World trade has expanded dramatically since the end of World War II, increasing from $80bn in 1953 to more than $8 trillion in 2004, helping to fuel economic growth.
But Africa's share of world trade has been steadily declining. Africa mainly exports commodities like coffee, copper and diamonds. These have fallen in value relative to manufactured exports like clothing and computers, which many Asian countries have specialised in. Their share of world trade has risen dramatically.
At Gleneagles rich countries pledged to open their markets to the poor, but progress has been painfully slow in the world trade talks. Special pledges have been made to help Africa's cotton producers, and to offer duty-free, tariff-free access to the poorest countries. But more needs to be done to improve Africa's ports, roads and airports, and to increase manufacturing exports.