This briefing note, extracted from a full report entitled Trade infrastructure: Programming options in Southern Africa presents some important economic indicators and trends to show how diverse the economies are in Southern Africa, and some of the issues they are encountering especially with low economic growth rates, falling foreign direct investments and limited intra-regional trade. The note then explores the more ‘recent’ regional integration drives, providing an update on the Tripartite Free Trade Area implementation. This sets the scene for some important trade data from the region including intra-regional trade data – which shows how marginal regional trade is as compared to international trade (i.e. countries in our study trading with international markets outside Africa).