News Archive December 2019

tralac’s Daily News Selection

AfCFTA Ratification update: Great news out of Accra at the 2nd meeting of AfCFTA Council of Ministers is that Algeria has ratified the AfCFTA, bringing the number of countries that have ratified to 29. [Source: @jattamensah]

Visualizing 2020: Trends to watch (Council on Foreign Relations)

Trend 3: Africa’s urban housing crunch is already a serious problem, and without significant investments and policy interventions, it’s projected to get far worse in the decade ahead. As the continent’s booming youth population flocks to cities in search of work, many will struggle to find a place to call their own. A major housing shortfall in African cities could threaten urban health and safety and provoke serious social frustration and political unrest. To head off a crisis, civic leaders should move quickly to introduce zoning, construction, and related reforms that set the stage for smart, sustainable additions to the urban housing stock. [The contributor, Michelle D. Gavin, is a senior fellow for Africa Studies; Mark Lutter: The three trends shaping the future of Africa’s cities]

25th anniversary of the creation of the WTO – 1 January 1995 (Council on Foreign Relations)

So the WTO starts its twenty-sixth year with its future in flux as Washington blocks its enforcement operations and threatens to cut what it contributes to its budget. [Related: 11 December 2019 was the 18th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. It also marks the start of an era in which the WTO no longer has a functioning appellate body to adjudicate trade disputes among member countries. Why is the WTO imploding, and can it be resuscitated before it’s too late?]

AfCFTA implementation: Let’s meet 1 July 2020 deadline, President advises Africa trade ministers (Ghanaian Times)

Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged African trade ministers and experts working on the AfCFTA implementation, to conclude all outstanding issues on time for trading to start on 1 July next year as planned. He said meeting all the deadlines set by the AU Heads of State and Government at their extra-ordinary summit in July this year, would allow the new African market commence smoothly and bring about the much anticipated socio-economic impact on the continent. “Similarly, for the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, African trade ministers must ensure that the institutional structures, that are established to support the AfCFTA, are based on practical approaches that work in Africa. Existing, as well as new AU programmes and projects aimed at supporting trade, investment and economic development in Africa, at national, regional and continental levels, must all be properly coordinated to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, and, thereby, fast track regional integration, economic growth and development,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 10th meeting of African Ministers of Trade and 2nd Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers in Accra on Saturday. It was for stakeholders to continue discussions towards AfCFTA implementation. Various governments, he said had the responsibility to assist this process by fashioning and implementing a comprehensive set of policies that will empower the private sector to achieve its goal. “Appropriate fiscal, monetary, financial, energy, exchange rate, tariff and non-tariff policies must be co-ordinated to enable African enterprises to be competitive, and, where possible, achieve comparative advantage.” [The Gambia hosts technical workshop on National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy]

“I want African nations to have more say in international standards body”: Kenya’s Eddy Njoroge (The Standard)

On 1 January 2020, Kenya’s Eddy Njoroge will take over the presidency of the International Organisation of Standardisation. He will be the first African to lead the global standards body, the entity that sets the bar for products and services across different industries. While he could have opted for an office in Geneva where ISO is headquartered, he has opted to have the ISO president’s office in Nairobi. And even before he sets foot in the office, he is clear what success will look like at the end of his tenure – bringing Africa and other developing countries to the table where standards are made. He expects to reverse a scenario where these countries have been what he terms just ‘standard takers’ but also become ‘standard makers’.

Past ISO presidents have all been from the developed countries, except in three instances where there was one from Brazil and two from India. “We have not had anybody from what you can truly call developing countries. That is why I want to be the voice of the developing countries and get them more involved. We have over 300 technical committees within ISO, which are the developers of standards but we have very few developing countries in these committees. We must sit at the table to safeguard our interests. What mostly happens is that standards are developed and while we, as developing countries have not participated, have to take them when they are adopted as global standards. I would want more countries to participate.”

Nigeria and the AfCFTA: SON approves 128 new standards in readiness for AfCFTA (Leadership)

The Standards Organization of Nigeria has taken proactive measures to ensure there is no blowback, in Nigeria’s participation in the AfCFTA, by approving a new set of 128 Nigeria Industrial Standards. Director General of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Osita Aboloma, said the SON Council has approved the Industrial Standards for publication, dissemination and use by Stakeholders in Nigeria to drive economic advancement by Manufacturers, Processors, Assemblers and Importers of products and services. He enumerated areas covered by the approved standards as including civil/building technology, chemical technology, electrical and electronics, food/codex, petroleum products as well as liquefied petroleum cylinders among others.

Ghana and the AfCFTA: GEPA to begin implementation of National Export Strategy in 2020 (BusinessGhana)

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority will begin the implementation of the ten-year National Export Development Strategy next year, once the document is approved. The document, which has been completed by GEPA, is awaiting approval of the Minister of Trade and Industry and Cabinet. Addressing stakeholders at the 79th Exporters Forum on Thursday, Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, said the key target of the Strategy is to achieve a Non-Traditional Export Revenue of at least $10bn by the end of the strategy’s implementation period in 2028. Dr Asare said GEPA had been able to embark on some strategic interventions geared towards ensuring that the Authority was aligned towards expanding the country’s export revenue base, especially with the coming into effect of the AfFTA. Dr Asabea said GEPA would lead the task of breaking down what AfCFTA means to the ordinary man on the streets, adding that the Authority would embark on a nationwide roadshow to bring the relevance of AfCFTA home. “Otherwise, sadly we will only be a host to AfCFTA and not a successful participant. I implore all partners here present, to rise up to the task when we call on you to come along with us on this nationwide roadshow in the coming months.”

