tralac’s Daily News Selection
tralac’s Weekly Newsletter is posted.
Starting on Monday:
African Alliance for E-Commerce meets in Nairobi (The Herald): Delegates from more than 18 African countries are due to meet in Nairobi from Monday to review Africa’s progress on implementation of Single Window System, an online cargo clearing system, organisers said yesterday. The Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade), which is implementing an online cargo clearance system in the country, said the 14th Executive Committee and 8th General Assembly meeting of the African Alliance for E-Commerce (AAEC) will be held in Nairobi, 13-15 March.
The theme of the meeting (Financing infrastructure in Africa) calls on African governments and the private sector to achieve concrete advances in the financing of major infrastructures, notably those in the Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa in ways that foster inclusive growth and promote employment.
CFTA Negotiating Forum: update (UNECA)
Members States agreed in last week’s forum to liberalize between 85-95% of their tariff lines over a period of 5-10 years. They also agreed to allow for flexibilities through exclusion and sensitive lists to accommodate countries that may face challenges during liberalization. Reports of the technical working groups on technical barriers to trade and non-tariff barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary measures rules of origin, trade in services and customs procedures were tabled and discussed during the Negotiating Forum. The AUC presented the CFTA Template Agreement which was welcomed by Member States as a basis for text-based negotiations. A bottom-up approach was agreed for further technical work on the draft text through technical working groups which will report to the next meeting of the Negotiating Forum also in Addis Ababa in June. A meeting of African Ministers of Trade will be held soon after the 6th meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is currently the main destination for South African exports and its influence on the economic performance of South Africa is being “underestimated by many commentators”, IMF senior resident representative in South Africa Dr Montfort Mlachila avers. Speaking to students at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday, Mlachila pointed out that the rest of Africa accounted for 30% of South Africa’s total exports in 2015, which was significantly larger than China’s 12% contribution. In addition, South Africa’s foreign direct investment flows to SSA were rising, driven by high profit margins in the rest of the continent.
At the invitation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade Out of Poverty (APPG-TOP), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the High Level Roundtable on the subject “Africa and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA): from Ratification to Implementation”, which took place in London on 8 March at the United Kingdom Parliament. The roundtable was attended by government ministers from the UK, Ghana, Nigeria and Rwanda, as well as senior representatives from relevant international organizations and donor institutions. The event was held on the occasion of the inaugural meeting of the Commonwealth Trade Ministers.
Prioritise Commonwealth trade post-Brexit: It’s what UK businesses want (City A.M.)
Other notable findings from the polling show that over 50% of British businesses prioritise Malaysia as a key market, over 40% do so for Kenya, and almost a third highlight the Caribbean. This means that the government focus should not solely be on usual highlighted nations such as Australia and Canada. Interestingly, there is a regional divide. Despite Scotland’s proud historical achievements in and imprint on Commonwealth nations, its current business leaders do not prioritise these nations as highly as their UK counterparts. Half the number of business leaders in Scotland highlight South Africa as their counterparts in London, while Canada is Scotland’s top priority. My local Midlands area shows the importance of India, with 93% prioritising closer ties, 20 points higher than the UK overall total. Meanwhile, London businesses prioritise Canada first and South Africa second. The capital’s positive diversity was also reflected in strong mentions for Kenya and Caribbean nations in post-Brexit trade deals. [The author, Digby Jones, is a former director general of the Confederation of British Industry]
Geopolitical and security interests in particular should prompt a closer look at the benefits of formalising ties with Africa, or specific African nations. Certain long-term calculations need to be made; while recalling the African legacy of Presidents Bush and Obama in terms of humanitarian aid, development assistance, and energy. African leaders too should start planning for new initiatives. African-American trade and American aid programmes are important, AGOA brings many benefits, and new investments are necessary for local development plans. [The analyst: Professor Gerhard Erasmus] [Plan to ban used clothes, shoes puts Agoa gains at risk]
International freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) flown by African carriers have surged in SA terms since the middle of 2016. FTKs grew by a whopping 25.0% year-on-year in January, helped by very strong growth on the trade lane to and from Asia; while a small route, FTKs between Asia and Africa jumped by 30% year-on-year in 2016 as a whole, and by 57% in January. This comes on the back of rapid long-haul expansion and increased direct services between the continents. The wider pick-up in demand has helped the region’s SA load factor to rise in recent months; after falling by five percentage points in 2016 compared to the previous year, the load factor jumped by 3.6 percentage points in January compared to the same month in 2016. [IATA’s air passenger market analysis, pdf]
Kenya to clear more hurdles before direct flights to US can begin (Business Daily)
A high-level delegation from VITIB and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Ivory Coast is currently in Mauritius to consolidate its relationship with the Mauritius-Africa Fund and the Board of Investment with regards to investment opportunities in viable projects within the VITIB zone. Mauritius and the Ivory Coast signed in April 2016, an Investment Protection and Promotion agreement to boost trade and investment as well as reinforce and deepen economic cooperation between the two countries.
