UN agency report highlights declining Africa trade flows

 

Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah (far right) with other representatives during the launch of the African Trade Report. [Courtesy]

Strengthening trade ties between Africa and the Caribbean could unlock $1.8 billion in annual business by 2028, according to a new United Nations study aimed at boosting cross-regional commerce.

The report by the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the WTO  and UN, highlights significant untapped potential but declining trade flows between regions with historical links.

"Less than 0.1 per cent of Africa's exports currently go to the Caribbean, and under 3 per cent of Caribbean exports head to Africa," ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said in a statement, noting deep cultural and familial ties between the areas.

The UN agency study has identified priority sectors such as machinery, processed foods and minerals that could see major gains, but says tariffs and trade barriers were holding them back from true potential.

Coke-Hamilton proposed bilateral trade agreements and better regional economic integration, along with investment in transport infrastructure, as ways to seize the estimated $1.8 billion opportunity outlined in the report by 2028.

Over the next year, the ITC says it will work with the African Export-Import Bank on pilot projects across key value chains like minerals, wood products and tourism focused on empowering Small and Medium Enterprises.

"Addressing transport bottlenecks will also be critical to unlocking trade between these regions," Coke-Hamilton said. "Without improved logistics, our efforts will only go so far."

The ITC study aims to give political impetus to deepening trade ties, seen as mutually beneficial for economic growth and development across Africa and the Caribbean.

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