Boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services, when properly handled to reap the benefits of comparative advantage in agricultural production, tends to be a good idea. However, various rules and regulations under the WTO regime do not mean much on the ground. This is because of lack of transparent and accountable mechanisms and enforcement of rules at different levels. Various provisions may remain on paper rather than enhance trade and food security. Given the limited total market power of the region for trade volume there should be little surprise that the mechanisms cannot contribute to effective agricultural transformation.
What remains more relevant in this context is the role of value chain approach to production, processing and export, within the region and outside - based on sustainable agriculture methods and focus on small farm innovations. Provision of self-enforcing incentive mechanisms (such as recognizing and supporting high productivity) could be useful. Inter-agency cooperative efforts (domestic and international) will be rewarding to the populations, in general. Excessive expliotation of natural resources to maximize trade can be detrimental to sustainable production, trade and development. The focus needs to be more on the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals using pragmatic mechanisms in this context.
see also: P K Rao International Environmental Law and Economics (Blackwell)
P K Rao The World Trade Organization and the Environment (Macmillan)