tralac’s Daily News Selection
This week’s tralac Newsletter: Where do African countries stand in various aspects of the Digital Economy?
The 2017 edition of UNCTAD E-commerce Week will be held from 24–28 April in Geneva with the theme “Towards inclusive e-commerce”. On 25 April, the high-level event Digital transformation for all: empowering entrepreneurs and small business will be the highlight of the week. An interactive dialogue with ministers and representatives of government, international organizations, captains of industry, civil society, academia and youth will take place.
WTO names Kenyan to key agriculture docket in Africa charm offensive (Business Daily)
The WTO has named five more Africans to head its key bodies in an apparent effort to boost acceptance in a continent that has lagged in global trade for decades. Kenya’s representative in Geneva, Mr Stephen Karau, will chair all the WTO’s special negotiation sessions on agriculture, a sensitive docket as the sector is the backbone of many African economies.Senegal’s Coly Seck was also named the chairperson of special sessions of the agency’s Dispute Settlement Body whileTunisia’s Walid Doudech will chair a committee on regional trade agreements. Also heading a key body is Mr Taonga Mushayavanhu of Zimbabwe who becomes chairperson of the committee on trade and development.
Francis Mangeni, Calestous Juma: The relation between the Tripartite FTA and the Continental FTA
This article is based on the forthcoming publication by Francis Mangeni and Calestous Juma, entitled Emergent Africa – the evolution of regional integration, to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.
A new TRAFFIC and WWF report launched today highlights the challenges facing timber trading nations in eastern and southern Africa, in particular the need for improving trade monitoring and financial integrity and addressing issues related to politics, corruption and ethics at a national and regional level. The Overview of the timber trade in East and Southern Africa: national perspectives and regional trade linkages (pdf) was launched as representatives of governments from across the region meet to discuss implementation of the Zanzibar Declaration on Illegal Trade in Timber and other Forest Products. Key among the recommendations from the new report are calls for full government participation in forest‐related multilateral agreements, such as those under SADC and EAC, to address issues undermining legal, sustainable timber production. In particular, the SADC and EAC Secretariats are urged to collaborate to capture information from government forestry, revenue collection, Customs, and ports authorities and make the data publicly available.
An FAO-led push to establish internationally agreed standards that can guide the development of catch documentation schemes aimed at keeping illegally caught fish off store-shelves and consumers’ plates has taken an important step forward. A set of draft Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes was last week unanimously adopted by a technical consultation that brought a 5-year negotiation effort to a close, and are now poised for adoption by all FAO Members at the UN agency’s upcoming bi-annual governing conference (Rome 3-8 July 2017).
The project will improve the meteorological infrastructure and facilities in the region leading to improved weather and climate services to meet national and regional DRR needs. It will contribute to increased capability to respond to and manage climate induced disasters of SADC countries. All 15 member states will be better equipped to generate and disseminate accurate climate and weather information for climate change mitigation and early warning, food security, water security and environmental protection. The data will be utilized in disaster risk reduction and management in the region. The project will improve meteorological network infrastructure of 5 member states (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania) which did not receive support from the previous AfDB Institutional Support to African Climate Institution Project (ISACIP) initiative.
Climate change and trade policy interaction: implications of regionalism (pdf, Joint Working Party on Trade and Environment, OECD)
This study has sought to draw out some of the implications of regionalism for the interaction between trade and climate policy, by examining the implications of regional climate governance for international trade on the one hand, and the implications of regional trade governance for climate change on the other. It has further pointed to possible ways forward for regional approaches with a view to contributing to both trade and climate-change objectives.
Regional industrialisation: when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (UNECA)
Between 1992 and 2013, Uganda reduced the proportion of people living in poverty by over half and has registered a strong growth performance, accompanied by a rapid reduction in poverty rates. However, the country’s economic growth has not been sufficiently inclusive and did not generate enough job opportunities for the young and rapidly growing population. Speaking at a High-Level Policy Dialogue on promoting sustainable industrialisation in Uganda, Andrew Mold, the acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa said that a sub-regional approach to industrial development is likely to result in a significantly faster rate of industrialisation than would be the case if the process is undertaken on an individual country-by-country basis.
Uganda: Self-regulation code launched to facilitate maize trade (Daily Monitor)
Six grain warehouse hubs in Uganda will benefit from the implementation of the self-regulation code which aims at reducing post-harvest losses due to poor storage at farm level. The Grain Council of Uganda, supported by DfID, through TradeMark East Africa, has launched a warehouse code and research report on Uganda’s maize grains regional hubs. According the report, maize export in Uganda has faced challenges often due to the poor quality of grains with more than 30 to 40% of total harvest ending up as poor grain. The development of a self-regulatory code of conduct is a step in the right direction in overcoming the challenges.
