Impediments to intra-regional trade in sub-Saharan Africa

Research reports and studies
September 2010
Jodie Keane, Massimiliano Calì and Jane Kennan

Whilst there have been multilateral, regional and bilateral reductions in tariffs among countries and regions, including in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), non-tariff barriers (NTBs) can act as important constraints on trade and limit the gains from increased market access through tariff reductions.

As traditional barriers to trade such as tariffs decline there are concerns that NTBs may subsequently increase. There are a range of different types of NTBs, some of which may reflect perfectly legitimate public policy concerns. We define a NTB as an unnecessarily restrictive non-tariff measure (NTM) which affects trade in goods. The presence of NTBs can undermine the gains from trade liberalisation for new entrants and constrain diversification efforts, across products as well as markets.
 
Intra-regional trade in SSA appears to be low and there are different views as to why this is the case; in addition to how and why increased intra-regional trade on the continent may be beneficial. Although it is often stated that NTBs are important constraints to trade in SSA, there have been limited attempts so far to systematically quantify their actual impact on trade.