Conflicts have constrained intra-African trade

Sir, In “How free trade can unlock Africa’s potential” (April 5), David Pilling cogently articulates several reasons for the rather low level of intra-Africa trade, compared with other regions of the world.

He notes that many African countries are trapped in primary commodities extraction, lack economies of scale in their fragmented markets, and are marked by absence of specialisation.

An important explanatory factor omitted from that list is the prevalence of conflicts, which has constrained and might continue to hinder intra-African trade. Although conflicts in Africa have declined over the past two decades, they have, nonetheless, blighted the development prospects of several countries. For example,…

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