Chapter 5Commodity Trade and Development: Theory, History, Future

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Alexander Moradi


Many of the goods and services that we consume are not produced by ourselves. We rely on others to provide these goods. We trade. This is truer, the more complex and more advanced an economy becomes. Like people, countries trade too. This is called international trade. Why is commodity trade of such vital importance? Does free trade foster economic development? Do historical trade patterns affect us today? What are the risks of international trade? What insights does history teach us with respect to the recent commodity trade boom in Africa? These are the questions that we cover in this chapter on trade. We first look at the benefits of trade through the lense of trade theory. We then describe the development of trade in Africa from early times to today. We finally discuss the lessons trade history provides when it comes to the recently good performance of Africa countries.


Moradi, Alexander (2023). “Commodity Trade and Development: Theory, History, Future”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network.


  1. Thank you very much for this good insight on ‘The History of African Development’. Hope I’ll know much more about the past, present, and future of my continent.

    1. Dear Henri Traore, We are glad to learn that the open-source textbook is useful to you. We are working on additional chapters to expand its content horizon. All the best from the editors,

      Felix, Ewout and Ellen

  2. The book is very helpful and easy to understand. It has helped me a lot with my studies and understanding of African economic development. It made understanding development discourse much easier!
    Thank You!

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