German Civil Society Responds to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): Lessons for South Africa?
Civil society organizations and South African officials may to a certain extent draw lessons from the experiences of Germany and Europe in the ongoing TTIP negotiations, given South Africa’s influential role in Africa. With an increasingly complex and interconnected global landscape, one cannot afford to relegate international negotiations as less important than domestic issues such as service delivery, education, health, and economic development. The failure or success of nation states in providing various services for their citizens at home is intricately tied to the type of partnerships they have with external partners. Domestic groups thus ignore international processes at their own peril. This makes it ever more important for leaders occupying influential positions in government, the private sector, and the non-profit sector to share with their various constituencies unfolding global developments. This not only builds a more informed society but also a more competitive society able to analyze and navigate the sometimes rough waters of global politics. Given the many types of agreements entered into by South Africa with its trade partners, which include the tough negotiations on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with the United States, it is notable that civil society has not played a visible role in shaping the type of partnerships being built by the country. While this does not mean they have been completely absent, it does mean that the broader public are not in a position to engage with their representatives in an informed manner. International trade negotiations are thus not yet a matter of immediate concern for the majority.