tralac’s Daily News Selection
Underway, in Cotonou: a ECONEC / ECOWAS workshop evaluating 10 years’ experience of electoral assistance in West Africa
Later this week, in Arusha, the EAC Council of Ministers. The session of senior officials is from Thursday-Friday (30-31 March). The Coordination Committee Session (Permanent /Principal Secretaries) takes place on 1-2 April followed by the Ministerial Session, 3-4 April. The meeting is considering the following matters:
(i) 8th Meeting of the Continental Task Force: The objective of the meeting is to review the status of implementation of previous decisions made by the Continental Task Force and consider recommendations of the CFTA Negotiating Institutions. The meeting will review draft agendas and documentation for the 2nd Meeting of Technical Working Groups on the CFTA, planned to take place in Nairobi (24 April – 6 May), and the 6th Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum (scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, 5-10 June). In his opening remarks, Mr Prudence Sebahizi, Chief Technical Advisor on the CFTA, pointed out that the meeting is taking place following completion of a number of studies requested by Member States. He deplored the fact that the works on modalities for both trade tariff liberalization and trade in services negotiations remain so far uncompleted. He also informed the meeting that H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger, was mandated to champion the process of the CFTA to ensure that the deadline of the end of 2017 is met and report on measures taken to the next ordinary session of the Assembly in July 2017.
(ii) UNECA counsels respect of human rights in free trade agreements: We need to put people ahead of economic aggregates and focus on human rights, especially for the vulnerable when negotiating Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area said David Luke on Saturday at the launch of the report on Human Rights Impact Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area in Senegal’s capital. Speaking to delegates at the 10th African Development Week, Luke, Director of the African Trade Policy Centre, advised African states to carefully consider the overall benefits of the CFTA agreements and the possible negative impact for their populations. The impact assessment report, a joint effort between ECA, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, remarks that trade liberalisation efforts must be balanced and the impact of distribution should be checked.
EAC trade, regional integration policy updates:
(i) EAC states urged to harmonise standards for most traded goods: The East African Community partner states are being urged to expedite harmonisation of standards for the prioritised 20 most traded goods such as edible fats and oils so as to boost regional trade. According to Lilian Awinja, chief executive of the East African Business Council, the lack of a regional technical regulations framework contributes greatly to the application of national technical regulations, which do not have a common administrative approach neither in process nor in the list of standards declared as mandatory. “This situation is exacerbated by a frequent misunderstanding amongst stakeholders on the different roles of regulatory authorities and national bureaus of standards and the lacking coordination among those institutions.” Recently, the EABC validated the study on Impact Assessment of the East African Harmonised Standards on the business community, during a workshop held in Kampala. Pelagie Mbabazi, the Private Sector Federation liaison officer, who attended the validation workshop, said findings were general and the consultant will issue a final version after incorporating inputs from the meeting.
(ii) World Bank hails EAC for steady progress in regional integration: Mr Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, the World Bank’s coordinating director on EAC integration, noted that the Community had been very active in recent years in engaging the bank and developing a programme of collaboration to support the implementation of its ambitious regional integration agenda. He said that this active engagement with the World Bank led to the development of a strong active support programme worth $2.97bn which represents 33% of total International Development Association regional lending in Sub-Saharan Africa as of today. He, however, disclosed that only 19% of the agreed amount had been disbursed as of now. The Secretariat, led by Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, urged the Bank to support various priority areas including: the harmonisation of commercial laws across the EAC region; creation of an e-business register; issues of connectivity especially interlinking of banks; harmonisation of public financial management to similar standards across all the Partner States, and; harmonisation of statistics in the region to promote banking inter-operability.
(iii) Tools to enhance operations at One Stop Border Posts in EAC being developed: The EAC is developing a regional training curriculum to support the operationalization of OSBPs within the bloc. In a 20-24 March meeting in Kigali, held with the support of the GIZ-African Union Border Programme, Partner States’ experts from the Revenue and Immigration Authorities developed the tool, which aims at training OSBP officers on the rules and ways to operate in their different positions at their different posts in cooperation and coordination with their different counterparts.
The formulation of projects under the COMESA trade facilitation programme to be financed under the 11th European Development Fund has been finalized. This follows the conclusion of a two day regional workshop in Lusaka for Member States to validate the identified projects. Speaking at the workshop, Secretary General Mr Sindiso Ngwenya stressed the need to address the high cost of transporting goods in the region and thereby enhancing the competitiveness of firms in the region, especially SMEs. He said COMESA was preparing to publish its own Ease of Doing Business Report and Competitiveness Report in line with its guiding principles of “a learning, a knowledge and an innovative organization.” Head of Regional Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Zambia, Mr Matteo Sirtori, informed the workshop that a study on cross border trade was ongoing, aimed at fine tuning the activities previously defined in the Action document which was approved by the EU in 2016.
