Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Starting today, in Abidjan: ECOWAS, Partners review long-term election observation missions in West Africa

Mukhisa Kituyi: ‘Africa needs more mutual trade in these times of economic nationalism’ (MO)

Q: You nevertheless conclude that African economies are hardly integrated in the international markets. Doesn’t this new protectionism then pose a problem rather for the rich Northern countries and the emerging countries from Asia? Mukhisa Kituyi: If imports from other continents are more restricted by the North, this means in the first place that all the growth opportunities for African trade – which are enormous because of the low starting position nowadays – will also slow down. On the other hand, that negative outlook should incite us to further promote trade among African countries, as that is where its greatest potential can be found. The problem is that economic nationalism is dominant in Africa, too, notwithstanding the growth of regional trade blocks. For example, the Tanzanian government several times blocked the export of corn to Kenya as a shortage threatened in their own country. As such it is difficult to speak about a common market. Those political interferences disrupt the intention of regional integration. In addition, the bureaucratic burdens on border crossing trade probably constitute the main obstacle.

President Kagame meets experts on AU reform (New Times)

President Paul Kagame yesterday convened a meeting of the team of experts advising on African Union reform to discuss the implementation process. The statement from Presidency said additional consultations will continue with other stakeholders, in particular the incoming Chairperson of the Commission, with a view to putting the reform mechanism into operation without delay.

Update on Comoros, Burundi SADC membership application (Xinhua)

Briefing journalists at the end of a one-day meeting of SADC Inter-State Politics and Diplomacy Committee in Dar es Salaam, Augustine Mahiga said the meeting reviewed and agreed to give membership to the Comoros that became the 16th member of the SADC while giving recommendations to Burundi after it failed to reach some qualifications to be granted membership.

Morocco seeks to join ECOWAS (MWN)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation says Morocco’s decision comes from the instructions of King Mohammed VI in the context of “the royal tour in Africa, and particularly in the states of West Africa.” The statement from the ministry points out that this request is “in line with the requirements of the Economic Community of West African States,” and Morocco meets all the criteria for membership. Also, the ministry argues that Morocco’s move is a culmination of the “strong political, humanitarian, historical, religious and economic ties” with the countries of West Africa. “Morocco’s ties with members of the Economic Community of West African States has been strengthened in recent decades, through the 23 royal visits to 11 countries in the region,” further asserts the statement, noting that the hundreds of agreements signed have given a strong impetus to the bilateral cooperation with the 15 member states of this group. [Update: President Ellen Johnson embraced Morocco’s decision to seek membership of ECOWAS, but noted that the approval, which must be consistent with the ECOWAS Treaty remains the prerogative the ECOWAS Authority of Heads and States and Government.]

IDB African member countries discuss economic integration (Arab News)

27 officials from 20 African member countries of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank attended a workshop (20-22 February, in Dakar) to discuss intra-trade routes. The event also discussed capacity enhancement via better understanding of the significance of regional economic cooperation and integration, with a focus on the importance of trade and transport routes, and better identification of challenges and obstacles. It also dealt with the best ways to develop trade routes and activate initiatives by ECOWAS, as well as those of southern and eastern Africa. Coordination among the IDB’s African member countries to overcome challenges hindering intra-trade was also discussed. [Afreximbank, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport discuss collaboration]

Failure of SADC regional parliament a betrayal of forefathers’ vision (New Era)

The continued failure to establish a Southern African Development Community regional parliament is a betrayal of the noble vision of the founding fathers and mothers of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. This was said by the vice-president of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Monica Mutsvangwa, during the official opening of the workshop on women legislators as champions in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, which concluded yesterday in Swakopmund. She added that regional parliamentary consensus and action programmes are critical to ensure a people-centred regional integration. “Hence our call for a SADC regional parliament,” Mutsvangwa appealed.

EALA: New regional bill seeks to guarantee women reproductive health services (New Times)

A clear monitoring framework is a must have if aspirations of the newly proposed regionalSexual and Reproductive Health Bill are to be achieved, an expert has said. Members of the East African Legislative Assembly last week held public consultations in Kigali on the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Bill 2017. The Bill aims to promote women’s health and safe motherhood across the region in addition to making provisions for adolescent reproductive health rights. [ICGLR Goma conference: Women from region commit to end gender-based violence]

Tanzania-Uganda trade policy updates:

EPA trade deal with Europe is a form of colonialism, says Magufuli (Business Daily): Tanzanian President John Magufuli Sunday described the Economic Partnership Agreement as a “form of colonialism”, dampening the country’s possibility of signing the deal with the EU. “It is bad for our country,” Dr Magufuli affirmed. Addressing a joint press conference with visiting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the State House, Dr Magufuli disfavoured EPAs, which are aimed at creating a free trade area between EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. His Ugandan counterpart warned African countries that EPA might break up their unity. “It’s better if the signing of the deal is shelved until further consultations are made.”

