A Review of International Legal Instruments for the Facilitation of Transport and Trade in Africa

Transport infrastructure is essential for inclusive growth and poverty reduction but the investments in building and maintaining it remain sub-optimal as long as the movement of goods is not seamless across countries and (sub)regions. Harmonized standards, operations and processes are critical to facilitate international transport and trade and to eliminate market access barriers. Many countries negotiate international treaties or become parties to existing instruments in order to eliminate such barriers and achieve better regional integration. Experience shows that signing or ratifying a treaty without proper consequent enforcement remains a theoretical act, without effects on peoples’ lives. This review provides a corpus or inventory of legal instruments aimed at facilitating trade and transport within Africa and between countries of the region. Access to and ratification of basic worldwide agreements on trade and facilitation remain uneven. The review also shows some discrepancies between legal instruments and that bringing legal instruments into force remains weak. This work will hopefully contribute to a better harmonization and consistency between them.