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Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Topics publications: Global trade governance

Trade Briefs

ILO publication: Trade and decent work: Indicator guide (2021)

Decent work conditions and trade policies can have a great impact on a country’s economy and its workforce. For this reason, the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently published a guide addressing decent work indicators in trade policies and trade agreements. Many aspects such as employment, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue are identified as priorities in this context. The report aims to provide an assessment of the relation between trade and labour law. By proposing decent work indicators, this guide can be used for a comprehensive assessment of the trade policies’ effect on the labour market and vice versa.

While much research on this subject still needs to be done, ILO proposes a human-centred approach for policymakers to assess trade agreements. This guide should therefore be consulted by policymakers before negotiating and concluding new trade agreements to line up with the ILO objectives of inclusive growth, full employment, and decent work for all. This Trade Brief reviews the first chapter of the report: Conceptual framework: a decent work approach.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Working Papers

The United States anti-dumping investigation against lemon juice from South Africa: what happened, and where to now?

On 30 December 2021, a California-based producer of lemon juice and other related products (Ventura Coastal LLC) petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), alleging that producers in South Africa and Brazil were selling lemon juice to U.S. importers at less than fair value (LTFV). The petition requested that punitive anti-dumping duties be levied on imports into the U.S. of such products sourced from (the named) businesses in South Africa and Brazil.

The preliminary investigation undertaken by U.S. authorities has not had a favourable outcome from the perspective of South African (and Brazilian) lemon juice exporters, since it was unable to find compelling evidence that would have resulted in a termination of the investigation. The petition to launch the investigation had earlier been found to be legally sufficient and representative of the local lemon juice industry. The U.S. Department of Commerce expects to complete its preliminary investigation and announce its findings by the end of July 2022. An adverse finding would, from that point onwards, compel U.S. importers to lodge cash deposits or guarantees equivalent to the preliminary dumping margin, pending the completion of the investigations, public hearings and briefs from interested parties.

The investigation will create a significant amount of uncertainty for producers, exporters and importers (and industrial consumers in the U.S.), and it can reasonably be expected that this uncertainty will already be having an impact. Businesses can ill afford a potential dumping margin of 100% or more, and importers may shy away from trade in subject goods or incorporate a defensive strategy into any contracting to minimise the potential impact of anti-dumping duties. The uncertainty and resulting financial and trade impact is unavoidable, irrespective of the merits of the case, especially since the preliminary investigation resulted in a continuation of the investigation against certain imports from both named countries.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Trade Briefs

The Russia-Ukraine war has triggered the use of export restrictions on essential food supplies by some WTO members prompting food insecurity and rising food prices

The conflict in Ukraine has caused a global economic and humanitarian catastrophe. The global catastrophe encompasses human suffering, loss of lives, global food price increases, food shortages and food insecurity mainly in poor countries. This war is happening at a time when the world is just emerging from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also ravaged the global economy. Food shortages are predominantly affecting countries that are dependent on Ukraine and Russia for imports of key food staples; in addition, shortages of fertilizer will impact their food production.

Some members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who are major exporters of staple foods and fertilizer have resorted to export restrictions, as a result of market uncertainties triggered by the war. These WTO members are opposed to an export restrictions outcome that seeks to introduce stringent notification requirements on grounds that they need additional flexibility to take appropriate measures in the current context of food shortages and volatile prices. The WTO rules allow countries to impose export restrictions as a temporary measure under certain circumstances. These will be further explained in the paper.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Trade Briefs

The U.S. anti-dumping investigation against lemon juice exports from South Africa: background, recent updates and next steps

South African producers and exporters of lemon juice (and no doubt exporters of citrus fruit) received an unwelcome surprise early January 2022 that a California-based company producing various citrus juices – Ventura Coastal LLC – had petitioned the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) to investigate shipments of lemon juice from South Africa and Brazil, claiming these were being sold on the U.S. market at less than fair value (LTFV), i.e. being dumped.

On 11 February 2022, the USITC voted to continue the investigation, finding in its preliminary investigation that there is a reasonable indication that there is material injury (or the threat thereof), or that the establishment of an industry is materially retarded by subject imports (South African and Brazilian lemon juice). The preliminary investigation also established that subject imports had grown to 28.1% of the import market in the 9-month period to September 2021, thus exceeding any negligibility criteria set out in the legislation which may otherwise have resulted in a possible early termination of the investigation.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Trade Briefs

Preferential Tariff Rate Quota Utilisation for 2021 under the EU-SADC EPA

The SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement was concluded and signed on the 10th of June 2016 by the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Angola has the option to join the Agreement in the future. The SADC-EU EPA became the first regional EPA in Africa to be fully operational after Mozambique started applying it in February 2018. The Agreement grants duty-free, quota-free access to European markets for goods exported from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini (BLNS countries).

South Africa, whose trade relations with the EU were previously governed by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), is guaranteed duty-free, quota-free access for 98.7% of their goods imported into the EU. The transition from the TDCA to the EPA meant enhanced market access for a number of South Africa’s agricultural exports; this has included the addition of expanded and new tariff rate quotas (TRQs), a combination of import quotas (that limit quantities) and tariffs (duties). This trade brief focuses on the SADC-EU EPA TRQs in South Africa.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Trade Briefs

LDCs in Africa – case study of Angola

Angola is a resource-rich (predominantly oil, precious gems, and metals) sub-Saharan African country located on the west coast of Africa. It is one of the largest oil producers in Africa and the largest African country by land area south of the equator (roughly twice the size of Texas or continental France).

