Senegal: the trade policy and performance profile
This paper examines the trade profile and performance of Senegal since 1960, with particular emphasis on the period since 2001. Over the course of 2015, Senegal’s macroeconomic performance was strong with a growth rate of 6.5%, making Senegal the second fastest-growing economy in west Africa (behind Côte d’Ivoire). Growth remained strong in 2016. The primary sector is the fastest-growing sector boosted by extractives, fishing, and agriculture, with the latter helped by good rainfall and strong outcomes from government programmes. Industry decelerated somewhat despite strong performances in construction, chemistry and energy, while services – which represent more than half of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – are still growing rapidly, thanks to advances in the transport and communications sectors. Exports have been growing rapidly, mainly due to stronger output. However, over the past 16 years, Senegal has consistently run a merchandise trade deficit, with imports significantly above exports each year.
Senegal is a member of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). The ECOWAS CET was approved in 2013 with the aim of establishing a customs union for ECOWAS through the adoption of a common external tariff vis-à-vis third countries. The country concluded negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union as part of the West African group in February 2014. The EU-EPA gives reciprocal access: Senegal will continue to access the EU market while liberalising access to its own market for EU exports. The difference, however, is that the EPA gives immediate access to the EU market while West Africa will remove import tariffs over a 20-year transition period. Senegal is also a member of the African group negotiating for a Continental Free Trade Arrangement (CFTA), although to date the rhetoric on progress is running a little ahead of the reality, especially as Africa wrestles with the problem of recalcitrant or failed states within its borders.
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