n Commonwealth Youth and Development - The role of SADC in boosting domestic, regional, continental and international trade

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



The role of regional economic communities in the development of trade in Africa is widely recognised. Currently, intra-African trade stands at 10 per cent. This is in sharp contrast to other developing regions of the world. In Asia and Latin America, the levels of intra-trade are 50 and 26 per cent, respectively. There are a number of reasons accounting for the low level of intra-African trade, including the weak mandate given to regional economic communities to monitor and enforce the commitments assumed by countries under regional trade agreements. The lack of integration has negatively impacted on African countries and affected their ability to attract foreign direct investment commensurate with their development needs. Had African countries been less exposed to external markets, they would have been minimally affected by the global financial crisis. The importance of boosting intra-African trade was highlighted by Africa's Heads of State and Government when they devoted this year's summit to this theme. In the run-up to the summit, the African Union Commission released a study that underscored the importance of regional economic communities in the process of economic integration in Africa. Currently, SADC member states are in the process of implementing the SADC Trade Protocol, which would create a fully-fledged free trade area and later a customs union, and at the same time engaged in tripartite negotiations aimed at merging the three (SADC, COMESA and the EAC) regional configurations. They are also engaged in the EPA negotiations with the European Union, which would create a free trade area and also the Doha negotiations under the auspices of the WTO. The main objective of this article is to estimate SADC countries' bilateral trade potential, which may result in the improvements in trade facilitation.

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