Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

African leaders consider proposals for institutional review of the AU (Ghana Business News)

Describing the AU as a “highly dysfunctional organization”, President Kagame, in his presentation, catalogued a wide-range of problems which have plagued the Union since its inception in July 2002 as the successor to the Organisation of African Unity, the body which successfully led Africa’s struggle against colonialism and apartheid. According to him, inadequate funding, a bloated AU Commission, a weak Pan-African Parliament, the lack of clear priorities and weak linkages between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities were among the challenges that had impeded the progress of the AU. These problems, he added, are making it difficult for the AU to implement decisions taken at its Summits. Consequently, the AU had become a mere bureaucracy that is largely “divorced” from the African citizenry. To make the AU more effective and efficient, President Kagame proposed the outlining of clear priorities in areas that affected the continent, such as in peace and security, integration and good governance. He also called for a leaner organization that was structured around the priorities of the AU.

African Union Commission: the commissioners

Peace and Security: Mr Smail Chergi (Algeria, North Africa)

Political Affairs: Mrs Cessouma Samate (Burkina Faso, West Africa)

Infrastructure and Energy: Mrs Amani Abou-Zeid (Egypt, North Africa)

Social Affairs: Mrs Amira Elfadil Mohammed (Sudan, East Africa)

Trade and Industry: Mr Albert Muchanga (Zambia, Southern Africa)

Rural Economy and Agriculture: Mrs Josefa Sacko (Angola, Southern Africa)

[Note: Elections were suspended for Human Resource, Science and Technology, and Economic Affairs]

African Union Handbook 2017 (MFAT New Zealand)

This Handbook is published by the African Union Commission in partnership with the New Zealand Government. Modelled on the United Nations Handbook, it is intended as a ready reference guide for people working in all parts of the AU system (Member States, government officials, Commission and other staff) as well as the AU’s many partners and wider civil society. [Note: The Handbook is available in English and French]

At AU Summit, UN chief Guterres spotlights need to strengthen cooperation

In his first address to the African Union since taking office, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today underscored the importance of a strategic AU-UN partnership for building sustainable development and advancing peace and security on the continent. Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in English, French and Portuguese, the Secretary-General told African leaders that “I am here to listen to you, learn from you and work with you for the people of Africa and the wider world.”

EAC’s Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment meets in Arusha

The five-day meeting which began with the Session of Senior Officials will also include the Session of the Coordination Committee (comprising Permanent/Principal Secretaries) and culminate with the Session of Ministers. High on the agenda of the meeting are the consideration of progress reports on: the EAC Single Customs Territory; the Development of a Framework for the EAC Customs Bond, and the Development of the Customs Valuation and Risk Management System. The meeting will also consider: proposed EAC Information System for Customs and Trade; report of experts on Chapter 15 of the Revised EAC Rules of Origin; development of Product Identification Bulletins; progress report on the Comprehensive Review of the EAC Common External Tariff and EAC Rules of Origin, and draft regulations on motor vehicle assembly within the region.

East Africa Cross Border Trade Bulletin (January 2017, Volume 16)

Maize grain was the most informally traded commodity in Eastern Africa in the fourth quarter of 2016 but its share of total trade decreased slightly from 35% in the third quarter to 31% in the fourth quarter because of average production and supplies in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Rice and wheat flour displaced dry beans in the second position and accounted for 19 and 14 percent of the total commodity trade in the region. [Download (pdf)]

COMESA, ARIPO sign MoU to promote intellectual property (COMESA)

COMESA and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation have signed a MoU which will encourage collaboration and promote the intellectual property system as a tool to create a favourable trade and investment climate in the region. The MoU will facilitate cooperation in the harmonisation of policies, laws and strategies.

COMESA’s energy regulators meet: RAERESA update

COMESA through its energy arm, the Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) has hosted a two-day dialogue workshop in Lusaka on 19 and 20 January 2017 which brought together high level officials from African national regulatory authorities on energy. Topics included the current gaps and barriers for each of the strategic goals, and details of the short, medium and long-term plans and programme. Other topics included the mode of implementation, cost analysis of implementation, the governance structure and coordination for implementation of the plans and the programme.

Kenya: Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2017 (KAM)

The MPA 2017 (pdf) focuses on emerging public policy, a review of the current business environment and relevant regulations, as well as a vision to industrialize for the benefit of Kenya’s economy. The guide details the need for investment in technical skills, creating a nurturing environment for SMEs with a special emphasis on women and youth enterprises, and making Kenya an export hub thereby increasing the competitiveness for local business. The priority areas will be driven under five key pillars which, if strengthened, will lead to a more competitive environment and impactful economic gains for Kenya’s industrial sector. These are:

