tralac’s Daily News Selection
Zimbabwe’s former Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister, Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC-T), has been elected the new chairperson of PAP’s Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters
Underway, in Abuja: 2nd ICC Africa Regional Arbitration Conference
Starting tomorrow, in Ouagadougou: West Africa ICE meetings. (i) Ad-hoc Experts Meeting (16-17 May): Impact of the ECOWAS-CET and EPAs by the EU on structural transformation of economies and regional integration in West African economies. Based on the review of the preliminary report proposed by ECA, participants shall focus specifically on the following: (ii) 20th Session of the ICE: The role of development planning (18-19 May).
2017 Africa Regional Forum on sustainable development (17-19, Addis Ababa). Profiled background paper: Building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation (pdf): Domestic resource mobilization is critical to the development of regional infrastructure. Steps are being taken to reduce fiscal pressures by facilitating remittances and by seeking to rely less on traditional investors and more on non-traditional African financial entities, including pension funds. Indeed, as only 2.9% of pension fund investments are earmarked for infrastructure development projects, there is considerable scope to redirect an increased proportion of investments to that sector; increased investment in the sector should, moreover, take place in tandem with the development of robust policies to minimize risks and support project preparation. [Background papers]
G20 Africa Partnership: Investing in a common future (12-13 June, Berlin)
Clarification: WTO responds to “Africa ponders challenges as WTO steps in way of AU self-financing model” (New Times)
This is incorrect. The WTO never wrote a letter to member countries “complaining” about the AU self-financing mechanism or questioning its compatibility with WTO rules. No such letter exists. The issue was raised by several WTO members at a meeting of the WTO’s Goods Council on 6 April, but the members were speaking in their own capacity. The WTO itself did not express any views on the matter. We would therefore be grateful if you could run a correction and inform your readers that the WTO is not taking a position on the AU self-financing mechanism.
Customs organisation pushes for more intra-African trade (Daily Monitor)
The secretary general of World Customs Organisation, Kunio Mirukiya, has called for combined efforts towards boosting intra-African trade, proposing a number of reforms to ensure customs facilitate trade within the region. “First is infrastructure at borders because what is lacking is systems that can facilitate movement of goods and people. Customs should coordinate border management, have one stop border post or a single window and more security by collaboration is what Africa should be looking at,” Mr Mirukiya said at the 22nd World Customs Organisation East and South Africa council governing meeting in Kampala last Thursday. The meeting that attracted 22 countries from East and South Africa was aimed at looking at how best customs can facilitate trade and creating a platform for countries to collaborate and fight mutual challenges within the region.
South Africa: New car sales in Africa ‘may be on the up’ (Business Day)
A report by the Automotive Industry Export Council released on Friday showed trade in South African vehicles and components with the rest of the world hit new peaks in 2016. Though the local industry continued to record an overall trade deficit of R32.9bn - R204.1bn in imports against R171.1bn in imports - the gap was down sharply from R45.2bn a year earlier and R62.2bn in 2015. The big disappointment was Africa. Though SA’s trade surplus - R28.7bn - was the biggest of any region’s, 2016 exports to the rest of the continent fell 49% compared to a year earlier, from 42,234 to 21,564. That is a drop of almost 75% in four years, from 80,293 in 2012. [South Africa’s Top 5 car exports into Africa: by country]
Iran - South Africa trade planned to hit $2b by 2021 (Tehran Times)
Iran and South Africa have planned to boost the volume of their bilateral trade up to $2bn by 2021, an official in Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Shahram Khasipoor, announced on Sunday. Making the remarks addressing Iran-South Africa Business Forum, Khasipoor noted that regarding the existing political and cultural ties between the two countries, the volume of common trade is not at a satisfactory level and should be increased. Iran-South Africa trade volume decreased to $45.7m in 2016 from the previous $2.055bn in 2011, due to the Western-led sanctions imposed on Iran.
Kenya: Agency meant to help rid Kenya of cheap imports taking shape (Daily Nation)
The Kenya Trade Remedies Agency proposed in a Bill, which sailed through the second reading last week, will monitor dumping of subsidised goods in the country. At the moment, the role is shared between the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Kenya Revenue Authority. “There is established an agency to investigate and evaluate allegation of dumping and subsidisation of imports,” reads the Kenya Trade Remedies Bill, 2017 sponsored by Ugenya MP David Ochieng.
Tanzania: Fake clothes to be flushed out (Daily News)
Industrial, Trade and Investment Minister Charles Mwijage said yesterday in Dar es Salaam that the exercise would be instituted starting July, this year. “The aim of the exercise is to ensure we (government) set stringent measures to curb the influx of substandard clothing and textile products that are dominating the local market, “ he said. Mr Mwijage was speaking when opening the AGM of members of Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Dar es Salaam Region. According to the minister, the inspection exercise will also help expose and curb products that fail to meet verification standards and be denied entry into the country. “The inspection will help drive the development of our manufacturing industries and promote fair competition in the market, “ he said.
