Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: DanChurchAid

Selected highlights from the AfDB Annual Meeting in Ahmedabad:

Akinwumi Adesina’s keynote speech, commentary by Pankaj Patel (FICCI president), AfDB, IFC to promote investments that benefit African women

Tanzania: President asks mines minister to resign after audit (Bloomberg)

Tanzanian President John Magufuli today asked Mines Minister Sospeter Muhongo to resign after an audit of containers of mineral sands showed exports had been understated. An investigation initiated by Magufuli in March found that 277 containers held as much as 15.5 metric tons of gold, instead of the 1.1 tons that had been declared, the president said Wednesday in a speech broadcast live on state television. Magufuli also disbanded the Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency’s board, fired its chief executive officer and asked authorities to investigate those responsible. [Acacia Mining: statement, Honest Accounts 2017: how the world profits from Africa’s wealth (pdf)]

A set of updates on African customs, border management policy issues:

(i) PACCI/ATPC workshop on use of single window in enabling cross border trade concludes (UNECA). Solomon Afework, First Vice President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaking at the beginning of the meeting, said: “The adoption and use of the single window system as a key component of trade policy provides many benefits to the business community as it reduces the transaction cost of trade.” ATPC co-ordiantor, David Luke, said the elimination of tariffs on the continent will not be enough to bring transformative benefits expected from the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) unless aided by the implementation of trade facilitation measures. Single windows could therefore help in ensuring that the benefits of the CFTA are felt more widely. Participants developed a set of key trade policy recommendations towards the implementation of the single windows.

(ii) New SARS programme smoothes the way for imports and exports (Business Day). Pieter du Plessis, director at XA International Trade Advisors, says the business sector in SA lacks proper knowledge of customs issues. “Historically companies relied on clearing agents, and senior and even middle management’s knowledge of customs has been scant.” The new Customs Duty Act (dealing with monetary matters) and the Customs Control Act (dealing with processes) will change this. “Every business dealing with the customs part of SARS will have to have someone who has passed the SARS examination.”

(iii) Africa can’t remain dumping ground (ThisDay). Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, says the African continent cannot remain a dumping ground for vendors of all kinds of goods under the guise of a Free Trade Agreement. The minister stated this in Abuja at an extra-ordinary meeting of Directors-General of Customs of the AU converged with the aim of forging a new position of relevance in the world Customs Organisation. Adeosun tasked the customs administrators to strive to strike a balance between revenue mobilisation, border production, security control, regulatory functions. The African region, she stated remains number one in terms of illicit financial flows and charged governments in the region to do more to ensure strong customs organisation’s capable of checking illicit trade and trans-border crimes. The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), called for a common ground among African countries as they go to the WoCO’s Annual Council Meeting in July. [Nigeria’s Customs attains 75% automation, cuts inspection hour – Ali, Nigeria’s new import process guidelines take effect, 11 July]

(iv) Zambia regional workshop on protection of mineral resources (WCO). Under the sponsorship of the Customs Cooperation Fund of Japan, a WCO workshop on the protection of national mineral resources was held in Lusaka (17-19 May), and it was attended by officers from both Customs Administrations and Mining Control Institutions from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The project is a part of the WCO activities on protection of mineral resources specified in Phase III of the Revenue Package Action Plan. Participants concluded that optimal monitoring and control mechanisms of the natural resources should be developed, including the identification of gaps in the legislative frameworks, exploring how current controls could be further strengthened and improving cooperation and networking between Customs Administrations and Mining Institutions.

(v) The China-Africa Dialogue for closer collaboration on forestry legality (TRAFFIC). A meeting between forestry representatives from Cameroun, Congo and China took place last month, aimed at strengthening legality within the forestry sector and in particular the international trade in timber. More than 40 delegates included representatives from wildlife Ministries and Customs; Management and Scientific Authorities for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the German Government, the private sector; and local and international NGOs including WWF, IUCN and TRAFFIC. The meeting took place as part of FOCAC’s Johannesburg Action Plan’s commitments for China and African states to collaborate to address illegal trade in wildlife products.

(vi) How soon will Africans have a visa-free regime? (New Times). The African Union committee on free movement of people across the continent is currently meeting in Kigali to review a proposed treaty on the subject. The committee opened its sittings yesterday to look into the possibility of realising age old ambitions of liberalising movement across the continent. Katyen Jackden, the chairperson of the committee on the Free Movement of Persons in Africa, allayed fears that liberalising movement would lead to security or economic challenges. She said it has so far been proven that the benefits of opening up outweigh the negative consequences. Jackden recommended that the process be done using a phased approach considering that different countries were at different stages of readiness.

