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#28 Free Trade Agreements & Life as an Academic Nomad

Jul 13, 2023

In this episode, Marta Andhov talks with Dominic Dagbanja - a senior law lecturer and researcher (University of Western Australia) specialising in international investment law and in the consequences of investment and trade treaties for public interest regulation. They start by pointing out to practical relevance of knowing about the intersection of public procurement and free trade agreements. Further, they meticulously discuss the issue of balancing between free trade and sustainability considerations. In addition to this, they also geek out on the topic of never more frequent incorporation of public procurement provisions in free trade agreements. For dessert, they share their experiences…


dr. Marta Andhov is an Associate Professor and the coordinator for the LL.M international study program at Faculty of Law, the University of Copenhagen.

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BESTEK - The Public Procurement Podcast
BESTEK - The Public Procurement Podcast
dr. Willem A. Janssen and dr. Marta Andhov

Podcast about public procurement & law. Hosts: dr. Willem Janssen & dr. Marta Anhov

About This Episode

In this episode, Marta Andhov talks with Dominic Dagbanja – a senior law lecturer and researcher (University of Western Australia) specialising in international investment law and in the consequences of investment and trade treaties for public interest regulation. They start by pointing out to practical relevance of knowing about the intersection of public procurement and free trade agreements. Further, they meticulously discuss the issue of balancing between free trade and sustainability considerations. In addition to this, they also geek out on the topic of never more frequent incorporation of public procurement provisions in free trade agreements. For dessert, they share their experiences of living the lives of academic nomads.


0:00 Entrée
0:00 Introduction and agenda
5:26 The Main
5:26 Practical relevance of knowing about the intersection of public procurement and free trade agreements
8:58 Balancing between free trade and sustainability considerations
21:37 Looping public procurement provisions in free trade agreements
30:34 Localism in public procurements outside of the EU
34:51 Dessert
34:51 On being an academic nomad

If you are interested in learning more about this topic feel free to consult the following publications:

Dagbanja, D. N. (2020). The Intersection of Public Procurement Law and Policy and International Investment Law. Transnational Corporations27(2), 65-92.

Dagbanja, D. N. (2020).  Developments in Sustainable Public Procurement Law and Policy in Ghana and Australia.  Public Procurement Law Review, 6, 359-379

Dagbanja, D. N. (2014). Promoting Competitive Local Business Community in Ghana: The Role of the Legal Framework for Public Procurement. Journal of African Law58(2), 350-75

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Episode Transcript

Marta Andhov [00:00:00] Welcome to the Bestek Public Procurement Podcast. Today, we’ll be talking about free trade agreements and public procurement, and I’m joined by a colleague from University of Western Australia, Dominic Dagbanja. So give us a listen. 🙂


About Bestek [00:00:26] Welcome to Bestek, the public procurement podcast. In this podcast Dr. Willem Janssen and Dr. Marta Andhov discuss public procurement law issues, their love of food, and academic life. In each episode, Willem, Marta and their guests search for answers to intriguing public procurement questions. This is Bestek. Let’s dish up public procurement law.


Marta Andhov [00:00:50] Hello, Dominic. Welcome. It’s so nice for you to join me. It’s a little bit different set up. Usually I have my co-host, Willem. So, I’m doing this for the first time on my own. And what a pleasure to to be joined by you. Can you give us a couple words of introduction of what you do in your professional life as an academic and why, you know, the sort of crossover of interest, of course, within our Bestek podcast on public procurement.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:01:23] I thank you, Marta, for the opportunity to engage in this conversation with you. I’m happy to do so because I have been reflecting and thinking around the topic of the conversation. So it is good to have this kind of conversation where I can have a general sharing of my ideas on the subject of the podcast. So as Marta mention, my name is Dr. Dominic Dagbanja and I’m from Ghana and have been teaching here at the University of Western Australia since 2016. My research principally focuses on the intersection of international economic treaties and (by international economic treaties, I’m talking about bilateral investment treaties, free trade agreements and public law) and policy. In particular. I seek in my research to theorise on the subject of the limitations that national constitutions place on the capacity of states to conclude these trade agreements. These investment treaties often tend to limit the capacity of states to adopt policies in the public interest, in the national interests. I also research on the subject of public procurement law. I completed my master’s at The George Washington University in 2008. So, in light of my research on these areas; trade, investment law, bilateral investment treaties, free trade agreements, public procurement law, what I seek to do essentially is to look at the intersection between public procurement law and policy and free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties as well, which is the subject of this conversations. So, I’m happy to be able to have a conversation with you today on this subject.


