China’s Foreign Agriculture Investments04/26/2018
China’s foreign investments have included hundreds of agriculture- and food-related ventures involving dozens of commodities on every continent. Observers and targets of these investments are often puzzled about the motivations and objectives and the level of government support received by Chinese investors. Chinese agricultural investments are alternately viewed as state-sponsored “land grabs” and as benign commercial transactions.
China’s agricultural investment initiative is an important development for U.S. farms, agribusiness, and policymakers since the United States is the leading supplier of China’s agricultural imports (Gale, Hansen, and Jewison, 2015). Will Chinese companies invest in U.S. farms and agribusinesses, or will investment be focused on other countries? Does this investment pose an opportunity or a threat for U.S. agricultural industries? Will Chinese investments affect U.S. policies and initiatives?
Other authors have limited their analyses to aspects of the topic. Economy and Levi (2014) discussed China’s investment in resource-based industries. Brautigam and Tang (2009) and Brautigam and Zhang (2013) investigated China’s role in African agriculture; KPMG (2013) discussed investment in Australian agriculture; and Oliveira (2015) reported on Chinese investments in Brazilian agriculture. Gooch and Gale (2015) discussed some issues related to China’s rising overseas agricultural investment.
Since there are no comprehensive data or rigorous studies of China’s agricultural outbound investments, this report synthesizes various types of information to help readers understand and evaluate the Chinese investment program. Like Shambaugh’s (2013) overview of China’s “go global” strategy for international trade and governance, the current study investigates the strategic thinking of Chinese officials. Our study is based on a review of all available information sources in both English and Chinese to make a balanced assessment of China’s investment program. The study draws upon Chinese sources that are not accessible to the non-Chinese-reading public—Chinese Government surveys and reports, Chinese news media, policy documents, and compilations of investments for various countries and regions—to discern China’s strategic objectives and policy support for agricultural investment abroad. While it is difficult to draw strong conclusions about the impacts of Chinese agricultural investment, the report discusses some possible implications for U.S. agriculture.