tralac’s Daily News Selection
Today, in Lusaka: Tanzania-Zambia Trade Forum
Launched: Online Africa knowledge repository platform (with 4000 World Bank publications specific to Africa)
2017 African business outlook survey: The long view – commercial performance and prospects (pdf, Economist Corporate Network)
The dynamic nature of the markets in Africa points to the importance of building a presence in multiple countries in the region, in order to avoid an over reliance on any one country; a strategy of developing a portfolio of markets, is the approach adopted by most of the firms interviewed by ECN. A clear, market-by-market understanding of potential is leading respondents’ firms to remain undeterred and to stay plugged in. The commercial players that are likely to succeed in Africa-based markets will adopt the long view and seek to address the needs of the specific markets where they operate, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Extract: By 2022 respondents expected Nigeria to be their firms’ top market. South Africa is expected to slip to number two, and Kenya is expected to remain in third position. Nigeria’s rise in importance is expected to come at the expense of South Africa and Kenya, both of which are expected to see a decline in the number of respondents citing them as their first market of choice. However, there is a notable increase in Kenya’s being cited as the third-top market from 2016 to 2022.
Africa Capacity Report 2017: Building capacity for science, technology and innovation for Africa’s transformation (ACBF)
The report (pdf) which is based on surveys carried out in 44 countries across the continent makes a clear case for better ways of pursuing financing for development through STI, developing regional strategies for the development of the sector; revolutionizing capacity development; and, investing substantially in higher education/research with the right tools. In fact, the publication says African countries must commit to honoring the 1% of GDP pledge for research and development investment they made in 1980 and 2005, and even take it further, to around 3% of GDP. Currently, Africa accounts for about 5% of global GDP, but is responsible for only 1.3% of global expenditure on R&D. As a result, Africa remains disadvantaged on overall STI effort due to the low investment in STI capacity development. But for the continent to become competitive globally and close its development gap with the rest of the world, African governments must plug the STI investment gap.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Dr Kofi Mbiah, has asked governments of the West African sub-region to take bold steps to promote economic integration among member states by removing barriers affecting trade facilitation. He said the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers, cutting down of delays and costs associated with the clearance of goods and also improving trade flows among others are critical for boosting trade in the sub-region with the exponential effects of improving the living conditions of the people. Dr Mbiah made the call in his opening remarks at the launch of the 1st Borderless Alliance Ghana Conference held on Wednesday in Accra under the theme “Positioning Ghana as a Gateway to West Africa – optimizing benefits of ETLS and TFA”. [Related: 6th Annual Borderless Alliance Conference(10-12 May, Ouagadougou). Concept note (pdf): Optimizing trade opportunities: the role of trade facilitation]
South Africa: February trade balance of R5.22bn (SARS)
The South African Revenue Service has releases trade statistics for February 2017 recording a trade balance surplus of R5.22bn. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. The year-to-date trade balance deficit (1 January - 28 February) of R6bn is an improvement on the deficit for the comparable period in 2016 of R23.62bn. The R5.22bn trade balance surplus for February 2017 is attributable to exports of R87.79bn and imports of R82.57bn. Exports increased from January 2017 to February 2017 by R7.57bn (9.4%) and imports decreased from January 2017 to February 2017 by R8.86bn (9.7%).
Zimbabwe: ‘Zim should adopt rand to boost exports’ (NewsDay)
Scholar and senior economist Ashok Chakravarti told NewsDay in an interview on Tuesday that the current levels of real cash in circulation against deposits were alarmingly low at about $300 million, necessitating the introduction of the rand to ease cash pressures.
Egypt’s trade and industry ministry is working on a strategy to almost double the nation’s exports by the year 2020, from the current $19bn to $34bn, according to a ministry statement on Wednesday. The strategy will include implementing new export plans and policies, as well as targeting new markets for cement, agricultural products, ready-made clothes, construction materials, chemical products, and engineering and electronic goods.
