Symposium: Symposium on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Convenor: Md. Rizwanul Islam
The contributions to the symposium on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) feature essays from across the world. The topics are diverse too: some dwell on the geopolitical implications of the RCEP, some dwell on its dispute settlement chapter, while some others on issues which the text of the Agreement either ignores or deals with only perfunctorily. Despite the divergence of the views of the contributors, on some points, they broadly tend to agree. They clearly perceive the RCEP as the beginning of a growing trend where economies in the Asia-Pacific region could play a much more pivotal rule in global trade rulemaking. They also tend to agree that compared to the other mega-regional trade agreements, the RCEP is less ambitious in its scope in that it has scant provisions on matters such as labour rights or environmental standards. And broadly, the contributions predict that the signing of the RCEP may give an impetus to the US joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which though may somehow be jolted by the pressing domestic challenges of the new US administration.
Symposium: Taxation and the Digital Economy – Latin American and the Caribbean Regional Perspectives
There is a global consensus that the existing international tax rules and standards are not adequate to fairly allocate taxing rights and income among countries, prevent tax base-eroding transactions carried by multinationals, and fight harmful tax competition among countries. The digitalization of the economy has exacerbated these problems, and even developed countries are not able to collect taxes on the profits of some multinationals anymore. Thus, countries are seeking to reform the international legal tax system focusing on the corporate taxation standards and the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy. Notwithstanding the efforts at the international level, States are increasingly resorting to domestic measures to ascertain taxing rights on digital companies such as the imposition of Digital Services Tax (DST). Paradoxically, digital companies are also improving tax compliance, providing for innovative tools for the combat of tax evasion and stimulating economic inclusion of informal activities. Digital services like cloud computing, blockchain, big data analysis, and electronic payments are playing a relevant role in the modernization of tax administrations, the simplification of taxing procedures, and the development of Domestic Resources Mobilization (DRM) strategies, for example.
This symposium organized by the AfronomicsLaw with the assistance of Monica Victor focuses on the synergies between taxation and the digital economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Critical reflections based on theoretical arguments, empirical analysis and the actual steps that the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Region countries are taking to tax the digital economy appropriately while also modernizing tax administration and procedures are welcome.
Tax Administration, Tax Payers’ Rights & Tax Incentives
Teaching and Learning, Digital Taxation and Tax Treaties
Symposium: Global Value Chains, Trade and Development
This online symposium is the outcome of a workshop on ‘GVCs, Trade and Development’ hosted by the Kent Law School and IEL collective in July 2020 and supported by the British Academy (Grant no. MD19\190020). The workshop engaged with the policy research literature produced by the World Trade Organisation and World Bank since 2013, in particular their Global Value Chain Development (GVCD) reports of 2017 and 2019.
This symposium opens up a space where multilateral trade law can be re-imagined in ways that are more supportive of the well-being of actors involved in value chain trade. Our contributors centre their analysis of IEL and GVCs around concepts of precarity, equality and social justice. This is especially important at a time when responses to labour, social and environmental inequalities and wealth concentration oscillate between the defense of the global economic order that has contributed to them and the withdrawal from the multilateral trade system, and multilateralism altogether, with the pursuit of competitive interests along nationalistic lines. If, as Azevedo has put it in the context of the international response to the COVID-19 crisis, we want to ‘lay the foundations for a strong, sustained and socially inclusive recovery [where t]rade [is] an important ingredient … along with fiscal and monetary policy’ this rethinking is urgently needed.
Theme 1: GVCs as the Next Development Frontier?
Theme 2: GVCs as Enablers of Inequalities and Dependencies
Theme 3: Power, Accountability and the Constitutive Role of Law in GVCs
Symposium: Did Decolonisation Stall in the Global South? A Conversation with Ian Taylor
This symposium is around the theme of an article published by Ian Taylor (Taylor, I. (2020). Sixty Years Later: Africa’s Stalled Decolonization. Vestnik RUDN. International Relations, 19 (4), 39—53. DOI: 10.22363/2313-0660-2020-20-1-39-53). The basic premise of Taylor’s article is that sixty years after decolonization, most African countries continue to be entrenched in a set of connections that fit well with Kwame Nkrumah’s description of neo-colonialism. In other words, sustainable growth and development in Africa continues to be blocked by the domination of external economies. As a result, African countries remain constrained from accumulating the necessary capital for auto-centric growth since the surplus is transferred overseas. The essays in this symposium react to Prof Taylor’s paper by interrogating embedded structures of knowledge generation and creation, economic development in Latin America, international law, investment agreements, and continental integration in 60th anniversary of Year of Africa. This symposium ends with a response from Prof. Ian Taylor.
