Regional Trade Agreements in Africa

RegionalTrade Agreements in Africa

RegionalTrade Agreements in Africa

Differentcountries establish regional trade agreements (RTAs) in order tocreate synergy, share challenges, and increase opportunities for allmembers. In most cases, RTAs focus on fostering economic developmentof the members. However, the economic benefits are realized when theRTAs are able to increase the market size, remove trade barriers,maintain political stability, and facilitate a faster movement ofpeople as well as goods (Rhodes, 2016). In this paper five major RTAsin African will be discussed. The paper will also focus on three ofthe most successful TRAs in terms of economic development and thebenefits of having many denominations.

FiveMajor RTAs in Africa

EconomicCommunity of West African States (ECOWAS)

TheECOWAS refers to a regional bloc that is comprised of 28 nationslocated in West of Africa. The bloc was established in May 1975, withthe objective of promoting integration as well as cooperation amongthe members (Eurostat, 2011). Its head offices are located in Abuja,Nigeria. One of the key benefits associated with ECOWAS is an instantaccess to a large number of potential customers, which is about 500million people (Eurostat, 2011). The lack of proper infrastructure(such as railway line) is among the key challenges that have limitedthe process of integrating the countries (Tobi, 2013). Members havealso argued that some countries (such as Nigeria) have failed tohonor the agreed protocol, which is confirmed by a high volume ofimports from Europe than from within the region.

SouthAfrican Development Community (SADC)

TheSADC was founded in the year 1992 as a development conference thatbrought countries located in the Southern Africa together. It hasabout 15 member countries (SADC, 2012). One of the key benefitsassociated with SADC is its capacity to target the key sectors of theeconomy, including agriculture and service. An improvement in thesesectors has resulted in GDP growth and the creation of employment inthe member countries (SADC, 2012). These achievements are attributedto an increase in trade among the members. The major challenges thatthis RTA faces include the climate change and the lack of transportnetwork. Climate change is a challenge because most of the membersdepend on agriculture to support their economies.

EastAfrica Community (EAC)

TheECA refers to an intergovernmental organization that is comprised ofsix countries located in the East African region. It was founded in1967, dissolved in 1977, and re-established in 2000 (EAC, 2015). Itsoffices are located in Arusha, Tanzania. The EAC has increased themembers’ access to a larger market that is comprised of about 158million people (EAC, 2015). The removal of tariff as well asnon-tariff barriers also helped the member nations increase theirexports. The establishment of a program known as the East AfricanExchange will facilitate the electronic transfer of commodities amonginvestors in the member states, which will enhance efficiency inbusiness. However, the transport system is still underdeveloped,which hinders the movement of people as well as goods. The fact thatmost of the member countries produce goods that are relativelysimilar limits business since there is little to exchange.

WestAfrican Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

Thistrading bloc is made up of about eight countries that are situated inWest Africa. The aim of forming this RTA was to bring the countriestogether and create a platform on which they could harmonize theirtrade policies, tax regimes, and regulatory frameworks in order tofoster business. One of the benefits associated with the RTA is anincrease in the size of the market in which members can sell theirproducts (U.S. Trade Representative, 2016). However, the similarityof goods has limited the capacity of members to export to each other.

CentralAfrica Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)

TheCEMAC was founded in the year 1999 with the objective of assistingthe member countries increase their trade opportunities. It iscomprised of about six states and a population of 37 million people(International Democracy Watch, 2012). The RTA has benefited thecountries through the establishment of a harmonious cooperation. Thishas enhanced efficiency in trade among the members. However,over-dependence on oil revenues subjects the RTA to the risk offluctuation in trade and the price of commodities. In addition, civilwars are quite common in the member states, which affect tradenegatively.

ThreeMost Beneficial RTAs

Althoughall the RTAs have some benefits to members, there are three of thetrade blocs found in African that have made a significantcontribution towards the economic development. First, SADC isconsidered as one of the most successful RTAs in the continent, givenits role in controlling inflation and increasing GDP growth. It isestimated that it has decreased the average inflation from 23.1 % in2001 to 7.7 % in 2011 in the member countries (SADC, 2012). It hasalso improved three sectors of the economy, including industry,service, and agriculture by 32 %, 51 %, and 17 %, respectivelybetween 2000 and 2010 (SADC, 2012).

Secondly,ECOWAS has made a significant contribution towards the GDP and exportgrowth over the years. For example, the states are able to create alarge export and import market from within. They have also managed toaddress the challenge of similar products that limit the tradeopportunities among the members by looking for export markets in theoverseas under the leadership of ECOWAS. For example, ECOWASfacilitated the growth of exports to European nations by 28 % between2009 and 2010 by negotiating better trade agreements for the members(Eurostat, 2011).

Third,EAC has made some contribution towards the growth of the GDP in themember countries. For example, the economic integration of thenations has resulted in an increase in livestock production by 6.7 %in Uganda and 4.6 % in Burundi between 2013 and 2014 (EAC, 2015). Inaddition, it is estimated that the economic integration hascontributed to 8 % increase in the value added to GDP throughmanufacturing between 2014 and 2015 (EAC, 2015).

Benefitsof the Existence of Many Denominations

Theemergence of many Christian denominations can be attributed to theprocess of the Protestant Reformation. Although these denominationspreach the same God, they apply dissimilar approaches and slightdoctrinal differences (Rhodes, 2016). These differences accommodateChristians who have dissimilar preferences and tastes by creating asuitable environment for them to grow spiritually. Therefore, theexistence of many denominations fosters Christian’s development.Similarly, the existence of many RTAs for African nations creates awider platform on which they can address different economicchallenges that they face.


TheRTAs are established to help the members address various challenges,including the economic, social, and political problems. The continentof Africa has many RTAs that are available for the member countriesto join, but only a few of them have made a significant contributiontowards economic progress. Most of these RTAs face similarchallenges, including the production of similar goods, environmentalchallenges, and political instability. The most successful RTAs haveaddressed the challenge of similar products in member countries bylooking for markets in the overseas.


EAC(2015). EastAfrican Community facts and figures 2015.Arusha: EAC.

Eurostat(2011). Archive: ECOWAS-EU-trade and investment statistics. Eurostat.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from

InternationalDemocracy Watch (2012). Central African Economic and MonetaryCommunity. IDW.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from

Rhodes,R. (2016). Why are there so many Christian denominations? GoQuestions Organization.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from

SADC(2012). SADC facts and figures. SADC.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from

Tobi,A. (2013). ECOWAS is far from economic integration-AmbassadorOnafowokan. GhanaWeb.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from

U.S.Trade Representative (2016). West African Economic and Monetary Union(UEMOA). U.S.Trade Representative.Retrieved November 3, 2016, from