Research Discussion Paper – RDP2010-08 Sources of Chinese Demand for Resource Commodities Abstract

Is China's demand for resources driven predominantly by domestic factors or by global demand for its exports? The answer to this question is important for many resource-exporting countries, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada and India. This paper provides evidence that China's (mainly manufacturing) exports have been a significant driver of its demand for resource commodities over recent decades. First, it employs input-output tables to demonstrate that, historically, manufacturing has been at least as important as construction as a driver of China's demand for resource-intensive metal products. Second, it shows that global trade in non-oil resource commodities can be described by the gravity model of trade. Using this model it is found that, controlling for domestic expenditure (including investment), exports are a sizeable and significant determinant of a country's resource imports, and that this has been true for China as well as for other countries.

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