tralac’s Daily News Selection
ARSO conference: Pan-African quality standardisation policy update (The Chronicle)
Delegates at the just ended 2nd African Regional Standardisation conference have recommended the establishment of a pan-African quality standardisation policy to promote harmonisation of economic activity on the continent. Participants resolved last Friday that quality standards were key to economic growth and recommended governments to subsidise small companies especially at a time when most African economies are now driven by Small and Medium Enterprises. ARSO secretary general, Mr Hermogene Nsengimana, said the standardisation quality policy would be produced this year as process of documenting it has already started.
Revitalising world trade: issues and priorities for the Commonwealth
This issue of Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics highlights the impact of the global slowdown on the trade performance of Commonwealth countries. It then outlines several issues and priorities where Commonwealth members, working individually, collectively and with international partners, could contribute to rekindling world trade. Extract: There are several ways Commonwealth developing countries can take advantage of the emerging green economy. At the outset, they should assess their comparative and competitive advantages in this green space and the scope for a green industrial strategy. High-income countries have generally been the first-movers in frontier green innovation. However, some developing country members, such as India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, may also be capable of generating the conditions for the growth of green technology champions. [The analyst: Brendan Vickers] [Peter Fabricius: Brexit Europe, not Brexit Africa (ISS)]
Namibia: Budget Statement 2017/18 (Ministry of Finance)
Regional economic integration provides trade and economic development opportunities for Namibia as a future logistics hub for the Southern African sub-region. Concerns on SACU institutional arrangements are being addressed by the Member States. The restoration of normalcy in the functioning of SACU institutional bodies would enable SACU to continue playing its envisaged role as the engine of regional integration and industrialization. Our stance remains that SACU should increasingly become a customs union, where all its members benefit equitably. [Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2017-2018 (pdf)]
Zambia: Choppies expansion update (Lusaka Times)
Choppies Enterprises Limited, one of the largest multinational supermarkets in the Sub-Sahara Africa, has invested more than K7 million to establish a mega store in Kitwe’s Chimwemwe Township. The company, which has been in the country for 13 months, has opened 11 stores dotted around Lusaka and the Copperbelt and plans to roll-out 10 more before the end of 2017. The supermarket which operates more than 200 stores in the Sub-Sahara African region also intends to open about 45 more in the country in the next four years.
Indonesia and South Africa have discussed efforts to increase trade cooperation and reduction of tariff and non-tariffs barriers for their prime products and commodities. Jokowi has proposed a wider trade cooperation to cover Indonesia-SACU cooperation and pledged to send a concerned minister to follow it up. “I just now conveyed to Zuma that in the next two months from today, we would send ministers and business leaders to South Africa,” he underlined. As a follow up to the Indian Ocean Rim Association summit, he called for an Indonesia-Africa Countries Dialogue on future maritime cooperation and said he would invite South Africa to participate in it. [Related: Statement by SA Presidency, Is Indonesia choosing the Indian Ocean Rim Association over ASEAN?]
So as the Department of Trade and Industry and other government departments look at their incentive programmes, there are certain questions they should be asking. Are the programmes well co-ordinated, so that they present a comprehensive and logical whole? Is the application process speedy, transparent, fair and free from external influence? Are the incentives all regularly assessed for efficiency and can we be certain they are having the desired effects in terms of boosting economic growth, employment and exports? [The author, Duane Newman, is a partner in Cova Advisory]
A selection of postings on East African trade policy issues:
Exploring pros and cons of EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (Tanzania Daily News): This article will try to shed light on some of the key issues of concern under the EAC-EU EPA and show how most of the elements included in the Agreement are not compatible with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EAC EPA has eroded flexibilities that were hardly negotiated by developing countries and least developed countries under the WTO. [The author, Lucas Saronga, is a former Tanzanian trade negotiator]
Will the EAC sign the European Union’s EPA? (IPPMedia): At the core of the debate, however, is the fact that as Least Developed Countries all EAC members other than Kenya (which is middle-income) are guaranteed free access to the EU irrespective of signing the EPA under the ‘Anything But Arms’ agreement. It’s worth noting that the World Bank expects Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania to graduate from LDC status within a decade – the EPA would legally guarantee access at that stage. However the short-term incentive to sign the EPA is uncompelling, and this ‘short-term’ is seen as crucial in the EAC’s development narrative. Questions over the impact of Brexit, import tariff revenues and a Most Favoured Nation clause (ensuring the EU remains a priority partner) have also raised EAC eyebrows.