Tanzania: Domestic resources mobilization and natural resources governance, 2017-2019 (pdf, AfDB)
The major gas discoveries represent a great opportunity for promoting economic development, but they also come with capacity challenges for the authorities: challenges related to effectively negotiating the various projects and delivering on the expectations they have raised. Areas where urgent capacity needs have been identified include (i) setting up the regulatory and institutional framework, (ii) negotiations and deal-making skills development; (iii) local content policies formulation, and (iv) skills for designing strategies for domestication of natural gas. Marketing the gas will also come with skills requirements:
The private sector remains embryonic despite the enormous potential of the country. The DRC is facing persistent constraints for an increased involvement of private investment in the productive sectors. The current major challenge facing DRC is to ensure that the economic performance achieved over the past few years helps to improve the living conditions of its citizens and creates sustainable jobs through consolidation of the industrialization process, structuring of supply and entrepreneurship. The unattractive business climate continues to hamper gradual industrialization, private sector development and sustainable creation of national wealth. The direct beneficiaries of the institutional support are: the Ministry of Industry, the OCC, the Faculty of Science and 100 women entrepreneurs mainly involved in processing.
Africa’s Great Lakes region, having made some progress in implementing its 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, still faced critical challenges, including the re-emergence of violent non-State armed groups, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy told the Security Council during a briefing Wednesday. Said Djinnit, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, presented the Secretary-General’s latest report, saying that a recent summit of the Framework’s regional oversight mechanism had generated renewed commitment among signatories.
Maritime security in the Eastern and Southern African and Indian Ocean: update (EAC)
“The recent events [with three acts of piracy off the Somali coasts after five years of calm], reminded us that maritime insecurity remains a major challenge in the Western Indian Ocean. That is why we must not slacken our efforts”. On the occasion of the opening of the fifth Steering Committee of the Regional Programme for the Promotion of Maritime Security in Mauritius, Indian Ocean Commission’s General-Secretary, Hamada Madi, enjoined the regional organizations and the countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, as well as the international community to “remain mobilised in our region that is strategic for world trade
Indonesia, Angola to expand trade, investment (Jakarta Post)
Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto urged local businesses to expand trade to Angola, especially for transportation, defense and electronics equipment, expecting to see more gainful trade between the two countries that was worth about $292.8m last year. ”Angola can be the central spot for us to promote industrial products to western Africa,” he said during a meetings with Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti and delegations on Wednesday. The ministries exchanged information on investment regulations in their respective countries. “We hope there will be further commitments to cooperate comprehensively to develop each other’s economies,” Airlangga said.
The AfDB and Busan Metropolitan City have jointly urged South Korea’s private sector to do more business with Africa. The call was made at the Korea-Africa Business Forum held at Busan Exhibition & Convention Centre (3-4 April), supported by Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance. The event foreshadowed the Bank’s 53rd Annual General Meetings to be held in Busan (21-25 May 2018).
Qatar-South Africa Business Forum: Minister sees growth in trade relations (Gulf Times)
The Minister of Economy and Commerce stressed that the two countries have great potential to increase co-operation in various fields, pointing out that the value of Qatar’s exports to South Africa reached about $390m in 2016, while the value of South African exports of goods to Qatar accounted for $104m. The Minister noted that the current levels of trade do not reflect the real potential for co-operation between the two countries, especially as Qatar’s share of South Africa’s total exports is only about 1% and Qatar’s share of imports of fuel, chemicals and plastics in South Africa is only 2%. Qatar can be the gateway to the products of South Africa in the common market of the Gulf Co-operation Council countries as well as the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, he said, adding that Qatari nationals can invest in competitive sectors in South Africa, particularly in the areas of tourism, precious stones and agribusiness.
Kenya eyes low-cost oil, cattle market in deal with Saudi Arabia (Business Daily)
A team 30 investors accompanied Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment minister, Majed bin Abdulla Alqassabi, to Nairobi to explore modalities of shipping cheaper crude oil to Kenya and exporting cattle products in exchange. ”Kenya is now going to be our strategic partner and we will work together towards the achievement of the Vision 2030,” Dr Majed. Kenya which has discovered about one billion barrel of crude oil in Turkana has already commenced its trial export of the commodity. Its interest in Saudi’s crude appears to signify a strategic move to build reserves for internal processing when it finally constructs its refinery.
The Southern African region, from a purely biophysical perspective, has huge potential for biofuel production, especially in Mozambique and Zambia. Although many of the soils are sandy and acidic, with careful management and correct fertilization, they should be highly productive. We suggest that sugarcane is the crop most easily mobilized for biofuel. A number of other crops, such as sweet sorghum, cassava, and tropical sugar beet, have good potential but will need further agronomic and processing technology investigations. [The analysts: Michael von Maltitz, Marna van der Merwe] [Related paper: Biofuels technology in southern Africa - a look forward]
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Please note: the next tralac daily selection will be posted on Tuesday