tralac’s Daily News Selection
Underway in Addis: 33rd Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee. Opening remarks of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
David Luke, Phil Rourke: ‘Canada’s progressive trade agenda starts in Africa’ (UNECA)
Africa has a Brexit challenge: the UK and Europe will be consumed for years with redefining all aspects of their relationship. Trade and investment relations with Africa is way down the list of priorities. Canada should fill this engagement vacuum through the Commonwealth and la Francophonie. A comprehensive trade and development strategy with these members, launched at the WTO Ministerial in December, would provide a blueprint. A services trade and investment focus should be emphasized. Tertiary education, clean energy development, technological cooperation on climate change mitigation strategies, and agricultural productivity services improvements are all priority areas for expansion in Africa. These priorities also address directly Canadian goals for improved women’s empowerment, increased inclusive growth and more broadly-based support for development.
Richard Dowden: ‘Britain must seize chance for more trade with Africa’ (The Times, paywall)
In the debate about trade deals post Brexit, one destination has been almost completely ignored: Africa. China and India are the targets for future UK trade but why is Africa off the list? Too poor? Too strange? Too corrupt or violent? [Expelled in 1972, Uganda Indians lead UK’s Brexit trade]
Ambassador Julian Braithwaite: Ensuring a smooth transition in the WTO as we leave the EU (FCO)
Who will Trump choose for the Africa docket? (Daily Nation)
The WTO Secretariat has received in recent days notifications from five members that they have ratified the protocol amending the WTO TRIPS Agreement. These notifications - from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liechtenstein, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam - brought to two-thirds the number of WTO members which have now ratified the amendment. The two-thirds threshold was needed to formally bring the amendment into the TRIPS Agreement.
Operation ACIM mobilised 16 African customs administrations over a ten-day period, from 5- 14 September 2016, to inspect simultaneously, in the main ports on the continent, cargoes identified as likely to contain illicit or counterfeit pharmaceutical products posing a dangerous threat to local populations. Some 113 million illicit and potentially dangerous medicines were seized, with a total estimated value of €52 million. The biggest interceptions were in Nigeria, Benin, Kenya and Togo. Among the medicines uncovered by the African customs officials, most were essential treatments: antimalarial drugs, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and analgesics, as well as gastro-intestinal medicines. Even if most of the seizures were of everyday medicines, anti-cancer drugs, with over 2 million doses discovered, are also included in this tragic record. “Of the 243 maritime containers inspected, 150 contained illicit or counterfeit products. The need for greater scrutiny of this type of fraud is no longer to be demonstrated and I hope that this operation and the mobilization it has triggered on the side of Customs administrations, other agencies involved in the control of these products and among rights holders will have a lasting effect”, said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the WCO.
Kenya eyes Mexican maize as neighbours block exports (Business Daily)
Kenya plans to import maize from Mexico to ease the current supply shortage that has seen the price of flour hit a five-year high, making it the first time in nine years that East Africa’s largest economy will be buying the staple from outside Africa. Agriculture secretary Willy Bett said the Kenyan government has been in talks with its Mexican counterpart, who has confirmed the North American nation has enough stocks to supply the export market.
Tanzania: TRA blocks 30 million/- fish load on transit to Zambia (IPPMedia)
Tax officials in Mbeya Region have impounded 25 tonnes of fish worth more than 30 million/- from China that were destined for neighbouring Zambia but being offloaded ostensibly for sale in the local market.
2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index: Mauritius ranks 46th (GoM)
The GTCI covers 19 Sub-Saharan Africa countries, of which four upper-middle-income countries of this group occupy the highest rankings, namely Mauritius (46), Botswana (63), South Africa (67), and Namibia (76). The report underlines that only Mauritius is above the median GTCI score, supported by a solid Enable pillar (35 in the rankings). This edition of the GTCI which covers Mauritius for the first time, highlights that the regulatory landscape of the country is particularly good (26th in the rankings). [GTCI documentation]
Angola approves new customs tariff (Macauhub)
Hermenegildo Gaspar also told Angolan news agency Angop that the main features of the new Customs Tariff are an the incentive for domestic production, especially agricultural production, and that it will replace the one in effect since 3 March 2014. More than 366 products are exempt from taxes, compared to 914 on the previous Tariff, and tax on imports of cassava, kale and cabbage, tanks, vats and similar containers with a capacity exceeding 300 litres, bricks, boards (slabs), tiles and other ceramic pieces has increased by 35%.
South Africa: Past production policy was naive, says October (Business Day)
SA was stupid and naive to have withdrawn support for its productive sector in the 1990s in line with international policy guidelines, because the country paid a price and had to play catch-up, Department of Trade and Industry director-general Lionel October said in an interview on Friday. October was commenting on a World Bank report on SA released last week in Johannesburg. The bank recommended the government redirect its tax incentives to labour-intensive industries such as agriculture and manufacturing to boost growth and job creation, saying that the social returns in manufacturing were greater than for mining. October said the department welcomed the report:
East Africa yet to resolve border disputes ahead of deadline (The EastAfrican)
The deadline set by the AU for all African countries to delineate and demarcate their borders by the end of 2017, but only 30% of the entire 80,000km borders on the continent have been demarcated. The African Union Border Programme launched in 2007 had initially provided all countries with outstanding border disputes to delimit and demarcate their boundaries by the end of 2010. However, the deadline was pushed to the end of 2017 because of lack of funding and technical expertise. Most of the disputes arise out of the scramble for natural resources or personal differences between leaders of neighbouring countries.
The project Collaboration in Cross-Border Areas of the Horn of Africa Region is aimed at developing cross-border areas between Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan within the implementation of the IGAD drought resilience initiative (IDDRSI). The First Phase of the cross-border development projects is worth 63.9 million Euros and is funded by the EU. [IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative: communiqué, 1000 South Sudan pastoralists cross into Uganda]
G20 agricultural ministers meeting: FAO’s José Graziano da Silva (UN)
Turning to the importance of information and communication technologies to build efficiency, resilience and inclusion of poor family farmers, the FAO Director-General spoke about the agency’s digital strategy that aims to support them through knowledge sharing and bottom-up learning. As part of the strategy, the UN agency is working with Google to make high-resolution satellite data an everyday tool to monitor and manage natural resources, promote sustainable agriculture and strengthen food security. It is also engaging with the World Meteorological Organization to improve weather forecasts for farmers, as well as exploring ways to provide small farmers with microclimate forecasts. [Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2017]
Japan threatens to drag India to WTO on steel (The Hindu)
Japan is threatening to take India to the WTO over restrictions that nearly halved its steel exports to the South Asian nation over the past year, a step that could trigger more trade spats as global tensions over steel and other commodities run high. Such action is rare for Japan. The world’s second-biggest steel producer typically tries to smooth disputes quietly through bilateral talks, but with global trade friction increasing, Japan’s defence of an industry that sells nearly half of its products overseas is getting more vigorous. Besides concern over India’s protection of its domestic steel industry, Japan is also worried about the more rough and tumble climate for global trade being engendered by incoming U.S. President Donald Trump, and feels it must make a strong stand for open and fair international markets.
Some estimates suggest that logistics costs in India amounted to a sizeable 14% of GDP in 2014. It is also suggested that inefficient logistics chip off a whopping $45bn from India’s economic output, or about 2% of the country’s GDP. So, have India’s recent efforts to improve its global logistics ranking borne fruit? On this, there is good news.
Andrew Natsios: ‘South Sudan cannot be allowed to collapse’
Rohinton P. Medhora: ‘Refreshing global trade governance’