Proposed Paper Session: Second Global Conference on Economic Geography – 2007

Theme: Geographies of international trade and investment

Preliminary session title:  South-South value chains, trade, and investment relations: New geographies of production, innovation, and consumption?

Organizer: Jim Murphy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University (

On November 5, 2006, the China-Africa Cooperation Summit closed in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s offer of $5 billion in loans and credit to African nations and with his pledging to double aid to Africa by 2009.  The summit featured more than 45 African leaders and discussions focused primarily on trade, investment, and foreign aid.  In addition to the $5 billion commitment, Chinese firms negotiated deals worth $1.9 billion with African governments and companies, primarily in relation to mineral and crude oil industries. African countries, Angola being the largest supplier, currently supply one-third of all of China’s crude oil imports and China’s influence in Africa has risen dramatically in the last decade.  China is the leading Asian trading partner with Africa and it is increasingly clear that the Chinese government seeks to maintain a significant presence in and influence on investment patterns, consumer markets, and development programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The long-term implications of this relationship are unclear and important questions need to be explored regarding whether or not Chinese trade, investment, and aid with/in/to Sub-Saharan Africa offers improved opportunities for African firms to export value-added goods to China and whether or not ties to Chinese markets and firms will facilitate upgrading in African industries. Moreover, it is unclear if these ties will significantly contribute to poverty reductions, improved educational and welfare systems, environmental sustainability, and the empowerment of African communities and countries in the world system.

China’s relationship to Africa is just one example of a growing trend in “South-South” trade and investment relations.  India, Brazil, and South Africa have also significantly increased their investment and marketing ties to other “Southern” economies and these are arguably creating new kinds of production and value-chain relationships and institutions in the global economy.  Despite their growing significance, however, we still know relatively little about the nature and quality of these relationships and whether or not they contribute to alternative forms of or trajectories for global market integration.  As such, the goals of this session or sessions are to examine current developments in South-South trade and investment relations, to assess the utility of extant theories/literatures on FDI, value chains, and trade for understanding these ties, and to frame a research agenda for future collaborative studies. 

Possible topics (suggestions and additions are most welcome):


Individuals interested participating in and/or co-chairing this session or sessions should contact Jim Murphy at Clark University ( with a paper abstract or ideas you have for the session’s organization/topics.


Best wishes and happy new year.