News Archive June 2019

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Nigeria and the AfCFTA:

  1. Statement by H.E. President Buhari on receiving the Report of the Committee to assess Impact and Readiness for the AfCFTA. Extract: “For AfCFTA to succeed, we must develop policies that promote African production, among other benefits. Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition. If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid. As I stated during the inauguration of this Committee, many of the challenges we face today, whether security, economic or corruption are rooted in our inability, over the years, to domesticate the production of the most basic requirements and create jobs for our very vibrant, young and dynamic population. Henceforth, we shall ensure that our negotiated agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators.”

  2. Presidential committee recommends that Nigeria sign AfCFTA. Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment, Desmond Obadiah, said the treaty will have positive and negative impacts on Nigeria and its neighbours. “Our report recognises that there will be significant adjustment costs to manage the negative impacts and to take advantage of the opportunities. The adjustment costs will include retraining workers in declining sectors to be able to take up employment in growing sectors, providing capital to business owners to retool their plants to remain operational and attracting investments to growing sectors in order to produce goods and services to export to Africa. The Committee proposed policies, programmes, projects and interventions which may position Nigeria adequately for the AfCFTA. We identified sectors which can act as arrowheads for Nigeria’s expansion into Africa, while efforts are intensified to attract private sector investments to the productive sectors. Our reports shows that on the balance, Nigeria should consider joining the AfCFTA and using the opportunity of the ongoing AfCFTA Phase I negotiations to secure the necessary safeguards required to ensure that our domestic policies and programs are not compromised.” [Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry ask Buhari to sign the AfCFTA]

The EU and the AfCFTA: EU to provide 40 billion euros in grants to help create jobs in Africa

This was revealed by Ambassador Ranieri Sabatucci, the EU Ambassador to the AU, in an opening address to a two-day Horn of Africa AfCFTA forum focusing on the pharmaceutical industry. “As was highlighted by the EU Commission President, Juncker, in his state of the union speech in September last year, referring to the AfCFTA, he expressed the wish that the long term perspective is to create a comprehensive continent to continent free trade agreement between EU and Africa.” He said to prepare for this, economic partnership agreements, free trade agreements, “including the deep and comprehensive free trade areas and others in the countries north of Africa and other trade issues with the EU should be exploited to the greatest extent as building blocks to the benefit of the AfCFTA”. “To support this, a massive support of 40 billion Euros of grants under the new Africa-European Alliance for Jobs and Growth is proposed as from 2021 to 2027 to, among others, attract investments that would create 10 million jobs in Africa,” he said, adding the EU will continue to increase its support to Africa in that regard.

Five Facts on Fintech: Fact No 3 – Sub-Saharan Africa is a global leader in mobile money innovation, adoption, and usage. The region leads the world in mobile money accounts per capita (both registered and active accounts), mobile money outlets, and volume of mobile money transactions. Close to 10% of GDP in transactions are occurring through mobile money, compared with just 7% of GDP in Asia and less than 2% of GDP in other regions. Extract from the report Fintech: the experience so far: Countries in Southern Africa have seen notable increases in delivery of financial services through digital channels, but there is still room for significant improvement. Based on Findex 2018, the percentage of adults who made or received a digital payment in the last 12 months in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia stood at 48%, 33%, 36%, and 19% respectively. While these numbers are higher compared to Sub Saharan Africa median average of 13%, the levels are significantly lower compared to countries such as Kenya at 63%. [The authors: Tobias Adrian, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu]

Botswana: SADC TRF project gathers pace (Southern Times). The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry Minister has now taken a leading role in the development of the e-commerce strategy, which is funded through the EU/SADC trade-related facility programme. The mandate for the facilitation of e-commerce had since been delegated to the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry. “For Botswana, Euro 2 600 000 has been availed to us to implement the various interventions. The project was initially planned to be completed at the end of September 2019,” said Investment, Trade and Industry Minister, Bogolo Kenewendo, when launching the project. She added: “We are delighted that the project has been extended by a further two years from October 2019 up to September 2021 to allow us to complete implementation of all our activities.” [SACU and the Namibian revenue fix]