Kimani Goddard: The Importance of Intellectual Property and International Investment Agreements for Overcoming the “Peripheral Economy Trap”: A Response to Ian Taylor’s “Sixty Years Later: Africa’s Stalled Decolonization
Symposium: Intellectual Property Rights: Global Rules, Regional and National Realities
This Symposium is one of the follow-up publications to the Afronomicslaw.org Webinar III ‘Intellectual Property Rights: Global Rules, Regional and National Realities.’
David Enrique Betancourt Cruz: Beyond Intellectual Property? “Open science” to overcome COVID-19
The NUS Centre for International Law recently released its report on ‘Teaching and Researching International Law in Asia’ (TRILA) on the back of its inaugural conference in 2018. The TRILA Report presents a comprehensive empirical survey of the state of international law teaching and research in Asia. While the Report is focused on Asia, it is intended to contribute to the growing global discussion on teaching and researching international law around the world.
In this online Symposium, Afronomicslaw and NUS Centre for International Law bring together junior and senior scholars and researchers from across the world to critically and comparatively reflect on important issues that we, as academics, face daily, such as teaching approaches and the challenges and opportunities the teaching of international law that technology presents. This rich set of essays also helpfully reflect on ways that we could consider collectively reassessing the international law canon currently centered on the experiences of the Global North. Needless to point out, the essays also take into account the drastic changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated both in our teaching of international law and in the remaking of institutional priorities.
Week One: Country or Regional Studies
Balraj K Sidhu: TRILA and India: A Plea for its Restoration
Week Two: Institutional Frameworks and Reflections
Vellah Kedogo Kigwiru: To Blog or not to Blog? Technology, Blogging from a Pedagogical Consideration and Teaching International Economic Law: Taking Blogging Seriously from the Lens of AfronomicsLaw Blog
Week Three: What Needs to be Done
Symposium: Centering Voices From the Global South on Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform: A Debate
The various asymmetries of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) regime are well known. For example, only investors can bring cases against States. States are disabled from commencing cases against investors for any violations investors commit, except through the rare and difficult counterclaim route. The overwhelming number of arbitrators who sit on ISDS panels are white and very likely male even though an overwhelming number of ISDS suits involve non-White Global South countries as respondents. The substantive legal regime upon which the ISDS system is predicated excludes the protection of values such as the environment and human rights as integral guarantees alongside investor protections such as the anti-expropriation norm. In addition, the overwhelming policy and scholarly debates about the reform of the ISDS system are largely defined and dominated by western voices.
This symposium is intentionally designed to center voices from the Global South in the veritable tradition of Afronomicslaw.org of amplifying, centering and making visible voices from the Global South in discussions and debates, whether scholarly, policy or otherwise on international economic law. For the purpose of this symposium, we categorize these debates under two broad rubrics – contributions that defend the ISDS regime as it is, and contributions that are critical of the system and seek its reform.
Symposium: Vulnerabilities in the Trade and Investment Regimes in the Age of COVID-19
This Symposium is one of the follow-up publications to the Afronomicslaw.org Webinar III on “Vulnerability in the Trade and Investment Regime in the Age of COVID-19”. ‘Vulnerability’ in trade and investment regimes is not a new phenomenon. Nor, is the concept of ‘crisis’. While International Economic Law (IEL) scholarship has acknowledged some of the way(s) in which the formalisation of international legal rules in trade and investment can act like a ‘straightjacket’ on global south states, sustaining and creating forms of dependencies that are difficult to escape, there is a notable lack of meaningful engagement with the contours and manifestations of concepts like precarities, inequalities, and crisis that the narrative of vulnerabilities encompasses.
As Clair Gammage and Olabisi D. Akinkugbe argue in their forthcoming paper, “the analysis of the vulnerability status of the marginalized groups in international economic law is not a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. While those issues and the vocabulary of the vulnerable have been subjected to the periphery of IEL analysis, the pandemic has only brought to the fore and made more realistic, and quite unfortunately, the plight of the marginalized in our largely unequal multilateral trading regime.”
We hope the essays in this symposium shed some light on the modest steps that could be taken to untangle the complexity that has come with this crisis.
