tralac’s Daily News Selection
World Economic Forum on Africa: Achieving inclusive growth (3-5 May, Durban). Profiled points for discussion (pdf): Connecting markets, Revitalizing manufacturing, Integrating innovation
According to the International Air Transport Association, if 12 African economies liberalize access to their skies for each other, an additional 155,000 jobs could be created and $1.3bn added to GDP. How can the continent fast-track the establishment of a single African air transport market together with continental visa openness?
Almost 90% of Africa’s international trade is conducted by sea, yet port delays account for about 10% of import costs. How can investment in regional shipping hubs boost trade efficiency?
Investors cite the lack of harmonized regional rules and regulations as a barrier for deepening and expanding financial services. How can Africa advance regional financial integration?
Infrastructure investments and growth in African retail markets are transforming the logistics industry in Africa. How can new technologies, like drones, drive high growth in the continent’s logistics industry?
Building on the success of mobile money and the emergence of new technologies like blockchain, fintech is fast banking the unbanked in Africa. How can regionalization accelerate the establishment of universal digital financial services?
Globally, efforts to strengthen intellectual property rights are gaining momentum. While patents can be filed in the Africa, global IP systems are difficult to enforce. How can regional IP regimes be strengthened to fast-track African innovators?
Mozambique’s Trade Policy Review takes place next week (3,5 May in Geneva)
Inaugural meeting of the Tanzania National Business Council (6 May, Dar es Salaam): Tanzania’s first National Business Council is set for inauguration next week amid growing concerns over an increasingly unfavourable environment for the country’s private sector to thrive. The 6 May inauguration, to be graced by President John Magufuli as chief guest, will also see the launch of a report compiled by a special committee under the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Investments on challenges facing local business in general. Tanzania Private Sector Foundation executive secretary Godfrey Simbeye described the TNBC as the highest public-private sector dialogue organ. “The council is made up of 40 members; 20 from the private sector ranging from business owners or leaders, and 20 from the government, including cabinet ministers, the central bank governor and the attorney general,” Simbeye explained.
Friends of eCommerce for Development: seminar on e-payments and financial inclusion (13 March, WTO). Extract from Roberto Azevêdo’s address: In conversations here at the WTO, Members have been raising many of these issues, but it is clear that there are still divergent views on how to advance the e-commerce discussion. And there are concerns that the digital divide and the knowledge gap would limit some Members’ participation in the talks. These concerns need to be addressed to ensure that a meaningful and inclusive debate can take place. I think there is broad agreement that the development dimension of e-commerce needs to be part and parcel of our continuing conversations. This will be fundamental to allow all WTO Members to engage constructively and to ensure that e‑commerce works for inclusive growth and development. However, it is also important to recognize that the challenges posed by e-commerce are many and complex – and not all of them are trade-related. [The Friends of eCommerce for Development (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uruguay): (i) download the presentations, (ii) Mapping e-trade for all development objectives into a WTO Framework for E-Commerce (pdf)]
Reaffirming Development – MC11: submission by the G-33 to the WTO Committee on Agriculture
The following submission, dated 25 April, is circulated at the request of the delegation of Indonesia, on behalf of the G-33: The time is short. Hence G-33 requests Members to constructively and meaningfully engage on the two most important issues of SSM and PSH with a view to deliver them in MC11 so that developing Members are equipped with these tools to counterbalance some of the inequities built into the WTO rules in favour of the developed Members.
How much labour do South African exports contain? (World Bank)
Like many emerging economies, South Africa has identified exports as an engine for more inclusive, job-intensive growth. However, employment growth did not follow the substantial export growth that South Africa experienced in the 2000s. This paper uses a newly developed World Bank database -- the Labor Content of Exports -- to show that the composition of South Africa’s export growth helps to understand the weak relationship between export and employment growth. Minerals exports, which propelled export as well as wage growth, are not job intensive and as a result supported far less job growth. Minerals have also increasingly become an enclave sector with few backward linkages to the domestic economy. In contrast, manufacturing exports support jobs and wages primarily in input-providing sectors, where indirect manufacturing employment is nearly 4.5 times greater than direct manufacturing employment. The paper also documents a shift in the labor content of global value chain–intensive manufacturing sectors away from direct manufacturing to indirect services. Such a shift has been biased toward skilled labor. As a results of these trends, labor in services sectors has been the main beneficiary of South Africa’s export growth, absorbing more than half of the growth in wage income from exports over the 2000s, primarily by supplying inputs to other sectors’ exports. [The analysts: Massimiliano AuthorCali, Claire Honore Hollweg]
What do we get for $5bn investment? The IDEV of the AfDB has just published a report evaluating more than a decade of engagement in South Africa, principally in the finance and energy sectors. According to AfDB Evaluator General Rakesh Nangia, “The report offers a thorough analysis of Bank performance and also of the limitations of the AfDB’s positioning in the South African context. Across its work in finance and infrastructure, stakeholders in South Africa saw the AfDB as a financier, rather than adding value as a knowledge provider or supporter of their capacity. The AfDB must think carefully about its comparative advantage and innovatively about funding instruments for the future.”
