Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: imgarcade.com

Underway, in Brussels: the 105th session of the ACP Council of Ministers. The ACP Council of Ministers will deliberate in plenary on 3-4 May, before meeting with counterparts from the EU during the ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers on Friday.

Now available: the decisions, declarations, resolutions from the 28th AU Assembly (January, Addis Ababa); Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the AU (pdf)

Underway, at the WTO: Mozambique’s trade policy review

Extracts from the Secretariat report, pdf: Mozambique’s applied MFN tariff has remained largely unchanged over the review period. Mozambique’s simple average tariff rate is 10%, with a higher simple average tariff on agricultural products (WTO definition, 13.4%) than on non-agricultural products (9.5%). International tariff peaks affect one third of Mozambique’s tariff schedule. Mozambique does not apply tariff quotas. Mozambique has only bound 686 tariff lines out of its schedule of 5,063 tariff lines (just over 13%). 19 tariff lines at the 8-digit HS level are bound for non-agricultural products; and for three of these lines, applied rates exceed their respective bound rates. Mozambique’s tariff shows mixed escalation overall: it is negative from raw materials to semi-processed products and then positive from semi-processed to finished products. Such a tariff structure tends to discourage investment in processing industries because the heavy taxation of imported inputs adds to production costs or reduces the competitiveness of products manufactured in Mozambique. Thus the tariff structure may not be conducive to diversification of economic activity through manufacturing. It also contributes to investors’ arguments in favour of duty and tax concessions, including under the Industrial Free Zone and Special Economic Zone regimes.

Taking out exports associated with megaprojects, exports have remained steady at around $1bn per year since 2011. The only other significant export expansion during the review period was in the sugar sector, resulting from new investment to rehabilitate the industry. Depressed demand for commodity exports, as well as delays in ramping up coal export infrastructure, resulted in a significant fall in the value of exports from $4.7bn in 2014 to $3.2bn in 2015, with decreases registered across the board. At around S$3.3bn, services imports are roughly the same size as Mozambique’s total merchandise exports. Throughout the review period, Mozambique has remained a large net importer of services, in particular of freight transport services, construction, and consulting, professional and trade-related services (see Table 1.2). The strong growth in services imports was partly counteracted by improvements in the services balance in 2015 which noted a reduction in construction and professional services, a side effect of lower investment. Tourism is a significant services export for Mozambique, albeit at a modest level.

World Economic Forum on Africa: selected commentaries, resources [#WEFAfrica2017]

The future of jobs and skills in Africa: preparing the region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (WEF). While a number of African economies are relatively under-exposed to labour market disruptions at present, this picture is changing rapidly. This window of opportunity must be used by the region’s leaders to prepare for tomorrow. Extract (pdf): While it is predicted that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya; this is likely moderated by comparatively low labour costs and offset by new job creation. Despite this longer window of opportunity, the region’s capacity to adapt to further job disruption is a concern, although there are important nuances at the country level. Employers across the region already identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.

EY’s Attractiveness Program Africa: connectivity redefined. Foreign investors into Africa continue to seek the “next wave” of sectors beyond consumer-facing ones. With a 20.9% increase in FDI projects, transport & logistics became the fifth largest sector in 2016. The sector also ranked second by FDI investment and was the fourth largest contributor to FDI jobs. By source, the US directed more than 23% of the projects. Morocco was the largest destination, with 12 FDI projects, up fourfold from 3 in 2015, followed by South Africa, Mozambique and Egypt. Global transport and logistics providers see an opportunity to act as “connectors” for Africans and markets, considering the relatively underdeveloped state of infrastructure.

Devex WEF commentaries: Adva Saldinger, Christin Roby: 5 things to watch at the WEF on Africa; Raj Kumar: Should Africa ‘hurry up and wait’ amid development crisis?

Selected South African commentaries: Minister Rob Davies: New global deal needed to rid world of social ills; Minister Malusi Gigaba: address to the Black Business Council WEF roundtable; William Gumede: Social enterprise sector is missing link in Africa wealth-creation chain

News SMS tool to address trade barriers launched (COMESA)

A newly designed Short Messaging Service for reporting trade barriers within the tripartite regional economic blocs has been launched. The SMS will supplement the current web based online system for reporting, monitoring and elimination of NTBs used by COMESA, EAC and SADC. The Tripartite online reporting system is a real-time, mechanism for reporting, processing, monitoring and resolving NTBs and is available on www.tradebarriers.org. It was operationalised in November 2010. The SMS tool is now being rolled out to COMESA Member States as part of capacity building and empowerment to manage NTBs and fast tracking their removal. Economic operators who encounter NTBs will be able to send an SMS to the central number which will in turn relay messages to identified Focal Points numbers and the current online reporting system. The Union of the Comoros is the first country to launch the new NTB SMS tool on 21 April. [How the real-time tracking of market prices in Somalia helps us respond to drought (World Bank)]

Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment: key outcomes (AU)

The Ministers decided (24-28 April, Algiers) that the AUC should coordinate and harmonize the African Common Position on the Future of Work in Africa in collaboration with the ILO regional office and involve the Pan African Parliament for necessary legislative reforms. The Ministers decided to also fast track the entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa and in this regard, the African Union Commission should accelerate sensitization of Member States on the existence of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons. The Ministers acknowledged that the handicraft sector needs to be formalized and governments and decided to take measure for extending social protection coverage for the workers in the sector. The Ministerial Panel on Employment, Social Development and the Demographic Dividend emphasized that an African Common Position should be developed to address the harassment and modern slavery that is afflicting irregular migrants and decided that AUC should assist with the dialogue for a multi- lateral agreement on labour migration, in particular with the Middle East and Europe.

Conference of Directors General of Customs of West and Central Africa: key outcomes (WCO)

There was particular focus during the conference (26-28 April, Dakar) on: (i) The developments, challenges and experiences in respect of the re-appropriation by Customs administrations of Customs functions previously assigned to inspection companies; (ii) Progress with the interconnection of transit systems in the region including through the regional groupings, particularly ECOWAS. In this connection, the Secretary General urged Members of the region to attend the Global Transit Conference which would be held at WCO Headquarters immediately after the Council sessions in July; (iii) Progress achieved with the “Sécurité par Collaboration (SPC++)” project aimed at combating growing insecurity in the region, the project being led by Nigeria and primarily involving the countries in the Lake Chad area.

South Africa trade and investment postings:

Challenges facing the poultry industry: EU submission to parliamentary hearing. Extract (Slide 9, pdf): Since December 2016 – sharp decrease in EU imports. Overall, EU imports’ share in domestic SA poultry consumption has not exceeded 10% in 2016. According to Country Bird, imports account for 26% of SA poultry consumption – less than 1/3 of market. This is against a background of growing poultry consumption and demand globally (Econex). Consumption of white meat expected to expand by 34% by 2023 – need to supplement domestic supply by imports. Domestic supply not enough – EU imports replaced by USA/Brazil imports.

Modernised SARS systems a treasure trove of data for policy makers (Business Day). Their use in research at micro level is relatively new, but in a joint National Treasury-SARS project, supported by UNU-Wider, the value that can be derived from analysis of integrated tax and trade data at unit record level, including PAYE data, has been demonstrated. To date, a dozen working papers have been published by South African and international academic researchers using sets of anonymous tax returns. The availability of anonymous tax and trade records through this initiative has enabled researchers to undertake studies that were not previously possible. [The authors: Elizabeth Gavin, Michelle Smit, Randall Carolissen]

Defining high-growth firms in South Africa (UNU-WIDER): Using new South African firm-level data, the study hypothesizes that the identification of high-growth firms is highly sensitive to the measure of firm growth, such that different firm growth measures will return samples of firms with significantly different demographic characteristics. These differences will then have an impact on the findings of analyses based on these growth measures. They will also have implications for public policy recommendations that seek to encourage the emergence of high-growth firms. [The analyst: Mulalo Mamburu]

A belated boom: Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and prospects and risks for oil in East Africa (Oxford Institute for Energy Studies)

Extract, pdf: The largest political risks facing oil industries in East Africa are associated with regional politics and pipeline infrastructure. Without access to regional pipelines, the largest oil reserves in the region, dwindling resources in South Sudan and still untapped in Uganda, cannot be monetised. Even oil resources in Sudan and Kenya are located inland and require functioning pipeline systems. For Uganda and Kenya, the regional pipeline debate is not only about finding the most efficient economic route, it is entrenched in the interplay between domestic politics and regional relations in the East African neighbourhood. [The analyst: Luke Patey]

Illicit financial flows to and from developing countries: 2005-2014 (GFI)

Illicit financial flows from developing and emerging economies kept pace at nearly $1 trillion in 2014, according to a study released by Global Financial Integrity. The report pegs illicit financial outflows at 4.2-6.6 percent of developing country total trade in 2014, the last year for which comprehensive data are available. The report is the first global study at GFI to equally emphasize illicit outflows and inflows. Each is found to have remained persistently high over the period between 2005 and 2014. Combined, these outflows and inflows are estimated to account for between 14.1 and 24.0 percent of developing country trade, on average. [The analysts: Joseph Spanjers, Matthew Salomon]

Today’s Quick Links:

Lily Kuo: The best days of selling cheap Chinese goods in Africa are over

Roberto Azevêdo’s B20 address: Trade can help energize economic recovery

Kenya’s CS Sicily Kariuki takes over as chair of AU Public Service committee

AUC workshop: A collaborative partnering approach towards African Geodata

Malabo Montpellier Panel: membership update

Does the World Bank foster business?


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