Ghana: Industry captains positive about business conditions in 2020 (Ghana News Agency)

Industry captains interviewed for the Third Oxford Business Group Chief Executive Officers report expect local business conditions to be positive in the coming year. They were also upbeat about the AfCFTA, which would be headquartered in Ghana, and the benefits it could bring to the region. About 100 CEOs’ from across Ghana’s industries were asked a wide-range of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging the business sentiment. Seventy-one per cent of respondents described their expectations of local business conditions as positive or very positive for the coming year; while 68% viewed the level of transparency for conducting business in the country relative to the West African region as high or very high.

South Africa: Trade conditions will decline in next six months (IOL)

Trade conditions in South Africa will decline over the next six months as expectations weakened last month due to power cuts, according to the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci). Sacci’s seasonally adjusted Trade Expectations Index slid from 49 points in October to 46 points in November. The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index, a measure of recent trade conditions, improved slightly by 1 point to 43 points in November.

Job creation for youth in Africa: Assessing the employment intensity of industries without smokestacks (Brookings)

To further assess the employment potential of these industries, the Africa Growth Initiative has initiated a new multi-year research project to estimate the job creation potential of industries without smokestacks in Africa. The first framework conducts a comparative assessment of the employment elasticities for IWOSS and other sectors in the economy. Framework 2 (forthcoming) presents a methodology to identify constraints to growth in industries without smokestacks. Framework 3 (forthcoming) presents a methodological framework to identify the employment creation potential of industries without smokestacks and the skills required for individuals to be absorbed in these sectors. In this paper (pdf), we examine the potential of tourism, transport and telecom (T-T), agro-industry, and horticulture sectors to create jobs. [The authors: Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly, Dhruv Gandhi, Ahmadou Aly Mbaye]

Is African agriculture waking up? (EIF/IFPRI)

Moreover, the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM) 2019 report evaluates what comes from an initial pattern of specialization, and what comes from a reallocation of exports to specific products or specific destinations over the period. Geographical reallocation has benefitted 27 countries, and notably four LDCs. Niger has increased its export shares to China, Malaysia and Thailand; Angola to Chile, China and Peru; Somalia to Gulf countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia, and China; and Liberia to Malaysia and the Netherlands. Sixteen countries, on the other hand, have seen their export performance undermined by negative reallocation. The effect is still limited, but has had noticeable impact on Eritrea with a reduction in export share to Europe and the United States in favor of Egypt; Benin and Burkina Faso with reallocation from China and Thailand to India and Vietnam; and East African countries such as Rwanda and Burundi that strengthened trade with regional partners with limited import demand.

Namibia: 2019 Q3 Trade Statistics Bulletin (pdf, Namibia Statistics Agency)

Recent figures show that the overall value of exports and imports amounted N$19,360m and N$26,153m respectively, hence the total trade (export plus imports) amounted to N$45,513m, reflecting a decline from a revised figure of N$55,025m recorded in the corresponding period a year ago and from N$51,100m registered in the previous quarter. Namibia’s persistent trade deficit is displayed in Chart 1 over a period of ten quarters, starting from q2-2017 to q3-2019.

The largest deficits over the period shown in Chart 1 was recorded in q1-2018 (N$9,289m), q3-2017 (N$8,317m), q3-2019 (N$6,792m) and q2-2017 (N$6,438m). Whereas the smallest deficits of N$1,140m, N$2,612m, and N$3,716m were observed in q2-2018, q4-2018 and q2-2019 respectively. On the other hand, it is not surprising that no surplus was recorded throughout this period. The persistent deficit is mostly driven by the country’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and industrial machinery from the rest of the world as opposed to exporting low value primary commodities such as raw minerals and unprocessed fish. [Download the associated presentation, pdf)

Lesotho: World Bank Poverty Assessment (World Bank)

Lesotho’s poverty rate is lower today than it was 15 years ago. However, with a poverty rate of 49.7% in 2017, poverty remains widespread. Economic vulnerability is high, with more than 75% of the population either poor or vulnerable to poverty. This suggests that most of the population lack economic opportunities and are deprived on multiple fronts. Urban areas experienced greater poverty reduction due to improvements in education and increases in incomes from well-paying jobs, largely in the services sector. In rural areas, poverty stagnated due to slow growth in agricultural incomes, a fall in remittances and vulnerability of the rural population to weather shocks. Despite the growing urban-rural poverty divide, inequality fell as a result of expansion of social protection and an increase in wage incomes among the poor. In spite of this, Lesotho remains one of the 20% most unequal countries in the world.

