News Archive 2018

tralac’s final Daily News Selection 2018

Today in Vienna: The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe

President Kagame and Chancellor Kurz decided to call for a High-Level Forum to provide a space for European and African leaders, together with CEOs of major global companies, innovation champions, start-ups and other stakeholders, to reflect and act on what needs to be done to secure prosperity and competitiveness on both continents as well as to deepen the relationship in all its aspects with a specific focus on taking our cooperation to the digital age.

Highlights from the  pdf Co-Chairs’ Summary (118 KB) :

  1. The Forum underlined the critical need to step up European private‑sector investments in Africa and highlighted the changes to the policy and legal framework that are needed for that to happen.

  2. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe contributed to achieving the development goals of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, especially those which mobilise and share cross-regional expertise in challenging policy areas.

  3. The Forum focused on innovation and digitalisation and the need to realise the full potential of the digital transformation of our societies and our economies. In our endeavour to promote innovation and digitalisation as important enablers of future development we will work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from the ongoing digital transformation. It is our common aim to improve the cooperation between our two continents based on a fair and equal partnership. [Twitter: #africaeurope2018]

EU and ACP countries conclude first round of negotiations to modernise their relations

The two chief negotiators – the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and ACP Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, Professor Robert Dussey – met on Friday, 14 December 2018 in Brussels to take stock of the progress achieved and discuss next steps. The first series of talks between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) led to broad convergence on the structure of the future agreement and the strategic priorities.

Seventh Meeting of the African Union Ministers of Trade

Some deadlines for further work on AfCFTA policy issues:

AfCFTA Adjustment Facility: AMOT was informed that a study on the Adjustment Facility had been carried out, based on requests from member states, and that the findings of the study would be disseminated in a dedicated session of the Negotiating Forum (NF). AMOT took note of this update and directed the AUC to organise a dedicated session of the NF to discuss this by April 2019.

Rules of Origin: AMOT took note of the progress towards the development of Appendix IV to the Annex 2 on Rules of Origin and directed the Senior Trade Officials (STOs) to finalize outstanding work on rules of origin by end of June 2019.

Trade remedies: AMOT was informed of some inconsistencies in Annex 9 on Trade Remedies and the need to align these with the Draft Guidelines. AMOT took note of the recommendation of STO on this matter and agreed that the TWG on Trade Remedies considers the inconsistencies and report back to the next session of the NF.

Development of regulations benefiting Special Economic Zones: AMOT noted that the AUC was in the process of developing a technical note which would inform the drafting of the Regulations on Special Economic Zones. Amongst others, the technical note would examine the contributions of the SEZ to industrialization, exports and economic development in Africa. AMOT directed the AUC to present the technical note on this matter to the NF at its next meeting.

Roadmap for finalization of outstanding work on AfCFTA negotiations: Negotiations on Trade in Services be concluded by January 2020; [convene] a meeting of the TWG on Trade Remedies and schedule it for March 2019.

With regard to Phase II issues, AMOT agreed to establish three separate technical working groups for Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights and requested the AfCFTA NF to complete negotiations by June 2020. AMOT further directed the AUC to: (a) develop draft terms of reference for each TWG for consideration by the AfCFTA NF by April 2019; (b) carry out the Situation Analysis studies on Phase 2 issues by April 2019. [AU-ECA Joint Press ReleaseAfrican Union Ministers of Trade conclusively reach consensus on all outstanding issues on AfCFTA modalities for tariff liberalization]

WTO outcomes must support Africa’s trade priorities: AU trade ministers (New Times)

A confidential report shared to the trade ministers by the coordinating member of the African Group last week and accessed by Business Times says that the proposed reforms do not appear balanced. “It appears that the ideas for WTO modernisation are essentially designed to advance a set of proposals that reflect the particular interests of some members,” the document reads. The document highlights that the proposals are likely to further polarise the WTO membership. It recommends that, “Africa’s defining trade policy objective is the AfCFTA and WTO outcomes must support, not undermine, our integration and industrialisation objectives”.

