Tarj Forum & Trade fair was introduced to connect the people of Africa, in business, trade, and unity, with the common goal of promoting economic development in the continent. In pursuance of this goal, the forum will encourage governmental policymakers to adopt liberalized and inter-regional trade and investment policies that would spur accelerated economic development.
The forum will tackle issues hindering development in the continent, and focus on sectors that can drive growth in the region. Therefore, intellectuals and professional speakers with experience in various sectors and government officials are invited to grace the four (4) days event.
The trade fair offers participants the opportunity to showcase, promote and market their products—and for participants to connect with businesses and investors across the continent. The trade fair will bring the continent together in one market space to promote intra-regional trade.
Regional integration has been part of the African continent’s overarching development strategy for economic transformation for over five decades. One of the proposed approaches to building a strong integrated union when the African Union commemorated its 50th anniversary was through the strengthening and streamlining of regional trade and economic organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The key question here is why have countries involved in regional integration in sub-Saharan African failed to foster trade competitiveness competition, access to wider markets (via trade), larger and diversified investments/production, socioeconomic stability and bargaining power? The Journal will address these and other intractable policy questions.
Issues such as answers to questions like “What are the fundamental challenges to trade (the free movement of goods and services) that need to be addressed in order to fully reap the benefits of regional integration in Africa?” will be tackled by a broad range of economic and policy experts from across the continent of Africa and beyond.
The importance of trade and investment cannot be overstated since these two engines of infrastructure and economic development are widely accepted as a necessary instrument of income growth and social empowerment of the citizenry. This theory has been proven by the fact that many regions and countries of the world that have been able to lift their people from poverty to prosperity through trade.
Although the African economy is characterized by a relatively high degree of openness, with the ratio of exports and imports to GDP on the increase in the past few years, trade has not served as a potent instrument for the achievement of rapid and sustainable economic growth and development for many of the countries. As a consequence, Africa remains the most aid-dependent continent in the world, unable to eliminate poverty through trade. The Journal aims to help change this narrative.
The adverse consequence of African countries not trading enough much with one another is that they have been unable to take full advantage of the economy of scale, and other benefits such as income and employment generation, that greater market integration might have provided. This is one reason the African Regional Journal is passionate about championing the course of the regional economic integration of African economies.
The fact that almost all African countries does the bulk of its trade with countries and trading block outside the continent of Africa—with its exports heavily concentrated on commodities trade, the continent has been particularly vulnerable to external microeconomic shocks and protectionist trade policies of economically advanced and highly industrialized countries. The African Regional Journal will offer a more economically sustainable model for trade and commerce on the African continent.
It is the informed opinion of the African Regional Journal that the continent can only reduce its vulnerability to external shocks and improve its economic performance if regional and continental-wide market integration is deepened, and countries do more to promote intra-regional trade.