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Agriculture in the Doha development round 5. Transparency in government procurement 6. Aid for trade 7. Born and raised in Tanzania, he received a Ph. His areas of research are development economics and international economics, with a focus on African countries. He is a frequent guest analyst on Voice of America on economic issues pertaining to Africa.

He is a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces to The Arusha Times in Tanzania. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, —4. Mshomba travels regularly to the village where he grew up in Tanzania, where he and his wife are engaged in educational and development initiatives.

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If you are having problems accessing these resources please email lecturers cambridge. You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner www. Please see the permission section of the www. Open global navigation Cambridge University Press Academic. View cart 0 Checkout. Include historic titles Search products. Register Sign in Wishlist. Unlocking potential with the best learning and research solutions. The established - if unfulfilled - rights of developing countries and the existing - and unfulfilled - obligations and undertakings of developed countries must stand in their own right and be implemented as such, without new conditions being imposed or new quid pro quo concessions being required, as some of the more adept developed countries negotiators are attempting to do [Keet, c].

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These are important issues in their own right and they can be used in African argumentation and pre-negotiation tactical positioning in the WTO. However, they should not be the subject of WTO working groups as this runs the risk of their being turned into negotiating topics. Such issues should not be part of negotiations within the WTO because they should be and can best be dealt with in separate, specialised forums and without entailing the risks and costs of trade-offs and other damaging concessions as required in WTO negotiating processes.

They will also be conducted by limited numbers of trade officials and trade lawyers, largely out of public sight in Geneva. On the one hand, this poses the political and organisational challenge to each and every African government to ensure regular monitoring and the informed direction by their home offices over their Geneva-based negotiators.

This could help to avert the discrepancies that were evident in Seattle between the positions reached by the African trade ministers in Algiers and those of the African negotiators in Geneva. On the other hand, some collective arrangements are also necessary for African negotiators because the return of the process to Geneva opens the way for a resumption of the byzantine processes of the manipulation of developing countries, pressures and other abuses that were exposed to full public view and knowledge in Seattle.

The WTO, as presently constituted, is a political arena characterised by unrelenting battles for national, general sectoral or even very specific corporate advantage; as well as a necessary forum for the negotiation and accommodation of some converging or common interests, especially between powerful key players.

The international agreements and procedures that currently regulate - and continue to evolve from - such extremely tendentious and contentious processes are complex combinations of competing and conflicting interests and are replete with compromises and trade-offs, inconsistencies and internal contradictions, imbalances and inequities [Das, , a]. In this light, the WTO's general rules and regulations and specific agreements cannot be regarded as immutable fait accompli.

They do not derive from unchanging and unchangeable abstract principles or absolute laws, but from very specific economic interests and strategic aims, particularly of the most powerful industrialised countries and 'their' global corporations. On this basis they cannot be accepted as being 'cast in stone'. The WTO's terms must be clearly understood - and forcefully argued - to be amenable to alterations through ongoing negotiations on the basis of deeper investigation and analysis of their implications and wider or new evidence of their effects [Keet, ].

The more specific and immediate challenges to African countries in this respect are to ensure that - if, and in so far as the WTO continues to play a role in international relations, and whatever form that takes see 7. Practical modalities have to be created and resources have to be found to ensure that this is carried out independently of the influences, cajolery or pressures from the powerful 'donor' countries and other institutional 'creditors' see also 3. This requires the identification of a 'hierarchy' of negotiating proposals and demands, including initial, ostensible 'opening' positions, real front-line, inter-mediate and fallback positions and non-negotiable bottom lines, whether publicly on the table or internally agreed upon.

It also requires the conscious coordination of such negotiating positions in different or related negotiating sectors where possible trade-offs may have to be agreed upon. All these inter-linked options could be expressed in sophisticated matrices, allowing for more rapid and effective monitoring and mutual consultations by negotiators involved in different sectoral negotiations see also 4. An important way to reinforce effective and comprehensive analyses is through the active involvement of all relevant government departments, as well as wider public participation and contributions.

This should include parliamentarians, academics, organised workers, women, farmers and directly affected grass-roots communities and the business sector. Such participation will serve to broaden the sources of information and deepen the insights available to governments. Broader national backup can also strengthen the resolve and public criticisms or even active opposition can widen the tactical possibilities available to governments.

Above all, such broad consultations give added weight and credibility to the recommendations to be taken into multilateral negotiations.

As a direct corollary to the above and as a guarantee of the effectiveness as well as the legitimacy of such consultative processes and inputs, they cannot be pursued in an ad hoc, intermittent, informal and often tokenistic way. It is essential to provide timely and effective public information and capacity building on the issues, but also to create appropriate institutional frameworks and formal processes for wide participation. One suggestion, for example, is for the creation of broad 'national WTO commissions' of governmental and non-governmental experts [Das, b].

Such institutional arrangements will, of necessity, differ from country to country in reflection of their respective political cultures, although experiences and achievements can also be shared. These background and preparatory processes are insufficient and will be of limited effectiveness if only pursued in country and conceived of only as 'national' strategies.

