CEN-SAD - Trade and Market Integration

Market integration is at the heart of CEN-SAD objectives for cooperation among its member States. The ordinary sessions of the Conference of Leaders and Heads of State of CEN-SAD suggests acceleration of regional integration and economic development through policy harmonization initiatives, as indicated by the 1991 Abuja Treaty.[1] This includes trade liberalization programmes that deal with non-tariff barriers and other trade promoting activities as a part of the proposed free trade area (FTA)[2]. Yet, the FTA is still waiting to be implemented and is delayed due to technical reasons and the current political instability in the region.  

In addition, some political and economic factors have also been identified as the cause of the status-quo. The primary reason being, the overlapping of regional economic community memberships by almost all CEN-SAD member States, where most are members of regional economic communities that have gone considerably further in their trade integration processes, thereby making the political and economic incentives for further CEN-SAD integration low. A practical example is the unwillingness of more than half of the members to pay the required membership contribution to CEN-SAD.[3] Political differences between member States and weakened domestic governance have similarly contributed to the high level of inefficiency in the regional economic community.

[1] Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community.

[2] See the Summit reports for further information regarding projected regional integration and economic development plans. Also see the Report of the sixth ordinary session of the Executive Council, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 22 – 23 August 2001, where other plans were presented.

[3] Economic Commission for Africa, Assessing Regional Integration in Africa II (2006). Available from http://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/PublicationFiles/aria2_eng.pdf.