Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Today’s featured tweets:

G7 Italy 2017: Today meeting of the #G7 Africa Directors in Rome. Fruitful exchange of views on the situation and the way forward in Sub-Saharan Africa.

AU Political Affairs: Experts Meeting happening now to discuss the Draft Protocol on #FreeMovement in Africa - an essential component of Africa’s aspirations

Full text of the AU PSC decision on Free Movement of People and Goods and its Implications on Peace and Security in Africa: the PSC meeting was chaired by Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s foreign minister. [Related: Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs minister, Augustine Mahiga, has challenged regional blocs in Africa to devise ways to regulate movement of people and labour so as to avert xenophobic violence and forceful eviction of foreigners from some countries. “What happened in Mozambique should serve as a lesson for both SADC and the EAC,” said Mahiga here yesterday.]

Nepad posts the 2015 report, Strengthening the institutional capacity of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)

Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum: update (AU)

The AUC is hosting the 5th Meeting of the CFTA-NF (27 February - 04 March, in Addis Ababa). The meeting was preceded by an orientation workshop to provide CFTA negotiators with the results of the requested studies on the modalities in previous deliberations. The Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl, recalled that in the last four meetings of the CFTA Negotiating Forum, negotiators have been able to adopt the Rules of Procedure as well as Definitions of the CFTA negotiations guiding principles that were subsequently approved by the African Union Ministers for Trade in May 2016. She also recalled the establishment of the 7 Technical Working Groups and the first meeting of all the Technical Working Groups that took place in Kigali, from 6-17 February.

Commissioner Acyl reminded participants that the Commission has developed a preliminary draft of CFTA Model Text on both trade in goods and trade in services as directed by the Heads of State in July 2016. According to her, the draft text has been validated by the RECs and members of the Continental Task Force on the CFTA in January 2017 and sent to Member States and RECs for national and regional consultations. “For the CFTA to be successful, it is very important to recall that ownership is very critical. We are trying our best to engage stakeholders in this process including the Private Sector and other Non-State Actors where possible. However, we always encourage and urge Member States and Regional Economic Communities to undertake regional and national consultations of those stakeholders as regularly as possible”.

Paul Banoba: ‘The task that await the new AU chair’ (New Times)

As he [Moussa Faki Mahamat] begins his tenure, the race ahead of him appears steeper than the one he just won. Mahamat inherits a “bleeding” continent in two respects. Beyond the spilling of blood in conflict-ridden African countries, the continent is also suffering massive illicit outflows of its resources to well-known destinations. The problems have been discussed, the solutions have been debated and agreed, but action has not always been swift. Mahamat knows this only too well. [The author is Africa Regional Advisor at Transparency International]

The European Union and the African Union: a statistical portrait — 2016 edition (Eurostat)

This ‘statistical portrait’ presents, in roughly 100 pages (pdf), a broad comparison between the situation of the European Union, including EFTA members and Candidate Countries, and the African Union and its member states. The publication is jointly produced by Eurostat and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission. [Table of contents include: National accounts, Economy & finance, Industry & services, External economic relations]

EAC-EPA updates:

Uganda struggles to deliver EPA to success (Daily Monitor): When interviewed for this article last week, the Permanent Secretary, ministry of Trade, Amb. Julius Onen, said: “We are not going to allow EPA to disfranchise EAC. What is happening now is that this issue (EPA) is being blown out of proportion by a group of people.” He continued: “Even with all that is happening (such as Tanzanian’s objection), it is not the end of the world for the EAC region. As we speak now, we are negotiating with USA. China and Iran are also interested in doing business with us and so are a host of many other countries.” Mr Onen whose understanding of trade dynamics is highly commendable, let alone his astute appreciation of global trade interplays, says that it is too early, and for that matter, unreasonable for the critics to declare EPA as dead.

EPA and diplomatic chess games in EAC (The Citizen): The East African Community is once again facing a delicate diplomatic situation as it seems now more than ever that, after protracted negotiations, member states may have to just agree to disagree on the Economic Partnership Agreement. More than the back and forth talks over the possibility of a common ground among the EAC countries, what may have finally sealed the EPA fate is President John Magufuli’s description Sunday of the trade deal as a neo-colonial tool.

Rwanda to source poultry imports from Mauritius, Belgium (New Times)

Over one month has elapsed since a ban was imposed on imports of poultry products from bird flu affected countries such as Uganda and some European countries, including Hungary, Germany, France, Denmark and The Netherlands. The Head of Animal Resources at Rwanda Agriculture Board, Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, told The New Times that an alternative had to be found. Since the end of January, 49,000 day-old chicks were imported from Mauritius, 29,000 from Belgium and 11.6 tonnes of fertilised eggs from South Africa, some of the countries whose poultry has been free from bird flu, according to Kanyandekwe.

