Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Underway in Walvis Bay: African Corridor Management Alliance launch (@snkaringi). Tweet by @heiniesuo: Inaugural meeting of #African #Corridor #Management #Alliance: "We need a continental approach to corridors" – @snkaringi of @ECA_OFFICIAL

EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment: minutes (EABC Trade and Policy Brief)

The EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) held its ordinary meeting from 30th Jan to 3rd Feb. 2017 at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. In the course of the meeting the issues pertaining to trade, customs, industry and investment, which form the bedrock of EAC integration, were thoroughly discussed and agreed upon. In brief form some of the policy related issues which were deliberated during the meeting include:

Road freight transport services reform: guiding principles for practitioners, policy makers (World Bank, IRU)

The successful collaboration between the World Bank Group and IRU has resulted in the first ever guide to improve quality and competition, based on practical examples of regulatory reform in other countries. It is aimed at governments and policy-makers in emerging and developing economies – where mobility of cargo is almost entirely dependent on the road transport sector. Typical performance gaps include high costs, reduced profitability, lack of road safety, environmental concerns, bureaucracy and corruption. Regulated carriers are often required to compete against informal operators outside of regulatory frameworks. Changing this scenario to establish a level playing field improves transparency, safety and sustainability. Offering a complete framework – from an evaluation of the existing systems through to implementation of change – the Guide demonstrates how to analyse data to identify areas of focus and then outlines how to structure a detailed action plan. [New IRU guidelines on goods reception to reduce accidents and improve efficiency]

WCO acknowledges Zambia’s progress in customs modernization (WCO)

Secretary General Mikuriya met the management team of ZRA to discuss progress in customs reform and modernisation including the challenge ahead. Zambia Customs has progressed steadily using the WCO standards and programmes. One example of the need for engaging other government agencies is the single window. Zambia has since appointed the ZRA to be the lead agency for single window project. While an e-payment system was realised for automated Customs procedures linking all 18 commercial banks in the country, other government agencies are yet to implement an e-payment system. Another challenge is the regional undertaking of trade facilitation measures.

Customs in post-crisis situations: the SPC ++ project (WCO)

In the framework of the WCO Securité Par Collaboration (SPC ++) project, a WCO Research Unit official visited the Central African Republic to conduct a field analysis of the border areas in the north-western part of the country. A detailed report synthesizing the outcomes of the mission, and recommendations for improved and reinforced responses to the situation in the central and eastern part of the country, was presented to the Director General of the Central African Republic’s Administration. The SPC ++ project was inspired by a project proposal first presented by Nigerian Customs during the 21st Regional Conference of Directors General of the West and Central Africa Region in April 2016. Five countries were selected for analysis and inclusion in the final reporting outcomes: Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. The project aims to equip these Administrations with the technical resources necessary to operate along fragile borderlands by embedding a Customs, trade and taxation dimension into the states’ responses to insecurity at the border.

Effects of the backhaul problem on global trade (VOX)

For models of international trade to accurately represent the real-world costs, transport costs cannot be ignored. This column argues that, additionally, we cannot assume that transport costs are symmetrical, because of a backhaul capacity problem that constrains international shipping. Domestic tariffs, which benefit the domestic import sector and harm the foreign export sector in standard models of international trade, can also harm the domestic export sector and benefit the foreign import sector. [The analysts: Jota Ishikawa, Nori Tarui]

Kenya: US firm seeks $600m for botched geothermal project (Daily Nation)

The firm, WalAm Energy Inc, wants the World Bank arbitration body, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), to compel Kenya to pay it for terminating its 30-year exclusive prospecting licence in 2012, which it says was done in breach of a contract between it and the government. Kenya terminated the licence arguing that WalAm had failed to honour terms of the contract as regards construction of power plants. Attorney-General Githu Muigai has challenged the suit, raising questions on WalAm’s country of origin. Prof Muigai says the contract Kenya signed with WalAm indicated that it was registered in Canada, yet the firm has now presented itself as US-listed.

Uganda’s EALA election: about money or love for East Africa? (Daily Monitor)

Unlike the previous elections, this one has attracted an unprecedented number of interested people - 48 contestants; 38 independent, six NRM, two FDC, one DP and one UPC. The similarity is that they have both had their own share of controversies. The last one was about long serving members trying to bend rules to ensure they stay serving even when the law was clear that no one serves beyond two terms. This year, it’s about excessive use of money and ring-fencing positions in some parties. But what explains the surge in interest? President Museveni, while opening an NRM caucus session to pave way for the party to choose its six candidates, warned against contestants taking the East African Legislative Assembly simply as a bureau for employment. “These elections are not just elections; these are not employment bureaus; you are not here to give jobs to jobless people, you are here to select people to support the integration of East Africa,” he cautioned the voters - an assembly of NRM Members of Parliament.

