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German Law Journal ; 24(1):199-226, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2281523


Recent years have seen a proliferation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in developed and developing countries. Developed in Europe in its modern shape, most SEZs are located outside the continent today, notably in the developing world, where SEZs form part of these countries' export-oriented growth policy tools and overall economic development. At a period of growing unilateralism and the return of the State as an economic actor, this contribution seeks to tackle the rise of SEZ laws in the global south, with a particular focus on Africa. It will scrutinize the reasons for their establishment, the measures chosen to promote them, and the international ramifications in these respective regions and broadly on the global plane, notably at the WTO. With the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, African countries face challenges of multi-layered SEZ governance, which this contribution intends to address. These challenges also extend to the cross-regional trade agreements these countries conclude, individually and as a bloc. Since SEZs are often assimilated with a category of subsidies and are discriminatory trade measures, this contribution, in essence, investigates the extent to which current trade rules at multilateral and regional levels address these controversial aspects of SEZs.