Informal cross-border trade in Africa: How much? Why? And what impact?

IFPRI Discussion Paper

Book 1
Intl Food Policy Res Inst

Informal cross-border trade (ICBT) represents a prominent phenomenon in Africa. Several studies suggest that for certain products and countries, the value of informal trade may meet or even exceed the value of formal trade. This paper provides a review of existing efforts to measure informal trade. We list 18 initiatives aimed at measuring ICBT in Africa. The paper also summarizes discussions conducted with many stakeholders in Africa between December 2016 and May 2018 regarding the measurement, the determinants, and the implications of ICBT. The methodologies used to measure ICBT in Africa differ widely, but they do confirm that informal trade in Africa is both sizeable and volatile. Both evidence on the determinants of ICBT and discussions with stakeholders suggest that policies should aim to reduce the existing costs associated with formal trade and provide positive incentives for traders and producers to move into the formal economy in order to avoid the loss of economic potential stemming from informal trade.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Intl Food Policy Res Inst
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Published on
Dec 21, 2018
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Pages
56
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Agriculture & Food Policy
Social Science / Agriculture & Food
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Eligible for Family Library

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 The sector-wide approach currently dominates as the strategy for developing the agricultural sector of many African countries. Although it is recognized that agricultural research plays a vital role in ensuring success of sectorwide agricultural development strategies, there has been little or no effort to explicitly link the research strategies of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in African countries to the research agenda that is articulated in sectorwide agricultural development strategies. This study fills that gap by analyzing the readiness of Malawi’s NARS to respond to the research needs of the national agricultural sector development strategy, namely the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) program. Results of a social network analysis demonstrate that public agricultural research departments play a central coordinating role in facilitating information sharing, with other actors remaining on the periphery. However, that analysis also shows the important role other actors play in relaying information to a wider network of stakeholders. These secondary information pathways can play a crucial role in ensuring successful implementation of the national agricultural research agenda. Policymakers and managers of public research programs are called upon to integrate other research actors into the mainstream national agricultural research information network. This is vital as other research actors are, at the global level, increasingly taking up a greater role in financing and disseminating research and research results, and in enhancing the scaling up and out of new agricultural technologies.
"This paper uses data from national household expenditure surveys to explore whether food insecurity is more severe in South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. It employs two indicators of the diet quantity dimension of food insecurity, or the inability to access sufficient food: the prevalence of food energy deficiency and the prevalence of severe food energy deficiency. It also employs two indicators of the diet quality dimension, indicating lack of access to nutritious food: the prevalence of low diet diversity and the percent of energy from staple foods. It finds the regions' food energy deficiency prevalences to be quite close (51 percent in South Asia, 57 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa). However, the prevalence of severe food energy deficiency, which is more life threatening, is higher in Sub-Saharan Africa (51 percent versus 35 percent in South Asia). From a diet quality standpoint, the regions appear to suffer from a comparable and high reliance on staple foods in the diet to the neglect of foods rich in protein and micronutrients, but that Sub-Saharan Africa may be doing worse, as reflected in less diverse diets. The results confirm that both regions suffer from deep food insecurity problems but point to Sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the more severe problem, particularly when it comes to the diet quantity dimension of food insecurity. In deciding which region should be given greater emphasis in the international allocation of scarce development resources, the fact that the numbers of people affected by food insecurity are higher in South Asia should be taken into consideration."IFPRI web site.
The challenges to meeting the growing global food demand—population and income growth and supply uncertainties complicated by climate change, environmental pressures, and water scarcity—all point to the increasing importance of trade and the need for a more, not less, open trading system. Growth in agricultural trade has been facilitated in part through the rules-based system established under the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). The AoA was implemented in 1995 and brought substantial discipline to the areas of market access, domestic support, and export competition. However, progress since the Uruguay Round has been limited. While the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) was launched with much anticipation in 2001, members failed to reach agreement in July 2008 and the trade agenda in Geneva has since advanced slowly. Despite the best efforts of many, the negotiating intensity seen in late 2007 and 2008 has largely dissipated, in part due to the global recession and the inevitable changes in governments that sometime shift the focus of negotiations. Serious efforts were made to renew the negotiations, but in the end, members have had to be content with harvesting the low-hanging fruit, such as trade facilitation and export competition. Although there have been significant accomplishments, they represent but a small portion of what was on the table during the DDA negotiations. In addition, negotiated settlements on the tougher issues, such as market access and domestic support, have become more difficult to obtain in isolation. The recent experience at the WTO’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires highlights the difficulties of reaching a negotiated settlement on domestic support in isolation from, say, market access. Given the increasing importance of trade in addressing food security needs and its critical role in efforts to eliminate malnutrition and hunger by 2030, achieving further progress in the liberalization of world trade is of paramount importance.
What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?

"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.

Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.

Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.

If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.

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