Trade links from Africa to the world can be more direct and efficient than trade between neighbouring regions due to infrastructure gaps or capital costs and non-tariff barriers. Facilitating Africa’s trade is in line with the AU decision on Boosting Intra-African Trade and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which puts soft infrastructure, from electronic customs systems to one-stop border posts, high up the agenda. That can start to make a significant difference for intra-regional traders through streamlining the queues of trucks at borders to supporting informal cross-border traders to go through the official channels.

The Continental Free Trade Area negotiations aim to make trade fully integrated across Africa. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (made up of COMESA, EAC and SADC) is making progress towards that bigger goal. Priority areas include connecting customs operations, liberalizing all tariff lines and making it simpler to measure how non-tariff barriers are being lowered.

Key Indicators 
  • Level of customs duties on imports
  • Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
  • Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
  • Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)
An Interconnected Africa

When trade is more interconnected Africa’s high number of small economies access larger markets and regional hubs source from the region and are able to use the imports to grow. All of this makes trade integration a key element in the continent’s ongoing integration journey.

Headline Findings

  • EAC is the highest performing REC on Trade integration.
  • Trade integration has the highest score overall among RECs with a 0.546 average.
  • There are a total of 35 high performing countries across the eight RECs on Trade integration.
  • High performing countries on Trade integration in a particular REC that are not high performers on regional integration overall in that REC:
    CEN-SAD (Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Comoros, Ghana, Libya), COMESA (DRC, Libya), ECCAS (Angola, Chad), ECOWAS (Nigeria, Ghana), UMA (Tunisia)

Indicators

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

UMA

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

COMESA

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

ECCAS

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

EAC

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

ECOWAS

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

SADC

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

CEN-SAD

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)

IGAD

Level of customs duties on imports
Share of intra-regional goods exports (% GDP)
Share of intra-regional goods imports (% GDP)
Share of total Intra-regional goods trade (% total intra-REC trade)