Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: World Bank

Latest tralac Newsletter: Willemien Viljoen comments on Africa’s recent agricultural trade performance

Just posted: Africans moved more freely in 2016, according to second Africa Visa Openness Index (AfDB)

Overall, Africans were able to travel more freely across the continent in 2016, as visa openness levels improved from 2015. However, many challenges remained. The second Africa Visa Openness Index (pdf) highlights pervasive regional differences in visa openness performance. For example, 75% of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in either East or West Africa, while 20% are in Southern Africa. Only one country in the top 20 most open to visas is in North Africa (Mauritania), while no countries in Central Africa rank in the top 20.

Concluding today: In Addis, Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa - 1st Partners Meeting; In Livingstone, 2017 EDBI conference - Business reforms for industrialization, value addition and job creation

Highlights from selected recent trade policy events:

EAC multi-stakeholder consultation on Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area (16-17 May, Entebbe)

Tripartite Committee of Senior Officials for Trade, Customs, Finance, Economic matters and Home Affairs: Malawi yet to endorse Tripartite Free Trade Area

ACP-EU: 28th meeting of economic and social actors (15-16 May, Brussels): final declaration (pdf)

Inaugural meeting of the Committee on Trade Facilitation: outcomes (WTO). The committee will develop procedures for the sharing of relevant information and best practices among members. After four years, the committee will review the operation and implementation of the TFA. A seminar will be held on 2 June at WTO headquarters to commemorate the entry into force of the TFA. Members will review the negotiating history of the TFA and be invited to share their thoughts on how to secure effective implementation of the Agreement.

Trade Facilitation Agreement: Ghana update (UNCTAD). Ghana is one of the frontrunners in the region implementing the single window system — one of the key measures in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. “Ghana’s experience as a trailblazer on trade facilitation can serve as a model for the region,” said Dr Kituyi. Dr Kituyi also called for the sharing of regional experiences and highlighted the value in learning from the ECOWAS case. “As had been seen in East and Southern Africa, the top down approach could only go so far, said Dr. Kituyi, adding that “bottom-up efforts and national leadership, particularly in cooperation with the private sector, are needed and go much farther in driving a meaningful locally owned regional integration agenda.” [Mali: Trade Facilitation Committee workshop, 22-24 May, Bamako]

The AfDB has released a set of new working papers:

Simon Roberts: Competition and industrial policies relating to food production in southern Africa (pdf). Ultimately, the analysis points to the challenge of moving the competition discourse from one of enforcement, which assumes that by addressing discrete anti-competitive conduct local competition will flourish, to the integration of competition policy with the development of local productive capabilities. It is important to address international cartels and this, in itself, poses important challenges for the development of international regulatory regimes. However, we need to go further, to frame the agenda in terms of the ways in which industrial policy and economic regulation can reshape markets to generate competition within local and regional markets in southern Africa. Three key areas were identified for this agenda. First, the regional scope of actual and potential linkages needs to be better understood. Big businesses are integrating their activities across the region, but not necessarily to build productive capabilities for competitive production across borders. This relates to the second key area which is understanding how the regional value chains are governed and the extent of market power and its exertion by large firms. The regional reach of businesses can reinforce cartels and unilateral exertion of market power to earn rents and exclude local rivals, undermining industrialisation. A competition policy agenda which links to industrial policy is essential to generate competitive markets and stimulate dynamic rivalry built on investments in improved capabilities. Third, effective regional institutions are required to simultaneously discipline market power and support industrialisation. The appropriate actions and initiatives require sector specific analysis. This paper has assessed the situation with regard to food production, an important sector in its own right.

Haroon Bhorat, Ravi Kanbur, Christopher Rooney, François Steenkamp: Sub-Saharan Africa’s manufacturing sector: building complexity (pdf). In the context of a growing labour force, there has been debate over the prospects of Africa following the economic footsteps of East and South Asia, and pursuing a form of manufacturing-led structural transformation, and thereby creating jobs for a young and growing labour force (McMillan et al., 2014; Rodrik, 2014; Page, 2012). This paper adds to this debate, which has typically viewed manufacturing at the aggregate level, by providing a more granular product-level analysis of SSA’s evolving manufacturing sector, with the Asian experience serving as a counterpoint. The analysis is aided by the tools of complexity analysis, specifically those derived from the Atlas of Economic Complexity (see Hausmann et al., 2014).

