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Effects of the Informal Cross Border Trade in Western Africa: A Study of Nigeria and Niger

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Abstract

Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) plays an important role in developing countries and act as accelerator of economic development, regional development of the borderland areas. It is a crucial coping measure for poor households; especially when unemployment is high and it also address mass poverty if the rules governing it take into consideration the interests of the poor and vulnerable groups in society. This paper is aimed at examining the effects of informal cross border trade in western Africa: a study of Nigeria and Niger, its strength and weakness on National and Regional development which is western Africa. This is a literature and library based paper which reviews related literatures from journal articles, texts, seminar papers, online search engines for assessment of the concepts. This paper perceive the following issues in Informal Cross Border Trade, its problem and approaches, reasons for ICBT in Nigeria and Niger, critical analysis of determinants in Nigeria and Niger, the positive and negative effects on the two selected countries in western African and recommend on way forward. It finds out that ICBT enables small‐scale entrepreneurs to escape poverty and to meet the education, housing and other basic needs. It’s also source of family income to the unemployed and a source of employment to our second citizen as a result of early retirement. It recommends that there should be bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Niger on creating an enabling, gender-sensitive environment for informal cross border traders so that they can easily engage in economic activity in order to protect their livelihoods. There is need to design appropriate policy incentives by the duo country governance in order to gradually incorporate a thriving ICBT sector into the formal economy.
Jurnal Aplikasi Manajemen, Ekonomi dan Bisnis
Vol. 4, No.2, April 2020
ISSN 2541-1438; E-ISSN 2550-0783
Published by STIM Lasharan Jaya
*Corresponding Author Email Address: sholaismail@yahoo.com
© 2020 STIM Lasharan Jaya Makassar 34
Effects of the Informal Cross Border Trade in Western Africa:
A Study of Nigeria and Niger
1Ahmodu-Tijani, Ismail Shola, 2Dosunmu,Kazeem Olanrewaju
1Nigeria Police Academy,Wudil,Kano, Nigeria
2Lagos State University,Ojo,Lagos,Nigeria
1sholaismail@yahoo.com
2 kazeemdosunmu@gmail.com
ARTICLEDETAILS
ABSTRACTS
History
Received : February
RevisedFormat : March
Accepted : April
Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) plays an important role in
developing countries and act as accelerator of economic development,
regional development of the borderland areas. It is a crucial coping
measure for poor households; especially when unemployment is high and
it also address mass poverty if the rules governing it take into
consideration the interests of the poor and vulnerable groups in society.
This paper is aimed at examining the effects of informal cross border trade
in western Africa: a study of Nigeria and Niger, its strength and weakness
on National and Regional development which is western Africa. This is a
literature and library based paper which reviews related literatures from
journal articles, texts, seminar papers, online search engines for
assessment of the concepts. This paper perceive the following issues in
Informal Cross Border Trade, its problem and approaches, reasons for
ICBT in Nigeria and Niger, critical analysis of determinants in Nigeria and
Niger, the positive and negative effects on the two selected countries in
western African and recommend on way forward. It finds out that ICBT
enables small‐scale entrepreneurs to escape poverty and to meet the
education, housing and other basic needs. It’s also source of family
income to the unemployed and a source of employment to our second
citizen as a result of early retirement. It recommends that there should be
bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Niger on creating an enabling,
gender-sensitive environment for informal cross border traders so that they
can easily engage in economic activity in order to protect their livelihoods.
There is need to design appropriate policy incentives by the duo country
governance in order to gradually incorporate a thriving ICBT sector into
the formal economy.
©2020 STIM Lasharan Jaya Makassar
Keywords :
ICBT, Nigeria, Niger, Cross
Border,Employment,Entreprenuer
INTRODUCTION
Borders are artificially constructed, geographic or astronomic lines that form the boundary
of a nation. Within this delimited boundary, a nation exercises power, jurisdiction and
carries out its activities in accordance with the sovereignty of the State. the central
government can curtail, restrict or totally ban the unauthorized movement of goods and
people across such boundaries within the nation (Afolayan, 2000).The main socio-economic
processes that take place across an international border are the movement of people and
goods for trading activities and this movement is an integrative process that links people on
both sides of the border on either mutuality or trading activities. ICBT breaks down
artificially imposed policies, barriers, and generates interaction between the cross border
traders. The movement of people at a border is considered being within a nationality rather
than between two geo-political entities. Such movement of people would not normally be
regarded as migration, particularly as the movers often stay for a short time. Since the
movement occurs over an international boundary, is subject to legal restrictions and
regulations, it also has to be regarded as international migration. The word informal is
Shola et al. (2020) / Jurnal Aplikasi Manajemen, Ekonomi dan Bisnis 4(2) 34-42
35
norms to the two environments but the governance of the two environs accept the official
cross border trading called formal cross border trade. The paper seeks to respond to the gap
identified in the literature on the marginality of informal cross-border traders because of the
‘informality’ attached to the trade.
