What Shoprite and Woolworths can tell us about Non-tariff Barriers

Image: Flickr, fffriendly

The paper discusses the impact of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the Southern African Development Community region.

It draws on the growing body of literature on NTBs pertaining to regional trade in Southern and Eastern Africa, but importantly it supplements this with the experience of the private sector in the region. It reviews the current processes and achievements in addressing NTBs within Southern Africa. Practical measures are proposed to facilitate the removal of NTBs within Southern Africa, informed by the lessons from other regions.

The paper focuses particularly on how to address those NTBs to regional trade that are the result of inappropriate design and implementation. These include, but are not necessarily limited to: licensing rules, import permits, standards (as well as their implementation) and customs procedures. It does not look at those barriers that are overtly trade restricting by intention (for example, antidumping duties, quantitative restrictions, import levies). The former subset of NTBs is likely to be less transparent but more prevalent and representative of the constraints Southern African traders face in selling merchandise across borders on a day-to-day basis.

The paper draws on work undertaken with Ian Gillson from the World Bank, to whom the author is very grateful.