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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

03 Feb 2017

A tiny slice of services trade in a globalised world: introducing tralac’s latest capacity-building initiative

tralac is currently in the process of launching its first online course: just this small endeavour – developing, marketing and delivering an online course has involved people and money from several countries, the cross-border provision of education services, the cross-border provision of design and illustration services, the cross-border provision of software and no doubt even more. This micro example is just one illustration of the interactions that have been made possible by technology and remind us that services are very much tradable across borders – and that trade is not limited to large corporations, but benefits small NPCs like us, as well as tech start-ups like the ones we are trading with. Of course, it also benefits the consumers of our new education service – which will make our capacity building accessible to students all over the world. [The analyst: Ashly Hope]

Transition in the AU Commission: a mid-March hand-over

A day following the conclusion of the 28th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, during which new leadership was elected, mid-March 2017 has been agreed upon as the date for the effective handing-over ceremony from the outgoing to the incoming Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners of the AUC. The meeting was also attended by the outgoing and incoming Commissioners.

Least developed countries propose new caps on trade-distorting farm subsidies at WTO (ICTSD)

WTO members must agree to cuts and new ceilings for trade-distorting farm subsidies, says a proposal from a group of dozens of the world’s poorest countries at the global trade body. The submission from the group of Least Developed Countries was tabled by Benin on 13 January, but has not yet been discussed by negotiators, trade officials told Bridges. It identifies “urgent” actions to be taken ahead of the WTO’s ministerial conference in Buenos Aires this December, as well as a separate set of measures which the group believes need to be tackled in the longer term. The proposal follows a flurry of submissions from other countries and groups that were tabled at the WTO in November.

Rick Rowden: ‘FT strangely silent on two African free-trade deals’ (a letter to the FT)

Summary challenges facing the SA poultry sector (DTI presentation to Select Committee on Trade and International Relations)

The Deputy Director General of Industrial Development at the Department of Trade and Industry, Garth Strachan, says stakeholders need to do everything in their power to save jobs in the poultry industry. Strachan was part of a delegation from the department, which briefed the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations in Parliament on Thursday. The Deputy Director-General at the dti, Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, emphasised the need for the poultry industry to take advantage of new market access opportunities in the Gulf, as this would assist to avert job losses. [Download DTI presentation (pdf)] [tralac discussion: The ongoing chicken wars put in perspective]

Tanzania: December 2016 Monthly Economic Review (pdf, Bank of Tanzania)

External Sector Performance: During the year ending November 2016, a surplus of %246.6m was recorded in the balance of payments compared to a deficit of $95.2m in the corresponding period in 2015. To a large extent, the improvement was a result of substantial fall in imports and increase in exports. Annual value of exports of goods and services amounted to $9,426.5m in November 2016 compared to $8,855.1m recorded in the corresponding period in 2015. During the year ending November 2016, import value of goods and services declined by 15.8% to $10,257m from corresponding period in 2015. All major categories of imports decline, except for oil and industrial raw materials (Table 4.2).

Kenya, SA to form joint council, committee to negotiate trade (The Star)

Kenya and South Africa are mulling over establishing a joint business council and joint technical committee to address issues related to migration and trade barriers. The council will mainly bring business people on board, while the technical committee will be a government-to-government affair. The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa chairman James Mureu said there have not been serious cooperation between the two countries, which makes them lose out on their business potential. Mureu said the two units will also focus on twinning Mombasa with Durban as tourism destinations and trade hubs. “We can do a lot of trade between the cities bearing in mind that we deal in shipment of goods,” he said. [Built Environment Professions Export Council expands membership base: aims to further SA Inc approach in Africa]

Zimbabwe: Government rules out Rand adoption (The Herald)

Government will not adopt the South African rand, nor will it reintroduce the Zimbabwe dollar until macro-economic fundamentals are addressed, legislators heard yesterday. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said it was not prudent for the government to adopt the rand as its official currency when it had no control over its exchange rate. Minister Chinamasa said this in the National Assembly while responding to concerns by lawmakers during a debate on the Finance Bill. [Kariba power generation up 70%]

Mozambique: Zambezi Valley development plan update (AIM)

The Mozambican government on Tuesday approved a “Special Plan for the Territorial Organisation of the Zambezi Valley”. Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, said the plan lays down a development strategy for the Zambezi Valley for the next 30 years, covering the central provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia.