Extract from executive summary (pdf): The evaluation found a Bank that is learning to adapt to the developed, competitive South African market. It highlighted the fact that while the scope and scale of Bank operations cannot make a significant national impact, they are nevertheless important for the Bank. The findings showed that the Bank was moving in a relevant direction given its objectives, but that gaps exist in key areas and that ambitions were ill matched to available resources, instruments and demand. The evaluation raised concerns about efficiency (timeliness and processes) and effectiveness (in relation to Bank targets). The findings and conclusions indicate that current policies and practices are inadequate if the Bank wants to remain relevant and grow its portfolio in South Africa. A more tailored approach, appropriate resourcing of the team and a broader menu of innovative funding facilities, are required.
Michel Arrion: Some important clarifications about the EPA and EU trade policy (The Guardian)
These are, in short, the advantages the EPA provides. I will now address some provocative questions I often hear about the EPA. A first question is why Nigeria should sign the EPA if it is currently unable to export any product other than oil. My answer is simple. Everybody knows that Nigeria needs to diversify its exports. However, diversifying exports does not take place over night. It requires the adoption and implementation of several coordinated policies, aiming at increasing Nigeria’s capacity to satisfy both local and foreign demand. The conclusion of international trade agreements must be necessarily part of this strategy. No country in the world has been able to dramatically increase and diversify exports without entering into trade agreements. A second question I often hear is “why should Nigeria sign now a trade agreement with the EU, rather than waiting for the opportunity to sign possibly better agreements with other countries”? The reasons are manifold.
But the most important question I often hear is “What benefits will the EU obtain from the EPA”? Let me be also very clear on this. The EU will not obtain many economic or commercial benefits in the short or medium term. As explained, the market opening of West Africa will be gradual and very slow, and will only concern capital goods, i.e. inputs and machinery. According to the EPA, West Africa will still maintain high import duties on most finished and consumer goods imported from Europe. Under these circumstances, only few EU suppliers would, over a medium and long term, be able to increase sales to West Africa as a result of the EPA. [The author is the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS]
China’s Belt and Road Initiative a golden opportunity for Africa: Ethiopian special envoy (Xinhua)
The Belt and Road Initiative is a golden opportunity to bring about regional integration and sustainable economic growth for Africa, said Berhane Gebre-Christos, special envoy of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, on Tuesday. The special envoy made the remarks at the opening of a seminar organized on the B&R Initiative in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. La Yifan, Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, said the seminar was organized as part of preparation for an upcoming B&R Initiative forum scheduled for mid-May in Beijing, China.
This five-day meeting, underway in Entebbe, brings together experts and officials from IGAD Member States in charge of their respective National Medicine Regulatory Authority whose mandate is to guarantee populations’ access to essential quality, safe, and efficacious medicines. The long term goal of the Working Group is to develop a draft policy towards harmonization of registration and evaluation of medicines, while the overall objective of this First Meeting of Experts is to develop an IGAD reference list of registered products, conduct pilot joint review of essential priority medicines, and determine avenues for collaboration between IGAD-NMRAs.
ECOWAS high-level ministerial mission to Guinea Bissau: statement
This was one of the outcomes from a weekend meeting between François Kanimba, the Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, and Aimé Boji Sangara Bamanyirwe, DR Congo’s Minister for Commerce. The two ministers committed to instruct relevant institutions to refrain from creating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for trade between the two countries, according to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting. The statement indicates that the Congolese minister “clearly stated” that no other institutions should introduce trade barriers on the Congolese side without due consultations. Such decisions, he noted, should only be taken by central government in Kinshasa. An action plan to implement the decisions and trade facilitation between the two countries was adopted and approved by the two ministers.
Today’s Quick Links:
Africa tourism trends: presentation to UNWTO Commission for Africa (pdf)
World Bank: Performance of water utilities in Africa
OECD’s Working Party on Agricultural Policies and Markets: Managing food insecurity in ASEAN (pdf)