Over the past thirty years many developing countries have taken advantage of an increasingly open world trade and investment system to grow and develop. Unfortunately, a number of African countries have not been part of the global trade system and, as a result, their growth has not been as rapid as it could have been. Addressing the barriers to greater African participation in the global commercial system can be an important spur to future economic development in Africa.
This paper is intended to promote discussion as to the role that trade can play in speeding development in Africa and the possible steps that can be taken to enable Africa to participate more fully in the global market. It does not cover all the barriers to expanding trade by African countries. Other important topics – notably infrastructure, especially ports and roads, and corruption – are discussed in other conference papers. It also does not include issues that are not directly related to trade and which can only be dealt with in the longer term, such as improved health and education, which were critical components of the success of the Asian “tigers”.