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Forest Products Trade between China and Africa

An Analysis of Import and Export Statistics

By Xiufang Sun
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China’s efforts to secure access to natural resources in Africa suggest that timber has already become an important traded commodity between China and the African continent. Many hold a general impression that Africa exports a significant and growing amount of timber to China. However, the true magnitude of the China-Africa forest product trade and its trends over time has been poorly documented to date. Greater insight into the importance of Africa within China’s overall forest product trade and the importance of China for each African forest product-exporting nation is needed. In this report, we examine the recent trends of the China-Africa forest product trade as revealed by customs data and reports of Chinese investment and trade-related activities in specific African nations. The results indicate that the China-Africa forest product trade is significant in some, but not all, of the ways generally assumed.