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Law and Development Review

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Trade, Development and Industrial Policy in Africa: The Case for a Pragmatic Approach to Optimizing Policy Coherence Between Industrial Policy and the WTO Policy Space

Colette M. A. van der Ven
Published Online: 2016-12-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ldr-2016-0018


Industrial policy has become a new development priority for many African countries. In this context, many scholars point to the WTO and argue that a key impediment towards Africa’s successful industrialization is the narrowing of the WTO policy space. This paper challenges that argument through examining the extent to which African countries actually take into account the WTO policy space when implementing their industrial policy objectives. Through an empirical analysis of industrial policy priorities and key trade and investment laws and regulations in Kenya, Ghana and Namibia, this paper concludes that a significant policy constraint to effective industrialization in Africa is not the WTO policy space per se, but rather a lack of alignment between a country’s industrial policy objectives, trade and investment laws, and the WTO policy space.

Keywords: industrial policy; policy space; WTO; Africa


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-12-21

Published in Print: 2017-06-27

Citation Information: Law and Development Review, Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 29–80, ISSN (Online) 1943-3867, ISSN (Print) 2194-6523, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ldr-2016-0018.

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