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The role of institutional arrangements in the compilation of international merchandise trade and related statistics in Africa

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The role of institutional arrangements in the compilation of international merchandise trade and related statistics in Africa

The role of institutional arrangements in the compilation of international merchandise trade and related statistics in Africa

International merchandise trade statistics (IMTS) record the goods crossing a country’s border, either into or out of the country. IMTS measures quantities and values of goods (imports or exports).

IMTS are compiled from reports or electronic transmissions sent by importers and exporters (or their agents) to the customs and excise agency or to the IMTS compiler (i.e. statistical agency). This data is later relayed from the national statistics office to the United Nations Statistics Office. The United Nations Statistical Division makes the international trade data available on its several platforms including the UN COMTRADE. The same data is also submitted to other related institutions and portals dealing with trade such as UNCTAD Stats, International Trade Centre, and the World Trade Organisation.

Trade statistics are crucial to make good policies for economic development, good governance, transparency and a fundamental aspect of providing access to information on trade. The availability of timely, good quality international trade statistics is critical for the measuring of production, consumption, employment at national level.

However, IMTS is scant in Africa. Some African countries do not report their data at all or on time which makes it difficult to assess levels of production, trade and consumption at national, regional and continental levels. To enable high quality trade data, the African Union, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre, has established the African Trade Observatory (ATO), a website where all African countries submit their trade data and it is compiled, assessed and published by the ATO. The publication by the ATO ensures that the trade data is harmonized. IMTS also ensures that producers and consumers within Africa are connected. Accurate and timely collation and reporting of IMTS in Africa is important for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and boosting intra-Africa trade in goods and services. Monitoring the implementation and impact of the AfCFTA will benefit immensely from high quality data illustrating the efficiency of the trade policies put in place to govern the Agreement.

The AfCFTA Agreement illustrates that it shall be governed by transparency and disclosure of information.[1] This puts a mandate on African countries to provide transparent trade data. However, this obligation has a limitation of confidentiality in the same vein. Crucial to note is that transparency and disclosure is only achievable to the extent that the transparency and confidentiality clauses that resonate with the political climate.

IMTS ensure that producers and consumers within Africa are connected and the data regarding quantity of goods required from one point to another, there ought to be quality data being produced at both the national level (by each African country) and at continental level (where the national data is made available for easy access). There is need to look at selected African countries and the extent to which they compile their trade data and the need for institutional arrangements in data compilation for African countries.

Harmonized and high-quality trade statistics data become very important to support trade negotiations. There is also a need to get comprehensive, detailed, and reliable statistics on merchandise trade in Africa. Moreover, trade statistics (for both intra and extra-Africa trade) are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the trade policies and measure whether the AfCFTA is boosting intra-African trade and economic development of the continent.

All African countries have national statistics institutions (departments/offices (see Annex 1) and have websites. (Eritrea’s National Statistics Office does not have a website). However, the trade data and statistics are not always available on the websites of these institutions. Sometimes when the data is available is out-dated. The process to get or access data is often cumbersome. It may be necessary to contact the Statistics office to request that information. Sometimes the data is accessible but not in user-friendly format. For example, the data is published is one language (e.g. English, French, Arab) or in pdf format which makes it difficult to translate or work on.

Coordination and cooperation between governmental bodies participating in the compilation of a country ‘s official trade statistics is essential. Government entities such as national statistical offices, customs administrations, central banks, tax authorities, the ministry of trade and other specialized governmental bodies such as, commodity boards, trade development boards[2] are all part of the international trade data value chain. It is important that the institutions have the requisite skills to support the collection and compilation of merchandise trade statistics compilation.

Effective institutional arrangements are characterized by (a) the designation of the agency responsible for the dissemination of official trade statistics, (b) a clear definition of the rights and responsibilities of all agencies involved and (c) the establishment of formalized working arrangements between agencies including agreements on holding inter-agency working meetings as needed.