Ohio Omiunu: Asymmetries in trade and investment regimes in the Age of COVID-19 and beyond: A reflection on subnational government marginalisation and resistance within the trade and investment governance structures
Symposium: Sovereign Debt Under Domestic and Foreign Law: Lessons from the Mozambique Constitutional Council Decision of May 8, 2020
Convenor: James Thuo Gathii
On May 8, 2020, the Mozambique Constitutional Council decided that non-concessional loans totaling 622 million USD borrowed from two London-based banks – Credit Suisse and Russian VTB – was illegal, null and void. The Mozambican borrowers were three State Owned Enterprises that at the time did not been formally constituted. The basis of the Constitutional Council’s decision was that this loan was obtained without approval of Parliament. Further, the Council held that amount was in excess of the borrowing limit permissible under the Constitution and laws of Mozambique. On June 8th, 2020 Afronomicslaw.org convened a panel of experts to discuss that case in webinar titled: Overturning Sovereign Debt for Violating National Law: Lessons from a recent Mozambique Constitutional Council Decision. This written symposium carries forward the conversation from that webinar.
Symposium: Taxation and the Social Contract in a Post-Pandemic Era: Domestic and International Dimensions
Convenor: Alexander Ezenagu
In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, countries have dug deep into their “war chest” through fiscal and monetary policies to protect their industries, ensure liquidity in the economy and safeguard the most vulnerable from the adverse effects of the pandemic. In some instances, countries have transferred cash to workers whose incomes have been affected by the changes that have had to be made by governments. These palliative measures introduced by governments have meant that the economies of many countries will dip into recession. In their bid to avert a full-blown recession or depression, the palliative measures some countries have taken have been limited, in comparison to their peers in advanced economies. Many African countries, like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have by contrast borne the short end of the stick. More importantly, the pandemic raises additional questions. First, should governments be blamed solely for the limited nature of palliative measures they have undertaken? Second, has the social contract between the state and the governed in many states been broken? Finally, can the broken social contract be repaired and what role can the law play in repairing the broken social contract?
This symposium addresses issues such as the low tax to GDP ratio in developing states, the broken social contract in these countries and the reforms needed to repair the social contract. The convener, in accepting the invitation of Afronomicslaw to host the tax symposium, called upon tax practitioners, academics, policy experts, philosophers, administrators, to offer insights on the relationship between taxation and the social contract.
Symposium: Due Diligence in the Business & Human Rights regime: A Latin American view
Convenor: Salvador Herencia Carrasco
On May 21, members of the Latin American Branch of the Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association organized the webinar “Due Diligence in the Business & Human Rights regime: A Latin American view”. The purpose was to analyze the potential impact that the implementation of due diligence norms and policies may have in advancing the business and human rights field in the region.
The motivation to carry this activity, which will hopefully trigger a series of discussions, had another goal: the need to foster a debate in our languages as well as a discussion that takes into account our socio-legal contexts. We do not intend to undermine or ignore what is being discussed in Europe or North America. Those are insightful debates and as academics, we don’t and can’t ignore them. But we also believe that we need to think the business and human rights field from our realities, both within a national context and within the Inter-American Human Rights System.
What light can the general standards of due diligence in International Law shed upon the Business and Human Rights field?
Due Diligence on OECD documents and challenges for its implementation in Latin America
A commentary on business and human rights’ notion of due diligence under the lens of Private International Law
Due diligence in the business and human rights regime and its implications in reparation mechanisms
Due diligence in the new report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Business and Human Rights
To refine and to reinforce: The goal of the draft treaty on Business and Human Rights
The IEL Collective Symposium III: Reimagining International Economic Law for Sustainable Development
This is the third and final instalment of the IEL Collective’s online symposia, which showcases some of the ideas presented at the inaugural conference, held on 6-7 November 2019. The focus of the Conference was on ‘Disrupting Narratives and Pluralising Engagement in International Economic Law Scholarship, Teaching and Practice’. To date, we have published some of the Conference presentations through two symposia, the first of which focused on ‘Global South Perspectives for Pluralising and Decolonising IEL’ and was hosted by AfronomicsLaw. Our second symposium on ‘Disrupting Narratives on International Economic Law: Theory, Pedagogy and Practice’ was hosted by the University of Bristol Law School Blog. Our symposia have explored the critical approaches to IEL (broadly conceived) with a view to pluralising narratives on this field of scholarly inquiry.
Afronomicslaw COVID-19 Symposium on International Economic Law in the Global South
Welcome to this symposium on COVID-19 and International Economic Law in the Global South. The essays in this symposium came from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, North America and Latin America. This symposium will last for a full four weeks because of the large number of good quality submissions we accepted.
