Africa's Trade Barriers and Development
Africa’s trade barriers
SIR – Edmund Conway (“The deal at the Doha Round that could really save the world,” December 3) notes that an important barrier to African development is lack of free trade.
A disproportionate number of trade barriers are imposed by African governments on other Africans. The average customs transaction in poor African countries involves 20 to 30 parties and 40 separate documents.
No wonder trade within Africa is the lowest of any region on Earth: doing business is more expensive than anywhere else.
Mr Conway rightly laments the failure to conclude the Doha Development Round at the World Trade Organisation. But African countries – or indeed any others – could remove their self-imposed barriers. In the past 30 years, Mauritius, Botswana and, lately, Rwanda have shown how poor countries anywhere can stimulate growth themselves.
They cannot remove the hugely damaging European Union Common Agricultural Policy, but nor can the World Trade Organisation. Global trade and growth need not await decisions in Geneva. Africans can do it themselves if only they are allowed to.
Alec van Gelder
International Policy Network