Is Sino-Africa bilateral trade more than resource focused? The rhetoric and the reality

Aye Alemu, Wenqing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study uses an augmented dynamic gravity model to identify the main contributing factors influencing bilateral trade between China and 46 African countries in general and to test whether Sino-Africa bilateral trade is more than resource focused in particular. Natural resource was captured by "oil exports" and "ores & metal exports," and the empirical analysis verifies only "oil" not "ores & metals" to significantly influence the growing Sino-Africa bilateral trade. Thus, the empirical result partially supports the widely held view that natural resources are critical to bilateral trade between China and African countries. However, it is not true that Chinese engagement in Africa is exclusively due to natural resources as always portrayed. Apart from the oil factor, some other significant factors for the growing bilateral trade are identified. The study indicates there is a huge opportunity and potential for rapid expansion of Sino-Africa bilateral trade that is mutually beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-394
Number of pages33
JournalAfrican and Asian Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Africa
  • Bilateral trade
  • China
  • Gravity model
  • Iron & metal ores
  • Natural resources
  • Oil


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