1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Over the past several decades, the economies of the world have become greatly connected through international trade and globalization. Foreign trade has been identified as the oldest and most important part of a country’s economic relationship. The basis for foreign trade rests on the fact that nations do differ in their resource endowment, preferences, technology, scale of production and capacity for growth and development. Over the past decades the volume of trade between nations of the world has increased considerably. Particularly, Nigeria has witnessed a sharp rise in the volume of trade and investment with other nations of the world. The relations between Nigeria and China which cut across political, trade, investment, aid and military spheres have grown so much in recent years.
The inevitability of inter-state relations emanating from the inherent tendency of man for social relations; The world of a man is in a flux. The fluidity of social relations conduces into the search for social coalescence, partnership and cooperation. Naturally, man is created with inbuilt and ever elastic gregarious instincts which propel man to enter into social relations with other men basically to eke out a living. These gregarious instincts combine with differential natural resource endowments to induce man to develop the propensity to partner with others to address the needs of the community. Fundamentally, the scenario opens new vistas of relations between and among states in a world of change.
International trade is recognized as the most significant determinant of economic development of a country, all over the world. The foreign trade of a country consists of inward (import) and outward (export) movement of goods and services, which results into: outflow and inflow of foreign exchange. Thus it is also called EXIM Trade.
For providing, regulating and creating necessary environment for its orderly growth, several bilateral trade agreements have been entered into between and among countries of the world.
Traditionally, African countries particularly Nigeria has traded rigorously with the developed nations, especially the European Union (EU), Canada and the United States (U.S.). These economic relations are governed by various bilateral and regional agreements that exist between these countries and Nigeria. Although, the relationships have gone a long way, the development impact is contestable. However, due to the trade performance of some Asian countries that has enhanced their income and improvement in technology, especially China and India, many African countries including Nigeria have began to diversify their markets to these countries. This emerging trade partners have created some incentives to trade with the continent through their foreign direct investment (FDI) and aid.
China’s first contact with Africa generally was in the early 15th century when some Chinese traders and explorers landed along the coast of Africa. This foundation was laid by Zheng He, the famous navigator of China’s Ming Dynasty, who led a large fleet to visit more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa. Zheng He, who lived from 1371 to 1435, undertook the African expedition with about 2000 ships and 27,800 people. All these took place almost a hundred years before Europe discovered and colonized Africa. Sino-African relations therefore, date back to centuries.