Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: UN

A strong set of event pointers, launches introduces today’s news selection:

Today, is African Border Day: a message from AUC Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Smail Chergui

Today, in Nairobi: ICC’s World Trade Agenda Day event. Organised in partnership with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and KEPSA, World Trade Agenda day places the spotlight on Africa and the how trade can fuel economic growth across the continent. [A brief summary of yesterday’s ICC/IBA conference in Nairobi]

Today, in New York: UNCTAD’s side event at the UN Oceans Conference will address challenges imposed by international food standards. [Resources: Downloads, commentary by Max Bankole Jarrett, Africa Progress Panel]

Today, in Brussels: European Development Days (7-8 June) on the theme, Investing in Development

Launched, yesterday in Monrovia: High Level Panel on Migration in Africa. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf underscored the misconception about African migration, especially the numbers that want to go beyond the boundaries of the continent. For example, according to recent data, more than 82% of people who migrate in Africa do so - on the continent, going from one country to another. She said in West Africa, 70% of the people migrate within the region while the lowest data shows that in East Africa the percentage is lower, at 47%. According to the same research - only 12% of African migrants want to reach Europe, with 6% going to other continents. President Sirleaf stressed the need for these numbers to be looked at closely and interpreted to form the basis of migration policies. “In as much as local economic and political conditions may sometimes lead to xenophobic spurs or total rejection, African people generally accept migrants, she indicated.”

Intellectual property and the public interest (WTO)

This document has been submitted by the delegations of Brazil, China, Fiji, India and South Africa for discussion at the Formal Meeting of the TRIPS Council (13-14 June 2017). The sponsors of this communication invite Members to share their national experiences and examples of using compulsory licenses. The information exchange could serve to enhance understanding of Members on various grounds available for issue of compulsory licenses and problems faced by Members while using them. Guiding questions:

The Maghreb Union is one of the world’s worst-performing trading blocs (WEF)

The Maghreb, in Northern Africa, is the perfect example of a region whose countries have been unable to find their way to a deeper integration. Only the most basic level of cooperation exists between the region’s five countries - Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - despite the fact that the Maghreb Arab Union was created more than 25 years ago with the aim of building a powerful economic bloc in the region. The region’s potential is enormous, especially if its countries can work together. However, trade between the Maghreb countries represents just 4.8% of their trade volume, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - and it represents less than 2% of the sub-region’s combined gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. This region is one of the lowest-performing trading blocs in the world. Here are five ways to change that:

Catherine Grant: Do we have the vision, courage and passion to recognise the potential of SADC? (Tutwa)

South Africa takes over the chair of SADC later this year in August. This will be a chance for the government to push an agenda that reinvigorates regional economic integration. There is always much said by our leaders about the importance of creating a regional market that encourages the development of Southern Africa as a whole but in reality there are still significant gaps between the commitments on paper and the actions of SADC Member States. A colleague with a long history of working in support of regional integration, Gideon Phiri, posed the following questions at a recent workshop on SADC hosted by the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town. To paraphrase, Gideon asked – do we have the vision, courage and passion to realise the dreams of regional integration in Southern Africa? Based on my own experiences of working in the region I use these three concepts below to explore the outstanding challenges of implementation of the regional agenda in SADC.

Belarus-Africa Forum: Afreximbank sees Africa advancing to centre of global trade

Dr Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank, said Africa required partners but not those that were merely interested in selling consumption goods to it or that saw the continent as a “beverage” economy, only good at producing low priced and volatile commodities. Describing Belarus as the kind of partner Africa needed, Dr Oramah that the country presented an immense opportunity as a source of affordable investment goods needed for development, citing its factories that churned out tonnes of heavy equipment and tractors and its expertise in mining and ICT. He announced that Afreximbank and the Development Bank of Belarus had put in place an $800 million Belarus-Africa Trade and Investment Finance Facility to provide trade and project financing and risk cover for African and Belarusian entities to support trade between Africa and Belarus.

