Trade is an important source of wealth generation and can lead to more rapid economic growth and subsequent reductions in inequity and poverty. Trade can help create new jobs, raise living standards and give people the opportunity to take charge of their lives. However, there are no guarantees that trade brings automatic developmental benefi ts. It is increasingly recognised that strategies are needed to ensure trade, whether local, national, regional or international, results in equitable and sustainable growth and a greater understanding is needed of what types of trade and value addition bring about more secure livelihoods for poor people.
Africa’s share of global trade is declining and its presence in world trade is largely confi ned to primary exports. In 1980, Africa had a 5.9% share of world trade and by 2006 this share had fallen to 2.8%. If Africa could regain just an additional 1% share of global trade, it would earn $70 billion more in exports each year – more than double what the region currently receives in development assistance.
The two main constraints to the growth of trade in Africa have been the global trade system and access to markets. Comic Relief’s strategy on trade focuses on the most disadvantaged groups in trade: smallscale producers and workers. Small-scale producers are particularly hard hit by the inequities of trade, as are workers engaged in global supply chains who are vulnerable to exploitative employment practices.