The slow motion revolution sweeping across China as the state-owned banks assert their independence from Beijing's directives will mean a much wider range of financing available to Africa. Commercial rivalries and diminishing coordination may make it harder to work with the banks, which remain at the core of China's Africa strategy.
China Exim Bank and Sinosure are together expected to become
the world's largest export credit agencies by 2010, according
to the Export-Import Bank of the United States, just two
decades after Beijing was able to boast just a handful of state-owned
policy banks that bled the state coffers dry due to non-performing
loan rates of more than 60%. But the pace of financial sector
reform, prompted in the mid-1990s by China's ambitions to join
the World Trade Organisation and rapid export-led growth, has
also generated new competition. Sinosure, established in 2001
as an export credit insurance agency to streamline China Exim
Bank, set up seven years earlier, has expanded rapidly and the
functions of both institutions now increasingly overlap.
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