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Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Trade facilitation in Africa: Solutions and recommendations

Trade Briefs

Trade facilitation in Africa: Solutions and recommendations

Trade facilitation in Africa: Solutions and recommendations

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Low intra-Africa and regional trade have historically been attributed to tariffs. However, recent evidence shows that non-tariff issues are the main reason for low intra-Africa and regional trade. Intra-Africa trade could significantly increase if governments prioritised addressing trade facilitation challenges and implement trade facilitation measures espoused in the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) or elsewhere (e.g. national, regional and multilateral instruments). Addressing trade facilitation challenges requires several actions by governments and customs and border agencies. Actions ranging from effective implementation of existing legal frameworks, amendment of existing legislation and regulation to improving the efficiency of procedural or operational issues at the border posts and ports.

Trade facilitation challenges have been examined elsewhere and there is general agreement that they are the major obstacles to intra-Africa and regional trade. This Trade Brief provides recommendations to governments for implementing measures that will facilitate transparency, increase compliance and simplification of cross-border trade procedures and reduce time and costs of doing business across borders. Recently, African governments have adopted an array of temporary measures to facilitate trade in essential food and health supplies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This Trade Brief commends such measures and provides practical recommendations that can support governments’ efforts to expedite trade during the pandemic and beyond. In certain instances, the present Trade Brief recommends the extension of the temporary measures to facilitate the trade of essential food and medical products adopted during the pandemic. We recommend their integration into existing or new legal frameworks for trade facilitation.


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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