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A Political Economy of African Regionalisms

An Overview of Asymmetrical Development

Wil Hout and M. A.M. Salih

This book analyses the main factors influencing the political economy of Africa’s asymmetrical regionalism, focusing on regional and sub-regional trade, investment, movement of people, goods and services. It pays particular attention to the way in which regional and sub-regional dynamics are impacted by extra-regional relations, such with the EU, US, China and India. Because African regionalism is influenced not only by economic processes, peace and security are also analysed as important factors shaping both regional and sub-regional relations and dynamics.
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Wil Hout and M. A.M. Salih


The concluding chapter wraps up the book by reflecting on the aspirations and realities of African regionalisms, as well as the asymmetries involved. The Conclusion emphasizes that continent-wide and regional forms of cooperation have represented small steps toward regional integration. African regionalisms, however, remain subject to substantial power asymmetries among African states, with some of them actually being hegemonic within their own region. At the same time, it is argued that the smaller countries can derive protection from the institutional provisions governing the regional frameworks. The Conclusion pays attention to external asymmetries, particularly visible in the relationships between African countries and regional organizations and China. It finishes with a short reflection on the future of African regionalisms, in particular the steps towards establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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