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African trade liberalisation: implications for the clothing sector

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African trade liberalisation: implications for the clothing sector

African trade liberalisation: implications for the clothing sector

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The objective of this working paper is to update earlier tralac research by Sandrey et al. (2014) and extend it by concentrating on intra-African trade and trading regimes to assess the possible implications of continental-wide liberalisation on trade in the clothing sector. It also examines the production chain and the extent to which clothing trade liberalisation may assist in providing benefits to West African cotton producers.

African clothing exports are a ‘game of two halves’. Overall, they are dominated by exports to the European Union (EU) from predominantly North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt), while the lesser Sub-Saharan exports are destined to the United States (US) or intra-Sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, the overall African market share in both the EU and the US has been declining since 2001 in the face of Asian competition. For those exporting in significant values to Africa, South Africa is the predominant market.

The salient point for the key intra-African clothing exporters is that tariff barriers are significant outside their own regional economic communities (RECs). This, coupled with the low intra-African shares in both imports and exports, suggests that African liberalisation would benefit trade in the sector. These tariffs are especially high in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) region as South Africa protects its (by definition) inefficient sector with a high tariff regime to all except the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Apart from these tariffs are the rules of origin (RoO) which present an even bigger hurdle than tariffs to the South African market for exports from non-SACU countries.

Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.


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