European Report on Development’s (ERD) website. The intensity of trade among countries belonging to the same region depends not only on the existence and effectiveness of a regional integration agreement, but also on other factors, which include the overall trade policy orientation and the relative level of geo-graphic and economic barriers affecting intra- and extra-regional trade.
After presenting a set of indicators aimed at measuring correctly the intensity of bi-lateral trade preferences, this paper shows that most African countries tend to trade more intensely with partners belonging to the same region than with the rest of the world.
However, this is not so much the result of the weak regional integration agreements that are in force in Africa, as a consequence of the manifold barriers limiting the degree of international openness of African countries. Under this perspective, a relatively high level of intra-regional trade, far from revealing the success of preferential integration policies, confirms that Africa’s participation in the process of globalisation is still very limited.
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