Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

2017 African Development Bank Annual Meetings: transforming agriculture for wealth creation in Africa

The 2017 Annual Meetings of the AfDB Group will be held on 22-25 May in Ahmedabad, India. The potential of the agricultural sector in Africa and the need to bridge the gap on food supply is itself a compelling business case for private sector investment. With over 65% of the world’s remaining arable land, a youthful population – with 420 million people between the ages of 15 and 35 years – and a favourable climate, Africa has the potential to become a global agriculture powerhouse and the setting of the next Green Revolution. Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal and Burkina Faso provide valuable examples of successful agriculture transformation.

Annual Bank Conference on Africa: the challenges and opportunities of transforming African agriculture

The fourth Annual Bank Conference on Africa will be held at Berkeley, California, on 1-2 June. It will cover various topics pertinent to agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is being organized jointly by the World Bank (Office of the Chief Economist for the Africa Region), the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Davis, and the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative. The conference will include keynote addresses by Kathryn Dewey (University of California, Davis), Ted Miguel (University of California, Berkeley) and opening remarks by Makhtar Diop (World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region), as well as invited contributions by senior scholars. Submitted papers with a focus on Africa are now welcome on any of the following topics:

Special Economic Zones Summit: update

UNIDO has expressed its full support for the first World Free and Special Economic Zones Summit, which will take place in Geneva this October. The event will be organized by FEMOZA, Fédération Mondiale des Zones Franches (the World Free and Special Economic Zones Federation). There are over 1800 free and special economic zones established worldwide. Many countries see them as useful instruments for stimulating the growth and diversification of their economies, fostering technological learning and innovation, and creating jobs. However, their aggregate track record in attracting investors is mixed. Better planning, dialogue with stakeholders and improved regulation are vital to maximizing the zones’ potential, attracting tenants and ensuring investor confidence.

Benin abolishes short-stay visa for nationals of 31 African countries (Africa News)

Beninese authorities have abolished the short stay visa for nationals of 31 African countries. The exemption promised by President Patrice Talon, is based on the Rwandan example, and applies to stays of less than 90 days. “Based on the experience of Rwanda, I decided that Benin will no longer require visas for Africans. South-South cooperation can make real sense. My hope is that cooperation between Rwanda and Benin can serve as an example,” Talon said.

Air transport in Africa: a portrait of capacity and competition in various market segments (UNU-WIDER)

Route types in the African market can be divided into different segments: intercontinental traffic, international traffic within sub-Saharan Africa, international traffic between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, and domestic traffic within sub-Saharan Africa (Table 1 and Figure 6). The highest amount of capacity can be found in the intercontinental capacities, followed very closely by domestic seat capacity. Though a small player in overall capacity, the routes connecting North Africa with sub-Saharan Africa show the highest growth rates, at 12.0% (Figure 5). The growth in routes with North Africa may have to do with hubs in North Africa providing connections for travellers from underserved Sub-Saharan countries, especially in West Africa. Recent developments include first the rise of Ethiopian Airlines’ role on the continent, displacing South African Airways as the leader. Both Ethiopian and Emirates seemed to have appeared rather rapidly, without much of a share in 2001. [The analyst: Heinrich C. Bofinger]

Can Africa grow its manufacturing sector and create jobs? (World Bank)

Over the past decade and a half, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced rapid economic growth at an average annual rate of 5.5%. But since 2008, the share of manufacturing in GDP across the continent has stagnated at around 10%. This calls into question as to whether African economies have undergone structural transformation – the reallocation of economic activity across broad sectors -- which is considered vital for sustained economic growth in the long-run. So if most African countries haven’t experienced manufacturing-led structural transformation, what is it that has constrained the manufacturing sector over this relatively robust period of economic growth? Our recent working paper attempts to address that exact question by utilizing the Atlas of Economic Complexity analytical framework. [The analysts: Francois Steenkamp, Christopher Rooney]

The latest Bridges Africa newsletter from ICTSD is posted: ‘Financing Africa’s development: challenges and opportunities’. Profiled contribution: Edward Chisanga, ‘African manufacturing: what can the continent learn from Asia?’: It is striking to note that there are only four African embassies in Viet Nam. One would expect countries like Rwanda, that are ambitious and want to modernise their economy, to have established an embassy there, with a view to acquiring knowledge and drawing lessons from the Vietnamese experience. Sometimes, technological advancement comes out of learning, as the Indian example of semi-conductors shows. The Indian diaspora who joined the Silicon Valley learnt, took that knowledge back to their country, and used it to bolster India’s growing trade in electronics.

Unpacking Trade and Investment: a series of 11 fact booklets about global trade policies from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Profiled contribution: Yash Tandon, ‘Controlling the South: the case of East Africa’ (pdf): Taking the evidence from UNECA’s study on value addition in Africa, and drawing on related experience in the real world, the following conclusions are made apparent: (i) Africa is still caught up in the imperial embrace, as a provider of largely unprocessed raw materials; the continent has continued to play this role over the last 50 years of ‘virtual independence’. (ii) Africa must start with the local value chain, move on to the regional value chain and only when it is able to compete with the rest of the world enter the global value chain; (iii) In the meantime, Africa must resist the imposition of the 21st century mega trade and investment agreement.

