This essay examines the challenges and opportunities for regional trade lawmaking in the U.S.-Africa relationship. On the eve of the conclusion of an African continental free trade agreement, the U.S. trade law relationship with the continent remains focused on regional groups. Questions remain as to whether the existing trade law regime offers the flexibility necessary to accommodate alternative models to free trade agreements that may best serve the needs of African and U.S. constituencies. The essay proceeds in four parts. First, I sketch the current state of play in U.S.-Africa trade relations. Next, I outline how the U.S. and African approaches to trade lawmaking have differed. I then turn to two sets of challenges—one domestic and one international—that may impede innovation in developing a U.S.-Africa trade law relationship consistent with African interests. Finally, the essay concludes with an exploration of possible alternatives and issues not yet considered in the transcontinental dialogue on trade.
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