A rendezvous on Central Africa’s Digital Economy (23-27 September, Malabo). The main objective of the thirty-fifth session of the ICE is to consider ways and means to better mainstream the digital economy into the economic diversification strategies of the sub-region to accelerate its structural transformation, and to pool the efforts of all Central African countries in terms of digital technology, to set up an integrated digital ecosystem. Extract from the concept note (pdf): Twenty-one of the 25 least connected countries in the world are in the African continent, where only 22% of the population has access to the internet. Central Africa is not spared. In fact, it is one of the least connected African regions in the world. Indeed, according to the “2018 Global Digital” report, Central Africa recorded the lowest internet penetration rate with only 12%, behind North Africa with 49%, West Africa with 39% and East Africa with 27% Internet penetration rate. In addition, the sub-region still has serious setbacks such as the lack of a reliable and secure 24-hours-a-day broadband infrastructure, an ICT skills gap and weak institutional capacity to support innovative firms.

World Bank: The digital disconnect of informal businesses. Can digital technologies change the informal sector? The answer seems to be not yet. Informal firms hardly use basic technologies such as computers or even the internet for their business activities. Results from recently completed World Bank Surveys of informal businesses show that only about 1% of informal businesses in Lao PDR and Mozambique use computers for their operations. The figures for internet use are not that different with only 1 in 200 businesses in Mozambique using internet, and slightly higher in Zimbabwe with only 2% of businesses using internet. However, there is hope. Mobile money, particularly in the two African countries, has significantly penetrated the informal economy. In Mozambique over 40% and in Zimbabwe nearly half of businesses utilize mobile money in their operations. Studies have found that formal firms that use mobile money tend to invest more. An open question we wish to explore in the upcoming survey is whether mobile money can make informal firms more productive. [The authors: Asif Islam, Filip Jolevski]

SME Competitiveness Outlook 2019. Annual additional private investments of $1 trillion in small businesses in developing countries would play a pivotal role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This is according to the SME Competitiveness Outlook 2019: Big Money for Small Business – Financing the Sustainable Development Goals, released yesterday by the International Trade Centre. Currently, just a fraction of the $80 trillion managed by global asset managers is invested in small and medium enterprises in developing countries. At the same time, there is great, untapped potential to channel capital held by global funds towards these profitable investment opportunities. According to the SME Competitiveness Outlook 2019, the main factors holding investors back from channeling more funding into otherwise profitable investment opportunities in developing countries include a lack of scalable investment projects, non-transparent investment processes, misguided perceptions of the risks of investing in SMEs, and a lack of knowledge about enterprise capacities. Other key findings and recommendations of the SME Competitiveness Outlook 2019 include:

Landry Signé, Eric Olander: Can Trump’s Prosper Africa make America greater than China and other partners in Africa? (Brookings)

The US should embrace the African Continental Free Trade Area. If the AfCFTA is successfully implemented,the combined consumer and business spending in 2030 will be $6.7 trillion and the continent’s manufacturing sector is projected to double in size, with an annual output of $1 trillion by 2025 and over 14 new million jobs. Currently, the AfCFTA, along with Agenda 2063, is considered by Africans to be the most important tool for fostering their economic prosperity, accelerating industrialization, and providing jobs to the youth. Thus far, the European Union, China, and other partners have supported the AfCFTA, but the United States is still hesitant, which seems to be in contradiction to one of the goals of Prosper Africa: to empower Africa to drive its own growth. The US should instead produce a statement supporting the AfCFTA and should consider strategies for empowering the AfCFTA secretariat, such as capacity building and financing. [Tibor Nagy: How US’s Prosper Africa plan can benefit businesses on the continent]

FOCAC updates

  1. Joint statement of the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Both sides will encourage their companies to strengthen project cooperation in accordance with market principles, in pursuit of economic and social benefits, in line with the actual capacity of African countries, and based on clearly-defined responsibilities. Both sides will further promote the exchanges between Governments, legislatures, political parties, young people, women, think tanks and NGOs in order to foster a good environment for China-Africa friendship and cooperation. The Chinese side is ready to increase technological transfer and training, encourage innovation cooperation and regional value chains development, support African countries in cultivating more technical, industrial and management professionals, and promote people-centered and sustainable partnership between China and Africa. Both sides will take the particularity and vulnerability of Small Island Developing States into consideration while implement the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit. [FOCAC work report: Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong; Keynote speech: Foreign Minister Wang Yi]