After this introduction, the second section defines ICBT and its concept, The third section
reviews problems of ICBT, approaches to ICBT, reasons for informal cross border trade in
Nigeria and Niger, ICBT in Nigeria and Niger .The fourth section critically analyses the key
determinants of ICBT in Nigeria and Niger while the fifth section evaluates its positive and
negatives impacts on Nigeria and Niger. The last section is the conclusion by making
relevant recommendations to Governments of Nigeria and Niger.
Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT)
Informal cross border trade is a crucial coping measure for poor households, especially
when unemployment is high. Informal cross-border trade (ICBT) constitutes a significant
economic force in terms of the value of goods traded and majority of the participants are
women. Trade has great potential to address mass poverty if the rules governing it take into
consideration the interests of the poor and vulnerable groups in society. Cross-border
trading is an economic activity that involves activities within a nation (internal) and
activities among nations that is international. The trading activity becomes complex when
describing buying and selling at the border, where product exhibition can be regarded as a
distinct activity which involves daily buying and selling, semi-formalized marketing
activities and other transactions. This trading activity is in accordance to the terms and
conditions of supply and demand. This is also the key movement of cross border activities
with respect to Economic transactions across borderlands. The nature of exhibited products
for informer cross border trading are textiles (material, ready-made clothes, second-hand
clothes), foodstuffs such as polished rice, frozen chicken/turkey and tinned foods ,jewellery,
tyres/motor spare parts, batteries/electronics, fairly used cars, and plastics/detergents
(Afolayan, 2000 and Malungisa, 2015).
A large informal sector can pose problems for policymakers and the overall economic
development of both countries. Informal enterprises may provide a short-term solution to a
household’s livelihood needs, creating an economy with a higher proportion of formal
enterprises and jobs is important to long-term welfare creation, stability and poverty
reduction‖ (OECD, 2009). A large informal sector could indeed deprive governments of
needed tax revenue which could be reinvested into infrastructure development and other
national development priorities; it could influence the development of economic policy
objectives by skewing the reliability of (trade, income and labour market) data; breed a
culture of corruption in public administrations (including in Customs) and hinder further
investments in local (formal) SMEs, which constitute the major part of the private sector in
developing countries and are key to their economic development and growth. This sector
plays a major role in most countries, especially developing countries (Nigeria and Niger)
.The importance of this sector has continued to be seen since the adverse effects experienced
in these countries as a result of the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the 1990s and
the current financial crisis facing the world countries (Aluoch,2014).
Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) is a segment of informal sector which plays an
important role in developing countries and act as accelerator of economic development and
regional development of the borderland areas. Perception of public on the word informal
means involving in illegal, while most governments still view that the activities of the
informal cross border trade are illegal, irrespective of the benefits that ICBT has brought to
the economies of borderlands as well as the country. According to Organization of
Economic cooperation and Development (OECD) (2009) ICBT can be defined as “trade in
legitimately produced goods and services, which escapes the regulatory framework set by
the government, as such avoiding certain tax and regulatory burden”. This kind of trade does
not necessarily consist of micro and small traders only but also big firms that give wrong
Shola et al. (2020) / Jurnal Aplikasi Manajemen, Ekonomi dan Bisnis 4(2) 34-42
36
size and grouping of their goods therefore being under invoiced or masking and smuggling
goods in order to avoid custom duties and taxes.