Even where and is so far as there are differing national approaches and interests, it has to be recognised that the national financial and human resources of most African countries - even with the much touted financial and technical assistance - are not up to the demands of international negotiations of the complexity of those within the WTO, cooperation, coordination and sharing of resources has to be a prime organisational strategy for African countries.

This is not easy because countries do have their differences and even where 'representation' of groups of African countries has been delegated to particular countries, it cannot be taken for granted that all opinions and interests will be adequately and consistently presented. Prior mandates and subsequent report-backs have to be the basis for this kind of delegation of responsibility.

But such collective delegation can have a better chance of being soundly based if formulated within the framework of wider and deeper cooperation and mutual confidence building, for example, within regional development cooperation frameworks such as SADC. However, with respect to spheres or levels of planning and decision-making above that of the national, it must also be recognised that the further such processes are removed from direct public knowledge and input and from institutionalised democratic processes and influences within the national framework, the more they become susceptible to narrow technocratic determinations and self-serving external political influences.

At a different preparatory level altogether, effective and successful engagement in multilateral negotiations is a function not only of rigorous collective analysis, jointly agreed demands and clear matrices of defined aims and objectives but of proactive practical initiatives, skilful bargaining techniques and convincing tactical stances at the negotiating tables. Effective bargaining requires additional forms and different levels of technical training and preparation over and above sheer intellectual capacities or 'knowledge of the issues'.

Thus the creation of teams of negotiators should not be based on official political positions or diplomatic role and 'status' but on a range and combination of pertinent intellectual and tactical skills. Some commendable progress is evident in the evolution of common positions and increasingly proactive demands by African governments in the common statement presented at the Third Ministerial Conference.

These interventions are pursued with a view to ensuring the endorsement - explicitly and implicitly - of the assumptions, claims and aims of the current multilateral trading system and to secure the 'compliance' of African countries with WTO requirements. The impact of this 'technical advice' is such that - despite some positive and even innovative proposals contained within the African ministers' statement - the main focus and thrust is actually on their own implementation of existing agreements and the need for technical and financial assistance to enable them to do so.

There is an ''uneven emphasis on problems of implementation at the expense of problems relating to the essence of the agreements, emphasising implementation difficulties at the expense of the inequities and imbalances within the agreements'' [Hormeku, ]. In this context, the following are some important questions and challenges to be posed to African governments and by African governments:. It is essential to be aware - and wary - of 'technical' assistance that is not impartial or disinterested; in so far as most of that currently provided consists of training on the WTO by the WTO and the International Trade Centre ITC amounting to little more than instructions on how to implement WTO rules and regulations.

At best, such assistance by the ITC, for example is heavily focused on providing technical 'market information' and training on 'marketing skills'- which may be helpful towards more successful international trade endeavours, but is totally insufficient to the fuller needs of African economies see 4.

Furthermore, UNCTAD's advice, as could be expected, tends to be cautious and generally lacking in strategic vision because the institution is reluctant to be seen to be challenging or even questioning the role of the WTO in any overt way. What Africa needs - over and above the resources, skills and good intentions within UN agencies - is technical assistance, legal support and political advice that arise out of and reflect African and other relevant South experiences and processes [Shahin, ; Das, , a; Khor, ; The South Centre, ].

Technical backup should also include a more independent legal advice centre for developing country delegations in Geneva and with an appropriate selection of legal advisers, wherever possible from developing countries. Such offers and reassurances are used to deflect their questions or defuse their reservations and induce them to take on board proposed agreements which they know to have negative implications for their countries, whereas ''such assistance should only be accepted after substantive matters have been satisfactorily resolved'' [Tandon, ibid].

On the one hand, this inhibits the development of national skills and capacities in African countries and can perpetuate a dangerous reliance on outside advice that is rarely entirely disinterested or neutral. On the other hand, it can be extremely problematic in that such financial and technical aid can be withdrawn at a short notice, in terms of the interests either entirely unrelated or even directly linked of the aid providers.

Above all, the call for and the nature of 'technical' analysis and the 'legal' advice provided neither of which are entirely neutral or value-free has to be firmly located within the 'development dimension' advocated by the African ministers and focused on identifying the alterations required in all existing agreements to 'comply' with Africa's development needs, rather than the other way round as elaborated in 4.

Within the currently dominant neo-liberal paradigm, trade is depicted as the driving force of the new 'global economy' and the vast expansion of 'free trade' is viewed as the main means and measure of economic growth. Whether this is theoretically or empirically sound is questionable [Shafaeddin, ]. With regard to the 'WTO-regulated' and 'open' global trade regime, it can be noted, first, that much cross-border trade is carried on largely by women 'informally' and outside of the policy disciplines of their governments, let alone the WTO.

More significantly, fully two thirds of 'formal' international trade actually takes place as intra-firm and inter-firm transactions [UNCTAD, ] outside of the 'open competitive' WTO-defined trade parameters that ostensibly guide and characterise the new 'global' economy. And much other trade into countries under the pressures of IMF and World Bank's SAPs can quite correctly be defined as 'forced trade'; as can the pressures on them towards 'export-led' growth based largely on the production of export crops to the detriment of food production [Shiva, ].

