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Intra-sub-Saharan African Trade: Is It Too Little?

  • Foroutan, Faezeh
  • Pritchett, Lant

Trade among sub-Saharan African countries is very limited. This fact, plus other political and economic considerations, has been used to motivate a growing number of regional integration schemes. Although many authors have shown that intra-sub-Saharan African trade is limited, none has yet asked whether the level of intra-sub-Saharan African trade is higher or lower than one would expect, given a plausible model of the determination of trade flows. The authors compare actual trade with what a traditional gravity model would predict. They find that a gravity model predicts the low level of intra-sub-Saharan African trade. For the 19 sub-Saharan African countries in their sample, the actual sub-Saharan African share of imports plus exports was an average (median) of 8.1 percent (4.5 percent) while the gravity model predicts a slightly lower, not higher, mean (median) of 7.5 percent (4.5 percent).

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Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 2 (1993)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 74-105

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:2:y:1993:i:1:p:74-105
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  1. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  2. Srivastava, Rajendra K & Green, Robert T, 1986. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade Flows," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 623-40, October.
  3. Deardorff, Alan V., 1984. "Testing trade theories and predicting trade flows," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 467-517 Elsevier.
  4. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1988. "A New Set of International Comparisons of Real Product and Price Levels Estimates for 130 Countries, 1950-1985," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, March.
  5. Harry G. Johnson, 1965. "An Economic Theory of Protectionism, Tariff Bargaining, and the Formation of Customs Unions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 256.
  6. Yeats, Alexander J, 1990. "Do African Countries Pay More for Imports? Yes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(1), pages 1-20, January.
  7. Corden, W M, 1972. "Economies of Scale and Customs Union Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages 465-75, May-June.
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