African trade on upwards path, says WTO chief

27 November 2012

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27 November 2012 | Adam Leach

Trade between African countries is likely to continue growing as nations try to mitigate a drop in demand from elsewhere around the world.

Making a speech in Australia at the Australian Productivity Commission, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy repeatedly highlighted the growing importance of Africa in relation to global trade. He explained that between 1995 and 2010, the highest proportion of goods being exported by African countries were going to other countries in the region, with intra-regional trade making up 46 per cent of processed and 41 per cent of processed and semi-processed goods exports.

WTO director-general Lamy explained that policy in the continent was likely to continue to boost the growth in trade between African countries.

“The African Union’s decision of January 2012 to focus on boosting intra-African trade and identifying 2017 as the target date for the completion of the Continental Free Trade Area are examples of how policies are beginning to reflect the economic viability of trading closer to home, in addition to traditional extra regional trading,” he said.

In addition to a growth in exports within the African continent, Lamy also explained that its relationship with China will continue to grow and could lead to it becoming its biggest trade partner.

He said: “Trade between China and Africa is likely to hit upwards of $200 billion (£125 billion) in 2012, up 25 per cent year-on-year. If this trend continues, reports are that Africa could surpass the EU and the US to become China’s largest trade partner in three to five years.”

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