Sierra Leone: The pandemic with its associated effects in terms of disrupting all manner of business activity, has meant that intra-Africa trade last year, was lower than in previous years.
“But we do see this as being a temporary thing and with a recovery, with the easing of travel restrictions and the border closures in some cases that took place. We are expecting an increase in intra-Africa trade” said Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director, African Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Nevertheless, Selassie said this will not happen in, and of itself to the high degree that is expected without reforms. This he justified by saying includes dealing with non-tariff barriers.
“Dealing with that will be very important. And removing the policies that create these nontariff barriers and the regulatory, what you call restrictions, and the like, will be very important. But also, equally important is prioritizing the infrastructure that connects our countries. Working on these two will be important to make sure that the dream of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is fulfilled” he advised.
Talking on the AFCFTA, he said, it is of course, one of the really far reaching, and promising initiatives that region’s leaders have undertaken in recent years, with tremendous potential to promote growth, economic diversification that our countries have always sought, so it’s something that needs to be built on now that the final decision has been taken to move forward with this.
Greater diversification requires greater trade he went on, and that trade under the AfCFTA was scheduled to start in mid-2020 originally but was delayed until January 2021 because of the pandemic.
In other regions, trade integration has propelled regional development, allowing the benefits of economies of scale, improving productivity, and fostering structural transformation through new products and regional supply chains.
In sub-Saharan Africa, opportunities to expand intraregional trade are particularly sizable for agriculture-related commodities and manufactures and in some sub-regional economic communities that trade significantly less than their peers.
“An effective trade-integration framework would not only reduce Africa’s vulnerability to global disruptions, but would boost regional competition, attract foreign investment, and promote food security” he said.