Are high trade barriers affecting trade in Africa? ~ Chofor Che

A recent World Bank report argues that African countries are losing billions of dollars in potential trade earnings every year due to high trade barriers. According to the World Bank report, it would be more convenient for African countries to trade with the rest of the world, rather than trade among themselves. Some African leaders view this World Bank stance as a far cry from their expectation and are calling for a continental free trade area by 2017 to boost trade within the continent.


Following a release sent to the Ghana News Agency, the World Bank said, 'these high trade barriers lead to regional trade fragmentation which deprives the continent of new sources of economic growth, new

jobs, and sharply falling poverty, factors which accompanied significant trade integration in East Asia and other regions.' The release added that the cross-border production networks that played an important role to increase economic growth particularly in East Asia, is yet to materialise in Africa.


It announced that the conclusions of the World Bank’s report which were of particular pertinence for Ghana would be presented at a forum where analysis of the barriers to trade provoked by lack of implementation of commitments promised by Economic Community of West African States in the region, would be analysed. The release said participants at the event would be expected to discuss policy responses to address these barriers, simplify and improve transparency of trade procedures in the region, and improve intra-regional collaboration among government agencies that intervened in trade procedures.


“In particular, the presentation will focus on how these barriers impact on ordinary traders in Ghana when trading with Nigeria,” this release added. It is indeed time for African leaders to rethink as one mind and voice, the economic porous policies, especially trade barriers resulting to the continent's abject poverty. Attaining the Millennium Development Goals under such circumstances, is not possible.  Serious lessons must be grasped from the success of Asia.


Chofor Che is a Doctoral Law candidate at the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape. He blogs at

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