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Africa-Asia Trade and Investment: Challenges and Opportunities for African Economies

By Yutaka Yoshino

Introduction

During the last fifteen years, trade flows between Africa and Asia have rapidly increased. This is the hallmark of the recent growth of South-South trade and investment. Africas exports to Asia have been growing rapidly since 1990 and accelerated since 2003. While the 15% growth of Africas exports to Asia during 1990-1995 was especially rapid compared to other regions, over the last five years, total exports of African countries to Asia have grown at an even faster rate of 20%. In fact, since 2003, the annual growth rate has reached all time high at 30%.

Africas imports from Asia have also grown. However, they have grown less rapidly than exports, allowing African countries to substantially reduce their overall trade deficit, which amounted to as much as 50% of their total trade value with Asia in the early 90s. The rapid growth in Africas exports has created financial space for Africa to import. The average annual growth rate of Africas imports from Asia was 13% between 1990 and 1995, and accelerated to 18% between 2000 and 2005. Africa imports one third of its total imports from Asia, next only to the EU.

WORK IN PROGRESS


Bio: Yutaka Yoshino is an economist working at the Office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank Africa Region. He is specialized in international trade and industrial organization. His current interests include: domestic investment climate and economic integration of low-income countries; economic geography and regional integration; and South-South trade and investment. He co-authored the World Bank report Patterns of Africa-Asia Trade and Investment (2004), was a key contributor to Africas Silk Road (2007), and continues working on Africa-Asia trade and investment. His past research also includes several publications on the topic of environmental policies and international trade such as "Testing for Pollution Havens Inside and Outside of Regional Trading Blocs," (with M. Kahn) published in Advances in Economic Analysis and Policy in 2004. Prior to the World Bank, he was Economic Attach at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations (1995-1998), a summer associate at Resources for the Future (2001), and an undergraduate economics lecturer at the University of Virginia (2002). He obtained masters degrees from Columbia University (international relations) and from the University of Virginia (economics), Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia.

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