Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Featured tweet, ‏@AUTradeIndustry: CFTA Planning retreat from 2-7 January 2017, in Nairobi, Kenya

African integration: facing up to emerging challenges (ICTSD)

This paper examines the key elements bearing upon regional integration in Africa. It argues that regional integration should not be an end in itself but rather a means to respond to the sustainable development aspirations of societies across the continent starting with concerns around poverty alleviation, food security and access to essential services. The paper presents the key motivations for deepened integration in Africa, provides a comprehensive overview of experiences to date at the continental level and proposes forward looking options. The paper has been designed as the first of an ICTSD research series dedicated to regional integration and trade relationships in Africa. The series aims to look at how carefully crafted regional integration processes can act as a vectors for inclusive and sustainable development. [The analyst: Vinaye Ancharaz]

Alan Hirsch: ‘Africa is poised for sustainable growth and development. But there are risks.’ (The Conversation)

To counteract the growing pessimism about the fate of Africa’s recent growth accelerations there are also significant positive trends. These could underpin a long term growth and development trajectory. Agricultural productivity is rising, not rapidly, but significantly and consistently. Small businesses are proliferating and thriving in many parts of Africa. Several African countries are committed to industrial or sectoral strategies. Some are being encouraged by development agencies. If well managed, the recent surge of investment in infrastructure, from rural roads to airports, offers advantages for producers and traders. East Africa is in many ways showing the way.

Launching today, in Brussels: Challenges Paper 2017 (ECDPM)

The year 2017 opens up new opportunities for EU-Africa relations, whose ‘strategic importance’ has been recently reiterated by HR/VP Federica Mogherini. In 2016, ongoing challenges such as financial difficulties, migration and terrorism have marked a shift in the way the two continents relate to one another. The 2017 edition or our Challenges Paper – to be launched on 9 January – explores some of the political challenges for the year 2017, adopting issues of financing for development and EU-Africa cooperation as a guideline, and exploring ways to match means to emerging priorities.

Launching on Thursday, in Washington: Foresight Africa - top priorities for Africa in 2017 (Brookings)

To explore these critical trends, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings has compiled thoughts and recommendations from leading experts on these important issues in its annual Foresight Africa report. On 12 January, AGI will host its annual Foresight Africa event featuring a panel of leading Africa experts. The panel will offer their insights on these vital regional trends and provide recommendations to national governments, regional organizations, multilateral institutions, and civil society on how to contend with these priorities in the year ahead. After the program, the panelists will take audience questions. This event will be webcast live.

Development Effectiveness Review on Agriculture (AfDB)

The Review details the progress and the pitfalls to date in transforming Africa’s agriculture sector, and lays out what steps must be taken to catapult Africa into becoming a global agricultural powerhouse in the next decade. In recent years, agriculture has zoomed to the top of Africa’s policy agenda, with African countries pledging to eradicate hunger and halve post-harvest losses in under a decade. The sum total of these efforts showed the AfDB has made good progress on several fronts: 97% of the Bank’s agriculture projects were rated satisfactory. In the meantime, project approval times shrank to six months from nine months. Largely as a result of the Bank’s Integrated Safeguards on social and environmental impact and its enhanced focus on gender equality, 89% of projects had a climate-informed design, and 87% factored in gender differences, major improvements on both aspects. The number of projects managed by field offices grew to 70%, a leap from 40%, to meet the demand of member countries to working more closely with the Bank.

AU/UNECA policy process: an update on the Draft Africa Policy Framework, Applications Platform and Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Regional Agricultural Value Chains

A suite of country trade and development reports:

Sudan National Trade Facilitation Roadmap 2017-2021 (UNCTAD): Seeking ways to boost its economy, Sudan aims to remove unnecessary costs and reduce the time to trade across its borders by 40%, boosting exports by at least 25% by the end of 2021, according to a new plan launched by the Sudan Working Group on Trade Facilitation in December 2016. The plan, which comes as Sudan became the first country to complete UNCTAD’s Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Committees, aims to both boost GDP and improve the county’s standing in international logistics rankings: Sudan placed 184 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders index in 2016. The plan includes making it easier for Sudan to trade 10 key products representing almost half of Sudan’s exports. The value of these exports was worth more than $1.5bn in 2015. The 31 actions included in the National Trade Facilitation Roadmap 2017-2021 were drafted with the assistance of UNCTAD.

