China is the main trading partner of the Arab world
Chinese products are increasingly appreciated, primarily in the fields of electronic and industrial equipment. In return, China buys energy and attracts investment. Experts: this growing market, however, will not resolve widespread unemployment in the region, nor help acquire technological knowledge.
Dubai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the Arab world there is a real boom for Chinese goods and experts believe that Beijing for the first time has surpassed the United States for exports to the region. In the United Arab Emirates, made-in-China is in fashion from fireworks to snacks made of puffed rice. The traditional China Sourcing Fair in Dubai was attended by more than 1,100 Chinese entrepreneurs who took over 6 halls with all kinds of products. Across the Middle East traders are interested replacing western brands with Chinese products. This market has been less affected by economic crisis and the Chinese goods allow them greater profits. The most popular are the electronic products, but industrial equipment is also doing well. Experts consider this a perfectly normal rotation and note that the industrialized countries like U.S., Europe and Japan, aim their products at many post-industrial societies, while traditional industries are better treated by emerging countries such as China, South Korea, India and Brazil. Moreover, the Chinese penetration in the Arab economy is first and foremost the work of the State, keen to sell its products to offset the heavy purchases of oil and energy. Between 2004 and 2008 trade between China and Arab countries came to about 100 billion dollars. Among other things, Jordan has signed an agreement with China on nuclear cooperation to meet about one third of its energy needs by 2030; Iraq’s North Oil Company has signed a cooperation contract for $ 3.5 billion with the state-run China National Petroleum Company; while the state China State Construction Engineering Corporation is building skyscrapers in Dubai for a total value of 409 million. Beijing also is studying the possibility of creating a free trade area between China and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain). Instead the UAE exports to China were around 1.28 billion dollars in 2007. But the Gulf countries have also invested billions of petrol-dollars in China: such as the South American company Aramco that wants to build a second refinery in Qingdao, within Fujian for a total of 3.6 billion (see photo). Some analysts argue that this trade is acceptable to the elite of the rich Arab countries but does not lead to actual benefits for the local population. The number of jobs does not increase, in an area where there are countries like Egypt and Tunisia with endemic high unemployment, which is also widespread throughout the Middle East. Neither is there any transfer of technology or know-how. That is why John Lance, executive vice president of the American Business Council in Dubai, launches the proposal: “bring world-class technology and world-class know-how to the [Arab] region".