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 Boosting trade in Africa

According to a recent World Bank report, African countries are losing out on billions of dollars in potential trade earnings every year because of high trade barriers with neighbouring countries. The report claims that, “it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than itself”.  

The Head of Legal Affairs of Telkom Kenya, Lois Allela, however, has a more positive outlook on trade in Africa. A speaker at the upcoming marcus evans In-House Legal Counsel Conference, Allela does not believe that the trade barriers in East Africa are so high as to hinder new sources of economic growth.  

“At least in East Africa, you will find that various efforts are being made to harmonise trade and tariffs, to ease imports and exports between the different countries. A lot has been done to ease trade,” Allela says.  

Allela finds that some countries are unwilling to reduce the bar in some cases, as they are afraid of killing key local industries at home. However, she does not consider it true that it is easier to trade with partners outside of Africa, as there are also the distance, foreign exchange and logistical issues that impact trade.  

As for how trade in Africa could be facilitated, Allela advises: “First and foremost, I would suggest that each country defines for itself what it considers its primary industries that it is willing to protect with trade barriers.”  

The De-Fragmenting Africa: Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services report forecasts that the economic slowdown in the Eurozone could shave Africa’s growth by up to 1.3 percentage points this year. Does this make it an especially good time for Africa to become more competitive?

“Yes, indeed,” Allela says. “African economies are not growing at the rate that is needed to boost their economies. The macroeconomic situation in Kenya, in particular, is indicative of hard times to come. There must be inter-governmental efforts in Africa to get out of this, and attract more foreign investors.”  

The marcus evans In-House Legal Counsel Conference will take place at the Tribe Hotel Kenya in Nairobi, 8 - 9 March.  

For more information please visit the event website







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