Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Industrial Development Corporation

Francis Mangeni: Industrialization in Africa

Good practice would suggest that acquisition and deployment of technology, building a sound technological base, harnessing innovations together with knowledge and skills from around the world, should be an overarching goal and strategy that informs the entire industrialization and structural transformation policy; it should be the organizing logic that infuses all the interventions, and all sectoral initiatives. This is not quite as simple as building fibre-optic cables to enable internet access for chats and apps. It is prioritizing the knowledge economy as a national and regional ethos, on which to anchor human resource development, financial markets, private sector development, systems and institutional strengthening, long and medium term development strategies, annual planning and budgeting cycles, and all else that supports social economic transformation, including songs and poems. [The author is Director of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs at COMESA.

Innovation, diversification and inclusive development in Africa (UNCTAD)

Against this backdrop, the paper discusses linkages between innovation, transformation and inclusion. It also presents stylized facts on transformation, the state of innovation and inclusion in Africa and, more importantly, offers policy recommendations on how to promote technological innovation to trigger transformation and build inclusive societies in Africa. [The authors: Patrick N. Osakwe, Nicole Moussa]

Sustainability provisions in regional trade agreements: can they be multilateralised? (ICTSD)

Accordingly, this paper focuses on so-called deep integration RTAs. Deep integration refers to RTAs that go beyond border protection measures and include “behind the border” measures, such as product and market regulation. These agreements are analysed on the basis that they contain the most comprehensive provisions on sustainable development and trade. To date, most of the signed deep-integration RTAs are by developed countries with some developing countries participating in the agreements, although not as demanders. The focus is primarily on deep-integration RTAs that have a global economic impact on third parties, and on trade and sustainable development. Nonetheless, some other relevant examples are discussed, including the Chilean case, which concerns a developing country that has concluded deep-integration agreements with both developed and developing countries. Addressing sustainability issues is not only a regional concern, but also a multilateral one. There has been interest in harnessing a process of multilateralising regionalism, by which selected deeper measures incorporated in RTAs could be diffused more widely and consistently across regional negotiations, and lead to convergence at the multilateral level. Given the wide range of country experiences in incorporating sustainability into RTAs, and the evident lack of progress in advancing trade negotiations through the WTO, this is clearly a challenging proposition. The paper assesses the extent of the challenge and explores options for sustainable development to be incorporated into the WTO. [The authors: Peter Draper, Nkululeko Khumalo, Faith Tigere]

Tanzania pushes for introduction of SADC universal visa (The Citizen)

Tanzania yesterday reminded SADC member states to consider introducing the universal visa. The reminder was issued by Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Augustine Mahiga when opening the 19th meeting of the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Dr Mahiga, who is also MCO chairman, said there had been little progress in the implementation of the univisa since its piloting phase stalled in 2008. He added that facilitation of movement of people and goods was among tenets of regional integration and economic development, hence the importance of relaxation of visa requirements among member states. “This will also ease the implementation of the protocol on the facilitation of free movement of people, which is critical for our citizens to enjoy the benefits of regionalism and contribute to the realisation of the dreams of our founding fathers regarding true and deeper integration,” Dr Mahiga told the meeting. [Magufuli: No citizenship for Burundi refugees]

The East African Community’s Intellectual Property Regime: launch updates

(i) Kenyan manufacturers seek to curb illicit trade. Kenya’s industrialists on Thursday launched a regional intellectual property rights regime study which aims to curb illicit trade which affects the growth of industrialization. Kenya Association of Manufacturers said the EAC Intellectual Property Rights Regime Study aims to enhance regional protection of IPRs, as a contributor to achieving the industrialization agenda. Speaking during the launch in Nairobi, KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga noted that illicit trade affects manufacturing value-added industries in Kenya and the EAC, erodes the market share of genuine manufactured products, threatens expansion and survival of industries and hampers creation of job opportunities. “It is against this backdrop that the KAM initiated the study on the status of IPRs within the EAC with a view of identifying gaps and recommending the best practices to eliminate illicit trade and counterfeiting activities in the region,” Wakiaga added.