The role of trade restrictions in promoting local manufacturing in South Africa’s motorcycle industry (TIPS)

South Africa’s motorcycle industry is waning while other emerging markets are expanding their production activity, usage and trade performance, and are developing integrated value chains for motorcycles. South Africa is a net importer of motorcycles and imports have been declining for the past five years. No local manufacturing is taking place and the domestic industry relies solely on imports. The industry is small in global terms with the number of registered motorcycles at around 366 000 units as of 2015, which is less than 1% of the global share and the number of new registrations is on the decline. The number of industry participants is also dwindling as more local dealers, distributors and importers of motorcycles close down operations. One of the main reasons is a policy change that came into effect in 2013. [The analyst: Sithembiso Mtanga]

East Africa: New study makes case for regional automotive industry (New Times)

Eighty-five per cent of the vehicles in the region are imported or bought used and only about 15% brand new, with an average fleet age ranging from 15 to 20 years. This presents a potential for a regional motor industry, a new study indicates. The study, conducted by BDO East Africa Advisory Services, a firm contracted by the EAC and JICA, indicates that in order to ensure development of automotive industry in the region, a realistic development path is needed. The study, which lists a number of policy recommendations, is helping the EABC make a stronger case for the region to develop its own automotive industry. Andrew Mold, officer-in-charge of sub-regional office of the UNECA, said the car industry is an extremely important one from the point of view of catalyzing the industrialisation of the region, simply because it is an industry with intense linkages across the economy. “It is also a pretty demanding industry in terms of quality standards, and creating a product that will be both economical and attractive to consumers. Global competition in the car industry is intense,” he said. “The good news is that average incomes have been growing quite quickly in EAC over the last 10 to 15 years, making the region a more attractive proposition for establishing an EAC-wide industry for motorcycles, motor vehicles and lorries.”

ECOWAS: Regional public and private sector representatives meet on investment

Over 70 public and private sector representatives from 15 ECOWAS Member States converged in Lagos (6 June) for a three-Day ECOWAS Investment Policy and Promotion Workshop. The workshop is meant to shape discussions on the role of an open investment policy and a conducive investment climate in the attraction of investment from investors’ perspectives. This workshop is a follow up to the inaugural technical workshop on Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa, held in Dakar (18-19 June, 2015).

South Africa: Opposition again scuppers Border Management Authority Bill’s adoption (News24)

After most of the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters MPs left the National Assembly chamber, only 188 MPs voted - six against and 182 for adoption. They were 13 MPs short of the quorum of 201 of the 400 MPs. “The numbers are not making it. So the decision is postponed, again,” deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said. The bill was before the House on 11 May, when the opposition walked out. It seeks to establish one centralised authority to handle all matters involving South Africa’s ports of entry, including policing and customs.

Port rail connectivity and agricultural production: evidence from a large sample of farmers in Ethiopia (World Bank)

Agriculture remains an important economic sector in Africa, employing a large share of the labor force and earning foreign exchange. Among others, transport connectivity has long been a crucial constraint in Africa. In theory, railways have a particularly important role to play in shipping freight and passengers at low cost. However, most African railways were in virtual bankruptcy by the 1990s. Using a large sample of data comprised of more than 190,000 households over eight years in Ethiopia, the paper estimates the impacts of rail transport on agricultural production.

Preventive diplomacy and trans-boundary waters: yesterday’s UNSC debate

Pointing to the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River as an example, Oumar Gueye, Senegal’s Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy, said his country, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania had drafted a water charter based on principles of sharing responsibilities and resources, from environmental protection to ensuring access. President Macky Sall was now working towards modernizing the organization and accelerating efforts on a range of projects that promoted cooperation and inclusivity, with a view that the river was a hyphen and not a border between the countries sharing the river basin. Tekeda Alemu (Ethiopia) said riparian States had negotiated the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement for almost 13 years, and it was now signed by six States and ratified by three others. Although there were clear differences between upstream and downstream States, it was of utmost importance that a mechanism was in place for dialogue, anchored in the principle of mutual understanding and respect. Such bilateral and regional governance mechanisms should be allowed to develop and consolidate. Internationalizing such issues would not be helpful, and would instead complicate matters, he warned.

Today’s Quick Links:

Nigeria: (i) Cross River signs trade agreement with China’s Shaanxi Province, (ii) Ministers solicit Corporate Council on Africa for greater FDI inflow

13th CAADP Partnership Platform: Stronger accountability needed on continental commitments on agriculture

Aflatoxin Control in Africa: Africa loses an estimated $670m in lost export trade

Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, warns against food import bill

Lesotho’s elections: SADC EOM’s preliminary statement

At Ocean Conference, UN agencies commit to cutting harmful fishing subsidies

Launched: OECD’s latest Economic Outlook

Christine Lagarde: Protecting education and health spending in low-income countries

Senators Coons and Roberts introduce bipartisan bill to help companies design and manufacture in America


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