Onerous trade regulations within the ACP impedes regional trade integration

19 June 2014
ITC News
Greater tariff reductions will boost intra-regional commerce

A disproportionate number of burdensome trade regulations within the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States hinder greater trade integration within the regional grouping, said the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha González.

In her address to the 99th Council of Ministers of the ACP Group of States in Nairobi, Kenya, on 18 June 2014, the Executive Director noted that the tariff and non-tariff barriers to intra-ACP trade are significant and pointed out that the higher tariffs applied by ACP markets in the first place overrides the trade-enhancing benefits of the tariff preference margin.

She stated that further tariff reductions will enhance regional trade integration within the ACP countries. Ms. González said the ITC’s Non-Tariff Measures (NTM) programme launched in 2013 will support the formulation and implementation of initiatives to remove these kinds of barriers in 15 to 25 countries which have been surveyed.

‘It is our hope that the NTM study can provide a solid foundation on which to build our future engagement with the ACP, and to increase intra-ACP trade and build the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises within the regions and countries,’ said Ms. González. ‘Our work is focused on helping to reduce the cost of trading and of doing business. High cost of trading and a challenging business environment are also barriers to both regional and ACP-wide integration, It is greater integration which will allow regional regional value chains to develop, capitalising on the benefits of geographical proximity.’

The Executive Director emphasised the importance of products moving up the value chains by shifting the focus from exports of primary commodities to exports of processed goods. This, said Ms. González, would mean that the processed goods are less susceptible to conditions such as changing weather patterns which can affect primary commodities. Exporters, she added, can have more bargaining power over the price of value-added goods.