While many of the essays address cross cutting themes, the essays have been grouped into four major themes: International Trade and International Investment Law and Policy; Intellectual Property, Technology and Agriculture; Sovereign Debt, Finance and Competition; and Governance Rights and Institutions. Readers can also access the video introducing the symposium here.
COVID-19 Symposium I: International Trade & International Investment Law & Policy
COVID-19 Symposium II: Intellectual Property, Technology and Agriculture
COVID-19 Symposium III: Sovereign Debt, Finance and Competition Law
COVID-19 Symposium IV: Governance, Rights, and Institutions
Symposium: Learning and Teaching International Economic Law through Moot Courts
Convenor: Harisson Mbori Otieno
This symposium seeks to encourage and stimulate a discussion and showcase the benefits of how moot courts can be used an important pedagogical tool for the teaching and learning of international economic law. Many a student learning international economic law in Africa will not have experienced the thrill and adrenaline involved in preparing memorials and presenting oral arguments before simulated panels in a class setting or as part of a national, regional, or international competition such as the John H. Jackson Moot Court on WTO law or the simulated tribunals in the Foreign Direct Investment moot court competition on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The evidence that the participation in these moots is beneficial for learning and teaching of international economic law for both faculty and students is the focus on the symposium.
Symposium: The Commercial Law Reform Network Nigeria (CLRNN) Inaugural Conference Proceedings
Convenor: Bolanle Adebola
The Commercial Law Research Network Nigeria (CLRNN) was established in 2019 to create a platform through which the suitability of reforms to the commercial law in Nigeria can be critically discussed. CLRNN creates a collaborative environment in which researchers with expert knowledge of Nigeria’s domestic and international contexts can engage on various commercial law subjects germane to Nigeria’s economy. It achieves this goal through two main mediums. The first is its conference, through which scholars and commentators meet to critically review reforms. The second is through its workshops, through which methods and methodologies suitable to the understanding of Nigeria’s realities are considered.
The inaugural CLRNN conference, funded by an Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) grant, was hosted by the University of Reading. The conference theme, ‘effective commercial law reform: the next steps’, invited delegates to reflect on facets of the Nigerian commercial law that interest them, and to consider the actions that should be taken towards reform. Researchers and commentators discussed across 10 streams of commercial law including: New Technologies, Business and Development, Secured Transactions, Corporate Governance, Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Law, Competition Law, Financial Regulation, Insurance Law, Energy Law, Dispute Resolution and International Trade Law. Afronomicslaw in collaboration with CLRNN presents some of the engaging debates at the conference. Each piece describes the challenge facing an aspect of commercial law in Nigeria, reviews the reform responses proposed or taken by the government, and concludes with insights for future reforms.
Symposium: In Honour of International Women’s Day
Outline:“#Each for Equal. An Equal World is an Enabled World.” To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), we recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women to international economic law scholarship. We are proud to point out that 50 per cent of our editors/contributing editors are women, and we are committed to promoting equality. Our IWD collection comprises four contributions.
The IEL Collective Symposium I: Global South Perspectives for Pluralising and Decolonising International Economic Law
This symposium offers diverse perspectives and timely contributions to the ongoing debate on the need to decolonise and pluralize IEL research and scholarship as a counterpoint to Western-centric IEL imagination and teaching. Within this symposium are contributions on the history of IEL and origins of IEL theory alongside context specific examples marking out the intersections between IEL, business and human rights.
Symposium: Reforming Private International Law in Africa
Convener: Prof. Richard Frimpong Oppong
Symposium: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches for the Study of International Economic Law in Africa
Convener: Olabisi D. Akinkugbe
In May 2019, Afronomicslaw hosted an important Symposium on Teaching International Economic Law in Africa. What was evident from the contributions to the symposium is the need for a more critical approach to the teaching of International Economic Law (IEL) in Africa. The teaching of IEL in Africa cannot and must not be separated from the scholarly research of the field.
This Symposium, and the contributions carry on the conversation by examining the ways in which the contributors have harnessed theory and method in their critical scholarship on IEL in Africa. How theoretical and methodological approaches deployed in the study of IEL in Africa offer alternative, but, critical narratives of the historical and contemporary practices of the field is an important aspect of the mission of decolonizing IEL. Reflecting on the role of theory and method for the study of IEL in Africa in ways that do not simply reify or reproduce the dominant discourses of IEL is critical to understanding the past and constructing the present and future generation of development of the field in Africa.
