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The impact of trade liberalization in Africa

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Africa is one of the most economic-integrated continents by a number of regional trade agreements in the continent. There are about 30 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements within the continents so that each African coun-try is a member of at least one regional trade agreement. Trade between Afri-can countries, however, barely exceeds 10% of the total trade of Africa, which is much lower than other continents’ intra-regional trade share. This discrepancy between many regional trade agreements and small intra-continent trade share tells that regional economic integrations in Africa are very unsuccessful trade liberalization policies to promote trade. This paper examines a reason why trade liberalization policies in Africa fail. In particular, we investigate the impact of trade agreements in Africa on trade conditional on financial market development and political instability. An empirical study finds that Africa countries’ poor financial market accessibility and political instability are key barriers to trade integration in the region. These two factors can explain most disadvantage of African countries in their intra-regional trade. In a dynamic regression, the two factors depress the long-run growth of trade due to trade liberalization in the region significantly, while African continent dummy variable that captures other unobserved trade obstacles in the region has much less effect on trade compared to the literature on Afri-can regional economic integration.


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