Tuesday, October 28, 2014

China Africa Social Media Honors -- Financial Times

The Financial Times tongue-in-cheek "Danwei Model Workers" list of websites on China honored the excellent China Africa Project in its "Model Worker of the Year (Podcast)" awards today. I love what the China Africa Project is are doing. Always lively, always worth checking out.

I am also pleased -- even though I haven't been blogging much as I focus on my new book -- that the Financial Times once again retains China in Africa: the Real Story blog on their "Model Worker" list of the best websites on China -- the only China in Africa website to make the list. This year they also include a Twitter list, which honors the indefatigable Winslow Robinson and the China Africa Reporting Project at Witts.

h/t to WR.

Friday, October 24, 2014

China and Conflict Minerals: Constructive Cooperation

Implementation of supply chain checks, as set out in the Chinese guidelines, have the potential to benefit overseas communities as well as implementing Chinese companies. The companies can earn recognition as responsible global players and, in so doing, demonstrate they have no association with the violent groups that for too long have devastated eastern DRC and other conflict-affected areas.
Conflict and minerals in the DRC. copyright Mark Craemer
China is still a relatively new player in African resource investments. Given the poor social and environmental record of Chinese mining and oil companies at home -- and the challenges that face most companies operating in these sectors in Africa (think: Shell in the Niger Delta) or even off the shores of the United States (think: BP in the Gulf of Mexico) Chinese companies have had a steep learning curve about the risks of "going global". Global Witness has come out with a helpful new report on one aspect of these risks: complicated new laws that prohibit the import of minerals from conflict zones, and require source tracing: "Tackling Conflict Minerals: How a New Chinese Initiative Can Address Companies' Risks."

The report is timed to coincide with the launch of (un)official new guidelines on responsible supply chain management in conflict-affected countries put together by the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) the major Chinese business association grouping mineral import/export companies. It uses the DRC as a case study.

The guidelines themselves are being released today and I will provide a link when available. They were developed with assistance from the German development agency, GIZ. Bravo to GIZ and Global Witness for good, practical work. I hope you plan to translate the report into Chinese so it can have impact in the right places!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Praise for FAOSTAT 3: Great Interface, Great Data

Photo credit: limaoscarjuliet. 
As many readers know, I am writing a book on China's agricultural investments in Africa. One of pieces of conventional wisdom I am questioning is the assumption that China wants to source its food in Africa. It's clear from detailed COMTRADE trade data that China actually exports far more food to Africa than the reverse. But that database is a pain to use.

Over the past few days I've been playing with the quick and easy FAOSTAT version 3, and I am really thrilled with its interface, and the range of data it provides. I hope it's good data -- it seems to match with other sources I'm using -- but what I especially love about it is the ease of queries on production and trade. Want to know where the Chinese sugar project in Benin exports its sugar? Bingo! (Portugal, France -- not China). Want to know if China exports rice to Mozambique? Bingo! (yes).

I know, this is all impossibly nerdy, but what a great job FAO is doing with making their data on food accessible. UN-COMTRADE: "eat" your heart out.