Trade Liberalization, Investment and Economic Integration in African Regional Economic Communities towards the African Common Market

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This report reviews the progress in African regional integration processes, suggesting an option for revising the timeframe for accelerating continental integration. Several recommendations related to accelerating integration; the need for a development-driven regional integration; the focus on export value addition and diversification in manufactured goods and services; and, enhancing competition policy and attracting more foreign and domestic investment have been made. This report concludes that there is an urgent need to expand integration with regards to international trade.



Progress in African regional trade liberalization, investment and economic integration

African regional integration extends beyond trade and market integration aimed at achieving larger regional markets and more efficient production systems to enhance Africa’s competitiveness, enabling it to attract a larger share of the global market. African regional integration goals also embrace regional and continental social and political objectives, and ultimately the ambition of a United States of Africa. In this sense, the Abuja Treaty (Article 4) stresses that African economic integration will enhance: (a) economic reliance and promotion of endogenous and self-sustained development; (b) development, mobilization and utilization of human and material resources of Africa in order to achieve self-reliant development; (c) cooperation in order to raise the standard of living of African people, foster close and peaceful relations among Member States; (d) progress, development and the economic integration of the Continent; and (e) coordination and harmonization of policies among existing and future economic communities to foster the gradual establishment of the African Economic Community. Trade and market integration, culminating in the establishment of a pan-African Common Market, is a central plank of African’s economic integration. Progress towards this goal is in turn dependent on removing barriers to intra-African trade to create larger regional markets that can realize economies of scale and sustain production systems and markets. A more prosperous Africa will also benefit other nations in terms of increased trade and investment, job creation and promote greater peace and stability.


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