Symposium: Sustainable Development Goals, Trade, Investment, and Inequality
Convener: Olabisi D. Akinkugbe
This Symposium, co-hosted by Afronomicslaw and the Dalhousie Law Journal Blog is an outcome of one of the streams at the 2019 Annual Purdy Crawford Workshop at the Schulich School of Law. The theme of the Workshop which took place from Sept. 26–28 was “The Role of Business Regulation in Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.” Co-organized by three Schulich School of Law Professors, the Workshop featured three inter-disciplinary simultaneous streams and cross-over plenaries that focused on: “SDGs and Revenue Mobilization” – convened by Kim Brooks, the Purdy Crawford Chair in Business Law; “SDGs, Trade, Investment, and Inequality” convened by Olabisi D. Akinkugbe; and “Business Responsibilities for Human Rights and Environmental/Climate Justice – convened by Sara Seck.” The contributions to the symposium on “Sustainable Development Goals, Trade, Investment, and Inequality” critically examine these goals (and it overlaps with others in some cases) from the vantage point of each contributor’s scholarly expertise.
Symposium on Law and Policy, and the Promotion of Investment in the Renewable-Energy Sector
Conveners: Avidan Kent (Associate Professor, University of East Anglia) & Pedi Obani (Research Fellow Environmental Policy, United Nations Institute for Natural Resources in Africa; Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Benin)
This online symposium (co-hosted by Afronomicslaw and International Law@UEA) will discuss some of the many layers that states must address in the process of attracting FDI in the renewable energy sector. Most authors will focus on one case-study – Nigeria. Nigeria relies today mostly on non-renewable energy sources. The natural conditions that are necessary for the production of renewable energy in Nigeria are exceptional but under-developed. Despite its vast energy resources, access to energy remains a problem. Only about 10% in rural areas and 40% of the overall population in Nigeria have access to electricity. Nigeria’s goal is to increase electricity access to 90% of its population by 2030, and to reach a 30% renewables share by the same year. Substantial investment in renewable energy is therefore required.
Wale Olawoyin: Decarbonisation pathways for Nigeria: Promoting sustainable renewable energy-related Foreign Direct Investment and the role of alternative dispute resolution in promoting RE-related Foreign Direct Investment
Symposium Issue from the Fourth African International Economic Law Network Biennial Conference
In July 2019, the African International Economic Law Network (AfIELN), held its Fourth Biennial Conference under the theme “Africa and International Economic Law in the 21st Century” at the Strathmore University Law School (Nairobi, Kenya). This symposium contains some of the papers presented at this conference in their abridged forms.
Dunia Zongwe: Three Painful Lessons the African Union Should Learn from the Southern African Customs Union
Symposium: UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Draft Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts
Convener: James Thuo Gathii
Welcome to the Symposium on the Zero Draft of the UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (ALIC) (hereinafter Legal Guide or Zero Draft). The Legal Guide, is being developed by a UNIDROIT Working Group in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It provides detailed guidance to support the preparation, negotiation and implementation of agricultural land investment contracts that are fully consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of National Food Security (VGGT), the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Foods Systems (CFS-RAI Principles) and other international instruments.
This online symposium is an integral part of an effort to raise awareness about the Legal Guide and to seek input from stakeholders, in order to ensure that it responds to the actual needs and reflects the best practices. An excellent line-up of 9 experts have studied the Legal Guide and put to paper their reactions, critical and otherwise, as well as very insightful suggestions on how to improve it. In the interests of full disclosure, I served as an expert in the three-year consultative process during which the Legal Guide was crafted. I am therefore delighted to see this high level engagement on the draft from some of the thought leaders in this field.
The WTO Reform – Views from the Global South
Convener: Jan Yves Remy
As WTO Members struggle to find solutions to the impasse in the selection process for appointing Appellate Body Members, and as concerns abound about the ability of the WTO to successfully navigate new issues confronting the multilateral trading system, I approached the editors of Afronomicslaw with the idea of dedicating a symposium to views of developing countries on the topic of WTO reform. Thankfully, they were receptive, and I am proud to count among this week’s contributors: a former Appellate Body Member, WTO law academics, and practitioners hailing from Africa, India and the Caribbean.
State and Investor Responsibility in Africa’s Extractive industries
Convener: Ibironke Odumosu-Ayanu
ACP-EU Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities for the Post-2020 Relationship
Convenor: Clair Gammage
ACP-EU relations are at a crossroads. As the expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) approaches, the question remains what the future relationship between the ACP countries and EU Member States will look like beyond February 2020. The contributions to this symposium offer insights on the opportunities and challenges facing the parties as they continue to negotiate toward a renewed partnership.