EAC legislators should do more to facilitate businesses, traders say (New Times): The East African Business Council has raised concerns over high cost of air transport that is attributed to the slow pace of liberalisation, and have challenged the East African Legislative Assembly to move fast to enact policies that would streamline aviation industry. During a dinner in Kigali, on Tuesday, EABC executive director Lilian Awinja highlighted challenges that the business community faces and called on the Assembly to exercise its oversight role to address the issues, particularly “where implementation of agreed commitments by EAC partner states is dragging endlessly.” [How use of identity cards has eased trade for border communities]
Abubakr Ogle: Deepening the EAC integration agenda (New Times): The outgoing Assembly has laid an important foundation for the incoming one to build on. Much more needs to be done, but they will definitely inherit an Assembly with an enhanced stature, willing and able to flex its muscle to attain the aspirations of the Community. These are certainly no mean achievements given the many challenges the Assembly has been faced with. But it is therefore incumbent upon the incoming Assembly to speak with the same voice across all levels, regional and partner states’ allegiances notwithstanding. EALA must continue to be strong and lead the integration process. Secondly, the implementation of the Protocols has been way below par. The Assembly needs to take its place, and perhaps enact relevant legislation that shall anchor the said protocols. [The writer is a member of the East Africa Legislative Assembly, representing Kenya]
EAC exchanges moot plan to ease SMEs’ access to funds (New Times): Regional capital markets regulators, under the umbrella of East African Securities Regulatory Authorities, have agreed to support the establishment of a Capital Markets Advisory Centre to enhance access to capital for small-and-medium enterprises.
Uganda’s electricity exports to Kenya hit historic high (Daily Monitor): Electricity imports from Uganda hit a historic high in January as Kenya sought more power to plug a shortfalls from drought-hit hydroelectric dams. Kenya imported 20.87 million kilowatt hours (kWh) from Uganda in the first month of the year, which is equivalent to four months of power that Nairobi has been importing from Kampala.
IGAD Special Summit of Heads of State: update (IGAD)
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development launched a technical experts’ meeting in Entebbe to discuss durable solutions for Somali refugees in preparation of the Special Summit of IGAD Heads of State (25 March, Nairobi). The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a draft Summit Working Paper, and to start preparing the core elements of the Summit Declaration and associated Action Plan. Director of the UNHCR Africa Bureau, Mr. Valentin Tapsoba, applauded “the decision by IGAD Member States to organize a Special Summit looking at a comprehensive regional approach to deliver solutions for Somali refugees.”
A new climate trilateralism? Opportunities for cooperation between the EU, China and African countries on addressing climate change (DIE)
Based on an analysis of INDCs and a review of existing partnerships and recent pan-African developments, this briefing paper proposes for EU-China-Africa trilateral cooperation to initially focus on renewable energy. The AU’s newly launched Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) provides a possible entry point at the regional and national levels. The EU and China should build on their existing pledges of support for AREI and jointly explore with African partners the development of pilot projects towards AREI’s goal of installing at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020 and establishing the Africa Renewable Energy Institute. The single largest pledge in support of AREI by an EU member state has been made by Germany, which is well positioned to spearhead the proposed trilateral cooperation building on its technical expertise and its G20 Presidency objective to support Africa’s development, including in the area of renewable energy. [The analysts: Moritz Weigel, Alexander Demissie]
Foreign trade and international financial flows: implications for economic stability in ECOWAS countries (pdf, AfDB)
Three attributes of ECOWAS external trade stand out from the nature of commodities traded: the external trade profile is characterized with inter-industry trade, participation in the GVCs is at bottom (that is, trade is dominated by vertical intra-industry trade) and the production structure of ECOWAS differs from those of the key trading partners. These characteristics limit the extent to which business cycles could be transmitted.
Decisions, recommendations adopted by WTO’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade since 1 January 1995: a note by the Secretariat
Joint Declaration by the AU, UN, ECOWAS, EU: implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali
South Africa: Repositioning the Department of Home Affairs
Capital flow surges and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa: any role for capital controls? (pdf)
China Manufacturing 2025: putting industrial policy ahead of market forces
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