Even though global trade has fluctuated over the years, it has also rapidly increased. However, the structure and pattern of trade vary significantly by-products and regions. Undoubtedly, trade has come with both benefits and daunting challenges to countries involved, especially in African nations, where primary and intermediate merchandise formed a substantial share of exports. Because advanced and newly industrialized economies have better technology and know-how, manufacturing industries, access to finance, and market than Africa, they have a greater market proportion in the world trade. Arguably, African countries have been left in the cold as they struggle to compete with advanced economies. As presented in this chapter, Africa has been struggling to be relevant in the world market. However, its global share of merchandise trade has reduced over the decades. This is partly because the continent has concentrated on the exportation of few primary commodities (i.e., mineral fuels, iron ores, gold, cocoa beans) with volatile prices and demand in the global markets. The frequent global oil crunch other raw products are a wake-up call for a rapid industrialization and diversification for competitiveness in Africa. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has to ensure that defensive trade remedies should not be the next frontier of protectionism. Finally, for trade, growth, and development to be stimulated, African countries should urgently open their markets to expand intra-African trade.
Part of the book: Emerging Issues in Economics and Development