Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: M. Johannsen | Fotolia.com

COMESA’s Intergovernmental Committee starts Policy Week proceedings (COMESA)

The Intergovernmental Committee that brings together Permanent/Principal Secretaries was the first to kick off with a call to member States to enhance their capacities to produce goods and services that have a high technology content in order to scale up industrialization. The PSs meeting which concludes on Wednesday, will receive progress reports of various technical committees and COMESA institutions. Each Member State will have an opportunity to report on its status of implementation of COMESA Programmes. “Has the Inter-Governmental Committee lived to its promise by developing programs and action plans? Perhaps the Committee has partially developed programs but I doubt that it has developed action plans and action plans for whom,” posed the Secretary General.

East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference and Exhibition (10-13 October, Nairobi)

AU’s Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa (11-15 October, Lomé)

Appointments: (i) Ethiopia (through its Minister of Finance, Abdulaziz Mohammed) is the incoming chair of the G-24 (ii) Zimbabwe’s Andrew Ndaamunhu Bvumbe has been elected the new ED of the World Bank, Africa Group 1 Constituency

CFTA-Negotiating Forum: update (UNECA)

The 3rd meeting of CFTA-Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF), held from the 3-7 October 2016 at the headquarters of the AUC in Addis Ababa, focussed mainly on procedural matters. There were two main outcomes: (i) Adoption of the TORs of technical working groups on rules of origin; trade remedies; customs procedures and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; and technical barriers to trade and non-tariff barriers. (ii) Discussion of the draft modalities for tariff negotiations and trade in services negotiations. The discussions built upon the preliminary inputs made by the CFTA-NF during their second meeting held in May 2016. Further work is required on the modalities and the expectation is that the CFTA-NF will meet in late November to review and adopt them. The next meeting of the CFTA-NF is tentatively scheduled for the end of November. [tralac discussion, Ashly Hope: ‘Sector development, regulation and the CFTA: a look at the financial sector’]

African Continental Free Trade Agreement and Human Rights: roundtable (21 October, New York University School of Law)

Since July 2016 (David Luke, James Gathii, Kim Burnett, Susan Mathews) have conducted a full HRIA of the CFTA which will explore three case studies: (i) how the trade liberalization likely to be integrated into the CFTA, might support and/or undermine the right to food and livelihoods; (ii) how increased intra-regional trade from the CFTA is likely to adversely impact the agro-industry sector and how to ensure the right to an adequate standard of living; and (iii) how the CFTA will affect informal cross-border traders across Africa, and women in particular, who already face many risks and challenges.

African Union Border Programme and measures for its consolidation: ministerial declaration (AU)

We, the Ministers of Member States of the AU responsible for inter-state borders held our meeting on African Border Issues in Addis Ababa on 6 October to review the implementation of the African Union Border Programme, based on the presentation and assessment of the achievements made by the AUC and on the report of the national experts, who met from 3-5 October...hereby adopt the following:

Recognize that the deadline of 2017, set by the Assembly of the Union in July 2011 in Malabo, for the delimitation and demarcation of all African inter-state borders will not be achieved. Recommend the extension of the deadline for the delimitation and demarcation of the inter-state borders of Africa from 2017 to 2022. Take note that the Niamey Declaration recommended finalizing the Draft Integrated Border Management Strategy, which is now titled the Draft AU Border Governance Strategy. We agree that the Draft should be sent to Member States for thorough review ahead of a validation meeting suggested to take place in the first quarter of 2017. Urge the Member States to develop and implement a national policy on borders and to set up and sustain a national body responsible for border issues, if not yet done, and reiterate the importance of Member States to jointly request the AUC’s assistance in the implementation of AUBP activities.

