Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Trade Governance and Remedies Workshop, 29 October 2015


tralac Trade Governance and Remedies Workshop, 29 October 2015

tralac Trade Governance and Remedies Workshop, 29 October 2015

On 29 October 2015, tralac hosted a workshop on the contemporary legislative and governance needs of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) with respect to the promotion of their national trade and development policies as members of regional and multilateral trade arrangements. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the domestic policy, legal and institutional imperative for governance of international trade, specifically for the BLNS countries, taking into account the reality of 21st century international investment, production and trade.

The workshop focused on the review of traditional trade governance instruments in the regional (SACU, SADC, Continental FTA and Tripartite FTA), and multilateral context, including an overview of trade remedies (anti-dumping measures and countervailing measures), safeguards, standards and trade facilitation and the 21st century requirements for effective trade governance (competition policy; services trade governance and sector regulation; national policy, legal instruments and institutional framework for trade governance and private sector remedies).

Discussions were guided by presentations by Trudi Hartzenberg (tralac), Professor Gerhard Erasmus (tralac Associate) and Abrie du Plessis on trade remedy and safeguard issues, outstanding matters in the SACU Agreement and trade governance in the 21st century, including the policy connections among trade, investment, services and competition.

A central issue which emerged from the presentations is that the design of domestic policy, legislation and institutions within the SACU member states must take cognisance of the overall needs (trade, investment, competition, services) of the member states based on the principle of good governance (transparency, predictability, certainty in the law and effective dispute resolution). Pivotal to the design is the manner in which these domestic instruments will interact and complement other national policy objectives, multilateral and regional instruments and the domestic instruments of other SACU countries.

A critical review and assessment of the rules of the game for engagement in SACU are necessary due to flaws in the design of the 2002 SACU Agreement (including lack of rules-based governance and effective dispute settlement) and the lack of implementation of this agreement. In designing domestic policy and legislation pertaining to trade remedies and safeguards a balance must be struck between the common (SACU) and individual policy space. Instruments must be based on the principles of good governance, must be appropriate for the specific purpose, allow for the monitoring of compliance and provide for effective dispute resolution; taking into account the concern of the private sector.

The Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations created high expectations for the establishment of a Free Trade Area for the 26 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA). However, with the interpretation of the principle of building on the acquis these expectations have not been met and the problem of overlapping membership has been exacerbated. What are the implications of these deelopments for the negotiations of a Continental Free Trade Area?

This workshop was made possible by the Support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of tralac and do not reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.


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