To ensure that innovative capacity is developed on the continent, it is pertinent to promote regional innovation. As a starting point, negotiators of the AfCFTA may consider including in the text appropriate provisions that will allow the collaboration and nurturing of innovative capacity in Africa. Open innovation is an approach that meets the needs of Africa and is worth considering.
Although the use of the plural on ‘provisions’, in the Transparency Mechanism could also be interpreted as meaning notification under GATT Article XXIV (for RTAs in goods) and GATS Article V (for RTAs in services) only, it remains an open question. Consequently, notification of the Protocol on Trade in Goods of the AfCFTA under both routes (GATT Article XXIV and Enabling Clause) would come as no surprise despite the dubious legality of such a practice.
Considering the ambition of the AfCFTA for deep integration, aiming at liberalizing trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property, competition and e-commerce, and to guarantee that compliance schedules are absolute results of negotiated arrangements among African countries as opposed to the superintendence and policing of the WTO, this essay suggests that a Full Agreement pathway to notification should be considered.
Now that the commencement of AFCTA has been postponed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for a clear conceptualisation of flexibility in relation to the commitments and obligations created in African RTAs including the AFCTA. There is also a need to identify how some narratives that are subsumed in the flexibility paradigm may end up doing more harm than good to informal trade engagements in the continent.
Halting the rapid transmission of COVID-19 and reversing the trend of consequential global distress is a global concern and goal. As the WHO has rightly pointed out, this goal is only achievable when everyone, everywhere can access the health technologies they need for COVID-19 detection, prevention, treatment and response. This highlights the importance of international cooperation and solidarity for restoring global health security, now and for the future.
Since Kenya had made commitments, it is not far fetched to argue that non observance of these commitments especially regarding trade in legal services offends the EAC Treaty. This brings in the issue of remedies available at the East African Court of Justice. It is time this issue was addressed by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
We are proud to present this book symposium on Professor Eleanor Fox & Mor Bakhoum’s wonderful new book titled Making Markets Work for Africa: Markets, Developments, and Competition Law in Sub-Saharan Africa. This 2019 book from Oxford University Press is the most comprehensive look at the role that competition law can play in promoting economic development as well as fairness and equity in the diverse economies of Sub-Saharan Africa.
While the establishment of a free trade area is categorically provided for as one of precursor stages to the AEC, it is appears to have been envisioned as being established primarily at the regional level (article 2 (d)), and not necessarily at the continental level. This was very much in line with the strategy to build the AEC through the RECs. The AEC Treaty did not get into the modalities of the establishment of the prospective free trade area, neither did it mention a further protocol in that regard. Whether this omission was deliberate, is subject to speculation, but perhaps it may have been based on the belief that RECs would be the drivers of free trade areas as opposed to a focused continental framework or mechanism.
The utility of trade remedy measures has been questioned, particularly due to their negative impact on the domestic market. This is particularly so because the price effect these measures have is primarily borne by consumers in the domestic market. Where the targeted products are intermediate or capital products, increased prices would adversely impact industrialization and development by the imposing country. Thus trade remedy measures may have counterintuitive consequences.
The first seeming obstacle to the emergence of a single African market is the contradictions between the stated aims of AfCFTA and some of the principles set out in the AfCFTA Agreement. As noted earlier, AfCFTA’s objectives include creating “a single market” and laying “the foundations for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union”. Yet, one of the principles under Article 5 is “variable geometry”, that is, differentiated integration. Of course, variable geometry was designed to recognise the heterogeneity and diversity in Africa’s economies. However, a single market is not consistent with an a la carte approach, where members integrate at different speeds.