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Welcome to the South-South Global Thinkers e-discussion focusing on " The Role of South-South Cooperation in Promoting and Deepening Trade and Investment in Africa " to be held from 23 October to 8 November 2019.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which entered into force on 30 May 2019, represents a milestone achievement in Africa’s rich history of regional integration, continental unity, and deepening of economic ties. Additionally, the AfCFTA has been touted as a catalyst for the region’s industrial development, as it will provide business opportunities in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The promotion of South-South Cooperation (SSC), especially South-South investments and trade, appears critical for countries in Africa and other developing countries of the Global South to seize the opportunities laid out in the AfCFTA. If effectively implemented, the AfCFTA could increase intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022, thereby ensuring better harmonization and trade liberalization across the region. With that, Africa should be more competitive internationally.  However, there will be anticipated constraints and challenges to its implementation. For instance, there are fears that the benefits will not be evenly distributed as stronger economies will benefit more than weaker counterparts. 

Against this backdrop, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in partnership with the African Union Commission are organizing a workshop entitled “The Role of South-South Cooperation in Promoting and Deepening Trade and Investment in Africa- Promoting Conducive Policy and Legal Environments in Africa” on 5 November 2019, ahead of the 11th African Private Sector Forum in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Please access thefull background note below.

The outcomes of the workshop aims to engage discussions on the relevance, the need for the adaptation of the existing instruments for investment in the context of AfCFTA; scope the contributions of South-South investments in the SDGs in the region; identify the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA and other regional policy and legal frameworks that can facilitate greater South-South investments in Africa; and identify funding mechanisms and frameworks that can facilitate better South-South investments for the achievement of the SDGs.  The outcome of the workshop would feed into the development of a research report that aims to inform better policy-making to promote and strengthen trade and investment policies, specifically South-South investments.

This e-discussion, seeks to engage, ahead of the workshop, Southern-based think tanks to contribute with insights and expertise and help shape the discussions of the  workshop. The initial outcomes of the e-discussion will be presented during the workshop through a background paper.  The e-Discussion will remain open during and shortly after the workshop, so that participants have the opportunity to share their experiences and recommend follow-up actions which will eventually feed into a comprehensive research study which UNOSSC aims to develop by September 2020.  

The e-discussion will focus on the following questions:

1. What are some of the policy, regulatory and legal issues that are enabling or hindering South-South Cooperation within the region?

2. Africa just signed the largest (outside the World Trade Organization) and most ambitious regional trade agreement in the world. It is aimed at the structural transformation of the continent’s consumer market of 1.2 billion people. How can South-South Cooperation contribute to the achievement of the lofty objectives of the AfCFTA?


3. How can the private sector in the Global South be mobilized and leveraged to effectively contribute towards the growth of the digital economy, within the AfCFTA, for broad-based sustainable socio-economic development on the African continent?


The e-discussion will be moderated by Hany Besada, Senior Research and Programme Advisor, UNOSSC / NY. The facilitation will be coordinated by UNOSSC. 

We look forward to your active participation and contribution to the e-discussion!