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Economic Development in Africa 2008

Export Performance Following Trade Liberalization - Some Patterns and Policy Perspectives

image of Economic Development in Africa 2008

This year’s report examines Africa’s export performance after trade liberalization in order to draw lessons for use in the design of future development strategies. It identifies Africa’s weak supply response as the most important impediment to the continent’s export performance, suggesting that future export policies should focus more on ways to increase production for export. The publication 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.

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Introduction

The objective of this year’s report is to examine Africa’s export performance after trade liberalization in order to draw lessons for use in the design of future development strategies. The main message is that the efforts made by African countries in terms of trade liberalization over the last 25 years have removed most of the policy barriers considered to be the main impediments to these countries’ export performance. Though there has been some improvement in Africa’s export performance after trade liberalization, the level and composition of the continent’s exports have not substantially changed. The performance of the export sector after trade liberalization fell short of expectations and the improvement has been small relative to the experience of other developing regions. 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 export market share, which was down from 6 per cent of world exports in 1980 to about 3 per cent in 2007. Hence, it is clear that the recent substantial rises in African countries’ export earnings have not allowed Africa to recover its lost market share. The report identifies Africa’s weak supply response as the most important impediment to the continent’s export performance, suggesting that future export policies should focus more on ways 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.

English French

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