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Is Africa Integrating? Evidence from Product Markets

  • Lawrence Edwards
  • Neil Rankin

Integration into the global trading environment is viewed as a key factor underlying the success of the fastest growing economies. Yet many African countries remain isolated and appear to have failed to achieve the level integration of these fast growing economies. This paper presents a price-based assessment of product market integration in Africa using disaggregated retail prices for over 200 products and 13 African cities. Product market integration is first assessed using absolute and relative measures of price dispersion. This followed by an econometric analysis to identify some of the domestic, regional and global factors that have contributed towards product market integration in Africa. Overall, we find evidence of increased product market integration in Africa. The volatility of real exchange rates between African countries has fallen over the past two and a half decades. Product price dispersion at the retail level amongst the sample of African cities also fell, although much of the decline was concentrated in North Africa during the early 1990s. The econometric estimates reveal that trade costs, as proxied by distance and MFN tariffs, are the dominant determinant of price dispersion amongst the African cities. External forces also matter. Global trends in price dispersion contributed around 29 percent of the overall increase in integration.

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Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 292.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:292
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  1. Arvind Subramanian & Natalia T. Tamirisa, 2003. "Is Africa Integrated in the Global Economy?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 50(3), pages 2.
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  7. Mario J. Crucini & Chris I. Telmer & Marios Zachariadis, 2001. "Understanding European Real Exchange Rates," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0120, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  8. Tsangyao Chang & Hsu-Ling Chang & Hsiao-Ping Chu & Chi-Wei Su, 2006. "Does PPP hold in African countries? Further evidence based on a highly dynamic non-linear (logistic) unit root test," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(20), pages 2453-2459.
  9. Mario Crucini & Chris Telmer & Marios Zachariadis, 2005. "Price Dispersion: The Role of Distance, Borders and Location," 2005 Meeting Papers 767, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Amjadi, Azita & Yeats, Alexander J., 1995. "Have transport costs contributed to the relative decline of sub-Saharan African exports? Some preliminary empirical evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1559, The World Bank.
  11. Michael M. Knetter & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Measuring Product-Market Integration," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey, pages 15-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lein-Lein Chen & Seungmook Choi & John Devereux, 2008. "Have Absolute Price Levels Converged for Developed Economies? The Evidence since 1870," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 29-36, February.
  13. Nagayasu, Jun, 2002. "Does the Long-Run PPP Hypothesis Hold for Africa? Evidence from a Panel Cointegration Study," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 181-87, April.
  14. Holmes, Mark J, 2000. "Does Purchasing Power Parity Hold in African Less Developed Countries? Evidence from a Panel Data Unit Root Test," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 9(1), pages 63-78, March.
  15. David Parsley Shang-Jin Wei, 2002. "Currency Arrangements And Goods Market Integration: A Price Based Approach," International Finance 0211004, EconWPA.
  16. Amjadi, Azita & Reinke, Ulrich & Yeats, Alexander, 1996. "Did external barriers cause the marginalization of sub-Saharan Africa in world trade?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1586, The World Bank.
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