What is Africa exporting to China? A reader asked me: why are 26% of African exports to China reported as "unspecified"? This HS 98 "Special Classification Provisions, Not elsewhere specified" category has grown hugely over the past few years. I've pasted the top four imports in the trade data below (all in millions). In 2007, this category was about 1% of total imports. By 2013, it's up to 25%. What is in this category? Readers' insights welcome. (updated to include the Chinese definition for HS 98 -- each country can define their own contents for HS 98)
|CHINESE IMPORTS FROM AFRICA
|Mineral Fuel, Oil Etc.;||25,997||39,489||27,828||41,475||49,073||56,084||54,013|
|Special Classification Provisions, Nesoi||578||1,551||902||3,401||15,926||28,941||30,275|
|Ores, Slag And Ash||3,298||7,254||6,049||8,864||12,620||11,320||13,810|
UPDATE April 18, 2014: China's definition of HS 98 from China Customs, below (thank you Bi Hanning). Still not clear why it has grown so large, but I suspect many importers are simply classifying imports as "other unclassified commodities"...
UPDATE April 28, 2014: A paper by Africa trade expert Dr. Ron Sandrey, "Assessing South Africa's Trading Relationship with China," also raises questions about this strange gap in data for South Africa's exports to China. He wonders if perhaps it represents exports of gold (although China is itself one of the largest gold producers in the world). Chinese trade experts, do weigh in!