tralac’s Daily News Selection
AU Summit updates:
Financing of the Union: AU unveils website on implementation of the 0.2% levy on eligible imports
Financing of the Union is a historic decision adopted by Heads of State and Government (HOSG) in a “Retreat on Financing of the Union” during the 27th African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016. The Decision directs all African Union Member States to implement a 0.2% levy on eligible imports for to finance the African Union. The decision will enter into operations for each Member States from January 2017. [FAQs, documents]
Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the SADC candidate and Botswana’s foreign affairs minister, has issued a five-point pledge for strong reforms, if elected chairperson. According to the statement the proposed plan includes the New Partnership for Africa’s Development; forging stronger integration between African Union Commission and regional bodies; re-introducing activity reports at annual summits to brief members on the work of the AUC and ensure attendance of regional summits; and visits by the AUC. In addition, Dr Venson-Moitoi wants follow-up on implementation of the Kigali summit on funding to speed up process and assess other mechanisms available to the Commission to generate income for the Union including discussions with the private sector.
Yann Bedzigui: ‘AU reform can’t be fast-tracked’ (ISS)
That Kagame’s panel also comprises eminent personalities creates the impression that the main issue is institutional, and all about management. Yet the heart of the matter for the AU is, and remains, political. A critical question will be the division of labour between the AUC and the regional economic communities. Should the AU limit its priorities, and leave other areas to the RECs and member states? In many ways, AU structures are ambiguous and contradictory. As it stands, the organisation seems to want to deal with all aspects of African politics, economic development, and peace and security – hence the top-heavy structure. Yet in practice, the AU remains an organisation of heads of state who jealously guard their sovereignty in these various areas. A reform process should prioritise clarifying the positioning of the AU in aspects where such contradictions exist. This would lead to clarity over the scope of the organisation, which will define its institutional structure.
A trade accord that will boost global exports by $1 trillion should come into force within two weeks, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Thursday, just as the rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump clouds the outlook for global trade. Jordan, Chad and Kuwait are all poised to ratify, which would tip the agreement over the required mark of 110 WTO members to take effect, Azevedo said. "There are estimates that once fully implemented, this could have an impact of around 2.7 percentage points on trade expansion throughout the world every year until say 2030, and half a percentage point of GDP growth around the world." Where a product may previously have taken 6-7 weeks to arrive, the waiting time should be cut to a few days.
International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees: four profiled presentations
(i) How Kenyan NTFC coordinates with EAC reforms of trade faciliation (Samuel K. Chemisto, NTFC Kenya), (ii) How to ensure coordination of national and regional trade facilitation committees agenda (Emmanuella Hakizimana, EAC), (iii) The Chirundu OSBP (Dingani Banda, Zambia Customs), (iv) How to ensure coordination of national and regional trade facilitation committees (Hermie George, WCO). [ITC trade facilitation guides]
Kenya Revenue Authority now mulls regional customs system (The Standard)
Kenya Revenue Authority is mulling a regional customs management platform to curb tax evasion within East African countries. Commissioner General John Njiraini said work had started on a common system to manage taxation of imports would eliminate the loopholes exploited by tax cheats. Among the inherent weakness commonly abused in the diversion of transit cargo including top-end vehicles destined to the other countries, often with no taxes paid in either Kenya or the intended destination. “The initiative once implemented should have substantial impact in reducing loopholes exploited by unscrupulous traders with intent on evading the payment of their fair share of taxes,” Mr Njiraini said Thursday. A common system would mean that all imported cargo will be cleared though the same platform by Kenya and the other regional neighbours; Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Message of the WCO Secretary General on International Customs Day 2017: Data is generated by every economic activity, including the movement of goods and people and circulates extensively along the global value chain. Collecting and analyzing data to enhance the effectiveness of border management is of paramount importance to Customs administrations. This year, in the context of the International Customs Day, the WCO is introducing the theme “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management” to encourage the global Customs community to pursue their efforts and activities in this area.
Three ways ICC will promote customs advancement in 2017: The ICC Academy - the world business organization’s ground-breaking e-learning platform - is set to unveil its latest training, the Export/Import Certification. The first ICC export and import programme of its kind, the certification will cover a range of topics from international business transactions and contracts to export and import finance, to international logistics among other essentials.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström came under fire from Nigeria on Tuesday over the state of the bloc’s EPA with the developing world. Malmström, author and proponent of the EU’s new ‘ethical’ ‘Fair Trade for All’ policy, was speaking at an event for ActionAid and the European Trade Union Syndicat in Brussels, where she was confronted by a call from the Nigerian Charge d’Affaires to renegotiate the EPA. Malmström replied that “13 countries in West Africa have already signed up to these Partnership Agreements, and they are hoping for it to enter into force as soon as possible. “So starting to renegotiate it all now, because Nigeria has a few problems, is not possible. Once it is in force, of course there always is a review mechanism, there’s always ways to try to improve it but these 13 countries have already been waiting for quite a lot of years, and they believe this is a powerful tool for regionalisation, cooperation, for industrialisation, for a possibility to develop their economies. So I hope we can find a solution for Nigeria so you will hopefully be able to join as well.” [Various downloads]
EU hails Mombasa leaders for improving ease of doing business (Business Daily)
European Union trade advisors have hailed Mombasa County for automating processes, saying this has hastened trading and reduced the cost of doing business. The five-member team said the ease of doing business that had been made possible through automated services in trade, investment, energy and industry encourages investments.
