This is part of a series of brief articles on trade in Africa. During his recent trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the importance of trade.
Exporting is critical for transforming small and medium-size economies. Exports provide businesses the opportunity to increase their production, offer more jobs and reduce unit production costs.
According to the 2014 African Transformation Report, released by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), exporting enables countries to make the most of their comparative advantages to generate better incomes for workers and produce profits that can be used to invest in the technology and skills training needed to boost production capacity.
The ACET report notes that leaders who want a viable export strategy for sub-Saharan Africa should focus on adding value to agricultural products, develop industries to improve the value of raw commodities and promote links along value chains. They should also support nontraditional and new export products and services like tourism.
In Africa, the costs of trading are higher than in other regions. Reducing costs like customs and insurance fees would boost the competiveness of Africa’s companies and allow them to export more, ACET notes.
To reduce costs, ACET recommends simplifying and standardizing export and import regulations, reducing the number of border crossings, and building better physical infrastructure like ports, rail and roads so more goods can reach more customers.