Angola: First diamonds from Angola’s new pipe to arrive mid-2020 (Reuters)

Angola’s major new Luaxe diamond deposit may start trial mining in mid-2020 and could produce 1 million carats of diamonds worth $90m in 2020, Russian diamond producer Alrosa said. Angola’s state-controlled diamond miner Catoca and Alrosa found Luaxe’s Luele pipe in 2013. Catoca has spent $200m studying and developing it further and has said the pipe may turn out to be the largest discovery in the industry in 60 years. “It will be one of the largest deposits in the world,” Vladimir Marchenko, Alrosa’s deputy chief executive in charge of its Africa business, told Reuters. In November, Alrosa’s specialists finished reviewing a sample of Luaxe’s ore containing 45,000 carats of diamonds. This data will be used to complete the reserves audit, he said.

World Tourism Barometer: November 2019

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 4% in January-September 2019 compared to the same period last year, with mixed performance among world regions. The Middle East (+9%) led growth followed by Asia and the Pacific and Africa (both +5%). Europe (+3%) and the Americas (+2%) enjoyed a more moderate increase. [Modern Diplomacy: The growing power of tourism]

Please note: This is the final Daily News selection for 2019. tralac’s Daily News bulletin will resume in January 2020

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

17 Dec 2019
AfCFTA Ratification update: Great news out of Accra at the 2nd meeting of AfCFTA Council of Ministers is that Algeria has ratified the AfCFTA, bringing the number of countries that have ratified to 29. [ Source: @jattamensah ]...
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tralac’s Daily News Selection

All Africans travelling to Nigeria can get visa on arrival from 2019 (Premium Times)

Other Africans travelling to Nigeria will from January 2020 be able to get their visas at the point of entry. This was stated by President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday at the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, holding in Egypt. President Buhari equally emphasized that massive investment in transportation infrastructure was necessary for African economic resurgence as this would facilitate the African Free Trade Area Agreement recently signed on by the continental leaders.

“Africa should embark on the provision of transport connectivity by enhancing the development of roads, rail, and air links which will ease the free movement of persons, goods and services within the continent. In this regard, we in Nigeria have already commenced an aggressive drive to upgrade our rail transport system and road networks across the country. We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he said.

After challenging year, improvement expected for 2020 (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association forecasts that the global airline industry will produce a net profit of $29.3bn in 2020, improved over a net profit of $25.9bn expected in 2019 (revised downward from a $28bn forecast in June). If achieved, 2020 will mark the industry’s 11th consecutive year in the black. Africa regional outlook: African carriers continue to suffer structural problems of high costs - in large part owing to government taxes and fees - and low load factors. Economic growth in the region has been relatively good and is expected to rise in 2020, but markets are extremely fragmented and inefficiently served in the absence, so far, of a Single African Air Transport Market. As a result, they are projected to show a loss of $200m, similar to 2019. [Nigeria: Operators canvass long-term funding for airlines’ survival]

Ghana: Economic diversification through productivity enhancement (World Bank)

After nearly a decade of strong growth fueled by the boom in commodity prices, Ghana’s economy remains undiversified and vulnerable to external shocks. This report strives to analyze the main challenges for economic diversification from a productivity angle. In looking at a set of high-growth economies of the past, the Growth Report 2008 identified common characteristics of successfully applied growth models - the “ingredients of growth” - to inform policy formulation around the world. However, since independence in 1957, Ghana’s long-term growth dynamics have been mixed and can be divided into three distinct periods. Drivers of the economic expansion of Ghana changed significantly over the years; currently, the service and natural resources sectors provide the main sources of growth. As a consequence of the change in input factors for growth, the contribution of total factor productivity to growth is on a declining path. The structural shift of the Ghanaian economy into services and natural resource sectors comes with two key economic management challenges (pdf). First, Ghana’s shift to services sectors only marginally contributes to labor productivity growth. Second, concentration of economic activity in natural resources increase economic volatility and complicate macro-management.

Markups, market imperfections, and trade openness: evidence from Ghana (World Bank)

This paper investigates the impact of Ghana’s WTO accession on firm-level product and labor market imperfections. The paper exploits a rich dataset of firm-level information to estimate both markups and the degree of monopsony power enjoyed by manufacturing firms. The results indicate that price-cost margins declined while the degree of monopsony power increased in the wake of WTO accession. These diverging dynamics suggest that firms compress real wages to offset loss of market power in the product market due to increased international competition. This gives rise to an increase in the market imperfection gap, which gradually erodes the pro-competitive gains from trade. The paper contributes to the literature by identifying channels through which allocative inefficiencies and misallocation can persist even after trade liberalization.

Promoting SME competitiveness in Botswana: a bottom-up approach to economic diversification (ITC)

Strengthening the competitiveness of Botswana’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will help attain the goals of sustainable economic development envisaged in Vision 2036, the country’s development blueprint. According to a new report assessing the competitiveness of Botswana SMEs (pdf), targeted policies would enable Botswana’s businesses to take advantage of opportunities on the horizon, including the African Continental Free Trade Area, and support the diversification of the economy. The report finds that SMEs in Botswana have strengths that could help them go global, and suggests that policies be crafted to address remaining bottlenecks to seize interesting opportunities. For example, companies in the services sector are found to be particularly strong on skills and innovation. Interventions to improve information and communications technology infrastructure could unlock their potential and deliver dividends for services exports.

