Fuelling the dragon: natural resources and China's development

Economic development Australia South America China


In May 2012, ASPI and the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation co-hosted a major international dialogue on natural resource demand and China’s economy. Held in Zambia, the event brought together experts and policymakers from Africa, Australia, Latin America and elsewhere.

Australia's growing interest in Africa is being shaped by China's changing relationship with the continent. China sees Africa as an opportunity.

Australia has significant and growing interests in Africa's resource sector, with Australian companies having an estimated current and prospective investment of more than US$20 billion.

China's relationship with Africa is also surging ahead. Annual two-way trade has risen from under $5 billion in the mid1990s to around $150 billion today. Chinese investment totals $40 billion today from virtually zero 15 years ago. China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil daily: one-third of its requirements are from Africa.

Australia has built up a considerable degree of trust with China as a reliable resource supplier. This provides Australia with considerable capacity-building opportunities with Africa, including in the private sector.

This report considers China’s long-term resource interests from both Australian, African and Latin American perspectives.

It finds that beyond capacity-building Australia and Africa need to engage in more dialogue on how any cooling Chinese growth might impact our mineral producers and how we can best benefit from China's rise as a great power.

The report finds that Africa and Australia both know the resources boom may not last forever and so we shouldn't squander the opportunities that it offers.


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