unctad.org | Economic Development in Africa 2008
Economic Development in Africa 2008
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Export performance following trade liberalization: Some patterns and policy perspectives
Full Report ( 114 Pages, 6173.0 KB )

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Developed countries US$ 30
Developing countries US$ 15
Least Developed Countries US$ 7.50


The objective of this year´s report is to examine Africa´s export performance after trade liberalization in order to draw relevant lessons that could be used to craft future trade and development strategies. The main message is that the efforts made by African countries in terms of trade liberalization over the last twenty-five years have removed most of the policy-induced barriers considered as the main impediments to these countries´ export performance. Though there has been some improvement in Africa´s export performance, the level and composition of the continent´s exports have not substantially improved. African countries have not diversified their exports towards more dynamic primary commodities and manufacturing goods, which are less prone to the vagaries of international markets. Africa as a whole has even lost its export market share from 6 per cent of world exports in 1980 to about 3 per cent in 2007. Thus, despite the substantial rises in export earnings in recent years, Africa has yet to recover its lost market shares. The report identifies Africa´s weak supply response as the most important impediment to the continent´s export performance, which suggests that future export strategy should focus more on sector specific development strategies to increase production for export.

The Report proposes some policies that could help Africa to refocus its development priorities on structural transformation in order to increase the continent´s supply capacity and export response. These policy proposals are underscored by the observation that export development requires more than trade liberalization and that trade policy needs to be closely linked to complementary and clearly defined agricultural and industrial sector development policies. The Report emphasizes the need for macroeconomic and political stability as well as policy predictability as prerequisites for the success of trade liberalization and secotral development policies in Africa.

Chapter 1 briefly discusses the history of trade policy in Africa, the rationale for trade liberalization and its timing; it also provides an overview of Africa´s export performance to date in value, volume and composition.

Chapter 2 examines Africa´s export performance in agriculture while chapter 3 investigates why Africa has failed to diversify into the manufacturing sector in order to increase manufacturing exports. Both chapters attempt to identify the factors that underlie the trends in exports of agricultural and manufacturing products.

Chapter 4 discusses some policy options for improving Africa´s export performance. These revolve around the issues of productivity, competitiveness, market access and access to factors of production, both in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

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