SPS Measures at issue in 7th Annual African WTO Moot Court

The Annual African Trade Moot is a joint initiative of the University of the Western Cape and the University of Pretoria involving teams from law faculties from across the continent. There has been much interest in SPS law recently with South Africa having chaired the recent WTO dispute settlement panel adjudication on apple trade between New Zealand and Australia. Drawing on our practical experiences in sanitary and phytosanitary matters, we designed the 2010 moot problem for the competition.

Dispute settlement is a central feature in the multilateral trading system. Sadly Africans have been relatively shy in engaging in the process, hence the importance of events like the African WTO Moot Court in engendering an understanding of the benefits of dispute settlement. Since its inception WTO Dispute Settlement has proven to be one of the most effective instruments available in any multilateral forum to defuse disagreements between countries as to their respective rights and obligations under the WTO’s rather unique aquis of international law. Matters before the WTO are between the governments of Member countries and natural or legal persons do not have standing in the WTO generally, or under the dispute settlement system. Agro- Industries and farmers thus need to actively encourage their governments to initiate WTO actions when they find that standards are being imposed as disguised restrictions on international trade.

The competition is a unique opportunity for students from Anglophone African countries to engage in topical agricultural trade issues in international trade law as would be argued before a WTO panel. Students studying towards a Bachelors degree in law or economics are eligible to participate in the competition and ideally a team should consist of one law and one economics student. The judges who act as the WTO panelists will consist of representatives of the participating law faculties in the preliminary rounds. In the final rounds judges will be a panels of regional trade experts which will include representatives from the WTO Secretariat, local food scientists and industry executives.

The event will be held in Cape Town between 27 September – 1 October 2010. Further details can be found here.

We actively encourages regional law faculties to make use of this unique learning experience.