At the backdrop of these developments, ministers adopted a joint declaration, urging African countries to prepare a common vision to activate the role of the WTO in supporting African countries to ensure that they affirm their entitlement to integration into the international trading system. The declaration has not yet been made public, but ministers made a number of recommendations including, among others, encouraging members to cease from unilateral trade agreements which they say might undermine the principles of global trade.

The Second Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa:  pdf The Djibouti Outcome (508 KB)  (WTO)

The discussions (3-6 December 2018) enabled participants to engage in informative and interactive discussions on the contributions of trade and WTO Accessions to peace-building. The Dialogue also discussed various aspects of the WTO accession process, including its interface with the AfCFTA, emerging best-practices in the preparatory and the negotiating phases of the process, the role of the Accession Chief Negotiator, the inclusiveness of the private sector and other stakeholders in the process. Participants welcomed the recent progress registered in the accessions of Comoros, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. They pledged their collective support for the conclusion of the accession of Comoros in 2019, the resumption of the accession Working Parties of Ethiopia and Sudan in early 2019, and the holding of the first Working Party meetings of the accessions of Somalia and South Sudan in 2019 following the submission of their respective MFTRs.

Explaining the WAEMU growth spurt: the role of financial deepening and macro policy (World Bank)

Most countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union experienced a growth acceleration in 2011-17. This paper identifies the determinants of this growth by combining country-specific information with the results of a cross-country regression model. Growth was characterized by capital accumulation and driven by structural factors, including financial deepening and infrastructure development. What sets WAEMU countries apart from other African countries is the very sharp increase in private sector credit supporting private investment. This was facilitated by a prudent and accommodative regional monetary policy and improved financial regulation. Pro-cyclical fiscal policies supported public infrastructure investment but led to a buildup of public debt. Going forward, growth may lose some steam, given the renewed policy emphasis on fiscal consolidation and monetary tightening.

Madagascar and the Indian Ocean: Appraisal report for project to develop corridors and facilitate trade (AfDB)

Inadequate development and ageing transport infrastructure are among the main obstacles to Madagascar’s capacity to expand its trade with other member countries of COMESA, SADC and the IOC, and, consequently, to promote regional integration. The country’s road network has hardly received any major interventions in the last ten years, due in part to the impact of the 2009-2013 political crisis. Only 24.6% of the paved road network is in good condition. Consequently, improving transport systems connectivity between production areas and export points (ports and airports) to countries in the sub-region is still a key element for increasing trade and investment within the framework of regional integration. This project aims to lay the groundwork for road network development in Southern Madagascar (currently the most isolated part of the Big Island), which is connected to potentially important ports on two maritime fronts: the South-West with Tuléar Port and the South-East with the Ehoala Mineral Port. Both ports provide the country access to the Mozambique Channel and Indian Ocean countries, respectively. The project will be implemented over 5 years, from 2019 to 2023.

The political economy of regional industrialisation strategies (ECDPM)

This paper summarises the political economy analyses of the regional industrialisation strategies in the COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC regions, looking at these in terms of the three main market failures that national industrial policies seek to address. At the regional level, targeted coordination and ‘self-discovery’ approaches appear to have had most traction, while public inputs seem best provided at the national level. Establishing regional industrialisation as an overarching objective of regional cooperation and integration processes can also help to ensure that regional approaches to, for example, infrastructure development and trade facilitation, contribute more directly to economic transformation ambitions. Regional strategies make sense at one level, given the potential for regional market integration to promote value chain development and support other industrial objectives. However, they largely ignore the competition dynamics between states in specific sectors. Moreover, their implementation is complicated by the fact that mechanisms used to pursue national industrial objectives often contradict regional commitments. The findings suggest that regional industrialisation strategies should be used to complement national industrial policies rather than to replicate or guide them. [The authors: Bruce Byiers, Karim Karaki, Sean Woolfrey]

Yesterday the ECA commemorated the 60th anniversary of the UNECA: ECA Knowledge Management Digest compilations

Volume 1, October 2018: A review on statistical development in Africa – resolutions adopted by the Conferences of Ministers (1958- 2018); Volume 2, November 2018: Establishment and programmatic review of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. Explore resources contained in the ECA Knowledge Repository.

