The impact of international trade reforms on agricultural exports in Sub-Saharan Africa (Case study: Cameroon, Ghana and Burkina Faso)
Sub-Saharan African countries in general with particular reference to Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso depend mostly on agriculture which is seen as the main source of income. Agriculture provides income for a large percentage of the rural population, and employs about 70 per cent of its labour force with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 30 per cent. Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso as well as a large majority of African countries depend on subsistence farming and the cultivation of subsistence crops helps provide food and ensures food security for the people. Although they mostly depend on subsistence crops, they also produce primary export crops such as cocoa for Ghana, coffee for Cameroon, and cotton for Burkina Faso which represent a major source of foreign exchange. Due to the significant importance of agriculture in the above countries Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, gave great importance to agriculture by part taking in international trade negotiations or agreements on agriculture. These countries were involved more vigorously in the Uruguay Round where agricultural products were fully covered by multilateral trade rules for the first time. Farmers from Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso are faced with so many challenges in exporting their agricultural products to world markets despite their participation in the agricultural trade reforms. They have restricted access to rich countries agricultural markets and they also face unfair competition in their own domestic markets from subsidised imports of food staples from wealthy countries. Other challenges such as: trade barriers, inadequate trade infrastructure (logistics and transportation), and inadequate institution serving farmers and agriculture and lack of technology to transform traditional agriculture are also of great importance. With regard to the above challenges faced by Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso this research is to examine or analyse the impacts that international trade reforms have on the agricultural exports focusing on primary products (cash crops), such as cocoa, coffee and cotton which are a major source of export revenue for these countries and the livelihood basis for millions of rural households who grow these crops. The research will also look at the challenges faced by Ghana, Cameroon and Burkina Faso in exporting their agricultural products to developed countries‘ markets despite their participation in the international trade agreements on agriculture. Taking a look at the international trade reforms it can be seen that while the Uruguay Round will have a significant impact on global trade and economic welfare, its effect on the above countries‘ agricultural exports is expected to be much smaller, and if anything maybe negative. Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and most African countries are likely to gain slightly from tariff cuts and the elimination of non-tariff barriers on manufactured products. These countries will find themselves slightly worse off as a result of cuts to developed countries' subsidies to their agricultural exports, which tends to increase world food prices.