Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Today in Delhi: India to pitch global services accord to WTO chief Azevedo (The Hindu)

India will make a presentation on Thursday to WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc. on New Delhi’s proposal for a global pact to boost services trade. The proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement at the WTO-level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers/professionals across borders for short-term work. Among the objectives of the proposed pact, official sources said, is ensuring portability of social security contributions, as well as making sure fees or charges for immigration or visas are reasonable, transparent, and non-restrictive (or impairing the supply of services) in nature. It also aims to pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals. [Roberto Azevedo interview: WTO provides the means to deal with trade concerns]

Ron Sandrey: Services trade in Africa (tralac)

This paper examines the African services trade to set a background for assessing the main issues for consideration in the current Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations. This is done systematically by firstly looking at the actual trade data in order to see who the main traders are and assess the extent to which South Africa dominates the trade. We then look at some of the issues associated with barriers to services trade and how the CFTA may address these.

CFTA negotiations: AU statement on Kigali meeting

“The CFTA will involve an increase in the movement of Goods across borders. Indeed one of the objectives is to boost Intra-African Trade. To achieve this, there will be need to ensure that the divergent national customs laws are harmonized and the procedures simplified together with effective cooperation by Customs administrations”, he highlighted. The Head of Trade Division also emphasized the importance of services as he mentioned that services sector contribute on average around 50% of GDP for many African countries economies. He noted that to facilitate the conclusion of the CFTA negotiations by 2017, the AUC developed a draft CFTA Model Text on both Trade in Goods and Trade in Services as instructed by the Heads of State and Government’s Assembly in July 2016. He informed the Meeting that the draft text was considered by the RECs and members of the Continental Task Force on the CFTA last month.

Call for papers: Boosting intra-African trade through RECs (COMESA)

The objective of this call (pdf) is to seek for empirical and/or policy oriented research papers to address issues pertinent to the agenda of regional integration in COMESA in the context of boosting Intra-Africa trade. The theme should be considered along any one of the following sub-thematic areas: (i) Market integration, (ii) Investments, (iii) The Blue Economy, (iv) Industrialization, (v) Economic Infrastructure. The abstracts and papers will be reviewed and successful authors invited to make presentations at the Third COMESA Research Forum scheduled for July 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. Select papers will be peer reviewed and published in COMESA’s flagship publication “Key Issues in Regional Integration Volume VI”

Trade between China and Portuguese-speaking countries falls for 2nd consecutive year (Macauhub)

The value of trade between China and Portuguese-speaking countries fell in 2016 for the second consecutive year, reaching $90.874bn, with an annual contraction of 7.72%, according to official figures released by Forum Macau. In 2015, the value of trade between China and the eight Portuguese-speaking countries was $98.474bn, which was a decrease of 25.73% compared to the $132.581bn recorded in 2014. With Angola, which comes second in terms of value, bilateral trade with China reached $15.579bn (-20.94%), with Angolan companies exporting goods, mainly oil, worth $13.818bn (-13.54%) and importing goods worth $1.761bn (-52.69%). Two-way trade between China and Mozambique amounted to $1.859bn (-22.29%), with China exporting goods worth US$1.379bn (-28.19%) and importing goods in the amount of $479m (+6.17%).

Indonesia, Mozambique to bolster trade ties (Jakarta Post)

After a 13-year absence, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi visited Mozambique with an entourage of business players from the private and public sectors, including representatives from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), the Indonesia Eximbank and shipbuilder PT PAL. She hoped that the presence of Eximbank and Kadin would help provide concrete solutions to one of the biggest stumbling blocks in Indonesian-African trade relations: trade cooperation financing.

Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Programme: inaugural forum (Zawya)

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation is organising the launching forum of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Programme – 22-23 February, in Rabat – in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank and the Minister-Delegate for Industry, Trade, Investment, and Digital Economy, in charge of Morocco’s Foreign Trade. The programme reflects the significant role of trade as a lever of sustainable economic growth, job creation, and poverty alleviation. It is necessary to further capitalise on the existing – but still untapped – trade potential between Arab and Sub-Saharan African countries.

Zimbabwe: Treasury creates foreign currency management system (NewsDay)

Government has created a “managed foreign currency” system, which will see the central bank retaining 50% of the export proceeds to be distributed to companies, as it moves to resolve foreign payments delays. This comes as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries is on record saying the delays in paying foreign suppliers have led to manufacturers failing to meet production deadlines, with a growing number now facing the prospect of closing. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday told reporters on the sidelines of the official opening of Lesaffre Zimbabwe’s new baking centre that the delays were as a result of the government taking too long in plugging the siphoning off of foreign currency from the market in 2016.