Tanzania: SAGCOT gets kudos for uplifting agriculture (Daily News)
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Water, has showered praise on the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) for blazing the way towards future commercial farming and uplifting livelihoods. “It is a stunning development in our nation’s bid to turn around Tanzania’s agriculture,” the Committee Chairperson, Dr Mary Nagu, said, after a presentation by the Sagcot team on the initiative’s activities. By 2030, SAGCOT partners want to bring 350,000 hectares of land into profitable production, push 100,000 peasants into commercial farming, create 420,000 new jobs and generate 1.2 US billion dollars in annual farming revenue. [Dar secures Chinese cassava market]
EAC: update on regional Authorized Economic Operators (WCO)
At the occasion of the Committee on Customs of the EAC (25-27 April, Dar es Salaam), the WCO-EAC CREATe project team reported the number of regional Authorized Economic Operators had increased from 13 to 46. These 46 companies accounted for a record-breaking $930 000 000 in trade volume in March 2017, which represented over 5% of the regional trade in the EAC region according to the statistics provided by EAC Partner States (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda). The EAC Committee on Customs encouraged the project team to continue building on the momentum gained in the first quarter of 2017 and advised that the EAC region had decided that all negotiations and signatures of Mutual Recognition Agreements with external trading partners/blocks (outside the EAC) will be undertaken as a region rather than as individual EAC Partner States. [CEMAC Common External Tariff: WCO update]
World Bank signs trilateral agreement with Mozambique, Brazil
Mark Lundell, World Bank’s Mozambique country director, added that Mozambique could learn from countless experiences of Brazil in rural development and environmental management. “We think that the experiences of Brazil are interesting for Mozambique in terms of micro-climates, the structure of production and forests. These are all areas they have in common”. At the ceremony, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Aloysio Ferreira, said that his government has been following with great interest the economic situation in Mozambique, and wants Brazilian business people to invest in Mozambique.
Egypt’s trade deficit declines 56% in February, year-on-year (Ahram)
Egypt’s trade deficit in February declined by 56% to register $2.1bn, down from $4.7bn recorded in the same month last year, state statistics body CAPMAS said in a statement Saturday. Exports increased by 22.1% in February compared to the same month last year, to reach $2bn up from $1.6bn. Fertiliser exports increased by 173.8% while crude petroleum exports increased by 104.6%. Imports in February 2017 decreased by 35.8% to reach $4.1bn, down from $6.4bn registered in February 2016.
Nile Basin Discourse: citizen voices shape Nile Basin resilience investments (World Bank)
Amidst increasing climate change events, the link between national and regional governments and local communities is crucial to creating response measures to benefit vulnerable populations. But the Nile Basin’s vast geography and diversity in cultures, languages, and interests require that outreach and support to civil society be thoughtfully designed, tailored to local contexts and timely. For this reason, CIWA is supporting the Nile Basin Discourse , a network of civil society organizations from across the Nile Basin, to influence the investments under the Nile Basin Initiative and other programs. Meaningful engagement on projects that affect communities across borders can often be challenging.
SADC Parliamentary Forum: update (New Era)
Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, is concerned about the slow pace of regional integration in the SADC region. He feels regional bodies such as the SADC-PF have a greater role to play to advance this ideal. “Our region is lacking in terms of regional integration. I was very impressed with the report we received from what ECOWAS (West Africa) is doing. As SADC-PF we should take stock and make sure that we are equally visible. When are we going to tackle particular challenges that hinder the process of regional integration?” he asked rhetorically.
Belt and Road Initiative: Speeches by President Xi Jinping, Christine Lagarde, António Guterres
Xi ends China world trade summit with plan to return in 2019 (Bloomberg)
The initiative has “entered a new era as it is in full swing,” Xi said in his closing remarks, noting 68 nations and international organizations had signed cooperation agreements with the host. He said the forum would reconvene in 2019, skipping a year. [Download (pdf): Building the Belt and Road: concept, practice and China’s contribution]
Related: East Asia Forum, editorial commentary: How to respond to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Kenya president urges rebalance of China-Africa trade (Financial Times), Financial Times editorial: One Belt, One Road — and many questions, Reuters: Behind China’s Silk Road vision: cheap funds, heavy debt, growing risk, The Economist: What is China’s belt and road initiative?, Quartz Africa: There’s one major pitfall for African countries along China’s new Silk Road
Trade groups appeal to Beijing to postpone cybersecurity law (Bloomberg)
A coalition of 54 global business groups appealed to Chinese authorities Monday to postpone enforcing a cyber security law they warned violates Beijing’s free-trade pledges and might harm information security. The appeal by groups from the United States, Japan, Britain and other countries adds to complaints Beijing is improperly limiting access to its markets for technology products, possibly to support its own fledgling suppliers.