I am originally from Tanzania, East Africa. Before I came to the U.S., I worked for the government of Tanzania for 9 years. My boss was an economist and our department was in charge of planning development projects for the Arusha Municipality. However, when I came to the U.S. -- to La Salle University -- in 1982, as an undergraduate, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I was registered as an undecided Business Administration major. Fortunately, in my first semester I took the Introduction to Macroeconomics course. I quickly could see the relevance of economics to development planning. More importantly, my first economics professor, Dr. Rick Geruson, made the subject very interesting and he “challenged” me to consider majoring in economics. I accepted the challenge and I will always be thankful for his encouragement.
My areas of research are International Economics and Development Economics, focusing on Africa. I am currently working on a book on “Africa and the World Trade Organization.” I have been fortunate to get a research leave (spring 2006) and a sabbatical (fall 2006) to work on this project. I spent some time in Geneva last summer consulting with various officials connected with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
I am interested in the WTO because it is proving to have an increasingly more direct and broader influence on trade policies in Africa, perhaps even more than the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ever did – and certainly more than its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
Before the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995, few people knew there had been an international organization that set trade rules. However, the WTO was preceded by and is a product of GATT, which had been in operation since 1948. The WTO has gained exposure and notoriety primarily from demonstrations against it at WTO Ministerial meetings. These demonstrations are usually well orchestrated and manage to draw a lot of media attention, often eclipsing the agenda items of the Ministerial meetings. Many trade economists who are usually quite comfortable with their theories have been put on the defensive as a result of the growing negative publicity which the WTO and globalization have received.
However, criticism of the WTO is not necessarily a campaign against globalization. The criticism is often targeted at the expanding mandate of the WTO, in terms of enforcement, its broadening coverage, as well as on the glaring asymmetry (in terms of the capacity to negotiate) between developing and developed countries.
African countries have an ambivalent relationship with the WTO, of which they are a part. They understand the benefits of trade and the need for international agreements that guide and enforce trade rules. They appreciate the economies of scale of negotiating these agreements at the multilateral level. In addition, they are also keenly aware of the financial and technical assistance and preferential treatment they receive as a result of the WTO initiatives.
Accompanying these potential benefits, there are elements of the WTO that make African countries guarded and at times even resentful. Pressure, political maneuvering, and paternalism on the part of developed countries toward African countries seem to be salient features of the WTO. When the WTO was established, many African countries signed off on agreements without fully understanding them, let alone their long-term potential impact. Of course, those agreements were softened by exceptions, extensions, and assistance extended to developing countries. Still, another source of skepticism is the (perceived) small size of assistance and the unpredictable disbursement of the promised assistance. African countries are also concerned that the WTO coverage is increasingly having a more direct and broader impact on trade policies in Africa, thus reducing their domestic policy space.
The objective of this study is to examine the WTO -- its enforcement mechanism; its broadened mandate, illustrated by the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); agriculture in the Doha Round; the WTO’s pursuit of additional agreements; and its endeavor to streamline assistance to developing countries through an “Aid for Trade” scheme -- all in the context of Africa. The book will have seven chapters, including the introduction and the conclusion.
This book is intended for a wide audience, including policy makers and scholars, especially Africanists in the fields of economics, political science, and international relations.
It is difficult to single out any one specific accomplishment, since each one is a culmination of other accomplishments and many other factors, including people in my life. Nonetheless, I would say my publication of Africa in the Global Economy, 2000, Lynne Rienner Publishers (A Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book) and the Lindback Award for Excellent Teaching (2005) are the professional accomplishments which I found to be most humbling.
In broad terms, my area of research will remain trade and Africa. In the future, I would like to be able to work in collaboration with economists and/or political scientists in higher learning institutions in Africa. In addition, given that my scholarly work is policy oriented, I would like to continue to complement it with op-ed pieces to African newspapers in order to inform and engage more people in the discussions of trade and development policies. I currently contribute op-ed pieces to a newspaper in Tanzania (The Arusha Times), but I would like to do more of that kind of outreach.