Nell’ultimo numero del Journal of Strategic Studies è stato pubblicato un interessante saggio sulle politiche economiche cinesi in campo energetico. Wojtek Wolfe e Brock Tessman analizzano gli investimenti di capitali all’estero nel settore petrolifero (c.d. “Equity Oil Investments” o EOI) delle tre principali compagnie petrolifere statali di Pechino (Sinopec, CNPC e CNOOC) per valutarne i fattori economici e geopolitici e decifrarne le strategie. Il titolo dell’articolo è “China’s Global Equity Oil Investments: Economic and Geopolitical Influences” ed è, ahimè, a pagamento.
Sono motivazioni economiche a guidare le strategie di investimento delle aziende cinesi oppure le esigenze geopolitiche (ad es. il c.d. “dilemma di Malacca“) hanno la priorità?
E’ la domanda che si pongono i due ricercatori i quali esaminano le partecipazioni cinesi nei 30 Paesi con le maggiori riserve di greggio in un periodo che va dal 1996 al 2009 ed assemblano un database nel quale vengono categorizzati i fattori economici (reserve to production ratio, livello di corruzione, conflittualità interna) e quelli geopolitici (alleanze, accesso alle pipeline, vendita di armamenti). Vengono così valutate opportunità economiche ed esigenze geopolitiche per ciascuno dei 30 Paesi esaminati, con i seguenti risultati:
Of the 30 countries included in our study, 14 were identified as a source of economic opportunity for Chinese NOCs [National Oil Companies]. Sixteen countries were categorized as relevant to the geopolitical interests of the PRC. With respect to levels of Chinese EOI, we find that the following seven countries are ‘high investment’: Angola, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Venezuela. Every one of these seven countries is also identified as a source of economic opportunity for Chinese NOCs, and five out of seven (71.4 per cent) are geopolitically relevant. Nine countries are labeled as ‘medium’ investment countries. Of these nine, three (33.3 per cent) were identified as a source of economic opportunity for NOCs, and six (66.7 per cent) were found to be geopolitically relevant. In summary, 10 out of 16 (62.5 per cent) medium and high investment countries represented an economic opportunity for NOCs, while 11 of those 16 countries (68.8 per cent) are deemed geopolitically relevant to the central government. There are 14 ‘low investment’ countries identified in the sample. Of these 14 countries, only four (28.6 per cent) represent an economic opportunity for the NOCs, while six (42.9 per cent) are geopolitically relevant to China. […]
In summary, countries that represented both economic opportunity and geopolitical relevance were more likely to receive high levels of EOI than countries that were attractive in only one respect. Countries that were both economically unattractive and geopolitically irrelevant were least likely to receive any significant Chinese EOI. […]
Our empirical analysis supports both the economic and geopolitical explanations for Chinese EOI. In particular, a strong correlation appears between countries receiving high levels of EOI and countries that are a source of economic opportunity to Chinese NOCs. In fact, every ‘high overall investment’ country is classified as representing an ‘economic opportunity.’ While only five of the seven high investment countries were deemed to be of geopolitical relevance to China, geopolitical concerns are still relevant.
Secondo l’analisi condotta dai due ricercatori le partecipazioni cinesi all’estero nel settore petrolifero sarebbero motivate sia da fattori economici che da fattori geopolitici con una preferenza, però, per i primi. In particolare nei sette Paesi con il livello di investimenti più elevato:
In a broader sense, this analysis suggests that while there may be geopolitical undertones to China’s ‘going out’ policy, investment patterns are driven more by the relatively autonomous interests of Chinese NOCs and their interests in profit and experience seeking. In other words, Chinese energy investments in places like Iran, Angola, and Nigeria – not to mention investments in the United States and Canada – should be viewed as risk acceptant and independent behavior by China’s NOCs rather than Beijing’s attempt to ‘lock up’ global energy resources.19 In fact, it may be the case that Chinese EOI creates more liability than benefit for the central government. Our results are consistent with the suggestion that Chinese NOCs are directing their heaviest investment toward economically and politically unstable states. From a strictly economic perspective, this strategy runs counter to traditional wisdom regarding foreign direct investment. However, as we explained in our earlier presentation of the economic opportunity model, Chinese NOCs may be operating under a different preference structure. As relative newcomers on the global energy scene, Chinese firms may place higher priority on gaining experience and establishing market share in countries where they will not be outclassed by Western firms that are already well versed and efficient when it comes to their overseas operations. This may involve investments in countries that represent high-risk, high-reward targets, and NOCs are able to take on that greater risk because they have financial and political support from Beijing.