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Can Africa trade with Africa?

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture

Obiageli Ezekwesili chairs the seminar: Can Africa Trade with Africa? (Photo: Arne Hoel, The World Bank)

I chaired a very lively seminar on Friday afternoon that focused on the question, “Can Africa Trade with Africa?”  The answer was a resounding yes. 

Today, there is strong consensus among African leaders that regional integration is indispensable to unlock economies of scale and sharpen competitiveness. And promoting intra-African trade has emerged as a top priority, in recognition that the African market of one billion consumers can be a powerful engine for growth and employment.

Yet despite the introduction of free trade areas, customs unions, and common markets within the Region, the level of intra-African trade remains among the lowest in the world -- only about 10% of African trade is within the continent, compared to about 40% in North America and about 60% in Western Europe.

Zoellick: Bank to ‘democratize and demystify’ development economics

Julia Ross's picture

In a speech before students, faculty, policymakers and journalists at Georgetown University yesterday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged a sweeping new approach to development economics research. He said the Bank will change its research model to better access developing country experience through “Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions,” and make research more easily accessible to policymakers.

How Strong is LAC’s China Connection?

Carlos Molina's picture

Authors: Emily Sinnott & John Nash


For Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC), there has been a substantial shift from exporting commodities to advanced economies to trading instead with emerging economies. China, in particular, has become an important destination market, with its share of commodity exports having grown tenfold since 1990 (from 0.8 percent in 1990 to 10 percent of total commodity exports in 2008).


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In our report on “Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?” we argue that one advantage of these changing trade patterns has been the important role that China’s demand for commodities played in the region’s economic rebound from the global crisis. While we are not alone in this view (see the CEPAL report on the drivers of the LAC recovery launched on September 2, 2010), there has been some anxiety in LAC that the region is going down the path of increased dependence on exports of raw materials with little value-added, while at the same time increasing its reliance on manufacturing imports from China.

Spring Meetings 'Can Represent a Landmark in Bank's History'

Angie Gentile's picture

Delegates, civil society members and press from around the world are set to converge in Washington for  the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. (See the schedule of events.) The week is packed with meetings, briefings and lectures covering topics ranging from strategies for post-economic crisis recovery to the first effort in 20 years to raise capital for the World Bank.

But many continue to wonder what the fallout will be of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland last week--from the effects on countries to disruptions in international air travel.

Africa’s infrastructure: closing the 'efficiency gap'

Angie Gentile's picture

Rural water pump near Ulundi, South Africa. Photo: Trevor Samson/World Bank African countries lag behind their developing country counterparts on infrastructure, and the gaps are only widening over time. One of today’s keynote panels took a deep look at ways to close that gap.

Instead of defaulting to a call for more money, panelists talked about what’s impeding effective use of funds, both public and private, that are made available for infrastructure development on the continent.

To put the conversation into context, here are a few key stats:

  • Africa needs $93 billion a year to catch up with its huge infrastructure backlog over the next decade—an amount that represents more than 35 percent of GDP for fragile states.
  • Current spending on African infrastructure is higher than previously thought, at $45 billion.
  • An estimated cost savings of $17 billion—the so-called “efficiency gap”—could be achieved if existing resources were used more efficiently.

Zoellick: Protection for most vulnerable must be permanent part of financial architecture

Angie Gentile's picture

World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. 2009 Annual Meetings, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankBank President Robert Zoellick told an overflowing room of journalists this morning that these annual meetings come at an important time for the work of the Bank Group and its members.

“The G-20 summit last week provided clear markers for the work of the World Bank. But more than 160 countries were not at the G-20 table,” he said. “These meetings can therefore ensure that the voices of the poorest are heard and recognized. This is the G-186.”

Zoellick began his remarks by expressing his sympathy for the people of Indonesia, the Philippines, Samoa and Tonga and others in the region, who have been battered by a series of cataclysmic natural disasters.

The Bank’s President told reporters that developing countries are still suffering from the global economic crisis, and it is important for the G20 to scale up support. He said the meetings offer a platform to follow up on the proposal for a crisis facility for low-income countries—critical to ensuring that protection for the most vulnerable becomes a permanent part of the world’s financial architecture.

Latin American performed better than other regions in crisis

Augusto de la Torre's picture

In the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the Latin America and Caribbean Region VPU of the World Bank is co-hosting and attending the Americas Conference.

The Latin American region is exiting financial crisis on a strong footing.

Annual Meetings get underway

Angie Gentile's picture

Istanbul Congress Center. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe buzz is building in Istanbul, our beautiful host city, as delegates, press and CSOs from around the world begin pouring in for the 2009 joint Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

The press room opened Monday, providing temporary work quarters for the more than 1,200 registered media who are covering the events over the next week for news outlets large and small.

They are joined by representatives from civil society organizations here to take part in a Civil Society Policy Forum being held from October 2-7. The event is jointly organized by the World Bank Group and IMF civil society teams. The forum will bring together Bank and Fund staff, CSO representatives, including from Oxfam, Civicus and Africa Monitor, to name a few, along with government officials, academics, and others to exchange views on a variety of topics ranging from the global economic crisis and climate change, to governance reform. Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will co-host a CSO townhall meeting Friday afternoon.