Régis SIMO


Régis SIMO

International Law, Witwatersrand University, South Africa

Fellowship : October 2021 to June 2022

Discipline(s) : Law

Area(s) of expertise : Droit international

Pays : South Africa

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Research project: Cracks in the Fortress Wall? The Emerging (Common) External Trade Policy of African Countries

This research project aims to contribute to the understanding of the evolving “common” external trade policy of African Union (AU) Member States in the context of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). When signing this Agreement in 2018, the AU Executive Council also approved a “common position”, first to negotiate a new cooperation agreement with the European Union after the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020, and to guide their future economic deal(s) with third parties. This move was in line with prior continental treaties’ aspirations, which contemplate the adoption of a common trade policy regarding the outside world in order to promote the realization of the African Economic Community.

Starting as a Free Trade Area (with the purpose to lay the foundations for the establishment of a continental Customs Union at a later stage), the AfCFTA does not intend to create a “fortress Africa”. The conclusion of several trade agreements between AfCFTA State Parties and third states after the entry into force of the AfCFTA Agreement is sufficiently illustrative of a continental market creating opportunities for international trade and foreign investment. However, those side deals may also constitute a threat to AfCFTA’s objective to boost intra-Africa trade. Against this backdrop, this research project elaborates on the role of the AfCFTA Agreement’s legal provisions in the shaping of the AU Members’ common external trade policy while preserving the integrity of the continental internal market.



Regis Simo is a Senior Researcher at Mandela Institute, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Before joining Wits University, obtained a PhD in International Law and Economics from Bocconi University (Milan, Italy) where he also held teaching and research fellowships. He is a former Marie Curie Fellow (DISSETTLE) at the University Of St. Gallen Switzerland (2015) and has undertaken research stays at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law (Lausanne, Switzerland) (2010). His academic interests include international economic law, world trade law, law and development, and African regional integration. His works also explore non-economic concerns such as labour standards, environment, and sustainable development issues. His recent research focus on legal and policy issues emerging from the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Regis is a Contributing Editor of, a blog that focuses on international (economic) law issues as they relate to Africa and the Global South, and Member of the Editorial Board of the African Journal of International Economic Law (AfJIEL) and the International Journal of Public Law and Policy (IJPLAP). 



♦ SIMO, Regis Y. “Non-exclusivity and an Ocean of Possibilities: The AfCFTA Jurisdictional Lex Specialis”, in Transnational Dispute Management , forthcoming, 2021.

♦ SIMO, Regis Y. « comme deux navires qui se croisent dans la nuit ? A propos des normes sociales dans les accords commerciaux » in L’impact Des Normes De L’O.I.T. Sur La Scène Internationale (MAGGI-GERMAIN, Nicole dir.), Paris, Mare & Martin, 2021, p. 65-83.

♦ SIMO, Regis Y. “Trade in Services in the African Continental Free Trade Area: Prospects, Challenges and WTO Compatibility”, in Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2020, p. 65-95.

♦ SIMO, Regis Y. “The African Continental Free Trade Area in a Stagnating Multilateral Trading System: On the Likely (Ir)Relevance of the Enabling Clause”, in Italian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 29, 2020, p. 53-75.

♦ SIMO, Regis Y. “Trade and Morality: Balancing between the Pursuit of Non-Trade Concerns and the Fear of Opening the Floodgates”, in George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2019, pp. 407-460.

♦ SIMO, Regis. “The AGOA as Stepping Stone for USA-Africa Free Trade Agreements”, in Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 115-131.