West Africa is shifting towards an increasing liberalization of agricultural markets. This trend will continue in line with current trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The objective of this paper is to assess the impact of these negotiations on the livestock sector in the region. Livestock systems, in spite of their technical weakness, are strongly integrated with markets. Liberalization has had an important impact on national livestock sectors, especially dairying and poultry production. Imports of poultry meat increased, for example, from 500 to 17,000 tonnes between 1996 and 2002 in Senegal. Similar changes have been seen in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The dairy sector has had to compete with milk powder imports for years, but this competition seems to be limited by market segmentation, which explains the recent good prospects for local milk production. In addition, powdered milk production has had a significant role in the establishment of a local dairy industry. African countries should invest further in trade negotiations if they are to increase national capacities, eg via improvements in the negotiating power of administration services and the encouragement of national and regional research networks for market analysis.
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