Tanzania, Uganda to consolidate trade ties (IPPMedia): Trade between the two countries at present stands at $190m, but it is estimated that the figure can be tripled if some barriers can be worked on. In 2016 alone Tanzanian exports to Uganda stood at 126.7 billion/- compared to 99.9bn/- in the corresponding period in 2015. Equally, imports from Uganda into Tanzania in 2016 stood at 66.8bn/- compared to 78.3bn/- in 2015. [Joint communique]

Anne Kiruku: ‘Let us seal the cracks...or bid integration goodbye’ (CitizenTV)

When EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko held a meeting with Tanzanian President John Joseph Magufuli last week, some rather unfortunate news was released: That the next summit of the regional organisation had once more been postponed. Initially slated for early January, the summit was pushed to the end of that month but failed to take place. It was then planned for February, but has now been rescheduled to 6 April after two member countries said they had other activities on the planned dates. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping all is well will not take the regional integration agenda anywhere. Rather, facing challenges head on and sealing the fissures and cracks that are threatening to derail the regional agenda is key to realising the EAC vision of eventual political confederation. A game of cards, in which partner states put some cards on the table and others beneath, won’t do the region any good.

Kenya: Value of China imports drops for the first time in 10 years (The Star)

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate the value of imports from China dropped 4.49% to Sh306.47bn in 12 months ended December 2016 from Sh320.88bn a year earlier. Imports include mobile phones, household goods and steel materials for the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway project that will connect the port city of Mombasa to capital Nairobi by mid-next year. The value of China’s imports have, however, remained above the Sh300bn mark for the second year in a row, maintaining its position as the largest source of Kenya’s imports. [Download: Leading Economic Indicator December 2016 (pdf)]

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries – 2017 annual economic outlook: Ashok Chakravarti: Liquidity crisis: current situation and policy options, Building cost competitiveness: lean manufacturing, Tony Hawkins: Interim and long-term strategies to address Zimbabwe’s economic challenges

Nigeria Customs targets N1.1 trillion revenue in 2017 (Premium Times)

The Comptroller-General of the agency, Hameed Ali, made this known during a strategy meeting with Customs Area Controllers. A statement released on Friday by the agency said the customs boss gave this directive while charging all the area controllers to ensure strict compliance with extant laws to enable it achieve its 2017 revenue target. Mr Ali said the Area Controllers must either “shape in or ship out” as there is no place for complacency in a Service that plays the crucial role of revenue collection and border security.

Africa’s ports revolution: railway ports of the east (GCR)

This means the new generation of east Africa’s ports have been conceived to perform two jobs: first to serve their own locality, and second to provide Indian Ocean gateways for Africa’s landlocked interior. The proposition in the east, therefore, is not just for large, deep, automated ports, but also for multibillion-dollar rail links piercing deep inland and across national borders, supplemented in time by modern motorways and even pipelines. The size, expense and political complexity of such mega schemes have meant delays and reversals, while the plunging prices of oil and minerals have disrupted the calculations of mostly Chinese investors. Nevertheless, it is happening. [The analyst: David Rogers]

Aviation Africa conference brainstorm how airlines can keep afloat, in business (New Times)

For two days last week, Kigali hosted a continental aviation forum that brought together over 500 delegates from over 50 institutions and firms with multiple conversations about the industry’s growth on the continent. As participants noted the growth potential of the industry on the continent, most had concerns of multiple bottlenecks that need to be addressed. Dr Elijah Chingosho, secretary general of African Airlines Association, noted that the operationalisation of the continental free trade area would create demand for air travel as Africans do business with each other. “If we walk the talk by implementing the continental free trade area and create a larger trading bloc, there would be a necessity for people on the continent to travel, meaning more business for airlines,” he said. [African economies urged to form airline alliances]

Kenya: Direct US flights will bolster trade – state (The Star)

The decision by the US authorities to give Kenya security and safety clearance for non-stop flights will bolster investment flows from the world’s largest economy, state officials have said. Treasury CS Henry Rotich said the move will lead to increased tourists from the US in the coming years, subject to to the Kenya Airways getting codeshare deal with US airlines. “We have in the past used various airlines to deliver our goods to the US market but with the non-stop flights this will change,” he said in Naivasha, adding that sectors such horticulture will also be key beneficiaries. [Emirates eating our cake, says Airzim boss]

Agribusiness trade as a pillar of development: Measurement and patterns (World Bank)

Agribusiness is en vogue, fostered by a new understanding of the agricultural sector as a major contributor to overall growth and poverty reduction and through its linkages with the manufacturing and services sector. In order to efficiently link farmers and consumers across countries and regions, quantifying and analyzing agribusiness trade flows is key. But how can we measure international agribusiness trade flows in a systematic way to identify important patterns? [New evidence overturns traditional approaches to agriculture investment]

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