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Business for Development 2008

Promoting Commercial Agriculture in Africa

image of Business for Development 2008

The changing pattern of international agricultural trade has profound implications for Africa. The book’s authors discuss these trade flows, map the corporate landscape of agro-food, (including the emergent indigenous sector), and assess trends in international development co-operation in the corporate sector. Particular focus is given to “aid for trade” programmes that try to foster private-sector development and trade-capacity building. A final chapter, drawing lessons from five country case studies, provides evidence of the (in)effectiveness of government intervention and donor programmes to promote the marketing of African agriculture.

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World Agricultural trade and Africa

OECD Development Centre

This chapter presents an overview of the evolution of world agricultural trade since the mid- 1980s with a focus on four major product groups of the agro-food sector: bulk commodities, horticulture, semi-processed and processed products. It then turns attention to the export performance of African agriculture on the basis of the mirror trade data (i.e. world agricultural imports from all partner countries). This is followed by brief discussions on recent developments in OECD agricultural policies and their implications for Africa. Among the four agricultural sub-sectors, the dynamics of world agricultural trade are chiefly about trade in processed products whose export growth has been comparable to the growth of non-agricultural products. In contrast, trade in bulk commodities has been the least dynamic and its relative share in total agricultural exports has declined substantially. Such broad patterns in the evolution of world agricultural trade during the past two decades (1985-2005) suggest that much of the global agro-food trade has become less dependent on purely natural resource endowment and has moved up along the value chains. In Africa, on the other hand, the agro-food sector has remained largely dependent on land and climatic conditions, though the continent’s agricultural exports have diversified away from bulk commodities to horticulture. Export subsidies, domestic supports and tariffs continue to influence the changing landscape of world agricultural trade. Africa’s export opportunities would further increase if both developed and more advanced developing countries were to take joint actions to improve market access to African products under the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. How developing countries will be affected following a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda obviously depends on how ambitious the final agreement will be, but also on the particularities of individual countries. African countries will also be impacted differently depending on their net agricultural trading positions.

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