Category Of Cross-Border Trade
Sourced: OECD (2009)
These three different categories of informal cross-border traders have been able to build
sustainable livelihoods. This categorization of cross borders traders is based on their
motivation to conduct informal cross-border trade, main source of income, business
turnover and ploughing back of profits to business and ownership of trading license. People
engaged in ICBT as survival strategy just to reduce the harsh economic condition in their
environs, the push and pull causes of Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) are based on the
lack of formal employment as a result of economic reforms, rural-urban migration and low
wages. Mostly residents of contiguous (neighbouring) border areas across boundaries move
daily to exploit differences in prices, wages, and regulatory practices because ICBT is
significant contributor to poverty reduction, employment and wealth creation (Mzizi, 2010,
Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, 2007).
Problems of ICBT
The migrant nature of informal cross-border trade has brought with it social stresses
negatively affecting informal traders. The prevalent relationship between HIV, Ebola,
Yellow fever and other viral diseases as a result of migration in western African and
examined by African union and Ecowas. Cross-border traders exposed to HIV/AIDS are
attributable to the nature of their occupation as well as the social and economic structures
prevailing in the region. Most time people are facing challenges in terms of logistics,
transporting goods from customs officials and other security agents within the border
environs, paying extra money to drivers to bribe security agents, moving goods in different
vehicles to beat security agents at check points among others (Jawando , Adeyemi, &
Oguntola-Laguda,2012 and Malungisa, 2015 ).
Social protection is an instrument of the government for the citizenry in terms of amenities,
welfare and social security which caters for their adequately protection against social,
economic and other risks. This policy does not provide protection for informal traders
because they perceived them of illegal practices while provisions of social security, medical
schemes and insurance cover the formal cross border traders . The lack of social protection
for the cross border traders reveals a negative side of informality (Malungisa, 2015). The
legal and policy environment lags behind the needs of informal traders, credit is mainly
restricted to formal businesses and banking regulations are often too stringent for informal
traders to operate foreign currency accounts. Informal cross border traders are rendered
vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, sexual harassment and corrupt officials because of inadequate
social protection, complex procedures at border posts, and poor access to health services
while abroad. The emerging trade regime is developing in ways that are gender insensitive.
Informal traders are often harassed by government operations designed to ‘clean up’ the
streets. Broader aspects of the legal system not directly related to trade, such as marriage
laws, may also affect traders’ ability to trade (Afolayan, 2000 and Malungisa, 2015).
Category A
Category B
Category C
Informal
(Unregistered) traders
or firms operating
entirely outside the
formal economy.
Formal (registered) firms
totally disregarding trade
regulations and evading
duties (example avoiding
official border-crossing
posts).
Formal (registered) firms partly
disregarding trade regulations
and evading duties by resorting
to illegal practices (e.g., under-
invoicing, wrong classification,
wrong declaration of country of
origin and /or bribery of border
officials)
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37
Approaches to ICBT
As Ellis and MacGaffey (1997) argue, ICBT complexity is best addressed by a multifaceted
approach such as follows:
i) Mirror trade data: This approach is always often used to assess the extent of smuggling; it
involves comparing recorded imports of a country to total recorded exports from the rest of
the world (ROW). If the source country‘s reported exports exceed the destination country‘s
reported imports by more than can be explained by trade costs, smuggling is inferred .Intra-
African smuggling, however, cannot be fully apprehended with mirror data, since official
trade statistics from both the exporting and importing country fail to record this cross-border
trade. For example, smuggling cannot be inferred directly from recorded Nigeria-Niger
bilateral trade, which is very small as noted above as recorded by both Nigeria and Niger.
ii) Domestic customs data: Nigeria customs service always collect more information than
they report in official statistics in national publications and reproduced in international
organizations‘databases such as the IMF Direction of Trade and the UN comtrade. For
example, in Benin and Togo, most goods arriving into the country are classified into
categories for domestic use‘, re-exports and transit‘. Obtaining this information from
customs and decoding it poses challenges, and probably requires on-site visits and contacts
within the government.
iii) Price differences across borders: this is another approach that gives rise to ICBT and can
be studied. If arbitrage through ICBT were perfect, such price differences would not be
observable, but in fact, transport costs and other impediments to trade mean that price
differences persist even in the face of large-scale ICBT. To the extent that observed price
differences can be explained by different government policies, the prima facie case for
expecting smuggling to occur is strengthened.
iv) Observation of Borders: this approach is best for analysing free flow of trade, A
common approach to quantifying trade flows is observation of trader activities at border
crossings. This method has the advantage of direct observation rather than inference and can
be a crucial source of information for understanding the modalities of trade. However, it
may be very difficult to obtain a full picture of some types of trade in this way, for various
reasons. The number of trucks arriving at the border can be counted but the exact contents
of the trucks may not be easily ascertainable. Moreover, routes taken by ICBT are varied.
