Neo-liberalization: the impact of Chinese exports on South Africa’s sociopolitical economy


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On gaining independence, one of the first steps it took was to open its doors to various socio-economic dynamics. It is fair to say, therefore, that South Africa’s neo-liberal approach was necessitated by the nation’s desire to diversify its economy in multiple sectors and, therefore, permit foreign direct investment into the country. To most researchers, this has resulted in near deindustrialization leading to gross job losses and reduced standards of living. Essentially, this paper, relying on realist theory, delves into one of the issues, i.e., the demise of the manufacturing sector in South Africa to deliver the poignant explanation pertaining to South Africa’s sociopolitical economy. The authors find that the presence of China’s finished products in South Africa’s market has emboldened and continues to debilitate its manufacturing industry. A major concern is that South Africa’s attempts to soften this effect on its manufacturing sector through its protectionist policy – precisely the application of the quota system on imported goods – will not go too far considering the limitations placed on South Africa by virtue of its membership in organizations such as WTO and BRICS.

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    • Fig. 1. Relationship between textile imports and employment levels
    • Fig. 2. Percentage distribution
    • Table 1. Top 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa by number of investment projects in China
    • Table 2. Trade partners