Facilitating intra-regional trade through the movement of people in the Southern African development community (SADC).
Amadi, Victor Tamunoseipiriala
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Regional integration has been part of Africa’s overarching strategy for economic transformation. To further enhance sustainable development and economic growth, in the African continent intra-regional trade is equally as important as international trade. Therefore, African countries are faced with the daunting task of adopting comprehensive and well-structured measures to ensure the movement of goods and people across borders are seamless and unrestrictive. Free movement of persons in particular is one of the core tenets of regional integration, building towards a common market. To that effect, the African Union (AU) based on Agenda 2063 has agreed on a Continental Free Trade Area and a Protocol on Movement of Persons indicating a commitment of attaining a single market where goods, persons and services can move freely across national borders. With the Southern African Development Community (SADC) being a Regional Economic Community (REC) recognised under the AU, this thesis seeks to argue for deeper integration by ensuring the movement of persons in the SADC is regulated beyond the scope that is recognised internationally under the International laws influencing the movement of persons. Also, this thesis argues for amendment of certain provisions in the SADC Protocol on the Facilitation of the Movement of Persons to further facilitate intra-regional trade. The SADC operates to an extent as a Free Trade Area (FTA) where goods are traded duty free across borders and the intention is to go higher up the integration ladder to become a Common Market by 2015 and an Economic Union with a Single Currency by 2018. Targets which has not been met to date. Article 5(2) (d) and Article 23 of the SADC Trade Protocol realises the significance of policy development in promoting free movement of people and services within the SADC region. To facilitate the movement of people, the SADC drafted a Protocol on the Free Movement of People in 1995. This Protocol never materialised and it was subsequently replaced by a Protocol on Facilitation on Movement of People which is limited in scope and is not yet operational as ratification by two third majority of Member States has not occurred. In 2012, a Protocol on Trade in Services which also within a limited scope influences the movement of persons in the region was also concluded but is not yet ratified by Member States of the SADC. The absence of a single consistent and comprehensive framework makes people vulnerable to informal practices at the border. Thus, the issue of ensuring free movement of people between SADC Member States still remains debatable and unresolved.
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