Marta Andhov [00:03:36] Wonderful. Thank you so much, Dominic. So, yes, our main as your listeners can already hear, we’ll be talking about free trade agreements and we will dive a little bit into it today style of the podcast with a little bit more “interview like” as I have this great opportunity to talk to Dominic and we will dive to couple elements along the way and then we will move on, of course, to our dessert later on. Before we started to record, Dominic, I mentioned to you what is a little bit set up of this with these mains and desserts. So one of the things that we always try to engage with is think, okay, if, if I’m coming to your place for a dinner or if I’m visiting, let’s say the events, the conference did you organising, what is the type of dinner that you think is representable of you know your home, your culture, what you seek out, how you host your guests. Yeah. What would that be, you think?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:04:40] Well, if I were speaking from an African context, you can imagine a dish, you know, prepared with cornflower, with okra soup. And so that takes us to the conversation around different things being put together and creating a very lavish and stylish dish that you cannot resist. So in that sense, looking at the intersection of free trade agreements and the intersection of bilateral investment treaties and public procurement law and policy, So that would be the substantive kind of meal that I would prepare for you to enjoy.


Marta Andhov [00:05:26] Wonderful. Wonderful. Okay. So I would want us then to start a little bit on this main, as we discussed from a little bit different angle, because as you said yourself, you also published in public procurement. You have your book on public procurement in Ghana. If we have a practitioner, if you’ve got, you know, public servants, if they are, you know, placed in the African continent or in Australia or anywhere in the world that our listener can be. What would be your answer to the question of how is conversation about free trade agreements relevant to me as a practitioner? Is there a sort of link between them or it kind of more happens in steps that actually in your day to day life as a practitioner, you’re not affected by it, but you know, it’s sort of somewhere in the background. So in other words, if I were to play devil’s advocate, if we have practitioners listening to and they say, well, this sounds quite theoretical, is that for me? What would be your answer.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:06:26] I would say that there’s a very practical relevance of the intersection between public procurement law and policy and free trade agreements. Public procurement is about goods and services generally, not even generally specifically, but also free trade agreements are about trade in services, and trade in goods as well. So generally the subject matters relate, but also increasingly, free trade agreements now include provisions dealing with the subject of public procurement here and there, either excluding or providing for mechanisms where, you know, the procurement market has to be opened. So in that sense, I think the subject of the intersection of public procurement law and policy and free trade agreements is a very practical one not just a theoretical one.


Marta Andhov [00:07:25] Hmm. Could you give us an example? Really, If I’m someone who hears for the first time of a free trade agreements, can you give me an example of what they are, what they can cover, how I can as a citizen, you know, enjoy the kind of benefits achieved through free trade agreements.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:07:44] By their name, literally free trade agreements, and you might question how free or what is it that they offer free, but essentially the role of free trade agreements is to remove barriers to international trade to ensure that the countries that are parties to those agreements and the citizens, businesses from those countries are able to move across member countries to those free trade agreements so that they can trade in goods and services and move across without limitations. Now, in the absence of those free trade agreements and the movement of goods across countries will essentially be subject to the regulation of domestic law and domestic law, essentially operates in the national interest. So there could be limitations in terms of access to a market if it were to be regulated solely through domestic laws. So free trade agreements remove those barriers. They ensure that there is equality of treatment, they seek to ensure that there is no discrimination, market access is there.


