The loan conditionalities are spelled out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP). Despite the talk about “ownership” of these memoranda and “active contribution of authorities” of the loan beneficiary, the drafting is done mostly by the IMF staff. It was reported in the media, the push towards a “structural and governance reform” of SOEs, too, came from the IMF.
I got very interested in Africa’s international courts more than a decade ago when I was writing a book on Africa’s trade regimes. I was surprised to learn that Africa’s international courts, although established as trade courts had ended up being human rights courts. I soon realized that the first generation of scholarship on Africa’s international courts had transplanted analytical tools for assessing their performance that did not showcase the entirety of their impacts. The moment between that realization and The Performance of Africa’s International Courts: Using International Litigation for Political, Legal, and Social Change, OUP, 2020 was a long five years. This book project has therefore come a long way from April 2016 when I hosted an authors’ workshop.
This contribution proposes that African governments consider adopting border reform concessions that cover a range of solutions besides infrastructure. Should a concession be limited to infrastructure provision alone, the net effect of infrastructure on trade efficiency needs to be determined in an endeavour to arrive at fair user charges.
Trade security is an important component of Customs work. Customs administration should adapt to the environment they operate and the commencement of the AfCFTA is a new development which calls for adaptation. The AfCFTA presents challenges to trade security due to the large volumes of cargo whose movement should be as unhindered as possible. Various international instruments seek to promote trade security through promoting collaboration, capacity building for Customs administrators, as well as simplification and harmonization of procedures. Interestingly, all trade instruments discussed have demonstrated that trade facilitation and trade security are intrinsically inter-linked. Even though Customs administrations in the AfCFTA have embraced digital technologies they continue to have implementation challenges.
There is need for Customs administrations in Africa to evolve from gate-keeping role and enforcement of policies on behalf of other government departments, to being active contributors in the policy-making initiatives. Customs officials involved in manning ports of entry should be involved in assessing the practicality of certain trade measures like Rules of Origin as well as making contribution on how best to enforce the regional trade arrangements. This could involve the relevant trade Ministers involved in the regional negotiations consulting with Customs administrations on the best approach to design the measures that would directly require Customs enforcement.
The Southern African States are encouraged to continue with their laudable efforts of implementing transparency measures. They should strive to meet the implementation deadlines that they have set for themselves. They should seek assistance to mitigate any capacity constraints that are preventing them from making necessary reforms. Fortunately both the TFA and the AfCFTA recognise the importance of special and differential treatment (S&DT) and technical assistance to improve prospects of compliance. This gives some assurance that members will continue to achieve greater success in improving transparency going forward.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) holds great promise for the continent with the agreement expected to increase intra-African trade and secure socio-economic benefits for member States. Despite trade under the new agreement commencing on 1 January 2020, members are yet to conclude negotiations on the issue of Rules of Origin (RoO). RoO are mechanisms used to determine the economic nationality of a product. Preferential RoO constitute an essential part of preferential trade arrangements, such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Annex 2 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods makes provision for RoO that will provide for a single set of criteria to be applied across the continent. However, discussions on the substantive RoO, which are to be articulated in Appendix IV of Annex 2, are yet to be finalised. In the meantime, member States are expected to apply the preferential RoO covered by their relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs) until harmonisation is achieved through the AfCFTA’s rules.
This symposium evaluates some of the key trade facilitation issues that member countries need to effectively address in order to ensure the AfCFTA’s success.
In 2020, the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched its book entitled: “Rethinking Land Reform in Africa: New Ideas, Opportunities and Challenges”. The goal is expressed “to achieve a thought-leading policy platform and publication of inquiry, analysis and research for breakthrough progress in land reform policy”. ANRC was not sparing in its choice of contributors both numerically and in quality, with fourteen contributors comprising of Professors, Researchers, Policy Advisors, Historians, and Economists from different walks of life ranging from law to land management, political science, economics and taxation. The respective contributors are from diverse institutions within and outside Africa. The plausible implications of this are that not only does the book afford a broad analysis on the issue of land reform at different professional spheres, but it also offers both endogenous and exogenous perspectives.
While RCEP creates a modified data governance template, it remains within the logic of 20th century treaty language and design. Meanwhile, a normative reevaluation of international economic law is overdue and ongoing. Depending on whether international economic law’s arc will continue to bend towards economic efficiency and aggregate welfare gains rather than planetary environmental sustainability, individual human flourishing, and justice, future international economic law may need to change in form and substance. To make treaties data-ready for the 21st century, more dynamism, flexibility, and experimentation are desirable.