Regional Market Integration, Agricultural Transformation, and Poverty Reduction: A Review of Experiences in Selected Cases of Regional Market Integration

The transformative potential of regional market integration for a large trading bloc is well exemplified by the European Union which started integration on a modest scale. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also started on a modest scale and has delivered benefits in terms of promoting growth through greater regional market integration, both within ASEAN and in Asia more generally. ASEAN however runs on different principles to the EU (though there are some similarities). MERCOSUR is different to both the EU and ASEAN. It also delivered benefits to its members in the 1990s in terms of increased intra-regional market integration and overall economic growth, but has stalled since the 2000s. This diversity of more-versus-less successful experiences of regional market integration provide fertile ground for policy options that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could consider and either embrace or be wary of. These experiences identify some key decisions which can have a determining impact on whether or not the AfCFTA will have a transformative impact, thus turning vision into action.