With all major economies in recession in 2009, world trade shrank by 11% in real terms from 2008 levels – the biggest contraction since World War II. After five consecutive years of real GDP growth averaging 5–6%, sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth is estimated to have slowed to just 1% in 2009. In 2010 experts predict a turnaround, albeit mild, with anticipated increases in global output of 2.4%. Yet the region is unlikely to rebound as quickly as more developed and emerging economies. Exports to major economies have plummeted, remittances have declined by an estimated 8% and capital financial flows have nearly flatlined.
Addressing the underlying imbalances in the world trade system and investing in long-term development of the trade sector are more critical than ever for Africa to recover from the global financial crisis, meet the MDGs and build resilience to future economic shocks and market volatility. Fulfilling the G8’s promises to 'make trade work for Africa' and help African countries 'build a much stronger investment climate' requires a combination of enhanced access to developed country and neighbouring markets; aid for trade to help countries address supply-side constraints and improve competitiveness, including investments in infrastructure development; increased capital investment flows; a reduction in trade-distorting agricultural subsidies in developed countries; and strengthened regional economic integration.