South Africa: Competition Commission’s complaint against banks

In the case of the Competition Commission v Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited and seventeen others, the Competition Tribunal will place all public versions of the respective filings on its website once they have been received by our registry. The first filing in this matter is the complaint referra (the document which initiates proceedings), and which was filed by the Competition Commission with our registry on the 15 February. In terms of the rules of the Competition Tribunal the respondents have 20 business days after being served with a referral to file their answers. The public version of the answers will also be made available on the website once we receive them. [Statements by National Treasury, SA Reserve Bank, ANC, COSATU]

South Africa: Foreign investor mediation regulations ‘unlawful’ (Business Day)

Draft regulations under the Protection of Investment Act that govern the way disputes between investors and the government will be mediated are defective as they will deprive foreign investors of the right to seek mediation, since the government will have the right to veto any such referral. This is the view of Herbert Smith Freehills co-chair and partner Peter Leon in a comment on the regulations published in the government gazette for public comment by the end of February.

COMESA Court assures investors: ‘You can invest in confidence’

Speaking in Khartoum, the President of the Court Justice Lombe Chibesakunda said the Court had already set a precedent by providing remedies to parties whose rights has been violated in the past. “You can therefore invest in confidence,” Justice Chibesakunda told stakeholders attending a publicity seminar that included the business community, members of the Judiciary, the legal profession, government and diplomats based in Sudan. Despite the Court having been in existence since 1994, Justice Chibesakunda observed that its services are not widely known or understood and have been under-utilized by the COMESA Member States and other stakeholders.

Kenya, Egypt launch joint business council to boost trade (Coastweek)

Kenya’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo told a media briefing that the council was operationalized following negotiations between the Chamber of Commerce from the two countries. An Egyptian trade mission comprising of 55 companies is currently visiting Kenya to look for business opportunities. This is the second Kenya-Egypt Business Forum, following one held in January 2015. Kenya government data indicates that bilateral trade reached approximately $550m in 2016, with the trade being in favor of Egypt. Kenya exports are limited to a number of products with tea accounting for 85% of Kenya’s total exports to Egypt. However, Egypt sells to the east African nation diversified products ranging from pharmaceutical, chemical and petroleum products. Currently, Egypt is Kenya’s ninth largest export market. [Kisumu leaders boycott Lake Basin Expo and Investment Summit]

East Africa customs administration: post-seizure analysis workshop (WCO)

Under the auspices of WCO/JICA Joint Project (launched in July 2016 to support trade facilitation in Africa) workshop on intelligence analysis for master trainers of East Africa was held in Kampala, 6-10 February. The master trainers are customs officials actively contributing to sustainable capacity building in customs administrations in East Africa. During the workshop, 26 officials from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda developed training materials on Post Seizure Analysis which reflect the enforcement challenges faced by customs administrations in East Africa. [Namibia: WCO workshop on IPR border enforcement]

West African Economic and Monetary Union: IMF statement

Economic activity has remained strong but vulnerabilities have increased. Real GDP growth is estimated to have reached 6.5% in 2016, underpinned by robust and resilient domestic demand. Inflation has remained subdued due to continued solid agricultural production and low oil prices. Preliminary data suggest an overall fiscal deficit of 4.5% of GDP in 2016, higher than initially planned. Public debt is on the rise and reserve coverage has declined to 3.7 months of imports, reflecting a continued expansion in public infrastructure and lower-than-expected external financing. The medium-term growth outlook is favorable with GDP growth around 6 percent but remains subject to significant downside risks.

Kampala, Addis SGRs: Same specifications, different costs (The EastAfrican)

At issue is the $2.3 billion engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 273km eastern route that starts at Malaba and terminates at Bukasa, near Kampala, translating into $8.42 million per kilometre of the track. The argument over the cost comes after the Parliamentary Committee of Physical Infrastructure presented a report based on a visit to Ethiopia. “The committee notes that Uganda’s proposed SGR has the same specifications as regards design and operating speeds and is expected to serve the same purpose as the Ethiopia and Kenya networks,” the report said, adding that Ethiopia paid $5 million per kilometre of track. But officials in Kampala defend the cost estimates for Malaba-Kampala as “realistic” because of the topography, terrain and hydrology of the route. According to Kasingye Kyamugambi, the SGR project co-ordinator, the MPs should distinguish route length from track length.

Nordic countries in global value chains (pdf, OECD)

This report, which reflects the work of a close collaboration between the OECD and Nordic Statistical Offices, attempts to do just that, through the development of an extended TiVA dataset that splits current TiVA industries into new categories of firms, including SMEs and MNEs, providing important new insights on the nature of GVC integration within the Nordic region. Key highlights from the report:

Pressure builds for WTO discussions on e-commerce, MSMEs (Mint)

Attempts to steamroll discussions on two controversial issues - rules for electronic commerce and frameworks for micro, small and medium enterprises - at the WTO are gaining pace, despite opposition from a majority of developing countries, including India. In two separate proposals, reviewed by Mint, proponents have called for immediate discussions on ‘Inclusive Innovation and MSME Collaboration’, and issues concerning ‘electronic commerce and development’.

Ghana: Chamber of Commerce to establish regional shipping line

China’s ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Lu Youqing: ‘How to hit 7%’

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