Related: Justin Yifu Lin, Célestin Monga, Samuel Standaert: The inclusive and sustainable transformation index, Christian Ketels: Structural transformation: a competitiveness-based view, Julian Alston, Philip Pardey: Transforming traditional agriculture redux, Peter Timmer: Structural transformation and food security: their mutual interdependence, AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy: report of regional ministerial conferences on youth employment and entrepreneurship in Africa

Dirk Willem te Velde: Implementing industrialisation strategies in Africa

US interests in Africa: Tony Carroll’s statement from yesterday’s hearing in Washington

Among the tools that I recommend be deployed to support increased US investment into Africa include the following: (i) Increase market size: Many American companies are dissuaded by most Africa country’s market size. Sure, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are appealing in their own right but Togo, Benin and Malawi may not. Fostering regional integration though bilateral and multilateral technical assistance will create scale and incentivize US firms. But regional integration should also be for investors and not just traders. US technical assistance to Africa’s regional economic communities (EAS, COMESA, ECOWAS, SADC, SACU) and business associations can foster trade facilitation and enlarge market opportunities for US investors. For example, P&G manufactures consumer products for African’s middle class but the scale of initial investment in manufacturing facilities necessities regional market access. Last, as noted below, China is making investments to improve both national and regional transportation linkages. In so doing, they are expanding markets in Africa and opportunities for US trade and investment. [(ii)Enhance US investment in African infrastructure, (iii) Strengthen Africa’s business enabling and innovation environment, (iv) Foster linkages between US and Africa firms, business associations, (v) Maintain US instruments at OPIC, EXIM and TDA, (vi) Maintain USFCS, FAS and domestic USEAC offices] [The author is attached to the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University]

ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme: update (ECOWAS)

During a briefing session the Chairman of the Task Force, Mr Salou Djibo, former Head of State of Niger Republic, handed over a report of the progress and challenges encountered by the ETLS as observed in several Member States already visited by the Task Force. The Task Force has visited seven ECOWAS Members States (Burkina Faso, Liberia, Benin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria) and has observed similar challenges in all States (with a few peculiar issues observed in some specific countries). One of such challenges is the inadequate awareness of the provisions of the ETLS among stakeholders and community citizens. The President of the ECOWAS Commission assured the ETLS Task Force of the Commission’s commitment and support in addressing these challenges. The President stated that, ECOWAS should aim to increase its inter-regional trade from its current 12% to 50% within the next four years. While the task ahead is huge, the President remained positive that the region will achieve its goal of economic integration in the long term.

No formal talks on investment facilitation at WTO, says India (Mint)

India on Thursday succeeded in ensuring a controversial proposal on investment facilitation cannot be discussed formally at the WTO, making it certain that the dialogue, if any, can happen only at an informal level. India claimed that discussion on investment facilitation as demanded by China, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and others was not part of “multilateral trade relations,” people familiar with the development said. In an attempt to break the impasse, the chair for the general council ambassador Xavier Carim of South Africa held consultations with India and the proponents of the proposal to find a compromise. Consequently, the two sides agreed to a statement prepared by the GC chair in which Carim made it clear that the proponents can only have an “informal dialogue.”

Selling Brazilian fashions, the women of Angola’s ‘suitcase trade’ spot trends and pedal dreams (The Conversation)

The textile trade’s “suitcase traders”, or moambeiras, as the female importers are often called, are mainly mothers and heads of households aged 30 to 50, who live in Luanda’s poor periphery. Independently but as part of a network, they organise regular buying trips on one of four weekly flights between Luanda and São Paulo, Brazil, a global fashion centre. Though there is no official data on the subject, the number of Angolan women travelling to Brazil is estimated at around 400 per week.

South Africa: IMF completes 2017 Article IV visit

“With limited room for stimulus through macroeconomic policies, the priority to stimulate economic growth and job creation rests with structural reforms, notably in product and service markets and in the labour market. The focus should be on sectors that provide crucial inputs for most firms in the economy, such as power generation, telecommunications, transportation, and financial services for small-and medium-sized enterprises.”

Today’s Quick Links:

Uganda: UNRA on the spot over Chinese dominance in roads sector

Mauritius: French Development Agency to promote green infrastructure projects

KNCHR raises red flag on impact of Lamu mega projects

Mozambique ratifies air transport agreement with India

Chad P. Bown: What is NAFTA, and what would happen to US trade without it?

SDG Action Event on Innovation and Connectivity: Innovators, UN discuss using tech to tackle world’s development challenges

Steve MacFeely (UNCTAD’s Head of Statistics and Information): In search of the Data Revolution

The future of jobs and skills in the Middle East and North Africa: preparing the region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Geographic information system driving digital transformation in India


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