Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics

The Trade Hot Topics series provides concise and informative analyses of various trade and trade-related issues which are prepared both by Commonwealth Secretariat and international experts.


Regional Integration Agreements in Eastern and Southern Africa

Confusion Grows

There has been a worldwide resurgence of regional integration agreements (RIAs) in the last 20 years. It is estimated that between 40 and 60 per cent of world trade occurs within regional trading blocs. Africa’s appetite for RIAs is particularly keen, with more regional integration and co-operation agreements signed than any other continent. This has led to the current and perhaps unsustainable situation where African countries often belong to four or more separate RIAs. This issue of Trade Hot Topics sketches out the main RIAs within eastern and southern Africa and highlights the potential problems of overlapping membership. The paper then outlines potential scenarios that would resolve the inherent conflicts of the current agreements and makes some tentative conclusions.


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