  2. E-commerce signals new future for ties between China, Africa. Charles Kayonga, ambassador of Rwanda to China, told the Global Times on Thursday that e-commerce platforms including eWTP can stimulate the creativity and productivity of the continent. “E-commerce is not a magic pill that solves every problem,” he said. “It can’t solve Africa’s deficit in its trade with China. To solve trade issues, you need productivity and manufacturing, and e-commerce can stimulate that, by opening up the market for African companies.” Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined, an international development consultancy dedicated to finding new solutions to African development, told the Global Times that e-commerce is “absolutely the future” of trade between China and Africa. The new channel is improving mutual understanding and increasing opportunities on both sides. “A lot of African countries still have no idea about the huge potential of the Chinese market,” Ryder said. “People still have a lot of stereotypes about China and there is a lack of knowledge about what’s going on in there.”


WTO’s Committee on Trade Facilitation reviews progress of Trade Facilitation Agreement implementation

Members reviewed a record number of over 50 new notifications since the last Committee meeting in February. They were assisted by a WTO Secretariat update on the state of the ratification and notification process, which showed that 144 or almost 90% of all members have already deposited a ratification instrument. The most recent ratifications were from Egypt, Morocco and Angola. The Agreement entered into force on 22 February 2017 when the WTO crossed the required threshold of 110 member ratifications. Several delegations drew attention to outstanding notifications, especially in the area of implementation. Reference was made to an upcoming deadline for the submission of definitive dates for implementing measures requiring capacity building support.

Today’s Quick Links:

The G20 summit, starting today, is a chance for SA to boost foreign investment

Ronak Gopaldas, Anish Shivdasani: Africa needs to find ‘smart cuts’ to shorten its road to success

South Africa: The tricky thing about double tax agreements

South Africa – UAE Business Forum: UAE recognises SA as gateway to the African continent

Nigeria’s non-oil exports to UAE hit $608m in 2017

WTO’s DDG Wolff: The trading system faces severe challenges but none are insurmountable

What to expect from the World Economic Forum’s China meeting (1-3 July)

WCO: New integrity development tool available online

UNCTAD launches new statistical quality assurance tool

Welfare impact of value-added tax reform: the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

28 Jun 2019
Nigeria and the AfCFTA: Statement by H.E. President Buhari on receiving the Report of the Committee to assess Impact and Readiness for the AfCFTA. Extract : “For AfCFTA to succeed, we must develop policies that promote African...
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President Buhari accepts Report of the Committee to assess Impact and Readiness for the AfCFTA

Address by HE. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Formal Acceptance of the Report of the Committee to assess Impact and Readiness for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (Afcfta) on Thursday, 27th June 2019

It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this occasion to receive the report on the impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Nigeria’s readiness for it.

It has been over a year now since the African Union Heads of States adopted the Phase I Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at its 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on 21st of March 2018.

Since then, a lot has been said about Nigeria’s decision to conduct a detailed study on how this agreement will impact us as a country.

Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations. Economic progress is what makes the world go around.

Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.

The AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on us as a nation and on our region.

As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders.

As you mentioned in your report, intra-African trade is only 14% of Africa’s total trade. Our consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the continent.

For AfCFTA to succeed, we must develop policies that promote African production, among other benefits.

Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.

If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this, is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid.

As I stated during the inauguration of this Committee, many of the challenges we face today, whether security, economic or corruption are rooted in our inability, over the years, to domesticate the production of the most basic requirements and create jobs for our very vibrant, young and dynamic population.

Henceforth, we shall ensure that our negotiated agreements create business opportunities for Africa’s manufacturers, service providers and innovators.

The AfCFTA we aspire to have should therefore not only create wealth for investors but also jobs and prosperity for our vibrant and hardworking citizens. The benefits of economic growth must be prosperity for the masses.

