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Efforts to tear down barriers to trade in Africa gather pace
• Breaking down non-tariff barriers is vital to better trade and stronger African integration. The African Union and UNCTAD are seeking ways to help people trade easier.

Geneva, Switzerland, 23 October 2020

The African Union (AU), UNCTAD and other partners are on a mission to ease trade on the continent and make the African Continental Free Trade Area a viable reality for economic development.

One way to do so is to eliminate a brutally costly and complex suite of irritants to freer trade: non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

Their elimination could provide a $20 billion boost to African economies each year – much more than the $3.6 billion that can be gained by eliminating tariffs, according to UNCTAD.

On 27 October the AU will host a webinar on how this could be realized in the Southern African region, part of a series of webinars across the continent under a newly launched “trade easier” campaign. The webinar will focus on how best to overcome non-tariff barriers to trade.

NTBs include regulatory and procedural barriers such as customs operations and border documentation requirements, rules of origin documentation, pre-shipment inspections, transport regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.

The webinar will bring together businesses, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, youth and women from Southern Africa to share their real-life experiences and exchange views on easing trading across the continent.

A special focus will be on their experience of using the AU’s trade barriers platform (, an online mechanism built specifically for the reporting, monitoring and elimination of NTBs. Speakers include:

  • Tsotetsi Makong, Trade Facilitation Expert, Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa
  • Willie Shumba, Senior Customs Expert and Advisor, Department of Industry and Trade, African Union Commission
  • Jacob Makambwe, Secretary-General, Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association
  • Ruramiso Mashumba, Managing Director, Mnandi Africa
  • Yavi Madurai, Executive Director, Pan African Businesswomen’s Association

The “trade easier” campaign encourages African businesspeople to visit the AU’s trade barriers platform and make their trade challenges known to the authorities so that the challenges can be resolved. It is delivered in collaboration with UNCTAD, the UN’s trade and development body.

The Southern African webinar takes place online on Tuesday, 27 October 2020 from 10:30am (GMT +2) and is open to all people from the region. Register here.

Additional webinars for other African regions will take place in November and December. The schedule and registration links are available at