Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

SADC Strategic Ministerial Retreat: updates

The SADC We Want (pdf): On the basis of the three broad topics, which Member States approved, the Secretariat commissioned research studies on the topics as a way of providing the basis of discussions during the retreat. The broad topics are: (i) SADC Vision, Progress, Challenges and Prospects; (ii) SADC Institutional Capacity to deliver on its Mandate; (iii) Sustainable financing for regional integration. The Secretariat further organised a meeting of the Senior Officials (20-21 February) in order to provide inputs into the research papers. Indeed, the meeting proved to be very useful and it provided an opportunity for further refinements of the research papers. This Retreat is therefore expected to review the status of implementation of the SADC integration agenda, and reflect on whether SADC is realising its objectives.

SADC Industrialisation Action Plan endorsed by SADC Ministerial Task Force on regional economic integration: The Ministerial Task Force endorsed the Industrialisation Strategy Action Plan for consideration by the Extraordinary Summit on the 18th March 2017. The Meeting further directed the Secretariat to collaborate with the Tripartite Task Force to expedite implementation of outstanding activities of the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement and report on the status of implementation of outstanding activities at its next meeting.

EALA Committee on Communications, Trade and Investment: oversight report, recommendations

The report (pdf), presented to the House by the Chair of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment, follows an oversight activity of the railway infrastructure in the Partner States undertaken (12-15 December) in the Partner States. The objectives of the workshop were to: understand the status of the Railways Master plan in the EAC; as well as that of EAC specific Partner States’ Railway Infrastructure development and thereafter come up with recommendations. The Committee further reviewed the EAC Railway Master Plan identifying a number of issues including high cost of transport making products expensive and international trade uncompetitive. At the same time, there are low freight volumes, reduced market share for railways. The Committee takes note of a weak business regulatory environment in the transport and rail sub-sector. It calls for strategic leadership and review of national policies and laws on the rail as well as enhanced public private partnerships. The Committee further emphasises the need for development of excellence in railway capacity building, ICT and technology development. [Kenya: Mandatory SGR use causes unease among importers (Business Daily)]

The Commonwealth Trade Summit: updates

Commonwealth Ministers commit to boosting trade (The Hindu): A two-day Commonwealth trade summit concluded on Friday as Ministers from across the bloc committed to boosting intra-Commonwealth trade in the face of the growing clamour for protectionism globally. India, meanwhile, announced a summit on trade amongst Commonwealth SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) in May. The meeting of SMEs from across the Commonwealth, an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Ministry of Commerce, will take place in New Delhi, Commonwealth Secretary Rita A. Teotia told delegates at the summit. The meeting, it is hoped, will provide an opportunity for policy makers and businesses to continue discussions on boosting trade in this area.

SA’s Minister of Trade and Industry: Minister Davies said the priority of the Commonwealth should focus on the development aspects of digital trade so as to address the digital and technological divide between developed and developing countries, especially in Africa. He emphasised that the development of international trade rules on e-commerce at this stage will exacerbate the marginalisation of developing countries as the pace and scale of e-commerce development across the world is unevenly spread. On investment, Minister Davies highlighted that a project driven approach with dedicated facilitation initiatives has proven to be working in South Africa. He encouraged Commonwealth countries to share best practices on attracting and facilitating investments. UK is South Africa’s 2nd biggest trading partner in the European Union and 7th trading partner globally. South Africa’s positive trade balance with the UK has been increasing since 2014 to R14.6 billion in 2016.

Commentary by Dr Olu Fasan (BusinessDay): ‘Britain seeks new trade era with Africa: Nigeria must embrace it’. This is really an imperative for Nigeria. The country needs meaningful and ambitious FTAs to lock in trade and market reforms and reverse its lagging productivity and competitiveness. What’s more, Nigeria must prepare for a post-Brexit world in which trade and market openness shapes the external relations of the EU and the UK, its major trading partners! [Related: Speech delivered by UK’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, Commentary by Geoff Raby, former Australian trade negotiator]

Morocco: Country Strategy Paper, 2017-2021 (pdf, AfDB)

Furthermore, the Bank will seek to support the development of relations between Morocco and Africa. This will start with the acceleration of trade and investment, the financing of private sector projects and specific trade infrastructure. It will also entail sharing of the experiences and expertise that Morocco has been able to develop. Hence, the new CSP 2017-2021 favours the principles of alignment on Government priorities, consolidation of the gains from previous operations, complementarity with other partners and the Bank’s strategic framework. The CSP is structured around two of the Bank’s High 5s: “Industrialize Africa” and “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa” as its main intervention pillars. Nevertheless, the projects will also respond selectively to the other three priorities of the Bank (“Integrate Africa”, “Light up and Power Africa” and “Feed Africa”) by speeding up the attainment of objectives under the first two priorities. The Bank’s actions will facilitate the attainment of two objectives of the Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) - inclusive and green growth - and one objective of the regional integration strategy for North Africa. [Morocco: By the numbers (Analyse Africa, Financial Times)]

