Publication: Lake Chad Regional Economic Memorandum: Technical Paper 7. Trade Patterns and Trade Networks in the Lake Chad Region

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Walkenhorst, Peter
The Lake Chad Region (LCR) is an economically interdependent area that encompasses parts of Cameroon (Extrême-Nord), Chad (Chari Baguirmi, Hadjer Lamis, Kenam, and Lac), Niger (Diffa and Zinder), and Nigeria (Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe). The region is characterized by strong historical, ethnic, cultural, and political ties, as well as commercial linkages that extend across its porous borders. Indeed, many if not most of the cross-border exchanges are not recorded in official import and export statistics. Informal trade is widespread throughout Africa (Bouet, Pace, and Glauber 2018; World Bank 2020), particularly if formal state institutions are under stress. Traders try to avoid import or export declarations as well as border taxes, and customs and other border agencies often tolerate the cross-border trade of small consignments without the need to comply with formal procedures. This does not necessarily mean that these trade flows go untaxed, though. Border officials might levy fees that do not have a legal basis, and state or local authorities often ask for informal payments at roadblocks or in marketplaces. The LCR is far from a seaport and, hence, heavily landlocked. This condition means that the cost of connecting to international markets is high. As a result, consumers in the LCR pay a high price for imports from global markets, whereas producers in the region get a low price for their exports to international clients. The region faces other challenges that stress its production base and depress economic development. These challenges include erratic weather patterns with frequent periods of drought, as well as environmental degradation of the lake. The most important threat to the well-being and the livelihood of the population in recent years has been the deteriorating security situation, though.
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Walkenhorst, Peter. 2021. Lake Chad Regional Economic Memorandum: Technical Paper 7. Trade Patterns and Trade Networks in the Lake Chad Region. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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