Angola is currently recognised by the United Nations (UN) as a least developed country (LDC). LDC status is an indication to the international community of the necessity for special concessions to support. According to the UN, such concessions cover benefits in the areas of development financing (grants and loans from donors and financial institutions), the multilateral trading system (including preferential market access and special treatments), and technical assistance (towards trade mainstreaming through the Enhanced Integrated Framework). Graduation from LDC status is an important milestone in a country’s development path. However, graduation is not without its challenges given the loss of international support measures at a critical time in the process of integration into the global economy. Changes specific to Angola will be discussed in this Trade Brief.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Working Papers

Are WTO Members Misinterpreting or Abandoning the Mandate of S&DT in the WTO?

It is a long-held view of developing countries in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that some restrict-ions imposed by WTO trade rules and trade related agreements tend to hinder the adoption of local development policies that could lead to economic development. Flexibilities in the form of Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) provisions in the implementation of WTO rules were proposed for developing countries. This flexibility is meant to provide policy space to pursue development policies. However, it is the view of developing countries that the application of S&DT provisions in the implementation of WTO rules is not practical. As a result, a WTO mandate to review S&DT provisions with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational was adopted by all WTO members.

This paper provides background on the S&DT mandate that is accorded to developing countries for implementing WTO Agreements. Furthermore, the paper analyses what some members may view as a misinterpretation and possibly the abandoning of the S&DT mandate broadly between developing and developed members. Discussions that evolved over the years resulted in a confusion that caused a stalemate in negotiations and led some members of the WTO to attempt to abandon the S&DT mandate. These members have proposed alternative approaches and a new agenda; however, this is without agreement by all WTO members.

The paper reflects the established positions of WTO members in the S&DT negotiations and provides an analysis of the views including the new agenda and approach on development envisaged by developed members. The study suggests an approach that calls for buy-in from all WTO members to ensure an inclusive outcome in S&DT negotiations that would lead to sustainable economic development for developing countries.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Working Papers

Can the AfCFTA evolve into a New Generation Partnership for Africa?

Agreements to establish so-called new generation Free Trade Areas (FTAs) have become frequent. They are “new” because they liberalise not only trade in goods but also services, and they include other related disciplines. They liberalise trade among the relevant Parties in a WTO-plus manner. They typically deal with matters such as competition, investment, sustainable development, and intellectual property rights and aim to serve as platforms for preferential trade and market integration under 21st century conditions. These agreements also develop new approaches for reaping the benefits of technological developments (e.g. e-commerce and digitalisation) in regulating trade and managing customs administration and trade facilitation.

This Trade Report examines aspects of these new FTAs against the background of the negotiations to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Are there lessons to be learned from developments elsewhere, or are Africa’s problems unique to the extent that home-grown solutions must be found? What exactly is the AfCFTA in terms of multilateral trade rules? The relevant World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules are briefly discussed.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Trade Briefs

Can the AfCFTA evolve into a New Generation Partnership for Africa?

The so-called new generation Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) do not constitute a specific technical category but are generally designed for comprehensive trade deals and economic integration under 21st century conditions. They provide for flexibilities to suit the needs of the participating countries and are sometimes referred to as Partnerships. They aim at trade liberalisation in a WTO-plus manner among the relevant State Parties. These Agreements cover trade in goods and services as well as the associated disciplines such as standards, trade and investment facilitation and regulatory cooperation. They often cover matters not regulated via multilateral disciplines such as competition, e-commerce, and taxation issues.

Is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Africa’s home-grown equivalent of a new continental Partnership? This Trade Brief takes a look at what some of the Partnership Agreements offer. The AfCFTA is then compared.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

Working Papers

Gender Provisions in African Trade Agreements: An Assessment of the Commitments for Reconciling Women’s Empowerment and Global Trade

Since the early stage of trade integration within the African continent, women's interests have been on the agenda, at least that is what the agreements reveal. Indeed, including specific provisions on gender is a well-established practice in the African trade and integration agreements, the first being adopted in 1983 in the treaty establishing the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Since then, most integration agreements contain gender provisions, with some having an entire chapter devoted to women. In addition, several trade agreements between African states and the European Union (EU) or the United Kingdom (UK) also include provisions to address the specific needs of women. More recently, four provisions explicitly addressing gender issues or supporting women’s empowerment have been negotiated within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) normative framework. In fact, gender equality is at the core of the AfCFTA’s objectives, reinforcing the premise that global trade needs the full participation of women to be successful.

Empirical research based on 62 African trade agreements reveals 54 gender-related provisions in 20 different trade agreements concluded by at least one African state. The content of these provisions ranges from a mere mention of gender issues in areas of cooperation to mandatory measures to support women’s empowerment, with accountability mechanisms to ensure their full implementation. Therefore, some provisions may better protect women's interests and ensure that they are not left behind in the trade liberalisation process.

This working paper examines the extent to which African states are committed to supporting women’s empowerment in trade agreements. Five levels of commitment are identified based on the location, the degree of precision, and the bindingness of the gender-related provisions. As a result, about a third of the gender provisions reviewed indicate a relatively high degree of commitment to supporting women's empowerment through trade liberalisation, and more often, state parties limit their commitment to cooperation without enforceability. The working paper also reveals that regional economic community’s (RECs) agreements are more gender-responsive than agreements concluded with countries outside the African continent and highlight the essential components a gender-related provision must feature to be effective.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

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