I am very delighted to receive your report today and with the time spent, skills applied and energy invested, I am confident that the Committee has been thorough and diligent.

Let me assure you that your report will form part of the consideration in our decision on the next steps on the AfCFTA in particular and on broader trade integration subjects.

Let me congratulate all members of the Committee for the work done. I thank all stakeholders and organizations including our development partners that provided support to the Committee in one form or another.

I thank you.

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Joint Statement of the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the FOCAC Beijing Summit

To jointly advance the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit,

Coordinators from the People’s Republic of China, 53 African countries and the African Union Commission (AUC) held a meeting of Coordinators in Beijing on 25 June 2019.

Both sides applauded the great success and the far-reaching historical significance of the FOCAC Beijing Summit convened from 3 to 4 September 2018. Both sides highly commended China’s policy toward Africa and new measures for China-Africa cooperation underpinned by the eight major initiatives and associated financing totaling US$60 billion, articulated by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China at the Summit, and measures manifested in the pdf FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021) (327 KB) . Both sides decided to work together on the follow-up actions of the Summit under the principles embodied in the pdf Beijing Declaration (418 KB) , engage in Belt and Road cooperation, deepen and elevate China-Africa cooperation, and work toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The two sides have agreed on the following:

  1. Both sides commend the initiative by China and Senegal, co-chairs of the FOCAC, to hold this Coordinators’ Meeting and reaffirm the commitment of China and Africa to implementing the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit, to seeking greater complementarity between China-Africa Belt and Road cooperation and Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU), the development strategies of African countries and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. Together, the two sides will work toward a China-Africa community with a shared future that features joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, common cultural prosperity, common security, and harmonious co-existence.

  2. Both sides welcome important cooperation outcomes and early harvests achieved by the two sides following the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Both sides express their readiness to step up cooperation in such areas as infrastructure development, industry partnering, and trade and investment, to tap into their cooperation potential in green development, capacity building, health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security, and to improve the structure of cooperation for the greater benefit of both peoples.

  3. Noting the profound changes in the global landscape and the complex external environment facing China-Africa relations, the two sides commit themselves to multilateralism and free trade, opposing protectionism and unilateralism, safeguarding the UN-centered international system, and working together toward a community with a shared future for mankind, thus making greater contribution to world peace and development.

  4. The African side congratulates China on the successful hosting of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and speaks highly of President Xi’s emphasis on promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and that of open, green and clean cooperation to foster a global partnership of connectivity with high-standard, people-centered and sustainable cooperation, as such cooperation has provided more opportunities for Africa to engage in international cooperation and improve people’s lives. China welcomes Africa’s active participation in Belt and Road cooperation which will lend fresh impetus to win-win cooperation and common development of China and Africa.

  5. China commends, respects and supports Africa for progress made in the implementation of Agenda 2063 key flagship Projects, in particular the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which marks a historical milestone on the path to Africa’s regional integration imperative.

  6. The African side commends China’s commitment to the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and that of pursuing the greater good and shared interests in its cooperation with African countries, believing that the four-point commitment and the “five-no” approach put forward by China at the FOCAC Beijing Summit speak volumes about the defining features of China-Africa relations, i.e. solidarity and cooperation, and point out a right path for international cooperation with Africa. The Chinese side commends African commitment to continuing to foster a closer relationship based on mutual trust and win-win cooperation. Acting on the above-mentioned principles and approaches, and with a commitment to common, efficient, green, safe and open development, the two sides will strengthen their strategic guidance and deepen the coordination of policies, mechanisms, and their cooperation:

    • The two sides will be guided by the strategic vision of building an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The two sides will fully implement the strategic common understandings reached between Chinese and African leaders during the Beijing Summit, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, and enhance strategic communication and experience-sharing on governance, with a view to elevating China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

    • The two sides will strengthen coordination on policies and mechanisms at the bilateral and multilateral levels. To deliver the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit, the two sides will further improve policy measures, formulate and advance national plans, and provide policy support for the eight major initiatives and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021). Both sides will enhance the institution building of FOCAC, continue to make good use of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC, and welcome the establishment and improvement of follow-up implementation mechanisms on the African side in the next few years. Together, the two sides will ensure efficient, results-oriented and smooth implementation of the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit.