Above all, trade into the most developed countries can best be described as controlled and conditional trade - 'controlled' because there are still a range of tariff and increasingly non-tariff barriers into their markets; and 'conditional' because economic 'liberalisation' is carefully qualified by the needs of their economies and the interests or demands of specific national economic and social sectors.

The more powerful governments are highly selective about the pace and direction of their own market liberalisation; and when it is considered necessary, are overtly protectionist, particularly against the transfer and use of science and technology out of the control of their corporations and economies or the flow of labour into their countries. The global economy is manifestly not based on universally accepted or practised 'free trade' as the theoretical ideologues and propagandists claim; any more than it is a system that is beneficial to strong and weak alike, as is well documented and becoming more widely recognised, thanks largely to the work of the UNDP and UNCTAD.

To the contrary, what is becoming ever more clearly evident is that trade liberalisation is designed and used by the most industrialised economies to get trade and investment access to the rest of the world; and that this is now being secured largely through the WTO - which is also used to secure other national economic and even political ends. The developing countries are increasingly aware of the inconsistent and self-serving nature of the most industrialised countries' policies and practices.

The developing countries are also increasingly conscious of the fact that the highly industrialised countries achieved their present levels of development on the basis of long periods of protections and governmental supports - which they are now, through the WTO, IMF and World Bank trying to deny to developing countries.

African countries frequently criticise the overt and covert forms of protectionism in the most developed countries and repeatedly demand remedial measures. However, there is also a growing realisation, especially in weaker ACP economies, that improved 'market access' into the high consumer economies of the North, although important, is not sufficient without improved 'supply capacities' as expressed in orthodox business and commercial terms. In economic development terms, it entails more developed and diversified production structures within their own economies. The basic problem, however, is that even while recognising the vital importance of developing greater productive capacities, African strategies on the ground and in the WTO continue to be located within the trade-and-growth and the trade liberalisation paradigm.

Thus, for example, even as the African position at the Third Ministerial Conference calls for a 'development dimension' in the WTO, this is 'to be taken into account' within multilateral trade agreements. There are, therefore, a number of vital economic policy challenges facing African policy-makers within and in regard to the WTO as a trade-driving institution; and more broadly, within their own economic policy research and the planning that must underpin and motivate their international economic strategies:.

It is essential to reject simplistic neo-classical trade theories that 'put the cart before the horse' in arguing that the expansion of trade and the liberalisation of trade is vital to develop productive capacity; whereas, although trade can act as an economic stimulant, this depends on pre-existing levels and forms of productive capacity.

The more basic realities are, on the one hand, that more effective and expanding productive capacities are more important in driving successful trade than the opposite. As a corollary to the above, it is essential for African policy makers and strategists to base themselves firmly on the understanding and to argue cogently that trade liberalisation is not equally or necessarily beneficial to all economies at all times.

There is extensive empirical evidence and widespread experience in southern Africa showing the damaging de-industrialising effects of precipitated trade liberalisation; while the purportedly compensatory effect of inward flows of foreign investment towards 're-industrialisation' is simply not happening. Furthermore, the currently dominant international trade paradigm is not universal and invariable.

It has not been and is not an immutable given, even in the most industrialised economies. The current neo-liberal paradigm has emerged out of a particular phase in the economic development of the highly industrialised countries and in the service of 'their' global corporations; and it is not appropriate for economies or companies in Africa at totally different levels of development. A further challenge for African trade strategists is to break out of the misconceived trade paradigm that keeps their economies excessively externally oriented to 'international markets'.

This simply reinforces the particularly marked extroversion of much African commercial production and the long-standing and pronounced vulnerability of African economies to general market instabilities and deliberate price manipulations in the international economy. What is needed is a greater degree of self-reliance which is not synonymous with economic autarchy , less preponderant dependence on the markets of the rich North and broader and more diversified trade: Given the dangerous susceptibilities of African economies to rapid and extensive trade liberalisation and their need to have carefully defined and periodically re-defined trade policies, it is even more problematic to link other aspects of their national economic endeavours to the 'trade-related' agreements within the WTO.

This leaves them open to a whole range of external economic policy controls over and above trade. For the most highly industrialised countries, international trade liberalisation is both an end in itself for their own producers and exporters as well as a useful instrument to compel all countries that need external trade to liberalise other economic sectors as well. Conversely their perceived or present trade needs should not be manipulated to extract other concessions in other areas. In this connection, there must be close analysis of the respective terms and proposals being made within parallel and related international negotiations.

Another external 'discipline' that can be extremely dangerous and damaging to weaker countries derives from the so-called Dispute Settlement Understanding DSU of the WTO. African members of the WTO may feel that they can, through the DSU, derive some potential protection from unilateral pressures and actions by the powerful countries, but it also leaves them open to the bilateral trade sanctions that can be officially authorised by the WTO if they are judged to have offended any of the trade or trade-related agreements.

