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Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) Economic Justice Network (EJN)

Linkages between NEPAD and WTO

NEPAD and the World Trade Organization (WTO): A review of related implications for poverty reduction in the SADC region in the wake of the WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong, December 2005

John H. E. Marй1

Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN), Economic Justice Network (EJN)

6-7 April 2006

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Linkages Between NEPAD and the WTO: An Overview of the Relevance for Poverty Reduction in Africa

In recent years there has been an unprecedented amount of new activities that are aimed at fast-tracking African development and obtaining an improved position for Africa in the international community. It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the main driving force behind this thrust is The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a programme of the African Union (AU) that has developed into a process that become internationally recognised as the primary framework for African development since its inception in 2001. The NEPAD has endorsed an improved position for Africa's international trade as a priority and has poverty reduction among its chief objectives. It is therefore fairly obvious that there are linkages between NEPAD and the World Trading Organization (WTO), and that this has special relevance for poverty alleviation in Africa. The relevance of this linkage is heightened as the NEPAD process is currently taking place in parallel with a Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that is supposed to specifically deliver improved conditions of trade to better support global development.

The very close relationship between NEPAD and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is often not too well recognised and this text attempts to help illustrate some of the linkages in this relationship, especially in reference to their profound implications for poverty alleviation in Africa. Here again the Southern African region can be seen as having its own specific interests within the broader African context, with these having perhaps a special relationship to the WTO regime inter alia because of the strong trading position of the South African/SACU grouping in the Southern African region.2 The NEPAD context nevertheless remains of central relevance for the countries of Southern Africa as well as their regional entities, with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) having special significance as key building blocks for NEPAD implementation in the NEPAD framework.

While most countries in the SADC region have continued to give specific attention to poverty reduction strategies in the context of such parameters as NEPAD priorities and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations (UN), there is extensive relevance for these variables in the context of regional, intra-regional African and international trade .As such it is imperative that the countries of Southern Africa continue to monitor events, and take relevant and often related action within the WTO context in so far as poverty alleviation is concerned.

  1. Dr. John Marй is a consultant on international issues and is an ongoing ad hoc adviser to the NEPAD Secretariat. Views expressed are his own on a personal basis.
  2. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is the oldest customs union in Africa and currently consists of South Africa as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. This reality as well as the fact that South Africa has, or is entering into, a wide spectrum of international trade agreements including its existing Free Trade Agreement with the European Union (EU), inter alia is a key complication for Southern Africa's international trading situation especially as the entire region apart from South Africa has a key economic relationship with the EU in terms of the Cotonou Agreement, and SADC has aims of becoming a customs union that will include the current SACU.

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