News Archive November 2017

African trade blocs urged to adopt pact and ease commerce

Members of African regional trading blocs have been asked to hasten implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to reduce cross border trade costs in a bid to grow economies.

Mr Erastus Mwencha, the former Deputy Chairman of the Africa Union Commission, said the efficiency of trade hinges on the support of regional blocs such as the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of West African States, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in adopting a more open stance on trading with each other.

Mr Mwencha said the TFA would bring about new markets and cost reduction gains. “We must minimise cross border costs in Africa,” said Mr Mwencha.

“When the trade facilitation agreement was introduced globally, it showed that if it is implemented optimally there will be a cost reduction of up to 14 per cent. This will add to the global trade value of about $1 trillion.” Mr Mwencha was speaking at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies during the Second World Customs Organisation East and Southern Africa Regional Conference in Nairobi last week.

It was hosted by the World Customs Organisation Regional Training Centre (WCO RTC Kenya).

Delegates from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and SADC attended the conference where they discussed the impact and the implications of the TFA.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was represented by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, its Secretary General, who elaborated on the steps they were taking to accelerate regional development through cross border trade facilitation.

Delegates from Belgium, Ethiopia, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda, Australia, Mauritius, Botswana, the Comoros, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Uganda and Tanzania also attended the conference.

Mr Mwencha said implementing the TFA will also help lower the high cost of doing business within Africa, “When African countries trade among each other, for example, the tariff is about 12 per cent but when Africa trades with the rest of the world, the tariff drops to eight per cent. Implementing the TFA addresses these challenges,” he said.

To make this happen, he said, handling and logistics tied to cross border trade should be simplified.

“This includes harmonisation of customs procedures, deepening standards of IT innovation and utilisation to enforce the TFAs and regional trading agreements in the East and Southern Africa region.”

Ms Beatrice Memo, the Regional Training Centre Kenya Chair and Kenya Revenue School of Administration Commissioner, said African countries have complimentary synergies in terms of their competitive advantages which they should leverage to grow their economies.

“In light of this, we need to open our borders to facilitate the growth as customs is now considered a global village. It is for this reason that we co-host this conference with a view of sharing experiences and finding a solution for the African market challenges,” said Ms Memo.

African countries are also exploring closer ties between regional trade blocs through the proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), which brings together three business regional blocs of Comesa, EAC and SADC.

Objectives of TFTA are to promote economic and social development of the region, create a large single market with free movement of goods and services, and boost intra-regional trade.


African trade blocs urged to adopt pact and ease commerce

30 Nov 2017
Members of African regional trading blocs have been asked to hasten implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to reduce cross border trade costs in a bid to grow economies. Mr Erastus Mwencha, the former Deputy...
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South-South cooperation offers major opportunities to support vulnerable countries – UN official

As the most vulnerable countries continue to face serious development challenges, South-South cooperation offers enormous opportunities and potential to effectively support them in accelerating progress on implementing globally agreed goals, a senior United Nations official has said.

This vital message was delivered to delegations gathered in Antalya, Turkey on 27 November for the opening of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 by Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

“These are all countries faced with complex and unique development challenges which lend themselves to exploring how and where we can maximize South-South cooperation and leverage global partnerships to support countries’ efforts toward sustainable and inclusive futures,” said Ms. Utoikamanu, who advocates on behalf of 10 billion people in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

She is participating in the 2017 Global Expo along with other senior UN officials, government ministers, national development agency directors, and civil society representatives, who have gathered to share innovative local solutions and push for scaling up concrete initiatives from the global South to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The central promise of the 2030 Agenda is to ‘leave no-one behind,’ and thus is about addressing poverty, reducing inequality and building a sustainable future of shared prosperity,” explained Ms. Utoikamanu. “But it is already clear that these noble Goals will be elusive if the 91 countries my Office is a voice for remain at the bottom of the development ladder.”

As such, she said, South-South collaboration has led to increasing trade between and with emerging economies, investors, providers of development cooperation and sources of technological innovations and know-how. “This trend is confirmed by trade preferences for [least developed country products], enhanced trade finance opportunities, but also innovative infrastructure finance emerging,” noted Ms. Utoikamanu.

“The complex and pressing challenges the vulnerable countries experience demand that we further strengthen and leverage South-South cooperation,” added Ms. Utoikamanu. “South-South cooperation is not an ‘either-or’ it is a strategic and complementary means of action for the transfer and dissemination of technologies and innovations. It complements North-South cooperation,” she emphasized.

This week’s gathering will focus on a number of issues, including how to transfer science, technology and innovation among developing countries.

With that in mind, Ms. Utoikamanu said that to a large extent, the future will be determined by the abilities to leverage science, technology and innovation for sustainable growth, structural transformation and inclusive human and social development.

