The Changing Contexts of Chinese-Nigerian Textile Production and Trade, 1900‒2015
Since the mid-1990s, China has become the leading exporter worldwide of manufactured textiles and clothing. For Nigeria, one of China’s major trading partners in Africa, increased imports of Chinese textiles are related to the decline of the Nigerian textile manufacturing industry. It also reflects the opening up of China to foreign investment and the subsequent boom in manufactured textile exports and to changes in World Trade Organization textile agreements. This paper examines these changes in textile manufacture and trade, focusing first on twentieth-century Chinese and Nigerian textile manufacturing histories and their subsequent divergence, beginning in the 1980s and continuing into the early twenty-first century. The increase in Chinese-Nigerian textile trade became physically evident in Nigeria in the late 1990s, with Chinese textile companies setting up offices in Lagos and Kano, and Nigerian traders and businessmen setting up offices in Guangzhou, China. The question of how increased shipments of Chinese manufactured textiles have been organized by Chinese company representatives, brokers, and traders, as well as by Nigerian traders and businessmen to meet Nigerian consumer demand is then addressed. Finally, this growth in textile trade is considered in the context of Chinese-Nigerian plans for the building of a Free Trade Zone in Lagos, which would include the construction of a new textile mill. The paper concludes by considering whether this collaboration may lead to a revival of the Nigerian textile industry.