Marta Andhov [00:08:57] You touched upon a very interesting, I think, element that it’s being right now discussed more and more in context of sustainability very much as UN SDGs or ESG or whichever of those we discuss versus the local preference, because undoubtedly as you so poignantly mentioned, the free trade agreements are to get rid of this local preferences. And moving towards this national preference to open up the competition. And since the in the wave of increase of focal points on sustainability considerations have gained more and more prominence on the area of discussing regulating public procurement. Sometimes we hear voices that, you know, some of those elements are actually against, you know, like let’s say that having a sustainable consideration in your public procurement can be just a smokescreen for preferential treatment and here a good example is whatever we start to discuss climate reduction of climate risk and climate change. The example here could be use of, you know, climate mileage. So obviously something that will be more local to at least from a perspective strictly of, let’s say, services and transport. It would be preferential on sustainability basis to award contract to local contractor for that matter, which would be seen against the free trade agreements. And I was wondering, you existing and having so much experience in that sphere. And also, as you mentioned, we see more and more procurement being regulated in free trade agreement, but also sustainability is being used really as an argument in free trade agreements. European Union has been right now quite prominently trying to be, you know, the first mover of really trying to incorporate various sustainability considerations, sustainable public procurement elements in the trade agreements, free trade agreements that they becoming. Part two. I wanted to ask you for your opinion, how you think that works. What from a perspective of someone that so passionately also is invested in their free trade agreement research, how we can balance those two? Where we are going too far? Or maybe are those elements that actually do not belong in free trade agreements on public procurement. What’s your opinion here?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:11:35] Yeah, thank you. That’s an important question to address. I would say that it depends on whether the state is using in let’s say, the low carbon preference or sustainable development measure as an excuse to exclude foreign participation. Now, if the state is imposing measures relating to sustainability which will apply across participants in the procurement market, it is less likely that there will be an issue with the free trade agreement. However, if it is a coverup more or less to limit foreign participation, then the state could have issues in terms of compliance with the state’s free trade agreement obligations. But in a situation where local preference seeks to limit participation essentially to domestic investors or not to use local preference to promote a certain domestic objective, like, for example, if you look at the Public Procurement Act of Ghana, it talks about use of procurement to promote the development of a competitive local industry, especially with a focus on the domestic industry. Now, this is domestic legislation, but Ghana, too has also signed on to bilateral investment treaties, which deal with the subject of national treatment. So in that case, Ghana’s obligations relating to opening up the market for the participation of foreign investors under the bilateral investment treaty complies with a provision in the domestic legislation dealing with local preference. South Africa deals also has even constitutional provisions dealing with the subject local preference is, you know, to address issues of inequality and discrimination arising from apartheid.


Marta Andhov [00:13:58] Now is a big changes right now. Right. This sort of talking about South Africa, I understand that there have been all this discussion of raising whether that is constitutional. And so there is a big reform going. Is that true? Is that correct?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:14:11] I think that there is an ongoing legislation, it is an area that is developing in response to challenges. And even recently when I don’t know how recent it is, but since 2015, South Africa came out with a new legislation specifically focusing on investment. And that was essentially because of the fact that foreign investors were using bilateral investment treaties to challenge domestic policies relating to look at preferences. And so going back to the subject of sustainability, I have looked at, for example, the comprehensive agreement on investment between the EU and China that deals with the subject of sustainable investment, with provisions dealing with the environment, provisions dealing with corporate social responsibility. Now the idea is that investment must be undertaken in a manner that, you know, that’s no compromise, environmental quality, that ensures that the human rights of the people of the host states are respected, the labour rights of the people, the workers for foreign businesses are respected. The major issue that I have, with the provisions in the comprehensive agreement on investment between China and EU, which I think is yet to come in force. I have not looked at the latest data on the coming into force of the agreement, but the major issue, and I published a paper in the journal of world investment and trade on this subject. The major issue that I have with the sustainable development provisions in that agreement is that they tend to be soft law in nature to extent that they say. For example, the host state must encourage investors to adopt or comply with the corporate social responsibility guidelines. So they are not strong enough to ensure that the ideals and objectives underlying them can really be achieved at the end of the day. That is a major issue.


