Temporary Chinese Migration to Madagascar: Local Perceptions, Economic Impacts, and Human Capital Flows
Adopting a human capital perspective with which to analyse the economic impacts of Chinese migration to Africa, this article investigates how temporary Chinese migrants are affecting domestic producers in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Since the first Chinese retailer opened a shop in Behoririka, Antananarivo’s ‘Chinatown’, in the mid-1990s, Madagascar’s capital has experienced an accelerating influx of temporary Chinese migrants. The majority of them earn their livelihoods by selling manufactured consumer items imported from China, many of which compete with locally produced goods. This has driven the formation of negative perceptions regarding the impacts of low-cost Chinese imports on Malagasy production. This article fills a knowledge-gap in the literature on China in Africa by exploring local perceptions of temporary Chinese migrants in Madagascar, the growth of small-scale Chinese-owned import and retail businesses in the capital, and their impacts on Malagasy producers, utilizing the country’s blanket and paper industries as case studies. Primarily based on empirical data gathered through extensive fieldwork, it is argued that while in some cases Chinese traders are displacing indigenous producers, in other instances they are enhancing economic opportunities for Malagasy entrepreneurs through their more indirect and fluid impacts resulting from the flow of human capital from China to Madagascar.
Keywords: Chinese migration, Madagascar, human capital, perceptions, impacts