World Bank, China May Cooperate to Transfer Manufacturing Jobs to Africa
The World Bank is in “very early stage” talks on cooperating with China to promote the transfer of low-value manufacturing jobs from the nation to Africa, said Robert Zoellick, head of the Washington-based lender.
An expected end to the expansion of China’s labor force and the government’s push for domestic companies to move up the value chain could help shift jobs that would boost employment in sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, Zoellick said at a briefing in Beijing today at the end of a five-day visit.
China’s three-decade-old, one-child policy may accelerate declines in the workforce, forcing companies to upgrade to higher-value products. The pool of 15 to 24-year-olds, a mainstay for factories making cheap clothes, toys and electronics, will fall by almost 62 million people in the 15 years through 2025, according to United Nations projections.
There are about 85 million low-value manufacturing jobs in China compared with about 8 million to 10 million in sub-Saharan and North Africa, Zoellick said. Transferring 5 million of those 85 million jobs would boost employment opportunities in the African regions by 50 percent, he said.
Zoellick said he held discussions with Chinese vice premiers, officials at the commerce ministry and provincial leaders on how to convince Chinese companies to shift jobs to Africa through methods such as the creation of industrial zones.
Issues including energy supplies, training, logistics and political stability still need to be resolved to pave the way for these job transfers, Zoellick said.
The World Bank also sees potential for China to help in its attempts to improve food production in African and sub-Saharan regions in areas such as irrigation, fertilizer, storage and research into seed varieties, Zoellick said.
“This is one of the areas we are encouraging deeper cooperation between China and Africa,” he said, without elaborating.
--Li Yanping. Editors: Nerys Avery, John Liu
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Li Yanping in Beijing at +86-10-6649-7568 or firstname.lastname@example.org