Trade Policy Reform Project

Image: Flickr, Russell Street
Image: Flickr, Russell Street

This project seeks to promote debate in the broader public, especially the media, business, consumers, opposition political parties and people within the governing alliance, and empower these stakeholders to engage in and influence the debate on trade policy.

Background And Objectives

Ideological posturing has made the debate around trade reform contentious in South Africa. The antagonism around the debate has prevented an open, evidence-based dialogue. However, trade policy reform forms part of the structural economic reform agenda in South Africa, as it has potential to offer significant positive impacts on economic performance and poverty. Critics regard South Africa’s trade reform of the early 1990s as a primary cause of the high rate of unemployment in the country; proponents argue that it brought about long overdue structural reforms which aided South Africa’s reintegration into the global economy. In South Africa’s current context of mediocre economic growth amidst high unemployment there is the potential of minds hardening against trade reform. Accordingly, this project seeks to promote debate in the broader public, especially the media, business, consumers, opposition political parties and people within the governing alliance, and empower these stakeholders to engage in and influence the debate on trade policy. It also aims to restore balance to the debate on the basis of evidence produced by research.

Op-Ed Series

We have launched, in collaboration with the Mail and Guardian, an op-ed series on trade policy reform which accepts contributions from interested parties. Stakeholders in trade policy are welcome to submit their contributions to the Mail and Guardian at the following address shaunw@mg.co.za

Op-eds that have been published in this series include:

  • Economic policy battle lines drawn – by Peter Draper and Nic Dawes
  • Cauldron of fermenting ideas – by Ben Turok
  • Eurozone’s threat to SA economy – by Desmond Lachman
  • SA’s Clothing and Textile Sector post ‘Chinese Quotas’ – by Gilberto Biacuana
  • Rethinking the ‘buy local’ conditions in the SA Infrastructure Investment Programme – by Tsidiso Disenyano
  • SA’s stimulus package rings alarm bells about trade policy – by Peter Draper
  • Simmering tensions in the region call for cool heads – by Peter Draper
  • Economic Policy Battle lines drawn – by Peter Draper and Nic Dawes
  • Not another BRIC in the wall – by Guy de Jonquieres

Forthcoming Events

There are no upcoming events

Past Events

  • Promoting Dialogue on Trade Reform in South Africa: 2nd Public Forum

As South Africa seeks to recover from the recession and also find ways of bolstering its exports, trade policy is a major focus area. This Forum will attempt to illuminate the issues around trade policy reform in South Africa, focusing on the global trends affecting South Africa’s trade policy; the contours of South Africa’s trade policy debate; and the costs and benefits of protection versus liberalisation for South Africa.

Event Details

  • Media Training Course for journalists

Trade policy issues are currently not receiving sufficient informed coverage in the local media. Similarly, debates involving key stakeholders could be much better informed. Part of the reason they are not is that most journalists and other key players are not sufficiently well-versed with these issues themselves making it difficult to increase general public awareness about them. Against this backdrop, SAIIA convened an introductory trade policy course covering key trade issues targeted at domestic business journalists.

Event Details

  • Promoting Dialogue on Trade Reform in South Africa: Trade, Industrial Policies and the Exchange Rate (For further information: click here)

Project Publications

Transparency in Trade Policy Making: Lessons for South Africa from Australia’s Experiences – Written by Bill Bowen.

Trade, Industrial Policy and Exchange Rates in South Africa – Written by Peter Draper.

Trade Policy Newsletter

We will be launching a newsletter on trade policy reform that focuses on major events and developments on trade policy in South Africa and across the world. The aim of this newsletter will be to keep you updated on trade policy issues and also act as a ready reference tool for agreements and other important documents on trade policy.

This is the key document that sets out the new trade policy direction for South Africa. It calls for a strategic review of South Africa’s tariffs in support of industrial policy. This document is a shift from the trade liberalisation stance of the 1990s and has a more cautious approach to the opening up of markets.

COSATU, a member of the tripartite alliance, has its own views on how economic policy should be pursued in order to stimulate growth and create jobs.

Other links

COSATU – http://www.cosatu.org.za/
BUSA – http://www.busa.org.za/

This project is funded by the British High Commission in South Africa.

1 Oct 2010

Region
Sub-Saharan Africa
Country
South Africa
SAIIA Programme
Economic Diplomacy
Tags
trade reform
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