Legal Aspects of Sino-­African Tied Aid: The Art of Playing with a Legal Grey Area

Sieber, Charlotte (2012). Legal Aspects of Sino-­African Tied Aid: The Art of Playing with a Legal Grey Area. In: Laryea, Emmanuel T.; Madolo, Nokuhle; Sucker, Franziska (eds.) International Economic Law: Voices of Africa (pp. 110-130). Cape Town: Siber Ink

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Sino-African trade has seen a fifty-fold increase in the years 1999 to 2008. In some African regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, China has even replaced the US as the most important trading partner today. But China holds not a single FTA on the African continent, while other major trading partners of African economies rely on an extensive framework of different trade agreements. What is, thus, the legal basis of the recent increase of Sino-African trade?
Interestingly, Sino-African trade has seen a particularly strong increase in countries that have entered into tied aid agreements with China. These agreements are commonly known under the term ‘Angola-Model’ and consist of a multifaceted network of barter-trading-systems, aspects of tied aid and concessions for oil and other commodities linked with a state loan. It is likely that these agreements have an impact on the trade-flows between African countries and China.
This paper discusses the legal character of this new form of economic cooperation, or modern version of tied aid. Critical legal aspects related to this form of tied aid refer to violation of the principle of most-favoured nation (MFN), illegitimate export subsidies, market access, public procurement and transparency in the international trading system. However, despite the recent outcry of the foremost Western community against the strategy of the Chinese government on the African continent, the practice of the Angola-Model based tied aid is not entirely new, and neither is it against the law. The case of tied aid is situated in a legal grey area that should be examined thoroughly in order to strengthen the international trading system and to support developing countries in their attempt to gain from tied aid arrangements.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > NCCR International Trade Regulation

UniBE Contributor:

Sieber, Charlotte


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 340 Law




Siber Ink




Charlotte Sieber

Date Deposited:

07 Jul 2015 16:15

Last Modified:

01 Jun 2017 12:38




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