With a quarter of the population below the age of 25 and one of the highest rates of youth entrepreneurship in the world, Botswana has the potential to benefit from a significant demographic dividend. Yet, Promoting SME competitiveness in Botswana suggests that youth-led companies trail other enterprises when it comes to management practices. Setting up management training for youth-led enterprises would help address these issues. The report builds on data gathered from over 600 Botswana firms using the ITC SME Competitiveness Survey. Based on the collected data, it provides empirical evidence on opportunities to craft strategic competitiveness policies and programmes to boost exports by Botswana SMEs. Survey results indicate that low rates of certification to international standards may hamper efforts to attract international buyers. Support to obtain certification may be particularly helpful in the agricultural sector, where experience has shown it can unlock exports of new products to new markets.

Tanzania mainland poverty assessment: executive summary (World Bank)

This report summarizes a comprehensive analysis of poverty and inequality in Tanzania and identifies some priority actions if poverty is to be reduced. The first part is based on the results of the Household Budget Surveys for 2007, 2012, and 2018; several rounds of National Panel Surveys; and Demographic Health Survey data. The second part examines the pattern of structural transformation, firm profiles, job creation, and financial inclusion using the rebased GDP figures released in February 2019, plus data from the Statistical Business Register, Census of Industrial Production, national accounts, NPS, Integrated Labor Force Surveys, and other sources. Extract (pdf):

Two-thirds of Tanzanian firms are in manufacturing and trade. About 35% are in manufacturing and 34% in wholesale and retail trade. Manufacturing firms primarily produce food and beverages (39%); textiles, wearing apparel, and leather (30%); and furniture (14%). Only 1% are in high value-added and knowledge-intensive industries. The rest operate essentially in services, especially nonmarket services. Less than 1% are in agriculture; most people working in that sector run their own farms without creating a business.

Despite the predominance of micro firms in the economy, they account for just 24% of employment; large firms account for 28%. About half of Tanzanian jobs (49%) are in medium and large firms, which account for about 4% of all businesses (Figure ES.28). Thus, even though fewer than 0.5% of all firms employ more than 100 workers, they account for about 28% of all employment—their average number of workers is over 370, compared to no more than 2 in micro firms and 9 in small ones. New firms in business for less than five years account for less than 25% of jobs, compared to 36% in firms that have lasted more than twenty years. Though only 50% of firms are formal, they account for over 80% of jobs. In general, firms tend to employ twice as many men as women; the gender discrepancy is slightly higher in small and young firms. The average number of men is two times higher than that of women in these firms, while it is 1.6 times higher in larger and older firms. [Doing Business 2020: Economy profile of Tanzania]

Ethiopia and the IMF: Staff-level agreement on a $2.9bn financing package (IMF)

The Ethiopian government and the IMF staff team reached preliminary agreement, subject to approval by the Fund’s Executive Board, on policies that could constitute the basis for Ethiopia’s new program supported by the ECF and EFF arrangements. The overall objective of the program would be to support implementation of the authorities’ Homegrown Economic Reform Program. The Fund-supported program would consist of five main pillars: Durably address the foreign exchange shortage and transition to a more flexible exchange rate regime; Strengthen oversight and management of state-owned enterprises to contain debt vulnerabilities; Strengthen domestic revenue mobilization and expenditure efficiency to create space for adequate poverty-reducing and essential infrastructure spending; Reform the financial sector to support private investment and modernize the monetary policy framework; Strengthen the supervisory framework and financial safety nets.

Services exported together with goods (OECD Working Party of the Trade Committee)

With the shift towards services of manufacturing firms, the lines between exports of goods and services are blurring. Not only do manufacturing firms rely on services inputs to create value and to organise their activities in global value chains, they also produce and sell services together with goods, a phenomenon described as the servitisation of manufacturing. Companies tend to add value by providing services and aim at offering integrated solutions to their customers. This trend has important implications for trade policy-making as the trade regime for goods and services is not the same. This report contributes to a better understanding of the way firms combine goods and services in their exports by assessing the prevalence of services sold together with goods, using aggregate and micro-data. This information is used to provide a mapping of the manufacturing industries that produce bundles of goods and services with the relevant GATS sectors. This tool can help policymakers assessing interactions between the trade regime for goods and services and can be used to identify where some joint market access is needed. The report then looks at some of the policy implications and barriers faced by services bundled with goods.


In brief:

WTO members meeting as the General Council agreed on 10 December to extend two existing moratoriums related to customs duties on electronic transmissions and the initiation of “non-violation” complaints under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). They also approved the WTO’s budget for 2020.

Jumia: What went wrong at ‘Africa’s First Unicorn’? Vanity metrics, an obsession to list instead of fixing problems, and a problematic workplace culture turned Jumia from unicorn to carthorse.

Chubb takes stake in ATI to boost African trade. Global insurer Chubb has made a $10m equity investment in the African Trade Insurance Agency, becoming the first global property and casualty insurer to invest in the multilateral political risk and credit insurance agency.

Visa, MFS Africa team to take mobile wallets cross-border. The partnership will also include an integration of MFS Africa into Visa Direct, the card network’s real-time push payments, to provide mobile money users a fast, convenient and secure way to send and receive money and remittances directly from/into their mobile money wallets via eligible card credentials.

The Central Bank of Egypt has signed off on a new $600m export credit risk company in a bid to bolster Egypt’s intra-Africa trade links. The new company, which will be based out of Cairo, will seek to help Egyptian companies win contracts for major projects with African governments, which the African Export-Import Bank claims are worth $60bn annually.

