UN unearths $22b untapped export potential in Africa
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has revealed that Africa’s current untapped export potential amounts to $21.9 billion, equivalent to 43 per cent of intra-African exports.
UNCTAD, in its latest report on ‘Economic Development in Africa’ said an additional $9.2 billion of export potential could be realised through partial tariff liberalisation under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) over the next five years.
“To unlock the untapped potential, various intra-African non-tariff barriers including costly non-tariff measures, infrastructure and market information gaps, need to be addressed. This requires joint efforts under the AfCFTA,” it stated.
However, it emphasised that long-term cooperation in investment and competition policies will be essential to overcoming market dominance by a few actors and to reducing structural and regulatory barriers to market entry.
It noted that AfCFTA could reduce COVID-19 induced growth contraction, poverty and inequality trends, while spurring sustainable and inclusive growth on the continent if strong support targeting women, young traders and small businesses are implemented.
UNCTAD Secretary-General, Rebeca Grynspan, said: “AfCFTA has immense potential to spur economic growth and transform the continent’s development prospects if additional measures are taken to realise and fairly distribute its many potential benefits, as these gains will not come automatically.
“Poverty and inequality are not inescapable. They are products of political choices and public policy. This report will support African governments and development partners to better leverage AfCFTA to tackle both poverty and inequality to ensure that the expected gains from free trade are more inclusive.”
Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, said: “Complementary measures to support women and young people in trade, small businesses and the least developed African countries are required to achieve a more inclusive AfCFTA”