With the purpose to bring together scholars and scholarship that highlights original and innovative thinking in IEL as it pertains to the African continent, the idea was to follow up with the existing tradition that consists in engaging with new scholarship and research on the continent’s contributions to, and involvement with IEL. This task proved at the same time challenging and quite rewarding. The call attracted responses of high calibres as reflected by the quality and quantity of abstracts received, as well as the global representation of the submissions.
While international trade has undergone significant structural changes recently, particularly with the proliferation of new generation of free trade agreements (FTAs), the debate on the consequences of IIAs for sustainable development continues to widen and intensify. In effect, while there has been fundamental changes in the international investment landscape in terms of players (now comprising state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds) and FDI direction (with emerging economies now being, not only recipients, but increasingly home states), governments are also now adopting industrial policies and development strategies that contrast with their erstwhile hands-off approach to economic development.
In my view variable geometry is likely to further slow down the implementation of the AfCFTA because it is a way to accommodate less advantageous countries or countries unwilling to move as fast as others. Even if variable geometry is the only way to move forward in trade agreements of the 21th century as some have argued, it makes trade liberalization more complicated and slows down integration initiatives. More detailed research on variable geometry from an African perspective needs to be undertaken because the continent cannot afford the potential failure of the AfCFTA.
This blog post does not focus on the different reasons that makes integration difficult. Rather, it argues that the structure of the agreements of African Union (AU) contributes to the lack of political commitment among leaders which has been a missing ingredient for successful integration in Africa.
A proper assessment of Rudahindwa’s monograph on the subject of establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) is one that cannot exclude the currents of ongoing reform efforts and the extent to which they are able to move the continent faster towards the dream of achieving the AEC. This invariably raises some methodological questions that border on multidisciplinary approach to regionalism, and the issue of context. The author highlights these two imperatives in the monograph. By using the concept of “developmental regionalism” as an analytical prism, the author situates the discussion within a multidisciplinary paradigm.
Post-Cotonou approaches to innovation require the technocrats to go beyond the jargon of ‘partnership of equals’ and change their own modus operandi: the future relationship must be based on co-production and the case of GIs is a testing ground for this. This would involve dedicating technical teams to work co-productively with farmers’ groups – women, youth, community-based – to understand the local issues that will impact any GI scheme in the regions. But it also means looking at new and novel products, such as cannabis, especially given the drive to legalise cannabis and in particular ‘medical marijuana. By extension, it means recognizing the importance of a development focused approach to the ACP and extending the scope of GIs beyond its current remit which has long-been defined by European values.
The book traces the evolution of regionalism and regional integration on the continent, from the Organization of African Unity through to the African Union but, unlike earlier treatises on regionalism, Bashi Rudahindwa rightly places emphasis on the role of the legal framework. He draws comparisons with other regional economic integration projects: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Common Market of the Southern Cone (MERCOSUR), the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the European Union (EU), to argue for greater emphasis in the AU on capacity building, and the need to utilize law to support regulatory and institutional frameworks to facilitate trade and industrialization, and interventionist measures aimed at promoting structural transformation.
In this blog post I will consider policy initiatives for tackling the issue of illicit flow of funds out of African countries and the implications of these activities on investment and trade in the context of the AfCFTA. Combating Illicit Financial Flows has been a difficult task for African countries and, the best approach to tackle this endemic problem may be to develop and implement comprehensive mechanisms that will encourage the disclosure of these illegal activities in a timely manner. Such disclosure can best be realized by the adoption of a regional whistleblower protection directive.
The necessity to change the measurement strategy of the AGOA and ACP-EU trade agreements presents a challenge not only to African countries but also to the US and the European Union to establish a common understanding on the need to widen the scope of the measure. All the partners involved require a comprehensive measurement strategy to quantify the real impact of AGOA and ACP-EU on people’s lives.
Africa boasts of at least eight RECs (or potential and existing FTAs) recognised by the AU, one emerging TFTA, and, a budding AfCFTA. All these efforts are meant to lead to the realisation of the AEC