Competing for development : the European Union and China in Ethiopia

Hackenesch, Christine (2011-11)

CCS discussion papers should contribute to the academic debate on China’s global rise and the consequences thereof for African development. We do therefore explicitly invite scholars from Africa, China, or elsewhere, to use this format for advanced papers that are ready for an initial publication, not least to obtain input from other colleagues in the field. Discussion papers should thus be seen as work in progress, exposed to (and ideally stimulating) policy-relevant discussion based on academic standards. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author.

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In European development policy circles, China’s Africa policy has spurred a lively debate about the motives, instruments and effects thereof. The paper assesses the ‘competitive pressure’ that China’s growing presence in Africa exerts on the European development policy regime, and on European development policy to Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the most important countries in Chinese, as well as European, cooperation with Africa. For the EU, Ethiopia is the largest aid recipient in Africa. For China, in contrast, Ethiopia is not primarily an aid recipient but an important economic and political ally in its new Africa policy. The paper argues that Chinese financial flows to Ethiopia are largely complementary to European aid, providing the Ethiopian government with resources much needed to implement its ambitious development strategy. However, China has emerged also as an alternative partner to the Ethiopian government, providing alternative development templates and an alternative approach to discuss about economic and political reforms. Chinese engagement in Ethiopia thereby sheds light on the gap between European rhetoric and policy practice, pressuring the EU to make more efforts to reform its development policy system.

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