Reconfiguring the Compass – South Africa’s African Trade Diplomacy

Image: Flickr, Biblioteca Nacional de España
Image: Flickr, Biblioteca Nacional de España

Since 1994 South Africa has sought to consolidate its relations with Africa and assert itself as a global player in the international trading and political systems.

This has proven challenging, confronted as it is with trying to balance the needs and interests of its people with those of the rest of Africa. Nowhere has this been more exposed than in the sphere of trade relations.

On the face of it South Africa’s trade diplomacy does not seem to be in harmony with the continents’ interests, leading some commentators to raise questions about South Africa’s interests and, at times, ‘loyalty’. For example South Africa is negotiating a plethora of free trade agreements with major international partners while the region looks on, and participates in the G20 coalition in the WTO while the Africa group remains firmly a part of the G90.

Based on an analysis of Africa’s developmental challenges this book interrogates current approaches to dealing with them from a South African perspective. Two premises underpin all contributions: that Africa needs to do more to help itself; and that contrary to much popular discourse South Africa’s African Trade Strategy is fundamentally in harmony with Africa’s development interests. Building on this platform, contributions consider how the South African government could more vigorously pursue this confluence of real development interests than it is at present.

Review: Southern African Tradehub

ISBN: 1-919969-33-0

23 Apr 2008