Agri-food markets in Africa are not well integrated at the local, regional an international level, with trade barriers hampering exports/imports as well as the value chain development. Trade via better market access has the potential to create income and welfare, while improving the food security situation, i.e. providing people in Africa with sufficient food of an acceptable quality level at fair prices. The projects aims at providing insights into opportunities and challenges for expanding local, regional and international trade and market access, while considering supply chains from the African importer/exporter perspective. Specifically, we address trade and market access issues in three African countries (Senegal, Ghana and South Africa) and two African trade regions (Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and Southern Africa Development Community, SADC) and EU-Africa trade relations. The focus is on three product categories that are important for current and potential African trade: fresh fruits and vegetables, grain products as well as meat.

For the countries/regions and products, we investigate how trade and market access is influenced by trade agreements, non-tariff measures, e.g. sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barrier to trade and customs procedures and private standards, price trends and volatility, market logistics/infrastructure and institutions. For the analysis, we apply quantitative and qualitative methods to look into the effects on local, regional and international trade, at both the macro- and micro-level. This includes obtaining first-hand information on the trade and market access issues that really matter and discussing with key stakeholders how to solve and overcome them. This is illustrated in Figure 1.

In the project, African and European researchers work in close collaboration so as to facilitate exchange and generate common contributions that help improve trade relations and market access in the interest of both Africa and Europe.

Our research approach

With our project, we aim at providing more integrated and comparative evidence on the multiple dimensions of trade – including local, regional and international trade, export as well as import flows from and to Africa, including intra African trade, and Europe.

Our methodological approach takes into account three dimensions of trade of market access:

  • Local, regional and international trade
  • Exports and imports
  • Micro and macro-level effects

This multi-country, multi-market, and multi-scale research approach extends standard case study approaches in a number of dimensions. First, we add cross-county comparisons along a gradient of market integration. Second, we analyse the functioning of markets both at the micro- and at the macro-level in order to combine an improved understanding of the local mechanisms at work for individual decision makers with the consequences at the politically relevant levels of the countries/regions. Third, we take into account interactions between local, regional and international markets.

Stakeholder involvement

Stakeholder involvement plays an integral role in all WPs to ensure that our analysis takes into account the trade/business realities. Information from stakeholders is important for the interpretation/validation of results, thereby ensuring the impact of our research. We make use of our networks, organize interviews and a number of focus group discussions with representatives of industry organizations in each sector. For each supply chain, four dialogue meetings with key stakeholders are planned in the African partner countries. The stakeholders in Europe will be approached jointly. We will organize these intensive dialogue meetings in small groups rather than large workshops that have proven as being not sufficiently targeted for obtaining first-hand information.

If you are interested as a stakeholder of the agri-food trade, non-tariff measures and market access, please contact us via the contact form on the webpage (see contact).

Impact path way of the project

The impact pathway of our project is based on the combination of the three dimensions of trade and market access, as described in the idea of the project. First, looking at both imports and exports in a comparative approach adds to the literature that usually considers developing country agri-food exports only. The combined macro- and micro-economic analyses are innovative since the results shed light on the implications at both country and firm levels, while exploiting methodological advances in new trade theory with a micro-level underpinning and application. Simultaneous analyses of down- and up-stream links help to understand trickle-down effects within supply chains and to explore network structures.

Taking into account and integrating these dimensions of trade adds value to the existing research and standard methodologies commonly applied. While bringing forward the standard trade analysis by the innovative link of micro and macro analyses, we incorporate the granularity necessary for generating results that provide insights on the economic effects but also employment, income and welfare effects. Results will be for specific producers and groups (e.g. smallholders, women, youth), thereby providing insights on inclusiveness and equity. Given the granularity, the results of our analyses provide evidence that supports the formulation of targeted policies and programmes. Furthermore, they will point out how to improve market access by identifying which actors along the supply chain should be targeted. Our findings will help to minimize the downsides of existing trade barriers, thereby having an impact on the prevalent realities when producing/selling the respective products at the local, regional and/or international market.

Furthermore, the results will generate insights into opportunities and challenges for expanding local, regional and international trade and for improving access to agri-food markets for different types of actors. Better trade conditions, in particular for agricultural products, constitute a key component for a viable food security strategy in Africa. Ultimately, this proposal will identify policy and investment priorities in order to make agricultural trade work for improved food security.