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NEWSLETTER ISSUE #5/2018      

Welcome from Prof Wilma Viviers, director of TRADE

South Africans have grown used to high levels of uncertainty. Yet the changes sweeping through the country in recent months, particularly on the political front, have been nothing short of breath-taking and, for better or worse, will have a significant impact on the country’s economic fortunes going forward. It is gratifying to see how many people are trying to understand and make a positive contribution towards the changing landscape in South Africa, but it will require immense effort by society as a whole to ensure that the vision of a better life for all becomes a reality.   

Of course, change is occurring all over the world – not just in South Africa ‒ and this is what makes our work at TRADE so interesting. 

We continue to take a very strong interest in Africa and the many opportunities and challenges presented by this vast continent. For example, the potential of services trade and e-commerce to fast-track growth in many African countries and the role of regional trade agreements in Africa’s development have been the focus of several of TRADE’s research initiatives of late. We have also been studying the economic and trade policies of a number of South American countries and have been struck by how that continent and Africa face many similar challenges.

Along with many others, we are concerned about how the United States’ increasingly chilly attitude towards many of its longstanding trading partners will play out as protectionist barriers rise on the other side of the Atlantic, despite the existence of negotiated trade preferences. South African exporters of products that currently attract AGOA preferences are beginning to look vulnerable. South Africa cannot afford to be left behind as more and more countries start to look for new trade allies as traditional ties with the US falter. 

It is disappointing that the WTO Ministerial Conference staged in Buenos Aires in December 2017 produced no breakthroughs which would have broken the deadlock in the Doha Development Round. But it is a sign of the times. To a large extent the stalemate in the multilateral trade talks can be attributed to countries (even within the same geographical region) becoming increasingly heterogeneous as they develop new and more distinctive competitive advantages. Not surprisingly, tailor-made bilateral trade deals are now in vogue, while plurilateral trade agreements could also gain traction in time. 

Our flagship WTO Chairs Programme, Master’s and PhD programmes and TRADE-DSM® market selection service have kept us busy in recent months and we continue to fine-tune them to ensure that they remain fresh and market responsive. You will read more about these and other research and outreach activities in this newsletter.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel we could assist you (whether you are in South Africa or further afield) with your trade and development efforts. You also may like to visit our webpage ( for more information about the work that we do.

All the best

Welcome from Prof Wilma Viviers, director of TRADE

Archive newsletters

Issue #4/2017

Issue #3/2017

Issue #2/2016

Issue #1/2015