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Has Mercantilism Reduced Urban Poverty in SSA? Perception of Boom, Bust, and the China-Africa Trade in Lomé and Bamako

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  • Lyons, Michal
  • Brown, Alison

Abstract

Summary This paper addresses the immediate impacts of the China-Africa trade on Africa's informal traders and its longer term impact on urban poverty, based on a comparison of the major cities of two West African countries and drawing on semi-structured interviews with traders and on schedule-based interviews with key informants in government, business and the informal trade sector. The findings are that the increase in imports from China initially broadened access to trading for the poor, creating short-term improvements in livelihoods, but competition is driving down profit margins, and restricting the trade to a survival mechanism for many today. Thus it has provided limited long-term potential as an economic platform for national development and poverty reduction. The findings are discussed in terms of structuration theory and in terms of alternative conceptualizations of informal trade in Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Lyons, Michal & Brown, Alison, 2010. "Has Mercantilism Reduced Urban Poverty in SSA? Perception of Boom, Bust, and the China-Africa Trade in Lomé and Bamako," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 771-782, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:38:y:2010:i:5:p:771-782
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kaplinsky, Raphael & Morris, Mike & Readman, Jeff, 2002. "The Globalization of Product Markets and Immiserizing Growth: Lessons From the South African Furniture Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1159-1177, July.
    2. Andrea Goldstein & Nicolas Pinaud & Helmut Reisen, 2006. "The Rise of China and India: What's in it for Africa?," OECD Development Centre Policy Insights 19, OECD Publishing.
    3. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gabre-Madhin, Eleni & Minten, Bart, 2005. "Increasing returns and market efficiency in agricultural trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 406-442, December.
    4. Cohen, Barney, 2004. "Urban Growth in Developing Countries: A Review of Current Trends and a Caution Regarding Existing Forecasts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 23-51, January.
    5. Rachel Poole & Graham P Clarke & David B Clarke, 2006. "Competition and saturation in West European grocery retailing," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(11), pages 2129-2156, November.
    6. repec:ilo:ilowps:354172 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:ilo:ilowps:369851 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Krishna B. Kumar & John G. Matsusaka, 2004. "Village versus Market Social Capital: An Approach to Development," Development and Comp Systems 0408003, EconWPA.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Alison, 2015. "Claiming the Streets: Property Rights and Legal Empowerment in the Urban Informal Economy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 238-248.

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