Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Mercator Media

Starting tomorrow, in Cape Town: tralac’s Annual Conference, International Trade Governance – quo vadis?

It is clear there are significant shifts in global political economy and power relations underway; and that these require a rethink of global trade and more generally, economic governance models. What are the implications of these developments for the multilateral trading system, as manifested in the rules-based regime of the WTO? What are the implications of the apparent preference of a Trump administration for bilateral trade deals? How will other WTO members respond? Could this undermine the multilateral trade governance regime, recognising that the enthusiasm for enhancing and augmenting this governance regime has for some time already been decidedly muted. How should we in African respond to these developments, and very importantly, what is influencing our own policy, political economy and governance discourse for trade and integration? What opportunities do the Continental Free Trade Area negotiations offer for taking a fresh look at the challenges around us? Note: To follow discussions on Twitter, use #tralacConf17

Keynote perspectives will be delivered by H.E. Albert Muchanga (AUC Commissioner Trade and Industry) and Minister Rob Davies (SA’s Minister of Trade and Industry). Downloads (pdf): Background note, Final programme, What considerations may guide a new American policy for Africa?, Brexit implications now that Article 50 has been triggered

Please note: Due to the tralac Annual Conference, the next selection will be posted on Monday

Brexit and economic deceleration in China pose risks for Africa’s growth says ECA director (UNECA)

Mr Adam Elhiraika (Director, UNECA’s Macroeconomic Policy Division) said although Africa’s medium-term growth prospects remained positive despite risks and uncertainties, growth continued to decline regardless of a sluggish recovery in global commodity prices. He said weather-related shocks remained a regional risk, in particular in parts of eastern and southern Africa and could lead to poor harvests and heightens the risk of inflation. Ultimately Africa’s growth is expected to rebound despite global headwinds even after feeling the effects of Brexit and all but Mr Elhiraika said also of concern was the fact that security remained a risk in some African countries affecting economic growth in the process.

EAC Heads of State summit shelved (Daily News)

Presidents of the six countries making up the East African Community who were to gather here for the 18th EAC Ordinary Heads of State Summit Meeting, have postponed their schedule. The EAC’s head of corporate communication and public affairs, Mr Richard Owora Othieno, said summit which was to be held in Arusha on 6 April, under the Chairmanship of President John Magufuli, will now be convened at a later date. “The 6th of April is a special day for Burundi and therefore the Chairman of the Heads of State Summit agreed to push forward the meeting to a later date,” said Mr Othieno.

Uganda takes over Chairmanship of EAC from Tanzania (EAC)

Speaking after taking over, the new Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Dr Ali Kirunda Kivenjija, Uganda’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs, said that the Council of Ministers meeting came at a time when there was growing demand by the East African citizens to see, touch and feel the tangible benefits of the regional integration especially following the launch of the Customs Union in 2005, the Common Market in 2010, and the Monetary Union in 2013. “At this critical period, the Council’s contribution towards the regional integration process therefore cannot be overemphasized,” Hon. Kivenjija. He urged EAC Partner States to enhance the visibility of the tangible benefits of the integration by implementing fully the Customs Union and Common Market protocols. Hon. Kivejinja said that since the operationalization of the Customs Union and Common Market protocols, Partner States have not fully allowed the citizens to enjoy the anticipated benefits.

Northern Corridor initiative is well and alive, says Mushikiwabo (New Times)

Despite slowdown in frequency of Summit level meetings of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects, the initiative is well and alive, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, has said. At the onset, Heads of State Summits [of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda] would be held quarterly. The last summit was held in April 2016 in Kampala. Addressing a news conference yesterday, Mushikiwabo said: “I think that what has happened since last year is that there has been a lot of political activity in the region and that has not allowed us, as a bloc, to hold our regular meetings as we had done since the beginning of the initiative.” Mushikiwabo further explained that due to what has been happening, there has just been a “slowdown” of NICP activities but “the spirit of the Northern Corridor initiative is well and alive.” Recently, South Sudan graduated from observer status to an active member of the initiative.

Kenya: RVR’s 25-year deal to run rail line is terminated (Business Daily)

The Business Daily has learnt that Kenya Railways terminated the contract last Thursday citing RVR’s failure to meet set operating targets, including payment of concession fees. RVR, whose ownership is controlled by Egyptian private equity firm Qalaa Holding, was informed of the decision through a letter delivered to its bosses on Thursday morning — a day after the operator moved to court seeking orders to stop it. The termination of the contract leaves RVR shareholders, including Qalaa, Uganda’s Bomi Holding, the Kenyan government and the international finance institutions (IFIs) that invested millions of dollars in the rail firm with 180 days to sell it to a strategic investor or return it to Kenya Railways.

Ethiopia: Trade logistics project (World Bank)

The development objective of Trade Logistics Project for Ethiopia is to enhance the performance of the Ethio-Djibouti corridor through improvements in operational capacity, efficiency, and range of logistics services at the Modjo Dry Port. This project has three components. [AfDB approves Sh26bn for key roads in Kenya, Uganda]

Dar-Addis hub deal doesn’t augur well with ATCL future prospects (Daily News)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn flew back home after his two-day state visit last week with a bag full of goodies, one being a deal for Ethiopian Airline to establish a cargo hub in Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli said the deal will enable Addis Ababa to expand alternatives, linking its ports for imports and exports through Dar es Salaam. For the Ethiopians, the envisaged cargo hub is a big score, because the facility will enable the horn of Africa nation to continue strengthening its muscles in Africa’s airline business. As of 2013, Ethiopian Airline already had the largest dedicated cargo fleet in the continent with eight freighters.