Mali: Loopholes in Mali’s export tax regime make it a magnet for illicit gold trade (Partnership Africa Canada)
The report, The West African El Dorado: mapping the illicit trade of gold in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso (pdf), investigates challenges in the governance of artisanal gold mining in the three countries - and the vulnerabilities posed by the illicit trade of gold on the region. The investigation finds that all countries have taken important steps towards encouraging legal trade of artisanal gold—a sector which employs an estimated three million miners in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso—such as the harmonization of export taxes at 3%. Yet, Partnership Africa Canada found that Mali’s application of export taxes to only the first 50kg of gold per month is promoting smuggling, as traders bring gold over the border into Mali to get a large tax break.
Proposed repeal of US Extractives Transparency Rule would increase corruption and poverty (Natural Resource Governance Institute)
A flagship U.S. anticorruption rule is under acute threat. Confirmation came yesterday that Republican members of Congress plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution seeking to eliminate the June 2016 rule implementing the bipartisan Cardin-Lugar extractive industries payment transparency provision. Daniel Kaufmann, president and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), said: “We are deeply concerned at the attempt to gut this trailblazing U.S. law, which deters corruption and improves governance in the notoriously opaque natural resource sector. Legislators in both houses should abandon this plan immediately. Failure to do so would essentially be an endorsement of the kind of corruption and secrecy found in resource-rich dictatorships. This pro-inequality, pro-corruption move by legislators runs counter to the leadership exhibited by U.S. lawmakers when they pioneered global progress by passing this law over 5 years ago. It would make a mockery of the tough talk on fighting graft which we heard throughout the recent presidential campaign.”
While electric, driverless and connected cars are creating a buzz in the development sector — as was shown at the recent Transforming Transportation conference held in Washington, D.C. — poor people in developing countries are far more likely to own a gas-belching second-hand car than an electric one. In fact, the majority of African countries import far more used cars than they do new ones: 99 percent of all cars imported to Kenya are second hand, mainly shipped from Japan and Europe, according to United Nations Environment Programme figures. These cars offer an affordable way for people living in developing countries to become mobile, which studies show leads to increases in gross domestic product. “Exporting very old vehicles to developing countries is basically exporting pollution,” said Rob de Jong, head of transport at UNEP, who explained that cars being shipped to Africa often no longer meet safety and emissions criteria in their country of origin. Both UNEP and the World Bank are pushing for global and national regulations to improve the fuel efficiency and safety of second-hand vehicle fleets.
Against a backdrop of growing international tension over trade, agriculture ministers from the G-20 coalition of major advanced and emerging economies agreed to improve the sustainability of water use in farming when they met in Berlin on Sunday, 22 January. “We commit to approaches that improve sustainability of water use in food and agricultural production while ensuring food security and nutrition in accordance with our multilateral trade commitments,” said an action plan (pdf) released by ministers in conjunction with a political declaration (pdf). [Various downloads]
The world needs to take urgent action to mobilise the estimated US$265 billion a year needed to achieve the first two Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and hunger by 2030, said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at Wednesday’s opening of a conference focused on finding innovative ways to finance rural development. [Various downloads]
GVC participation in the agriculture and food sectors: This study takes an in-depth look at the landscape and influences on global value chain (GVC) participation by a range of individual agro-food sectors. It focuses on the flow of products across national borders within GVCs rather than the specific characteristics of individual value chains, making use of a newly developed database on trade in value added for 18 agro-food sectors derived from the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) database. There are varying patterns of engagement in GVCs by some of the major agricultural trading countries, and clear differences in regional engagement. European agro-food value chains source globally but supply locally. By contrast, those of China have a greater span in both sourcing inputs and supplying to other markets. For the United States, sourcing is narrower and more regionally focused, but supply is global. Overall, agro-food global value chains are most developed in Asia and Europe compared with other regional groupings.
Estimating GVC participation in the agriculture and food sectors: This study seeks to begin to fill some of the information gaps that surround agro-food GVCs. Specifically, this paper sets out an approach using the Global Trade Analysis Project database to identify trade in value added across 18 agro-food sectors in 70 countries, thereby constructing an inter-country input-output (ICIO) table and enabling the calculation of disaggregated indicators of GVC participation in agro-food sectors in both developed and developing countries.
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