In a first, Vibrant Gujarat Summit to observe ‘Africa Day’ (Indian Express)

To tap the resource-rich and rapidly developing African continent, the Gujarat government in consultation with the Union Ministry of External Affairs is for the first time organising “Africa Day” at the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit where the heads of states, including Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, will be present. “Africa Day is being organised in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs,” said S J Haider, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of Gujarat, while speaking about the event that will be held as part of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit scheduled from 18-20 January. The ‘Africa Day’ event will be organised on 19 January at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Currently, South Africa and Morocco are the two African countries who are among the 15 “partner countries” for the summit. At least 12-15 MoUs are expected to be signed during the event.

Russians need to strategise trade with Africa (Modern Diplomacy)

The Deputy Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Latin America of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Alexander Dianov, spoke about the non-financial support measures for Russian companies operating within the department: “Currently, there are 10 intergovernmental commissions between the Russian Federation and African countries.” He added: “There are trade missions only in four African countries, and if you take sub-Saharan African countries, the trade mission operates effectively only in South Africa. It is obvious that there is something to work on in terms of developing the infrastructure to support Russian businesses. If there is a serious request from the business community, we are ready to expand the geography of our presence.”

John Stremlau: Trump’s Africa strategy should have cast China as a regional partner, not a global adversary (Times Live)

But does it need to be this way? I would argue not. Africa offers China and America an opportunity to demonstrate to the world – and to each other – that their competition can be constructive with Africa playing a moderating influence by brokering an agreed trilateral agenda. We need to explore ways to advance cooperation between Africa, China and the US as a confidence building measure in relations between the US and China. This would obviously need to be designed for the primary benefit of African partners. Collaborative projects that involve the US and China, with Africa in the forefront, have been the focus of a Carter Centre project since 2014. The centre’s many successful programs in Africa, especially public health, have generated high-level trilateral policy interest. Since the Trump administration took over, these conversations have excluded his senior advisors. Nevertheless, work has continued. This has included recent developments which suggest headway is being made. In early December the South African Institute of International Affairs hosted the troika that leads this project: [Related: Yinka Adegoke: Trump’s focus on Africa might be about China but that could be a good thing; The importance of improving America’s investment policies in Africa: an interview with Yuri Vanetik]

Trade Policy Review: United States of America (WTO)

The 14th review of the trade policies and practices of the United States of America began yesterday at the WTO and resumes tomorrow. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of the United States of America.

Today’s Quick Links:

African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Higher Education: update

France pledges support to strengthen trade skill set of developing countries

UNCTAD: pdf Statistical Tables on the Least Developed Countries – 2018 (1.00 MB)

Rwanda will host the second Intra-African Trade Fair, in 2020

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body meets today in Geneva: agenda items

Murky climate deal lets down poor countries

UN Africa Renewal: Towards a safe and orderly migration

World Bank Blog: Digitizing to succeed in MENA


tralac’s final Daily News Selection 2018

18 Dec 2018
Today in Vienna: The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe President Kagame and Chancellor Kurz decided to call for a High-Level Forum to provide a space for European and African leaders, together with CEOs of major global companies,...
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Cooperation with Africa on an equal footing: Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at High-Level Forum Africa-Europe

“We now have to change the way we look at Africa. We must not think exclusively of poverty, the threat of migration and a lack of respect for human rights. What is required now are encounters and an honest partnership,” Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at the opening of the High‑Level Forum Africa‑Europe in Vienna.

It was a matter of enabling African people to live a dignified, peaceful and prosperous life. “It is not only about the political partnership but also about economic cooperation. Politicians can establish framework conditions, but the cooperation on an economic level can set in motion sustainable development in the areas of innovation and digitalisation,” the chancellor explained.

By 2050, Africa would have reached a population of approximately 2.5 billion, and would therefore constitute an important market. “Europe needs to recognise the possibilities offered by cooperation among equals.”

By involving businesses, the Forum could make a significant contribution to sustainable development and concrete cooperation. The Federal Chancellor thanked European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for the planned support for further investments in the African region.

Jean-Claude Juncker thanked the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU for initiating a new partnership with Africa which promotes sustainable investment in the region.

“We are not starting from scratch, the EU has already made available 44 billion euros for the investment plan, of which 37 billion euros have already been committed.”