Some traders cross at official border posts, with partial or full cooperation of customs
officials, but others attempt to evade customs checkpoints, going through the bush or by
water. In many instances, border posts are few and far between and it‘s difficult for traders
to pass through official crossings even if they would prefer to do so.
v) Interviews: The cross border trader may be suspicious of the motives of researchers and
not be inclined to talk at all or if they do, may not reveal the full truth. Nevertheless,
researchers have had considerable success with this method, particularly when trust is
developed by repeated contacts over time. By obtaining the perspective of a diverse group
of participants and cross-checking their responses, one can eventually develop a detailed
understanding of the operation of ICBT, how it has evolved over time and the key policy
issues.
Reasons for Informal Cross Border Trade in Nigeria and Niger
A major reason for informal cross border trading is the comparatively high profit margin in
the business activities and a wide difference in the exchange rates of the naira and the CFA
franc. Goods originating from Nigeria are sold in exchange for the convertible currency, the
CFA franc. Nigeria Petrol is sold at a price higher than the pump price, which makes it
profitable and attractive to Nigerians seeking foreign exchange. There is no price control
and mechanism in Nigeria but there is in Niger due to bad policy.
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38
Government policy with respect to the importation of goods is more liberal in Niger than
Nigeria. The tax on imported cars (new and used) is much higher in Nigeria; hence,
Nigerians prefer to cross the border and buy their cars. Certain food items which have been
banned in Nigeria and which are available in Niger are similarly imported through the back
door. In addition, since the oil boom era, Nigerians have developed a taste for imported
goods. There is, therefore, a ready market for such goods in Nigeria. Added to this is the
fact that the goods are either cheaper, relative to Nigerian-made goods, or are considered to
be of better quality.
ICBT in Nigeria and Niger
According to Afrika and Ajumbo (2012) Informal cross border trade is a trade with large
proportion of the products traded within or exported from the region are raw or semi-
processed, particularly agro-industrial products originating from or being destined to Niger.
The Nigerian hub is one of the most active with informal exports going to countries like
Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. In Niger, it is estimated that tens of thousands of tons of
Nigerian grains are sold annually and Informal trade in petroleum products has aid make
Nigeria the major economic power in West Africa by supplying areas (especially rural ones)
which are shunned by traditional international companies such as Total, Shell and BP but
also national distribution companies.
Informal cross border trading is deeply rooted in West Africa’s cultural history. Lagos’
“Tinubu Square” was labeled after a famous Yoruba informal cross border trader by the
name of Madam Efunroye Tinubu. Madam Tinubu owed her economic success and fame to
massive, cross regional informal trading in salts and arms during the British colonial era.
Madam Tinubu’s fame pales in comparison to the modern day women informal cross border
traders of Togo known as the “Nana-Benz”. Then, as now, these women conduct their
businesses on the regional and even international stage, drawing on a long history of trading
experience as informal cross border traders. Large and multi‐directional informal
cross‐border trade of foodstuff, gold and manufactures exist in the Western African region
because informal and formal cross-border trade takes place against a backdrop of insecurity
to persons and goods from corrupt law-enforcement agencies or cross border robbing gangs
or syndicates. Traders carrying money often run the risk of having money seized.
The insecurity of traders is compounded by the fact that border infrastructure (warehousing
facilities, reliable transport, etc.) is inadequate and that traders often do not have valid travel
documents. Despite the challenges, in West Africa, cross-border trade (both formal and
informal) remains the most efficient, organized and deep-rooted system of trade in the sub-
region. The commercial skills, experience and organizational infrastructure of cross-border
networks represents invaluable resources for the development of effective West African
trade.
Determinants of Informal Cross Border Trade in Nigeria and Niger.
A variety of factors are responsible for the spread of ICBT in my study location but key
causes vary from one region to the other, the main determinants of ICBT in Africa can be
categorized as follows:
Lack of trade facilitation: The trade facility along the border is lengthy and costly. Crossing
formal borders can take days at times and costs of clearance, processing fees, tariffs and
taxes are generally above the value of goods being traded informally. Documentary
requirements should be reduced and regional tariff and custom duties, other existing tax
regimes should be reviewed to factor in ICBT. Monitoring and cyber gadget should be used
as a springboard to monitor and evaluate ICBT activities.
