How Africa Is Bucking the Isolationist Trend

The Continent Is Promoting Free Trade and Free Movement

African leaders pose for a group photograph during an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, January 2013. Tiksa Negeri / REUTERS

The world seems to be moving away from multilateralism. The United States has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris agreement on climate change, attacked the World Trade Organization, and threatened to start several trade wars. The United Kingdom is negotiating a messy exit from the European Union. But one place is bucking the trend. Over the past decade, Africa has moved rapidly toward regional integration. A series of initiatives, including the launch of the African Union Agenda 2063 (a shared road map for the integration and socioeconomic transformation of Africa by 2063), the promised African Union passport, the new Single African Air Transport Market, closer integration by most of the region’s economies, and the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) reveal the strength of Africa’s regional and continental institutions.

Yet despite this progress, some observers remain pessimistic about the prospects for African integration. They point

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