Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Thesis Director

Ahmed S.Abou-Zaid

Thesis Committee Member

James R. Bruehler

Thesis Committee Member

Teshome Abebe


The literature on the effects of free trade agreements (FTA) or trade liberalization on economies is vast and tends to focus on the post-liberalization performance of countries, particularly in Europe and North America. However, an analysis of how varying levels of integration within free trade blocs in Sub-Saharan Africa affect economic growth does not appear to be in the international economics literature. This analysis is vital as 54 out of 55 African union member States have begun trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) which intends to gradually decrease and ultimately do away with customs duties and non-tariff barriers on goods and allow the free provision of services in priority sectors. To be able to find economic support for the trade agreement, I try to understand how growing levels of integration within the already existing blocs have affected growth thus far, and hence evaluate if the AFCFTA is likely to be growth-augmenting. The preliminary results suggest that the growth effects of trade integration vary by free trade bloc. Nonetheless, there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the growth effects of free trade in the ECOWAS and SADC trading blocs are economically significant. Overall, I find that the AFCFTA may not augment growth and propose ways to understand what other corroborating analyses might be needed to support my inference.