Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The African trade profile for manufactured goods

Trade Briefs

The African trade profile for manufactured goods

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Much has been written about two aspects of African trade. These are (a) the role that manufacturing products play (or do not play) in this trade and (b) the extent to which this manufacturing trade is becoming increasingly influenced by Africa’s exposure to the so-called BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China. This paper will examine these two aspects of African merchandise trade, and, in doing so, become a part of a suite of papers that examine the agricultural, clothing, resources and manufacturing trade profile for Africa within the framework of the new friends (BRICs), the old friends (the European Union (EU) and the United States (US)) and the good friends (Africa itself). We have taken a broad and somewhat arbitrary definition of manufacturing products as being those excluding agriculture (as defined by the WTO Agreement on Agriculture), clothing as defined by HS Chapters 61, 62 and 63 (an intricate subset of manufacturing that is of crucial importance to Africa) and the mineral fuels, ores and precious metals and stones of HS Chapters 25, 26, 27 and 71. There are some overlaps and omissions that we will discuss later in this selection. We note at the outset that while we consistently use the ITC data we acknowledge several data-related problems as outlined in the data warning. We have also taken a somewhat narrow and perhaps old-fashioned mercantilist approach to this paper and concentrated upon exports rather than a balanced perspective of both exports and imports.

We start by providing an overall trade profile for African exports, and here we have introduced three regional groupings. They are 1) North Africa, defined as the countries bordering the Mediterranean, 2) South Africa as a grouping on its own, and 3) all remaining countries that we have defined as Sub-Saharan Africa. The top third of the paper sets the scene by profiling total exports from Africa for the three regions by, firstly, exports in dollars (millions) and then the respective percentage shares of these exports. In recent times Sub-Saharan African exports have significantly increased to be over one half of the African total, and indeed as high as 57.8% of the total in 2011. Other papers in this series will examine the drivers behind this increase.

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The African trade profile for manufactured goods - Author(s): Ron Sandrey

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