2021 marked an important watershed moment for global trade, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic started to subside, and countries began to post stronger economic growth. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), global trade touched a high of $28 trillion, 11% growth from pre-pandemic levels. Trade in services is however yet to fully recover. Furthermore, while the global trade growth remained uneven across countries and sectors, it was broader towards the end of the year. Its therefore still early to celebrate yet, even though the future might be promising.
The global picture bears similarities with activities in TradeMark Africa, which has continued to post impressive results in addition to expanding our geographical footprint across Africa, whilst battling COVID-19 induced disruptions. It is for instance gratifying to see many women traders from vulnerable backgrounds being able to maintain their livelihoods due to medically COVID- 19 compliant markets that were constructed during the year to safeguard them and their clients. Similarly, seeing many regional micro, small and medium enterprises reap the benefits of reducing costs of trade due to various interventions such as growing digitisation of trade services by regional Governments, and improved evacuation of cargo along key trade corridors, are heart-warming.
Amidst this, TMA’s approach to trade facilitation continued to be relevant, in high demand, and impactful. Development of physical and digital trade corridors, promotion of inclusive trade, supporting standards harmonisation, and increasing the private sector’s voice in reforming trade policies have enabled many nations in the region to fare better and weather the COVID-19 storm. Excitingly, TMA’s expansion towards the Western and Southern parts of the Continent, will undoubtedly enable it to contribute to the big vision of greater intra-African trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and greater integration into global trade systems.
In a year that witnessed widespread adverse climatic conditions, TMA’s green and sustainability-grounded approaches continued to bear dividends, affirming it as a path the organisation must continue in. We are happy and look forward to supporting the newly developed and approved concept of the Green Corridor programme. Its’ successful implementation, with donor and host Government support, will ensure greening of transport and trade corridors in TMAs areas of operation and this will benefit future generations in Africa. It will indeed, provide useful lessons for the World, for wider replication.
The growing demand for TMA’s services, recovering global trade, and persistent after-shocks of the pandemic, all demonstrate the need for an even greater support for the organisation. As TMA donors, we pledge continued support and commitment to ensure TMA continues to have a lasting impact, especially to the population of the Continent.
Chair of the Council