The establishment and maintenance of effective institutional relevant to international merchandise trade statistics can be greatly facilitated if the national law contains clear provisions with respect to the roles, rights and responsibilities of those agencies as well as the mechanisms of their cooperation.[3] If such provisions and mechanism of cooperation are lacking or are not sufficiently detailed, then it might be more difficult, and time consuming, to establish effective institutional arrangements.[4]

Annex 1: African countries’ statistics departments/offices

 

Member State

Institution which provided the information

Website of institution

1
Algeria
Direction Générale des Douanes (DGD)
2
Angola
Instituto Nacional de Estatística
3
Benin
Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique
4
Botswana
Statistics Botswana
5
Burkina Faso
Institut National de la Statistique et de la démographie
6
Burundi
Institut de Statistiques et d’Etudes Economiques
7
Cabo Verde
Instituto Nacional de Estatística
8
Cameroon
Institut National de la Statistique
9
Central African Republic
--
--
10
Chad
Institut National de la Statistique, des Etudes Economiques et Démographiques
11
Comoros
Institut Nationale de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques et Démographiques
12
Democratic Republic of Congo
Institut National de la Statistique
13
Congo
Institut National de la Statistique
14
Cote d’Ivoire
Institut National de la Statistique
15
Djibouti
Direction Statistique et des Études Démographique
16
Egypt
Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics
17
Equatorial Guinea
Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Guinea Ecuatorial
18
Eritrea
National Statistics Office
None
19
Eswatini
Central Statistics Office
20
Ethiopia
Central Statistical Agency
21
Gabon
Direction Générale des Statistiques
22
Gambia
The Gambia Bureau of Statistics
23
Ghana
Ghana Statistical Service
24
Guinea
Institut National de la Statistique
25
Guinea-Bissau
Instituto Nacional de Estatística
26
Kenya
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
27
Lesotho
Lesotho Bureau of Statistics
28
Liberia
Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services
29
Libya
Bureau of Statistics and Census Libya
30
Madagascar
Institut national de la statistique
31
Malawi
National Statistical Office
32
Mali
Institut National de la Statistique
33
Mauritania
Office National de la Statistique
34
Mauritius
Statistics Mauritius
35
Morocco
Haut Commissariat au Plan
36
Mozambique
Instituto Nacional de Estatística
37
Namibia
Namibia Statistics Agency
38
Niger
Institut National de la Statistique
39
Nigeria
National Bureau of Statistics
40
Rwanda
National Institute of Statistics
41
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
---
--
42
Sao Tome and Principe
Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas
43
Seychelles
National Bureau of Statistics
44
Sierra Leone
Statistics Sierra Leone
45
Somalia
Somali Statistics Bureau
46
South Africa
Statistics South Africa
47
South Sudan
National Bureau of Statistics
48
Sudan
Central Bureau of Statistics
49
Tanzania
National Bureau of Statistics
50
Togo
Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques et Demographiques
51
Tunisia
National Institute of Statistics
52
Uganda
Uganda Bureau of Statistics
53
Zambia
Zambia Statistics Agency

54

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency

https://www.zimstat.co.zw

From: African Union: African Trade Statistics


[1] Article 5(e) of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area

[2] United Nations, “International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual, Revision 1 (IMTS 2010-CM),” New York, 2013.

[3] See IMTS 2010, para. 8.16.

[4] United Nations, International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual, Revision 1 (IMTS 2010-CM).

About the Author(s)

Nomfazwe Matimba (intern)

Nomfazwe Matimba (intern)

Nomfazwe Matimba is an international trade lawyer. She holds a B Hons Degree in Law from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters in International Trade Law from the University of East Anglia, UK. Her experience ranges from working as a researcher at CUTS International, a legal intern at the United Nations General Legal Division. Her interests are in international trade, financing of trade, facilitation of trade under the WTO framework, investor states disputes and international investment law.

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