A senior executive of Standard Chartered Bank in China said the country is likely to increase imports from African countries, as it seeks new sources of commodities as a result of its trade war with the United States. Trade links between African nations like Kenya and China have been growing in recent years, offering opportunities to lenders such as Standard Chartered, who serve Chinese clients doing business on the continent.
Standard Chartered’s Global Head of Internalisation of the Chinese currency renminbi (RMB), Carmen Ling warned that there would be no winners from the trade war in the short term, but noted that some African countries could gain in the long term.
Ling told Reuters that “we believe that some countries like Kenya and Nigeria will benefit because China will look to import more from Africa; some agricultural products from Kenya, some oil products from Nigeria”. According to Ling “trade flow patterns will change because China will need to look for new trade partners”.
Standard Chartered revealed that Kenya’s trade with China grew by 59 percent to a total of $5.2 billion in four years to 2017. The development boosted the bank’s business from Chinese clients operating in Kenya by “double digits”.
Kenya also turned to China over the past few years for funds, technology and equipment to develop its infrastructure. This includes the country’s biggest project since independence, a $3.2 billion railway linking Mombasa to Nairobi. The project was launched in 2017.
Ling said “we see more and more Chinese clients coming to Kenya, we have seen Kenya grow in importance to become a belt and road hub. This is the gateway”. Ling was referring to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a multi-billion dollar series of infrastructure projects designed to upgrade land and maritime trade routes between China and Europe, Asia and Africa.