The danger resides not only in the methods of establishment and even biased functioning of the WTO dispute panels [Raghavan, b], nor in the targeted and tendentious utilisation of WTO dispute cases by the most powerful countries when it suits them. The more fundamental problem is that trade sanctions are a very blunt and counter-productive weapon against 'erring' weak economies even were the imposition of such sanctions entirely 'well-intentioned' - which in international trade relations is extremely doubtful.

The broader solution would be to remove the applicability of this instrument from specific countries, economic areas or international agreements [Tandon, b] or from the WTO arsenal altogether. And finally, underpinning all the above, is the most fundamental necessity for the currently dominant global paradigm to actually be inverted and transformed.

Instead of important development strategies and policy instruments in developing countries being constrained or even forbidden in the WTO - and by the IMF and World Bank - because they are 'trade distorting', the current multilateral trade regulations and the entire paradigm have to be challenged and changed because they are 'development distorting' [Khor, ]. International economic negotiations would then be about development-with-trade -dimensions, rather than about trade negotiations per se which may or may not have positive or negative development implications or unevenly distributed development gains and costs.

The search and struggles for different and effective development policies in and for Africa is a long-standing and wide-ranging process that pre-dates the WTO and the rise to global dominance of the neo-liberal paradigm over the past two decades. However, the ideological, political and institutional, technological, economic and sheer financial power of narrow vested interests in the emerging global system now pose serious questions for all the peoples and governments of Africa, of the South and, indeed, of the whole world. Moreover, real survival challenges are posed to all of humanity by the unsustainable modes and levels of over-production and over-consumption in the rich North and the destructive, divisive and destabilising effects of the highly liberalised, deregulated and in many respects anarchic emergent global system.

This is a profound and complex challenge and many arguments and organisations such as the UN socio-economic agencies have to be deployed in what is an epochal paradigmatic debate. Governments have to demand that the UN agencies be resourced, restructured and empowered to play that role. However, governments must also be able to feed into and effectively influence UN policy research, proposals and future negotiations. This means deploying their own national resources in analysing their own economies, ecologies and societies. Equally important are the myriad of non-governmental institutions, social movements and community-based organisations that provide the most focused analysis and authoritative evidence on what is happening on the ground.

Such organisations are also invariably at the cutting edge of ground-breaking research and creative proposals for innovative, appropriate and sustainable alternatives. However, in support of this vast and complex process, the Special and Differential Terms can also, in some specific ways, be utilised within the WTO. This is also evident in the African statement to the Third Ministerial Conference. However, the other challenges to African and other developing countries, in this respect are as follows:. There is some urgency in identifying in detail and applying to maximum effect, the rights that they do have under SDTs in all agreements as well as pushing for the extension of the coverage and time frames for these exemptions, as the African position for the Third Ministerial Conference does.

But these steps are not an end in themselves. They must be tactically conceived and utilised as immediate defensive measures to create a certain interim economic 'breathing space' for their countries or room to manoeuvre in multilateral negotiations, while they marshal their counter-evidence, alternative arguments and political forces. It is necessary to argue that such time frames should be determined not merely by the ''availability of resources required to effectively implement them'', as the African trade ministers propose but should arise out of and reflect the real economic aims and achievements and broader social, environmental, political and related dynamics within their national economies and regions see also 6.

These have been subtly changed through their location within the WTO neo-liberal globalist assumptions that there is and must be a single economic model for all countries, advancing - albeit at slightly different speeds - along a fixed track towards one single, pre-set destination. Within this view, temporary concessions may be made but only to enable weaker countries to 'catch up'. Thus, developing countries are, like all other WTO members, compelled to sign onto all the WTO agreements under 'the single undertaking'.

However, there is a clear tension between the essence of the original SDTs and the single undertaking. The sweeping imposition of the latter has to be changed accordingly. It is strategically important to go further and utilise the implicit recognition - and even explicit acknowledgement [GATT, ] - that it is inequitable to treat as equal economies that are unequal, and that countries at different levels of development require basically different considerations.

The importance of revitalising this principle is to advance the argument that it is not temporary concessions that are needed but different conceptions towards distinctive, diverse and gendered models of development for peoples at different levels of development and favouring different forms, methods and rates of development.

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But, in the final analysis, any such 'SDT' tactics within the WTO could merely remain at the level of formal argument unless they are informed and driven by real alternative development programmes 'on the ground' that are holistic, realistic and appropriate for African countries. Amongst the many dimensions and considerations, this in turn entails revisiting and rethinking the viability and validity of separate and autonomous national economic programmes within countries and separate economic and political strategies on the international plane. It has long been recognised in Africa, amongst strategy analysts and politicians, that the integration of African countries into regional groupings - in and of themselves or as building blocs towards the eventual unification of the continent - is a vitally important process towards undoing the arbitrary carving up of the continent by colonialism.

