The total population of Africa is approximately 1.32 billion, i.e. 16.72 % of the world’s population, inhabiting 54 countries. Growth rate of Africa in 2020 has been 3.9%; but parts of the African continent have been experiencing much faster growth rates. Rising economies like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Uganda & Kenya are expected to grow by more than 6% in 2020 and these economies are also expected to maintain their growth rate in the next five years as per the World Bank. These economies also constitute some of the top rising economies in the world.
Pakistan’s trade with Africa has remained stagnant at US $3 billion per year for last few years but has now crossed the mark of USD 4 billion and is USD 4.18 billion for 2019-20. Main reason of the low trade volume has been low level of engagement of Pakistan with Africa.
The Ministry of Commerce has launched “Look Africa Policy Initiative” in August 2017, which has already been made operational and is reflective four broader policy towards Africa. To enhance connectivity between Africa and Pakistan, the ‘Look Africa’ Plan include measures that can help boost trade between Pakistan and Africa.
Africa is moving towards economic integration through a number of sub-regional organizations. Under the ‘Look Africa Plan’ Pakistan is seeking to negotiate preferential trade agreements with three African trading blocs. These blocs include Southern African Customs Union (SACU) comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland; East African Community (EAC) comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda; and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which consists of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togolese.
Under this policy, African countries prioritized for trade promotion are; Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania, and Ethiopia being top ten Economies of Africa. These ten countries comprise 78% of the total GDP of Africa as per 2017-18 (2017, IMF).
The highlights of the Policy include:
• Granting accreditations, appointing TDOs and opening six new commercial sections in Africa including Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan, and Tanzania in the first phase.
• Organization of Look Africa Trade Forums in major cities in Pakistan to create awareness among the private sector.
• To initiate negotiations on bilateral/multilateral trade agreements for market access in Africa, Formation of Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on trade;
• Establishment of Africa Cell in TDAP Karachi;
• Special facilitation to delegations to/from Africa;
• Enhanced facilitation by the government for the Pakistani companies’ participation in trade fairs in Africa; and
• 2% additional duty draw back on selected items exports to Africa