This blog considers the timing of AfCFTA and its implementation among Least Developing Countries (LDCs). It argues that the benefits of AfCFTA trade liberalisation may be uneven among LDCs on account of governance, technology and capacity challenges in LDCs. It concludes by proffering possible solutions to these challenges.
Least Developed Countries
The fact remains that despite some welcome relationship building between Africa and the Caribbean in the past few years, the global trade and investment landscape is not always conducive to bloc thinking. Historical and cultural ties are intangible and important building blocks of any relationship, and it has led to a level of respect between regions and negotiators over the years that have to be acknowledged. But what happens when commerce overtakes culture and investment opportunities overtake history? The act of multilateral negotiation has never truly confronted how the inequities of the real world are brought to the negotiating table. It will have to address that, as developing countries themselves will need to start framing a response to what happens when the competition of the real world also impacts their well-curated solidarity.
Conventional approaches view researchers as detached observers who can objectively analyse and explain the world, and policymakers as mobilising evidence to inform decisions. This paradigm can translate into institutionalised arrangements for linking research to policy. The UNCITRAL Working Group and the Academic Forum on ISDS provide one example, whereby scholars supply legal and empirical analysis for the Working Group’s deliberations.
Although the S&DT provisions relating to disputes involving LDC parties and the current state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism provided by the Agreement may seem comparatively more balanced than the mechanism of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), nonetheless, the real extent of the effectiveness and advantages of the mechanism for the LDC parties cannot yet be inferred,
South Sudan - Africa’s latest independent country – is facing its second ICSID claim brought by Qatar National Bank, a Qatari State-owned entity (“SOE”). It was reported that the dispute is related to default by the BSS (which is the Central Bank of South Sudan) on the payment of a US$ 700 million loan it borrowed during the civil war.
I am delighted to introduce the book symposium on my new monograph titled Sovereign Debt Restructuring: The Role and Limits of Public International Law. Unfortunately, the time could not be riper to discuss the role played by international law in sovereign debt restructuring. In fact, as a consequence of the ongoing economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a new systemic sovereign debt crisis.
There is no doubt that solving this pandemic is the most pressing challenge of our time. This is not a zero sum game. Below, I elaborate on the four points for effective global solidarity to tackle the pandemic.
The current international, regional and national architecture of Intellectual Property law confers privileges to foreign transitional interest blocks in order to profit from patents by extending, trademarks, copyrights and so on for longer periods of time. This legal enclave diminishes the possibility of developing technologies, including diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and other medical supplies vital to treating patients infected by COVID-19 and it hampers efforts to distribute them in a timely manner to all the countries currently affected by the pandemic. However, the creative elements of a new global system are emerging now, one characterized by coordination between WIPO, WTO and WHO.
LDCs are inadequately equipped to manage the socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic; these countries have not even effectively curbed environmental pollution yet. The sustainable development goals strategies did not envisage such a pandemic and this is causing many governments to lose sight of how to manage their economic regressions. The national governments and international community therefore have to be more vigilant and proactive in ensuring that the battered global economy stabilizes after the pandemic.
To the extent that measures taken to combat Covid-19 intersect with existing trade and investment obligations for countries in the global south, and reveals the embedded tensions, we wonder whether regional governance can or should serve as a framework to create equitable and just South-South cooperation, especially in times of crises. Regional and sub-regional organisations, if operationalised effectively, have the capabilities to pool together the financial, human, and intellectual resources that will be needed to identify interventions and responses to measures that threaten the foundations of solidarity, self-reliance and equality underpinning South-South relations.