African countries are members of the WTO in their own right and are of the habit of taking part in trade negotiations, but individually they struggle on several fronts. Although they have the ambition of pooling their efforts for a common African policy through the different regional groups, they do not seem to understand that the sum of their individual experiences could be capitalised in a unified African community. This would require shifting from a logic of defending interests to one of building a community with mutual concessions and arbitration. African countries will have to draft trade policies in order to adapt to existing international rules, make discriminatory trade offers commensurate with trade partners at the table and make an opportunity for inward-looking trade integration. However, they already have noticeable situational handicaps. African counties and the African sub-regions themselves, involved as negotiating entities, are at the heart of heavily entangled trade commitments whose coherence is not always guaranteed upstream and downstream of the process. These commitments can be identified at main levels: multilateral (WTO), inter-regional (EPAs), regional (Regional Economic Communities), bilateral (preferential agreements).
For example, several East African and southern African countries currently negotiate bilateral preferential trade agreements while they are pursuing regional integration processes.
Even trade negotiations fora have multiplied, they are increasingly interrelated. And this is not just a cyclical trend. It is rather a structural reality which informs the current debate and thinking about strategies for regional harmonization. Unlike national trade policy which remains the prerogative of sovereign states, other trade negotiation positions are often developed and coordinated at the level of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Also, increased regional integration appears to be the obvious solution for African countries hoping to continue playing an active role in trade negotiations and realize tangible benefits for their national economies.
At the end of the course, the participants should be able to:
- Discuss obstacles that impede the integration process in Africa;
- Raise awareness of addressing economic reforms in order to achieve optimum results as well as take full advantage of existing opportunities;
- Share experiences with other regions of the world; and
- Examine strategies that effectively address these obstacles.
The course consists of the following modules:
Module 1: Multilateral trade rules and regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa
Module 2: Trade policies and regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa: The Common External Tariffs (CETs)
Module 3: Common trade rules and sectoral policies at regional level (Eastern and Southern Africa)
Module 4: Regional integration and evolution of international trade relations (Eastern and Southern Africa)
Module 5: Towards developing coherent regional trade policies for Eastern and Southern Africa
In order to ensure the best possible outreach, the course will be delivered via e-learning. Through a multiple-instructional setting, the goal is to achieve the learning objectives by means of learning technologies that match personal learning styles and by the inclusion of non-linear learning that aims at the development of just-in-time skills of adult learners. At the same time, in order to allow participants maximum flexibility of scheduling, the learning will be conducted in an asynchronous manner. Using a state-of-the-art training architecture, UNITAR will combine self-learning with assessments and online discussions. The pedagogy – adapted specifically to professionals in full-time work – will help train participants through various experiences: absorb (read); do (activity); interact (socialize); reflect (relate to one’s own reality). The course will be conducted in the English language.
The course is designed primarily for African public sector officials, policymakers, negotiators, as well as academics and civil society representatives involved in negotiations on regional trade integration.
A certificate of completion will be issued by UNDP and UNITAR to all participants who complete the course-related assignments and assessments successfully.
UNDP and UNITAR reserve the right to make a selection among candidates, if necessary. The selected candidates are requested to regard their participation as a firm commitment and to complete the course in its entirety.