Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism: Application and benefit to SACU

Trade Briefs

The WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism: Application and benefit to SACU

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If you are trading into a country, you want to know as much as possible about the conditions of trade that exist in that country. Trade policies and practices are valuable sources of information and for this reason must be completely transparent. Transparency will lead to predictability and will be of fundamental importance when conducting future negotiations with your trading partners.

An important tool to achieve transparency in international trade is the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is a mechanism to review the trade policies of WTO Members. Broadly, the review has a number of advantages. On a global scale the review enables WTO Members to access accurate information on the trade polices and practices of other Members, while also providing them with the opportunity to comment on these developments of the Member under review. On a national scale, Members are afforded the opportunity to assess the results of their own polices and practices and to utilise the comments of other Members to improve their policy formulation.

This discussion paper will present an analysis of the TPRM, including the structure of the review and the bodies involved in the process. The 2003 review of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) will be discussed with reference to the challenges and encouragements in the review documentation. The paper will also evaluate SACU's progress since the 2003 review in developing trade related policies. The paper will further consider common policies and institutions envisaged for the region and the potential impact it can have on integration. Finally, the paper will conclude by asking whether preparations for the forthcoming 2007 SACU review allow for greater progress to be made in such policy.

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.


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