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Research Report

Socioecological responsibility and Chinese overseas investments: The case of rubber plantation expansion in Cameroon

Samuel Assembe-Mvondo
Louis Putzel
Richard Eba’a Atyi
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    For more than a decade, the role of countries now known as ‘emerging economies’ in foreign trade and investment in Africa has increased steadily (Goldstein et al. 2006; Ampiah and Naidu 2008; Naidu 2008; Cheru and Obi 2010; Aggarwal and Ayadi 2012). This trend may bring new prospects for the consolidation of South-South cooperation in the long term and accelerate the diversification of African markets and investments (UNCTAD 2012). It also opens Africa to opportunities for industrial upgrading (Lin 2012) and introduces new paradigms of economic development. Much has been made of the ‘no strings attached’ model of Chinese investment,...

  2. (pp. 2-2)

    This study examines expansion of Chinese investment in the Cameroonian rubber sector critically through the lens of socially responsible investment (SRI). The SRI paradigm is used to select and manage financial investments while incorporating environmental, social and governance safeguards (Porter and van der Linde 1995; Mercer 2009). It has been said that SRI was originally developed in the US in the 1920s on the initiative of adherents to religious movements who rejected investments in stocks they considered unethical, without regard to the financial performance of stocks abandoned (de Brito et al. 2005; Labelle and Koyo 2012). Since then, SRI has...

  3. (pp. 3-4)

    Data were collected using several social science methodologies. In the first part, we reviewed literature on Chinese investments in Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular, as well as some laws and documents on policies aimed at promoting foreign investment in Cameroon. In the second part, we made three field visits (one week per visit) in April and May 2013, to two rubber plantation development sites. We conducted 19 interviews with 2 officials holding the rank of director and 4 officials ranking as service head in the 2 companies; 8 officials of technical ministries in each of the 2...

  4. (pp. 5-10)

    Rubber production in Cameroon dates back to the German colonial period. In fact, the first rubber plantations (the local variety, Landolphia) were established around 1885 (Etoga Eily 1971). However, in 1906, German colonialists introduced the rubber species (Hevea brasiliensis) whose yields were better than the local variety (Neba 1987; Gerber 2008). Since then, rubber and latex are some of Cameroon’s main export commodities and contribute significantly to its economy. However, the extension of plantations and the need to revive the rather modest production is consistent with Cameroon’s intention to become an “emerging country by 2035” (Republic of Cameroon 2009). Regarding...

  5. (pp. 11-13)

    This study shows the establishment of rubber plantations by the two subsidiaries of a multinational with its majority-owned Chinese affiliate, Sinochem, is expected to enable Cameroon to double its rubber and latex production in due course. On the one hand, this investment is consistent with the government’s macroeconomic policy, which seeks to make “Cameroon an emerging country by 2035.” On the other, it is this multinational’s strategy, piloted by its headquarters, to expand its operations and control a large proportion of rubber production in a number of key African countries (Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Gabon and DRC). Thus, Cameroon seems...