Trade Integration in Africa: Unleashing the Continent's Potential in a Changing World


Asmaa A ElGanainy ; Shushanik Hakobyan ; Fei Liu ; Hans Weisfeld ; Ali Abbas ; Céline Allard ; Hippolyte W. Balima ; Celine Bteish ; Rahul Giri ; Daniel S Kanda ; Sergii Meleshchuk ; Gustavo Ramirez ; Robert Zymek ; Vivek B. Arora ; Subir Lall ; Benjamin R Kett ; Megan M Pohl

Publication Date:

May 5, 2023

Electronic Access:

Free Download. Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF file

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


Since the 1960s, several initiatives have been undertaken to enhance trade integration in Africa. However, substantial tariff and nontariff barriers remain in place. In recent years, African leaders have shown a renewed push for regional integration by signing the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA has the potential to transform regional trade and thereby lift growth and support livelihoods across the continent. This paper lays out the benefits that successful AfCFTA implementation could unlock for Africa in terms of income, jobs, and other benefits. It is based on an empirical analysis of the obstacles to trade in goods and services and regional value chain integration along with a discussion of how regional trade integration and supporting policies could help African countries cope with ongoing global and domestic trends. The empirical analysis investigates the role of trade policy and the broader trade-enabling environment in determining the bilateral goods trade flows and country-level trade in services. It sheds light on how the implementation of AfCFTA and supporting policies could boost trade and income as well as help African countries integrate into regional value chains. The findings suggest that plausible reductions in tariffs and nontariff barriers under AfCFTA, along with improvements in broader trade-enabling environment (trade infrastructure, financial development, and domestic security), would substantially boost intra-African trade in goods and services, and support integration into regional value chains. Further, regional trade integration could be an important element of a strategy for African countries to cope with rapid population growth, climate change, and emerging geopolitical fragmentation.


Departmental Paper No 2023/003





Publication Date:

May 5, 2023



Stock No:






Please address any questions about this title to