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39
Inadequate border Infrastructure: Border infrastructure issues should be addressed in order
to enhance the movement and security of traders and their goods. There should be necessary
infrastructures like proper warehousing facilities, community markets, transport networks
and especially functional and adequately staffed border institutions and agencies makes it
unattractive, inefficient and sometimes downright dangerous to trade via formal routes.
Lack of adequate public and private transportation systems causes delays, forcing traders to
miss community market days and their consumable goods especially agricultural produce to
perish Limited access to finance also plays a prominent role since traders are not bankable
and transactions are cash based or bartered. Most traders lack working capital and tangible
business assets making it difficult for them to get financing.
Limited market information: this is one of the key determinants because it is difficult for
informal cross border traders to tap into regional and local market opportunities. In most
African regions, the provision of information on cross-border markets is at best, minimal.
Since most traders operate outside regular business circles, market information on prices,
demand and supply is generally not available to them. They generally rely on informal
sometimes unreliable information networks. Information on policies, regulations,
agreements and protocols for the facilitation of cross-border trade is equally difficult to
obtain. These should be published in reader friendly language and conspicuously displayed
at border points in order to enhance communication and expedite implementation. More
must be done to provide market intelligence services at key border points to facilitate flow
of information on prices, demand and supply but also policies and regulations affecting
cross-border trade.
Corruption & Insecurity at the border: This bad action fuels ICBT and corrupt law-
enforcement agencies abuse local traders’ lack of knowledge on customs procedures so as to
influence their unethical practices (bribes). Traders carrying money run the risk of having
money seized while some regions have recorded high incidences of rapes, lack of effective
policing at border points and market ports increases the incidence of crimes against traders,
forcing them to travel in groups to protect themselves, or simply use informal routes.
Low knowledge, Education and Business management skills: this is also at the basic of
attention on ICBT because these traders are generally less educated and often lack basic
business management skills. Business skills are generally acquired via traditional means and
numeracy as well as literacy levels are notoriously low in some regions. This is exacerbated
by a lack of knowledge and understanding of customs procedures and regional trade
protocols. Conducting border community sensitization campaigns and empowering local
traders with basic knowledge on management and customs procedures could go a long way
solving ICBT issue.
Positive Impact of Cross Border Trading
ICBT contributes to the economies of both Nigeria and Niger in various ways. It enables
smallscale entrepreneurs to escape poverty and to meet the education, housing and
other basic needs.
ICBT traders employ people in their home countries and in the countries where they
source their goods; and its also a supplementary source of family income to people who
are underemployed and a source of employment to some people who were retrenched
following economic restructuring that was occasioned by structural adjustment
programmes (SAPs).
Judging from the monthly values of income that traders realise from ICBT, it is apparent
that the majority of ICBT participants survive on more than US$2 a day which some of
them would never have achieved under formal employment, especially considering the
shrinking economies of the two countries.
The number of people indulging in ICBT having degreelevel education is rising. On the
one hand, this is a pointer that that crossborder trade is increasingly becoming more
Shola et al. (2020) / Jurnal Aplikasi Manajemen, Ekonomi dan Bisnis 4(2) 34-42
40
sophisticated, requiring better education for one to be able to interact and trade
smoothly across the borders; however, it also confirms that most university graduates
these days are without jobs or starting capital to pursue formal business. Thus, an
increasing number of them resort to informal businesses including ICBT as a form of
employment and means of income generation.
A majority of the ICBT participants are between the age of 30 and 40 years. This is the
age at which many people in both countries have married and have more responsibilities
to take care of, but lack of formal sources income enhance motives and to meet their
family responsibilities, given the realities of our ‘change’ economies.
ICBT encourage and give benefit of lower prices of the informally imported products
since they evade a lot of transaction costs. The low prices they offer have sometimes
increased competitive pressure on firms operating in the formal sector; in some cases,
this has promoted price efficiency, especially, where the formal sector were initially
raking in supernormal profits and an edge to the consumers.