During the Forum a further two agreements were signed. Small and medium sized enterprises are to be supported by guarantees; approximately 75 million euros will be invested to create around 800 000 jobs. The EU is supporting the African Continental Free Trade Agreement by providing 50 million euros.

“We have to contribute more to making trade in Africa better, fairer and more sustainable” and “encourage” European businesses to get more involved in Africa. The European Commission President added that for this to happen, a “business-friendly climate” was necessary.

In addition, Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, reiterated his demand for a “true Marshall Plan” for Africa, with “massive investment in the private sector”. Such investment could lead to growth and jobs.

“We need to give concrete answers to the youth,” the President of the European Parliament emphasised.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, stressed that the youth should be supported through provision of education and the creation of new jobs: “We have to tap into the potential of the youth and use the available resources.”

Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, pointed out that the presence of numerous high-level political and business representatives proved the sincerity of this Forum: “Together, we are strong. This alliance can be mutually beneficial for both continents.”

Prior to the Forum, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had already met up with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al‑Sisi in Vienna.

“Egypt is one of Austria’s most important trade partners in Africa and the Middle East. Some 600 Austrian companies do business in Egypt, and the untapped potential remains high. Therefore, close cooperation between Austria and Egypt is in the interest of both states,” Federal Chancellor Kurz stated.

The High‑Level Forum Africa‑Europe took place on 17 and 18 December in the Austria Center Vienna. Its theme was “Taking cooperation to the digital age”. The discussions concentrated on the cooperation in the areas of innovation and digitalisation, with a particular focus on the question of how the advantages of the digital transformation could benefit everyone.

Co-Chairs’ Summary of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe 2018

  1. On 18 December 2018, at the invitation of the Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, and the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe was held in Vienna to discuss “Taking cooperation to the digital age”. More than fifty official delegations from member states of the African Union and the European Union took part in the Forum along with almost a thousand innovators and start‑ups from Africa and Europe, as well as established companies.

  2. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe provided a space for European and African heads of state or government, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, the president of the European Commission, the president of the European Parliament, representatives of international organisations, CEOs of major global companies, innovation champions, start-ups and other stakeholders to reflect and act on what needs to be done to secure prosperity and competitiveness on both continents as well as to deepen the relationship in all its aspects with a specific focus on taking cooperation to the digital age.

  3. The Forum underlined the critical need to step up European private‑sector investments in Africa and highlighted the changes to the policy and legal framework that are needed for that to happen. It emphasised the need for de‑risking and blending in order to leverage resources as well as the need to focus on sectors that have the potential for high job growth in Africa in order to harness its youth dividend.

  4. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe aimed at contributing to the ongoing implementation of the joint declaration of the 2017 Abidjan Summit between the African Union and the European Union that was entitled “Investing in Youth for Accelerated Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”. The Forum focused on unlocking the potential of the digital economy for Africa and Europe to create jobs, skills and economic development for the youth.

  5. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe is to be seen as one of the first contributions to the implementation of a new Africa-Europe alliance as outlined by the European Commission in its pdf Communication on a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs: Taking our partnership for investment and jobs to the next level (302 KB) . This Communication emphasises the need to exploit the full potential of the digital transformation of the economy, in particular eCommerce and data economy, and tackling the areas requiring reform in order to improve the business enabling environment on both continents.

  6. Furthermore the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe contributed to achieving the development goals of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, especially those which mobilise and share cross-regional expertise in challenging policy areas.

  7. The Forum focused on innovation and digitalisation and the need to realise the full potential of the digital transformation of our societies and our economies. In our endeavour to promote innovation and digitalisation as important enablers of future development we will work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from the ongoing digital transformation. It is our common aim to improve the cooperation between our two continents based on a fair and equal partnership.

  8. Building on the results of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe, the Co-Chairs look forward to further strengthening the cooperation between the African Union and the European Union in the future.

Taking cooperation to the digital age

  1. During the high-level dialogue and the thematic round tables and side events, the participants shared their experience of and expertise on the current general state of political and economic cooperation between Africa and Europe and in particular regarding the contribution of innovation and digitalisation to sustainable economic development. The participants took the opportunity to lay out their vision of the future cooperation between the two continents.