“It is proven that innovative technologies developed in the South often respond in more sustainable ways to the contextual needs of developing countries. Last, but not least, this is a question of cost,” she said.

In all this, the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries has a major role to play in boosting science, technology and innovation capacity. “It must facilitate technology transfer and promote the integration of [least developed countries] into the global knowledge-based economy.”

While countries in the South continue to deepen cooperation to achieve the SDGs, the trend of declining official development assistance (ODA) is cause for great concern. ODA remains a crucial source of external financing for the vulnerable groups of countries UN-OHRLLS represents,” she said.

“OHRLLS is committed to working with countries both of the North and the South to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and above all its pledge of leaving no one behind,” concluded Ms. Utoikamanu.

Technology Bank for Worlds Poorest Countries Set to Start Operations in 2018

The Council of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries concluded its inaugural meeting in New York on 21 November 2017. The Council members met to discuss and adopt the programme of work and budget for activities in 2018 .

“The Technology Bank has tremendous potential to tackle one of the great new divides of our times – access to science, technology and capacity to innovate. It will bring on board and coordinate expertise from the entire UN System to support the world’s poorest countries across the whole spectrum of science, innovation and technology.

“The full operationalization of the Technology Bank is the first Sustainable Development Goal target (17.8) to be achieved,” said Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ’Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General, High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and the Secretary-General’s representative on the Council.

“The Technology Bank is a new entity. It fits within the spirit of the Secretary-General’s overall reform efforts to adapt the United Nations to better support the implementation of the SDGs on the ground.”

Council members, meeting in New York, agreed that in 2018 the Technology Bank will focus on preparing a number of STI reviews and technology needs assessments in the world’s poorest countries. The Institution will also work in collaboration with other UN entities on promoting digital access to research and technical knowledge.

Hosted by the Government of Turkey, the Technology Bank will be located in Gebze where the premises of the Bank are currently under construction and are expected to be inaugurated in the spring of 2018.

The Bank is expected to improve the use of scientific and technological solutions in the world’s poorest countries and promote the integration of these nations into the global knowledge-based economy. In 2011, the Istanbul Programme of Action for the least developed countries called for the establishment of a technology bank dedicated to least developed countries.

This long-standing priority was confirmed in the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal target 17.8. In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 71/251 on Establishment of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.

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Manufacturing is a critical component for job creation

Manufacturing is a critical component of the South African economic policy and also important in creating and ensuring that there are jobs in the economy.

This was said by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies during a briefing to the portfolio committee on Trade and Industry on the state of manufacturing, World Trade Organisation and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) in Parliament.

According to Davies, though the production of digital and changes in manufacturing technologies has led to the decline in the sector, there was still improvement and a very strong linkages and multiplies to the service sectors that still sustain jobs in the economy.

“Though the sector has many challenges and the economy is not performing as well as it out to be performing, the performance in manufacturing sector is clearly doing a lot better than it would have been if we haven’t been doing the things we have been doing over the last few years especially the intervention in the automotive sector, clothing and textile, agro-processing, film and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and others,” said Davies.

Davies reiterated that there was a need to bring about change in the structural characteristics of the South African economy, especially in the manufacturing sector, as well as in the patterns of ownership of participation and inclusion in it. He said government will not be able to achieve high level of more inclusive economic growth as long as we are producers and exporters of primary commodities.

‘We will need to develop a much more tightly coordinated and supportive environment premised on policy and programmatic certainty, if we are to convince the private sector to invest heavily, create jobs and ignite inclusive growth,” he said.

He said tools and programmes like the Black Industrialists and Public procurements have addressed some of the weaknesses and challenges in the sector, and seen important gains in manufacturing and localisation.

Minister Davies pointed out that there are many issues that have been cited around the question of investment confidence and growth in the country and how it has been addressed. He said government has been working on sectoral levels and with the sector to try to build confidence particularly with manufactures.

Davies also said the key focus for government moving forward will be localisation, and that the department’s concern is to always try to do what it can to exert influence and not take decision which will undermine localisation.