Such re-grouping into larger and more viable economic entities is also an important basis to begin to change African countries' largely non-viable, internally distorted and externally dependent economies inherited from colonialism. It is necessary to begin to challenge effectively African countries' continued neo-colonial, subordinate insertion into the international economy. Despite years of largely rhetorical declarations on the importance of regional cooperation and integration amongst African economies, there has been little progress on the ground and minimal attention has been given to this issue within the terms of the WTO.

It is commendable that the joint position of the African trade ministers to the Third Ministerial Conference makes some firm statements and even innovative recommendations on the WTO approach. However, in this respect, it is important to note that:. The importance of revisiting the relevant articles is not to ''facilitate the conclusion of trading agreements involving developed and developing countries'' as the African trade ministers state. It has emerged as one of the principal pillars for global governance in the trilateral relationship between trade, finance and development.

In close to 20 years of functioning, it has rapidly and firmly established, not only as a forum for trade negotiations, but also as a forum for international co-operation. As a consequence, allocation of resources and prioritization of trade are not optional extras, or choices. They stand and should stand at the top of the scale of priorities in resource allocation for trade capacity development.

This representation was the lowest in comparison to all other regions of WTO Members 2. By , the percentage of African representation in Geneva had significantly increased to This was a reflection of the understanding by African Members of the relationship between capacity and effective participation through physical establishment of trade policy negotiators in Geneva.

However, a question that still needed to be addressed was whether improvement in nominal capacity had been matched by qualitative improvement in capacity, technical expertise, personal individual commitment and the professionalism in the engagement of individual negotiators to enhance effectiveness. Increase in nominal capacity does not necessarily increase effectiveness in participation levels.

This is an area that would require greater analysis. At this time, there is yet scope for qualitative improvements in participation. This deviated from the average: North American countries averaged ten delegates in a mission; six for Asia-Pacific countries; four for European countries; three and half for Latin America and Caribbean countries.

Although the size of missions to the WTO improved across all regions 15 years later, improvements in the size of African WTO missions were relative. The number of African delegates covering WTO work averaged four delegates. Improved engagement was also due to increased compensatory support from capitals, for those cases sanitary and phytosanitary measures SPS , TBT where specialisation was based in capitals, or because of the cross-cutting nature of responsibility TPRB.

The relative improvement in mission size and consequent engagement levels were mostly reflected in the Doha negotiations, with agriculture cotton , special and differential treatment, intellectual property and trade facilitation negotiations being the most illustrative. However, participation and engagement in the area of dispute settlement remained low despite increases in mission size and capacity building in the past 15 years.


It was also observed that although there were relative improvements in terms of the number of African delegates, an average of four delegates per mission was inadequate in light of the scope, volume, complexity and technical expertise required for WTO participation. In for instance, there was an average of meetings per week. This situation was compounded by the fact that most African delegations are accredited to cover the activities of other international organisations based in Geneva. The tabulation of the results of the questionnaire administered to African WTO delegates in Geneva revealed that overall support received from capitals was low.

Furthermore, the problem of coordination across government ministries and departments was identified. Capital support provided was diverse and frequently without a connecting rationality. This situation highlighted the often complex domestic problem of inter-agency coordination and the challenges of collaboration in formulating coherent and consistent trade policy which ultimately reflect on participation in international organisations, including the WTO.

However, the results of the analysis showed that when "support" and "instructions" were provided from capital authorities to negotiators in Geneva missions, and support and instructions were clear, consistent and based on domestic regulations and laws, there was a positive effect, through increased levels of participation. An inventory of existing legal capacity in African missions was undertaken based on a questionnaire administered.

The inventory of legal capacity was used as an indication of additional capacity of African delegations to effectively engage in the three areas of: Overall and consistent with the earlier finding of inadequate technical human resources in WTO missions, the results of the survey revealed that many African WTO Members did not deploy specialised legal staff dedicated to WTO work in their missions 4.

Details of the survey and interviews suggest a number of explanatory factors. It was felt that the prime business of the WTO was commerce qua commerce, or trade facilitation. It was paradoxical that dispute resolution, the foundation of the WTO, was felt to be of second order priority for African countries. This perception is still reflected in the low level of use and participation in the WTO dispute settlement system.

Second, there were financial constraints to deploy specialised legal expertise. Third, generally, there were low levels of technical knowledge of WTO law and practice. Finally, it was felt that there was no reason to have "in-house" counsel as several African Members minimally and hardly ever engage in WTO dispute settlement, either as complainants, respondents or third parties; and, in the rare instances when they do, acquire "outside" legal assistance, including those provided on a pro bono basis.

Two specific measures were examined namely, the formation of the WTO African Group and demands for enhanced WTO Secretariat technical assistance and capacity building 5 , which were subsequently reflected in Secretariat Technical Assistance Plans from As the WTO has evolved, in its regular work and in the content of multilateral trade negotiations, African negotiators also adjusted approaches and measures taken. For instance, on coalitional behaviour, a topic examined at length in the article, they either formed issue-based coalitions, such as the Cotton-4, or joined others such as the Trade Facilitation negotiations or Friends of Development.

