Given the promising potential for deeper trade and investment relationships between both regions, there is a dearth of scholarly analysis on the Africa-Caribbean economic relationship, which this AfronomicsLaw Symposium aims to address partially. The five essays in this symposium, all authored by well-respected academics and practitioners, explore various themes of the Africa-Caribbean relationship. The essays all refer to the shared bonds of history and the need for more significant action on both sides to actualise a mutually beneficial region-to-region relationship. All of the essays offer innovative recommendations for deepening Africa-Caribbean relations.
African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)
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On July 1, 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secured the votes of 130 members out of 139 members of the Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar plan to reform the global tax rules. Notably, two African countries—Kenya and Nigeria—, active members of the Inclusive Framework withheld their support for this plan, which has been described by many as “historic”. Nigeria is a major economic force in West Africa and the largest economy, by GDP, on the African continent. Kenya is East Africa’s gateway and the region’s largest economy. What must have influenced their decisions not to support a historic global tax reform, and what are the consequences of such action?
Whatever their level of evolution in competition regulation, developing countries, particularly African countries except for a few rare success stories such as South Africa, need to interrogate their RCRs and national competition laws. Countries without a competition regime or law have the advantage of avoiding the Washington Consensus trap and forging a national competition law tailored to their development goals
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.
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.
This blog post focuses on the Agreement for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the implications for the evolution of lex mercatoria in Africa. This blog post is primarily based on a recent paper by Chisa Onyejekwe and Eghosa Ekhator titled ‘AfCFTA and Lex Mercatoria: Reconceptualizing International Trade Law in Africa’. The paper argues that some of the major innovations embedded in the AfCFTA (such as variable geometry and dispute settlement amongst others) form the crux of an emerging African practice of lex mercatoria. Consequently, the creation of AfCFTA has engendered what can be termed as an emerging concept of ‘Lex Mercatoria Africana’. In the context of the AfCFTA, this is exemplified by the notion that the AfCFTA explicitly promotes African trade principles.
On March 9 2018, the African Union Ministers of Trade approved the Declaration establishing the Agreement establishing African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA); a move that marked the creation of the largest Free Trade Area in the World. The Agreement seeks to create a single market for goods, services and movement of persons and investment among African countries thereby fostering intra-African trade, facilitating structural transformation of African economies and promoting sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development across the African continent. Whether this would turn out to be a significant positive development within the continent may largely depend on whether the broader issue is addressed- The continuous inclination of African States to explore the forest rather than tend the garden.
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.