Thesis on Africa and the WTO dispute settlement mechanism : underlying challenges and reform proposals
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SubjectDistributive Justice; Global Inequalities; Globalization & Africa's prosperity; International Law; Social Justice; World Trade & Africa
The inception of WTO in 1995 created renewed optimism among the developing nations that the economic prosperity from global trade would be equitably shared. However, over the 25-year period, only four African countries (South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco) have so far been involved in the WTO dispute settlement mechanism as either litigants or respondents. The research thesis examines the challenges faced by African countries and the reform proposals to enhance their participation in the WTO DSM process. A mixed qualitative research design approach was employed using primary research (online surveys), systematic review design and content analysis of the WTO cases. Thematic coding (analysis) approach was used to analyse information from the interview and the systematic review. Content analysis was employed to analyse the three case laws (WTO DS500, WTO DS327 and WTO DS578), involving South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia and two potential trade disputes involving African countries, which were not pursued further. The findings from the thematic and content analysis indicate that lack of transparency, perceived unfairness, limited human/legal resource, high litigation costs, ineffectiveness of the WTO DSB to enforce its own ruling and outdated WTO DSU rules represent the main challenges faced by African countries. The thesis acknowledges that reform proposals could be strengthened by plans to have an independent trading bloc (African Continental Free Trade Area), which would strengthen the continent’s bargaining power although lack of unity remains a challenge. There is also a need for review of the WTO rules, especially the restrictive agricultural subsidies agreement, anti-dumping rules and the compensation remedies under s. 21.5 and 22.2. The findings have significant implication for the need to enhance independence of the WTO DSB through decreasing its financial reliance from the advanced nations.
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