The establishment of the Group was motivated by the objectives of coordination and mobilizing the potential coalitional strength of the nominally largest regional group and compensate for capacity deficit, expert and other weaknesses. The African Group has utility for its Members. It has pooled scare resources, created synergies, provided a forum for exchanging views and engaging in coordination with other groupings and has "provided weight of numbers" in a non-voting institution for political decisions and African representation in small group consultations.

The Group is part of the constituency system, which has become modus operandi in WTO work to facilitate consensus decision-making amongst the membership. Although the Group has given support to decisions in favour of least developing countries LDCs , most of which are African countries, LDCs have themselves preferred to pursue their interests within their dedicated forum — the LDCs' Consultative Group.

On specific issues, there are tensions that have emerged between the two groups. Overall, however, the combined results of interviews and responses to a questionnaire to African delegates in Geneva strongly indicated that the level of engagement of the Group has been relatively effective in trade negotiations, where general positions are formulated, and limited in regular work and dispute settlement where specific individual member interests are in question. The African Group could consider equally focusing its attention on WTO regular committee work and dispute settlement.

The question then is whether this constraint has been mitigated through increased WTO Secretariat technical assistance to African countries. Current evidence confirms that overall, trade-related technical assistance and capacity building to WTO Members particularly developing countries in Africa have been on the increase.

Data analysed indicated that WTO-specific technical assistance and capacity building to African countries increased from a total of activities in the selected baseline by per cent to a total of in and by per cent to activities by These were massive increases in technical assistance and capacity building by the WTO Secretariat alone, excluding many other technical assistance and capacity building suppliers.

In the period researched, WTO Technical Assistance has not only been sustained, but also augmented in quantum. The question that remains is the appropriateness of candidates nominated by African delegations for training and, subsequently, national efficiency in the allocation of individual African negotiators so trained and whose capacity have been developed. In addition, there are "newer" programmes on building trade capacity for developing countries including African countries in the form of the Aid for Trade Initiative; the Standards and Trade Development Facility; and, the China LDCs' Accessions and Internship Programme.

Evidence suggests that African participation overtime has been relatively improved with WTO technical assistance. Overall, hovewer, participation levels still remain low, implying that other factors that go beyond technical assistance and capacity building are at play. There are limitations to the Technical Assistance provided by all Technical Assistance providers.

In the Technical Assistance provided by the WTO Secretariat, the Secretariat still has to ensure its neutrality, including in the review of cases either sub judice, or in reference to issues that could potentially be raised in disputes. However, the universe of Technical Assistance providers ensures that all angles are covered. What emerges, therefore, is that the responsibility still lies with African delegations and individual negotiators to coherently approach the consumption and use of WTO and other Technical Assistance.

These explanatory variables were applied to the dependent variable of "level of engagement and participation". The dependent variable specified was: This variable was specifically defined for measure in the area of negotiations as the: The variablespecifically defined formeasure in regular committee work as: This variableis specifically defined formeasure in dispute settlement as: A number of the results from the regression analysis provide interesting insights.

The results of the regression are set out in Annex I. Minutes or summary records of bodies falling under the category of regular work from to were examined. For the Doha negotiations, minutes, summary records and lists of proposals were reviewed from For both regular committee work and the Doha negotiations, reports and internal records of committees and responsible divisions were used as primary sources.

Data on notifications and specific trade concerns were assessed from relevant reports of respective committees. Table 1 Chairmanships across regular work and DDA negotiations. Authors own calculations based on WTO Secretariat information. It provides a core vantage point for understanding and obtaining inside knowledge of the operation of rules-based multilateral trading system and as a result, possibly influencing participation levels of an individual delegate or delegation.

Although the role of a chair in a rules-based system that is Member-driven is constrained usually to brokerage and consensus building, there is also value in the profile and ceremony which carry a degree of influence for the wider public and constituencies in developing country Members. This article argues that both must be done. The decisions that need to be made are in better, more rational allocation of resources, evenly distributed across the three areas of core WTO work. There are several solutions, revolving around better Geneva-capital coordination, tenure and quality of delegations.

No non-resident African Member had held a chairmanship. The data showed that although the share of regular-body chairmanships accounted for by African WTO Members had gradually risen from to its level in , overall, it remained low in relation to the significant membership share of African WTO Members and in relation to the share of chairs held by Members from other regions.

The data analysed showed that Africa's share of chairmanships was only better than the Middle East on competitive grounds and North America, but only because of the latter's conscious policy to be minimalist in taking up chairmanships. This is partly explained by the personalities involved. Primarily, objective factors have typically included capacity constraints, technical expertise and specialization, commercial and systemic interests, inadequate Geneva-capital coordination and internal Organizational rules on appointment of officers to WTO bodies, particularly the strict standard of technical competence, which has significantly influenced chairmanship shares.

Fulfillment of financial contributions, as part of Organizational rules on appointments, has also exercised considerable influence because they have led to the disqualification of otherwise eligible candidates from Members in arrears. The "residency-in-Geneva" requirement for chairmanship of certain WTO bodies has to a lesser extent affected the share of chairmanships held by African Members.

