Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Kevin J Carey, and Mr. Ulrich Jacoby
What is the impact on trade in sub-Saharan Africa of the recent rapid growth in China and other Asian countries, and the associated commodity price boom? This paper looks at how trading patterns (both destinations and composition) are changing in sub-Saharan Africa. Has the region managed to diversify the products it sells from commodities to manufactured goods? Has it expanded the range of countries to which it exports? And what about the import side? The time is ripe for sub-Saharan African countries to climb up the value chain of their commodity-based exports and/or achieve an export surge based on labor-intensive manufacturing.
Mr. M. Cangiano, Mr. Barry Anderson, Mr. Max Alier, Murray Petrie, and Mr. Richard Hemming
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) refer to arrangements under which the private sector supplies infrastructure assets and infrastructure-based services that traditionally have been provided by the government. PPPs are used for a wide range of economic and social infrastructure projects, but they are used mainly to build and operate roads, bridges and tunnels, light rail networks, airports and air traffic control systems, prisons, water and sanitation plants, hospitals, schools, and public buildings. PPPs offer benefits similar to those offered by privatization, which is the sale of government-owned enterprises or assets. By the late 1990s, when privatization was losing much of its earlier momentum, PPPs began to be widely seen as a means of obtaining private sector capital and management expertise for infrastructure investment. After a modest start, a wave of PPPs is now beginning to sweep the world. This Special Issue paper provides an overview of some of the issues raised by PPPs, with a particular focus on their fiscal consequences. It also looks at government guarantees, which are used fairly widely to shield the private sector from risk and are a common feature of PPPs. And it examines the consequences of PPPs and guarantees for debt sustainability. The paper concludes with a list of measures that can maximize the benefits and minimize the fiscal risks associated with the use of PPPs. Various appendices augment the discussion by examining country experiences with PPPs, summarizing the statistical reporting framework used to discuss fiscal accounting and reporting, explaining accounting for risk transfer, examining how guarantees are modeled and estimated in Chile, and summarizing international accounting and reporting standards for contingent liabilities.
Mr. Kevin J Carey, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, and Ms. Catherine A Pattillo
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has recently shown signs of improvement, but is still short of levels needed to attain the Millennium Development Goals. Economists have placed increasing emphasis on understanding the policies that promote sustained jumps in medium-term growth, and the paper applies this approach to African countries. The evidence presented finds an important growth-supporting role for particular kinds of institutions and policies, but also highlights aspects of growth that are still not well understood. The paper includes policy guidance for ensuring that the poor benefit from growth.
In recent years, African policymakers have increasingly resorted to regional trade arrangements (RTAs) as a substitute for broad-based trade liberalization. This trend has long-term implications for the effectiveness of trade policy as a tool for poverty reduction and growth. This paper examines the record of RTAs in promoting trade and investment. It also explores policy measures that may help improve RTAs' performance.
The discussion so far highlights the need to take a broad perspective in thinking about how to make African RTAs work better. Careful design and sustained implementation are necessary to make any RTA deliver, but the more fundamental determinants of RTA performance seem to be policies and conditions that affect the overall environment for trade. In this context, MFN liberalization, improvements in regional infrastructure (particularly transport), and reductions in trading costs at borders are critical. These are all conventional development issues but nonetheless pose difficult challenges for African policymakers. African countries need to protect their revenue base in undertaking MFN tariff reductions, and, when such tariff cuts are implemented in their trading partners, they need to address the consequence of preference erosion.34 Efforts to improve infrastructure and reduce trading costs will require adequate local capacity of implementation, in addition to financial resources. In all these areas, the IMF can lend its support to African countries, beyond its core expertise area of macroeconomic management, which is also essential to create a conducive environment for trade.
Over the past decades, African countries have set ambitious goals for their regional trade arrangements, but the results have so far fallen short of expectations. Most African RTAs started with a low level of intraregional trade. Thus, even if the RTAs had been more successfully implemented, the impact of these arrangements on Africa’s overall trade would have been small—unless they had created a more favorable environment for overall trade. The potential of the RTAs in exploiting economies of scale and enhancing competition has been limited by the lack of trade complementarity among RTA partners, small market size, poor transport infrastructure, and high trading costs at the border. More important, relatively high barriers against trade with the rest of the world have essentially turned RTAs into an import substitution policy at the regional and subregional levels.
Africa is home to some 30 regional trade arrangements (RTAs), many of which are part of deeper regional integration schemes.1 On average, each African country belongs to four RTAs (World Bank, 2004). There has been a renewed push in recent years for broader and deeper preferential trade arrangements in Africa. Some of the previously defunct regional arrangements (e.g., the East African Community) have been revived, while continental institutions—namely, the African Economic Community (AEC), the African Union, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)—have been launched under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In addition, African countries are preparing to negotiate FTAs with the European Union (EU) under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is negotiating an FTA with the United States. South Africa, the largest African economy, has already signed an FTA with the EU.2
The generally disappointing record of African RTAs warrants a reexamination of the underlying assumptions. Is the record disappointing because no preconditions were established to make the RTAs beneficial, dooming them to failure before they even began? Or is this record the result of poor design and/or implementation? What can we learn from the successes of regional trade integration in other parts of the world as well as from Africa’s failures?
RTAs have been proliferating exponentially throughout the world. Nearly all countries now participate in at least one RTA, and approximately 300 RTAs, both bilateral and plurilateral, are now in force.3 A sequence of events—the failure to launch a round of multilateral trade talks in Seattle in 1999, their short-lived recovery after the Doha ministerial meeting in 2001, and an impulsive breakdown in Cancún in 2003—has sparked a renewed enthusiasm for preferential arrangements.
Time-series data show that the impact of the RTAs on intra-African trade seems to have been small or insignificant. As a share of the continent’s global trade, intra-African trade declined over much of the 1970s before it recovered in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. It was not until the early 1990s that intra-African trade recovered to its early 1970s levels (Figure 2). Since the mid-1990s, however, it has stagnated at about 10 percent of total African trade despite intensified efforts to integrate regionally. Trade among the countries in the major RTAs (SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS, WAEMU, and CEMAC) has also grown erratically relative to their trade with the rest of the world, often showing no obvious trend over time—except perhaps WAEMU, whose intraregional trade has increased in recent years because of the improved performance of the CU (Table 3). For many RTAs, intra-arrangement trade as a share of their total external trade remains below intra-African trade as a share of total African external trade.