  2. Following the discussions at the High-Level Forum, the Chairs:

  • agree to further promote innovation and digitalisation as important enablers of our future development, so that everyone can benefit from the ongoing digital transformation;

  • agree to harness any untapped potential for deepening the African‑European partnership in technology exchange and trade, while emphasising the key role of the public and private sectors in building new partnerships;

  • recognise the importance of innovation and digitalisation for economic growth, creating employment opportunities, building resilient societies and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  1. At the invitation of the Co-Chairs, young entrepreneurs from Africa and Europe, represented by African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE), were invited to give their assessment on what needs to be done to enhance the possibilities of young entrepreneurs to do business and to thereby support a sustainable economic development in Africa. African and European governments, the African Union Commission and the European Union Commission are encouraged to recognise the need to foster the development of conducive policies and innovative mechanisms aimed at building the necessary enabling environment and legal frameworks to support private-sector development and, among other things, the establishment of diaspora companies in Africa and Europe.

  2. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe provided a space to focus on specific topics closely linked to the digitalisation of economy and society.

  • Agriculture 4.0: As recommended by the EU Task Force Rural Africa, there is an opportunity for Africa and Europe to join forces to enhance food production and farming. More needs to be done to support the connectivity of smallholders to the internet, increase the uptake of advisory services and extend the availability of affordable e-Agriculture solutions. In addition, digitalisation along the entire food value chain calls for investments into the design and development of technologies that improve the quantity and quality of food. Agriculture 4.0 can raise productivity and make rural employment more attractive to young people, thus transforming African agriculture and ensuring the continent’s future growth. The risks of digitalising agriculture also have to be addressed so that no one is left behind.

  • FinTech in Africa: The round table on financial technology (FinTech) exchanged views on the potential of FinTech markets, critical success factors and on the need for adequate and sensible regulation. The participants agreed that FinTech products deepen financial systems and that some of them can be game changers at the micro-level of economic development. The round table concluded that the potential for FinTech in African markets is huge and that FinTech start-ups should be encouraged in African countries.

  • Jobs for the 21st century: It is estimated that in the next three decades the African workforce will experience an annual growth of 15‑20 million increasingly well‑educated young people. In light of these figures, the discussion reflected on how to (i) support employability and access to productive jobs and (ii) best prepare workforces for the future. Participants highlighted the great potential of digitalisation in this respect. ICT skills are critical to Africa’s and Europe’s future development as well as the creation of an entrepreneurial environment. The panellists evaluated ideas and options for how to capitalise on multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration, including public-private partnerships, in order to learn and benefit from each other.

  • Investing in Start-ups: The round table looked at Africa as an investment case. A pitching session was held with start-ups from Africa followed by a high-level panel discussion with investors, the European Commission and other stakeholders. The round table agreed that it is time to change the narrative of Africa: Africa is a source of worldwide talent and innovative solutions, and offers promising market opportunities. To further enhance collaboration between Africa and Europe, the organisers of the round table have announced a follow-up in 2019 (jointly organised by the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) and the Austrian Angel Investors Association (aaia)).

  • Sustainable Energy Access: Eliminating the energy access gap and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 by 2030 requires a reimagining of energy systems from the top-down centralised pathway of the past to an integrated pathway, with digitalised energy systems and decentralised renewables playing an important role alongside grid improvements. The round‑table session discussed how digital innovations are revolutionising energy systems and offering opportunities for accelerated access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all.

  • eGovernment: Digital solutions provide unique opportunities to guarantee transparency and inclusiveness, as well as to achieve economic growth, increases in productivity and better service delivery. Governments should ensure the best possible use of digital technologies for the benefit of the people and act as facilitators, enablers and regulators, involving all stakeholders through transparent cooperation.

  • eCommerce: Against the backdrop of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the round‑table discussion focused on strengthening eCommerce to create jobs by taking concrete action in the key areas of infrastructure/connectivity, financing/payment systems, access to markets, gender and SME development.

  1. Further important topics discussed at the Forum concerned:

  • Disrupt collaboration: This event focused on African and European public policies to better promote the empowerment of individuals and organisations through networks, agile teams and co-creation and which allow purpose-driven organisations from all over the world to solve local problems.

