Africa and the “New Issues” in the World Trade Organization Framework

"Appropriate and full participation in the WTO is an important element of any strategy that calls for engagement rather than retreat from the international economy. Given the increasingly multi-faceted and intrusive reach of the WTO, the argument behind this assumption is reinforced by the conclusion of a growing body of literature that a range of interacting policy factors determines growth. According to this analysis, economic performance will be compromised if crucial policy complemen-tarities are ignored in the design of reform packages. The remainder of this paper is divided into sections that deal with seven new issues on the WTO agenda. The issues covered—trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition policy, government procurement, trade facilitation, and trade and environment—are not sharply distinguished between those that already form part of the system and those that are only being discussed in working groups. The list does not include the subject of labour standards, which, although raised for discussion in the context of the Singapore Ministerial Meeting, does not form part of the WTO work programme. Given the number of new issues covered in this paper, it is impossible to provide an extensive treatment of any of them. The purpose, rather, is to identify the most salient aspects of the issues from a policy perspective, explain how they are being dealt with in the WTO context, and consider their relevance for African economies."