India’s total investment in Mozambique amounts to $8bn, representing 25% of the Indian capital invested on the African continent. The figure was revealed in Maputo on Tuesday by the High Commissioner of India in Mozambique during a business conference for companies in the Information and Communication Technologies sector.

The African Union Commission, in collaboration with the African Refiners and Distributors Association, hosted a two-day workshop (10-11 December) to validate “The Benefits of Adopting AFRI Fuel Specifications Roadmap” which aims to ensure superior fuel quality and significant emissions reduction for achieving clean air in Africa. The purpose of the workshop was to meet with the stakeholders and discuss a draft of the study on the socio-economic benefits of harmonized specifications to develop a final report to be presented to the AU for its adoption.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs will hold the 6th edition of the Indian Ocean Dialogue in New Delhi on the 13 December. During the summit, member states will hold high-level discussions on the Indian Ocean Rim Association role within the Indo-Pacific.

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

12 Dec 2019
All Africans travelling to Nigeria can get visa on arrival from 2019 (Premium Times) Other Africans travelling to Nigeria will from January 2020 be able to get their visas at the point of entry. This was stated by President...
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tralac’s Daily News Selection

Gender-sensitive policy recommendations to support women cross-border traders in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia  (UNCTAD)

Recommendations on Enabling Business Environment and Formalization include (pdf):

  • Given the large share of informal employment in sub-Saharan Africa, policy interventions should avoid severe restrictions and instead target creating enabling business environment for informal traders.

  • Registration requirements could be relaxed for informal cross-border traders, for example, through initiatives such as the National Cross-border Trade Strategy of Rwanda, which proposes removing the requirement for informal cross-border traders to be formally registered as a business, and setting up facilities at the border where informal traders can register and obtain an identification number (to be used for tracking purposes, not for collecting taxes).

  • The benefits of formalization should be integrated into any training or awareness-raising initiative to make it attractive for informal cross-border traders, many of whom are women.

  • National agricultural and manufacturing development strategies should mainstream cross-border trade considerations so that new linkages between domestic production and informal (including small-scale) cross-border trade could be established.

  • Procurement practices should take into account women’s role as informal cross-border traders and feature more inclusive processes that encourage supplier diversity by sourcing from women-owned businesses. For example, in Zambia, the government has a plan to put in place a gender equality seal for both the public and private sector, aimed at offering opportunities for women-led firms in public procurement processes launched by government and in the private sector.

Recommendations on policy coordination include (pdf):

  • There is need to strengthen mutual recognition of standards and conformity assessment bodies, and harmonize the characteristics of STRs to help streamline rules and procedures associated with different overlapping trade arrangements to which each country is party (e.g. EAC, SADC, COMESA).

  • One-stop border posts could be tailored further to meet the needs of cross-border traders, for example, by constructing basic shared facilities, and establishing one-stop window and fast-track clearance systems for small-scale traders.

  • National policies could be introduced to oversee all initiatives carried out on cross-border trade, and promote coordination among initiatives and entities dealing with cross-border trade.

  • Relevant gender stakeholders should be added to the list of members of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), and trade and gender should be included among topics to be discussed at NTFC meetings.

African Permanent Representatives focus on climate change and AfCFTA in retreat with ECA

The second annual retreat of the African Permanent Representatives and the ECA ended in Mahe, Seychelles, late Tuesday following two days of intense dialogue on key development priorities that can lead to accelerated development in Africa. Debate on climate change took centre stage as Ambassadors and ECA experts discussed how the continent, in particular small island developing States , can leverage new technologies and research to mitigate the impact and vulnerabilities they face due to their remoteness, frontline exposure and levels of development. Africa has six SIDS namely Cabo Verde, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles, all highly dependent on the coastal and marine sectors.

Whilst their economies are faced with exacerbating climate threats, significant potential also exists to develop through the Blue Economy. The retreat, which brought together representatives from 44 member States, discussed a number of important topics including appropriate response to climate issues, the next phase on the implementation of the AfCFTA, how to stem illicit financial flows and the accelerated actions needed if Africa is to deliver the sustainable development goals by 2030.

ECA to launch online investment information tool in more African countries (Xinhua)

The ECA on Wednesday announced that it is currently working with more African countries in developing the joint online information project, dubbed “iGuide”, an easy-to-use tool providing potential investors with useful information concerning investment opportunities, costs, and applicable laws and procedures. With a view of supporting investment flows and by jointly working with UNCTAD, the Commission has already launched the iGuide projects in seven countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zambia.

The Regional Integration and Trade Director at ECA, Stephen Karingi, said progress has been registered in the area of investment in many African countries though the regional distribution show that FDI is concentrated in a handful countries, including Egypt and South Africa. He underlined the need to change the existing situation by doubling up efforts to attract greater and more qualitative investments flows on the African continent. The director was speaking at the opening of the first meeting of the Committee on private sector, regional integration, trade, infrastructure, industry and technology on the premises of ECA in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, whereby private sector and digital economy are emphasized to boost regional integration of Africa.

