The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region stands to gain $17.5 billion (Sh1.75 trillion) in intra-bloc exports if all members fully implement digital trade facilitation reforms.
According to research findings presented to the 5th Comesa Annual Research Forum underway in Nairobi, five countries have the greatest intra-Comesa export trade potential for the region. These are Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Ethiopia.
“The implementation scores used in the study only captured the paperless trade facilitation measures that enable efficient coordination and exchange of data and documents among government border agencies and business communities within a country,” said researcher Adam Willie.
Comesa has already set up a sub-committee to oversee implementation of a Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) which will enable cross boarder online commerce among member states. The DFTA is an online platform for trade facilitation comprising three segments namely electronic trade (e-trade,) e-logistics and e-legislation. Top scorers under the assessment criteria were Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Rwanda.
According to the researcher, top scorers have exhausted their potential to generate additional intra-Comesa exports with respect to scaling up implementation of the six e-trade facilitation measures considered in the study.
The Comoros, DR Congo, Djibouti, Malawi, Swaziland, the Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe had medium implementation scores, thus presenting significant potential to increase intra-Comesa trade by implementing the DFTA.
The study sought to investigate intra-Comesa export gains resulting from implementation of e-trade by member states.
In particular, the study sought to assess the impact of the current implementation level of e-trade facilitation on intra-Comesa exports.
Secondly, it sought to estimate regional gains in intra-Comesa exports when all member states fully implement digital trade facilitation.
The study recommended policy change by countries with low to medium implementation scores to scale up enactment of e-trade fast-tracking laws.