Making regional trade work for Africa: turning words into deeds

13 July 2015

In its latest Policy Brief, UNCTAD identifies some of the barriers to implementing regional trade agreements in Africa and proposes remedial actions that may be taken by national Governments, development partners and regional institutions.

A well-known characteristic of the regional integration process in Africa is the multiplicity of regional trade agreements (RTAs).

There is recognition by African leaders that RTAs have enormous potential to foster regional trade and development in the region. However, the low rate of their implementation has left this potential largely locked up. To realize this potential, national Governments, development partners and regional institutions need to boldly and creatively tackle the drawbacks to effective implementation of RTAs.

This policy brief identifies some of the main barriers to implementation and proposes remedies for them.

Key points of the UNCTAD Policy Brief:
  • The low rate of implementation of RTAs in Africa is a major obstacle to fully harnessing the potential of regional trade for development.

  • Being realistic in terms of setting objectives and deadlines for targets in RTAs is a necessary condition for enhancing the implementation of commitments in Africa.

  • Due to the overlapping memberships of regional economic communities in Africa, member States are faced with conflicting commitments, which make implementation challenging.