(ii) Anti-counterfeits war plan gets 5 more years. The Anti-Counterfeit Agency plans to strengthen its market intelligence, boost internal capacity and enforcement role as it announced the extension of its strategic plan in the war against fake products. Executive director, Elema Halake said the first plan was largely successful in the war that saw the agency make close to 700 arrests across the country, seize counterfeit goods worth in excess of Sh1.6 Billion and destroy counterfeit goods worth approximately Sh700 million since 2011. “This Strategic plan gives us the tools we need to succeed in a rapidly changing environment and will ensures that our law enforcement mandate remains relevant to the people it serves,” said ACA Board Chairman, Pradeep Paunaranha. Under the five-year plan, ACA will strengthen its human capital capacity, finance and infrastructure.

Tanzania gas dealers hit out at ‘monopolistic’ Kenyans (Business Daily)

Tanzanian liquefied petroleum gas dealers have accused Kenyan “monopolistic” firms of influencing the government’s April ban on commodity through the Namanga border, renewing the long-running trade feud between the two countries. About 40,000 metric tonnes, or 40%, of estimated 100,000 tonnes imported into Tanzania annually are re-exported into Kenya, the Tanzanian LPG lobby claims. “The consequence of the ban is that some companies in Kenya operate in a monopolistic set-up contrary to fair competition practices as set by East African common market rules,” the lobby group claimed. “It is easy to notice that monopoly and protection practices have pushed prices up in Mombasa and affect consumers in Kenya. Dar es Salaam used to make Mombasa competitive.”

Botswana: International Merchandise Trade Statistics April 2017 (pdf, Statistics Botswana)

Botswana recorded a trade deficit of P1,366.7m in April 2017. The current deficit follows another deficit of P215.2m registered during March 2017. During April 2017, total imports were valued at P5,171.3m, showing an increase of 20.5% (P879.3m) from the March 2017 value of P4,292.0m. This increase was mainly attributed to the increase of more than 100% (P435.4 million) in fuel imports from P394.2m in March 2017 to P829.6m in April 2017. SACU was the major source of imports into Botswana during April 2017, accounting for 69.5% (P3,592.0m) of total imports. South Africa was the main source of imports during the month, having contributed 57.9% (P2,995.1m) to total imports. April 2017 total exports were valued at P3,804.6m, showing a decrease of 6.7% (P272.2m) from the March 2017 value of P4,076.8m. This decrease is mainly due to a drop of 7.4 % (P280.2m) in diamond exports, from P3,811.3m in March 2017 to P3,531.1m in April 2017. Exports destined to the SACU region were valued at P243.7m representing 6.4% of total exports (P3, 804.6m) for the month. South Africa received exports valued at P226.3m, accounting for 5.9% of total exports during the same month.

Egypt’s long-awaited South American trade deal to start next month (The National)

Argentina said it has sent the regional bloc Mercosur its ratification of the group’s 2010 trade agreement with Egypt, and the pact will go into force within a month. The trade deal, which covers food, cars, auto parts and industrial supplies, was signed by Egypt and Mercosur members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay in 2010, but it did not go into effect because Argentina’s congress had not approved it. The deal will eliminate tariffs on 60% of Argentina’s exports immediately and phase in reduced tariffs for other products over 10 years, the ministry said. Tariffs in Argentina on imports of beef, pears, apples and cars and auto parts from Egypt will also be lifted, it added.

