Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Ahead of the AU Summit later this month: commentaries by two candidates for the position of African Union Commission Chairperson

Senegal’s Abdoulaye Bathily: ‘Africa has no future without unity’ (Premium Times)

Q: How would you do this? Bathily: Apart from the former colonial masters, we have new partners today. But, this syndrome is still there. Whether it is China or India or Japan, they are shipping raw materials back home to produce goods they will bring back to sell at higher cost to Africans. I think it is important to go for full-scale industrialization of Africa. We cannot continue to have an economy that is externally driven. Industrialization means to create the social basis for survival. We cannot industrialise on the basis of only foreign investments, which will only focus on areas of concern to them and their interests. For us to create the conditions for sustainable development, we must have an industrialization and modernization of agriculture driven by African investors themselves. It is important to create a class of real African entrepreneurs, who invest their money in productive sectors of the African economy and create the basis for sustainable industrial, agricultural and service development, not renters. We must reproduce the productive forces and social basis from within Africa, not outside. Many people think the talk about regional integration is just about creating infrastructure. Yes, we need roads, dams and energy. But, this is not enough. We have to create African engineers through our education system relevant to this. [Prof Bathily: ‘AU’s reliance on EU unfortunate’]

Kenya’s Ambassador Amina Mohamed: ‘Accelerating industrialization and regional integration for development’ (Huffington Post)

Open borders will open up markets and increase productivity. Free movement will boost our economies and help to transfer skills, knowledge, technology and best practice. While there has been commendable progress such as the launch of the African Passport and the African Openness Report, countries need to harmonise their policies to address the concerns hindering open borders across the continent ̶ such as security and immigration management practices. It is advisable that open border policies are firmed up at the Regional Economic Communities and then scaled up through grand regional Agreements. However, political goodwill and coordination are critical elements for successful integration.

While there are several facilities available to assist investors with the costs of identifying and preparing projects, awareness of these is low and facility design is often ill fitted to investor needs. There is a need to better match facilities with investors through initiatives like the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa’s and Project Preparation Facilities Network, which aim to increase reach, collaboration and learning among support providers on the continent. New financial instruments can also help alleviate risk aversion in private investors. For example, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in partnership with the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL), has created a $128 million “project bond guarantee facility” that raises the credit rating of infrastructure bonds by absorbing a portion of risk.

EAC summit delayed as EU trade deal standoff continues (IPPMedia)

The EAC Heads of State Summit, earlier scheduled for this week, has been pushed to next month after ministers failed to agree on the issues to be ratified by the highest organ of the bloc. Kenya’s East African Affairs Principal Secretary Betty Maina yesterday said the summit will take place in February because the council was yet to finish its business. “The business of the council must be concluded before the summit is held. By the beginning of the year, the meetings leading to the summit had not fully taken place,” Maina said on the phone.

Peter Kiguta (outgoing EAC director-general in charge of trade and customs): ‘Zeal to work together as EAC has waned over the past two years’ (The East African)

Q: The UNECA ranks the regional economic bloc as the best performing in Africa. ‘What would you attribute this rating to? The Customs Union stands out. It has shown some level of cohesiveness particularly while negotiating trade deals between the East African Community and third parties — such as the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, the Trade and Investment Partnership with the US, and the Tripartite Free Trade Area with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community. In the course of implementing the Customs Union, we have tried as much as possible to avoid unilateral actions by partner states such as varying Common External Tariff and imposing non-tariff barriers. The failure to sign the EPAs with the EU, however, has posed a challenge. Countries appear to be more cautious about committing to anything during trade meetings, and are taking hardline positions. Suspicions are also resurfacing.’

Q: What needs to be done to raise the momentum of regional integration? ‘That will require political commitment at the highest levels. There is a need to give the EAC more powers. I hope the anticipated restructuring of the EAC shall yield the expected results. It is my hope that during the next Summit the Heads of State will deliberate integration issues more frankly.’ [How has EAC positioned itself for 2017 and beyond? (New Times)]

New postings from the EABC’s ‘Enhancing the role of the private sector as driver of the EAC integration process’ discussions: East African Business Leaders’ Summit final report (pdf), Launch of the EABC-led Code of Conduct for businesses in the EAC (pdf), Keynote address by Ambassador Ombeni Yohana Sefue (pdf)

ACP secretary general has dire warning for member states in 2017 (Jamaica Observer)

Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of countries, Dr Patrick I Gomes, is urging member states to move towards ratifying the WTO 2013 Trade Facilitation Agreement. The Guyanese-born diplomat said that there must be “more concerted actions by ACP member states” to ratify the accord for which the ACP Group, as a critical global force, had exerted its influence in the G90 to secure a treaty that reduces cross-border customs regulations and transaction costs. Gomes said that sound progress had been made last year with the contentious ACP-EU economic Partnership Agreements. He said that while the accord enables implementation measures for these WTO-compatible, preferential trade and investment accords to start reaping some, if even limited, “those ACP countries with full or interim agreements, that have not been ratified should do so as soon as possible and ensure their tariff schedules are prepared to take effect in 2017”.

UN partners with Africa’s Development Agenda 2017-2027 (IDN)

With that programme due to expire end of 2-16, the General Assembly has adopted on 23 December a new joint UN-AU proposal for a successor programme enshrined in the draft resolution titled Framework for a Renewed United Nations‑African Union Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda 2017-2027. The representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft, saying the adoption of the framework in June 2015 in South Africa had been an important stage regarding Agenda 2063 – "a global strategy to optimize use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans".

G20 policies and least developed countries’ export performance (UNCTAD)

This report is structured in two parts. The first part presents an overview of the effects of G20 policies on LDCs exports. The second part discusses trends in selected trade policy instruments including illustrative statistics. The second part is divided in five chapters: tariffs, trade agreements, non-tariff measures, trade defence measures, exchange rates and trade costs. Trade trends and statistics are provided at various levels of aggregation illustrating the use of the trade policy measures across economic sectors and geographic regions.

Germany’s G20 presidency: T20 Africa Conference (1-3 February, Johannesburg)

Africa and the G20: Building alliances for sustainable development. The T20 Africa Conference will bring together opinion leaders from think tanks and universities in Africa and the G20 countries as well as high-level policy-makers from Germany, South Africa, international and African regional organisations. The key objective of the conference is to discuss options about what future cooperation between the G20 and Africa could and should look like. Participants will draw lessons from previous global initiatives to support sustainable development in Africa (e.g. as part of G7/G8 partnerships or BRICS countries’ cooperation with Africa) and analyse advantages and challenges to building alliances between African actors and the G20. In addition, conference participants will analyse a select range of topics to explore how Africa and the G20 could cooperate, including: [T20 Germany www, Profiled T20 Blog: Global trade and investments at the receiving end]

Paul Collier: ‘Let’s stop preaching to Africa’ (DW)

Paul Collier, a leading development economist, has spoken with DW about a new G20 agenda for Africa, which should focus on improving private investment, learning from China, and not repeating the mistakes of the past. [Germany’s focus on Africa for 2017 (DW)]

Aubrey Hruby: ‘Don’t dismiss the Donald Trump administration on Africa policy’ (Newsweek)

Trump administration policymakers should keep three principles in mind when thinking about how to approach an agenda for Africa. First, millions of Africans, just like millions of Americans, are working hard every day to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, so policy must ensure that those bootstraps are within reach. Second, the new administration should ensure that its policies advance American competitiveness in African markets. And third, U.S. policies should be oriented towards enabling business and investment as tools for mutually beneficial economic development. As a Democrat who has worked with administrations of both parties over the past 12 years, I recommend the following policy proposals that build on business ties and advance U.S. interests in Africa for consideration: [David Levin: ‘Trump administration will not have sweet medicine for Africa’ (Business Day)]

China assumed the BRICS Presidency on 1 January: four priorities

Our work will focus on four main areas. The first is to promote economic cooperation as the main thread while coordinating practical cooperation in various fields, and strive to make new progress to the end that BRICS countries will have a high level of trade and investment integration, monetary and financial facilitation, infrastructure connectivity and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The second is to coordinate actions on major international and regional issues, contribute to improving global governance, and jointly respond to global challenges. The third is to explore new projects for people-to-people and cultural exchanges so that BRICS cooperation will win over more popular support and truly benefit the people. The fourth is to enhance the BRICS cooperation mechanism, build a more expansive partnership, and enlarge BRICS’ circle of friends.

Paris invites Cairo to attend Africa-France Summit in January (Ahram)

Stewart M. Patrick: ‘Ten Summits to watch in 2017’ (CFR)

US trade expert warns Trump tariffs could ‘choke’ WTO remedies process (NBR)

Understanding Malta’s EU Council presidency

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