Digital Transformation: Prioritizing Data Localization
By Bilal Zaka
After years of rather stable and predictable growth of telecommunications and software systems, the last decade has witnessed a tremendous shift towards unpredictable and disruptive innovations in every field of life. Today, we are experiencing the true social, political, financial and cultural effects of what is termed as globalization, deregulation, liberalization and convergence. Some major factors influencing this change are proliferation of mobile devices, ubiquitous wireless access to internet and increasing interventions of online or internet-driven technologies. While this digital transformation is inevitable, it is imperative that we equip ourselves to handle the negative implications of external influence caused by foreign dependencies and the non-regulatory nature of the new information ecosystem.
COVID-19 and WTO: Debunking Developed Countries’ Narratives on Trade Measures
By Aileen Kwa, Fernando Rosales and Peter Lunenborg
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are faced with demands to i) permanently liberalize their markets in health products, and also in agriculture; ii) ban export restrictions in agriculture; and iii) conclude new digital trade rules including liberalizing online payment systems, and agreeing to free data flows. There seems to be a confusion between short-term and long-term responses. For the short-term, governments must take measures needed to address the crisis, including liberalizing needed health products. However, permanently bringing tariffs to zero for the health and agricultural sectors will not support developing countries to build domestic industries. Export restrictions in agriculture cannot be given up. They can be a very important tool for stabilizing domestic prices and for food security. New digital trade rules at the WTO would foreclose the possibility for countries to impose data sovereignty regulations, including data localization requirements that can support their infant digital platforms and industries.
The Politics of Trade in the Era of Hyperglobalisation: A Southern African Perspective
About the Book:
Matters of international trade are increasingly widely recognised as major shapers of global politics. News bulletins are giving more and more coverage to matters like the so-called “trade wars” between the United States and China. These are, indeed, increasingly defining relations between the two largest economies in the world and could well underpin a multi-dimensional rivalry that could be a central feature of international relations for many years to come. Brexit is dominating and indeed re-shaping politics in the United Kingdom. By definition a rejection of a regional integration arrangement, Brexit has also revealed under-currents profoundly shaped by the outcome of a broader trade-driven process called “globalisation”. Just as regional integration is weakening in Europe, African countries have taken decisions that could lead to the most profound and ambitious step forward in African regional integration – the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This study seeks to present an analysis of the political economy of trade negotiations over the past quarter century on two main fronts: the multi-lateral and those pertaining to regional integration on the African continent.
Author: Rob Davies is former South African Minister of Trade and Industry.
‘Phase 1B’ of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations
By Peter Lunenborg
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force on 30 May 2019, represents a unique collaborative effort by African countries to bolster regional and continental economic integration, in a world marked by increasing protectionism and use of unilateral trade measures.
In order to make the agreement operational for trade in goods, negotiations on tariff concessions need to be concluded and negotiating outcomes need to be inserted into the agreement. This policy brief focuses on the expected economic impacts of tariff liberalization under the AfCFTA, the tariff negotiation modalities and discusses some legal and practical issues related to the implementation of these modalities.
Input of the South Centre to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 69/5 dated 28 October 2014 on the Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba
On 28 October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly approved by an overwhelming vote of 188-2 a resolution (Resolution 69/5 ) reiterating its long-standing call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying unilateral economic and trade measures by one State against another that affect the free flow of international trade, referring in particular to the United States’ 1996 “Helms-Burton Act”, whose application has had extraterritorial effects that affect that sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation. (more…)
Global Value Chains (GVCs) from a Development Perspective
The current discourse on Global Value Chains by key proponents and also the WTO Secretariat is that developing countries should liberalise – in goods and services, and conclude a Trade Facilitation Agreement. (more…)
EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements: Current State of Play.
This note provides an overview of the EPA negotiations. It illustrates the fact that the same critical contentious issues persist in the EPAs across various regional blocs. It also highlights the concerns of the highest political authorities of ACP States regarding the EPAs and the inherent dangers for (more…)
The EPAs and Risks for Africa: Local Production and Regional Trade.
One of the main contentious issues in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and African countries is the level of trade liberalization which Europe is asking for. This issue is certainly one of the most critical for Africa. (more…)
WTO’s MC8: Some Critical Issues for Developing Countries.
This Analytical Note provides an overview of the following: issues at stake in MC8 for developing countries and key messages for Ministers; the state of play including the main events that took place in the production of the ‘Elements for Political Guidance’ text; the legal status of the Chairman’s Statement as the outcome document of the Ministerial; (more…)
Economic Partnership Agreements in Africa: A Benefit-Cost Analysis.
This study provides a simple cost-benefit analysis of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between African countries and the European Union. It compares the costs of signing an EPA – measured as tariff revenue losses, versus the “gains” of signing an EPA – measured as (more…)