Rwanda: Trade deficit narrows by 25% in Jan-Feb 2017 (New Times)
The deficit reduced from about $296.57m in the first two months of 2017 to about $221.8m facilitated by a decrease in formal imports by 11.9% and growth in exports by 39.1%. The development was revealed during yesterday’s quarterly financial stability committee and monetary policy committee meetings chaired by central bank governor John Rwangombwa. The reduction in trade deficit consequently eased pressure on the Rwandan Franc and reduced depreciation, Rwangombwa said. “The franc depreciated by 0.7% as of March 24, compared to about 2.7% in the same period in 2016,” he noted. Based on the trends and reduced pressures, Rwangombwa is optimistic that the Franc will depreciate at an average of about 4% by the end of the year compared to about 9.7% in 2016. [Banks get funding to support export-oriented businesses]
COMESA insurers meet to revive regional scheme (The Chronicle)
Insurance experts within COMESA are meeting in Victoria Falls to deliberate on ways of revitalising the regional bloc’s insurance scheme. The Yellow Card Insurance Scheme is a regional motor vehicle insurance scheme that provides third party legal liability cover and compensation for medical expenses resulting from road traffic accidents caused by visiting motorists in any member state. The facility has been in force since 1986 when a Council of Ministers ratified it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but has been faced with challenges such as delays in settlement of claims, low uptake, fraud as well as differences in individual member states’ laws. The strategic planning meeting, being attended by Burundi, Djibouti, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, seeks to foster a way forward in dealing with these challenges.
Their newly-launched review of how best to support responsible sourcing of conflict minerals could help determine the next step in a potential rethink of a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rule that requires listed companies to trace their use in products such as smartphones, cars and jewelry. The Trump administration seemed poised to suspend or rework the reporting rule—until Apple Inc., Tiffany & Co. and other major corporations said they would continue rooting out conflict minerals from their supply chains regardless. “That gave them pause,” Arvind Ganesan, who leads Human Rights Watch’s work on abuses linked to business and other economic activity, told Bloomberg BNA. Instead, the agencies’ month-long request for feedback could be an attempt to “repeal and replace” the SEC reporting requirement with other government policies or programs, said Sasha Lezhnev, associate director of policy at the non-profit Enough Project.
Under unchanged policies, the outlook remains challenging. Growth would pick up only slightly to 0.8% in 2017, mostly reflecting some recovery in oil production and a continuing strong performance in agriculture. Policy uncertainty, crowding out, and FX market distortions would be expected to drag activity.
The Federal Government is working to stop the rejection of Nigerian food produce at the international market. Towards this, a draft Food Safety and Quality Bill has been developed and would soon be sent to the Federal Executive Council for approval and to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of parliament. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this yesterday at a meeting of Inter-ministerial Committee on Food Safety in Abuja, said government is planning to establish a system to ensure that only safe and wholesome food and products are traded within the country’s territory. He added that this would ensure significant reduction in food-borne diseases, strengthen institutional capacity for food safety and sustainable, effective trade that would boost the economy.
The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has been elected President of the new five-member Board of the 15-nation ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions for the next two years. The workshop produced a Cotonou Declaration (pdf, in French) on the improvement of electoral processes and entrenchment of democracy in West Africa, at the behest of the ECOWAS Commission’s President H.E. Marcel de Souza, who officially opened the Conference.
Representatives of the AUC and RECs and selected experts on democratic governance are meeting in Zambia’s capital to discuss the framework for cooperation towards the promotion of ratification, implementation and reporting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Delegates will discuss, among other things, opportunities RECs offer towards the promotion of universal ratification, implementation of and reporting on ACDEG by their respective Member States. To date, ACDEG has has been ratified by 29 out of 55 African Union Member States. The latest Member States to do so are Liberia which ratified earlier this month (7 March 2017), Algeria (10 January 2017), Comoros (6 January 2017), Seychelles (28 September 2016) and Namibia (30 August 2016). [Twitter updates: #dgtrends, #ACDEG]
Somaliland roots for ‘statehood’ at UN, AU (Daily News)
The Republic of Somaliland is now rooting for recognition at the AU and UN as a sovereign state, apparently in a bid to win legitimate rights as an independent state. Among its diplomatic forays, the country is now out to woo investors from Tanzania to go and invest in its finance, agriculture, hospitality and industry sectors as well as in marine services. Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Somaliland Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Saad Shire, said the country has all “the credentials” that a sovereign state is entitled to have.
World trade in services: evidence from a new dataset (IMF)
Using a newly constructed dataset on trade in services for 192 countries from 1970 to 2014, this paper shows that services currently constitute one-fourth of world trade and an increasingly important component of global production. A detailed analysis of patterns and stylized facts reveals that exports of services are not only gaining strong momentum and catching up with exports of goods in many countries, but they could also trigger a new wave of trade globalization. Research applications of the trade in service dataset on structural transformation, resilience, labor reallocation, and income distribution are outlined.
UK Prime Minister’s letter to Donald Tusk triggering Article 50: Looking ahead to the discussions which we will soon begin, I would like to suggest some principles that we might agree to help make sure that the process is as smooth and successful as possible. [A true partnership between Rwanda and UK, written by Lord Dolar Popat, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda]
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