Clair Gammage: Introduction to the Symposium: ACP-EU Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities for the Post-2020 Relationship
Teaching International Economic Law In Africa
Convenor: James Thuo Gathii
Afronomicslaw.org invited submissions on the teaching of international economic law, (IEL), in Africa to reflect on a number of questions. We asked the contributors to reflect on these questions: What materials did you use to teach? What teaching style did you adopt? Did you center Africa or make the materials relevant to an African context in the materials you used and if so how? For example, did you use of African case studies; or use African-specific materials (e.g. books, articles, cases, treaties)? Was the class required? How many enrolled in the class? How did you determine grades in the class? Did class participation count towards the grade? Did you have prior background in the area when you first taught the course e.g. in your graduate school education, in your research and scholarship, in practice? How would you say the students received the course? Did they find it interesting, relevant, or indifferent?
Dispute Settlement in the African Continental Free trade Agreement
Convenor: James Thuo Gathii
With 22 ratifications now guaranteed, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AfCFTA), will soon enter into force. Once in force, its efficacy will depend on the political will to implement it as well as its enforcement mechanisms. The AfCFTA’s Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes establishes a WTO-like Dispute Settlement Mechanism with Panels and an Appellate Body. This symposium evaluates the prospects of this Dispute Settlement Mechanism. The contributors are James Thuo Gathii, Dr. Mihreteab Tsighe, and Olabisi D. Akinkugbe.
Traditional Knowledge and Plant Varieties in Africa
Convenor: Titilayo Adebola
This Symposium brings together African scholars interested in research around plant variety protection. Plant variety protection came to the fore in Africa following the entry into force of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1995. In addition to TRIPS, other international treaties relevant to plant variety protection include the Convention on Biological Diversity (and its Nagoya Protocol), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. Africa’s response to these overlapping treaties on the subject are a variety of conflicting instruments at the continental and sub-regional levels, such as (i) the African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources (ii) the African Union Practical Guidelines for the Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in Africa (iii) the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (iv) the Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore, and (v) Annex X of the Bangui Agreement. Employing selected case studies from across Africa, the articles in this Symposium will offer insights into the complexities of law-making on the subject and provide information on topical developments.
SYMPOSIUM ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (AfCFTA)
Convenor: James Thuo Gathii
The signing of the consolidated text of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March 2018 by 47 African Union member States was a significant milestone. It was the first time since the Abuja Treaty of 1994 that a continental trade agreement had been negotiated.
The March 2018 milestone coincided with the substantial completion of Phase One negotiations on trade in goods and services. Phase Two negotiations on Intellectual Property Rights, Investment and Competition Rules was formally launched in March 2018 when 49 African Union member states signed the Kigali Declaration. As of January 10th 2018 there are 16 ratifications of the AfCFTA. Six more ratifications are required before it comes into force. This symposium critically appraises the agenda of the AfCFTA. It kicks off with a post that boldly makes the case why this agreement promises to redress the comparatively low levels of intra-regional trade as well as the dearth of high value exports from Africa. There is perhaps no one better than David Luke to make the case for the AfCFTA. He heads the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa that at the request of the African Union Summit provides the necessary support such as research, policy advisory services, and other technical assistance to ensure the timely conclusion of AfCFTA negotiations.
The other contributors to this symposium ask what the AfCFTA means for the African Union. They wonder whether it has been negotiated in an inclusive and transparent manner? How well is it being designed to deal with the issues that have led to low volumes of trade among African countries? How well it takes into account impacts on all stakeholders such as women and informal cross border trade? Whether as part of the package of other reforms that accompany it, it addresses the issues that adversely affect African trade such as transfer mis-pricing? How it will be characterized for purposes of notification under Article XXIV of GATT? How its trade facilitation mandates fit alongside those contained in existing RECs? These and other important and consequential questions make this symposium very timely. In addition to David Luke’s inaugural essay to launch the symposium, today we are publishing two other essays. One by Dr. Lawrence Tinyiko Ngobeni raising questions on the relationship between the AfCFTA and its proposed Protocol on Investment, on the one hand, and the African Union’s recently concluded Pan African Investment Code, on the other, particularly in the context of the existing investment obligations amongst SADC States.On her part, Mariam Olafuyi examines the extent to which the AfCFTA grapples with the large volume of informal cross border trade and its gendered nature.
Every weekday, a new essay will be published in the order that appears below. We thank all the contributors for accepting the invitation to be part of the inaugural symposium of Afronomicslaw.org and for their thought-provoking essays.