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Joudeh, Safa (2023) Assembling the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone: The Networks, Spatial Strategies and Development Impact of China’s Relocating Manufacturing Industries in Egypt. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the dynamics and implications of assembling the Chinese-Egyptian Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (SETCzone) within the situated context of Egypt’s militarised development landscape. The analysis situates the spatial interventions that facilitate the relocation of China’s manufacturing industries to the zone within contemporary processes of global spatial-economic restructuring. Nevertheless, the methodological approach presented gives analytical priority to the complex and contingent geographies of spatial-economic policymaking and industrial restructuring underpinning China’s engagements in Africa and its rise as a development actor more broadly. The thesis argues that the strategic imperative of creating an open trade environment responsive to the needs of mobile Chinese capital in Suez intersects with, and consolidates an Egyptian military-led strategy of land commercialisation as a key driver of development and infrastructure construction. The thesis further examines how these complexities influence the distribution of economic activities within the host region of Suez. In this light, the analysis emphasises the need to move beyond the fixed understanding of policy processes commonly utilised in development research, thinking and practice in order to reveal trends that are constitutive of these processes but are not captured in rational evaluations of policy. To substantiate its main argument, the thesis makes three main claims. First, the thesis examines the role of global development models in Chinese policy transfers in the context of China’s Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone program in Africa, arguing that China’s overseas economic zone initiatives are subject to the conditioning effects of the prevailing norms and standards of international development. The research then identifies unique features of China’s overseas economic zone model that shed light on China’s distinctive approach to domestic and international development. Second, the analysis traces the processes of aligning a range of agencies, institutions and modes of practice around a transferable Chinese overseas zone model in Suez. The thesis argues that land commercialisation is an emergent feature of Chinese development cooperation that is constitutive of Chinese zone policy transfers, and that contingently impacts how the host region of Suez is integrated into Chinese circuits and world markets. Finally, the thesis examines how the complex dynamics of Chinese zone-based cooperation impact the development pathway of the host region and its linkages to world markets in a country that seeks to use Chinese investment and know-how to effect structural change in the economy. The thesis finds that the SETCzone generates particular patterns of production, accumulation and exclusion that are the structural expression of the complex spatial relations identified.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Thomas Marois and Gilbert Achcar
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2023 17:26

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