    • The two sides will work for greater synergies in market development, project cooperation and intellectual support. China and Africa will seek greater complementarity among their strengths in finance, technology, equipment, production capacity, human resources, market potential, energy, and natural resources. China will continue to support Africa in building free trade zones, special economic zones and industrial parks, provide assistance in the areas of trade, industrialization, SMEs development, entrepreneurship development, and high-quality data of the digital age, encourage competent and well-qualified Chinese companies to invest in Africa, strengthening partnerships through joint-ventures and cooperation with African private sector, and welcome African companies to invest in China. Both sides will encourage their companies to strengthen project cooperation in accordance with market principles, in pursuit of economic and social benefits, in line with the actual capacity of African countries, and based on clearly-defined responsibilities. Both sides will further promote the exchanges between Governments, legislatures, political parties, young people, women, think tanks and NGOs in order to foster a good environment for China-Africa friendship and cooperation. The Chinese side is ready to increase technological transfer and training, encourage innovation cooperation and regional value chains development, support African countries in cultivating more technical, industrial and management professionals, and promote people-centered and sustainable partnership between China and Africa. Both sides will take the particularity and vulnerability of Small Island Developing States into consideration while implement the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit.

  1. The two sides share the view that China-Africa friendship is built on a solid foundation and growing from strength to strength, that China-Africa cooperation is results-oriented, efficient and fruitful, that FOCAC is running well and setting the pace for international cooperation with Africa, and that nothing could stop the pursuit for win-win cooperation and common development by China and Africa or undermine their determination to stay united in their cooperation.

  2. Both sides welcome continued contribution by the international community to African-led efforts in promoting peace and development in Africa through bilateral, trilateral or multilateral cooperation leveraging the strengths of relevant stakeholders on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.

  3. The African side expresses its appreciation to relevant Chinese authorities for successfully organizing this pragmatic and fruitful Coordinators’ Meeting.

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

The African Group at the WTO has circulated a statement on the Appellate Body impasse:

An extract: “In the last year, we note with alarming concern the systemic risks facing the WTO’s Appellate Body. The WTO derives its credibility from its mandated function to enforce the commitments entered into by its Members. With the looming paralysis of the Appellate Body come 10 December 2019, there will be no credible enforcement mechanism of the rules-based multilateral trading system. Existing rules will be unenforceable and discussions or negotiations on new rules will be redundant. The African Group is acutely aware that an urgent solution is required to ensure the effective functioning of the WTO’s Appellate Body as a legitimate forum where all Members can exercise equal opportunity in enforcing their rights. It is critical that all Members contribute to the strengthening of the dispute settlement system in order to enhance predictability in the functioning of the Appellate Body.

“With respect to DSU reform, the African Group is not in favour of making any linkages to resolving the urgent crisis in the Appellate Body with the broader WTO reform agenda. The African Group reaffirms paragraph 47 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration which specifically excludes the DSU negotiations from the single undertaking. The African Group submits for Members’ consideration amendments to certain provisions of the DSU:..”


UNCTAD’s flagship publication, Economic Development in Africa Report 2019, has been released. The theme: Made in Africa – Rules of Origin for enhanced intra-African trade

Rules of origin – the criteria needed to determine the nationality of a product – could make or break the AfCFTA that entered into force in May, says a new UNCTAD report. The Economic Development in Africa Report 2019 (pdf) notes that rules of origin could be a game changer for the continent as long as they are simple, transparent, business friendly and predictable. The report warns that if rules of origin are made too costly or complex to comply with, firms may instead forego these preferences and choose to trade with partners outside the AfCFTA. Equally, the status quo may prove more appealing; for example, they may stick to trading only within existing regional economic communities, with few incremental gains arising from consolidating the regional market. While rules of origin should be context specific, UNCTAD recommends that they are kept simple, transparent, business friendly and predictable. Also, the rules should take into account the level of productive capacities and structural asymmetries across the broad set of countries, including the Least Developed Countries, which face challenges in making use of preferential tariffs, let alone implement demanding origin requirements. The report shows that some African LDCs and non-LDCs are largely unable to make use of preferential treatment for their exports to external partners. These countries include Benin (preference utilization rate of 4.6%), Burkina Faso (0%), the Central African Republic (0%), Djibouti (3.5%), Equatorial Guinea (6.8%), Guinea (0%) and Guinea-Bissau (0%). Others are Liberia (0%), Libya (0%), Mali (0.4%), Seychelles (0%), Sierra Leone (0%), Somalia (1.1%), Togo (0%) and Tanzania (6%).