IFPRI Global Food Policy Report 2017: profiled analyses
(i) Informal food markets in Africa’s cities (Chapter 6): Notably, reliance on the informal sector varies depending on how wealthy a country is: 90% of households in the South African cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg buy their food from supermarkets compared with only 23% in Maputo, Mozambique. Indeed, many observers contend that supermarkets in Africa are still largely a niche element of food retail and will continue to be so in the near future. A study focused on Kenya predicts that supermarket chains will continue to capture only a fraction of the urban fresh fruit and vegetable market. Similarly, despite the presence of supermarkets in Zambia for more than 20 years, they still serve only a small share of the population. The informal economy is critical to urban food security for several reasons: [Chapter author: Danielle Resnick]
(ii) Africa regional analysis: Measures of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition have improved steadily if slowly in Africa south of the Sahara, as has agricultural value added. But African countries continued to face low commodity prices and limited external finance in 2016. A continentwide campaign known as “Seize the Moment” kicked off to accelerate efforts of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to raise investments in agriculture in the region. But the impacts of severe drought, climate change, conflict, and rapid urbanization will create ongoing challenges in 2017. [The chapter authors: Tsitsi Makombe, Julia Collins, Ousmane Badiane]
BRICS: Towards an e-commerce policy framework and industry alliance (UNIDO)
UNIDO, in cooperation with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, convened an expert meeting to discuss the development of e-commerce in BRICS. The meeting was part of UNIDO’s interregional project implemented with technical support from China to further cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises in China and the other BRICS countries. The participants decided to encourage government bodies and business associations to establish a BRICS e-commerce industry alliance. They also endorsed a strategy and policy recommendations on improving the standardization of e-commerce and trade in BRICS. Addressing the meeting, Wang Zhan, President of SASS, expressed his organization’s eagerness to take the lead in the joint study report of policy framework on e-commerce of BRICS in cooperation with various stakeholders. Specialists from BRICS presented national study reports.
The MOU will enable both parties to treat each other as a preferred partner and share information on investment opportunities. It will also enable both parties to optimize their own advantages in initiating mutual investment promotion campaigns and to join hands in supporting enterprises of the two countries for more profound investments, as well as economic and trade cooperation. Both parties will hold a joint investment seminar on 8-11 May in China to promote opportunities in the interests of both countries. Rob Davies, minister of trade and industry, said South Africa will use the opportunity to promote the Special Economic Zones and try to attract investment, noting that South Africa’s relationship with China is bearing fruit with investments from Chinese companies.
Nigeria: Customs responsible for 82% of charges at Nigerian ports (ThisDay)
A study by Nigeria’s leading accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, has blamed the high cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports on the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies, claiming that customs processes are responsible for not less than 82.1% of the charges incurred by consignees. This assertion was contained in an industry report Public Private Partnership as an anchor for diversifying the Nigeria economy: Lagos Container Terminals Concession as a case study. Akintola Williams Deloitte stated that its value chain analysis of a 20-foot container laden with cargo worth N44.42million ($100,000) imported into Nigeria from China, revealed that about N6.5million would be required to clear and transport the container out of the port.
Paul Kagame: Time to change US-Africa engagement approach (New Times)
He observed (addressing an Atlantic Council Roundtable: “For decades, the United States has adopted a monolithic approach to dealing with Africa. It’s time for fresh-thinking on how to approach Africa and the assumptions that underlie this thinking, no matter the administration. It is really an opportunity to shape relationships with U.S and other partners in regards to Africa’s priorities,” he said. The change, Kagame said, also ought to be reflected in Africa’s expectations and mindsets from charity to mutual benefit when dealing with partners. “We in African need to shift from expectation of largesse from every incoming administration, to a mind-set of what Africa and the United States can do together, that is of mutual benefit,” he said.
Rosa Whitaker: China is not “moving relentlessly across Africa” (IPPMedia)
Most importantly, Africa is now better placed than ever to set its own agenda. The world is waking up to the fact that, with its youthful, rapidly urbanising population, Africa stands to be the next great driver of global demand and growth. To get there, the continent has enormous infrastructure gaps to fill. Those gaps themselves represent enormous opportunities. Who enjoys them and on what terms is at the discretion of African decision makers. Blanket smears of any ethnic group are always unacceptable. Proclaiming that China is “locking out the United States” is overly simplistic and simply not true. On the contrary, the US would do well to work with, rather than against, those investing in this great continent. [Rosa Whitaker was the Assistant USTR for Africa under the Clinton and Bush administrations]
The inaugural Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) opened yesterday, providing a voice and a venue for leaders to transform manufacturing, encourage greater investment in capabilities, foster innovation and drive global skills development. The GMIS, which runs over three days at Abu Dhabi’s Paris-Sorbonne University, brings together 1,200 delegates including world leaders, expert industry CEOs and specialist researchers and academics. The GMIS is expected to conclude with an agreement on a global vision of the future of manufacturing, as well as on some transformational ideas that will improve the livelihoods of all.
Today’s Quick Links:
South Africa: Tourism and Migration, January 2017 statistics
Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina’s 2017 Emerging Markets Forum speech
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