Burundi: a perspective on the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations
The objective of this paper is to firstly set the background for a discussion and analysis of Burundi and its merchandise trading background before presenting a more detailed analysis of this trade and possible implications for Burundi of wider trade and economic integration. Specifically, for the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Burundi is expected to negotiate with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Emphasis will be placed upon this negotiation in the final sections of the paper. The paper will also introduce some background principles to assist officials in understanding and engaging in these negotiations.
Basically, we find that within the set of countries that Burundi will negotiate with, the real focus must be on South Africa. This economic and trade powerhouse dominates regional trade, and as the key member of SACU with its common external tariff, becomes the key focus for negotiations in the TFTA. Indeed, the only other reported exports by Burundi to SACU are coffee exports to Swaziland, exports that are duty free in any event.
Burundi’s other negotiating partners raise several issues. Angola and Burundi report no common trade in recent years; the same applies to Eritrea and Burundi. There is limited reported trade between Burundi and Ethiopia and Burundi and Mozambique. That leaves its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a great deal of reported and probably some informal and unreported trade takes place. This presents Burundi with a challenge, as the severely limited negotiating intent and capacity in the DRC is to be spread across all other 24 members of the TFTA. Similarly, Angola, Ethiopia and Eritrea are scheduled to negotiate with the full suite of TFTA partners, and getting them to focus on Burundi’s interests may be problematical.
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