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Trade stakeholders such as national governments and regional economic communities have been investing to enhance intra-regional trade in Eastern and Southern Africa region. To measure the results of these investments, good and reliable trade data are essential. Any trade related policy decision making and planning are made based on analysis of available data. If the quality of trade data has a problem, the resultant macro-economic analysis and policy recommendation are misleading. Country A’s recorded exports to Country B should match Country B’s recorded imports from Country A, i.e. identical mirror records. Due to weak data infrastructure (entailing difficulties in data harmonization, different data collection methodologies and missing data), mirror statistics are often very different. The focus of this paper is to analyze the status of the quality of trade data in ESA region by use of total and absolute average discrepancy for the period 2010-2014. The methodology analyses consistency of trade data involving a specific product and on bilateral trade involving a sample of products. Focus products are grains and pulses, livestock/products, processed flour and vegetables, chosen based on data availability and prominence in food trade. The results show mixed scenarios: for some countries and products trade statistics are consistent while for others discrepancies were noted. We recommend continuous capacity building and strengthening of systems for collecting, analyzing and reporting trade data. There is need for joint data reconciliation and synchronizing data collection systems and procedures. We also recommend studies to establish the causes and characteristics of data discrepancies.


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