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Interest in intraregional trade within West Africa has been stimulated by debate on its potential to support broad economic growth and to enhance food security. This paper documents intraregional trade during 1970-82 among 18 West African countries, including estimated tmrecorded trade. Analysis of trends in the size, composition, and flow of this trade indicate its continued importance and its vitality, as it changed rapidly in response to changing regional market conditions. Policies to promote intraregional trade need to consider product choice carefully. Efforts to achieve food security are not promising, since little complementarity exists in grain prcxluction. Some important sectors (in particular, cattle) cannot easily expand output New industries, such as Ivorian processed foOO.s, have the potential to achieve economies of scale and to supplant non-African suppliers due to lower transport costs. In general, any efforts to exploit the identifiable benefits of intraregional trade need to deal with the existing barriers to this trade, including tariff barriers, weak regional institutions, and nonconvertible currencies.


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