Trading under the COMESA Simplified Trading Regime: Review of Zimbabwe-Zambia-Malawi
The informal economy plays a crucial role in Africa’s development, particularly without formal economic opportunities. It contributes to income generation, job creation, structural transformation, and food security. Informal cross-border trade (ICBT) occurs daily between neighbouring countries and most of the traders are vulnerable individuals, including women and youth, who typically make up most informal cross-border traders (ICBTs). Although ICBT trade can bring about positive change, African policymakers have historically overlooked its significance. The trade facilitation needs of ICBTs have been frequently disregarded when creating trade policies at regional and national levels within African nations. The lack of proper implementation of regional trading protocols and awareness poses numerous challenges for these traders.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has introduced and been implementing measures and programs such as the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) to address this important but neglected policy area. This Trade Brief aims to provide a brief overview of the COMESA STR, followed by a bilateral trade analysis of the specific goods that qualify under the COMESA STR for Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. The analysis provides a country-by-country breakdown of the relevant trade data.