Trade Policy Trends in Africa: Empirical Evidence from Twenty Years of WTO Trade Policy Reviews

Trade liberalization has been a key component of economic development and transformation in the global economy since the middle of the last century and is a leading force in fostering globalization and connectivity in the twenty-first century. Trade reform has been on the agenda of African economies, first under the IMF-supported structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s and the early 1990s, and subsequently pursued within the multilateral legal and policy framework of the WTO. Following two decades of rapid trade growth in Africa, the evidence suggests that significant barriers to trade remain within Africa, impeding its integration to regional and global value chains. Considerable scope exists for the use of trade policy to accelerate and deepen sustained economic development and transformation. African economies should embark on the next generation of trade and associated structural reforms more aggressively and ambitiously.

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