More African Exports Compete In Global Market

Panafrican News Agency
March 7, 2000

Dakar, Senegal - Even as many African countries struggle to enter the global market, the more enterprising among them have already become high performers in the highly competitive market, dominated by the industrialised countries. Six key products in this domain include cut flowers, frozen fish, t-shirts, women's trousers, footwear and transistors, according to a New Trade Performance Index published by the Geneva-based International Trade Centre.

The index ranks the export performance of 184 countries in 14 export sectors, placing the export sectors of all countries on the global competitiveness ladder. It is based on 1998 export performance as well as shifts in export performance between 1994 and 1998.

Tunisia stands out as African emerging growth area, with exports of electronic components earning the country some 500 million US dollars and expanding at an annual rate of 22 percent, it says. The country has also been able to increase its market share of clothing in spite of the stiff competition in the sector. Tunisia now ranks eighth among 184 countries in the performance index, reflecting exports of 2.5 billion dollars to a diversified group of countries.

The other major African exporter is Mauritius, which also increased its global market share of the product by supplying garments worth one billion dollars annually. "In textiles, the continent's leading suppliers are South Africa, Morocco and Zimbabwe. More recently a number of very successful small companies are driving rapid improvement in textiles exports in Cameroon, Madagascar and Sudan," the publication says.

Regionally, Southern Africa has joined the ranks of the world's leading trading areas, with the Southern African Customs Union figures among the world's top 15 exporters for five of the 14 sectors covered by the index. The region ranks 9th in the export of transport equipment to the tune of 1.4 billion dollars, in addition to its high degree of product diversification among its constituent states Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

Africa's exports in 1988 reached 124 billion dollars. Between 1994 and 1998 non-oil exports expanded by 5 percent. But the success stories are not confined to the Maghreb countries or Southern Africa. Sub-Sahara Africa, the index says, "is the world's largest net exporter of fresh food and agro-based products," adding that "several countries are improving their competitiveness in exports of processed food as evidenced from swift change in competitive positions of Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Mozambique."

The Index says even the least developed landlocked African countries are also focusing on international business development. It cited Ethiopia which has become a competitive international supplier of several products and services.

"Ethiopian producers are now a leading source of sesame seeds, with an 11- percent share of world imports. Ethiopia's coffee exports values and quantities have expanded at double-digit rates between 1994 and 1998, earning well over 300 million dollars in 1998. (earnings in 1999 will be lower reflecting weaker market prices).

"Ethiopian transport companies, including Ethiopian Airlines, chalked up export earnings from transport services of 180 million dollars in 1998," the index notes.

More Information on Inequality of Wealth and Income Distribution

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C íŸ 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.