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Hurdles to trade? South Africa’s immigration policy and informal sector cross-border traders in the SADC

7. What is the impact of this trade?

The research suggests that informal sector cross-border trade comprises a significant slice of informal sector economic activity in the region. Entrepreneurs engaged in this trade may not be numerically dominant in the informal sector but still play an important role. The trade therefore has an important impact on entrepreneurial development. It also provides a significant income earning opportunity for those who have access to capital which:

  • develops entrepreneurial skills and activity;


  • provides opportunities for entrepreneurial development in home countries through the accumulation of capital and expertise;


  • provides a significant independent income earning activity for women;


  • supports a significant number of child and adult dependents;


  • provides employment for entrepreneurs but also for their employees.
It also has a wider impact as a significant component of regional trade. Questions can be raised about the impact of trade in certain goods on the development of certain countries manufacturing and agricultural sectors (particularly Mozambique). However as the goods traded reflect those exported and imported by large formal sector traders, informal sector trade cannot be singled out. Complex questions also arise about its impact on food security (Minde &Nakhumwa, 1997; Macamo, 1998) where at times it appears to have a negative effect, but at others appears to enable a fast response to food shortages.

However, if the region is promoting the development of SMMEs and regional trade and integration as tools to development and poverty alleviation it appears that this trade should figure much larger in the minds of policy makers involved in developing trade, tariff, migration and economic policies and those concerned with empowering women. Informal sector cross-border trade appears to play a relatively significant role in alleviating poverty and promoting women’s economic empowerment—from those traders carrying goods worth R300 to those carrying goods worth R15,000.

Footnotes:
 
  1. Direcзгo Nacional Migraзгo de Moзambique.
  2. Direcзгo Nacional de Migraзгo de Moзambique
  3. Minutas Acordadas na Reuniгo Trilateral entre os Ministros do Interior de Moзambique, Africa do Sul e Suazilвndia, Maputo, 1 de Abril de 1998.

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