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Africa's role in multilateral trade negotiations


  • Zhen Kun Wang
  • Winters, L. Alan


Openness and liberal trade policies are associated with higher exports and economic growth. Sub-Saharan African countries are mostly still relatively closed, and one of their top priorities should be to open up. With some important, identifiable, exceptions African exports are not disproportionately restricted in OECD markets. Because of Sub-Saharan Africa's small economic size and because its decline in competitiveness has been spread over nearly all sectors, improvements in its performance should not unduly disturb other members of the world economy and should not encounter major resistance among trading partners. Sub-Saharan African countries won fewer concessions on their exports in the Uruguay Round than did other developing countries -possibly because they offered fewer concessions on imports. Nonetheless, because they started the Round with more favorable treatment, they still emerged from it facing fewer or lower restrictions than other developing countries. In the next Round of trade negotiations, Sub-Saharan countries have some"rights"to negotiate (according to the GATT/WTO"principal suppliers"traditions) and a little leverage. They should be active in this Round, both giving and requesting concessions, and economists should help them prepare the ground. Trade preferences are not the route to integrating with the world economy. In terms of access to partners'markets, trade preferences are no substitute for bound most-favored-nation tariff reductions, and they also encourage shortsighted and distortionary behavior within the recipients'economy. Africa should focus its negotiating efforts on most-favored-nation reductions rather than trade preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhen Kun Wang & Winters, L. Alan, 1997. "Africa's role in multilateral trade negotiations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1846, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1846

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amjadi, Azita & Yeats, Alexander, 1995. "Nontariff barriers Africa faces : what did the Uruguay Round accomplish, and what remains to be done?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1439, The World Bank.
    2. Ng, Francis & Yeats, Alexander, 1997. "Open economies work better! did Africa's protectionist policies cause its marginalization in world trade?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 889-904, June.
    3. Martin, W. & Winters, L.A., 1995. "The Uruguay Round and the Developing Countries," World Bank - Discussion Papers 307, World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. David, Dan Ben & Nordström, Håkan & Winters, L. Alan, 1999. "Trade, income disparity and poverty," WTO Special Studies, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division, volume 5, number 5.


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