South Africa: Merchandise trade statistics, December 2016

South Africa posted a trade surplus of R12.04bn in December of 2016 compared to an upwardly revised R1.68bn deficit in November and well above market forecasts of a R6bn surplus. Imports slumped 19.6%, mainly due to lower purchases of original equipment components and machinery & electronics. Exports went down at a slower 6.1%, due to sales of vehicles and transport equipment and machinery and electronics. [The SARS release]

South Africa: ANC wants government to bail out poultry industry (IOL)

The African National Congress on Monday, said it had resolved that government should buy struggling but productive poultry farms in a bid to save jobs and increase food security and production. South African chicken producers, including Rainbow Chicken, are set to retrench more than 3,500 workers in one of the largest industry jobs bloodbaths as they struggle under heavy competition from cheap imported chickens from European Union countries. Speaking during a post-NEC lekgotla media briefing, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party had resolved to pursue this as part of accelerating radical transformation of the economy and disrupt existing patterns of ownership and control. [ANC statement: full text]

Kenya warns ‘Trump effect’ poses threat to its economy (Bloomberg)

Uncertainty surrounding US policies on trade and immigration poses a major external threat to East Africa’s biggest economy, Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge said. The lack of predictability on policy is stoking fears of abrupt changes that may affect trade between the U.S. and Kenya, some of which may end up eroding sources of foreign currency, Njoroge told reporters Tuesday in Nairobi, the capital. While Kenya has sufficient buffers, including a $1.5 billion standby loan facility with the International Monetary Fund to cushion its economy in times of externally induced shocks, there isn’t adequate insurance against a “Trump effect,” Njoroge said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s inclination towards protectionist trade policy and his stance on immigration.

Tanzania: This is how government loses revenues from the agricultural sector (IPPMedia)

For his part, Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Chief executive officer, Geofrey Kirenga underscored the need for the government to develop industry that is competitive. “In order to satisfy the market demand in an industrial economy, you need to have the capacity of producing the quality and quantity of products and take them to the market in a timely way,” he noted. “All these depend on each other. That why public private partnership with the government is inevitable. You cannot produce without value addition.” He said that unpredictable agricultural policy discouraged investors’ interests, as well as that of the private sector in general, within the country. “I call on the government to facilitate the private sector to build up an industry that is competitive against other foreign markets,” he said.

The changing structure of Africa’s economies (English)

Data from the Groningen Growth and Development Center’s Africa Sector Database and the Demographic and Health Surveys reveals that much of Africa’s recent growth and poverty reduction has been associated with a substantive decline in the share of the labor force engaged in agriculture. This decline is most pronounced for rural females over the age of 25 who have a primary education; it has been accompanied by a systematic increase in the productivity of the labor force, as it has moved from low productivity agriculture to higher productivity services and manufacturing. Although the employment share in manufacturing is not expanding rapidly, in most of the low-income African countries the employment share in manufacturing has not peaked and is still expanding, albeit from very low levels. More work is needed to understand the implications of these shifts in employment shares for future growth and development in Africa south of the Sahara. [The authors: Xinshen Diao, Kenneth Harttgen, Margaret S. Mcmillan]

Christine Lagarde: ‘The fruits of growth: economic reforms and lower inequality’ (IMF)

Our new staff analysis (pdf), released last week, uncovers the various channels through which critical reforms that promote growth (such as those in agriculture, the financial sector, and public investment) can sometimes widen inequality in lower-income countries. The study also illustrates how additional measures can mitigate such growth and equality trade-offs. The bottom line is this: (i) pro-growth policies can be truly inclusive only if policies are designed with careful attention to the details of who gains and who loses; (ii) well-targeted measures can ensure that everyone gains from essential economic reforms – and help further strengthen the case for pursuing reforms.

World Development Report 2017: governance and the law (World Bank)

The 2017 World Development Report: Governance and the Law explores how unequal distribution of power in a society interferes with policies’ effectiveness. Power asymmetries help explain, for example, why model anti-corruption laws and agencies often fail to curb corruption, why decentralization does not always improve municipal services; or why well-crafted fiscal policies may not reduce volatility and generate long-term savings. The report notes that when policies and technical solutions fail to achieve intended outcomes, institutions often take the blame. However, it finds that countries and donors need to think more broadly to improve governance so that policies succeed. It defines better governance as the process through which state and non-state groups interact to design and implement policies, working within a set of formal and informal rules that are shaped by power. The report looks at country examples, including state building in Somalia, anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria, growth challenges in China, and slums and exclusion in India’s cities. It identifies three winning ingredients of effective policies: commitment, coordination, and cooperation. As three core functions to produce better governance outcomes, institutions need to: [Various downloads]

Today’s Quick Links:

Court to rule Thursday on Kenya-Somalia sea row

UNCTAD’s start up NTFC module: Benin, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe

Eygptian Customs Authority adopts new vision, mission, strategic plan

Warning of dire food shortages in Horn of Africa, FAO calls for urgent action

Third Meeting of the Guarantors of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region: communiqué

For India to improve its export performance, there is a need for price stability

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