Negative Impact of Cross Border Trading
The major fact and data on ICBT are not recorded in our national statistics because it’s
not available which implies what has always been stated as GDP of Nigeria and Niger
economies is often grossly underestimated. The consequences might actually be wrong
perception about the real trade balances of these economies with each other, the trade
benefits accruing to them from regional integration, and it might continue to give a
wrong impression about the extent of the performance and direction of growth of
regional trade in both countries since only formal trade statistics are used to make such
analysis and judgments.
It is possible that as a result of the missing data on ICBT, both countries has been
engaging in wrong policy prescriptions which might have led to some unintended
negative impacts or unnecessary diversion of resources away from other important
projects, thus impacting negatively the regional trade integration and development of
both countries.
It is confirmed that formal firms are more productive than informal ones, due to scale
and scope economies, access to capital and technology and more advanced methods of
production and distribution. This suggests that significant productivity gains would be
achieved in our economies by transferring production from lowproductivity informal
firms to more productive formal firms or by facilitating the formalisation of informal
firms. In that case, thus, the unfair competition from ICBT players may have the
longrun effect of reducing competition and as such may prevent the more productive
formal firms from entering or expanding in the market.
A large informal sector could also deprive governments of needed tax revenue (such as
VAT) which could have been reinvested into energy and infrastructure development,
which are some of the critical priorities of both countries.
The presence of a large number of customs/immigration officers at the border and their
exploitative behaviour.
Complained of experiencing a great deal of hassle at the checkpoint, this made
crossing tedious.
The difficulty in obtaining travelling documents and the fluctuating exchange rate
were also problems of cross border trading as stated by 6.5 % of the traders.
Language barrier is also key negatives because most Nigeria would speak english
while the other participant in Niger will speak french.
CONCLUSION
Informal cross-border trade indicates a significant proportion of regional cross-border trade
in Nigeria and Niger, for some selected goods, the volume of informal flows exceeds formal
trade flows. Available literatures indicate that a substantial share of informal flows
concerns staple food commodities (maize, rice, beans and cattle) and low quality consumer
Shola et al. (2020) / Jurnal Aplikasi Manajemen, Ekonomi dan Bisnis 4(2) 34-42
41
goods (clothes, shoes and electronic appliances). As a result of this, it shows that informal
cross-border trade is mainly conducted by individual dealers and micro, small and medium-
sized enterprises (MSMEs) and often consist of relatively small consignments of goods.
Informal trade has several short- and medium-term benefits (increasing food security,
alleviating poverty and providing employment) and it is likely to lead to negative economic
and developmental effects in the long run. Governments should therefore aim to better
integrate and link informal trade with formal trade. This can be done by encouraging
informal firms to register and formalise their domestic activities. Informal cross-border trade
remains a vital part of rural economic activity and invisible integration. It benefits from
ethnic groups across Africa’s borders since it minimizes language and cultural barriers
unlike mutually unintelligible official English and Portuguese used by the state between
Tanzania and Mozambique, respectively, or border anyin, nzima, awom, Sewfi, and baole
are local languages of trade spoken on both sides; while Hausa is used across the Niger-
Nigeria border.
Finally, ICBT will aid alleviate poverty and enhance regional food security; Nigeria and
Niger should enhance its research and development on the ICBT sector in order to design
more appropriate policy responses; ICBT which produces positive socio-economic
ramifications should not be criminalized and it should be streamlined in National and
regional trade strategies ( Afrika and Ajumbo,2012).
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The informal sector still constitutes an important part of developing country economies. In Africa, it is estimated to represent 43 percent of official gross domestic product (GDP), thus being almost equivalent to the formal sector. While this phenomenon may provide short-term solutions to poor households, in the longer term, it can seriously challenge the economic development of African countries. This study explores one particular aspect of the informal economy, namely informal cross-border trade in selected Sub-Saharan African countries, and identifies which trade facilitation measures (such as those currently negotiated at the World Trade Organisation) have the potential to encourage traders to switch from informal to formal trade. The paper considers measures that help reduce direct and indirect trade transaction costs arising from mandatory import- and export-related procedures; mechanisms that simplify trade-related regulations and requirements for selected low value transactions; and policies that help enhance compliance levels with existing international trade regulations. In addition, the study explores a number of complementary measures (such as the provision of effective business support services to ?formal? traders and enhanced dialogue between traders and border agencies) which can further encourage firms to formalise their cross-border transactions. The paper does however not suggest that trade facilitation reform alone will help reduce informal cross-border trade nor that governments will be able to fully eliminate its incidence in the region.
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