This blog considers the timing of AfCFTA and its implementation among Least Developing Countries (LDCs). It argues that the benefits of AfCFTA trade liberalisation may be uneven among LDCs on account of governance, technology and capacity challenges in LDCs. It concludes by proffering possible solutions to these challenges.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
In a 2018 paper, Casella and Formenti rely on work undertaken by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to illustrate the differences between the FDI patterns observed among large multinational enterprises (MNEs) depending on their ‘internet intensity’. They map UNCTAD’s digital framework into a conceptual matrix positioning digital categories on the basis of their internet intensity (the internet intensity matrix or IIM), along two dimensions: production and operations, on the one hand, and commercialization and sales, on the other. The IIM distinguishes between purely digital multinational enterprises, non-digital MNEs and a group of ‘mixed model’ MNEs which falls somewhere between the two extremes. Their subsequent analysis and findings is where things get interesting: as it turns out, digital MNEs have a share of foreign sales that is more than 2.5 times the share of foreign assets compared to traditional, non-digital MNEs. In other words, digital firms do not tend to invest a great deal in markets abroad in order to secure foreign sales. This is despite the fact that many of the world’s largest digital MNEs often make in excess of half of their sales abroad.
In reading Pigeaud and Sylla’s Africa’s Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story I could not help but think of the word doublespeak which refers to a kind of “language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.” Deployed by the American linguistic scholar William Lutz and others doublethink is the kind of manipulation of language and thought, so eloquently deployed by George Orwell in his dystopian novel1984, as a way of maintaining political control. As Orwell argued in his essay “Politics and the English Language” political language and the exercise of power consist “largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness,” while providing “largely the defence of the indefensible.” Orwell’s insight is very applicable to the ways in which political control undergirds economic arrangements as Pigeaud and Sylla’s book discusses.
Gray and Gills (2016) view South-south cooperation (SSC) as an organising concept and a set of practices in pursuit of historical changes through a vision of mutual benefit and solidarity among the disadvantaged of the world system. From this perspective, SSC has become increasingly important as a means for countries within the global south axis to share knowledge, experience, know-how and solutions. In forging these interactions between South-South countries, "horizontality" is pivotal for conveying ideas of trust, mutual benefit and equity among cooperating countries. There has been a longstanding relationship between Africa and the Caribbean, with the two regions historically collaborating in areas of mutual interest at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. This partnership has been renewed over time in keeping with changes in the global political economy. However, while these states continue to cooperate in multiple fora in relation to different issues, economic activity and trade between them remain negligible. This paper argues that there is potential to enhance integration between these two regions by mainstreaming trade relations through a deliberate effort by related governments via SSC.
An African-Caribbean Economic Engagement Network is a grand vision of bold design and will not be easy to achieve; however, the fact that it is possible should be cause for optimism.
The EU is often touted as providing an exemplary model for regional integration in the field of competition policy. It has indeed been successful in many ways – integrating diverse markets through strict anti-cartel laws, introducing an effective one-stop-shop merger regime in the 1990s, and tackling dominance steadfastly albeit less prolifically.However, given its experimentalist and ever-evolving nature, the EU competition regime is also bound to sometimes 'get it wrong'. In the author’s view, this statement holds true regarding the digital markets domain that was recently earmarked for regulation in the EU.
This article ponders on the developments in the Southern African cooperation in competition enforcement through some of the regional economic instruments, namely, the 2002 Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Agreement, the 2004 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Competition Regulations, the 2009 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on regional cooperation in competition and consumer policies, and the African Competition Forum (ACF). In this regard, I briefly touch on the importance of regional cooperation in enforcing competition regulation, the challenges faced in the implementation of Southern African regional competition regimes (RCRs), and the reasons why these RCRs face these challenges.
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We recognise that the current proposal is limited in resolving the longer-term debt burden of developing countries. The stay of enforcement does not introduce any changes in the substantive obligations contracted by the parties. Thus, the standstill will only temporarily suspend the execution and enforcement of eligible financial obligations during the designated period. Meanwhile, interest on the principal will continue to accrue. The proposal is also meant to be used as a ‘shield’ rather than a ‘sword’, i.e. the stay will only be triggered as a defence by the sovereign debtor in the event of a claim against it by a private creditor.
Without losing sight of the gaps in the PAIC, it is submitted that, even though it is not yet officially adopted as a binding instrument (given the uncertainty surrounding its official adoption), the PAIC can be important for African states. Primarily, as envisaged in its Article 2 (1), it can serve as a guideline for preparing model BITs as well as negotiating BITs with African and non-African states.