tralac’s Daily News Selection
India’s proposal on trade facilitation for services, which seeks to eliminate several hurdles in global trade in services, has received a mixed response from members of the WTO. India made a formal presentation of the 13-page draft legal text at a meeting of the WTO’s Working Party on Domestic Regulation on Tuesday. Significantly, the Indian proposal was subjected to critical scrutiny by the African Group of countries, Bolivia, and Venezuela, among others, on grounds that it would impose burdensome requirements on developing countries. On behalf of the African Group, South Africa expressed sharp concern over the Indian proposal as it remains “broad” in its commitments without any prior mandate. South Africa said the Indian proposal would impose burdensome/costly multilateral obligations, suggesting that it cannot be fitted into the template for trade facilitation agreement for goods. [India’s February exports rise for sixth straight month]
This Trade Brief (pdf) considers some of the major challenges and inefficiencies in cross-border trade in the southern Africa region and the benefits that implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement could bring for SADC countries. Out of the 15 SADC Member States only 8 have to date ratified and accepted the agreement on trade facilitation. Notable by their absence are Angola and South Africa. [The analyst: Elisha Tshuma]
The WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade will conduct its 22nd Annual Review of the implementation and operation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade under Article 15.3 at its next meeting on 29-30 March 2017. This document contains information on developments in the Committee relating to the implementation and operation of the TBT Agreement (1 January - 31 December 2016).
In his first public address as African Union Commission Chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat outlined his cabinet’s priorities. His top priorities included: the need to implement structural reforms, informed by Summit decisions and President Kagame’s reform report, to efficiently and effectively implement the continental vision and deliver the aspirations of the people; to silence the guns by 2020; to place the women and youth at the centre of Africa’s development agenda; to focus on intra-African trade, including accelerating free movement of goods, people and services within the continent; as well as to strengthen Africa’s voice in the global arena.
A handbook on regional integration in Africa: towards Agenda 2063 (Commonwealth)
A handbook on regional integration in Africa: towards Agenda 2063 provides a ready and accessible resource for trade policy-makers, parliamentarians, the private sector, academia and civil society, as well as the general public. Advising and informing on current dynamics, opportunities, challenges and policy options for Africa’s regional integration agenda, the publication is a unique resource for supporting capacity-building on African regional trade issues. [The author: Brendan Vickers] [Table of contents: The political economy of regional integration in Africa, Formal frameworks and policies for African economic integration, The Tripartite and Continental Free Trade Areas]
Central Africa: a sub-region falling behind? (UNDP)
Central Africa scores at, or close to, the bottom of global development indices – with the ECCAS countries recording the highest incidence of poverty among all African REC blocs, despite their shared mineral and other natural resource wealth. Central African countries also score particularly poorly across governance indicators, with Cameroon, CAR, Chad, DRC, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo among the countries at the bottom of the global indices, underscoring fragility in the region as recent elections has shown. In this publication, UNDP Africa offers a sub-regional strategic assessment of the development context in the sub-region. The Central Africa: A Regional Falling Behind? report is the first in a series of studies taking an explicitly sub-regional approach to analyzing development priorities in Africa.
Comparative perspective: Deeper integration vital for growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (World Bank)
Better Neighbors: toward a renewal of economic integration in Latin America, argues that a renewed integration strategy that takes advantage of the complementarities between regional and global economic integration can contribute to growth with stability. This is particularly relevant for a region that is just coming out of two years of recession. The report proposes an “open regionalism” that reaps unexploited synergies between regional and global economic integration, on the premise that pro-growth integration with the world cannot be achieved without first strengthening the region’s own neighborhood. The report lays out a five-pronged interdependent strategy: [The analysts: Chad P. Brown, Daniel Lederman, Samuel Pienknagura, Raymond Robertson]
COMESA Virtual University of Regional Integration: update (COMESA)
The pioneer students of the COMESA Virtual University of Regional Integration are set for admission in September 2017. The students will be admitted for a Masters of Regional Integration at the Kenyatta University of Kenya, which is the host institution of the programme. Today, in Lusaka, 20 subject experts drawn from the academia began a five day review of 29 learning modules that have been developed for the programme. The modules include 10 core units and 19 electives. The COMESA Director of Trade and Customs, Dr Francis Mangeni, said the review of the modules is the last preparatory step before the commencement of the programme. “This region will not be the same again as we shall now have a special cadre of professionals specially trained on regional integration to move forward the integration agenda.” The 22 participating universities are:
Enhance implementation of the Common Market Protocol – EALA says as it passes key report
The regional assembly has called on the EAC bloc to work closely with cross-border pastoral communities to ensure the proactive and effective implementation of the Common Market Protocol. At the same time, it is anticipated that effective operationalization of One Stop Border Post in the Namanga frontier shall ease trade in the area, specifically in the border areas of Longido, Tanzania and Kajiado, Kenya. The House yesterday unanimously passed a Report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution on the public hearing on pastoral communities on Longido in Tanzania and Kajiado in Kenya on the implementation of the Common Market Protocol projects.