Kenya/Uganda: Rotich to negotiate for more SGR funds on trip to China (Business Daily)

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich is set to fly to China later this month to negotiate for more loans to build the Naivasha-Kisumu-Malaba Standard Gauge Railway line. The Kenyan and Ugandan governments on Thursday agreed to jointly pursue implementation of the Nairobi-Malaba-Kampala SGR project and have it completed within 42 months. “The Cabinet Secretaries/Ministers responsible for finance and transport to jointly visit EXIM Bank of China from 27th February to 4th March 2017 to discuss the financing modalities. The dates of the visit are subject to confirmation by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” said the joint communique signed by Kenya’s Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich and his Uganda counterpart Matia Kasaija with Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Uganda’s Engineer Monica Azuba Ntege signing on behalf of their respective transport ministries. “The two governments (Kenya and Uganda) are committed to full utilisation of the Mombasa-Malaba-Kampala SGR facility upon completion.”

Kenya loses round one in sea row case with Somalia (Daily Nation)

Judges at the International Court of Justice on Thursday dismissed the two reasons fronted by Kenya’s lawyers that there exists an alternative method of resolving the matter and that the case is invalid because the alternative method had not been exhausted. In a ruling, the court’s President Ronny Abraham poked holes into a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Kenya and Somalia, which Nairobi had said constitutes an agreement to use the UN Commission on Law of the Sea instead of the court. [Download: Full text of the ICJ judgement]

Jibrin Ibrahim: ‘Nigeria’s undying love of multiplying parastatals’ (Premium Times)

The Daily Trust of 30 January 2017 carried a report about the National Assembly’s plans to create about 25 additional federal agencies through laws that are being processed. Almost every draft bill has a proposal for the establishment of a new agency to run whatever is being proposed in the bill. The 25 mentioned are just those that are about to be finalised. There are actually about 150 new agencies being considered by our legislators at this time. The Daily Trust report shows that about N2.98 trillion or 40.1% of the N7.28 trillion 2017 federal budget will be used to run 541 existing federal agencies, departments, commissions, institutes, bureaux and other bodies.

After an enormous effort, the Buhari Administration has succeeded in reducing the percentage of recurrent expenditure and raising capital expenditure to N2.4 trillion or 30% of the federal budget. However, the path we are on, of multiplying agencies, would take us back to where we were two years ago when over 90% of the budget was allocated to recurrent expenditure to run ministries and agencies. Most of the federal agencies that are annually guzzling trillions have duplicated roles; dozens hardly do anything apart from paying salaries and pretending to work.

Factoring’s growth in Africa tied to strengthened legislation (Afreximbank)

African countries must implement strong legislation to foster the growth of factoring in order to enhance access of the continent’s small and medium-sized enterprises to much-needed finance, participants at a sensitisaton seminar discussing Afreximbank’s Model Law on Factoring heard today in Nairobi. The seminar, organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for the financial community, legal practitioners and legislators in East Africa in the wake of last year’s launch of the Model Law, discussed the best ways to develop legal frameworks for factoring using the law.

Ana Revenga, Anabel Gonzalez: ‘Trade has been a global force for less poverty and higher incomes’ (World Bank)

A retreat from global integration would erode these gains, especially in developing countries. For example, abandoning existing agreements in the Americas would have particularly large negative welfare effects in countries like Mexico (4 to 9%), El Salvador (2 to 5%), and Honduras (2 to 5%), according to early research at the World Bank. Work-in-progress by some of our colleagues in the World Bank’s Research Group seeks to quantify the potential tradeoff between the efficiency gains and inequality costs of trade liberalization using household survey data from 53 low and middle income countries (Artuc, Porto and Rijkers, “Trading-off the Income Gains and the Inequality Costs of Trade Policy,” mimeo: World Bank, 2017, in progress). In spite of heterogeneity in the distributional impacts, hard trade-offs are found only in a relatively small number of countries (such as Burundi, Nigeria and Gambia). In the vast majority of countries (including Egypt, Pakistan, and South Africa) trade liberalization significantly raises incomes with at most trivial inequality costs.

Azevêdo underscores growing importance of services in world trade (WTO)

Speaking at the launch at the WTO of the “Research Handbook on Trade in Services” published by Edward Elgar Press on 26 January, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted the increasing contribution of services to world trade and said that the services sector is an essential tool of economic development and connectivity. The new publication brings together contributions from a range of experts who examine the services sector from various economic and legal perspectives.

The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries: a literature review (pdf, OECD)

Since August of 2014, this joint project developed a methodology to measure the economic contributions of migration and identified data sources and gaps. Through national consultation seminars held from April to December 2015, the project successfully launched in ten partner countries: Argentina, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa and Thailand. The project is carrying out an in-depth assessment of the economic effects of labour immigration and will publish the results in forthcoming detailed reports. This review, a background report for the OECD Development Centre-ILO-EU project, is a first step to explore the impact of immigration on different segments of the economy: labour markets, production sectors, fiscal balances and economic growth. Together with the country-level analysis, it aims to better inform policy makers and help them design and implement evidence-based immigration and integration policies. [The analysts: Marcus H. Böhme, Sarah Kups]

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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECs, national government trade departments and research and development agencies.

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