Theme: Main United Nations conventions on transport and border crossing facilitation in international trade: What stakes for Africa?
Trends in Africa’s merchandise trade
According to UNCTAD’s maritime transport review, world maritime trade registered its best performance of more than 10 billion tons in 2016.
Africa currently accounts for only a very small share of world trade, which is around 3%. This trend contrasts with that of the early 1960s when the African continent accounted for 14% of world trade, while its population represented barely 9% of the world’s population.
This situation is worsening in spite of the decline in the costs of international transport that highlights the continent’s propensity to export value-added raw materials to emerging countries in a global economic environment marked by a considerable drop in economic activity characterised by a sharp fall in commodity prices, including oil, coupled with other exogenous shocks such as terrorism and various types of problems.
While other continents have taken advantage of the decline in international transport costs to step-up intra-continental trade, international trade accounts for only about 12% of African trade, against approximately 55% for Asia, more than 70% for Europe, 50% for North America and 26% for South America.
These figures are lower in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in which commercial transactions between countries represent 1.5 billion, or 2% of the total trade in the sub-region. Intra-regional trade among countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) are still below 1%. This is the lowest in Africa’s five sub-regions. This indicator is estimated at 19.32% in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), 11% in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and 8.92% in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).