EAC tops in alternative finance sourcing, new report shows (New Times)

The East African region recorded the largest market share of the continent’s alternative finance market in 2015, accounting for 41% of total African market share compared to 24% for West Africa and 19% for Southern Africa. Generally, the market grew by 59% in 2015 to $242m, according to a new report, “Africa & Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Survey”. The study report released last week by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), in partnership with Energy 4 Impact, UKAid and CME Group Foundation is the first survey focusing on Africa and the Middle East. Similar studies have focused on other regions. [Download: The Africa & Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report]

Namibia Trade Forum looks into poultry dumping claims (Namibia Economist)

The poultry trade between South Africa and Namibia is not clearly defined, leading to confusion regarding the actual origin of many chicken products imported into the Southern African Customs Union. This surfaced after SACU announced a 13.9% tax on chicken of EU origin. South Africa is the largest importer of poultry into Namibia. But whether specifically chicken products originated in South Africa itself, Brazil, the US or the EU, is often not clear and such imports into Namibia are not scrutinized. Trade experts say the link between the dumping of poultry products from Brazil into Namibia via South Africa and the inability to establish clear rules or origin, is contributing to the so-called chicken war which is raging between South African producers and importers. The current stand-off has a major impact on the Namibian producer given that local chicken prices are a factor of South African production costs. The NTF’s trade flow tracer study to separate how much of imported chicken comes from which source is said to focus more on the price impact on the consumer and retailer than on the local cost of production.

Namibia: Budget cuts drown fisheries (The Namibian)

Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau on Friday said his ministry would struggle to determine the total allowable catches and also protect Namibia from illegal fishing due to a 42% budget cut. Due to the shortage of funds, there would also be limited funds for fuel for fisheries inspectors to go out and monitor, survey and police Namibia’s marine resources, both onshore and offshore. [A discussion on UNCTAD’s Trade and Environmental Review, fisheries data for Africa (tralac)]

SADC: Regional Qualifications Framework given new boost (UNESCO)

After a four day study visit in Brussels, four senior officials from Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland developed action points to reinforce the work that needs to be done to implement the SADC Regional Qualifications Framework.

In Kigali: Stakeholders discuss ‘Smart Cities’ implementation roadmap (New Times)

The consultative workshop brought together experts in urban development and planning, environment, investors, entrepreneurs and innovators as well those from construction and transport, among other areas. “The biggest thing that came out of this workshop is the clear vision of what we want from smart cities. We talked about connectivity, security, digital service delivery, efficiently managed utilities, environment protection, health, education, and the list goes on. Everything that makes the lives of city dwellers good,” he told The New Times on the sidelines of the workshop.

Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development: report of the Secretary-General (pdf, UN)

The report is submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2016/7 to review progress made in the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Examined herein is progress in eradicating poverty, reducing hunger and inequality, enhancing food security, improving education and health outcomes, creating jobs and promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality and peace, security and good governance. Also discussed is the importance of mobilizing financial resources for inclusive development. Policy recommendations for the accelerated and sustained development of Africa are provided. [Related: CSocD55 High Level Panel Discussions. Profiled presentation: Martin Ravallion on poverty reduction strategies (pdf)]

Misheck Mutize, Sean Gossel: Why the BRICS alternative rating agency may not work (The Wire)

Given that BRICS is home to half the world’s population, accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s economic output and has recently set up a nascent New Development Bank, the countries under its banner have, between them, the capacity to establish an influential credit rating institution. But questions have been raised about whether the new rating agency satisfies a financial need or is politically motivated. And if it will be competent to provide an independent, objective and credible credit rating service based on sound methodology. China has already expressed concerns about the credibility of a new agency. Analysts have also strongly criticised the probable adoption of the existing ‘issuer-pay’ model. This would mean that the current model is simply replicated. Considering that the three major rating agencies control more than 90% of the world’s ratings business, establishing a new one wouldn’t be easy. It could take years, or even decades, to gel. [Related: Stemming the tide of de-risking through innovative technologies and partnerships (pdf, G24), Jomo Kwame Sundaram: Major crisis, minor reforms (IPS)]

T20 Africa Conference: communiqué (SAIIA)

An Africa-G20 partnership should address the diversity of challenges the continent faces and find appropriate solutions at country, regional and pan-African as well as global levels. A number of specific policy recommendations were formulated during the conference. They concern the governance mechanisms to sustain G20-Africa cooperation as well as African Think Tanks’ participation in the T20 process. In addition, thematic working groups developed and presented specific policy recommendations on how the G20 and Africa should strengthen cooperation in the fields of (i) infrastructure, (ii) e-commerce and the digital economy, (iii) agriculture, food security and climate action, (iv) trade and investment, (v) international cooperation on tax matters, as well as the (vi) political and social environment of sustainable development. These sectoral recommendations can be found in the Annex of the present Communiqué.

African challenge, African hope: resource-seeking by the Indian state (Modern Diplomacy)

This paper attempts to analyze how the Indian state is managing its institutional strategy in the midst of inter-state competition for energy resources in the African continent. On its way to becoming the third largest economy globally, India is expected to import 61% of its energy resources, while the demand for energy resources by India is expected to outpace that of China by 2035.

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