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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

15 Feb 2017

President Alpha Condé: Powering Africa’s Future (Project Syndicate)

Having spent the last year coordinating energy policy within the African Union, I have sensed a growing mood of impatience from Africa’s political leaders on the topic, a sentiment that is shared by many of our people. But African leaders are demonstrating a new determination to improve younger generations’ prospects, not least by electrifying our economies. Never in my lifetime have I seen Africa’s political leaders so focused on overcoming some of the challenges that have held back our continent for so long. Working with international partners in the public and private sector, we can chart a new and prosperous path for Africa and a hopeful future for our youth. And if African leaders pair their determination with the G20’s pledge to invest in infrastructure partnerships, the future for Africa’s people will be bright in more ways than one.

Afreximbank and Ecobank agree on African trade and investment promotion

Under the agreement, Afreximbank and Ecobank will design joint innovative and tailor-made financial instruments and solutions to support private sector corporates and select strategic public sector institutions, as well as small and medium enterprises or “SMEs.” This will enable them to participate effectively in the production of value added goods and services in national, regional and continental value chains. The initiatives envisaged include the creation of a $500m programme dedicated to financing trade among Afreximbank member countries where Ecobank conducts banking business.

African Medicines Agency: consultations on draft legal and institutional frameworks, business plan (AU)

Extract from the Business Plan (pdf):The AMA is a Specialized Agency of the AU, legally mandated by Member States to improve their capabilities to regulate medical products. This will be achieved through coordinating and strengthening continental initiatives to harmonize medical products regulation, providing guidance, complementing and enhancing the efforts of the AU-recognized Regional Economic Communities and Member States, and contributing to improving access to medical products on the continent. AMA will serve as a catalyst for stronger regulatory oversight to curtail medical products that are SSFFCs, enable competitiveness of locally produced medicines particularly of those for diseases that disproportionately affect Africa. AMA will achieve these desired results through the following strategies: (i) regional integration and harmonization, (ii) policy, legal and regulatory reforms at national and regional level, (iii) regulatory capacity building, (iv) advocacy and knowledge management.

ICGLR: Declaration on Section 1502 of the US Dodd Frank Act

Based on the above, the ICGLR Secretariat believes that the repeal of Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act will weaken the ICGLR RCM. Therefore, the ICGLR is highly concerned that this might contribute to the resurgence of armed groups controlling and exploiting minerals. This might ultimately lead to a generalized proliferation of terrorist groups, trans-boundary money laundry and illicit financial flows in the region. The ICGLR wishes to reiterate its determination to implement the RINR, with particular focus on the RCM. Thus, the ICGLR calls for all its existing and new partners to support the fight against negative forces in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. [Note: Extracted from press statement circulated earlier today]

Egypt heads project to connect 10 African countries through Nile shipping line (Egyptian Streets)

By 2024, a 4,000 kilometers waterway will connect ten African countries, stretching between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea. An Egypt-led project, the navigational shipping line is to be established along the Nile River for small and medium-size commercial vessels to boost bilateral trade. Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation Moahmed Abdel Aty announced the completion of an annual report which highlights the results of the early stages of the feasibility studies. Egypt signed a feasibility studies contract with a German-Belgian international consultancy office, using $650,000 in funding from the African Development Bank, after having completed a pre-feasibility study in May 2015, which cost $500,000.

Ethiopia-Sudan border development conference (Sudan Tribune)

The two-day conference, 16-17 February, held alternately between Sudan and Ethiopian regions, will discuss issues pertaining to farming in the joint borders, trade exchange and smuggling. Governor of Gadaref State, Mirghani Salih Sid Ahmed said his state has completed its arrangements to participate in the conference, saying they would seek to retrieve the agricultural lands confiscated by Ethiopian farmers. According to the governor, Gadaref state delegation will focus on issues to promote bilateral ties between the two countries besides ways to enhance trade exchange particularly after establishing the free-trade zone at Al-Galabat border area.

Kagitumba-Mirama Hills one-stop border post easing trade, says TMEA (New Times)

The recently inaugurated OSBP facility at Kagitumba at the Rwanda-Uganda border has reduced clearing time from five to 3.45 hours. In a statement, TMEA said time reductions are estimated to hit 30 per cent by June and that various initiatives are being undertaken to popularise the border crossing to attract 60 per cent of the Northern Corridor traffic.

Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor: SAGCOT says it does not use GMO technology, Mechanised potato farming starts in southern corridor

Tanzania, Zambia, DR Congo to build $85m bridge (The Citizen)

DRC’s Katanga Province governor Jean-Claude Kazembe said here yesterday that the bridge to be constructed at Kasenga on the border between Congo and Zambia will cost $85m (about Sh190 billion on the prevailing exchange rate). Upon constructing the bridge it will easy to cross the Luapula River, which is a section of the River Congo. “So far, we have already held talks with the relevant ministry in Tanzania (the Ministry of Works, Communication and Transport) and they have shown a positive interest in the implementation of the bridge,” Mr Kazembe told journalists yesterday. According to him, the bridge will ease transportation of people and cargo across the three countries. He said a Chinese company had completed the first phase of the project’s feasibility study. "As soon as we finalise talks with Zambia, actual construction will start soon,” he said.

