Summary: The study examines the recent trade performance of twenty eight large, and medium-sized Sub-Saharan African countries, in an attempt to determine the change in trends. Between the years 1980-1990, Africa's share in global exports fell sharply, to about one-half its earlier level. However, from 1993 on, the data suggest that decline in this share may have slowed: for larger countries as a group, manufactures' share of all exports rose, however, no meaningful improvement occurred in the diversity of Sub-Saharan African exports. Indeed, the product composition of some countries' exports became more concentrated: a decomposition of the 1990-1998 export performance shows their exports were significantly lower than would have been, if the continued erosion of regional market shares had been halted. Moreover, recent changes in Africa's exports indicate no general increase in the number of industries, or products, in which African countries have a "revealed" comparative advantage. And, there is little evidence that the relative importance of exports of processed primary commodities increased. Findings suggest that improvements in Africa's trade performance, will be dependent on the further progress in implementing outward oriented, and commercial policies, as well as reforms in governance.
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