  • Austrian-African cooperation initiative in higher education and research: The Austrian Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research presented a new cooperation initiative in higher education and research that aims to strengthen Austrian-African academic networks and research partnerships. Participants discussed how to further develop bilateral relations between African and Austrian higher education, science and research institutions.

  • Connecting Cities: As expressed in the SDGs, cities and municipalities are confronted with challenges such as climate change and the provision of adequate living conditions. The panel addressed the challenges and stressed that it is important for local authorities to work together to find solutions to similar problems, replicate best practices and share existing expertise. Municipal partnerships offer a good opportunity for this.

  • Mobilising finance for climate action in Africa: The event focused on innovative financing approaches in the digital age, which have the potential to speed up project implementation and business development in Africa. It explored ideas about de-risking and scaling up climate action projects not only to gather public money but particularly to attract more private investors. Participants learned about market structures, business development mechanisms in Africa and how digitalisation can influence and improve access to finance for climate change mitigation, but also to tackle pollution and improve public health.

  • Connectivity in Africa: Access for households and businesses to basic services (energy, water and sanitation, transportation and ICT) is a prerequisite for economic growth and development. Whilst Africa has made significant strides in improving its infrastructure stock in recent years, it remains significantly underdeveloped relative to other emerging regions. Investment in these sectors is a key driver for job creation in both the public and private sectors and especially among the increasing number of young and educated Africans.


  1. Businesses play an important role in the realisation of the new Africa‑Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. In recognition of this, the Forum was accompanied by a business to business (B2B) platform, where entrepreneurs and innovators from both continents had the opportunity to network and to exchange their concepts and solutions for the digital age. Close to 900 start‑ups and innovators from Africa and Europe, as well as established companies actively participated in the B2B platform.

  2. The Co-Chairs welcomed the launch and the first meeting of the European Union‑African Union Digital Economy Task Force, which was held in the course of the High-Level Forum. The Co-Chairs look forward to the presentation of the report and recommendations of the digital taskforce, which will be presented by June 2019.

  3. The Co-Chairs welcomed the signing of contracts by the European Commission

  • and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on “Deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement) to support economic integration” (EUR 3 million);

  • and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) on the creation of the NASIRA SME guarantee programme, which is the first guarantee agreement to be signed under the EU External Investment Plan. The guarantee volume to be signed is EUR 75 million, expected to generate a total investment of EUR 750 million with the aim of creating or supporting up to 800 000 jobs;

  • and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on the establishment of the ABC Fund which promotes smallholder agriculture through investments aimed at the missing middle. The EU funding is for EUR 45 million. Additionally, the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are contributing EUR 5 million each.

  1. At the Forum, the European Investment Bank finalised the signing of three major financing operations worth about EUR 500 million which will provide investments in ICT, energy and public transport infrastructure in selected African countries.

  2. To further contribute to the common goal of establishing a new partnership between Africa and Europe, Austria will establish a new investment fund for SMEs investing in Africa. The fund will focus on smaller but innovative investments with a high potential for sustainable and inclusive growth and will be managed by the Austrian Development Bank (OeEB). The initial capital endowment will be EUR 10 million. The OeEB will strengthen its focus on Africa and will invest about EUR 50 million annually in private‑sector projects.

  3. The Co-Chairs welcomed the presentation by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research of a new cooperation initiative in higher education and research that aims to strengthen Austrian-African academic networks and research partnerships. From 2019 onwards the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research will provide funding for setting up this initiative and encourages interested Austrian and African institutions to join a network of higher education and research institutions to be established as part of this initiative.

  4. To further contribute to i) collaboration on academic research, ii) cooperation in the field of investment and iii) cooperation in the fields of investment, promoting start-ups and entrepreneurship, three Memoranda of Understanding were signed between the Republic of Austria and the Republic of Egypt by the responsible ministers.

  5. The Co-Chairs welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and private sector partners to launch the “College of Practical Skills and Start‑up Centre initiative”, which will roll out with a pilot project for Nigeria “The Nigerian College of Practical Skills and Start-up Centre”. The initiative will provide training and create jobs for youth, with a specific focus on women. Furthermore, it will support young entrepreneurs with start-up capital and practical assistance.

