Webber Wentzel recently launched its multi-disciplinary Competition, Trade and Investment (CTI) Practice Group, a one-stop shop that has the expertise to advise on all the complexities of these three areas. Annie Dorasamy took a closer look.
Joined by a stellar line-up of speakers including South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, the South African firm’s launch conference focused on emerging trends and competition as well as trade and investment in the wake of regional and continental integration.
Daryl Dingley, Partner and Head of the Competition, Trade and Investment Practice, explained why there’s a need for an integrated trade and investment offering in South Africa. “Given all the complexities, conflicts and the importance of trade, competition and investment to firms and policy makers alike, we decided that it was time to offer our clients a holistic service offering that covers all these areas from within a single practice group,” he said.
Dingley clarified what exactly trade, investment and competition policy is, how the three strands intersect, where the conflicts are, and how this all impacts the market. These policies are vital drivers of economic growth, and the regulatory framework has changed alongside the so-called “new economy”, he said.
A solid team was required to offer credible advice on such complex issues, and the new CTI team consists of experts in competition, trade, public law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, tax and trade finance law. They and their alliance partners, Linklaters, are able to advise on trade and investment matters across Africa, but with a particular focus on foreign direct investment approvals.
“Through this new offering we will be able to enhance the gains by all stakeholders as firms look for trade and investment opportunities and African countries seek to enhance the welfare of their citizens, especially in light of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,” Dingley said.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, commented that the launch of the integrated practice unit follows the natural convergence of the related areas of competition, trade and investment. He reminded the audience of the “significant interface between domestic competition policy and matters connected to international trade”.
Patel used the practical example of how numerous shortages of medical goods during the early days of the pandemic in South Africa were overcome through thinking out the box and changing the way things were usually done. This gave the audience a clear understanding of “the level of convergence in thinking we need to use within the public sector and … the value of an integrated approach in dealing with policy matters within your law firm,” he said.
The minister also shared detailed plans his department has for the future and areas they’re looking to improve on, like industrialisation, localisation and building a capable state.
Meluleki Nzimande, the former Chief Commissioner of the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, will be joining Webber Wentzel in August 2022 as part of the CTI practice. He closed the conference by reiterating that the new development at Webber Wentzel has not taken place in a vacuum. “There is an economic underpinning that makes this service a necessity. We meet in circumstances where the performance of the South African economy is lacklustre and there is a need for a decisive push to get us back to at least pre Covid-19 levels and, better still, to labour observing levels of growth and industrialisation, building a capable state and inclusive growth and transformation,” Nzimande concluded.
To learn more about the new CTI practice, watch the launch presentationhere or visit the Webber Wentzel websitehere.
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