Although African trade flows are accelerating at a healthy rate, most African governments have struggled to diversify their economies and to achieve inclusive, sustainable growth. “As Africans, we should be proud of our recent economic growth performance,” noted African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry Fatima Haram Acyl in 2014, “but there should be no room for complacency.”
Increased trade could transform the African continent, which is home to thirty-three of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) and accounted for only 3 percent of global trade in 2014. African nations that have implemented reforms supporting the free movement of goods, capital, and people have reaped a substantial development dividend and are ranked among the fastest growing economies in the world.
This report examines the current state of trade in Africa, identifies obstacles hindering economic diversification and growth, and offers policy recommendations based on these findings. It addresses the economic and geopolitical implications of the global collapse of commodity demand and China’s recent slowdown, as well as how regional trade agreements and regional economic communities (RECs) offer better opportunities for African economies to unlock growth.
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