Regional Economic Integration
On Saturday, 10 April 2021, Olabisi D. Akinkugbe delivered the 8th Lecture in the ongoing Guest Lecture Series of the Afronomicslaw Academic Forum. The title of Professor Akinkugbe’s presentation was “The African Continental Free Trade Area in the Shadow of Contending Visions of Pan-Africanism.” The Lecture was based on his forthcoming book chapter entitled “A Critical Appraisal of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.” Prof. Akinkugbe’s main argument was that although the AfCFTA has been referred to as a pan-African trade agreement, it is unclear what that means since pan-Africanism is subject to different interpretations.
While the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) 2017 Nigerian Annual Trade Policy Report (NAPTOR) was an excellent step in the right direction, it is not enough. As such, in the spirit of the legal reform proposals that the CLRNN inaugural conference demanded, I urge the Nigeria government to develop and adopt a coherent and robust regional trade policy that will be updated from time to time to reflect the realities of the day.
The conference is organised by the Postgraduate and Early Professionals/Academics Network of the Society of International Economic Law (PEPA/SIEL) in collaboration with the International Law Forum and other sponsors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. SIEL’s Postgraduate and Early Professionals/Academics Network (PEPA/SIEL) is, among other things, interested in fostering collaboration and mentoring opportunities for emerging academics and professionals in International Economic Law (IEL). PEPA/SIEL fulfils these goals through various activities such as organising conferences at which emerging IEL academics and professionals can present and discuss their research in a supportive and welcoming environment.
We are pleased to announce that the 9th PEPA/SIEL conference will take place on 17-19 May 2020 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law, in Jerusalem.
Intra Africa trade remains at its lowest ebb and perhaps this sad state of affairs can only be remedied by the actualization of the envisaged Africa Economic Community (AEC). To this extent RIAs, such as those under study in this paper, offer viable building blocks and learning curves for negotiating in the much larger multilateral trade system.
“Not acceptable at this level”, a professor commented on one of my exam questions that asked students to “[d]escribe the salient features of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).” This happened in 2017 at the University of Namibia (UNAM) where, until last year, I taught the International Economic Law module, a module pitched at the level of a bachelor honors degree. The professor – an academic from a leading South African university hired to moderate examination papers from UNAM’s Faculty of Law – recommended that I tweak my question as follows: “Discuss the validity of the Southern African Customs Union in the WTO framework”.
The AfCFTA has a broad objective of creating “a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments” and a potential to significantly impact international trade relations simultaneously at the continental and global levels. Yet, situated in the context of a challenging and protracted history of non-implementation of regional trade agreements, and a complex international and regional trade wars with divisive implications in contemporary multilateral trading system, there are reasons to be modest about the impact of the AfCFTA.