Enhancing African women’s participation in regional and global value chains: EOI for cassava and cotton sectors (pdf, AfDB)

Nigeria to lose crown as Africa’s largest economy (FT/BusinessDay)

Using the 366 rate, and feeding in the IMF’s assumptions for this year, Nigeria’s GDP will be $342bn, some $12bn behind South Africa’s. “It really will be very, very close [depending on the exchange rate used],” Mr Ashbourne says. “But Nigeria used to be hugely ahead of South Africa, so the fact that it’s down to being close is a pretty big shift.” Mr Robertson adds: “Unless oil goes up and therefore the exchange rate, I think it would be hard for [Nigeria] to argue they will be in first place this year”. He argues that South Africa has regained its mantle “partly because it did not interfere in the exchange rate,” when it was plummeting between 2011 and January 2016.

South Africa: profiled ANC National Policy Conference documentation

Economic Transformation (pdf). On improving integration into the African economy: All aspects of South Africa’s economic planning should include a regional focus - whether it means striking agreements with Mozambique on South Africa’s access to the country’s gas reserves, or with Lesotho on water reserves, or with Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the DRC on power, or whether it is about sourcing cheaper chicken feed from South Africa’s neighbours to improve the competitiveness of the country’s poultry industry, or increasing exports into the region of manufactured goods, food stuffs and services, including financial services.

International Relations (pdf): The advance of the agreed deeper economic integration initiatives ought to be ensured. The establishment of a SADC Free Trade Agreement in 2008 was meant to lead towards the establishment of a SADC Customs Union, which has not yet taken place. The ANC supports efforts to implement the FTA, as the basis for greater integration programmes. The regional body must be able to get the region ready for both a customs union, which is now two years behind its scheduled launch, and a common market. The SADC-East African Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa initiative should receive support from the ANC and the government. This initiative seeks to amalgamate the economies of the three regions with a combined market of 26 countries with a population of 625 million people and a total gross domestic product of $1.6 trillion. The ANC should contribute to public awareness about these developments. SADC Integration should be comprehensive and all-encompassing to include the formation of a SADC Parliament.

Zimbabwe: And now for Command Economy (Sunday Mail)

Government is introducing extensive economic reforms to replicate the massive production framework championed under Command Agriculture so that other key economic sectors like mining, infrastructure, industry and social services are also revitalised. It is envisaged that the success of Command Agriculture in engineering an instant turnaround in the agriculture sector and rejuvenating related sectors can be duplicated with similar success across the economy. The Sunday Mail has established that a team of experts from the Office of the President and Cabinet is drawing up a detailed work plan for the extensive economic recovery programme, with Cabinet ministers meeting regularly to make contributions. It is understood that the initiative involves galvanising the four Zim-Asset clusters; Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Eradication, Infrastructure and Utilities, and Value Addition and Beneficiation — into a command-driven system.

EAC states now act on overfishing to save stocks in Lake Victoria (The EastAfrican)

East Africa has 36 fish processing companies around Lake Victoria, but only 18 are operating – and below capacity. Data from Uganda’s Fisheries Department shows that the country’s fish fortunes have declined significantly over the past three decades.

The future is here: technology trends currently shaping the world of logistics (World Bank)

Emerging technologies are transforming global logistics. The evidence is everywhere: Logistics companies are exploring autonomous fleets and “lights-out” warehousing, and are looking to Big Data for transport management and predictive analytics. Crowd-sourcing start-ups are using a high-tech/asset-light business model. And e-brokerage platforms are providing real-time information from pickup to delivery. How will these emerging technologies and evolving business models be adapted for and used in developing countries? [The author: Karuna Ramakrishnan]

Trade Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean (IMF)

This cluster report takes stock of and explores opportunities for trade integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. Drawing on a set of 12 analytical studies that will be issued as working papers (see below), the report examines the determinants of trade, explores the potential to enhance LAC’s trade integration, and assesses the associated economic and social effects. To deepen understanding of the region’s policy options and trade strategies, the report also incorporates the views of LAC country authorities based on responses to a survey. This provides an opportunity to examine the alignment of recommendations based on the analytical findings with the region’s current trade policy priorities, with the caveat that the survey was conducted between late 2015 and mid-2016, prior to the most recent developments in the global trade landscape.

Companion IMF reports: Revisiting the link between trade, growth and inequality: lessons for Latin America and the Caribbean, The impact of trade agreements in Latin America using the Synthetic Control Method, Composition of trade in Latin America and the Caribbean, Launching export accelerations in Latin America and the World.

What is behind Latin America’s big efficiency gap? (World Bank)

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