A brief overview of intra-African trade in east and southern Africa: Kenya, Zambia and Uganda
The historically low levels of intra-African trade have made Africa vulnerable to external economic shocks and have fostered a dependency on the rest of the world. As a result of these low levels of trade many African countries have not been able to use trade to enhance specialisation between countries and accelerate development and integration. The high cost of doing business in the region due to infrastructural gaps, duplicate border procedures and high transportation costs are a major deterrent for opportunities to enhance both intra- and extra-regional trade.
To reduce trade barriers among African countries various trade liberalisation schemes have been launched in African regional economic communities to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, harmonise customs duties, facilitate trade and abolish restrictions on cross-border investments. However, high tariffs are still in place on imports of sensitive goods, while persistent non-tariff barriers, including roadblocks and checkpoints, inadequate customs procedures and inconsistent regulations continue to present serious obstacles to intra-regional trade. Inadequate infrastructure also remains one of the key barriers to intra-Africa trade, investment and private-sector development.
This paper examines intra-African trade in goods and services of three east and southern African countries – Kenya, Zambia and Uganda – through the analysis of ten years of trade data, from 2002 to 2011. The trends seen in these countries provide a brief overview of the current position of intra-African trade, infrastructure and investment, specifically in the east and southern Africa region.
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 authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.
The author was a tralac intern at the time of writing. tralac’s Internship Programme provides an opportunity for recent graduates to work on trade-related matters, specifically relevant to countries in eastern and southern Africa.
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