Marta Andhov [00:16:30] I think that you are definitely hitting the nail here because I think that that has been across a lot of these different agreements right now and issues have been raised that those are subtype of values, objectives, principles, some sort of in some sort of way weaved into those agreements. But there is quite weak enforcement mechanism. And if you have quite weak enforcement mechanism, it becomes something that it would be nice to have. But if we have breaches, they are not really followed up. They are not really. Challenge. Yeah. But we see some interesting developments in that are. We talked about some weeks before we agreed on a date for the recording. Also about this Canadian court case Thales DIS versus Ministry of Transportation from 2022 where there we have this interesting situation in which there was a successful challenge of local preference. But the local preference also in that case has been interesting because it was used as a means of type of national security issue. But was the disregarded bidder, the one who did not win the award, ultimately challenged it, challenged that specific requirement of local criteria. And I think we were producing their passports and there was something about that the cards needed to be produced in the borders of Canada, right? Yeah. And the argument that were used, which I think is very interesting, was you saw that it was very interesting, was actually reference to international trading agreement. I did that. You had a chance to look at that. I would be very curious to hear what you thought about that case.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:18:21] Thank you. I had the read of that case and I was wondering whether or not if, you know, whether or not if a foreign trader can seek  the protection of a free trade agreement in the domestic law, whether we need an international mechanism. But at the end of the day, I think that the decision did not go into the substance of the application of the comprehensive economic and Trade agreement between Canada and the EU. The decision didn’t go into the substance of the case. And in fact, one of the judges said that he didn’t intend to see that Canada could not adopt discriminatory measures and CETA as such. So it did not go into the substance of the application of that, agreement between the EU and Canada. But the case essentially illustrates the point that in this case, Ontario has sought to impose, require that the procurement of stock cards, it was like identity cards and a variety of other cards that it should be done in Canada. But the foreign participant in this case was who challenged, brought the case was essentially saying that that was discriminatory, contrary to the comprehensive economic agreement between Canada and the EU. And the state sought to justify on the basis that there was a public interest, public safety issue. Ultimately, the court found that that was not the case. It wasn’t reasonable and all of that and quashed the decision. But the case illustrates the point. I’m not sure whether we can strictly see these was a domestic preference as such, other than the idea that the goods that we need, need to be produced domestically and the foreign participants see that as limiting their opportunity to participate because they were based outside of Canada. And if you impose limitations on producing them in Canada, you are essentially limiting the participation of the foreign trader. But the case illustrates the point that these free trade agreements can actually limit what states want to do domestically, which, if they were not parties to disagreements, they could actually do. So the substantive decision on the conflict between that imposition and under the CETA, is yet to be tested in maybe in an international forum. But it is an interesting case of the intersection of free trade agreements and public procurement law and policy.


Marta Andhov [00:21:37] And that brings me to my next question, which is, you know, over the decades, we really could have seen that public procurement often has been left out of the free trade agreements. And I wonder why you think that was the case and one that particularly change why we see more and more the newer agreements really have the chapter on public procurement. And the reason why I asked that, because I also would want to hear your perspective. Because you wear those two hats of having the experience and the knowledge in both of the fields that we discussing public procurement and free trade agreements. Because I think that public procurement is also a little bit specific, right? Particularly if we’re discussing this local preference, all this element. I think undoubtedly there always will be this part about public procurement that we spending public money through the fact that we spending public money. I think that there is from citizens perspective, there is an expectation that those money are used to uplift also local economies. And obviously that argument is more public, administrative element of public procurement stands out at this crossroad or actually is I would rather say it’s opposed is in conflict with this notion of really commercial approach to public procurement and focus on open competition and the free trade, etc., etc.. So why you think we we went towards the path of more looping in the public procurement and free trade agreements and how you assess that development?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:23:14] I think the major issue here is the idea that once you undertake an international commitment, it becomes necessary to ensure that your domestic policies, your domestic laws are in conformity with, you know, your international obligations. And for example, the agreement on government procurement by the World Trade Organisation and countries that our parties to that agreement can no longer seek to limit participation in procurement domestically. So, for example, you will see that Australia ensures that is public procurement framework is designed in a manner that accommodates these international obligations and the free trade agreements. So when states, where not necessarily signing on to these agreements or when this agreement where essentially bilateral in nature, it was easy to exclude, you know, public procurement in free trade agreements. But with the need to open up and, you know, public procurement is about goods, it’s about services generally. And so there is a need now having to include them, because if you sign on to a free trade agreement, then you cannot maintain a, you know, a pub procurement regime that excludes foreign participants in the supply of goods and services that are needed in the country. So, I think that the signing on to these international obligations is what is pushing states now to see that there is a need for them to have a free trade agreement regime that respects the real opening of the market for participation by those interested to do so.


