tralac’s new short course: Trade Law and Policy for Africa’s Development
tralac recently concluded its first certificate training programme on International Trade Law and Policy in the 21st Century, from an African development perspective. Following the final oral exams on Friday, 2 November 2018, successful participants were presented with their certificates and celebrated at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
The course consisted of three one-week residential modules, along with preparatory online learning and assessment. The aim was to promote excellence in the development of trade law and policy management capacity across the continent; specifically, to address contemporary trade and broader economic governance challenges to contribute to enhanced governance and development outcomes.
The course began with a 5-day face-to-face module in Cape Town where participants learned both from tralac and from their peers. Participants were given a good grounding in the foundations of trade law, trade economics and the African trade landscape and debated the most pressing issues in trade law and policy.
Module 1: 20-24 August 2018
International Trade Policy and Law in the 21st Century – foundational disciplines. Topics included the defining features and foundations of international trade law and policy, and current issues in international trade governance.
Module 2: 17-21 September 2018
A comprehensive International Trade Law and Policy agenda. Topics included trade in goods (tariffs, rules of origin, non-tariff barriers); trade facilitation; standards and quality infrastructure; trade in services (market access, domestic regulation, regulatory reform and harmonisation); competition policy; investment; intellectual property rights; and dispute resolution.
Module 3: 29 October - 2 November 2018
Africa’s trade and integration agenda – making the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) work. Topics included the origins, achievements and challenges of African integration; role of institutions; Regional Economic Communities (trade integration and broader development agendas); Tripartite Free Trade Area; the AfCFTA (analysis of the legal texts, ongoing negotiations in Phase 1 and Phase 2, and implementation issues); and the AfCFTA vis à vis Africa’s global trade agenda: Economic Partnership Agreements and Brexit, AGOA, China, and the WTO (Doha development agenda).
Interactive, participatory learning processes, that form the foundation for adult learning, were followed in this course. Debates and discussions were actively encouraged; exploration of “wicked” trade law and policy problems facilitated collective learning as we engaged with Africa’s trade and integration agenda. Participants were encouraged to share experiences, trade policy challenges and success stories.
To prepare for the three residential modules, participants were required to complete a preparatory work programme online (6 hours of work and submission of a short assignment for assessment and feedback). This was important to assist participants to be able to fully engage during the residential programme.
All three one-week residential modules took place in Cape Town. Following each residential module, participants were required to undertake further reading and study, and then make a presentation (via Skype/GoToMeeting). Each of these three presentations was also an oral exam for assessment purposes. At the end of the three modules, successful participants received a tralac certificate, and were invited to join the tralac alumni network.
Background: Why this course?
We recognise that the course is being offered at a time when volatility and uncertainty are pervasive in the global economy, and that the trade policy narrative requires careful scrutiny and appraisal. Despite the fact that trade has in recent decades lifted may millions across the world out of poverty, it is also true that inequality and exclusion remain defining features of global trade and economic development.
The trade-development nexus requires new thinking and trade policy connections to other areas of economic policy (including industrial, labour market, education and macroeconomic policies) have to be considered for their contribution to promoting inclusive growth and equitable distribution of gains and losses. This course aims to build capacity for trade law and policy making to support development outcomes for Africa. This means addressing marginalised and excluded groups; including women, youth, informal cross-border traders and many other groups.
African countries have made significant progress in the negotiations to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), but negotiations to complete phase 1 of the process are still underway. Tariff concessions and rules of origin, as well as specific commitments for the priority services sectors are still in process. Phase 2 of the negotiations, covering investment, competition and intellectual property still have to be undertaken. This course will focus specifically on issues relevant to the AfCFTA and Africa’s broader trade and integration agenda.
Feedback from some of our participants
“It was an eye-opener. Actually, there are things which I didn’t know why we are doing, but now I get a different picture” – Managing Customs Officer, eSwatini Revenue Authority
“I got a good understanding of what the African Continental Free Trade agreement means” – Intern, tralac
“Module 1 was very rewarding to me, not only did it serve as an academic refresher, but it was very informative and dense in very relevant information” – Research Fellow, UNECA