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Low-cost Chinese goods in Tanzania: the rise of transnational trade routes’ peripheral branches

Produits chinois bon marché en Tanzanie: essor de branches périphériques de routes transnationales

Sylvain Racaud ()
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Sylvain Racaud: LAM - Les Afriques dans le monde - IEP Bordeaux - Sciences Po Bordeaux - Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Bordeaux - UBM - Université Bordeaux Montaigne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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Abstract: This article illustrates how rural margins and urban-rural relations in southwest Tanzania join up with transnational trade routes for Chinese goods. It examines the trade in low-cost imported goods from China (plastic sandals, cheap jewellery, various fashion accessories, cheap clothing, etc.) that are widely spread in Tanzania up to peripheral countryside. Through the concept of trade route, it contributes to the literature on urban-rural relations in African studies and on "inconspicuous globalisation" by first proposing a reverse perspective, with rural areas viewed as consumption areas of imported products. It then rescales the globalisation analysis by putting urban-rural relations at the heart of local and global interconnections. The article demonstrates that geographically peripheral places and actors, have a real capacity to influence the direction of the global trade route as they combine complementarities between the urban-rural continuum and the topological continuity of networks from local to global. The global trade geography is profoundly influenced by what goes on in its inconspicuous tentacles in upcountry regions such as the Uporoto mountains, where the global trade route relies on the dynamism of local agriculture, the latter increasingly merged with other livelihoods. This is exemplified by the complementarities between trade and agriculture in terms of livelihood, circulation of capital, urban-rural mobility, and links with global scales, which highlight the de-agrarianisation process and the development of a mass consumption society.

Keywords: trade route; Chinese goods; urban-rural links; rural markets; network; mobility; Tanzania (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Published in Critical African Studies, 2022, Chinese Goods in Africa: New Extraversions, Orientations, and Expressions of African Agency, 15 (1), pp.106-123. ⟨10.1080/21681392.2022.2154234⟩

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DOI: 10.1080/21681392.2022.2154234

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