Monitoring Regional Integration in Southern Africa Yearbook 2008
2008 has been an eventful year for the Southern Africa region. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched its Free Trade Area in August. In October at a Tripartite Summit, SADC, the East African Customs Union (EAC), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) announced their intention to create a Free Trade Area encompassing the member states of all three regional economic communities.
Meanwhile the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has experienced growing internal dissent, largely as a result of two factors. The first is South Africa’s concerns about the revenue-sharing arrangement in terms of which South Africa is making transfers to the smaller member states. Second are the negotiations with the European Union (EU) to conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). All SACU member states are included in the SADC EPA group that is negotiating with the EU. South Africa has not yet signed the Interim EPA and has intimated that if the other member states implement the interim agreement, it may withdraw from SACU. This is a credible threat particularly for countries like Lesotho which rely for more than 50 percent of government revenue on the SACU revenue pool, and have very few alternative sources of revenue to tap into.
At a political economy level the Zimbabwe situation is causing growing concern, and the political parties, even at the end of 2008, nowhere near an agreement on a way forward to govern the country. Very important regional issues came to the fore from the Zimbabwe catastrophe. Sustainable regional development is difficult to negotiate when even one member state is in crisis.
The global financial crisis has also impacted on the region in 2008 and more serious impact is still expected. The depth and extent of this crisis and the general economic slowdown (some are already speaking of recession) reflects not only on economic performance as employment, income and other indicators slide, but also in policy stance. Undeniably, countries in the region are becoming more protectionist and this can be expected to impact on the regional integration agenda and specifically on the implementation of the liberalisation agenda. There is also evidence of more reactive policy decisions, as contingency protection increases and policy generally becomes more inward looking. This is not necessarily in the interest of longer-term development.
The 2008 collection of papers reviews the developments in the Southern African region, hoping to stimulate debate about regional integration matters at a time when important decisions for the region’s longer-term future are being taken.
This book was launched on 30 March 2009 at The Aquarium, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.
© 2008 Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit
Publication of this book was made possible by the support of the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (tralac), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU).
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