The Malabo Declaration on African Agriculture, and particularly on trade in agricultural commodities and related services, demonstrates the will of Heads of State to promote intra-African trade as a pillar of its development. This will be a reality when free flowing intra-regional trade will be effective. One of the handicaps of intra-African trade is undoubtedly road harassment that negatively affects the sector. The volume and value of intra-community trade captured by official statistics from all sources still seem to be below the regional potential. For, according to ECOWAS statistics, intra-community trade of the fifteen Community countries account for only about 12% of the value of their foreign trade.
This percentage, already considered to be very low, is also strongly influenced by non-agricultural products, in particular petroleum products. One reason of this low rate can be attributed to the failure to take account of trade flows which are not captured by government services.
To assist the West African region for improving knowledge of cross-border trade flows and more freely flowing intra-regional trade, CILSS has set up a system to document and disseminate the volume and value of trade as well as on road harassment. To date, there is (i) a functional system for the collection and dissemination of information on cross-border trade flows and road harassment of agricultural products and livestock; (ii) dissemination of information on the theme since 2010 without interruption; (iii) a database on trade flows and road harassment regularly updated within CILSS; (iv) an increasing interest of regional actors in the data collected by CILSS. CILSS will maintain and strengthen its regional tracking system of agro-forestry-pastoral and fisheries trade flows in order, amongst others, to improve the information on intra-regional trade for better decision making.
The strategic Objective of CILSS Market Department is to contribute to improve intra-regional trade in agricultural, agri-food and livestock products in the Sahel and West Africa. Two specific objectives contribute to this strategic objective: There are: i) Provide to market actors with the tools and information needed to promote intra-regional trade in agricultural, agri-food and livestock products in the Sahel and West Africa; ii) Disseminate information on regional trade policy instruments, trade opportunities related to agricultural products, agricultural inputs and livestock and trade facilitation.
For CILSS, West African region can feed itself from regional production both for agricultural products and livestock and fish products. This assumption allows the region to be resilient to the negative factors of the world market. To this end, in line with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), agricultural and food products of the region must be able to move freely from the production zones to the consumption zones and from the surplus zones to the deficit areas. Intra-regional trade is therefore essential to ensure a regular supply of the various markets of the region, helping to guarantee the food and nutritional security of the population through the availability and accessibility of products. In addition, the development of intra-regional trade in agro-pastoral and fisheries products contributes to the creation of many jobs along the various value chains and helps to fight against poverty. The free movement in intra-regional trade of agro-pastoral and fish products is hampered by numerous various types of barriers, including physical and non-physical barriers, tariff and non-tariff barriers. These are the bed of many administrative burdens, sources of additional costs that burden the transaction costs: official taxes, levies, illegal payment, etc. In addition, the multiplicity of checkpoints occasion delays in the delivery of products to consumer markets and product losses, particularly for those who are perishable products. The combination of all these factors contributes to higher cost prices of products, reducing the competitiveness of products in the region to the detriment of imported products and limiting incomes, job creation and even access to them by vulnerable populations. CILSS, through its Regional Market Department (PRA-MARCHES), is committed to promoting the development of intra-regional trade, strengthening the free movement of trade in agricultural and agri-food products in West Africa and in the Sahel (Mauritania, Chad, 15 ECOWAS countries). To do this, and on the basis of a rigorous methodology, this Program is implementing a regional Market Information System (MIS) by documenting the volume and value of cross-border flows and day-to-day documentation of trade barriers along trade corridors, by conducting corridors performance activities for agricultural commodities, by building capacity of the value chain traders and related actors, by conducting high level advocacy to reduce remove trade barriers. Those activities are highly appreciated by all regional actors and have been conducted since 2013 with the support of USAID.
In addition, the production and dissemination of reports on trade flows, road harassment and barriers to regional trade in agro pastoral products will continue, as well as the organization of ROADS SHOWs to raise awareness among stakeholders (public administration, customs, gendarmerie, carriers, private sector, etc.) to the consequences of trade barriers on regional trade in agro-pastoral products and livestock.