North’ to the ‘Global East’ (Carmody and Owusu 2007). China’s trade with Africa has exploded over the past few years as demand for imports has risen to fuel the rapidly expanding manufacturing sector, making China Africa’s third largest trading partner (Rich 2007). China has also become a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and development lending, with investment by state-owned and private commodity corporations rising rapidly due to government support programmes (Asche and Schüller 2008). This has fuelled a new symbiosis between Africa and China, with China’s demand for raw materials...

  2. (pp. 3-3)

    The primary objective of this scoping exercise was to gain an understanding of patterns in Chinese trade and investment in the miombo woodlands, the impacts and trade-offs of Chinese trade and investment in priority sectors, and the legal and institutional frameworks shaping these impacts. Secondary objectives included the following:

    1. to identify countries and commodities in each ecoregion (Congo Basin, miombo woodlands) in which the Chinese government and private sector have the greatest influence, so as to enable the strategic selection of case studies for more in-depth analysis;

    2. to make a preliminary assessment of the impacts and trade-offs of Chinese trade...

  3. (pp. 4-4)

    The following questions guided the scoping study.

    1. In which countries in the miombo ecoregion do the Chinese government and corporations have the greatest economic and political influence, and why?

    2. Which economic sectors receive most of the investments from the Chinese government or private sector?

    3. In what commodities do the Chinese government and firms have the greatest involvement, and how significant is the influence of these commodities for countries in the region?

    4. What are the characteristics of current and planned Chinese investments in sectors of interest (agriculture, forestry, mining)? Which commodities are significant to the research, in terms of both Chinese...

  4. (pp. 5-6)

    The methodology employed for the scoping phase was adapted according to the key stages of research.

    The first stage in the scoping phase, which focused on identifying countries and commodities in which the Chinese government and private sector have the greatest influence, relied purely on the review of published literature and secondary sources. Countries considered at this stage as possibilities for in-depth research included Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. To begin to understand trends in Chinese trade, investment and influence and further narrow the scope of countries and commodities for in-country scoping, online searches of global databases, civil society reports,...

  5. (pp. 7-44)

    Findings are presented according to key phases of research.

    Findings related to the key variables of interest to country selection are summarised in Table 3 for the miombo woodland countries under consideration. Based on these figures, Zambia was a clear choice because of the high levels of Chinese trade and investment dependency, recent Chinese investments in multi-sector economic zones and infrastructure, and evidence of civil society concerns over Chinese influence. Mozambique was also considered strategic because of its high level of forest cover and the importance of timber trade overall and with China, including several published reports on the same...

  6. (pp. 45-49)

    This research sought to assess patterns of Chinese aid and Sino-African trade and investment in the miombo woodland countries of southern Africa and their social, economic and environmental implications in the agricultural, forestry and mining sectors. Review of published data and literature, key informant interviews with public, private sector and civil society actors and field-based scoping paint a picture of a large and growing presence of Chinese aid, trade, investment and influence in the region, with the possible exception of Zimbabwe, where political relations are strong but financial flows in the form of aid and investment comparatively weak. The growing...