Bid for free trade regime may not get support

Posted On Monday, 02 June 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Efforts by Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin to mobilise the support of SA's African partners in a bid to liberalise world trade may face a major stumbling block, according to a new research paper by the SA Institute of International Affairs. 

Peter Draper









The document by former trade department official Peter Draper, suggests most African countries may have their own agenda, which favours protectionism.

 The Draper paper was published last week and is titled: To Liberalise or not to Liberalise. A Review of the SA Government's Trade Policy.

 Draper argues that Africa is a foreign policy priority for SA, "partly this is because it is clear that the African continent is becoming increasingly marginalised from the global economy".

 He notes that the SA government supports the promotion of market access for African goods into key developed country markets.

 Draper suggests that the vehicle for this is the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha trade round, which is being portrayed as a "development round", as it seeks to secure more favourable access for goods from developing nations into first world markets.

 "However, these exports are narrowly based, and are typically to be found in primary commodities," Draper says.

 "It is therefore debatable whether (or not) the majority of African states have an interest in a broad round of WTO negotiations, given that their export interests are comparatively few.

 "It would not be surprising to find that they regard their interests as being primarily defensive.

 "This puts them into a somewhat contradictory position relative to SA, which has much more diverse interests and capabilities."

 Draper argues that as a result of this strategic divide, other African governments might regard the SA government "with some degree of suspicion".

 "Therefore it will be difficult for SA to co-operatively develop and maintain common African positions in the WTO negotiations," he says.

 Draper is also sceptical of the idea currently being debated among African leaders, not least in discussions on Nepad, for the development of a panAfrican free trade area.

Last modified on Thursday, 17 April 2014 13:35

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