Traders must keep in mind that many of Africa’s countries are landlocked (16 to be exact) therefore whatever crosses its internal borders will likely be on its way to or from other continents. In southern Africa for example, food, fuel and manufactured goods enter the continent at South Africa’s ports and are re-exported by road to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Congo. Copper, cobalt and gold go in the other direction.
The focus in Southern States has been tariff policy. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) achieved what is called the SADC Free Trade Area in August 2008 through a phased programme of tariff reductions that had commenced in 2001, resulting in the attainment of minimum conditions for the Free Trade Area – 85 per cent of intra-regional trade among the partner states attained zero duty.
Another growing region within Africa is the East. The East Africa Community (EAC) is a vastly developing trade block, with extensive and interlinked intra-regional trade flows. East African trading hubs are emerging in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda offering logistics routes and administrative solutions to facilitate cross-border trade. In addition, the EAC Member States are fine- tuning the modalities of setting up a single customs regime that will enhance trade facilitation. Heads of revenue authorities from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda met in Nairobi in August 2015 to harmonise policies and legislative frameworks to fast-track the establishment of a single customs territory.
West Africa and Central Africa are viewed as two of the less integrated regions in terms of intra-African trade. Encompassing Nigeria, labelled as Africa’s biggest economy, and some of West Africa’s most populous countries, such as Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal , this region has immense potential with rapidly growing trade sectors.  The region is represented by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS; advances are already being made with a Trans-ECOWAS project, established in 2007, which plans to upgrade railways in this zone.
Credit: FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, was founded in Vienna, Austria on May 31st 1926. It is a non-governmental organisation that today represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing around 10 million people in some 160 countries. For further information please visit www.fiata.com