News from the SECO / WTI Academic Cooperation Project
Thought leadership around South Africa’s future role in global international relations was the focus of the first annual International Economic Law Update, which took place on November 1, 2012 in Johannesburg. The Mandela Institute – part of the Law School of the University of Witwatersrand – in cooperation with the University of Bern’s World Trade Institute and SECO, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, invited 50 leading experts from academia, government and business met to share the latest updates on the South Africa’s key trade and investment topics.
Professor Thomas Cottier of the World Trade Institute shared his findings on the longer term evolution of the multilateral system and its current challenges. His presentation addressed the likelihood of continued preferential trade in terms of market access, but also that negotiations on standards and rules are likely to return to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in coming decades.
In a separate workshop, participants discussed the interpretation of the Trips Agreement and the Paris Convention in relation to working requirements and compulsory licensing. The workshop produced interesting insights in linking intellectual property and competition policy with a view to promote access to essential drugs.
Xavier Carim, Deputy Director-General for International Trade and Industry, Republic of South Africa, highlighted South African trade policy, focusing on three key areas: the WTO, regional trade agreements and investment treaties. Carim outlined the need to successfully conclude the Doha Development Agenda from the perspective of developing countries and demonstrated how South Africa is playing a leadership role in the region.
A ‘multilateral’ collaboration of its own, the event further strengthened the partnership between the World Trade Institute, the Mandela Institute and SECO. The three institutions are currently working together with several other university partners worldwide on a comprehensive four-year academic capacity building project aimed at academic training in trade regulation and building regional research capacities.
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