Second, there is evidence of technically competent individuals with specialised knowledge, but the numbers are low and there is considerable discontinuity in tenure. The evidence indicates that up to a point in time, longer tenures in Geneva to cover the WTO increases the quality of participation and effectiveness. African WTO Members should be well served by this. Longer tenures, generally, are consistent with deeper specialisation and knowledge, more familiarity with procedures, better peer recognition and more stable networks that enhance effectiveness.

However, it is also the case, as suggested by the evidence, that beyond a certain threshold in time, complacency, fatigue and cynicism are likely to set in, requiring a vital rotation of the negotiator and "refresher" of the Member. Third, one of the findings that emerged in analysing the data is that the more technical, specialised, experienced and professionally motivated the delegates in a delegation , the higher the share of chairmanships. This is the obvious pattern that has emerged from the limited universe of African WTO Members that repeatedly account for the largest share of chairmanships within the African Group.

Such individuals have been systemically accepted to chair perceived complex regular bodies such as trade remedies bodies, trade in financial services, regional trade agreements and trade in civil aircraft. The evidence shows that, different from chairmanships of regular bodies, there is less politicization with chairpersons of negotiating bodies who exercise a higher level of care and diligence. A common observation of the three delegates in question was individual professionalism and commitment and technical expertise, which contributed to Members entrusting them with these chairmanships.

With the exception of a few African countries, the vast majority were essentially "absent" or non-participatory. At the coming into force of the WTO in , African WTO Members were confronted with the "implementation challenge" of the substantive legal results of the Uruguay Round to which they had become bound regardless of their level of participation or whether they had fully understood the commitments they had undertaken. They also concluded that "…there is an urgent need for development issues to be put at the centre-stage at the WTO…addressing asymmetries in existing agreements…the objective should be the achievement of global growth and development for all Members, while decisively addressing present inequities in the multilateral trading system".

WTO, The position was taken that the results of the Uruguay Round negotiations were "unfair and unbalanced". It was considered that international trade trends made evident Africa's loss of trade share, "marginalization" and that the trading system needed to better respond to their development objectives. This was at the origins of the Doha Round negotiating activism, but with a tenuous relationship to quality and effectiveness of engagement.

Although there has been a limited degree of robust individual activity by some, the principal form of negotiating engagement has been in coalitional behaviour. African WTO Members have operated in a wide range of intra- and inter-regional issue-specific coalitions to compensate for their individual capacity weaknesses.

This form of engagement has been more effective than their individual activity in relation to their negotiating objectives. Several facts emerged from the data collected and reviewed. Third, these coalitions range across priority areas of interest for African Members. These include "development", special development needs for LDCs, special development needs of non-LDC vulnerable Members, targeted reform and liberalization position recently acceded Members , agriculture, cotton, non-agriculture market access NAMA , flexibility and protection for development purposes, trade facilitation, and intellectual property.

These coalitions include those that are unique and long-standing coalitions that were re-adjusted for the Doha Development Agenda DDA negotiations. The African Members that had intervened with individual statements corresponded to the same limited universe of active African WTO Members 8. Kenya and Uganda, with traditions of individual professionally motivated delegations and as previous coordinators of the WTO African Group, had made the most individual statements. To some extent, it could be concluded that with what is currently on the table, African Members, particularly LDCs have already made some gains.

This is evident in the decision on duty free, quota free market access for LDC exports; exemptions from certain obligations in the agriculture, NAMA and services negotiations; the agreement to treat cotton specially and more ambitiously and the waiver decision to enable the granting of preferential treatment to the services and service suppliers from LDCs. Although the Doha Round is in abeyance, these "gains" confirm the valuable role of acting in a coalition. It may also potentially provide evidence of the form for active and effective African WTO Member participation in the Doha round in shaping the rules that could in future govern the multilateral trading system, different from their situation in previous GATT rounds, if the Doha Round "survives".

Most African countries are net food importers or depend on preferential market access, and 25 countries are in the least developed bracket. The broad agricultural negotiating platform as agreed by African Trade Ministers in several of their declarations is that account should be taken of the need for appropriate policy space that would allow African countries to pursue agricultural policies that are supportive of their development goals, poverty reduction strategies, food security and livelihood security concerns, while ensuring improved market access for the agricultural products of African countries both in primary and processed forms.

First, ambition in agriculture is led by South Africa as a member of the Cairns Group 9. The Cotton-Four countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali that seek elimination of trade distortions in cotton also fall in this category. Second, the combination of ambition and development objectives are represented by Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and, Tanzania as G members. Fourth, protection is represented by Mauritius, a member of the G10 with protectionist interests in agriculture. Other African Members that tabled more than five individual proposals included Zimbabwe once dubbed "the bread basket of Africa" and with a strong offensive interest in the agriculture negotiations as a G member ; Kenya with individually professional motivated delegates ; Nigeria second largest economy on the continent, also with a strong offensive interest in agriculture and member of the G ; and, Mauritius with one of the leading competitive African economies with regard to domestic reform, despite having a defensive interest in the agriculture negotiations as part of the G However, "volume" is not necessarily a good predictor of "quality" and does not indicate the likelihood of "consensus" and "passage".

