In this section, you may find new materials that have been published on the topic of “Regional Trade in Africa: Drivers, Trends and Opportunities” , since the date of the event. We continually select major new publications and articles that add up to the policy points discussed in this briefing.

Agriculture and the African Continental Free Trade Area, 13/09/2018

Following on from an analysis of what continued liberalisation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) may offer African agriculture in the 2017 publication ‘WTO: Agricultural Issues for Africa’, this book critically examines intra-African agricultural trade and what the liberalisation of this trade under the auspices of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) may mean for the continent. Much of the research presented here has had a genesis at the tralac capacity training ‘Geek Weeks’ where participants, including those from the NAMC, have worked to produce these individual chapters. This is a valuable part of the NAMC/tralac cooperation to enhance analytical and policy making capabilities in the region. A comprehensive review of African agriculture is provided in these chapters, with the overall historical perspective introduced to set a base for understanding the sector and regional perspectives presented to emphasise the diverse nature of African agriculture. Regional trading and tariff profiles show progress made in liberalisation and, more importantly, focuses on how the AfCFTA can contribute to ongoing liberalisation efforts.

How can the new African free trade agreement unlock Africa’s potential? , 22/10/2018 

Africa has an opportunity to show leadership on the world stage through strength in unity, as the rest of the world retreats from multilateralism and increases protectionism. For the first time in recent history, with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa could wholly embrace intra-African relations, global trade, structural transformation and sustainable development. But for the agreement to succeed, businesses, which make up the backbone of the deal, need to be aware of their potential gains and be actively involved in its implementation, working alongside governments and regional institutions that are ultimately responsible for speeding up the process.  The challenges to African trade have been immense: Africa only represents 2.4% of total global exports. Intra-African trade only represents 15% of total African exports (compared to 58% and 67% for Asia and Europe, respectively), even if the regions of Eastern and Southern Africa are outperforming Central Africa.

More regional trade in agricultural products can lift Africa’s economies, 26/09/2018

Rising demand for food in Africa can serve as an engine for economic development and improved nutrition across the continent. But for that to happen the region’s governments must invest more in developing their agri-industrial bases and boosting intracontinental trade in agricultural products, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today. Food imports to Africa have been rising for a number of decades, helping drive consumers towards less nutritious diets and contributing to higher levels of obesity — while at the same time limiting economic opportunities for domestic food producers, noted Graziano da Silva in remarks made at an event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Pointing out that the value of Africa’s food market is expected to more than triple in value by 2030 to $1 trillion annually, he said that in addition to core investments, enhanced regional trade would be vital in unlocking opportunities for African food producers and processors in the future.

Policy Symposium: New Opportunities for Regional Food Markets and Food Trade in Africa, 29/08/2018

Africa is on the move. The signs of progress and growing prosperity are evident across the continent. The lives and livelihoods of millions of people are improving, and entire economies are growing at a brisk pace. These rapid changes are giving rise to even greater aspirations for the years ahead. Many African nations are pushing to achieve middle income status in the next 30 years, and a few others are gunning for high income status. These aspirations are attainable, but to realize them will require Africa’s agriculture sector and its food systems to more rapidly and sustainably deliver increased incomes, food security, improved nutrition, and wider economic opportunities. For all of the recent signs of progress, Africa still needs to move from food shortages to surpluses, boost benefi cial continental trade, and create millions of employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth. Business as usual will not achieve our goals; we must do more and do it more successfully. It is apt therefore that this year’s Forum is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda. Our host country in 2018, Rwanda, has recently been recognized by the African Union Commission as the top performing country at the continental CAADP Biennial Review.

Strengthening Regional Agricultural Integration in West Africa: Key Findings & Policy Implications
Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and and Michigan State University, June 2017

This publication presents key results from the Strengthening Regional Agricultural Integration (SRAI) program. SRAI was a major agricultural policy analysis and outreach initiative in West Africa between 2009 and 2017, supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) and implemented by Michigan State University (MSU) and its West African partners. The program began in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 world food crisis. World rice prices had nearly tripled, the prices of other basic staples had spiked sharply, and several Asian grain exporters had imposed export restrictions in an attempt to hold down domestic prices. West African governments implemented policy measures that limited the full transmission of these international price spikes to their markets. Nonetheless, food prices in the region still shot up sharply and food riots broke out in many cities. The experience severely shook the confidence of many West African leaders in the reliability of international and regional markets as sources of food for their growing populations.

Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade
Chatham House, June 2017

Global food security is underpinned by trade in a few crops and fertilizers. Just three crops – maize, wheat and rice – account for around 60 per cent of global food energy intake.1 A fourth crop, soybean, is the world’s largest source of animal protein feed, accounting for 65 per cent of global protein feed supply.2 Each year, the world’s transport system moves enough maize, wheat, rice and soybean to feed approximately 2.8 billion people.3 Meanwhile, the 180 million tonnes of fertilizers applied to farmland annually play a vital role in helping us grow enough wheat, rice and maize to sustain our expanding populations.4 International trade in these commodities is growing, increasing pressure on a small number of ‘chokepoints’ – critical junctures on transport routes through which exceptional volumes of trade pass. Three principal kinds of chokepoint are critical to global food security: maritime straits along shipping lanes; coastal infrastructure in major crop-exporting regions; and inland transport infrastructure in major exporting regions. A serious interruption at one or more of these chokepoints could conceivably lead to supply shortfalls and price spikes, with systemic consequences that could reach beyond food markets. More commonplace disruptions may not in themselves trigger crises, but can add to delays, spoilage and transport costs, constraining market responsiveness and contributing to higher prices and increased volatility.

A Handbook on Regional Integration in Africa Towards Agenda 2063, 16 March 2017

Echoing the calls of Kwame Nkrumah and other pan-Africanists that ‘Africa Must Unite’, continental integration and unity have been on the agenda ever since African countries gained political independence. African regional integration is seen as key to enhancing political cooperation at the pan-African level, and of promoting economic growth, development and poverty reduction to help achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite its central place in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and plans to establish a continental free trade area, there remain many political, economic and institutional challenges to deeper integration and effective implementation of regional trade agreements. A Handbook on Regional Integration in Africa: Towards Agenda 2063 provides a ready and accessible resource for trade policy-makers, parliamentarians, the private sector, academia and civil society, as well as the general public. Advising and informing on current dynamics, opportunities, challenges and policy options for Africa’s regional integration agenda, the publication is a unique resource for supporting capacity-building on African regional trade issues.