Capitalism is a complex mode of production where general trends unfold as a multiplicity of social, political and economic levels that, more often than not, seem to be in contradiction with each other. It is therefore tempting to fall into the ideological trap of just remaining on the surface, describe phenomena at first sight and set aside any theoretical attempt to make sense of complexities and variegations. An apparent example of falling in this temptation are studies that present power as exclusive of the political sphere, thus detached from civil society (what we could nowadays call the economic sphere).
Afronomicslaw.org, the blog on International Economic Law Issues as they relate to the Global South is pleased to invite essay submissions on International Economic Law topics relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arguably, Fox and Bakhoum’s Making Markets Work for Africa does more than take part in this literature, it helps bring it into focus, crystallizing its insights and articulating a number of its internal debates. Perhaps this assessment should be nuanced a bit. Despite their extensive footnotes and their admirable collaborative scholarship and drive to work from and with African sources (for instance with the Quarterly Competition Review produced by CCRED), the book is focused more on the policy problem than on the existing literature about the problem. This is not a book about books; it is a book about identifying a complex economic situation with challenges and opportunities and charting and driving a particular line in favour of a better life for Africa’s population.
This new Continental Free Trade bloc is now entrusted with the competence to engage other FTA Blocs such as the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and Association of South Eastern Nations (ASEAN), on trade policy from an Afri-Centric perspective - the essence of Afri-Multilateralism. Hitherto, the various national governments across the Continent had engaged global trade from the prism of nationalistic interests but this new paradigm affords Africa, for the first time, an opportunity to engage on trans-Sahara, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific negotiations on an equal footing, and not under the auspices of 'emerging countries' or LDCs.
Noting the challenges in implementation of commitments under this Agreement by developing and least developed countries, I argue that there is potential for Customs administrations to act as conduits for WTO TFA implementation through their reform and modernisation initiatives. To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, I highlight the achievements realised through Customs reforms and modernisation by Lesotho in the area of trade facilitation.