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Advocacy: Regional Integration

Support for regional economic integration in Africa is high on the agenda of the key players influencing the continent's development.

Regional economic integration would reduce costs for trade in goods and services, promote efficiency and economies of scale and most importantly, improve the quality and standard of living for Africans. However, the lack of effective regional integration in Africa is a major hindrance to trade and movement of goods on the continent. PIA aims to address this by providing private sector input to policies and projects with government and institutions.

Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme

In West Africa, regional and international trade is facing a series of challenges which have led to the development of trade facilitation and Customs modernization and reform programmes. However, reform agendas in West Africa have proved difficult to implement in practice, generating obstacles to expanding legitimate trade and investments in the sub-regions. The major cause for the negative outcomes of trade and revenue is West Africa is the generally low level of compliance of trade or transport operators in the region.

The introduction of Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) aims to change the relationship between businesses and the Customs Administrations by implementing preferential treatment to those businesses that are established to be compliant through a structured assessment of risk.

The PIA is currently working with the World Bank on a Pilot AEO programme on the Abidjan Lagos Corridor. The PIA members' involvement is one of providing a test case to Customs in the region, based on evidence of compliance supplied by the PIA companies, i.e. to describe their systems and policies - including internal audits and compliance.

Regional Economic Integration

At present, both local and regional authorities are focusing on how best to deal with the current trade barriers across sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the private sector has not played a meaningful partnership role in the process of regional economic integration. There is a need for a formal and structured role for the private sector that is beyond intermittent engagement attended to a large extent by the private sector itself. In order to have a seat at the table for the REI processes, an integrated structural inclusion of the private sector is required, which in turn requires that the private sector to engage as a collective under the umbrella of the PIA.

As a collective, the PIA aim is to provide the private sector input and knowledge to key decision makers, bringing forward the private sector voice in the regional economic integration policy discussions that advance the overall development of Africa.