Marta Andhov [00:25:26] Thank you for that. I think that my 3 cents, so to speak to to that would also be did. And I wonder whether you would agree with me or maybe you have a different perspective. Is that why principally, fundamentally, I 100% agree what you just mentioned, but I think in practice looking. How the international trading agreements in the context of public procurement works, particularly if you look how U.S. collaborates and how the how how the trading agreements were between the US and EU. But also right now being here in Australia, I looked into obviously some of the procurement practices here and also Australia thing is quite interesting because it’s a relatively new member to the governmental procurement agreement. It seems at the same time that in practice when you kind on the ground you see a lot of procurement, if those are sectors or, you know, depending on who conducts the procurement.. if it is central government, if it’s more local. There’s a lot of exclusions that the free trading agreement doesn’t cover. And then even if they cover, we going back to the point on the sustainability, which is the recourse mechanism is somehow I find. Weaker. And what I mean by that, I don’t think that there is a problem in all of the different jurisdictions that we discussing. You have a possibility if you have not won the procurement process or you think that have been some issues along the way, you can challenge the process. But I wonder what is my recourse as a tenderer, as a bidder if I believe that the way how procurement is operated, let’s say, in my state right now, being in Australia. Thinking that, you know, we not really the system is really ultimately not built in the way that is compliant with the existing free trade agreement, of course, here. The question is, you know, whether that would be really my interest to raise that. But if we just theorise for a second. From where the nudge comes to change something because this is in between the states. So, I guess is the other state. If we take the bilateral agreement, other states would need to raise that as a question. I imagine as you as an individual company or citizen, you don’t really have a standing here to impact any changes. Is that correct assumption?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:27:57] Yes. Normally, public procurement dispute, domestic procurement legislation will usually provide for the mechanism for resolving procurement disputes, and those mechanisms are usually domestic in nature. It could be a special body designed to resolve the dispute, it could be the regulatory body and then from there you can appeal to the court and go through the process. So the mechanism for procurement dispute resolution for the most part is very local in nature. However, where a state is a party to say a free trade agreement, usually it is not unusual that maybe the state will require domestic exhaustion of local remedies, but usually the free trade agreement will also provide for, especially in the investment chapters, for a mechanism for external settlement of the dispute in form of an international arbitration. So yes, there could be a challenge for the foreign investor where strong provisions are not made for international jurisdiction over procurement dispute, in which case the foreign trader or foreign investor will have to go to the domestic forum for the resolution of the dispute. But again, this is a contentious area because look, you can say that procurement is about the national interest and that is you are or a foreign trader or trader is participating in the procurement system and the system works for you and you take the benefits of the system, you shouldn’t say that because there is a dispute, you can no longer trust the domestic dispute resolution mechanism, you know, just because you are foreign or something of that nature. Of course, that traditional argument is that the foreign investor or the foreign trader and a foreign business entity could be discriminated against, there could be local bias, inefficiency in the domestic dispute resolution mechanisms. But if the regulatory system waits for you. The dispute settlement mechanism should also work for you. But the point is that increasingly states have this international arbitration as a mechanism for resolving some of these disputes.


Marta Andhov [00:30:34] A You know, the reason why I raised that as a question because I think, you know, coming from really being embedded in the European Union procurement setup, the local or local preferences is, you know, is sort of like if you if you ever read Harry Potter to your kids, it’s like a Voldemort, right? You don’t say that. It’s absolutely something that is the highest ground of breach of procurement. Yes. And I think the European countries have been very careful about trying not to eat while trying to really not use that, because it would be a the that element of a legal challenge. And we had several cases on that. But for that reason, I just started to obviously look a little bit outside of the EU. And if you look at the American system, if you look also in to Australian system, and we had over the time that I’ve been here, a couple chats about it, you very often in all these different other jurisdictions than the regional EU, you see the local preference being quite, you know, strong and well you have if I’d started with Trump and being reassured by Biden administration, the buy American and you know, manufactured in America. Every state in Australia has local preference. Having in mind that all those countries are part of the GPA. What is your take on and do you think that this is this happens because probably those preferential kind of requirement are used in very specific type of procurements that are excluded from the coverage of GPA? Or is that a type of situation and kind of somehow, you know, we don’t have someone watching carefully enough because, you know, I’m quite fascinated by that because it seems sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones. The Europeans don’t play the game, so to speak.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:32:38] Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I think that is also a very important question to address. And I think part of the challenge is that maybe the design of these free trade agreements is not realistic to what happens in practice, that procurement is essentially about the national interests, that the government needs certain goods and services to serve its citizens, and that the government should have the flexibility in the implementation of domestic policies, where, for example, maybe the government is not a party to a government procurement agreement or an international procurement treaty. So, I think that in designing these international agreements on free trade, on public procurement, like the GPA, I think that, There’s probably a lack of reflection on whether or not realistically there will be compliance with these international agreements, because states will often or always want to have some preference making these decisions and in implementing the procurement measures. And so as I mentioned, so the South African Constitution says there has to be local preference. Now, South Africa goes to sign, say the GPA or some other free trade agreement that says that you cannot have that you are going to have a clash. So, that is the problem and that the lack of appreciation of the fact that states will often have some domestic interest to pursue and that these agreements need to accommodate those realities as much as much as possible. If you don’t do that, you always have the clash between the free trade agreements to open up procurement measures and the desire of states to have preferences in public procurement.