South Africa-Namibia boundary update: ‘The Heads of State also welcomed the signing of the Terms of Reference of the Joint Committee of Experts on the Orange River Boundary’ (GCIS)

Anzetse Were: ‘How economic geography has conspired to keep Africa down’

2017 World Border Security Congress (21-23 March, Casablanca)

AU-China agreement on Africa’s High-Speed Railway Network (AU)

A number of milestones are expected to be realised in the next five years including: (i) The development and agreement on relevant laws and regulations regarding railway cooperation. (ii) The establishment of a Project Implementation Unit by the AUC in the next 6 to 12 months. (iii) Collaboration in supporting and facilitating cooperation between African and Chinese enterprises, particularly, in local enterprise supplier development and development of advanced manufacturing across the African continent; transfer of technology, capacity-building for local manufacturing and content, as well as education and the development of prerequisite skills. (iv) The Chinese Government will also lead the formation of a Chinese group for Sino-Africa cooperation in railway and high-speed railway, which will integrate resources of financing institutions, railway construction companies and railway operation management companies. [SA manufacturers urged to take on African rail projects]

African Shippers’ Council seeks solutions to trade, transport challenges (Nigeria Today)

At a two-day special sub-regional meeting held in Abuja at the weekend (on the theme ‘Transport infrastructure development and maintenance: funding options and trade policies’), participants listed transport infrastructure deficit as the key factor slowing down Africa’s socio-economic growth. They also frowned at the hellish experience of shippers where goods originating from an African country will have to be routed through Asia before getting to another African nation.

Abebe Aemro Selassie (Director for the African Department): transcript of a press briefing (IMF)

You raised an existential question about Africa. I think that we should avoid generalization about what Africa needs. I think what is needed varies from country to country. So, it’s a difficult question to answer. But as a whole, do some African countries continue to need aid, official assistance? Absolutely. Some countries need this assistance to be in the form of temporary type support. In other cases, for the poorest countries, you need more grants, concessional type financing. So, the support is needed, but equally important, I think countries building the revenue mobilization -- I mean, as I mentioned in my opening in my remarks earlier, I think countries developing their tax base is going to be imperative.

Roberto Azevedo: ‘Towards a more inclusive trading system’ (WTO)

Actually trade is a relatively minor cause of job losses. The evidence shows that well over 80% of job losses in advanced economies are not due to trade, but to increased productivity through technology and innovation. Output in the US manufacturing sector continues to rise to record levels. But technological advances have meant that fewer workers are needed to produce more goods. And where jobs are created, today’s vacancies require a much more advanced set of labour skills. And this is not just a rich-country problem. An ILO study on Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand found that 56% of jobs are at high risk of automation. And that’s just on average. In some sectors over 80% of jobs are at risk. In Japan, there are 315 robots per 10,000 workers. In China that number is only 36 — but it is rising fast. In the US, the number is 164, which is still relatively low. But it is set to go up! This is the real economic revolution that is happening today. Many will find it unsettling. And that is completely understandable. But, like trade, technological progress is indispensable for sustained growth and development. The answer is not to reject these forces. Quite the opposite: we must embrace them and learn to adapt. [Text of address to National Press Club, Washington] [Vivek Dehejia: ‘Jagdish Bhagwati and trade issues today’ (LiveMint)]

Multilateral development banking for this century’s development challenges: five recommendations to shareholders of the old and new MDBs (pdf, CGD)

Second, most developing countries now have access (whether domestically or internationally) to the kinds of advisory service, policy ideas, and practical examples of good practice that seemed to be a near monopoly of the MDBs for much of the late 20th century. On economic and social policy issues, developing countries today are less reliant on - and perhaps also, given the success of alternative models reflected in China, Singapore, and Rwanda, less confident in - the single-recipe approaches they see as having dominated the creditor-influenced legacy multilaterals. The MDBs are now one among many sources of ideas and advice competing for attention in the developing world, rather than the dominant source.