Standards harmonisation updates from EAC, ECOWAS:

EAC staple food standards harmonization conference: Rwanda is hosting the EAC member states meeting on EAC staple food standards harmonization. The forum (27 February - 3 March) focuses on considering of public review feedback on the draft EAC staple foods standards in order to promote and increase cross border trade. In 2013, the EAC countries agreed on the recommended moisture content for cereals and grains in the region in a bid deliver improved food security to its citizens through increased regional trade. “Harmonized staples food standards in Africa will play a major role in promoting intra-African trade through removing technical barriers to trade hence ensuring food security on the continent,” said, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, secretary general, African Organization for Standardization at the meeting.

Standards harmonisation in ECOWAS: The Public Survey opened here focuses on the following three draft standards of the Technical Committee 4 Construction Materials: (i) Specification for groundnut, (ii) Code of practice for the prevention and reduction of Aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts, (iii) Code of practice for processing cassava products

EAC Regional Authorized Economic Operator Programme: update (WCO)

The WCO conducted a workshop (20-24 February, Arusha) to develop a Communication Visibility Plan for the roll-out of the EAC Regional Authorized Economic Operator Programme (AEO). The Workshop was also an opportunity to discuss a change in approach whereby the trade community is seen as partners and customs administrations as facilitators and trade enablers. Participants learned from each other’s’ best practices and proposed SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound) actions that will be monitored by the EAC Secretariat to ensure a proper coordination in accordance with the set objectives.

Online tool to ease cross-border trade in Namibia (NewsGhana)

Namibia moved a step closer to implementing a National Single Window, an online tool to ease cross-border trade that has been supported by technical assistance from USAID. The Namibia Inter-Ministerial Workshop on establishing an operating authority for the country’s National Single Window for Trade was opened on Monday. US Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Kowalski said USAID has supported the implementation of Namibia’s National Single Window for several years and the idea has already been successfully implemented in many other countries. “When Ghana introduced a National Single Window, customs revenue increased by 50% in the first year while, simultaneously, the time and cost of exporting shrank by 65%,” he said.

Lapsett project: South African state-owned lender to fund Sh60bn Isiolo-Lamu road (Business Daily)

The construction of the 580km road to bitumen standards is part of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport project. Transport PS Irungu Nyakera said in Mombasa that detailed designs of the road had been completed. “We are glad that the Development Bank of Southern Africa is going to finance the construction of the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo road to the tune of Sh60 billion. Sh5 billion has already been earmarked for the initial stages of the road construction,” he said. “The funding is already available, and we expect bush clearing to begin in May to pave the way for the major works.” The road construction, he said, would take between three and four years to be completed.

Illicit financial flows, tax evasion: Nigeria, ECOWAS updates (ThisDay)

In a bid to combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows out of the country by multinationals and other companies operating in Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has created a new department to focus on transfer pricing. Asked if the culprits were Nigerian-owned companies, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, said: ‘Unfortunately, multinationals. This happens mainly with multinational where they have more than one corporate organisations in different countries.” The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, said the harmonisation of tax legislations of ECOWAS’ member states was a necessity for the attainment of the objectives of the ECOWAS Treaty as well as the realisation of the common market.

Competition agencies must work together to create a healthy business environment (Polity)

The safeguarding of competition amongst businesses operating in the African market is key to inclusive growth on the continent. A lack of competition will reduce growth and increase poverty and so it is essential that competition agencies work together to ensure healthy business practices. This is according to Claire Reidy, a partner in the Competition Practice at pan-African law firm Bowmans. She was speaking at an African competition law conference held at the law firm at the end of February 2017. Reidy said that the necessary regional integration in Africa was a huge challenge, requiring the alignment of various regulations, legislation and incentives across countries and regions in Africa. [COMESA Competition Commission begins probe on CAF football deal, Michelle le Roux: Why the Competition Act is not the right tool for solving economic exclusion]

Chad P. Brown: ‘Is the WTO one of Trump’s ‘big quagmire deals’? Here’s what’s at stake’ (Washington Post)

In a speech Friday, President Trump reaffirmed his abhorrence of US trade agreements, especially “these big quagmire deals that are a disaster.” And the Financial Times reported Monday that his administration was debating a new strategy — leveling unilateral U.S. trade sanctions against China and other trading partners, and bypassing the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process. A separate sign of Trump’s ultimate WTO strategy will become evident in how his administration deals with ongoing trade disputes that President Barack Obama initiated on behalf of U.S. farmers, workers and companies. The anecdotal evidence is that prior presidents have continued to pursue their predecessors’ cases. But will President Trump? [Related: FT’s Shawn Donnan: Trump has WTO rulings in sights, leaked report shows, Trump Administration: National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 (pdf)]

Today’s Quick Links:

Kenya: Bill targets foreign shippers with more jobs for locals plan

Tanzania: 200 experts to discuss agriculture policies

Twaweza survey: Food (in)security in Tanzania (pdf)

EALA: Chaos as NRM stamps its authority

Gabon: IMF initiates discussions toward a possible financial arrangement

Why “Made in China” could soon be a thing of the past


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