Monitoring Regional Integration in Southern Africa Yearbook 2007
2007 may perhaps turn out to mark a watershed for regional integration in the southern Africa region. Developments both intra- and extra-regionally have raised the regional integration debate to a new level. Within the region, the substantive focus has been on the achievement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) customs union. And the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations have dominated the extra-regional agenda.
Southern Africa remains committed to the linear textbook model of regional integration. SADC adheres politically to an agenda that extends well beyond the target of achieving the free trade area that SADC member states are legally bound to in the SADC Trade Protocol. The Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of 2003 is not a legally binding agreement, but enjoys political legitimacy. This strategic plan plots an integration agenda that includes the target of a free trade area by 2008, a customs union by 2010, and further integration towards a common market, monetary union and political union.
At the Lusaka Summit in August 2007, the target date for the achievement of a free trade area was set for August 2008, buying some extra months to achieve intra-regional trade liberalisation which is at this stage lagging well behind target. The most important discussion on regional integration this year focused on the establishment of a customs union by 2010. A study commissioned by the SADC Secretariat examined specifically how a customs union could be implemented. It notably did not examine the rationale for the achievement of a customs union.
Dominating the extra-regional agenda have been the negotiations with the European Union to conclude Economic Partnership Agreements. All the member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania formed the SADC EPA configuration. Tanzania, very close to the eleventh hour of the negotiations to beat the expiry of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver applicable to the trade chapter of the Cotonou Agreement, left this configuration to join its East African Customs Union (EAC) partners to conclude the signing of an EPA with the European Union. All other members of the SADC group except South Africa and Angola signed the EPA before the end of December 2007. Angola has indicated that it will accede to the EPA and South Africa has still to indicate what it will be doing.
The collection of papers in this volume examines in a multidisciplinary manner the complex processes and developments related to regional integration in Southern Africa in 2007. An important contribution is perhaps not the answers provided to important challenges currently being negotiated but the questions that aim to stimulate productive debate on the future of regional integration in southern Africa.
© 2007 Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the 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). The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the view of any of these institutions.
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