Towards Developmental Integration, Safeguards and Beyond: The Main Features of South Africa’s Preferential Trade Agreements

In: The Journal of World Investment & Trade
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  • 1 University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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In a plethora of new plurilateral treaties, two different economic governance models emerge. One is market driven and aims for closer governmental coordination (the coordination model); the other retains a considerably higher degree of regulatory autonomy (the autonomy model). This article demonstrates that South Africa resorts to both of these models when concluding preferential trade agreements. Most notably, South Africa’s policy focus is shifting to a developmental integration approach that combines market integration with greater emphasis on industrial and infrastructure development and diversification, and associated distributional concerns. This phenomenon becomes most apparent through the inclusion of elements of variable geometry, acknowledging the differences in the level of development among the parties, and closer regulatory cooperation in areas beyond trade and trade facilitation. Additionally, South Africa has included safeguard provisions, public policy exceptions, World Trade Organization (WTO)-plus standards and, in various areas, imported rules developed outside the WTO framework.

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