Global Value Chains (GVCs) are the main form of contemporary transnational capitalism. They are complex legal and financial structures that challenge traditional international-national and public-private dichotomies. They shape and define the speed of work and extraction, build bridges, raise walls, and transform lives and nature in each place where they touch base around the globe. Covid-19, a biological shock that has triggered a legal and economic reconsideration of global markets, has revealed the ecological backbone of value chains and highlighted the need to rethink the premises of competitiveness and cheapness around which they are imagined.
Decolonial thinking urges us to go beyond questions of public / private dichotomy, in which key transnational private actors for the global economy participate. Instead, decolonial thinkers suggest the need to transcend the notion of “development”, which continues to influence the actions of the global south and permanently reinserting them into a subordinate position within the “Euro-American capitalist / patriarchal-modern / colonial world-system”.
While WIPO’s technical assistance programme has been seen as less biased than much of the bilateral assistance on offer from the EU and the US, the history that Africa has with WIPO concerning cooperation in the provision of IP technical assistance can be said to have led to the introduction of Western-style IP norms across the continent. Our leaders and negotiators, therefore, need to proceed with caution in negotiating the AfCFTA IP protocol and the kind of technical assistance they receive. They must consult broadly and court the services of African scholars and experts on the matter.
A competition policy at the continental level is not only important to meet the objectives of the AfCFTA, but it will provide a forum to strengthen and develop existing competition regimes. The AfCFTA, creates a wide continental market and a competition policy will provide African countries with the power to police international anti-competitive conduct by pulling resources that will enhance global trade. However, for a competition policy to be effective, the AfCFTA must continue to build on the efforts made at the national and regional levels. Member States should take this opportunity and negotiate on the future continental competition policy taking into consideration the African markets and its role in global markets.
I recommend that ALIC put forward that investment in land should be subject to a comprehensive human rights impact assessment and that all on-going effects, responsibilities, and duties be continuously monitored. The task would then be to spell out what a comprehensive human rights report should comprise.