Mozambique: Accelerating poverty reduction - challenges and opportunities (World Bank): Official data shows that poverty fell from 69.7% in 1996 to 46.1% in 2015 but for each percentage point of economic growth between 1996 and 2009, poverty only reduced by 0.26 percentage points. This is nearly half as fast as what Sub-Saharan Africa has achieved relative to the same level of growth (0.5 percentage points). The report notes that while poverty reductions have been modest, not everyone is benefitting equally. Inequality remains high and has reduced the potential for economic growth to generate significant gains in reducing poverty. More than two million Mozambicans could have been lifted out of poverty had the economic growth created between 1997 and 2009 been more equally shared. Additional findings of the report:

Botswana: Country programme document for Botswana, 2017-2021 (pdf, UNDP): In view of the above, and in response to the expressed needs of the Government, UNDP will implement a programme that reinforces the value triangle of policy design, policy implementation and data as Botswana moves towards ‘Vision 2036’. The programme will address the following national priorities (eleventh national development plan): eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality; strengthening human development outcomes; generating diversified export-led economic growth and employment creation, and deepening democracy, as well as managing the trade-off between income generation and environmental sustainability.

Senegal: Staff report for the Article IV Consultation (pdf, IMF): To further strengthen export performance, Senegal needs to address structural factors limiting investment in export-focused sectors, including by improving the business environment and reducing regulatory costs for exporters. For instance, the Global Competitiveness Index compiled by the World Economic Forum ranks Senegal at 110 out of 140 economies, with significant gaps in infrastructure, market size, and in the macroeconomic environment. Senegal ranks 147th (out of 190 economies) in the 2017 ease of doing business index compiled by the World Bank, with a score that is close to the SSA average and lower than all fast growing SSA countries (Mauritius and Rwanda are ranked, respectively, 49th and 56th). In particular, Senegal scores poorly on the ease of paying taxes and getting electricity, and on the quality of trade and transport infrastructure. In terms of policy actions, the two priorities should be: 1) the improvement of the quality of the product mix; and 2) the strengthening of the business environment to attract investors, making Senegal a regional hub. [Note: The Selected Issues Paper Export diversification and competitiveness in Senegal (pdf) provides a detailed description of the methodology to estimate the effects of the contribution of mix of products exported, sectoral specialization, distribution of trading partners and competitiveness]

A suite of news postings, resources on Rwandan trade and development issues:

Is the Made-in-Rwanda campaign already paying off?: Rwanda’s trade deficit reduced by 5.1% for the better part of last year, largely due to the ongoing Made-in-Rwanda campaign, an initiative that promotes consumption of locally-produced goods and services. According to the statistics, released by the central bank last week (pdf), Rwanda’s trade deficit reduced from $1,602.21 million to $1,519.97 million in the first 11 months of 2016. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said the drop was due to an increase in formal exports by 6.1% as well as a decrease of formal imports by 2.4% in value. The Government has for the past two years embarked on a drive to promote Made-in-Rwanda products by encouraging more production and consumption of locally-manufactured goods.

