An evaluation of the regulation of non-tariff barriers to trade in SADC free trade area

Mushonga, Master (2014-12)

Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


The adoption of the Southern African Development Community’s Protocol on Trade in 2000 by member states which was aimed at creating an effective free intra-trade environment, had failed to reduce trade barriers which are threatening to reverse the gains made from tariff liberalization.. The protectionism in the form of non-tariff barriers constitutes the biggest factor affecting intra-trade in the region. The new economic environment which was expected to emerge with the adoption of the Trade Protocol over a decade ago has not taken place. Some of the commitments by member states to harmonise customs procedures, co-operation in customs matters and trade facilitation are yet to be achieved as the Protocol on Trade lacks the much needed legal force as some of its articles allow room for member states to derogate from their commitments. The main objective of this research study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Protocol on Trade in the elimination of non-tariff barriers within the Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area. In order to achieve this, the study analysed the trend of non-tariff barriers reported in the period 2008 to 2013, the cost of trading across member states borders and the trend of intra-regional trade from 1996 to 2013. The main research findings indicated that non-tariff barriers are on the increase with cumbersome customs procedures and poor infrastructure development proving to be more prevalent in the region. The Protocol failed to reduce the cost of trading across member states’ borders since it came into force in 2000 with the cost of importing and exporting on the increase and the trade documentation remaining high. Again, the level of intra-regional trade as a percentage decreased from 2000 to 2013 – an indication that the Protocol on Trade failed to facilitate trade in the region through the elimination of non-tariff barriers. However, considerable potential for intra-regional trade remains unexploited due to induced trade barriers which are hampering the development of much needed regional value chains.

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