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African Union Ministers of Trade conclusively reach consensus on all outstanding issues on AfCFTA modalities for tariff liberalization

The seventh meeting of African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) ended in Egypt this week with the ministers reaching an agreement on crucial aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) modalities for tariff liberalization as the push for more countries to sign and ratify the Agreement continues.

Topics that were before the Ministers during their two-day meeting included the roadmap for finalization of outstanding work on the AfCFTA negotiations; designation of percentages for sensitive products and exclusion lists, anti-concentration clause and double qualification; the AfCFTA adjustment facility that will see the implementation of flanking measures for countries that will be negatively affected by the Agreement; Rules of Origin; trade remedies; and African Trade Observatory and E-commerce, among others.

The AMOT took place on the sidelines of the continent’s inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo, Egypt. Africa is seeking to build a single integrated market of over 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of approximately US$3.3 trillion with the AfCFTA. Under what is being dubbed the ‘Cairo Package’, the Ministers agreed on a large number of outstanding topics of the AfCFTA, in particular mechanisms of trade liberalization and opening African markets to intra-African trade.

With Uganda’s Trade Minister Ms. Amelia Kyambadde chairing, AMOT agreed on the mechanism and timing of liberalizing goods on the continent which is expected to help accelerate the liberalization process as an essential step towards African integration and establishing a unified African market.

Products to be excluded from liberalization will represent no more than 3 percent of tariff lines accounting for no more than 10 percent of the value of imports from other African countries – average of a 3-year reference period to be determined (2014-2016 or 2015-2017).

Sensitive products will be liberalized over 10 years for developing countries and 13 for the least developing countries (LDCs). A transitional period of 5 years or less may be used for countries which require so before the start of liberalization of sensitive products.

During this period, tariffs applicable to sensitive products may be maintained, provided that they are eliminated by the end of the phase-down period provided for under the modalities.

Highlighted outcomes

  • On tariff negotiations, submission of the negotiated market access offers are expected for adoption by January 2020.

  • On services modalities, Ministers endorsed the Guidelines for development of Schedules of Specific Commitments and Regulatory Frameworks for Trade in Services. However, the minimum threshold as starting point of the negotiations is referred to the Negotiating Forum and Specialized Technical Officer meeting for further discussion.

  • On services negotiations, submission of the negotiated market access offers are expected for adoption by January 2020.

  • On rules of origin, the AMOT agreed to give a six-month extension to negotiators. Expectation is that they submit the agreed package by June 2019.

  • On trade remedies, AMOT noted some inconsistencies in the legally scrubbed annex 9 to the Protocol on trade in goods. They requested the Committee of Senior Trade Officials (STO) to direct the Negotiating Forum (NF) and Technical Working Group (TWG) to report back on a way forward by the next session. To this end, request was made for the TWG on trade remedies to meet in March 2019.

  • Crucially on phase 2 issues, AMOT requested the NF to develop the Terms of Reference of the TWGs on IPRs, competition policy and investments by April 2019. AMOT requested the African Union Commission (AUC) and technical partners to conduct situational analysis studies on Phase II issues by April 2019. The ministers also directed the NF to complete phase 2 negotiations by June 2020.

AMOT also adopted a declaration pertaining to the latest developments at the WTO:

pdf African Group Declaration on WTO Issues (116 KB)

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Inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair ends, Kigali announced host of IATF2020

The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018) ended in Cairo on 17 December 2018 with the Rwandese capital of Kigali being announced as the host of the 2020 event.

Former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also Chairman of the IATF Advisory Council, made the announcement during the closing ceremony, saying that Kigali was selected following a competitive bidding process that took into account a set of criteria and guidelines outlined for IATF hosts.

In an acceptance speech, Sheikh Saleh Habimana, the Rwandese Ambassador to Egypt, said that the selection of Kigali was an honour and privilege for Rwanda, noting that it was coming after the historic signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) in that city in March.

