The launching of the T-FTA in June 2015 presents an opportunity for accelerating regional integration in Africa towards the establishment of a single market through deepening COMESA-EAC-SADC integration.
This milestone can contribute positively to African development. Nevertheless, it faces different structural and technical challenges, including the risk of aggressive export strategies and unfair trade practices, which may wipe away a substantial part of the integration gains.
This could undermine African integration plans and the largely infant industries in Africa, especially since many African countries lack sufficient technical skills, institutional capacity, and the legal framework to deal efficiently and effectively with unfair trade practices and to respond to situations which may require the application of emergency tools to better adapt to economic challenges.
Apart from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Zambia national Trade Defence Instruments (TDIs) are not well developed. This could further constrain the ambitious African plans of economic integration.
The thesis concludes that, although an effective TDI system is crucial for African integration as it can provide the required protection for African infant industries and unlock the potentials of African economic integration, the current African TDI systems are not effective. This is confirmed by the limited resort to TDIs in the African continent and the general perception that an effective TDI system is not a priority on the integration agenda.
The concluded T-FTA TDI legal regime is not supportive for African integration plans in the long run. Africa should envisage how to upgrade its TDI system to make better use of the tools available under the WTO to deal with unfair trade measures, including anti-dumping to face dumped imports, countervailing measures to face subsidized imports, and safeguard measures to temporarily suspend concessions in the face of surge in imports. Africa can improve its national and regional TDIs system by learning from more developed TDI systems incorporated by other economic blocks such as the EU, NAFTA, Mercosur, and ASEAN.
This thesis submits that the EU TDIs system is the most suitable to the African integration objectives. This submission is made while recognising the different level of development on both sides. The thesis submits that the long-term objective of the T-FTA is to have a regional investigating authority. It draws several recommendations to enhance African TDI system by working on five main categories: (A) The strategic direction; (B) The institutional framework; (C) Enhancing engagements; (D) Application of TDIs; and (E) The supportive factors.