Deborah Brautigam, Xiaobo Zheng & Margaret McMillan



Deborah Bräutigam is currently Professor and Director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins University/SAIS. Her research focuses on China-Africa relations, foreign aid, industrialization, state-building, and development. She is the author of The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2009) as well as publications on foreign aid and governance; taxation and state-building; global networks and comparative development in Africa and Asia. Her blog, continues to delve into myths and realities of China's African engagement.

A citizen of China, Xiaobo Zheng earned B.S. in mathematics from Nankai University, China; M.S. in economics from Tianjin University of Economics and Finance, China; and M.S. and Ph.D. in applied economics and management from Cornell University. Currently he is a chair professor in economics at the National School of Development, Peking University, and senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He has published widely in the fields of economic growth, income distribution, public investment and rural industrialization in China and other developing countries. He is a Co-editor of China Economic Review. He was selected as the president of Chinese Economists Society from 2005 to 2006.

Margaret McMillan is an associate professor of economics at Tufts University and a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. She has published widely in the areas of international trade and investment focusing primarily on developing countries. Understanding the distributional consequences of international economic integration is the key focus of her work. She is a Faculty Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a recipient of research grants from the Economic AND Social Research Council in the UK, THE National Science Foundation and the Center for Aids Research. In 2005, she was named the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Professor McMillan’s research has been featured in the New York Times and the NBER Digest and has been published in leading economics journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Economic Growth, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the Journal of Development Economics, and the Journal of International Economics. Professor McMillan has worked in several African countries including Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa. Before coming to academia, she worked for a variety of organizations including the Peace Corps, Lehman Brothers, USAID, UNDP and the World Bank. Professor McMillan holds a Ph.D. in economics (with distinction) from Columbia University an MPA from Princeton University and B.A. (summa cum laude) from Boston University.

Current Research Initiative as part of the PEDL project:

Flying Geese in Ethiopia’s Leather Cluster Understanding Asian Chinese Impact

A decade ago, Ethiopian leather shoe producers were hit by a “China shock”: a sharp rise in competition from cheap, imported shoes: domestic production fell from 1.5 to 0.8 million pairs of leather shoes and boots between 1999 and 2005 Since then, there has been a surprising recovery at the higher end of the shoe industry: output reached 3.1 million pairs in 2008/9. This is perhaps unsurprising: given Ethiopia's century-long history of artisanal shoe production and its large livestock sector, it clearly has the potential to foster a very dynamic industrial cluster. In 2008/9, export-oriented investment from China, as well as Europe and India, began to flow into Ethiopia’s leather sector. The literature suggests that foreign investors can be catalysts to help an industrial cluster overcome obstacles to transformation, but they can also provide “unfair” competition. How is Ethiopia’s leather value chain being affected today by these new, predominantly Asian/Chinese, firms? African countries have a window of opportunity to take advantage of growing interest from China/Asia, to orient these firms toward making contributions toward inclusive growth, and to foster transfers of knowledge. Policies to foster productivity-enhancing linkages between foreign and local firms would benefit from a more robust understanding of these processes.

Yet much of the research on Ethiopia’s leather cluster relies on data that is now nearly a decade old. This project would be the first step in a larger, mixed-methods effort to understand this recent impact and formulate effective responses. The research will

  • conduct a census of all the existing Chinese/Asian firms in the leather value chain
  • use the census to identify the Ethiopian subcontractors, suppliers, buyers and trainers of these Asian firms
  • conduct interviews and focus groups with Ethiopian officials and industry associations to discuss proactive efforts, if any, by Ethiopians to engage Asian factory owners and learn from Asian practices by field visits and investment promotion tours
  • interview a sample of Ethiopian firms (large-scale importers and modern, medium-sized to larger firms) to learn about their Asian contacts and sources of technology

Interviews will be guided by these questions:

  • Trade into Industry: Ethiopian traders were part of the boom in imports of shoes from Asia. Did any Ethiopian shoe traders make the shift into manufacturing as a result of travels to Asia? Have linkages between Asian and Ethiopian firms been fostered directly?
  • Enclave versus integration: In what ways do Chinese/Asian buyers and factories connect with Ethiopian producers? Have they hired staff, workers or interns from Ethiopian institutes such as the LIDI or from other firms? Do workers from Chinese companies move to Ethiopian firms? What technical and marketing skills and practices are disseminated, if any?
  • Impact of Trade Policy: How have the export bans and export taxes impacted firms in the Ethiopian leather industry? How have these same policies affected trade, employment and overall growth? Are foreign and domestic firms affected differentially by the governments’ policies?

Recent Publications:

2011. Deborah Bräutigam. China in Africa: What Can Western Donors Learn? Oslo, Norway: Norfund
(Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries).

2009. Deborah Brautigam. The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa Oxford: Oxford University Press. Updated paperback edition published 2011. Chinese translation in press for 2012.

2008. Deborah Bräutigam, Odd-Helge Feldstadt, and Mick Moore, eds. Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries: Capacity and Consent Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2008. Deborah Bräutigam. China’s African Aid: Transatlantic Challenges, Washington, DC: German Marshall Fund of the United States.