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Regional Economic Integration in Africa: A Review of Problems and Prospects with a Case Study of COMESA

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  • Alemayehu Geda

    ()
    (Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK)

  • Haile Kibret

    ()
    (Addis Ababa university, Ethiopia)

Abstract

Major issues of regional economic integration in Africa could be grouped into two interrelated broad areas: issues of implementation and the limitation of insight form both the theoretical and empirical literature regarding the specific approaches that are appropriate for the continent. Implementation issues cover both the economic, political and institutional constraints that surface at the implementation stage of economic integration treaties. The approach issue refers to the menu of options available to pursue economic integration. These options range from a step-wise bilateral cooperation to continent-wide integration. This paper critically reviews these issues and tests the determinants of trade flows using the experience of COMESA as a case study. The major conclusions that emerge form the study are: First, bilateral trade flows among the regional groupings could be explained by standard variables as demonstrated by the results of the conventional gravity model, while regional groupings has had insignificant effect on the flow of bilateral trade. And, second, the review of the issues indicates that the performance of regional blocs is mainly constrained by problems of variation in initial condition, compensation issues, real political commitment, overlapping membership, policy harmonization and poor private sector participation. These problems seem to have made building successful economic groupings in African a daunting task, despite its perceived importance in the increasingly globalized world. Thus, countries’ need to take integration not only as lingering pan-African ideology but more importantly as economic survival strategy aimed at combating marginalization from the global economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK in its series Working Papers with number 125.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:soa:wpaper:125

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  1. Weeks, John & Subasat, Turan, 1998. "The potential for agricultural trade among Eastern and Southern African countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 73-88, February.
  2. Foroutan, Faezeh & Pritchett, Lant, 1993. "Intra - Sub - Saharan African trade : is it too little?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1225, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Kumar, Saten & Sen, Rahul & Srivastava, Sadhana, 2014. "Does economic integration stimulate capital mobility? An analysis of four regional economic communities in Africa," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 33-50.
  2. FE, Doukouré Charles, 2011. "Qualité des Institutions et Commerce International: Évidence à Partir des Exportations de l'UEMOA
    [Institutions Quality and International Trade: Evidence from WAEMU Exports]
    ," MPRA Paper 33333, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Nin Pratt, Alejandro & Diao, Xinshen, 2008. "Exploring Growth Linkages and Market Opportunities for Agriculture in Southern Africa," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 23, pages 104-137.
  4. Sylvanus Kwaku Afesorgbor, 2013. "Revisiting the Effectiveness of African Economic Integration. A Meta-Analytic Review and Comparative Estimation Methods," Economics Working Papers 2013-13, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  5. Thierry Verdier, 2010. "Regional Integration, Fragility and Institution Building: An Analytical Framework Applied to the African Context," RSCAS Working Papers 2010/38, European University Institute.
  6. Simwaka, Kisu, 2006. "Dynamics of Malawi’s trade flows: a gravity model approach," MPRA Paper 1122, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Giorgia Giovannetti & Marco Sanfilippo, 2009. "Do Chinese Exports Crowd-out African Goods? An Econometric Analysis by Country and Sector," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 21(4), pages 506-530, September.
  8. Guisan, M.C. & Exposito, P., 2005. "Human Capital and Economic Development in Africa: An Econometric Analysis for 1950-2002," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 5(1), pages 129-142.
  9. Kessides, Ioannis N. & Benjamin, Nancy C., 2012. "Regionalizing infrastructure for deepening market integration: the case of East Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6113, The World Bank.

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