Journal of African Trade

In Press, Corrected Proof, Available Online: 22 March 2021

Regional Integration and Trade: Case of COMESA Free Trade Area

Authors
Grace Gondwe*, ORCID
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, Geneva, Switzerland
Corresponding Author
Grace Gondwe
Received 24 May 2019, Accepted 26 February 2021, Available Online 22 March 2021.
DOI
https://doi.org/10.2991/jat.k.210311.001How to use a DOI?
Keywords
COMESA, free trade area, trade, regional integration, gravity
Abstract

This paper examines the factors influencing intra-Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) trade by empirically investigating whether the Free Trade Area (FTA) contributed to trade growth from 1997 to 2015. Gravity models for exports and imports were estimated to identify the factors influencing intra-COMESA trade. The results show that the FTA has bolstered trade in the region. The results further reveal that the presence of other regional blocs, such as the Southern African Development Community and the European Union, positively influences trade in the region. Positive and significant Linder coefficients were found in both models, indicating that similar underlying factors currently influence the direction of exports and imports. Based on comparative advantages, countries export commodities with little or no value addition. They import differentiated goods, however, consisting mainly of processed materials of the products that they initially exported. Thus, the COMESA FTA benefits are not fully exploited and that export diversification and the development of viable value chains within and among its member countries would appear to be the best policy options. Lastly, the results indicate positive returns to better economic infrastructure. Specifically, the positive and significant coefficient of the transport variable for both exports and imports highlights the importance of good transport infrastructure for enhanced trade in the region. With increased distance, however, the results suggest that information and communications technology in the reporting country is effective at enhancing exports. As such, prioritising investments in transport and information and communications infrastructure is important for COMESA to improve its export performance.

Copyright
© 2021 African Export-Import Bank. Publishing services by Atlantis Press International B.V.
Open Access
This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

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Journal
Journal of African Trade
Publication Date
2021/03
ISSN (Online)
2214-8523
ISSN (Print)
2214-8515
DOI
https://doi.org/10.2991/jat.k.210311.001How to use a DOI?
Copyright
© 2021 African Export-Import Bank. Publishing services by Atlantis Press International B.V.
Open Access
This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

Cite this article

TY  - JOUR
AU  - Grace Gondwe
PY  - 2021
DA  - 2021/03
TI  - Regional Integration and Trade: Case of COMESA Free Trade Area
JO  - Journal of African Trade
SN  - 2214-8523
UR  - https://doi.org/10.2991/jat.k.210311.001
DO  - https://doi.org/10.2991/jat.k.210311.001
ID  - Gondwe2021
ER  -