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Expanding Trade for Inclusive Development

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Background

Africa’s numerous nations, often landlocked and/or with small populations, makes international trade essential for growth and development at both country and continental levels. In recent years, African trade has grown rapidly within the continent and between it and, especially, emerging partners such as China and India. Many countries are also reporting steep increases in informal trading activities across borders. This rise in internal trade and with new partners has been a critical driver of growth in recent years and is one important factor that has helped cushion the continent against some of the impacts of the global economic crisis.  

Still the continent only makes up a fraction of global trade and many countries remain isolated from world markets. Moreover, trade is often dominated by raw products such as natural resources and other goods with low value-added. Challenges abound at all levels. In some countries structural difficulties such as political instability, poor infrastructure or limited productive capacity stand in the way. These issues spill over at the regional and global levels, where non-tariff barriers, weak legal and regulatory environments and insufficient trade facilitation create further obstacles to trade.

Guiding questions

Speakers in this session will discuss these and other issues related to expanding trade for inclusive development in Africa. Some guiding questions are:

  • What are the implications for Africa of the impasse when it comes to global trade talks? What is the continent doing to move the agenda forward?
  • What are some of the key lessons in reducing barriers to intra-African trade?
  • How does the current global economic uncertainty affect trade in Africa and what should the response be from the regional and national perspectives?
  • What can be done to strengthen trade coordination and harmonization at regional level?
  • How do countries ensure that trade is inclusive and that poverty and inequality does not deepen as a result of expanding trade?

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