Manufacturing is a critical component for job creation

30 Nov 2017
Manufacturing is a critical component of the South African economic policy and also important in creating and ensuring that there are jobs in the economy. This was said by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies during...
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tralac’s Daily News Selection

Updates from the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire:

UN Secretary-General António Guterres‏: remarks at the Opening of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit

Antonio Tajani, European Parliament President: address at the African Union-European Union Summit

EU Bank financing for young entrepreneurs and private sector, as well as key services across Africa announced alongside AU-EU summit

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has formally agreed financing to support more than EUR 230 million of private sector investment across Africa. The new initiatives, backed by the European Union’s long-term lending institution, will enhance access to credit by African smallholders and microenterprises, increase investment in health and education targeting low-income families across West Africa, foster growth of African digital and technology, start-up companies and promote financial inclusion of rural communities in Ethiopia. [EU Bank grants its first loan to African Export Import Bank of EUR 100m to support trade, ahead of AU-EU Summit in Abidjan]

Foreign Affairs Ministers of Africa and Europe convene in Abidjan to brainstorm on joint development issues

The opening ceremony of the Joint AU-EU Ministerial Meeting was held on 28 November 2017 in the presence of AU Commissioners and high officials from the AU and the EU. According to Deputy AUC Chairperson H.E Mr. Kwesi Quartey, “it is only through good governance and democracy and the rule of law that our strategic partnerships can render the relationship truly beneficial, notably that with the EU, can we achieve and deliver on these priorities”.

Europe and Africa are in business! Investing in opportunities at 6th EABF

Speaking at the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum that took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 27 November 2017, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Improving the conditions for investment in Africa is essential to create jobs and promote sustainable development. The EU is committed to team up with Africa and has set up a 44 billion euros External Investment Plan to unlock the untapped potential in sectors such as infrastructure, digital transformation and trade”.

Speech by President Antonio Tajani at the closing ceremony of the Parliamentary Summit

EU-African Union summit to debate alleged Libyan slave trading (The National)

Kenya adopts visa on arrival for Africans (New Times)

“The free movement of people on the continent has always been the cornerstone of African brotherhood and fraternity. Today, I am directing that any African wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to a visa at the port of entry. To underscore Kenya’s commitment, this will not be done on the basis of reciprocity,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said during Kenya’s presidential inauguration in Nairobi. [Cotu hails Uhuru’s directive on free movement for E. Africans (Daily Nation)]

Kenya set to build coast-to-centre highway to boost Africa trade (Reuters)

Kenya on Wednesday signed a $620 million agreement to build a 530 km (329 mile) highway from its east coast to the centre of the country, part of a campaign to boost its role as a regional trade hub. A consortium including a unit of South Africa’s Group Five and the Development Bank of Southern Africa will work with the state.

Kenya: Country hopes to upscale annual fish output from 120,000 to 430,000 metric tonnes (Standard Media)

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said in a gazette notice last week the country plans to increase its tuna fish production that currently stands at 20 per cent, which is the second largest in the world, to tap into the $2 billion (Sh200 billion) global market.

Region in joint efforts to develop cross-border trade (New Times)

Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo officials have committed to work together in addressing challenges hindering cross-border trade in the region. The commitment, which is expected to help thousands of small-scale cross-border traders – especially women – to carry out their daily business smoothly, was made on Monday in Kigali during a regional advocacy meeting on cross-border trade.

Burge: Nigeria Must Tackle Barriers to Trade (ThisDay LIVE)

“We must not overlook the strength of private sector investment because it is not looking for political patronage, it is just looking for trade for commercial growth and that is what we must find ways of ensuring that interested innovative capital meet interested innovative propositions. If you put that together, you would see tremendous growth. One of the things I am here to do in Nigeria is talk to senior Nigerian business men.” [Chief executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Mr. Richard Burge, spoke about the benefits of CWEIC to members in an interview while in Nigeria].

Nigerian, Moroccan stockbrokers sign MoU on inter-connectivity (Vanguard)

Ashon’s Chairman, Ezeagu explained that the MoU was to bring the relationship between the NSE and its Casablanca counterpart enhanced professionalism and accelerated market development in both exchanges. Ezeagu noted that the MoU had provided a framework through which the two professional bodies could strategize in order to realize the objectives of collaborative efforts.

DG Azevêdo details process for MC11 as preparations enter final stages (WTO)

“MC11 is a very important moment. It is an opportunity to: take stock of the significant progress that we have made; deliver wherever we can; and set the direction for our future work. Precisely how far each issue proceeds will depend on the dynamics of each negotiation.”

1 in 10 medical products in developing countries is substandard or falsified (WHO)

An estimated 1 in 10 medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified, according to new research from WHO. This means that people are taking medicines that fail to treat or prevent disease. Not only is this a waste of money for individuals and health systems that purchase these products, but substandard or falsified medical products can cause serious illness or even death.

Today’s Quick links:

2018 will be the year African fintech takes off (GTR)

China, Africa to tap potential of economic partnership (Xinhua)

Families should take a lead role in curbing gender-based violence (UNECA)


tralac’s Daily News Selection

29 Nov 2017
Updates from the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire: UN Secretary-General António Guterres‏: remarks at the Opening of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit Antonio Tajani, European Parliament President: address at...
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