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Intra-African trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the COVID-19 pandemic

Africa’s participation in the global market for agri-food products has steadily expanded in the last half century, with exports growing by 4 percent and imports by 6 percent per year. However, exports are comprised mainly of cash crops (cocoa, fruits and nuts, coffee, tea and spices), which have relatively limited markets in Africa, while most agri-food imports are basic food products, such as cereals, vegetable oils, sugar, meat and dairy products. The vast majority of imports are sourced from outside the region (e.g. wheat, sunflower oil and dairy products from Europe; rice and palm oil from Asia; maize, poultry and beef from Latin America). While intra-regional trade has grown over the last decade, currently it only makes up 27 percent of total agri-food exports and 17 percent of total agri- food imports; a trend that generally holds across African regional economic communities (RECs).

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