On the 22nd day of May 2021, AfronomicsLaw Academic Forum held a Guest Lecture titled 'Trade Facilitation: The Key to a Borderless Africa'. The esteemed speakers were Dr Tsotang Tsietsi and Mr Craig Merito, who addressed the role of trade facilitation as a mechanism to enhance intra-African trade. Dr Tsietsi, the first speaker, is a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Lesotho. She holds an LLM from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Cape Town. Mr. Craig Merito is an international trade expert and consultant with over 25 years of experience. This piece will reflect on the issues raised by Dr Tsietsi before proceeding to those encompassed by Mr. Merito.
World Trade Organization
The fact remains that despite some welcome relationship building between Africa and the Caribbean in the past few years, the global trade and investment landscape is not always conducive to bloc thinking. Historical and cultural ties are intangible and important building blocks of any relationship, and it has led to a level of respect between regions and negotiators over the years that have to be acknowledged. But what happens when commerce overtakes culture and investment opportunities overtake history? The act of multilateral negotiation has never truly confronted how the inequities of the real world are brought to the negotiating table. It will have to address that, as developing countries themselves will need to start framing a response to what happens when the competition of the real world also impacts their well-curated solidarity.
In order to decide whether to include IF in the AfCFTA and how, African policymakers should be aware of all these different approaches and dynamics around Investment Facilitation to be able to set their own priorities in this relatively “new” area in international investment law, crafting an innovative and holistic approach for their future investment protocol. To date, international and regional approaches in IF are still in the making – making it easier for policymakers to identify what works best for Africa. In the process, policymakers can also leverage their own cutting-edge reform efforts on investment protection and regulation, and set a regional standard as a rule-maker – which could, in turn, influence ongoing or other future global processes on this topic.
There are numerous regional agreements among developing countries. They aim to tear down the trade and investment barriers between and among their members. Moreover, they adopt competition policy and free movement policy to free their internal markets of private and state restraints to achieve market integration, efficiency, opportunity, competitiveness, and a higher standard of living. But most of these regional arrangements do not live up to their potential. Competition policy lags. Why? Reasons commonly given include asymmetry of the member states and their interests, lack of funding and sources for it, large informal markets, governance not sympathetic to competition, and corrupt leadership of nations set on retaining power and privilege. But two critical elements are virtually always overlooked, and unless they are recognized and prioritized, the hope of the regional agreements will never be realized.
August 2, 2021
July 6, 2021
The Past and Future on International Economic Law and WTO
It is important that the Global South countries and particularly African countries device approaches that aim at entrenching integration in their own regions. This is absolutely crucial now that African States have the ambition of increasing intra- African trade. Secondly, African governments need to approach FTA and EPAs with the countries in Global North with extra caution and with their development needs, economic situations, and integration ambitions in mind.
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We have argued that the Constitution primarily allocates foreign policy responsibility to the national executive. The President and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and its foreign missions are the key actors in the executive responsible for making and overseeing foreign policy. The Constitution prescribes both substantive and procedural rules to guide the executive in its foreign policy choices
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.