World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies
Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010< Back to SUMMARY OF PANELS
· Date: TUE, 20 / 9-11 am
· Language: English
Paper presenter: Eugenia Pecoraro (Student, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), “China’s Strategy in North Africa and Future Cconomic Challenges for the Mediterranean Region”
During the China-Africa Cooperation Forum held in Sharm-el Sheik on 8-9 November 2009, China established a new era of relations with Africa. Eight measures are ready to be launched in order to strengthen cooperation in different fields: agriculture, food security, infrastructure, trade, investment and public health. China’s relationships with North African countries are different from those with the rest of the African continent, due to a more stable political environment and a differentiated socio-economic situation.
This study aims to examine the Chinese approach to North Africa by clarifying the different types of business agreements as key elements of the Beijing consensus. Through a comparison of economic and statistical data as well as through interviews with entrepreneurs, representatives from local governments and chambers of commerce, the study highlights why North African countries are increasing their imports from China, and why China has become the second trade partner to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Syria and the third trade partner to Morocco. Chinese foreign direct investments in the area are growing fast while the number of Chinese residents is also rapidly rising. The Mediterranean is a large market of 800 million inhabitants and represents a strategic platform for Chinese firms wishing to enter the European market. The advantages for North African countries lie in the existing free-trade agreements and absence of tariff barriers and in its highly beneficial geographical location as a hub in the Mediterranean region.
In the near future, China and the Union for the Mediterranean will be partners and competitors at the same time. Once regional economic integration is achieved, the Mediterranean will be a free trade zone. A better understanding of how simultaneous cooperation and competition impact on one another in specific industrial sectors like textiles and automobiles could encourage the Union for the Mediterranean to step up its trade engagements and identify key aspects of regional policy, taking into account the Chinese involvement in the area. On the other hand, there are some priority issues to be considered. Chinese industrialisation in North Africa could veil the relocation of some of the highly-polluting mainland industries requiring low-skilled workers. Social conflicts may be generated since Chinese businesses are used to providing their own workers and not employing local people. The political actors will need to find a balance between sustainable development and the economic interests in the region.
Paper presenter: Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr, (PhD, University of the Philippines-Diliman), “The Middle East Oil and The Nation-State System: An Evaluation of Dependency in China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines”
The scarcity of strategic resources for economic industrialization, growth and development and for political stability of a country anywhere in the world demands a coordinated action both by the state, supra-state and non-state actors. This is true for energy issue where supra-state actor like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), non-state actors such as Chevron Corp, BP, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other TNCs/MNCs dominate in strategic planning of a state. This domination ranged from exploration, price setting, distribution, investment and even in a political formation of an oil-producing and dependent state. This paper argues that at least in the field of energy requirements in many heavily oil-dependent Asian countries, the traditional notion of state sovereignty has been challenged, decreased and is undergoing a gradual re-definition. Whereas, national interests depend not only on the ability of a state to provided and secure them, but also on an effective and positive involvement of and a strategic implementation of policies by other actors other than state. In analyzing this argument, this paper will try to evaluate how the scarcity of energy has forced China, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines to open up their respective national industries and compromise with transnational and multinational companies in many areas traditionally controlled or held by the state.