Economy grows by 5.2% in third quarter of 2016: Rwanda’s economy grew by 5.2% during the third quarter of 2016, a report by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda released over the weekend indicates. The services and agriculture sectors were the biggest drivers of growth over the reporting period, according to the report. The services sector contributed 48% of GDP, while the agriculture sector added 33% and the industrial sector was responsible for 13% of the GDP over the reporting period. About 5% was attributed to adjustment for taxes and subsidies on products, NISR shows. This performance pushed Rwanda’s GDP at current market prices to Rwf1,662 billion, an increase from Rwf1,506 billion in the same period of 2015. [NISR: Formal External Trade in Goods Statistics report (Q3, 2016)]

New online platform to support Rwanda’s grain farmers: Grain and cereal farmers in Rwanda will now be able to access regional market information, particularly prices and markets, thanks to an online platform unveiled by the Eastern Africa Grain Council. The Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN) will help address the problem of poor access to market information among grain and cereal value chain actors in the country, Seth Kwizera, the EAGC country programme manager, said. Twenty-three grains and cereals produced in the East African region are registered and traded on the platform. The facility also records volumes at border posts. For Rwanda, it is currently operational at Rusumo, Gatuna, Kagitumba, Cyanika borders, and monitors markets in Kigali and Huye, according to Kwizera. EAGC operates in 10 countries, including Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia and the DRC.

Flower exports gain momentum as NAEB mulls strategies to increase production: Finally, after over three years of planned rose exports from Rwanda’s Gishari Flower Park in Rwamagana District, ‘encouraging’ flower shipments have made it to key European market. Since production started in July, the project under Bella Flowers has shipped over 1.7 million stems of roses over the past months, Business Times has learnt. Only six hectares of the park are currently in production, officials have said. The Rwf5.3 billion 35-hectare flower farm is expected to produce at least 44 million stems per year, according to Aurore Umubyeyi, the chief operating officer Bella Flowers.

Two updates on South Africa’s poultry sector:

Poultry sector calls for more protection (Business Day): Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who in December increased tariffs on imported chicken portions, says the government is aware of the crisis facing the poultry industry and is tackling it on various fronts. The minister has just approved a provisional 13.9% safeguard duty on European bone-in chicken imported in December in terms of SA’s economic partnership agreement with the EU. The latest duty comes amid another comprehensive probe by the International Trade Administration Commission. Davies said in an interview on Sunday that his department was aware of the influx of bone-in portion chicken portions, particularly from the EU and Brazil, and was considering designating chicken as one of the products that government departments and state entities would be required to procure locally. The department has a dedicated unit focused on the poultry industry.

Rainbow Chicken on a knife edge (IOL): One of South Africa’s biggest chicken producers is selling 15 of its 25 farms in Hammarsdale to stay afloat after fighting years of dumping by importers. Because of the cutbacks Rainbow Chicken, renamed RCL Foods, is retrenching 1350 workers from the end of the month.

South Africa: Merchandise Trade Statistics, November 2016 (SARS)

Exports jumped to ZAR 99.6 billion, boosted by higher sales of vegetable products (+20%), precious metals and stones (+20%), base metals (+11%), vehicles and transport equipment (+7%) and chemical products (+12%). Major destinations for exports were China (11.6% of total exports), the US (8.6%), Germany (7.8%), Namibia (5.7%) and Botswana (5.5%). Imports rose to ZAR 100.7 billion, as purchases went up for vehicles and transport equipment (+57%), mineral products (+20%), machinery and electronics (+7%) and prepared foodstuffs (+23%). Meanwhile imports fell for equipment components (-25%t). The main sources of imports to the country were China (19.5% of total imports), Germany (11.7%), the US (7.2%), France (6%) and Saudi Arabia (4.9%).

Zambia/DRC: Copperbelt Minister, Katanga Governor resolve Kasumbalesa stand-off, trucks begin crossing (Lusaka Times)

Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo held a meeting with officials from the neighbouring Katanga Province in the DRC to resolve a stand-off at Kasumbalesa border post which saw drivers from the SADC region pack their trucks. More than 500 trucks from the SADC region had been marooned at Kasumbalesa border following harassment by Congolese nationals. The drivers from SADC countries such as Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa had stopped crossing into the DRC citing security concerns.

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