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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alemayehu Geda & Haile Kibret, 2002. "Regional Economic Integration in Africa: A Review of Problems and Prospects with a Case Study of COMESA," Working Papers 125, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:soa:wpaper:125
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    1. Foroutan, Faezeh & Pritchett, Lant, 1993. "Intra-sub-Saharan African Trade: Is It Too Little?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 2(1), pages 74-105, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simwaka, Kisu, 2006. "Dynamics of Malawi’s trade flows: a gravity model approach," MPRA Paper 1122, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. 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.
    3. Ioannis N. Kessides, 2012. "Regionalising Infrastructure for Deepening Market Integration: The Case of East Africa," Journal of Infrastructure Development, India Development Foundation, vol. 4(2), pages 115-138, December.
    4. Thierry Verdier, 2010. "Regional Integration, Fragility and Institution Building: An Analytical Framework Applied to the African Context," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 38, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    5. 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.
    6. Yabibal M. Walle, 2014. "Revisiting the Finance–Growth Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa: Results from Error Correction-based Panel Cointegration Tests," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 26(2), pages 310-321, June.
    7. Gregory N. Price & Juliet U. Elu, 2014. "Does regional currency integration ameliorate global macroeconomic shocks in sub-Saharan Africa? The case of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 41(5), pages 737-750, September.
    8. Steven Buigut, 2016. "Trade Effects of the East African Community Customs Union: Hype Versus Reality," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 84(3), pages 422-439, September.
    9. Lisa Borgatti, 2011. "Economic Integration in Sub-Saharan Africa," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Integration, Volume I, chapter 20 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Lohi Julie, 2013. "The Implications of HO and IRS Theories in Bilateral Trade Flows within Sub-Saharan Africa," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 175-202, September.
    11. Adama BAH & Sampawende Jules TAPSOBA, 2010. "Civil Conflicts and Regional Economic Integration Outcomes in Africa," Working Papers 201009, CERDI.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Lubinga, Moses H., 2009. "Factors Affecting Uganda's Bilateral Trade Flows: An Application of the Gravity Flow Model," Research Theses 157593, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    15. Abate, Megersa, 2016. "Economic effects of air transport market liberalization in Africa," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 326-337.
    16. 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;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 21(4), pages 506-530, September.
    17. Sylvanus Kwaku Afesorgbor, 2013. "Revisiting the Effectiveness of African Economic Integration. A Meta-Analytic Review and Comparative Estimation Methods," Economics Working Papers 2013-13, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    18. AfDB AfDB, 2005. "Working Paper 77 - Enhancing Africa’s Trade: From Marginalization to an Export - Led Approach to Development," Working Paper Series 2291, African Development Bank.
    19. Bonga-Bonga, Lumengo & Mabe, Queen Magadi, 2016. "How financially integrated are trading blocs in Africa?," MPRA Paper 75716, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. AfDB AfDB, 2005. "Working Paper 77 - Enhancing Africa’s Trade: From Marginalization to an Export - Led Approach to Development," Working Paper Series 2211, African Development Bank.

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