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Economic Diplomacy

Economic diplomacy is concerned with setting the ‘rules of the game’ for the conduct of economic policy. Effective economic diplomacy requires understanding both the domestic political economy environment and the external negotiating environment, and the constraints of each.

Economic diplomacy matters to Southern Africa because the rules of the game shape domestic economic policy in important ways, and in an increasingly multi-polar world international economic negotiations are growing in importance across a number of fronts. These may shape domestic and regional economic policies in ways that could be inimical to pursuing sustainable outcomes. Therefore it is necessary to ensure regional interests are articulated and understood.

SAIIA’s primary purpose is to assist with the articulation of such interests by conducting high-level analytical work and making it publicly available in digestible forms to key Southern African actors and their international counterparts.

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On 4 December 2013, SAIIA will host a session on the sidelines of the 9th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, on the topic  "BRICS and the Multilateral Trading System." This session is part of the Bali Trade and Development Symposium, which will take place from 3-5 December.
Three years ago this author reflected on how the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ought to adapt and evolve in order to stay relevant. The focus was on the changes the multilateral trading system has faced over the years from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to the WTO we know today. In advance of the all-important 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013, much of that thinking remains relevant and the issues raised are still at the core of the existential crisis that the WTO finds itself in.
Monday, 02 December 2013

The Africa by Numbers Report

On 2 December 2013, SAIIA hosted a presentation by Ernst & Young Services (Pty) Ltd on their Africa by Numbers Report, which focuses on the Africa growth story and provides analyses of investment trends, infrastructure projects and economic sectors attracting the most FDI.
South Africa is undergoing a significant transition in its approach to inward FDI. Various Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) signed immediately after the end of apartheid are now being allowed to expire, and these BITS are set to be replaced by a single domestic investment regime.
At the 33rd Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Malawi in August Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax of Tanzania was appointed as the new Executive Secretary. SAIIA would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Tax on her new role in the region. Dr Tax inherits an organisation with a chequered past and a challenging future.
The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the BRICS Policy Center (BPC) in Brazil hosted a conference on ‘BRICS and Africa – A Partnership for Sustainable Development?’. Presentations and other materials are available here.
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this week gave a keynote address at the South African Institute of International Affairs and the University of Pretoria’s Second Annual African G-20 Conference, themed “The G-20 and Africa's Economic Growth and Transformation”, in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on November 11 2013.
South Africa's cabinet has recently approved the draft Promotion and Protection of Investment bill, which is set to replace a score of bilateral trade agreements. While investors fear that the bill may threaten the security of foreign investment, the Department of Trade and Industry has assured investors they will have strong protection under the new law, with the right to international arbitration once all domestic means of resolving a dispute have been exhausted.
Two new books on the emergence of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) grouping will come under the spotlight during SAIIA’s two-day conference on ‘BRICS and Africa: A partnership for Development’ on Wednesday, 13 November 2013. A special discussion at the conference will explore the impact of this emerging powers bloc on the current global political and economic systems.
Climate change, the focus of the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) underway in Poland from 11 to 22 November 2013, is one challenge that requires a truly global response that encompasses environmental, social and economic issues. Reflecting this the term “green economy” has seen an upsurge in interest globally and SAIIA’s Economic Diplomacy Programme is undertaking new research in this area, especially since the issue was placed on the Group of 20 (G-20) agenda in 2012.
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 162, November 2013
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 78, November 2013
The South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, gave the keynote address at the Second Annual African G-20 Conference, on the theme “The G-20 and Africa’s Economic Growth and Transformation”. The conference on 11 November 2013 was hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs and the University of Pretoria, as part of their Global Economic Governance Africa Project. This project seeks to ensure that African interests are understood and effectively represented in the various global forums that debate and set rules for global economic governance.
The recent visit of South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, to the United States to lobby for the renewal of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) highlights the need for South Africans to be fully engaged with this process, as its outcome will ultimately impact their economic welfare. Mfundo Hlatshwayo, a Research Associate with SAIIA's Economic Diplomacy Programme, spoke to Polity about AGOA and its implications for South Africa and the continent. Click on the video above to watch. Related Resources Read a review of the recent AGOA event hosted by SAIIA and TIPS, The African Growth and…
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 153, September 2013
A full agenda of dialogues with US Congress, US business and the US administration has been prepared for South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, as his department starts South Africa’s lobbying effort for the seamless renewal of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). Minister Davies and his senior aides travelled to the US last week to cajole the US congress and other thought leaders of the importance of US–Africa economic relations, as well as to argue South Africa’s case for an unfettered renewal of AGOA.  
The first joint workshop between TIPS and The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) took place at the IDC on 17 September 2013. This was timed to coincide with the lobbying visit by a South African government and business delegation to Washington led by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
In this podcast, Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies looks at South Africa's economic plans through his research on the country's draft National Development Plan. He speaks to SAIIA's Chief Executive, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, about his findings and what it reveals about the future of SA's economic strategy.   
The implementation of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 is crucial. Without narrowing the huge gap between rich and poor, South Africa’s stability will be at risk as structural unemployment and inequality, already among the highest in the world, become a toxic mixture that could undo progress in Africa’s largest economy.
On 6 September 2013, SAIIA held a closed event to discuss foreign investments into South And Southern Africa.
Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations gather in St Petersburg, Russia, today, under a Syrian war cloud. Global economic crisis is in the air again, this time centred on emerging markets. The G-20 cannot fix geopolitical problems; nor will it rescue the world from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s tapering of quantitative easing.
Group of 20 (G-20) leaders gather in St Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday 5 September. Global crisis is in the air again, this time centred on emerging markets; in principle, this is a circumstance that is tailor-made for this forum. What are the prospects for success at the G-20 — and with what implications for South Africa?
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 73, September 2013
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 152, August 2013
Members of the press were invited to a special media briefing on “The G-20 Summit 2013: Understanding South Africa’s agenda in St. Petersburg” on 29 August 2013.
A new resource, the G-20 and Africa Monitor, assesses how well G-20 decision-makers have served African interests since the grouping was first established.
In this special series of podcasts, SAIIA focuses on the upcoming Group of 20 (G-20) summit to be held in St Petersburg in Russia on the 5 and 6 September 2013. As host this year, Russia has made attempts to include views from sectors such as the youth, civil society, business and think tanks. SAIIA interviews representatives from these different groups, to provide some insight into the G-20, its role, its relevance for Africa and what may emerge from this year's summit.
When heads of state met in Lilongwe, Malawi, for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit on 17 and 18 August 2013, one of their agenda items was a report from the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration. This task force has been working on a roadmap towards the formation of a SADC Customs Union, which aims to take regional integration within the bloc one step beyond the existing Free Trade Area (FTA) that was launched in 2008.