As noted in the introductory chapter, since the beginning of the 1990s, the trend towards regionalism in world trade has gathered momentum at a time when other profound changes are taking place in the world economy. All over the world, the pace of regionalism has accelerated and the division of the world into three trading blocs based on Europe, the Americas and East Asia has become a serious possibility. This has created a renewed interest within Africa in revitalising and resuscitating regional groupings. Recognizing the sheer enormity of the changes now taking place, African countries have called for a re-examination of present policies and strategies regarding regionalism and the adoption of new initiatives that will respond effectively to the challenges. There is the fear that the position of Africa in the world economy will be weakened further if the continent does not strengthen the institutional and managerial capacity of its existing subregional economic schemes. This has been prompted by the fact that, given the changes in the world economy, a failure to overcome, or reduce, the costs of market fragmentation in regions whose countries have not yet begun to cooperate will mean that those regions, as a whole, will be less well placed in the future to attract the foreign investment, technology and know-how on which they will have to depend for their future growth. Besides, developments in the rest of the world have forced African countries to take a serious look at their efforts at regional integration.
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