An African Arguments commentary by Archie Matheson: The AfCFTA is laudable, but its imminent benefits are overstated. “Highlighting these uncertainties is not a criticism of the admirable goals of AfCFTA, which in the long-term is still likely to have a markedly positive impact on the intra-African trade of goods and services. Rather, it is recognition that in the next few years, and perhaps further into the 2020s, its impact will likely not be as pronounced as suggested by some of its proponents. It is vital that expectations of governments and businesses are managed, and that signatories have the patience to deliver a project over what will be a long time period.”

A commentary on special and differential treatment by UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi: Revitalising trade. Accepting that some form of differentiation in responsibilities could be considered, we need to explore creative, pragmatic and realistic ways to bridge the divergent views on differentiation, rather than seeking to redefine formally the development status of countries. For instance, even if developing country status is by self-declaration, developing countries can still decide on a voluntary basis to opt out of the provisions of SDT or take additional commitments if they so choose based on their capacities. A case-by-case approach on differentiation may prove to be useful, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, so developing countries can contribute according to their capacity. It is yet to be seen how this highly sensitive issue of SDT will be addressed in the ongoing WTO reform debate. A sub-group of WTO members is engaged in new negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce, while WTO members are preparing for the 12th Ministerial Conference next year. Both these events will provide testing grounds on how the development dimension could be addressed in the immediate future, including in the plurilateral context. [Barbados and UAE to host major UNCTAD events in 2020: Barbados will host the 15th UNCTAD quadrennial conference in Bridgetown, while the United Arab Emirates will host the World Investment Forum and the first eCommerce Week for Asia in Abu Dhabi. The two countries will co-chair the events.]


Commentaries on Prosper Africa:

  1. Witney Schneidman, Jay Ireland: Can the US and Africa prosper together? It will be more challenging for the Trump administration to have success on the trade front. For one, the level of two-way trade was $61.8bn last year. This was 57% less than its 10-year high of $142bn in 2008 (Figure 1). Several factors explain the dramatic decrease. First, with the emergence of US energy self-sufficiency, our historically high need for African oil is now zero. On the other hand, the long-term competitive issue for US trade in Africa is the proliferation of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements. These agreements provide EU goods, services, and companies with tariff advantages with more than 40 African countries. As the USTR noted in its March 2019 National Trade Competitiveness report, the EPAs have “eroded” US trade competitiveness with South Africa and the countries of the Southern African Development Community. This erosion will only intensify across the continent as the EPAs come into force, and as Africa implements the new Continental Free Trade Agreement. US-African commercial relations were energized by the US-Africa Trade and Investment Summit in Maputo, but the administration needs to keep that momentum going. The AGOA Forum in Côte d’Ivoire in August will be another opportunity for US officials to show their commitment to the African continent and Prosper Africa. The Trump administration should also consider convening a third high-level US-Africa Business Forum on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September. The previous forums, in 2014 and again in 2016, proved to be major catalysts to US business success in Africa.

  2. Judd Devermont: Prosper Africa’s partial answer to promoting US trade and investment. Prosper Africa was designed to solve a persistent problem for US companies: how to navigate the US bureaucracy and benefit from its various programs and services. As indicated by the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa in 2017, it is difficult to compete with foreign competitors because the United States does not offer a whole-of-government approach. A US firm seeking assistance has to go on a frustrating scavenger hunt, knocking on individual department and agency doors to secure US support. Prosper Africa seeks to remove this hurdle to trade and investment. It is essentially a “back-of-the-house” fix, which many US firms say is welcomed and long overdue. Prosper Africa has real potential, and it is not too late to refine its framework to increase US trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa. At the minimum, it requires greater focus and more attention to dismantling barriers to US investments. Below are some recommendations to ensure a better rate of return on this initiative.

