Trade and investment in Africa: harmony and disharmony with the international community: south-south trade and investment relations: harmony and disharmony - African perspectives.

Author:Ofodile, Uche Ewelukwa
Position:Proceedings of the One Hundred Fifth Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law

This panel was convened at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, March 26, by its moderator, Angela M. Banks of William and Mary Law School, who introduced the speakers: Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile of the University of Arkansas; Won Kidane of Seattle University; Victor Mosoti of the International and Environmental Law Unit, Legal Vice-Presidency, the World Bank; and Thomas R. Snider of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Doer LLP. **


South-South trade and investment is on the rise. The last decade witnessed the emergence of developing countries such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa as major players in the global economy, (1) The last decade also saw the development of sound, robust, and widening economic activity among developing countries. Indeed, the concept of a new geography of trade and investment is generating significant discussion in the global marketplace today. Underscoring the shifting geography of trade and investment, at the eleventh United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XI) in June 2004, a special session on the theme "The New Trade Geography: The Role of South-South Trade and Cooperation" was chaired by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. (2) Also underscoring the changing geography of trade and investment, developing countries are increasingly concluding bilateral and regional trade agreements, as well as bilateral and regional investment treaties (BITs) among themselves. (3) In 1998, only 133 BITs were concluded between countries in Africa and other developing countries, but by the end of 2008, the number had jumped to 335. According to UNCTAD, 28% of BITs involving African countries are now with other developing countries outside Africa.

By some accounts, the center-periphery relationship between the North and the South--a hallmark of the old geography of trade--is gradually being replaced by more balanced economic relations among developing countries. For countries in Africa, growing South-South economic cooperation raises several interesting questions: What does South-South trade and investment hold for Africa? Are we seeing a shift toward more inclusive, collaborative, development-oriented, and people-centered economic arrangements, or are we witnessing the emergence of arrangements that are essentially modeled after relationships that Africa has with the North? Are the legal instruments that structure and regulate Africa-South economic arrangements any different from instruments that structure relationships between countries in Africa and the North? More specifically, do Africa-South BITs strike the right and necessary balance between protecting foreign investors and safeguarding the public interest in Africa? Are South-South BITs...

To continue reading