Why it’s important for India to trade with Latin America (The Wire)

For those who think that Latin America is too far and the cost of freight too high, and therefore that the region should be less important for India’s trade, here is an eye opener from the 2016-17 (April-March) statistics of the commerce ministry of India. (i) In 2016-17, India exported more to Mexico ($3.5bn) than to neighbours such as Thailand ($3.1bn), Myanmar ($1.7bn) and Iran ($2.4bn) or traditional trade partners Russia ($1.9 billion) and Canada ($2 billion). (ii) India’s exports to Colombia ($787m) were more than the exports to some West European countries such as Austria, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. (iii) Guatemala imported more from India ($243m) than some Central Asian and East European countries. (iv) India’s trade with the Dominican Republic ($900m) was more than the trade with Portugal, Greece and some other European countries. For those who think that it is very difficult for India to compete with Chinese exports, here is another piece of information:

India: National Trade Facilitation Action Plan launched (KNN India)

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and said this Action Plan gives a time bound map, not only for implementing Trade Facilitation Agreement, but also for India’s initiatives for trade facilitation and ease of doing business which goes beyond TFA. It also covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructure leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, home affairs, finance and commerce have been assigned specified targets. The national plan would be monitored by the steering committee (the operational arm of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation) chaired by the revenue secretary and the commerce secretary, it said, adding, “The plan would be reviewed by the cabinet secretary.”

Nigeria: Airlines losing traffic to Ethiopia on price, connectivity (BusinessDay)

International and domestic airlines operating in Nigeria are gradually losing passenger traffic to Ethiopian Airlines over the East African carrier’s relatively cheaper fares, easy connectivity and most recently, concerted efforts by the country at becoming a one-stop-shop for tourists in Africa. The obvious price discrepancy gives the average Nigerian customer the choice to opt for relatively cheap African carriers, especially Ethiopian Airlines. The airline, which is the most connected in Africa, with 54 African and 94 destinations worldwide, is further consolidating on its efforts at becoming the largest aviation hub in Africa, with the attraction of tourists and corporate businesses from across the continent to Ethiopia’s hospitality and tourism offerings.

Nigeria: Apapa chaos traps thousands of containers at port (BusinessDay)

Goods estimated at several billions of naira are trapped in hundreds of containers at Apapa seaport, as trucks can no longer access or exit the various terminals inside the ports due to the current logjam in Apapa. This has resulted in the return of vessel queues last seen 11 years ago, with sources at the ports claiming no fewer than 20 ships are waiting at sea to berth, even as already berthed vessels are unable to discharge their cargoes and leave. Port operators say if this persist, ships will soon start charging a premium to bring goods into the country, which would translate into higher cost of goods on the streets.

Bitcoin – an opportunity for African trade? (GTR)

Bitcoin continues to be the subject of much debate and controversy, but for many African companies the choice is simple. For them, the cryptocurrency is not at all related to anonymous black market business – it’s about enabling them to flourish. GTR’s Sanne Wass spoke with Elizabeth Rossiello of BitPesa to find out more.

Bringing the desert together: how to advance Sahelo-Maghreb integration (European Council on Foreign Relations)

This paper proposes a more holistic approach to regional stabilisation, one that acknowledges the need for better security capacity and coordination while also emphasising the need for greater regional integration between North Africa and the Sahel. This approach can help limit the appeal of operating in the informal sector while providing opportunities for legal work in the Sahel. The formalisation of some previously illicit or clandestine economic activity can, in turn, improve development and economic diversification in the Maghreb while providing labour opportunities for the region. To accomplish these goals, the paper proposes that French and international efforts to improve intra-Sahel and Sahel-Maghreb integration focus on migration, economic reform, security coordination, and regional institutional frameworks. [The author: Andrew Leibovich]

Quick Links:

Realising the potential of Africa’s youth: the YouthConnekt summit, in Kigali. Keynote speech by UNDP’s Abdoulaye Mar Dieye

ECOSOC High-level Political Forum on the SDGs concludes

Prof Aryeetey honoured by University of Sussex for contributing to the study of African economies

EAC to harmonize policies on e-waste management

Botswana: Donkey exports - a well-intentioned trade gone wrong

Guinea-Bissau: Third review under the extended credit facility arrangement

Margaret McMillan: Chinese investment in Africa


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