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Towards the Integration of Markets: Competition in Road Transportation of Perishable Goods between Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

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Abstract: Rapid urbanization and rising income levels in Southern Africa have increased the consumption of perishable and processed food products. This paper relies primarily on firm-level interview data to assess competition and bottlenecks in transporting time-sensitive perishable products across borders between Harare, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, and Lusaka. High transport prices in 2015 — almost double the benchmark rates applied and rates for transportation of commodities — are partly explained by concentration in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and lack of return loads to Johannesburg. Rates could be significantly reduced through a platform for coordinating access to return loads, reducing delays at borders, and effectively implementing preclearance procedures.

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