The world economy has altered enormously in the last half century. Despite the changes, however, some things are painfully familiar. Too many developing countries remain at a signiﬁcant disadvantage compared to their developed country counterparts. Dependence on commodity trade is one of the familiar elements of developing countries’ relative poverty. Some Asian nations have successfully moved from primary commodity dependence to more diversiﬁed economies, but they are few.
Sub-Saharan Africa in particular remains heavily dependent on commodities, and yet has seen its contribution to world trade, manufactured exports and primary commodity exports all decline in the last twenty years. Seventeen of the twenty most important non-fuel exports from Africa are either primary commodities or partially processed commodities.