Implementing Trade Facilitation Reform in Africa

Trade facilitation is central to Africa’s competitiveness in the global economy. Costs related to trade facilitation make up a significant proportion of overall trade-related costs, which in Africa are higher than in any other developing region. This acts as a barrier for the integration of African countries into global markets, as well as greater intra-African integration. Improving trade facilitation is essential for lowering costs for African agricultural producers as well as supporting the development of higher value-added activities in agribusiness, manufacturing, and services, including participation in regional and global value chains. Diagnostic tools used by the World Bank Group, such as the Logistics Performance Index, as well as country-specific diagnostics, highlight the key challenges faced. The evidence also shows that performance varies, with some countries making significant progress on reform programs to improve trade facilitation. With other developing regions having generally more advanced trade facilitation regimes, the lessons from these regions can be instructive in designing and implementing reforms in Africa, which the World Bank Group is actively supporting at the national and regional levels. A priority for the Bank Group is implementing trade facilitation programs that do more to reduce trade-related costs facing the extreme poor, given the concentration of extreme poverty in Africa.

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