South Africa in Intra-African Trade: Key Trends and Perspectives


Ekaterina Zanoskina


The research is motivated by the extensive literature on the role of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in boosting intra-African trade. The main contribution of the research to the academic field is that the author comprehensively approaches the impact of the AfCFTA on a separate economy, whereas the majority of the papers on the issue has focused on general effects.

We consider that South Africa holds an important position in regional trade and will significantly grow and diversify its exports to the rest of Africa, as tariff and non-tariff barriers are eventually relaxed or removed entirely. This study aims to estimate the trade potential for South Africa with the rest of the continent in the context of the upcoming AfCFTA. The research questions raised are: Are there any trade opportunities for South Africa in Africa? What are the potential markets in Africa which need policymakers’ attention as far as the African Continental Free Trade Area is concerned? The study evaluates trade potentials in two steps. First, existing trade flows between South Africa and its AfCFTA-partners are analyzed, and volume of exports and geographic distribution are surveyed. After that, indexes and trade indicators are computed to assess opportunities for South Africa’s exports in each country partner.

The finding reveals that there are unexploited trade opportunities for South Africa on the continent. The four more effective options are Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco. Nevertheless, South Africa is more likely to pay attention to less remote countries with high trade complementarity. Among them, there are Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Togo, Senegal, Cape Verde and Burundi. So, when designing the national African Continental Free Trade Area strategy, as it is done, South Africa could prioritize the issue of those markets.


South African economy, foreign trade relations, AfCFTA, regional cooperation




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