The legacy MDBs have adapted too slowly and minimally to the increasing economic role and growing sophistication and capability of their borrowers and to today’s development challenges. For example, they continue to rely predominantly on lending to sovereigns, except at the EBRD, where an emphasis on private sector development was established at the founding. Their portfolio of cross-border loans is tiny in relation to needs, particularly for regional infrastructure, where there is greater complexity in negotiating an allocation of debt service among borrowers. And they rarely exploit the full range of instruments they have - grants, equity, guarantees, and policy leverage - to crowd in sustainable private investment. [Response by heads of Regional Development Banks]

Development finance institutions come of age (CSIS)

The report is the result of a research project undertaken by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Overseas Development Institute. The report builds on what was originally a series of four essays that were the result of consultations and research undertaken by CSIS and ODI. This work included a series of working group meetings that drew together DFIs representatives - past and present - private-sector actors, development policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Development Committee Communiqué (World Bank)

We value the commitment to a more efficient and agile WBG that follows a risk-based approach, upholds standards, exploits synergies across its institutions, and has a culture that supports these shifts. Resources should be strategically deployed to meet global and client needs and targeted to areas of the world that most need funding and have least access to capital, with a tailored value proposition to the full range of clients. The WBG should strengthen the knowledge agenda, including through enhanced monitoring, learning and evaluation frameworks and South-South flows and help enhance countries’ crisis preparedness, prevention and response frameworks. We expect a progress update on the Forward Look with clear results indicators at the 2017 Spring Meetings. [G-24 Ministers: statement] [Statement by Multilateral Development Banks Delivering on the 2030 Agenda]

Southern Africa Business Forum: update (SADC)

The institutional partners for the Southern Africa Business Forum met to complete the debriefing of the first-ever Industrialization Week and the second SABF conference which were both held in Swaziland in August 2016, as well as discuss other notable activities. Ms Chen noted that there were a number of SABF activities lined up in the near future such as the workshop of the private sector and senior officials tentatively scheduled for November 2016 to provide input on the Action Plan for the SADC Industrialization Strategy. She also noted that the Ministers of transport and ICT meeting is also scheduled in October 2016 and is intended for the approval of SADC priority infrastructure projects; while in February/March 2017, the Ministerial Task Force Responsible for Regional Economic Integration will meet to finalise the Action Plan on the Industrialization Strategy for submission to Council and the Extra Ordinary Summit. The meeting also discussed proposals on how to fund the SABF in a sustainable manner.

Zimbabwe: August exports up 10% (The Chronicle)

The country’s exports in August increased by an average 10% to $202,6m, from $183,7m the previous month, latest data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) shows. Although the figures show an improvement in the value of exports in August, Zimbabwe still recorded a trade deficit as the value of imports during the period under review stood at $443,9m.

AUC-Uganda African Mining Vision conference: update (AU)

The AUC and the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, which holds the Chair of the Association of Eastern African Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, hosted from 5-6 October 2016, a high level conference in Kampala,under the theme "Attracting exploration investment to Uganda’s mineral sector to realize its maximum value”. The conference brought together Directors of National Geological Surveys and the captains of industry from the Eastern African region with particular focus on developing a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework for mobilizing exploration investments.

Passenger growth slowed in August (IATA)

August international passenger demand rose 4.7% compared to August 2015. All regions recorded increases, but growth was dominated by airlines in the Middle East. Capacity climbed 6.5%, causing load factor to slide 1.4 percentage points to 83.9%. African airlines’ traffic climbed 1.8% in August. International growth has tracked sideways since the start of the year, reflecting challenges in the major economies. Capacity rose 3.1%, with the result that load factor slipped 1.0 percentage point to 75.6%, lowest among regions.

Today’s Quick Links:

Ethiopia: Dubai Chamber trade mission concludes with meetings with public and private sector reps

Hollande meets Dangote, others to boost trade with France

Zimbabwe attends first ATI meeting as full member

Only 3 Egyptian construction companies investing in Africa: EFCBC member

TradeMark East Africa backs Zanzibar’s EAC region export drive

US questions India’s concept note on trade facilitation in services pact at WTO [download the document]

China moots BRICS free trade area ahead of Goa summit

Jim O’Neill: Building up the BRICS


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