UN-ECA in collaboration with UNIDO hosted an expert group meeting on metrology, export diversification and intra-industry trade in Africa on 3-4 May in Lusaka, Zambia.
The main objective of the meeting was to provide a forum for the exchange of experiences on the challenges, good practices and trends in the linkages between trade, metrology and quality infrastructure, with a view to formulating key policy recommendations and actions at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.
It was noted that Africa’s share of total trade accounted for by intra-industry trade lags behind that observed in other regions of the world. One of the reasons for this has been the dominance of poorly differentiated unfinished product exports of Africa, which affords few prospects for intra-industry exchanges. Africa’s exports as a whole are concentrated in a few primary products, and directed towards a small number of markets. However, intra-regional trade in manufactured goods has witnessed much faster growth as compared to Africa’s trade in manufactured goods with the world. This reflects the importance of intra-regional trade on the continent as it provides opportunities for export diversification and increased value addition.
In this context, the UNCTAD representative shared the experiences of intra-industry trade and export diversification in South Asia and made a presentation on “Identification of Potential Supply Chains in Textiles and Clothing Sector in South Asia.” The study had been recently published by UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The study aims at increasing the cost competitiveness of South Asia in the textiles and clothing sector through potential supply chains in the region, and identifies inputs which can be regionally imported by the South Asian countries at a lower cost as compared to their global imports. Policy directions have been suggested for making the potential supply chains emerge in the region. The methodology for identifying potential regional supply chains in a particular sector was discussed extensively at the UN-ECA expert group meeting, and the possibility of future collaboration between different organizations, particularly UNCTAD and UN-ECA, was explored.
Ms. Rashmi Banga is an economist attached to UNCTAD's Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries (ECIDC) Unit.