Stephany Zoo: What Africa can learn from China about data privacy (WEF)

After taking a group of 15 entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and other African countries on a learning journey to China’s tech powerhouses, the one thing they were all unequivocally amazed by was the country’s data usage prowess. Across Africa, where the cost of development is high and efficiency is low to begin with, leveraging the power of big data should be a priority. This knowledge and technology transfer can be immediately implemented between China and more developed African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. It is imperative that, rather than pushing foreign data privacy policies on Africa, governments are able to customize according to a country’s growth stage, enforcement resources and cultural context. The argument for gradual data privacy legislation in Africa is clear: that the costs threaten not only to stifle Africa’s innovation, but unquestioningly adopting another continent’s standards might put it at an even greater disadvantage. [Underway in Accra: Africa regional data protection and privacy conference; Conference www]

UAE’s ECI partners with South Africa’s Export Credit Agency (Trade Arabia)

Etihad Credit Insurance, the UAE Federal Credit Insurance Company, has partnered with Export Credit Insurance Corporation, the South African export credit agency to enhance bilateral trade relations between the two countries. The MoU was signed by Massimo Falcioni (CEO of ECI) and Kutoane Kutoane (CEO of ECIC) during the UAE-South Africa Business Forum organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy and held at Africa trade week in Johannesburg in the presence of senior officials from both the organisations. Under this MoU, both institutions will form a cooperative task force to explore trade, technical and economic collaborations that are based on the defined areas of interest. These include SME programmes; investment and globalisation; market intelligence and business practices; insurance, co-insurance collections; and trade shows, events, and forums.

Women join fight against illegal trade at Kenya-Uganda border (Daily Nation)

Authorities along the Kenya-Uganda border are roping in business groups run by women in a campaign meant to make official border points attractive to traders and dissuade them from using illegal crossings. This, they hope, will tame smuggling of banned or fake goods and raise avenues to collect more tax from traders using the revamped Busia OSBP, the Malaba crossing and other border points under renovation. During the cross-border women traders’ conference facilitated by Trademark East Africa in collaboration with State department for Gender held in Busia, Wednesday, it was revealed that women, who are among key stakeholders in cross-border trade, have been avoiding regular borders out of fear of harassment. In the process, they deny the two countries the much sought after revenue.

Kenya: EPZ companies push for power, labour cost cuts (Daily Nation)

Export Processing Zones companies have asked the State to lower labour and electricity costs while also slashing work permit fees for expatriates to boost Kenya’s earnings from the Africans Growth and Opportunity Act. Kenya Export Manufacture Association vice chairman, Thomas Puthoor, says the EPZ has great potential but is held back by inability to attract more investors who prefer neighbouring countries. “EPZs in the country are not willing to expand due to existing costs despite having available labour. Our competitors such as Ethiopia and Madagascar have attracted more investors after lowering electricity cost and expatriate permit fees,” he said. Kema has also complained of high wages in Kenya that he rated at an average minimum of Sh22,000 compared to Ethiopia and Madagascar at Sh6,000 and Sh8,000 respectively. [Central Corridor stakeholders call on Dar port to cut charges]

Today’s Quick Links:

Ghana Economic Transformation Project: $100m to boost Ghana’s Industrial Parks

Wandile Sihlobo: SA horticulture is blooming, but there’s still room for growth

Reuters: Nigerian court case between MTN, attorney general over $2bn tax dispute adjourned to 29 October

South Africa-Nigeria Investment Conference: Brand South Africa statement

Mauritius Revenue Authority training workshop on money laundering and financing of terrorism

Making secure land tenure count for global development goals and national policy: evidence from Zambia

Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia: Global mitigation policies and developing country economies

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tralac’s Daily News Selection

27 Jun 2019
The African Group at the WTO has circulated a statement on the Appellate Body impasse : An extract: “In the last year, we note with alarming concern the systemic risks facing the WTO’s Appellate Body. The WTO derives its...
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