Marta Andhov [00:34:51] Wonderful. Thank you so much for that, Dominic. I think that with that, we can conclude the main aspect of our today discussion on the free trade agreements and public procurement. I will, of course, in the description on our website of the podcast podcast, we’re going to also include a reference to Dominic’s publication lists, where we very much encourage all of our listeners to give it a go and investigate a little bit more aspects of our free trade agreements and investment law and that crossover with public procurement. Dessert is a little bit lighter part of our conversation on the podcast, and we usually try to touch upon something that is a more cross cross-disciplinary element and a little bit more personal element if it’s from academic life more broadly, or having in mind that we have a guest today also ask about your experiences. And I think, Dominic, what I would want to ask you is we have a lot of young professionals, young PhDs, and by young I mean, you know, in the career path and rather than age necessarily I’m that my share with you or with me goes. I think in that way there are certain similarities between us that our career took us through different countries. We had a lot of homes along the way, and I was wondering if you could share a little bit about that with us. What are some of the particularly rewarding and particularly challenging aspects of over the course of years of your career, changing homes, changing countries, changing continents, how it is to exist as an academic in that in that life? And what would be maybe some points, you know, of advice to younger cells if you were to do it all over again, would you think?


Dominic Dagbanja [00:36:50] All right, thank you. It’s good to share with, you know, colleagues, the young ones who might be listening and interested in the subject. And well,  as I said, I travel around a bit. I come from a very small, humble community in the northern region of Ghana. And then education took me to Accra, which is the capital of Ghana, and I worked and practised law there briefly. And then I had the opportunity to go and do my master’s at the University of the Pacific in California. I finished my master’s there, and then I went to Washington, DC, the George Washington University, to do my master’s in government procurement law. And then I went back home and I said I wanted to do a PhD. I don’t know why I was just getting these certificates, but  then I went and I did my PhD at the University of Auckland and it took me four full years of full time research to get my PhD done. And yes, around the time that I finished my Ph.D., I had an opportunity to do my postdoctorate at the University of Manchester in the UK, and then I got teaching and research appointment here at the University of Western Australia Law School, and I’ve been here since 2016. So I think that I’ve gone around the world, coming from a very small village in the northern region of Ghana, and it means a lot to travel around because I know what it means to come from where I come from and to have the opportunity that is global in nature and travelling and working in these developed parts of the world, I think.


When you have opportunities of this nature, you are able to connect with the global community in your area of interests much more easily than you would do operating in the local context. So I think, the benefit of this opportunity had been, being able to connect with people across the globe. For example, having opportunity to have this conversation with you today, Marta, you probably would not know me if I were in my village somewhere, farming, unless, of course, I became a very big farmer, I’m supplying the whole world with, you know, yams and a local farm produce. So you are able to build a profile that matters in academia easily. I think you are able to publish and, you know, in forums that probably you would not easily be able to do if you localised. And publication in certain places means that you are expanding your network of connection with professional colleagues and all of that. So, I think that has been a great opportunity because I feel that I have built a profile that I could not easily do if I didn’t have the opportunities that I have had. And I believe that the opportunity for me to grow beyond my current, you know, level would be much more easy because I have had this opportunity. So I think that is good for young people aspiring and seeking to build their profiles, that if ever they have those opportunities, they should embrace them and utilise them and commit themselves to those opportunities. And I believe the future will take care of the rest in terms of where all of that will lead you to. So as far as I am concerned, I have not had any regrets taking these opportunities of schooling across the world, of working across the world and being here. But I’m also passionate and aware that I am from Ghana and that I have a role to play in the development of Ghana and have a role to play in the development of the African continent, because we have to make the African continent what we want it to be. And so I am still connected back home, the original home; once original, aways original. Even recently I was having a conversation with the University of Ghana about teaching a number of units there. So I think that embracing these opportunities can help you build resilience, get to know other people, get to know other cultures. And I think that you become much more conscious about other people and cultures and ways of doing things when you embrace these opportunities.


