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“Going Global in Groups”: Structural Transformation and China’s Special Economic Zones Overseas


  • Bräutigam, Deborah
  • Tang, Xiaoyang


China’s special economic zones helped the country industrialize by attracting foreign investment. In 2006, Beijing initiated an overseas trade and cooperation zone program, assisting Chinese companies to invest abroad while also building China’s soft power through the transfer of a key component of China’s development success. Little is known about the 19 zones approved so far under this program, or the impact they are likely to have on structural transformation and industrial development in their host countries. This paper identifies the 19 zones and their proposed locations, the process of selection, developers, implementation, and the Chinese incentive regime. It then focuses on the African zones. Using a typology of factors that have proven critical for zone development in the past, the paper evaluates the potential of these zones for fostering structural transformation in Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Bräutigam, Deborah & Tang, Xiaoyang, 2014. "“Going Global in Groups”: Structural Transformation and China’s Special Economic Zones Overseas," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 78-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:63:y:2014:i:c:p:78-91
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.10.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rotunno, Lorenzo & Vézina, Pierre-Louis & Wang, Zheng, 2013. "The rise and fall of (Chinese) African apparel exports," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 152-163.
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    Cited by:

    1. Newman, Carol & Page, John & Rand, John & Shimeles, Abebe & Soderbom, Mans & Tarp, Finn (ed.), 2016. "Manufacturing Transformation: Comparative Studies of Industrial Development in Africa and Emerging Asia," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776987.
    2. Lectard, Pauline & Rougier, Eric, 2018. "Can Developing Countries Gain from Defying Comparative Advantage? Distance to Comparative Advantage, Export Diversification and Sophistication, and the Dynamics of Specialization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 90-110.
    3. Carol Newman & John Page, 2017. "Industrial clusters: The case for Special Economic Zones in Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2017-15, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Ronald B. Davies & Arman Mazhikeyev, 2019. "The Impact of Special Economic Zones on Exporting Behavior," Review of Economic Analysis, Digital Initiatives at the University of Waterloo Library, vol. 11(1), pages 145-174, July.
    5. Adolph, Christopher & Quince, Vanessa & Prakash, Aseem, 2017. "The Shanghai Effect: Do Exports to China Affect Labor Practices in Africa?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Wanlei Xue & Bingkang Li & Yongqi Yang & Huiru Zhao & Nan Xu, 2019. "Evaluating the Effectiveness of New and Old Kinetic Energy Conversion from an Electric Power Economics Perspective: Evidence on the Shandong Province of China," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(6), pages 1-17, March.
    7. Sylviane Guillaumont Jeanneney & Ping Hua, 2020. "When and how China’s real exchange rate affects African industry?," Post-Print hal-03060589, HAL.
    8. Gregory T. Chin & Kevin P. Gallagher, 2019. "Coordinated Credit Spaces: The Globalization of Chinese Development Finance," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 50(1), pages 245-274, January.
    9. J. Alexander Nuetah & Xian Xin, 2019. "Has China’s Investment Pattern in Sub-Saharan Africa Been Driven by Natural Resource Quest?," Global Journal of Emerging Market Economies, Emerging Markets Forum, vol. 11(3), pages 215-231, September.
    10. King, Alan & Ramlogan-Dobson, Carlyn, 2015. "Is Africa Actually Developing?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 598-613.

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