UNCTAD’s Handbook of Statistics 2019: Nowcast shows international trade and global economy cooling down

After a continued surge last year, global trade and economic output have stagnated this year, according to UNCTAD’s nowcast published today in the 2019 Handbook of Statistics. Merchandise trade is predicted to drop by 2.4% to US$19 trillion, after significant growth rates in 2018 (9.7%) and 2017 (10.7%). Trade in services is predicted to only increase by 2.7% to $6 trillion, a considerable deceleration from 7.7% in 2018 and 7.9% in 2017. Real global economic output (gross domestic product) is now expected to grow by 2.3% this year, 0.7 percentage points less than last year. “We see consistency across a range of indicators – the global economy is slowing,” said Steve MacFeely, UNCTAD’s chief statistician.

Last year, world merchandise trade increased by 2.3% in volume terms. The 9.7% increase in values could to a large extent be attributed to changes in prices. For example, fuel prices recorded substantial growth, year-on-year, during all the months of 2018, a trend that was reversed at the beginning of 2019, as UNCTAD’s free market commodity price index shows. Maritime transport lost momentum in 2018. World seaborne trade volumes rose by only 2.7%, compared with 4.7% in 2017, and port container traffic grew by 4.7%, two percentage points less than the year before. Extract (pdf): Different exposure to the upswing in trade. In 2018, transition economies enjoyed a boost in merchandise exports (22.7%), increasing at almost two and a half times the rate of their imports (9.4%). Africa also experienced high exports growth (14.7%), combined with a slightly slower growth of imports (11.6%). In the other economic groups exports and imports increased in line with the world average, varying between 8 and 11%, with imports growing slightly faster than exports.

Gaps, limitations and the way forward: UNCTAD assessment of progress in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for LDCs for 2014-2024

Landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) face a number of unique challenges in their quest for development, partly due to their geographical position, and the structure of their economies. Their lack of direct access to the sea makes them dependent on transit countries to effectively link to global markets. As a result, on average, LLDCs have less trade and incur up to 50% more trade costs, according to a study by the World Bank. Furthermore, 26 of the 32 LLDCs are dependent on primary commodities for more than 60% of their exports, rendering them highly vulnerable to external price shocks, and limiting the impact of trade and growth on employment and poverty reduction.

The dual challenges facing LLDCs (remoteness from the sea and commodity dependence) have an adverse impact on their overall development prospects. 17 of the world’s 32 LLDCs also belong to the category of Least Developed Countries. The present report provides UNCTAD’s assessment (pdf) of the progress achieved by LLDCs at the mid-point of the implementation period of the VPoA in areas within its mandates. It identifies the key challenges ahead, together with policy recommendations for the way forward. A particular focus is placed on Priorities 3 (International Trade and Trade Facilitation) and 5 (Structural Transformation). [Companion UNCTAD analysis: eTrade Readiness Assessments of Land-Locked Developing Countries]

Ghana: Exploring the revenue management and producer pricing mechanism within the cocoa sector (Imani Africa)

Cocoa has played a pivotal role in the economic development of Ghana. It provides employment across the cocoa value chain, serves as an export earner, provides interim liquidity support for the management of the foreign exchange, contributes to growth of the economy and ultimately helps reduce poverty. In spite of these benefits, the sector is bedevilled with challenges such as low yield gap, disease and pest infestation, producer incentivization vis-à-vis government deficit and dissatisfaction from cocoa farmers. Against this background, this report aims to explore the revenue management and producer pricing mechanism within Ghana’s cocoa sector.

Using a mixed methods approach for the core part of the report, a number of tools including, variance analysis, econometric analysis, survey analysis and interviews have been leveraged for analysing the data throughout the study, in answering the core research questions. There are four key objectives of the study (pdf): to understand the current cocoa pricing mechanism; to examine the nexus between cocoa prices and cocoa production in Ghana; to explore the perspectives of stakeholders in the cocoa sector; and to examine the revenue and expenditure management of COCOBOD.

Economic Openness: Ghana case study (Legatum Institute)

The report reveals that Ghana’s overall rank in the Global Index of Economic Openness is 91st. Its strongest performance is in Governance (55th), and weakest in Market Access and Infrastructure (115th).

Ghana’s Market Access and Infrastructure (115th) is improving, but at a slower rate than its peers. While Transport and Import Tariff Barriers have both deteriorated over the past decade, there have been improvements in Communications, Resources, and Border Administration.

Ghana’s Investment Environment (106th) has deteriorated over the last 10 years, although it has seen improvements in Property Rights and the Financing Ecosystem.

Ghana has improved its Enterprise Conditions (69th) since 2009 but not changed its global rank. Its Environment for Business Creation is relatively strong, ranking 53rd in the world, and both Burden of Regulation and Labour Market Flexibility have improved.

Governance (55th) is Ghana’s highest-ranking pillar, putting it among the leaders in Africa and reflecting the strong democratic traditions built up under the 1992 constitution. However, it has seen a decline in Government Integrity and Government Effectiveness over the last decade.

