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The South African Government Regulation of International Business Law Essay

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Updated: Jul 28th, 2022

With regards to the lawsuit raised by pharmaceutical companies against the Government of South Africa. One would understand that it is quite a complicated issue. Because The South African Government is doing its best to stand by every international law with regards to public health. The pharmaceutical company is also trying to protect its business while satisfying the people with regard to their health. But the most important thing to note is that law must not be broken no matter what. And that is why their international business law stipulated to handle situations like this. Let’s take a look at what international law is all about and what it entails. To start with.

International law may refer to three separate legal entities.

David (2004) said “public international which involves, for instance, the United Nations, maritime law, international criminal law, and the Geneva conventions.

Private international law or conflict of laws that solve the question of which legal jurisdiction cases may be heard in David (2004) also said “Supranational law or the law of supranational organizations, which concerns at present regional understanding and agreements where the special distinct quality is that laws of nation-states are ended inapplicable when conflicting with a supranational legal system.

Public International law

Public international law (or international public law) concerns the relationships between sovereign nations. It is developed basically through multilateral conventions, though custom (state practice with a view can play an important role. Its modern corpus started to be developed in the middle of the 19th Century”

According to Williams (1997) “ Conflict of laws, known as “private international law” in civil law jurisdictions, is less international than public international law. It is well-known from public international law because it governs conflicts between private persons, rather than states (or other international bodies withstanding). It involves the questions of which jurisdiction should be permitted to hear a legal disagreement between private parties, and which jurisdictions law should be applied therefore raising issues of international law.

Today corporations are increasingly responsible for shifting capital and labor supply chains crosswise borders, as well as trading with overseas corporations. This multiplies the number of disputes of an inter-state external nature a united legal framework and raises issues of the enforceability of standard practices. Increasing numbers of businesses use commercial adjudication under the New York Convention 1958.

With regards to the issue in South Africa, one would understand that their various things involved. Its quite complicated but it can be resolved following the standards of international business law”

Here a report by the Guardian in UK “South Africans believe that the price of HIV and AIDS drug is very expensive and as such a lot of people may not be able to afford it. Most of the people infected with AIDS in South Africa live below the average, most of them are actually poor and as such there would not be able to afford the drugs and this imposes great apprehension both for the South African Government and the people. Here is a report by Special report.

According to Andrew (1997)”Zackie Achmat a 38-year-old black South African is almost certainly the world’s most extraordinary drug smuggler.

As far as anyone can tell, he’s the only illegal importer of drugs who has ever voluntarily handed himself in, offered a video of himself clearing Customs, and given overall receipts of his transactions to the authorities.

Last October, Achmat, who has the Aids-related virus, HIV, flew to Thailand and bought 5,000 pills to treat people dying of Aids. He then flew back to South Africa and handed his drugs over to his country’s government.

The drug was Biozole, an anti-fungal dealing whose patent is owned by pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer.

To buy a Pfizer pill over the counter in South Africa would cost about £9. In Thailand, Achmat scored the same generic drug for 15p.

In trade-law-speak, Achmat’s ‘parallel importation’ of Biozole is a vivid symbol of a growing healthcare scandal of epic scope. Aids is sweeping through Africa much like the Black Death plague that wiped out so much of medieval Europe. Eminent African doctors are now saying that HIV will do more harm to Africans than slavery did.

Of the world’s 34 million people infected with HIV, 25 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet only 25,000 Africans (0.001 percent of those infected) receive the drugs known as anti-retroviral which prolong the lives of people with HIV and are available in the urbanized world.

Last week, Achmat was badly ill. Speaking from his home, he said: ‘Hundreds of people are dying every day in our country because they can’t get access to the right drugs. The only thing that is stopping them is the price. I think it’s wrong that people are dying just because they’re poor.”

David (2004) also said “Controlling the distribution of HIV drugs are some of the world’s most powerful pharmaceuticals companies which, combined, make profits running into tens of billions of pounds.

But in a move that will make Achmat’s ‘crime’ seem utterly insignificant, the might of the world’s drug industry, including the UK’s GlaxoSmithKline, will, on 5 March, take the South African Government to court over alleged violation of intellectual property rights – essentially, the same principle that got Achmat into trouble”

The constitutional case, which has been rumbling since 1997, will be heard at the Pretoria High Court and could if appeals are made to run for years. Whoever eventually loses will not face damages, but costs running into tens of millions of pounds.

At the spirit of the case is a law passed by former President Nelson Mandela giving his country the right to buy huge amounts of generic drugs and sell them cheaply in South Africa. In addition, South Africa could compulsorily license HIV drugs and manufacture them within its limits, reducing the multinational pharmaceuticals companies. The threat of legal action has so far stopped South Africa from acting on this right.

Pharmaceuticals companies believe these measures signifies a threat to their balance sheets although, at present, just 1 percent of drug revenues come from the entire African continent.

But money thrown away via cheap generic could, drug firms say, be plowed into more research and development which may ultimately lead to a cure for HIV.

Sanctioning cheap HIV drugs may also irritate hard-pressed health authorities in the western world, which spend up to 10 times more on their anti-retroviral, and also make understand the public as to the true – low – the cost of medical drugs.

Furthermore, argue the drugs firms, it is no good farming out cheap pills to countries that don’t have strong health infrastructures. Drugs have to be investigated with scans. If that can’t be done, drugs are useless.

Here is what Chris (2004) says “But African HIV campaigners propagate that drug companies are keeping their profits before the health of a whole region.

For the South African government, eager to the role a leading role in the global economy, court action is the last thing it desires. South Africa is a paid-up member of the World Trade Organization and signed the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) agreement, which forces national governments to respect the rights of patent holders. Within the South African government, there are major tensions between the health and trade ministries”

According to Williams (1997)”to’ This country has no plan of perpetrating a wholesale violation of intellectual property rights,’ said Mark Heywood, head of the Aids Law Project at the University of Witwatersrand. ‘It doesn’t want to be seen as the Mugabe of the South. But the South African government has a responsibility to provide care for its citizens, and this is the reason why they passed this law”

“From considerable view. The Government of South African had the right to implement that law. At list to save its citizen. And the primary goal of every nation should be to protect and preserve its citizens before any other thing. Law can always be modified. And the reason for the law being modified is to cater to and satisfy the needs of the people or to help them overcome various challenges. The pharmaceutical companies would have done well if they bit down the prices of their drugs.

Considering that most of the people infected with HIV and AIDS in South Africa are poor and cannot afford such expensive drugs even if it’s made for their own good. The best thing to do at the moment is to work out modalities that will suit the people and not the pharmaceutical companies. There are actually out to do business in such a way that there will make profits but then the people should not be forgotten because of business. Their rights should also be protected. And with regards to the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. No matter which law has been made. There can always modify the law to suit the people and as for the pharmaceutical companies.

There should cut down their prices. So that even poor people would be able to afford these drugs. There can be an understanding between the two parties to ensure that the poor masses or anybody with HIV or AIDS is taken care of responsibly. The major reason why the pharmaceutical companies lost the case was that no matter the expense to hire a high-priced lawyer. We all understand that the people should first be considered before anything else. If the law is not in favor of the people then it should be modified.


Chris Albert: Business Law. New York: Duhgemin Library; London: Pacy Hudson 2004.

David Sunday: International Conflict Resolution: Garson Publishing.Holand. 2005.

Williams Andrew: Corporate And International Law: Issues and Standards.Lickery Matthew House. 1997.

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