Africa Urged To Dismantle Trade, Movement Barriers To Spur Growth | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Africa Urged To Dismantle Trade, Movement Barriers To Spur Growth

Posted: May 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

African economies must reduce trade barriers and make it easier for people and goods to cross borders to boost growth in the face of headwinds from a commodity price drop, African officials and delegates at the World Economic Forum in Rwanda said.
The International Monetary Fund said average growth in sub-Saharan Africa would fall to its lowest in nearly two decades this year, at 3 percent, with commodity exporters struggling and government finances coming under pressure.
“As we develop the regional markets in Africa, we’ll reduce the susceptibility of Africa to these global commodity price shocks,” African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina told a news conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
Trade between African nations accounted for just 11 percent of total transactions, compared with Asia where regional trade accounted for 40 percent and Europe where it was 70 percent.
Adesina said there were some positive signs – Africa-to-Africa investment had climbed, rising from $10 billion to $50 billion a year – although he didn’t give a time frame.
But he said high tariffs and non-tariff barriers such as poor roads, railways and ports hindered progress.
“If there were a real willingness to dismantle trade barriers, you could get growth gains regardless of what was happening in the rest of the world because of broader markets,” said Razia Khan, Africa economist at Standard Chartered Bank.
While there are several trading blocs in Africa, few have acted swiftly to completely dismantle barriers to commerce, though the six-member East African Community has moved further than most to ease trade across borders. The EAC comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and, most lately, South Sudan.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said slower growth on the continent should spur closer regional trade relations. “It is a wake-up call,” he said.