Zambia: 2016 investment pledges up marginally to $3.4bn - ZDA (Lusaka Times)

Zambia recorded $3.4bn in investment pledges in different sectors of the economy in 2016, representing a 0.7% increase from the previous year. The Zambia Development Agency says the energy sector registered the highest amount of pledged investment, followed by manufacturing and agriculture.

Tanzania anticipates Chinese investment to boost economy (The Exchange)

The economy of Tanzania has a prospect of sky rocketing as the country awaits close to 1,000 Chinese extra-large investors who are in line to inject some investment values in specific economic zone. These horizons include textile, manufacturing, fishing, mining, and agriculture across the board following mutual bilateral relations between the two countries. “Massive investments will come from large scale Chinese investors eyeing to invest in those sectors to boost the country’s financial income through direct foreign investment and other contributions that will be brought by them,” Tanzania Overseas Chinese Association, Chairman of Superintendent, Andrew Huang said. “For the time being we have about 20,000 business people from China who are operating in different sectors in rural and urban areas across the country,” he said.

Uganda Economic Update (World Bank)

For FY 2016/17, there are indications that the current account deficit could increase to a value above 7% of GDP, with South Sudan markets remaining risky or completely closed; global oil prices continuing to increase and therefore exerting upward pressure on the import bill; the Government investment program accelerating; the tourism receipts reducing in response to new developments including the Kasese clashes in western Uganda and avian flu outbreak; and transfers declining as a result of global uncertainties. Therefore, the value of imports is expected to increase from 18% of GDP in FY 2015/16 to 20.4% in FY 2016/17, while a deceleration in the growth of exports will see these inflows paying for only 55% of the import bill. Already, during the first quarter of FY 2016/17, the trade and services deficits worsened to $395m and $255m respectively, largely because of these factors. [Part 1: The state of the economy; Part 2: Deeper finance can unlock growth accelerators]

Somalia: IMF Executive Board concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation (IMF)

The annual trade deficit during 2014–15 was about 55.5% of GDP and was largely financed by remittances and grants. For the same period, the current account registered an annual deficit of 8.6% of GDP and was covered mostly by foreign direct investment, mainly by Somali diaspora.

The struggle for East Africa’s oil and gas exports (IPPMedia)

Regardless of the reasons behind Uganda’s and Tanzania’s pipeline decision, the demise of the Uganda-Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline (UKCOP) is a blow to Kenya in terms of regional standing, oil export potential, revenues from transit fees and the development of critical infrastructure. Why did Kenya fail to effectively counter Tanzania’s charm offensive?

IGAD: Statement by the Executive Secretary on the drought in the Greater Horn of Africa

In the drought affected cropping lands (over Deyr area in Somalia and coastal Kenya), 70 to 100 percent crop failure has been registered. Livestock mortality has been particularly devastating amongst small ruminants with mortality rate ranging from 25 to 75 percent in the cross border areas of Somalia-Kenya-Ethiopia. In addition, livestock prices have dropped by as much as 700%. Terms of trade have declined in the region, with Ethiopia registering a figure of almost 10%. This is exacerbated by a substantial negative impact on external balances, as well as a small impact on financial sector-soundness in the other countries. The overall impact on fiscal positions is a likely increase in current budget spending and deterioration in the fiscal balance and weak adaptation capacity. Despite the downtrend in global agriculture commodity prices, the drought has resulted in an increase in domestic food prices in the region. Cereal prices (e.g. maize) have gone up by about 130%, while those of critical food items such as oils, beans and wheat flour increased by at least 50% in some pastoralist areas. The limited financial and institutional capacity for effective adaptation to reduce exposure and vulnerability will result in limited safety net to the most vulnerable households.

Nigeria to raise tomato import duty to boost local production (Reuters)

Nigeria will increase custom duties for tomato imports and waive tariffs for some farming equipment to stimulate local production and investment in the agriculture sector, its trade minister said on Wednesday. "We are going to go up. We will be announcing what the new tariffs are but clearly there is a new set of tariffs," Okechukwu Enelamah told reporters, without giving details. Customs duties on some greenhouse equipment currently amounting to as much as 20 percent would be removed. [1st Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum: UNIDO input]

Enabling the Business of Agriculture 2017 (World Bank)

Improving agriculture regulations in low and middle income countries could go a long way toward feeding the world’s growing population and improving farmers’ livelihoods around the world, says the latest edition of the World Bank Group’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2017 report, released yesterday. The report argues that, while many countries are already home to strong, commercially-oriented agriculture, more needs to be done, for example, by lowering transaction costs for farmers and firms engaged in domestic trade and exports, by improving water permit systems for irrigation, or by providing better conditions for microfinance institutions. Smart regulations that ensure safety and quality control while avoiding burdensome and inefficient requirements are highlighted in the report as good practices that governments may wish to consider as part of their reform efforts.

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