Sierra Leone: Trade Policy Review (WTO)

The second review of the trade policies and practices of Sierra Leone takes place on 14 and 16 February 2017. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Sierra Leone (both available for download).

Nigeria ranks low on emerging markets manufacturing (BusinessDay)

Nigeria currently ranks low among major emerging markets manufacturing attractiveness, which is a baseline to drive industrial revolution for any nation, according to a recent report presented Monday at the 13th Nigeria Economic Summit Group. The report states that Nigeria’s manufacturing sector, which currently contributes 9% to GDP, has the potential to contribute up to 30% of GDP, as the country can prioritise its agricultural value chain development. The document urged the government to set up a committee which should be headed by the minister of Trade and Industry to own the Made in Nigeria Initiative and develop an integrated strategic plan on made in Nigeria.

Madagascar: new study finds timber harvesting is out of control (TRAFFIC)

A combination of political instability, government mismanagement, a lack of forest operation controls and a failure to impose punitive penalties on well-known traffickers contributed to what was effectively zero control over the management of precious timber resources in Madagascar between March 2010 and March 2015, according to a new TRAFFIC study (pdf). At least 350,000 trees were illegally felled inside protected areas and at least 150,000 tonnes of logs illegally exported to destinations including China, Malaysia and Mauritius over the five-year period, according to the study.

The Sunken Billions Revisited: progress and challenges in global marine fisheries (World Bank)

The bio-economic model used in The Sunken Billions Revisited – developed by Ragnar Arnason, professor in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Iceland – treats the world’s marine fisheries as one large fishery. It examines the mismatch between the increasingly high level of effort put into fishing and stagnant or even declining fish catches, and calculates the incremental benefits that could be derived from global fisheries reform.

Regional Smallholder Women’s Farmer Conference: conference report (ESAFF/Southern Africa Trust)

In broader terms the conference had the following objectives: (i) enhance awareness of women smallholder farmers on the implementation and monitoring of the SADC RAP, SADC RAP Result Framework and SADC Investment Plan, (ii) provide gender perspectives to the SADC RAP Investment and Implementation Plan as it kicks off this year to 2021, (iii) identify and map roles of women smallholder farmers in influencing the SADC RAP Investment and Implementation plan at regional and national level. The main issues, presentations and discussions:

Drought is pushing food prices up sharply in East Africa (FAO)

In Mogadishu, prices of maize increased by 23% in January, and. the increase was even sharper in the main maize producing region of Lower Shabelle. Overall, in key market towns of central and southern Somalia, coarse grain prices in January have doubled from a year earlier. With an earlier than usual depletion of household stocks during the coming lean season and preliminary weather forecasts raising concerns for the performance of the next rainy season, prices are likely to further escalate in the coming months. Maize prices in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, have almost doubled since early 2016, while they are 25% higher than 12 months earlier in the country’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam. In South Sudan, food prices are now two to four times above their levels of a year earlier, exacerbated by ongoing insecurity and the significant depreciation of the local currency.

The role of development banks in promoting growth and sustainable development in the South (UNCTAD)

The time is ripe to promote development banks. At the national level, the global financial crisis in 2008 has opened space for national policymakers to selectively break with the Washington Consensus policy package and an opportunity to support pro-development finance initiatives. At the regional and South–South levels, there is a new momentum of initiatives for the creation of Southern banks, which could tap into global savings, especially those that originate in the South. Taking advantage of such opportunities is fundamental to supporting future development in the South.

This report first details the rationale for national development banks and developing country experiences with such banks in the past. It then discusses regional and subregional banks, which can play a critical role, especially in supporting smaller countries that may face greater obstacles in setting up development banks at the national level. Finally, it discusses the recently created Southern banks, both regional and cross-regional. The report concludes by noting that the new development banks are greatly needed and should not be seen as a threat to long-established international financial institutions.

World Trade Outlook Indicator: first quarter 2017 (pdf, WTO)

The World Trade Outlook Indicator is designed to provide "real time" information on the trajectory of world trade relative to recent trends. The latest value of 102.0 is up from the previous reading of 100.9 published last November, pointing to a strengthening trade growth into the first quarter of 2017. Most component indices are moving in a positive direction, with air freight, automobile sales, export orders and container shipping all above trend and rising. Data on international freight tonne kilometres from IATA have risen sharply as European carriers posted strong growth. Meanwhile, container port throughput of major ports has largely recovered from its recent slump. The automobile index has also rebounded, but electronics and agricultural raw materials trade are both slightly below trend.

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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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