UNCTAD: What is in it for Africa?

Published on 19th July 2016

The 14th hmeeting of The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) whose theme is “From Decision to Action” has attracted an estimated 7,000 leaders from around the globe to discuss trade and development collaboration with a view of achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

It is worth noting that Africa plays only a marginal role in world trade. Its share of global exports is 2.4 percent, with Sub‐Saharan Africa accounting for just 1.7 percent. In most parts of Sub‐Saharan Africa, foreign trade – measured in terms of imports and exports of goods and services – represents more than 50 percent of GDP. This translates to great dependency on imports, not adequately balanced by corresponding exports. Two‐thirds of Sub‐Saharan Africa’s imports are finished products.

Africa is set to benefit from the forum if UNCTAD members offer greater commitment to free trade, knowledge sharing, investment, technology transfer and innovation, negotiate as equal partners and embrace a win-win attitude. Opening up markets to Africa’s finished products will be a step in the right direction.

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