(vii) African cross-border and regional identity management schemes reach distribution stage (Biometric Update). The AfDB recently introduced its new fingerprint-embedded Laissez-Passer document at ID4Africa 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia. The travel document for regional development is one of a series of regional projects across the continent with the goal of using digital identity and biometrics to enable cross-border travel. Another such project, the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card, has reached the distribution stage in some countries. While the program is in early stages, it has shown potential to speed border crossing while reducing the problem of fake travel documents, Laouali Chaibou, Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Free Movement and Tourism for the ECOWAS Commission told an audience on day two of the annual event in support of universal digital identity for Africans. While all member states must meet a minimum threshold of security to issue the card, including capturing a fingerprint image, the card also has the capacity to add additional information, to allow its security and use to be extended as the technical capabilities of ECOWAS member states evolve. ECOWAS is supported in the project by a number of international organizations and development agencies, including the World Bank. While regional projects supported by the World Bank in eastern and southern Africa are not as far advanced as the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card or the African Development Bank’s Laissez-Passer system, they have the opportunity to catch up quickly, utilizing “south-south” information sharing to accelerate planning and implementation.

(viii) The state of identification systems in Africa: a synthesis of country assessments (ID4D, World Bank). The ability to prove one’s identity is a cornerstone of participation in modern life, yet over 1.1 billion people lack proof of legal identity. As a first step in assisting client countries to close this identity gap, the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative conducts Identity Management Systems Analyses (IMSAs) to evaluate countries’ identity ecosystems and facilitate collaboration with governments. This report synthesizes (pdf) the findings of IMSAs carried out in 17 African countries between 2015 and 2016. To date, analyses have been conducted in: Botswana, Chad, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia.

The US-Morocco FTA: exceeding expectations (MACP)

On 1 January 2017, the US-Morocco FTA began its 12th year enforcing liberalized commercial exchange between two historic allies. The FTA has surpassed moderate expectations for its economic impact, and has been a success story for both sides. This paper will describe (pdf) how Morocco became the US’s first free-trade partner in Africa, and evaluate its economic and political impact compared to expectations. Finally, avenues for improving the FTA and general US-Morocco economic cooperation will be evaluated. In addition to generating economic benefits for both countries, the FTA kicked off a series of initiatives further strengthening the US-Morocco bilateral relationship and Morocco’s reform trajectory, “one of the US’s primary goals” for the deal.

South Africa Trade and Industry Department Budget Vote 2017/18: speech by Minister Rob Davies

South Africa is inextricably linked with the continent and in light of this the country’s engagement in promoting developmental regional integration continues unabated. In the short time available, I will mention just two issues. First, we have agreed with a number of our partners in the East African Community to target the completion of the tariff schedule negotiations between SACU and the EAC by July. This will be an important, commercially meaningful step, towards the implementation of the Tripartite SADC-Comesa-EAC Free Trade Area and a significant step towards our eventual goal of a Continental FTA. Second, SADC has developed its road map towards its regional Industrial Development Action Plan. In August this year, South Africa will assume the chair of the SADC and I want to indicate that we will spare no effort to ensure that our Regional Economic Community is actually implementing its regional industrial programme before we hand over the chair next year.

Eliminating deforestation from the cocoa supply chain (World Bank)

While global cocoa production relies almost entirely on 5 – 6 million smallholders, the processing level in the cocoa value chain is highly concentrated among several traders, grinders and chocolate producers. Even though deforestation occurs at the smallholder level, it is the companies, governments, and service providing NGOs that need to work to change policies and practices because the farmers have limited financial means and technical capacity to make the needed changes on their own. The report, released by the BioCarbon Fund and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility together with the World Cocoa Foundation and Climate Focus, describes overarching principles and key strategies that these stakeholders can implement to lay the groundwork for deforestation-free production in the cocoa sector:

Greening Africa’s cities: enhancing the relationship between urbanization, environmental assets, and ecosystem services (World Bank)

Africa is urbanizing late but fast. This brings many benefits but, as this report shows: thus far, urbanization in Africa, unique in a number of respects, is having deleterious and largely unchecked impacts on the natural environment; the degradation of natural assets and ecosystems within African cities carries tangible economic, fiscal and social costs; there are important opportunities to change the current environmental trajectory of African cities so that they move towards a more harmonious relationship between their natural and built environments. For this to happen, focused action is necessary. [The analysts: Roland White, Jane Turpie, Gwyneth Letley]

UN resilience ‘scorecard’ helps cities curb disaster losses from climate change (UN)

Announcing a major revision to its Disaster Resilience Scorecard, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said the changes bring the mechanism into alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster losses. Plans are in place to have 200 cities using it by the end of the year. The Scorecard provides a set of assessments that cover the policy and planning, engineering, organisational, financial, social and environmental aspects of disaster resilience.

Today’s Quick Links:

Rwanda’s horticulture exports set to soar as airlines cut freight charges

Oman SGRF to use Mauritius as platform to invest in Africa and Asia

Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank President, named African Banker of the Year

Michael Spence: How to be an open economy

Europe accepts WTO chicken defeat with China

Presentations from an UNCTAD experts meeting: Measuring shipping connectivity and performance - the need for statistics and data

The Policy Practice: The evolving role of political economy analysis in development practice (pdf)

Chatham House: Central and Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa - prospects for sustained re-engagement (pdf)


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