Some African Members have overlapping membership in a number of these groups. Tanzania is an example. This raises questions about the mutual supportiveness, consistency in policy and negotiating positions of so many proposals onto which an individual Member signs. This is an illustration of the continued inertia with a special and differential treatment orientation that has characterized the overall negotiating position of several African WTO Members. But, this should not undermine the fact that African WTO Members have been active in these negotiations where they have overcome typical capacity constraints by operating on a coalitional basis.

This intelligent compensation for the standard capacity weakness of African WTO Members has contributed significantly in explaining their increased level of negotiating engagement in the Doha agriculture negotiations. This has revolved around policy space; special and differential treatment conditioned on less-than-full-reciprocity; flexibility in tariff binding coverage commensurate with development objectives; separation of flexibilities and ambition levels; WTO mechanisms to address preference erosion and non-tariff measures, LDCs exemption from tariff reduction commitments, and, opposition to deeper liberalization through sectoral initiatives.

The "development-oriented" position of the NAMA 11 is to minimize further de-industrialization and achieve policies such as diversification, employment and other trade-development objectives. Second, are the "paragraph 6" countries averse to per cent industrial tariff binding coverage for policy flexibility reasons.

Third, the LDC exemption category.


Fourth, the small vulnerable economy category seeking flexibilities because of special status. In addition, there has been country-specific flexibilities sought inter-alia because of the impact of industrial tariff cuts on customs union partners. Most of the individual proposals had a defensive orientation because of expressed concerns about potential exacerbation of de-industrialization, unemployment, government revenue loss as a result of tariff reductions and the need to ensure a level of harmonization of assumed commitments with customs union partners.

This higher volume of proposals is "nominalism" from which quality does not necessarily follow. In the period to , with the exception of the Middle East region, African Members tabled the fewest proposals in relation to those from other regions. They have requested for special and different treatment because of purported autonomous liberalization undertaken within the framework of structural adjustment programmes of international financial institutions for which they have sought credit; or because of economic status or insistence that their services industries are still too weak to compete and should be shielded.

Some have also argued that domestic prudential regulations are either non-existent or too weak to allow for competition. In this context, it is observed that the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of December exempted LDCs many of which are African countries from undertaking additional commitments. In the period after this Declaration, the focus of LDCs was on obtaining preferential market access treatment and a waiver from the most favoured nation provision to ensure the possibility of receiving these preferences without violating the most favoured nation MFN rule.

In the negotiations on regional trade agreements, the overall position adopted has been that the Enabling Clause 15 should not be re-opened and that the negotiations on systemic issues must address the Doha principle of "less than full reciprocity", asymmetry in market access, and Africa's development concerns with regard to RTAs with developed countries, pursuant to GATT Article XXIV and GATS Article V.

With the exception of South Africa and Egypt, interest, use and experience with trade remedy instruments have been limited. Egypt's greater use and experience with trade remedy instruments are reflected in its tabling of 30 proposals in this perceived complex trade policy area. Several factors explain the low level of Africa's overall engagement in this area identified as a priority.

International trade is currently characterized more by global supply chain networks. It could be argued that Africa's very low overall number of proposals correspond to their low level of integration, although they are victims of dumped products in their markets; absence of domestic laws and regulation for trade remedies; and, low world trade shares and limited trade with countries from other regions.

On the latter, Africa's total merchandise export to the world in was at 0. In addition, very few African countries have been the target of trade remedy measures — anti-dumping or countervailing measures. Exports from eight African countries 18 were the subject of anti-dumping initiations by other countries in the period to It could also be argued that the low number of individual proposals tabled tends to confirm the proposition that there is an inverse relationship between the degree of complexity and specialisation, on the one hand and tabled proposals on the other.

The more complex and specialised the negotiating area, the lower the number of tabled proposals. The majority of proposals have focused on special and differential treatment in the imposition of trade remedies against developing countries or in new disciplines to be developed in the area of fisheries subsidies to take into account their special situations and concerns and the importance of the fisheries sector for livelihood and food security. This is a low level of engagement for an amendment that African countries vigorously pursued with the involved support of civil society groups and other lobbies.

The extension to other products of the higher level of protection of geographical indications accorded to wines and spirits, and, the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD , including bio-piracy concerns. The Group also supports the extension of the higher protection of Geographical Indications for wines and spirits to other products, including for a number of African products such as handicrafts, coffee and tea.

With the exception of their expressed group interest that the negotiations should take account of concerns of developing countries, there seems to be no formulated common negotiating position on this relatively complex, contemporary,critical and substantive inter-relationship between trade and environment.

Complexity of work in this area seems to have been enhanced by overlapping and unresolved issues in multilateral negotiations in two different arenas, namely multilateral environmental agreements MEAs and the WTO Doha negotiations.