Bringing positive energy to the trading system: EU, Japan and Africa move to sign mega-trade deals

Photo: Containers in HamburgTrade policy headlines are dominated today by the ups and downs of the United States-China relationship, the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Brexit process. There is concern on the effects that disintegrating closely linked economic partners could have on growth, jobs, supply chains, and consumers. The perils of a return to unilateralism and power-based mechanisms threaten the relevance of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Among the challenges confronting global trade governance, however, there is positive energy coming from several regions of the world in the form of renewed and pro-active leadership on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on the part of the European Union (EU), Japan and Africa. This energy is welcome as it is a source of global cooperation, but more is needed to make sure it complements the multilateral trading system.

Africa and globalisation: Transforming from taker to shaper?

Photo: TruesizeofafricaIn recent years, a growing number of G20 nation states have used various forms of summit diplomacy to enhance engagement with the African continent through regular high-level meetings. These have been operationalised through initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, India-Africa Forum Summit, Africa-EU Summit, the Korea-Africa Forum, the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, the United States-Africa Leaders Summit, and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Except for the summit with the EU, all of these initiatives are essentially putting together a single country with an entire continent. The partnerships span the parameters of both South-South and North-South cooperation, presenting opportunities for the African continent to diversify its international relations and cooperation.