DHL’s Growing Beyond Borders programme: training African SMEs about cross-border trade (Citizen)
Business Leadership South Africa on Wednesday said it opposes the proposed transfer of the South African Revenue Services’ customs functions to a new border management agency, which is what the Border Management Agency Bill, currently before Parliament, proposes. “Sars must remain the responsible agency for customs and excise,” it stated.
Namibia: Quarterly Trade Statistics Bulletin Q4 of 2016 (pdf, Statistics Agency)
Namibia’s overall trade (exports plus imports) amounted to N$44,358 million in q4-2016. This is 9.2% higher than N$40,631 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2015, and 7.4% higher than the N$41,313 million deficit witnessed in the previous quarter. Overall export revenue recorded in the period under review stood at N$15,144 million while the import bill was valued at N$29,268 million, hence giving a merchandise deficit of N$14,153 million. The deficit witnessed in q4-2016 signifies a 28.2% growth, when compared to a revised deficit of N$11,016 million listed in the corresponding quarter a year earlier. In comparison to the previous quarter, the deficit rose from N$7,297 million, representing a 93.9% jump.
Rwanda: Economy grew by 5.9% in 2016 (New Times)
Rwanda’s economy grew by 5.9% in 2016 with gross domestic product at current prices estimated at Rwf6,618bn, up from Rwf5,956nbn in 2015. The main drivers for growth in 2016 were industry and service sectors, which both grew at 7%. However, the growth fell just short of the 6.0 projected by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as well as the IMF. The growth was also slower compared to 6.9% registered in 2015. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda director-general, Yusuf Murangwa, the failure to meet the projected performance is largely due the performance of the agriculture sector, which performed minimally in the second half of the year due to prolonged drought and floods in some parts of the country. [Download: GDP National Accounts, 2016]
China’s outward investment has expanded in an unprecedented speed during the past decades, which also brought nearly 100 Chinese overseas industrial parks across different continents. Yet, only few have been abloom and fruitful. Huajian international Ethiopia is often cited as one of the most well-known stories. Following the ‘The belt, the road’ initiative, Huajian Group is now preparing their next overseas attempt to Bangladesh, another popular low-cost investment destination. [The analyst: Jun Hou]
Ethiopia yesterday inaugurated the third integrated agro-industrial park being developed within the framework of the Programme for Country Partnership for Ethiopia, a flagship programme of UNIDO. The new industrial park is located in Yirgalem, a town in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s region, and will focus on agro-industries as a means to drive rural industrialization and job creation. The park is expected to create around 134,000 new jobs in the region. IAIPs will provide modern infrastructure, and support services to companies, as well as provide opportunities for skills development, and help attract domestic and foreign investment. Four such parks are being established within the framework of the PCP for Ethiopia.
The CEO of Enterprise Mauritius, Mr Arvind Radhakrishna, highlighted that Enterprise Mauritius is executing its Strategic Plan 2015-2018 which lays emphasis on market consolidation and expansion, entry in new and emerging markets, an effective Africa Strategy and capacity building in areas of enterprise needs. Eight new and emerging countries have been targeted since 2016 namely: Russia, Dubai, Japan, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Czech Republic. He stated that in the face of numerous challenges such as Brexit, worldwide competition, currency fluctuations and new trade policies in the USA, the main objective now is to aim at achieving more product and market diversification and working closely with enterprises.
IMF deals for CEMAC countries would ease oil pressures (Fitch Ratings)
Our country forecasts do not incorporate IMF funding or technical support due to uncertainty over the timing and content of possible programmes. Even so, our latest fiscal forecasts show Gabon’s budget cash deficit averaging less than 3% of GDP in 2017 and 2018, down from an estimated 4.4% in 2016; Cameroon’s deficit narrowing slightly to an average 5.1% over the same period from 5.4%; and Congo averaging 1.8%, from 9.1% last year. But these forecasts chiefly reflect recovering oil prices rather than consolidation.
From aspiration to reality: unpacking the Africa Mining Vision (Oxfam)
Eight years after its inception, implementation has been slow and there is a low level of awareness of the framework among key stakeholders in the mineral sector. This paper shows that the AMV has specific weaknesses that should be addressed through its national implementation, in order to enhance the benefits for African citizens. Africa’s leaders and citizens must act now to ensure that the goals of the AMV are realized.
Africa’s green bonds: a way to finance the future (IPPMedia)
Apart from potential tax incentives, African states may be able to achieve more sustainable growth in relatively early stages of development in contrast to more developed states. The introduction of the issuance of green bonds increases the priority for sustainable development on the continent, thus encouraging African countries to avoid the mistakes (in sustainable development) that developed economies made in their infancy. A potential challenge for African states hoping to attain finance for funds through green bonds is the size of the projects and their financing needs. The size of the projects may need to be increased in order to ensure that they are more attractive.
Tweet by Muhammadu Buhari, @MBuhari: Today I signed the Instrument ratifying the Treaty on the Establishment of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor among Benin,CIV, Ghana, Togo & Nigeria
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre: EOI for consultancy services competitiveness of local businesses in Nacala Corridor
Climate change adaptation and financial protection: synthesis of key findings from Colombia and Senegal (pdf, OECD)
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