Africa, Regional Cooperation and the World Market: Socio-Economic Strategies in Times of Global Trade Regimes

Africa, Regional Cooperation and the World Market: Socio-Economic Strategies in Times of Global Trade Regimes

Africa, Regional Cooperation and the World Market: Socio-Economic Strategies in Times of Global Trade Regimes

Africa, Regional Cooperation and the World Market: Socio-Economic Strategies in Times of Global Trade Regimes

Synopsis

Under the regime of the World Trade Organization, local and regional policies are increasingly determined by global factors. One example is the New Partnership for Africa's Development. It stresses an earlier notion of African Renaissance, which includes the emphasis on collective self-reliance, but at the same time seeks closer cooperation with the global trade system and its international agencies. Bi- and multilateral trade relations between external actors and individual African states or regional blocs are becoming ever more decisive. This is also true of the more recently negotiated Economic Partnership Agreements in the post-Lomé era of EU-African relations. In light of such trends the question of coherence between "trade as aid" and other areas of development strategy and cooperation remains to be answered. The contributions to this Discussion Paper reflect upon related matters of socio-economically viable strategies seeking to reconcile the global and the regional in an African perspective. They were originally presented to the Panel "Regional Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Between Collective Self-Reliance and Global Trade Regimes" organized by the Nordic Africa Institute within the 11th General Conference of the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes in September 2005 in Bonn. This publication is useful for economists, political scientists, policy makers and other professionals dealing with Africa in development assistance and in trade.

Excerpt

The European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) held its 11 General Conference on “Insecurity and Development – Regional issues and policies for an interdependent world” during September 2005 in Bonn. The Nordic Africa Institute, which during the last few years has had a staff member as the elected Swedish representative on the EADI Executive Committee, had organised a panel on “Regional Co-operation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Between Collective Self-Reliance and Global Trade Regimes”. The contributions approached from various perspectives and different but related subject areas the issue of the global market, trade liberalisation and the options for African (counter-)strategies to relate or respond to emerging trends.

Ian Taylor recapitulated the background, emergence and positioning of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The initiative under African ownership managed to occupy a discourse accepted by the G8 and the international financial institutions as an integral part of a shift towards increasingly neo-liberal paradigms. These embrace both the notion of ‘good governance’ as well as the gospel of the ‘free market’ as essentials of democracy. But NEPAD was only the last of a wide range of African plans and projects formulated and propagated as blueprints for development. It shares with its numerous predecessors a top down approach: a survey in Botswana showed that out of 200 persons asked only three had heard about NEPAD and none had a clear idea what it really is. NEPAD was conceptualised by a new elite among African leaders at a strategic conjuncture and linked to the dominant discourses of globalisation under the WTO. It managed to introduce an acceptable programmatic commitment and thereby helped to secure a favourable response and subsequent collaboration on the part of the donor countries after the end of the Cold War.

Henning Melber presented a critical assessment of the current EU negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). As he argued, they lack coherence with the EU member countries’ development policy priorities, which rank support to regional integration high on the agenda. The EPA concept as it currently exists, tends instead to weaken and undermine regional integration. Reciprocal tariff reduction over and above WTO compliance in combination with other (sanitary and environmental) issues puts pressure on both LDC and non-LDC ACP states alike to ensure conformity and compliance with externally defined trade requisites not necessarily in their interest. While the Cotonou Agreement emphasises the need for poverty reduction as an essential goal for an EU-ACP framework, the EPAs lack any conceptual reference to a pro-poor policy. African states feel bullied into the nego-

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