Leading through consensus: South Africa chairs the AU (pdf, ISS)

Nearly 18 years after former president Thabo Mbeki chaired the AU, South Africa is officially taking over at the helm of the pan-African institution in February 2020. South Africa will not only assume the chair of the AU, but it will also assume this position for the African Peer Review Mechanism as well as the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change. During its chairship of the AU, South Africa will have a mandate to speak on behalf of the continent. As it will also remain a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, as well as a member of the G20 and the BRICS groupings, South Africa will also be the voice of Africa in those fora. This will give South Africa a formidable platform to take continental priorities forward and align them with its own priorities. This includes boosting its economy and those across the continent through the AfCFTA. South Africa can achieve a lot during its presidency but it has to muster the necessary diplomatic capacity and clout to do so. [The authors: Liesl Louw-Vaudran, Mohamed M Diatta]

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

11 Dec 2019
G ender-sensitive policy recommendations to support women cross-border traders in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia (UNCTAD) Recommendations on Enabling Business Environment and Formalization include (pdf): Given the large share of...
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tralac’s Daily News Selection

Key AfCFTA meetings begin on Monday in Accra, culminating in the African Trade Ministerial meeting this weekend (Ghana News Agency)

Ghana, under the auspices of its Ministry of Trade and Industry, will today start hosting series of meeting for African Trade Ministers and Senior Trade Officials to advance the cause of the AfCFTA. Meeting of the AfCFTA Negotiating Forum, will begin the seven-day meetings to be held at the Accra International Conference Centre. The three-day meeting, will be followed by the meeting of the Committee of Senior Trade Officials (12-13 December). The African Ministers of Trade Meeting and the AfCFTA Council of Ministers Meeting will then follow from the 14-15 December.

17th African Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum will seek to finalise outstanding work on Phase 1 negotiations which deal with the trade in goods and services protocols as well as dispute settlement mechanisms. Technical Working Groups on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights will also be established. The report of the Negotiating Forum will form the agenda for the meeting of the Senior Trade Officials. At the Council of Ministers Meeting, attention will be paid to the consideration of the report of the meeting of the Senior Trade Officials as well as consideration of work plans and budgets of the interim AfCFTA Secretariat and the permanent Secretariat.

AfCFTA Business Index: methodology validation workshop opens in Addis (UNECA)

Over the course of two days, pan-African trade experts will meet to validate the methodology to produce the African Continental Free Trade Area Country Business Index at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. The aim of the index is to assess the extent to which businesses across Africa find trading across borders in Africa challenging, and to identify the main barriers to trade that they experience. The index will allow for a ranking of this data across countries and provide an evaluation of the developmental impact of the AfCFTA. Views will be collected through a survey administered through regional and local chambers of commerce and industry. “The index is an instrument that provides business perceptions of the country-specific challenges in their own country, and how these country challenges impact on firms’ ability to trade across borders in Africa” says Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor at the ECA.


Starting on Tuesday, in Addis Ababa: 3rd Ordinary Session of the STC on Education, Science and Technology

The third STC-EST will elect a new Ministerial Bureau for the next two-year tenure, and specifically: Update the Ministers on the status of ongoing programmes and share best practices among Member States to enhance intra-Africa collaboration in Education; Science, Technology and Innovation; Take stock of the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) as well as Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) from Member States, the AUC and the partners; Advocate for increased investments in education, science, technology and innovation in Africa; Promote quality assurance and harmonisation of higher education; Contribute to the Draft Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa Education; Contribute to the Chairperson’s Youth empowerment Initiative: 1millionBy2021; Agree on decision/recommendations, for consideration by the AU 2020 Summit. Profiled submissions on Contextualising Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa – 2024:

  1. pdf Africa’s STI Implementation Report 2014-2019 (3.40 MB)

  2. pdf Five-Year Science, Technology and Innovation Plan of Action 2019-2024 (1.94 MB)

Human Development Report 2019: As Africa gains development ground, new inequalities emerge (UNDP)

African countries have made significant strides in advancing human development, gaining ground on primary education and health. But a new generation of inequalities is opening up that, left unchecked, threatens to undermine further progress and make it harder for those already behind to catch up. So finds the UNDP in its 2019 Human Development Report, titled Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st century. This Human Development Report, which pioneers a more precise way to measure countries’ socioeconomic progress, says that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing, with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. New inequalities are becoming more pronounced, particularly around tertiary education, and the seismic effects of technology and the climate crisis. “This is the new face of inequality,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “And, as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions.”

For the first time this year, an African country – Seychelles – has moved into the very high human development group. Others are rising in the ranks as well. Four countries – Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius and South Africa – are now in the high human development group, and 12 countries – Angola, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – are in the medium human development group. Botswana also enjoys the region’s highest increase in HDI rank between 2013 and 2018, rising 11 places in the rankings.

The spending challenge for reaching the SDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa: lessons learned from Benin, Rwanda (IMF)

This paper documents the additional spending that is required for sub Saharan Africa to achieve meaningful progress in SDGs by 2030. Benin and Rwanda are presented in detail through case studies. The main lessons are: average additional spending across SSA is significant, at 19% of GDP in 2030; countries must prioritize their development objectives according to their capacity to deliver satisfactory outcomes; financing strategies should articulate multiple sources given the scale of additional spending; and strong national ownership of SDGs is key and should be reflected in long-term development plans and medium-term policy commitments. Extract:

