International Commodity Flows and New Trade Network

984 words 4 pages
Session 6 Article Summary—From Scotch Whisky to Chinese Sneakers: International Commodity Flows and New Trade Networks in Oshikango, Namibia by Gregor Dobler

Development of new trade networks feeding consumption have developed, influencing the way Africa integrates into the global economy. Dobler analyses different trade networks that link Oshikango, Nambibia to the world through four case studies on Scotch whisky, Brazilian furniture, Japanese used cars and Chinese sneakers commodities. Through the case studies, he exemplifies how there has been a shift from old colonial domination of trade to new manufacturing countries or trade routes, as well as the essential role of migrant entrepreneurs in these routes. The similarity underlying
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Chinese Sneakers Trade
The Chinese traders are the only migrant entrepreneurs that sell commodities from their home country, with the traders setting up shops in Oshikango while being linked to wholesale merchants in China through agents in their home country, who are usually family members. Chinese commodities play an ever-increasing role in consumption changes in Africa and are popular due to cheap prices. Chinese traders capitalize on the market demand and are purely profit-seeking, with limited cultural immersion into the African society or formation of networks even among themselves. However, they thrive in the business because potential competitors who want to trade in cheap Chinese commodities face cultural obstacles in dealing in the Chinese business environment, and the Chinese traders have carved a niche for themselves by acting as effective brokers between China and Africa.

The four trade networks are organized in their own distinct ways and rely on different forms of social integration along ethnic lines of the migrant entrepreneurs. The key lies in being successful ‘cultural brokers’ to bridge different markets, and each of the four minorities in the case studies have their own competitive advantages to thrive in their specific industries. The facilitation of trade has boosted consumption, and has ‘modernized’ the town of Namibia as more aspire to climb the social ladder of consumption. Signs of modernization


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