A focus on the ongoing Kenya-U.S trade negotiations is pertinent as a lens to rethink the trade and investment treaty making reform at the continental level in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (“AfCFTA”) (section 3). The authors conclude with concrete suggestions aiming to improve the drafting of the prospective Kenya-U.S FTA provisions.
While RCEP creates a modified data governance template, it remains within the logic of 20th century treaty language and design. Meanwhile, a normative reevaluation of international economic law is overdue and ongoing. Depending on whether international economic law’s arc will continue to bend towards economic efficiency and aggregate welfare gains rather than planetary environmental sustainability, individual human flourishing, and justice, future international economic law may need to change in form and substance. To make treaties data-ready for the 21st century, more dynamism, flexibility, and experimentation are desirable.
Doubts have been raised whether RCEP can be a game changer for the region or not; due to many issues such as that, there already exists a good number of Free trade Agreements (FTAs) between these RCEP members (therefore RCEP is not adding something substantially new), some barriers and loopholes still remains, it does not offer any major breakthrough in new trade issues such as e-commerce. It will take some time to see the effects of RCEP, but surely the reduction of tariffs and non-tariffs will stimulate economic growth in the medium-long term. It will take some time to see how the member states benefit and reap the facilities of RCEP. But one impact is certainly visible if seen from the dynamics of geopolitics in the region, that at the moment, China has added an extra point in the game of strategic balance in Asia by clearly maintaining its dominance in the region.
Regional trade agreements such as RCEP which include some of the major global palm oil producers including Malaysia and Indonesia could have been drafted to help sustainable palm oil production in both countries by eliminating markets for unsustainable palm oil. Despite all of the fanfare around RCEP, the RCEP treaty is a lost opportunity for using trade to advance human rights and environmental protection.
For years UNCTAD has argued that hyperglobalisation, and the free trade agreements that promote it, has created unsustainable levels of instability, inequality, insecurity and ecological harm and called for a new paradigm of trade rules that is participatory and development-friendly, recognises the role of regulation and local political oversight, and can promote a level playing field and prosperity for all. The final RCEP argument is a symptom of that malaise - a step back from the excesses of the TPPA, but is a long way from a new paradigm.
Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the three items currently under negotiation in Phase II of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA negotiations include IP because of the continued relevance of the innovative and creative sectors to trade in goods and services across the globe. With a focus on Pharmaceutical Patents, Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Geographical Indications (GIs) and Traditional Knowledge, this post suggests that the primary purpose of the Protocol on IP in the AfCFTA should be to promote socio-economic development on the continent.