Benin and Rwanda are two low-income SSA countries with spending estimates comparable to the SSA average; they demonstrate the multifaceted challenges faced by SSA countries. Benin and Rwanda spending estimates are respectively 21% and 19% of GDP in 2030. Despite facing challenges of comparable size, Benin and Rwanda have different current development outcomes reflecting differences in economic endowment, economic policies, and resilience to various shocks, and calling for different investment priorities in the future. Indeed, Benin has been a stable country since the 1990s while Rwanda went through some periods of fragility in early 1990s which translated into Benin having a GDP per capita 1.7 times higher than Rwanda’s during the same period. However, since the mid-1990s, Rwanda has managed to record a sustained growth stronger than Benin’s, reducing the GDP per capita gap between the two countries to a factor of 1.1. In addition, while Benin is currently on par with SSA average along key state capacity and development indicators, Rwanda overperforms relative to other SSA peers (Table 1). Beyond these differences, the two countries share some characteristics: i) they show strong ownership of the UN goals with national development plans well-aligned with the SDGs, and ii) they are experiencing important development progress even if large gaps remain. [The authors: Delphine Prady, Mouhamadou Sy]

ECOWAS single currency not feasible in 2020: Nigeria’s finance minister (Punch)

The 2020 proposed date for the commencement of a single-currency regime for West Africa may not be realised as many countries within the region have yet to meet the criteria for the monetary union. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who confirmed the development in Abuja, said only Togo had met all the convergence criteria. She spoke on Friday at the opening session of a meeting of ECOWAS committee of ministers of finances and governors of central banks on the currency programme. Zainab said: “We need to address in an optimal way the challenges ahead of us. This meeting is important because we are at a crossroads. The recommendations we make will have significant implications on the monetary policies we undertake.”

Related updates:

  1. ECOWAS Presidents to meet on single currency regime on 21 December

  2. Teslim Shitta-Bey: Why the ECOWAS “ECO” will not work, for now

  3. President Brou restates ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to the single currency project


Nigeria: CRFFN, agents blame customs for border closure (ThisDay)

The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and customs agents in the country have attributed the decision of the federal government to shut Nigeria’s land borders to incompetence by the Nigeria Customs Service in carrying out its statutory duties at the borders. They stated this at a one-day interactive session tagged, “Federal Government Land Border Closure: Freight Forwarders Perspective,” organised by the CRFFN Governing Council Committee on Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance held in Lagos. The Registrar/Chief Executive of the Council, Samuel Nwakohu, alleged that the cause of the problem leading to closure of the borders was a system failure especially on the part of Customs. The CRFFN, however, appealed to the federal government to open land borders to legitimate goods. Nwakohu, in a chat with newsmen on the sidelines of the meeting said the call was not intended to encourage criminality, saying that compliant goods should be allowed into the country to be traded across the borders.

South Africa: Task team established to urgently address congestion issues at the Port of Cape Town (GCIS)

We are concerned by the significant issues at the Port of Cape Town particularly with regards to congestion at the container terminal. These issues are impacting on the costs and efficiencies of the logistics and export industries, and are impeding economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape. To address these issues, on Thursday, 5 December the Department of Economic Development and Tourism convened a meeting at the Cape Town International Convention Centre with key stakeholders representing the entire Port logistics chain, from exporters and importers, to trucking companies, the respective divisions of Transnet, Navis, SARS and shipping lines, as well as representatives from the City of Cape Town. At the meeting the Department of Economic Development and Tourism presented on the root causes of congestion, including institutional matters, port capacity, and the traffic flow of trucks carrying containers into and out of the Port. Selected representatives from the port logistics chain, including Transnet National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals, Navis, and two shipping lines were invited to present their analysis and recommendations on the congestion issues, and further discussion was held with all stakeholders to achieve broad consensus.

The urgency of addressing the congestion issues at the Port of Cape Town was agreed by all, and a task team was nominated, comprising of ten senior representatives from the entire port logistics chain. To demonstrate this urgency, I have requested the task team to meet within two weeks and to implement the first remedial actions within three months. The task team have 10 priority issues to deal with, ranging from a shortage of cranes to traffic flows and effective communications throughout the logistics chain. Synchronisation of working hours in the logistics chain will also be addressed. [Note: Statement issued by Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier]

The Abidjan Declaration: Advancing social justice – shaping the future of work in Africa (ILO Africa)

In the period leading up to the 15th African Regional Meeting, we request the Office to provide constituents with enhanced support to achieve the above mentioned priorities by developing an implementation plan that will be presented to the 338th Session (March 2020) of the Governing Body. The implementation plan will contain the following: specific and concrete actions for creating an enabling environment for sustainable business; measures to enhance productivity growth; comprehensive policy guidance and technical support for skills development; comprehensive measures for removing policy and regulatory barriers to formalization, in line with Recommendation No. 204, and enhancement of competitiveness and sustainability of formal sector enterprises; comprehensive measures for progressive extension of social protection coverage; measures to address gender inequality and discrimination; comprehensive measures for a just transition; capacity building of social partners; and decent work and reduction of inequalities.

Strengthening synergies between the ILO and institutions in Africa, namely the African Union Commission, regional economic communities, and the three labour administration training centres (African Regional Labour Administration Centre, Centre régional africain d’administration du travail, and Arab Centre for Labour Administration) as these play a supportive role in the implementation of the African Decent Work Agenda priority areas. [Conference documentation can be accessed here]

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

9 Dec 2019
Key AfCFTA meetings begin on Monday in Accra, culminating in the African Trade Ministerial meeting this weekend (Ghana News Agency) Ghana, under the auspices of its Ministry of Trade and Industry, will today start hosting series...
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