The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Friday said that the level of intra-Africa exports declined by 17 percent in April this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decline was due to the enforcement of border lockdowns across the continent as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, the UNECA said in its newly published report, entitled “Facilitating Cross-Border Trade through a Coordinated African Response to COVID-19.”
Noting that the impact of the significant drop in intra-African exports was felt in April following the enforcement of African lockdowns, travel bans and COVID-19 border regulations in March 2020, the ECA stressed that intra-African exports started to decline a month after Africa’s exports to the rest of the world declined.
Figures from the ECA show that in March 2020 there was a decline of 1 percent in the level of intra-Africa trade, yet the decline was 17 percent in April.
The ECA, however, stressed that intra-African exports have been “more resilient” to the twin COVID-19 and commodity price shock than Africa’s exports to the rest of the world have been.
“This highlights the importance of further developing competitive and diversified intra-African value chains in the future,” the report read.
Cross-border trade disruptions, including such factors as a slowdown in demand, declining commodity prices, supply chain blockages, increased freight costs and export bans, are likely to have played a role in Africa’s slowdown in trade, the report argued.
The ECA also stressed that most African governments are facing a difficult decision whether to risk cross-border transmission of COVID-19 or to risk disrupting cross-border supply chains, including those for essential life-saving goods.
According to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent reached 1,330,038 as of Friday.
The death toll related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic rose to 32,117 so far. Some 1,068,493 people who had been infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far, according to the Africa CDC.