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Shallow and Deep Integration

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Regional Integration, Trade and Industry in Africa
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The concepts of shallow and deep economic integration are introduced and discussed as to their pertinence. The conflicting results of successive rounds of global trade negotiations for developing and least developed countries are examined in the context of deep integration attempts in North-South agreements. It is established as a guiding principle that North-South agreements should normally not go deeper or run faster than South-South agreements. In light of observed global trends, upcoming inter-regional trade deals will differ from current preferential North-South trade agreements, and Northern partners will be adamant that future agreements should go deep, as the chapter critically discusses at the example of the three contested principles of comprehensiveness, reciprocity and irrevocability. A short look at the implications for the US–African AGOA arrangement and an introduction to the EU–Africa EPAs concludes.

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  1. 1.

    For the political dimensions in which EAC, ECOWAS or SADC have made more headway than in economic integration see in neo-functionalist comparative analysis Plenk (2015: 511–527).

  2. 2.

    For the consideration of deep versus shallow integration in the context of EU negotiations with Africa, see Claar and Nölke (2013).

  3. 3.

    Baldwin (2008: 38) only counts three: the EEC, EFTA and the Closer Economic Relationship (CER) between Australia and New Zealand.

  4. 4.

    Essentially four: (1) trade and investment, (2) competition policy, (3) public procurement and (4) trade facilitation, of which the first three brought the Doha negotiation round to a halt, as developing countries were afraid of deep cuts into the running of their economies. The same happened to the separately introduced agenda of free trade in services. For a detailed critical analysis of the planned inclusion of Singapore issues in EPAs, see Brücher (2008).

  5. 5.

    A critical analysis of the comprehensive trade facilitation agenda is presented by Grainger (2011).

  6. 6.

    See WTO RTA gateway at, retrieved January 2021.

  7. 7.

    See (Burfisher et al. 2003; Fiorentino et al. 2007).

  8. 8.

    See the testimony given by Tandon (2014). We will cite examples from EPA negotiations below, especially for attempts to deprive even LDCs from advantages of GATT special treatment in the bilateral or bi-regional deals.

  9. 9.

    Until its dissolution in September 2020.

  10. 10.

    For a critical depiction on how colonial dependency structures have been transformed into present-day trade regimes, including what comes as ‘preferences’ for certain country groups, see again (Tandon 2014). Tandon is particularly convincing in his description of how the international trade system classifies the treatment of developing countries according to earlier colonial ties (e.g. imperial preferences) and current northern trade interests. This author, however, does not share Tandon’s world view that “trade is war” by definition and that trade negotiations equal acts of war, nor does another author who was involved in person and delivers a very critical account of the subsequent trade rounds (Davies 2019). Blackmail and deceit still remain essential parts of trade negotiations, including EU- and US–Africa trade relations. And the world saw trade wars with the US presidency from 2017–2021. But in the global setting of 2020, it appears more essential than at any time since the 1930s to clearly distinguish between trade, trade war and war.

  11. 11.

    Historically the existing Common Monetary Area in southern Africa as much as SACU is also the path-dependent outcome of linking member states to the former colonial power UK via the Republic of South Africa.

  12. 12.

    For all details, see the TRALAC website (US-AID sponsored).

  13. 13.

    On the perspectives of US-Africa trade relations see Odularu (2020).

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Correspondence to Helmut Asche .

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Asche, H. (2021). Shallow and Deep Integration. In: Regional Integration, Trade and Industry in Africa. Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development. Springer, Cham.

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