The Role of South-South Cooperation in Promoting and Deepening Trade and Investment in Africa Promoting Conducive Policy and Legal Environments in Africa

Naveeda Nazir

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. The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization covering “a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55-member states of the African Union.”[1] 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 AfCFTA provides a useful mechanism for reframing SSC or perhaps rethinking it in two ways: first, according to the continental scale of engagement between African countries; and second, how African state could deepen their contribution to the global political economy as well as their engagement with emerging Southern trading partners and investors. The objectives of the AfCFTA are meant to promote sustainable socio-economic development throughout the continent. The seven priority areas of the AfCFTA – namely policy, infrastructure, finance, information, market integration, increased productivity, and trade facilitation – will complement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In light of above, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in partnership with the African Union Commission, and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) 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.

In analyzing the regional South-South investment and trade trends and related policy and legal environments in Africa, this session seeks 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.

Objectives of the Workshop

The discussions and outcomes of the workshop would feed into the formulation of a research agenda that aims to inform better policy-making to promote and strengthen trade and investment policies, specifically South-South investments. The research agenda would also identify policy and legal issues that are enabling or hindering Southern countries in engaging in SSC within the region. Additionally, a research report based on the sessions would be developed. In particular, the report would delineate the major elements of policy action enshrined in the different protocols (Protocol on Trade in Goods, Protocol on Trade in Services, Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes, and future Protocol on Investment, and Protocol on Competition Policy) and annexes of the AfCFTA and investigate the role that digitalization can play in operationalizing these policy action areas. Trade, transit, and transport facilitation together form one such area.

The session will be open to participants and representatives from governments, the private sector, international financial institutions, multilateral institutions, development agencies, and think tank networks.

Please download the full concept note, including the agenda of the workshop below. 

[1] African Union (2017). “Continental Free Trade Area”. Available from: https:// au.int/en/ti/cfta/about. [Accessed 27 July 2019].