Internationally, there is agreement that conflicts and divergences arising from the laws of different States in matters relating to international trade constitute obstacles to the development of world trade. In southern Africa, diverse, fragmented, archaic and at times inaccessible, laws are major barriers to the free flow of goods in the region and therefore affecting both intra-regional and international trade as well as the attraction of foreign investment; yet few steps have been taken to address these challenges. This article analyses the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) objectives focussing particularly on whether legal harmonisation is achievable under the current SADC Treaty framework. Some scholars have argued that there is adequate scope for the harmonisation of laws in the SADC. However, looking at other examples of regional integration schemes and the character and history of the SADC, this article concludes that legal harmonisation is not simply being ignored but rather that there is no adequate legal framework for its implementation. To address this lacuna and to ensure that the national laws of SADC Member States can be harmonised under the SADC Treaty, the article proposes the amendment of the SADC Treaty.

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