Africa “needs a temporary advantage over Asia”


In the FT, Paul Collier advocates trade preferences for African manufactures:

Africa faces three distinctive economic problems, each amenable to a distinct policy. The first is that the region has failed to diversify into labour-intensive manufactures. Although some countries cannot hope to break into global markets – the landlocked, the resource-rich and the failing states – others, such as Kenya, Ghana and Senegal, are well suited for manufactured exports. Unfortunately, in the 1980s when Asia first penetrated these global markets, coastal Africa was mired in poor governance and conflict. Africa’s belated improvements have come too late: the region has missed the globalisation boat. Asian cities now have massive agglomeration economies. African exports need to be pump-primed over the entry threshold constituted by these competing agglomerations and this needs a temporary advantage over Asia in markets of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development…

Africa needs pan-OECD temporary preferential access for its labor-intensive manufactures, combining the best of EBA and Agoa. Such trade policy has the potential to create millions of jobs in Africa.