State makes fresh bid to grow Kenya’s FDI flows (Star)

Kenya Investment Authority started the consultative process for the revised draft Kenya Investment Policy in a bid to grow domestic and trade flows. Through the proposed policy, the country is targeting to double private sector investment to 24% of the gross domestic product and manufacturing to 20%. The draft, presented to the private sector yesterday, seeks to consolidate various laws and regulations into one. The draft also seeks to address issues on local content, community participation in projects, regional integration, investor protection and set rules on how foreign firms will conduct their business in Kenya. It also touches on movement of labour, access to land, incentives and facilitation.

Western, Central Africa workshop on transfer pricing (WCO)

At this 6th regional Workshop on Transfer Pricing and Customs Valuation (20-24 March, Ouagadougou), 25 specialists from Customs and Tax authorities met to learn about their respective approaches when dealing with related parties engaged in international trade and the information they hold when dealing with such transactions. The participants were updated with the latest tools and instruments developed in relation to Transfer Pricing and in particular the instruments issued by the Technical Committee on Customs Valuation and the WCO Guide on Customs Valuation and Transfer Pricing. [WCO conducts research on cross-border e-commerce in China]

Angola, New Zealand discuss strengthening trade links (Xinhua)

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the visit by Angolan Minister of External Relations Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti was an opportunity to deepen the relationship with the southwest African nation. “Angola had one of the fastest-growing economies of the past decade, and appointed its first ever ambassador to New Zealand, resident in Singapore, last year,” McCully said in a statement. Chikoti would also meeting Trade Minister Todd McClay and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy to discuss business opportunities with the fisheries sector.

Zimbabwe importing $400m steel annually (NewsDay)

Zimbabwe is importing $40m worth of steel annually, bleeding the country of foreign currency, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya has said. “The government has worked hard to clean the balance sheet of Ziscosteel, we all know that Kwekwe was built by Ziscosteel and Zimasco. We want Ziscosteel to start on clean slate so that the debts will not suffocate the business, we are importing $400 million of steel, yet we have our own steel plant,’’ he said.

Nigeria: FG provides update on Ease of Doing Business Index effort (ThisDay)

Speaking at the March edition of the business dialogue organised by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce in Lagos with the theme “Improving the ease of Doing Business in Nigeria”, Coordinator PEBEC and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the council has already swung into action and is being backed by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari. According to her, the council early this year gave the secretariat a task of coming up “with things that could be done within a short time to make an impact on our ranking at least 20 spaces this year. On 21st February, the council approved a 60-day national action plan.” On what has been done so far, she said:

Data residency laws tracked in USTR trade barriers report (Bloomberg)

Barriers to digital trade have spread to such an extent that the Office of the US Trade Representative analyzed how the topic is playing out in dozens of countries in its 2017 annual report on foreign barriers to trade. The 492-page report (pdf, released 31 March) defined digital trade barriers as “restrictions and other discriminatory practices affecting cross-border data flows, digital products, Internet-enabled services, and other restrictive technology requirements.” The 32nd annual USTR report highlighted a range of foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including foreign import policies, lack of intellectual property protections, export subsidies and barriers to investment.

Geographic market definition across national borders: summary of roundtable discussion (pdf, OECD)

Working Party No. 3 held a roundtable discussion on 28 November 2016 to discuss geographic market definition across national borders. Considering the roundtable discussion, the delegates’ written contributions, presentations from the expert panellists and the Secretariat’s background note, the following key points emerge: [Executive summary, pdf]

2017 report on the DAC untying recommendation (pdf, OECD)

The share of DAC bilateral ODA that was reported as untied peaked at 78.6% (Table 6) in 2014, exceeding slightly the 2013 figure of 78.5%, before receding to 76.2% for 2015. Both values exceed the 74.2% baseline from 2010, when providers endorsed in the Busan Partnership Agreement to “accelerated efforts to untie aid”, a commitment that was carried forward into the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. Individual country performance again varies significantly.

Perspectives: five G’s that define the world (pdf, Brunswick)

To explore this issue for our clients, we surveyed almost 43,000 citizens in 25 languages across 26 countries, including South Africa. This has turned out to be the largest research study undertaken by an advisory firm that looks into global perspectives of national well-being, critical issues facing society and attitudes to business. We dug deeper and cut the data five ways – in what we call the 5 G’s: Geography (developed vs emerging market), Global mega-cities, Generation, Graduation (university degree vs no degree), Gender.

136th IPU Assembly, Africa-related reports: Kampala seminar on Sustainable Development Goals for the parliaments of the Sub-Saharan Africa (pdf), Resolution: Promoting enhanced international cooperation on the SDGs, in particular on the financial inclusion of women as a driver of development (pdf), Dhaka Communiqué (pdf)

Today’s Quick Links:

ECOWAS reaffirms commitment to addressing the problem of statelessness (ECOWAS)

Abidjan Declaration on the eradication of statelessness: update

SADC: Consultancy to develop a regional disaster risk reduction strategic plan 2016-2030

Robert Z Lawrence’s presentation Donald Trump: Errors in diagnosis and cure (pdf) from a recent TUTWA seminar From trade rules to trade deals

Inclusive green economy in Mauritius: what skills do we need?

Eun Joo Allison Yi: How can green growth benefit Africa?

UN: Recent attacks show pirates off Somalia’s coast still a potent threat

A ‘different’ Darfur has emerged since 2003; exit strategy for AU-UN mission being considered

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