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The Changing Geography of Export Trade in Ghana under Structural Adjustment Programs: Some Socioeconomic and Spatial Implications

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Like many other countries in Africa, Ghana has traditionally depended on a few export products—namely, cocoa, timber, and mineral resources—as the mainstays of its economy. The often-volatile nature of the world market price of these products made the economy very vulnerable to fluctuations in the prices of export commodities. Moreover, the geographical distribution of these resources meant that only a few regions could participate in their production and export. This resulted in wide spatial and socioeconomic disparities between the producing and nonproducing regions. Within the past eighteen years, however, a shift seems to have taken place. Under the auspices of the ongoing structural adjustment programs, emphasis is being placed on nontraditional export goods. This is not only helping to reduce the vulnerability of the economy by diversifying the sources of export earnings, but also engendering participation in the export trade by regions that have been traditionally left behind. This study analyses the changing geography of the export trade of Ghana using data from the International Monetary Fund/World Bank, the Ghanaian government, the World Trade Organization, and field observation. The study argues that while these new trends and efforts are laudable, they cannot bridge the gap between the export producing and nonproducing areas and cushion the economy against the vagaries of the export market unless deliberate attempts are made to improve transportation and other basic infrastructure in the less-endowed areas.
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Keywords: Ghana; export diversification; spatial disparities; structural adjustments

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Akron

Publication date: 2003-11-01

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