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Abstract

This paper evaluates the production and trade trends for maize and maize products in southern Africa, individual countries’ revealed comparative advantages in producing these products, and the expected implications of freer trade in this sector. The analysis employs mainly annual bilateral trade data for the period 1996-2004, evaluated using comprehensive descriptive measures and the Revealed Comparative Advantage index. Results indicate that at least half of the countries in the SADC region are deficit producers of maize and maize products, and that only South Africa is a net exporter of all products considered. Substantial cross-hauling is observed, and the bulk of locally produced products are traded regionally, with over 90% regional bias for half of all positive trade, although specific opportunities for increased regional trade also exist. Tariff protection generally lies below rates observed elsewhere in the world for this sector; however, for half of the region, consistent non-tariff measures also are maintained. Regional competitiveness in production is restricted to a few countries that possess the capacity to produce and export significant quantities; and with the exception of those countries, the region as a whole lacks net comparative advantage in maize and maize flour production by global standards. These results suggest a need for concurrent policy interventions to improve production, regional and international trade. Food security strategies focusing solely on improving regional trade, while beneficial to specific regional producers, are unlikely to produce major food security benefits. Keywords: Comparative Advantage, Competitiveness, Maize, SADC,

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