“Rwanda is a country that was reduced to ashes during the genocide 25 years ago,” he said. “Twenty-five years down the road, we are getting ready to receive the continent. It has been said that the trademark of Africa is Ebola, but very soon, the trademark of Africa will be tolerance, peace and opening of doors to whomever is in need. The people and Government of Rwanda will ensure that IATF2020 is a stepping stone to assist in intra-African trade. Rwanda will do its best.”

Earlier, in closing remarks, Chief Obasanjo said that the IATF had been a tremendous success and had succeeded in making market information available so that investors, buyers and sellers know what is available, where and when.

He described the AfCFTA as a robust framework that will enhance intra-African trade and remove trade barriers, adding, “This trade fair will also play a huge role in establishing contacts and driving trade development”.

Chief Obasanjo encouraged Africans to believe in Africa and in what Africans can achieve, stating, “There will be challenges, but while standing at a crossroads, we have identified the right road in order to grow African economies, actualize potential and fulfil our destiny. We must work together so that we can swim together in progress, prosperity and security. There is no pride in poverty; only strength, respect and pride in economic power and development.

He expressed gratitude to the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union Commission and the Government of Egypt, as well as to the event sponsors, IATF2018 ambassadors, delegates, exhibitors and speakers, for their contributions to the success of the event.

Also speaking, Amb. Albert Muchanga, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, reviewed feedback received from IATF participants and acknowledged that they had been both positive and negative, but overwhelmingly positive. He expressed the organisers commitment to learning from and rectifying any shortcomings.

Amb. Muchanga said that the IATF had been a resounding success, noting that visitor numbers and business deals signed exceeded initial targets and that the number of exhibitors visiting one another’s’ stands was very good. “All contributors deserve to be warmly congratulated and appreciated for a job well done and, collectively, all participants in the fair have unveiled a branch that will grow with a dynamism of its own,” he said.

He expressed satisfaction at the large number of youths exhibiting as entrepreneurs, with a higher number of them being female. “They are moving in the right direction. They are creating and securing their future. I congratulate and encourage you to grow your business”.

In his own contribution, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said that, rather than being an ending, the day marked the beginning of a movement to move Africa forward.

He expressed satisfaction at the many successes recorded during the fair, saying, “We’ve shared trade, investment and marketing information; introduced buyers to sellers and investors to investees; signed trade deals; and exhibitors showed their goods and services.”

Prof. Oramah commended the African Union for its support to the trade fair and said that it was a reflection of the transformation of that institution from a political organisation into an engine for economic progress in Africa.

Sherine El Shorbagi, CEO of Egypt’s Export Development Authority, expressed her country’s satisfaction at hosting the trade fair and commended the success of the event.

Intra-African Trade Fair records $32.6 billion in concluded deals

Deals valued at $32.6 billion dollars were recorded at the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) which took place in Cairo, according to preliminary figures released by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank said that the amount represented the value of 100 deals concluded during the fair. That number might rise as it did not include some bilateral deals among exhibitors which had not been recorded.

The Bank said that the majority of the deals were in sectors of industrialization/export manufacturing ($6.2 billion); power ($6 billion); and financial services ($1.86 billion). Other key sectors included oil and gas; transport and logistics; heavy industry; mining; infrastructure; healthcare; and SME promotion.

The preliminary report also showed that there was a total of 1,086 exhibitors at the fair, with 45 countries having country pavilions. Five hundred and eighty-four companies were accommodated in country pavilions while 375 were in private sector stands. The creative industries had 36 participating exhibitors.

In addition to operating country pavilions, Egypt and Nigeria also had special country days which allowed them to enjoy a dedicated day during which they organized special programmes to showcase the business and investment opportunities in their countries.

The IATF2018 Conference, which ran alongside the trade fair, featured 42 sessions with 152 speakers.

The Virtual Trade Fair platform, which operated during the fair, attracted 700 total registrations, with the rooms being accessed more than 7,000 times and product information and market resources on the platform accessed or downloaded about 2,000 times. About 300 booths have been built on the platform, which will remain active after the IATF.

The creative industries component of IATF2018 featured six workshops and also attracted six mural artists. It also featured eight mini runway shows and an event called “Fashionable Loud” which was a major attraction attended by many visitors.

The IATF2018 was aimed at promoting trade among African countries and at supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

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