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Could the Coronavirus Lead to a Change of Africa-China Trade Patterns?

A security personnel wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly SARS-like virus which originated in the central city of Wuhan is seen at the entrance of subway station in Beijing on January 28, 2020. NOEL CELIS / AFP

With the recent Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV outbreak thrusting China into the limelight, the world is gripped by health concerns. However, the impact of the virus on trade, including with African countries, could also have long-term implications, for better or worse.

Yiwu, a little-known city in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China is home to the world’s biggest market for “small commodities”, or rather, wholesale manufactured items. At over 7 kilometers large and with 70,000 businesses inside, you can find literally everything from kitchen appliances, to hair accessories and Christmas decorations.  Around 300,000 foreigners visit Yiwu each year to purchase cheap but highly desirable goods and send them back to their home countries, the vast majority of these from developing nations, including African countries.

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