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A trade database has been set up with support from the African Development Bank for East and Southern African countries to benefit from information on trade and markets in the regions.

Plans to set up a transparent and easily accessible database will likely boost the free flow of goods and services in fields such as agriculture and health, experts have said.

Inadequate access to trade data at the country level has been a barrier, according to participants in a capacity-building workshop held in Nairobi from the 10-11 July.

Represented by stakeholders from over 10 African countries, they agreed on training on how to organise and present data on trade in online portals that can be accessed by farmers and businesspersons.

The African Development Bank contributed US$7.5 million while the UN Conference on Trade and Development is providing technical assistance to the member states in COMESA, EAC and SADC regions for the project.

SciDev reports that the database, which is still being developed, is set to contain data from 26 countries that make the tripartite free-trade area of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

It will use an online mechanism to monitor and report non-tariff barriers (NTBs): restrictions on imports and exports through any method other than a tariff, such as licensing or inspections.

“We are here to help nations on how to develop information portals and a database on trade,” says Vonesai Hove, NTBs online mechanism manager of the Tripartite Capacity Building Programme.

Credit: SciDev