Tanzania: Vehicle import policy review paves way for assembly plants (Daily News)
The Minister for Industries, Trade and Investment, Charles Mwijage, told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that his office was currently reviewing vehicle import policy so as to create good environment for the automakers interested to invest in vehicle assembly plants. “The review of the policy aims at creating good and friendly environment for companies that are interested to invest in vehicle assembling businesses in the country. A suitable policy is likely to enable Tanzanians to purchase new vehicles at affordable prices within the country,” he said. According to statistics released by Tanzania Automobile Association in 2014, every month, Tanzanians import an average of 4,500 light second-hand vehicles—those with carrying capacity of below 12 passengers. Some big companies across the globe including the Germany car manufacturer ‘Volkswagen’ have already shown interest to invest in vehicle assembly plant in the country. [VW forms new sub-Saharan Africa region]
Tanzania: SAGCOT annual partnership forum 2017 starts today (IPPMedia)
The long awaited fourth annual Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) partnership forum 2017 starts today in Dar es Salaam with 300 local and international delegates having confirmed participation. The theme of the forum is ‘Unleashing Agricultural Potentials’.
Burundi: Country strategy and programme evaluation (IDEV)
In economic performance, the IDEV report finds that the main contribution of AfDB operations to growth was through infrastructure projects. Additionally, there was positive evolution in mobility, transport costs and access to electricity. However, their impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction remained limited in a context marked by severe internal and external constraints. The low diversification of the economy limited the country’s export capacity and hindered domestic and cross-border trade. Internal constraints, especially those related to fiscal, legal, economic and political instability, posed serious threats. At the outcome, the signs of a sustainable increase in economic activity and incomes in the long term are barely visible. The evaluation presents a series of recommendations for the future AfDB engagement strategy in Burundi. Focus, according to IDEV, should be on the development of economic activities which promote integrated markets within the East African Community.
Nigeria: Our brand new economic recovery and growth plan (Premium Times)
These are all very good words. They are similar to the good words in previous plans that were never implemented. This government has already built a solid reputation as the slowest government in Nigerian history. If it took 20 out of the available 48 months to develop the Plan, I wonder when the gear will shift to full implementation. Meanwhile, what is important is close monitoring by the National Assembly, and above all by citizens, to ensure real implementation benchmarks are developed and tracked. [The author: Professor Jibrin Ibrahim]
Sustainability in Madagascar (tralac)
Two background factors make the sustainability issue in Madagascar particularly critical. The first is that Madagascar was one of the last major landmasses on earth to be colonised by humans, while the second is that it is an island, and indeed the fourth largest island on the planet. Consequently, Madagascar has had distinct ecosystems and an extraordinary wildlife since it split from the African continent. Overall, an analysis of sustainability and the review of progress being made in Madagascar is limited in that the issues are usually addressed as separate from trade and broader economic issues. However, we will argue that these issues are tightly related, and Madagascar is an especially important case given that the biodiversity of both the island and the marine life found in the Exclusive Economic Zone around it is among the richest in the world. [The analysts: Ron Sandrey, James Wilson]
Zimbabwe: Government suspends maize imports
Republic of Congo: IMF finalizes 2017 Article IV Consultation, discussions on possible IMF-supported financial arrangement
Mozambique forest investment project: project documentation
Regional support for the oversight of extractive industry in French-speaking countries: project documentation
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