The challenge has always been dependent on when you take out these opportunities. You always feel that you have an origin at home that calls you. And. And sometimes, you feel that you are not making the sort of contribution that you should be making back home, the guilt. And, if you come from a place that is warm and maybe on a lighter note, you don’t need to have a minus, in terms of the weather I’m talking about now, if you don’t like the cold and if you don’t like wearing so many things to keep yourself warm. But the point I’m making is that there is a price to every dream Price. And the price that I have to pay may not be exactly your price but be aware there is a price to pay and embrace that price along with all of the glorious opportunities that come with taking out these opportunities. And I’m sure you will be an excited person. I hope I’m sharing what might be useful to friends outside.


Marta Andhov [00:43:22] Absolutely. And I also really enjoy, you know, having this type of conversation because as you say, even that we connect here in Australia coming from totally two different worlds and then a couple countries in between us along the way. But the experience is shared because I think that I very much would echo what you mention which is great opportunities and fantastic adventures in  life, professional life and personal life this but I really like this, this balance that you added because I sometimes feel. That we academically, you know, this international academic life sometimes can. I seemed from outside a bit through Ken Glass. And there is a price to pay. There is a price to pay. A lot of it is undoubtedly also through your personal life, because you know, all your kind of safety network, all your family, so your friends, all these people that you can really rely on and tough situations in life may not be around you. You can to build those. And yet there is a price to pay. And I think that that is important to underline. And I also really like what you mentioned, that the price might be quite different depending where you are in life. What is your story? But I think that showcase a really wholesome, full picture of what it means also for us as very mobile people, the that that make our homes all around the world.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:44:57] Yes. Thank you. I think you made an important point about that, you know, the friendships the cultural connection. And so that is that has been one of the major challenges coming from an African background. And you don’t need to negotiate friendship. You have neighbour has you as neighbour, you come easily to walk into somebody’s house, somebody can easily walk into your house.


Marta Andhov [00:45:22] It’s very spontaneous.


Dominic Dagbanja [00:45:23] It’s happened, it’s natural. So, from a cultural, social perspective, may be a major challenge, has been able to connect socially. Professionally, you have a fantastic work environment you know there’s no doubt about that. I think you would like your working environment, but socially, depending on where you come from, if you come from a similar cultural background, it is so, but if you come from an African cultural background where you know, where that connection really matters, then you’ve got some adjustments to make and some time to come. But as I said, that is the price you have to pay for the opportunities that you have taken that for sure.


Marta Andhov [00:46:15] And I think that, you know, to that last point as you made, I think it’s the interesting element is that out of this transition, this adjustment, there will be tough moments maybe of loneliness or sort of not feeling, not belonging. But then also there will be some like really funny ones, if you look from the perspective of time, because you kind of assume one thing because culturally that’s what you kind of remember from even not, you know, your original home. But let’s see the last place that you lived for five, six years, which doesn’t work in the new place that way. But sometimes also funny things happen. So yeah, I think it’s a very colourful, interesting ride that that life of ours. And thank you so much, Dominic, for joining me today. It was absolute pleasure. To hear more about the substance of your research work and also for you sharing some of your thoughts and experiences with us to make a very brief summary. What we covered today as our main subject were free trade agreements and they interconnectivity and crossover with public procurement. We spend a bit of time of discussing how preferential treatment treatments, local preferences, how those are treated, where they are intentions and what might be the logic behind why they coexist with the free trade agreements. And for our dessert, we were diving a little bit into Dominick’s a very rich professional experience that across several continents, several universities, and bringing us both here to the University of Western Australia on this beautiful July day. So I will conclude with that. This was the step, the public procurement focus.


About Bestek [00:48:08] This was Bestek, the public procurement podcast. Do you want to contribute to today’s discussion? Then share your thoughts on LinkedIn or Twitter. Do you have an idea for a future episode? Write to us at  

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