Africa: Global Trade Fortunes Diverge, but China’s Share of the Pie Has Proved Surprisingly Sticky

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected. This is no truer than in the trade world, where China has gained market share notwithstanding its progressive decoupling from the US. SA trade continues to ride high as advanced economies move further into deficit.

Current account balances are a good temperature gauge of external, inter-country economic dynamics — and there have been some unexpected shifts during the pandemic. Some of these belie seismic geopolitical developments and are not an accurate reflection of different countries’ relative economic performance.

Most surprising is the headway China has gained in the trade realm, particularly among advanced economies, including the US, when US-Chinese decoupling is, to all intents and purposes, already under way.

Recent research by Oxford Economics finds that China’s global market share has grown considerably to 18% over the past couple of years and that it has made the most significant trade gains in market shares in developed versus emerging markets.

According to the consultancy, China’s market share gains in developed countries “were triggered in part by the nature of the recent increase in demand for imports in the developed world, which was fuelled by a (temporary) shift…

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