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A back door to globalisation?: structural adjustment, globalisation & transborder trade in west Africa

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Neo-liberal economic reforms were widely expected to rein in Africa's unofficial transborder trade through liberalisation and closer integration into the global economy. Instead of disappearing in the face of structural adjustment and globalisation, however, West African transborder trading systems have been restructured and globalised. This article analyses how the West African experience of economic restructuring has led to an expansion and deepening of unofficial trade, as well as the globalisation of its activities. A clear understanding of this process has been blurred by the ideological manipulation of perspectives on informal economic activity by proponents of the neo-liberal reforms. By means of a deconstruction of populist analyses and more recent narratives of criminalisation, this article traces the contemporary evolution of transborder trade. The conclusion reached is that, while transborder trading structures represent important institutional resources for economic development, they are structurally incapable of integrating West Africa into the global economy in the absence of an appropriate regulatory framework.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27376/

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