In recent years, Africa has aimed to increase its international trade through economic reforms and regional integration efforts. The region’s key exports consist of raw materials such as oil, gas, minerals, food and other agricultural products, while imports are primarily composed of manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment. African nations regularly trade with partners outside of the continent including the European Union and China.


The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is the largest existing free trade area in terms of number of participants. Bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and 8 Regional Economic Communities, the AfCFTA aims to create a single market, facilitating trade and foreign direct investment across the continent. Particularly, the AfCFTA aims to boost services trade in Africa, as African services accounted for less than 1.5% of global exports and 2.5% of global imports in 2021.


Several African countries and territories are also part of regional economic communities, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area (PAFTA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), working to enhance trade and integration. These efforts promote the development of regional value chains and the movement of goods, services, and people across borders.

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Economies in Africa