Africa's export performance have not improved despite the removal of trade barriers, the 2008 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report on Economic Development has said.
Titled; "Export Performance Following Trade Liberalisation: Some Patterns and Policy Lessons," the report examined Africa's export performance after trade liberalisation and argued that the level and composition of the continent's exports had remained largely the same.
It said, although the continent's export performance over the last 25 years after the removal of trade barriers had recorded some improvements, it fell far short of expectations.
The report said the much-expected diversification of economies and increase in manufacturing, which would have meant stability and resistance to shocks in the international market, had not materialised on the continent.
It cited weak supply response as a major factor responsible for the continent's non-preparedness to take advantage of recent commodity booms making its share of world exports to drop to three per cent last year.
With food crisis putting the continent's import bill under severe strain, the report urged African governments to reconsider what happened to its agricultural production.
To rectify the situation, the report called on Africa to refocus its development priorities on structural transformation in order to increase its supply capacity and export response.
It also called for the need to prioritise issues such a productivity, competitiveness, market access and access to factors of production in agriculture and manufacturing to enable the continent to make some headway.
Commenting on the report, the Third World Network, an advocacy group, said it represented a balance sheet of the export-led growth that African countries had pursued at the expense of domestic producers.