Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo source: Access Africa

Concluding today, in Gaborone: 2017 African Caucus

Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF, and delegates from countries on the African continent met here in Gaborone on Thursday for the 2017 African Caucus. The forum was opened by the chairman of the African Caucus, Kenneth Matambo, who is also the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in Botswana. The two-day forum is under the theme: Economic transformation and job creation: a focus on agriculture and agribusiness. The findings of the deliberations will inform the 2017 Memorandum of African Governors to the Heads of the Bretton Woods Institutions. [Download: the draft programme]

2017 AGOA Forum (8-10 August, Lomé): preview

Transcript of a press briefing by Mr Peter Henry Barlerin (Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs) and Ms Constance A. Hamilton (Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa): As Peter Barlerin has said, the delegation will be led by the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. At the forum, he will outline the administration’s trade policy approach to Africa generally, and to the sub-Saharan African region specifically. We expect that he will stress both the Trump administration’s interest in deepening our trade relationship with the continent, as well as his expectation that our African partners will engage in fair trade, eliminate barriers to US export, and abide by the eligibility criteria of the AGOA program. He is looking forward to meeting with his commerce and trade counterparts and to forging long-term relationships. Let me tell you briefly a few of the topics that are going to come up at the forum:

Responses to questions on reciprocity:

But in terms of reciprocity, AGOA is a preference program. It is a unilateral, one-way preference program. It does not demand reciprocity from the countries that benefit. So we do believe that in the long term, preferences alone are not going to stimulate the kind of economic growth that we want to see on the continent. And so we encourage countries to think about doing more with us, and thinking on their own about reciprocity with the United States and how that can help move their growth forward.

I think that we’ve always said that building towards a more reciprocal relationship was in the best interest of both United States and African countries, but we want countries to be ready to do that. We’re not demanding FTA’s, we’re simply saying that when countries are ready and want to approach us with doing more, we welcome that. We welcome that conversation. But right now, we’re not changing AGOA into a two-way, sort of asking for reciprocity from the beneficiaries of the program. That’s not what AGOA was set up to do. It’s a preference program that was set up to provide unilateral, one-way trade preferences to promote the trade and growth of Africa. Now, if I could just say one more thing. Ambassador Lighthizer will be there, he’s the new USTR, but he has a lot of depth and understanding of trade relationships. He’s going to be talking to African Ministers, he’s going to be talking to the heads of regional organizations, and he’s going to learn a lot about their concerns about the existing AGOA and hear recommendations about what we do next in the future. And he’ll consider all of that.

So what we’re saying to the countries of the EAC is, we welcome you to use AGOA to the fullest, but please do not ban a legitimate American product and hurt US citizens and companies and our employment on the backs of that. And so that’s why we accepted the petition. As I said, we’re still looking at it. We do believe that the argument that the EAC makes, that used clothing is stifling their ability to grow their local industry, is just not supported by the data or the research. We do believe that these things can exist side-by-side, and we encourage the EAC to look at some of that research and go back and revisit this ban before we have to make a final decision on what we’re going to do as a result of the petition.

SADC Industrialisation Week: selected updates

(i) ‘Intra-Africa trade could double to $400 billion’ (The Chronicle). The volume of intra-African trade could easily double to $400bnfrom $170bn if market information is shared and widely distributed among African countries, a trade analyst says. Gainmore Zanamwe, Afreximbank senior manager for Intra-African Trade Initiative, told delegates at the opening of the SADC Industrialisation Week that if Africa addresses the issue of availability of market information, trade volumes can breach the $400bn mark and thrust the continent firmly towards industrialisation. “Lack of access to market information is still a major barrier to intra-Africa trade,” he said. Zanamwe cited a study on the regional value chains for leather and leather products (jointly commissioned by Afreximbank, UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat), which found that Australia was the main source of tanned hides and skins for Southern Africa, including South Africa, even though Zambia exported the same products at lower costs and its exports were higher than South Africa’s imports. The report, he said, also showed that South Africa imported leather that had been further prepared after tanning from India at double the price at which Ethiopia exported such leather while Mauritius and Nigeria imported leather products from Italy and Belgium at much higher costs than what South Africa and Botswana exported them for.

(ii) ‘SADC region sitting on massive gas reserves’ (The Herald). Southern Africa is most likely sitting on massive natural gas reserves of more than 600 trillion cubic feet which the region must exploit to reduce a heavy reliance on biomass energy, a top South African industrialist says. Vice president of group regulatory services at Sasol Limited, Johan Thyse told delegates at the SADC Industrialisation Week here, that building mutual partnerships among the bloc’s member states was key to tapping the region’s huge gas reserves to beat the energy woes facing most countries in southern Africa. “The successful development of the gas industry in South Africa was achieved through collaboration. Collaborations are key to the success of any project,” he said. “This worked well for Mozambique and South Africa and I think this can work well for the entire region. According to new findings, there are some 600 TCF gas reserves in southern Africa. The region stands to gain if we build strong partnerships to exploit the reserves.”

(iii) Localisation in infrastructure critical to the development of SADC region (dti)

Mr Nigel Gwynne-Evans, Chief Director of African Integration and Industry, said all SADC member states should prioritise localisation in infrastructure development. He said these developments required long-term government plans and considerable preparation to achieve the requisite skills and industrial capacity to meet demand. These, he said would add to the build-up and opportunities to meet the demand for infrastructure. Gwynne-Evans further outlined that there was no shortage of funding from the private sector for projects. He said that the challenge in the region was getting bankable and investable projects in rail, road and power sectors amongst others. He added that the focus must be on how to make these projects ready and attractive to the private sector, utilising concessionary funding such as that provided by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the African Development Bank.

Etching gender into trade policy in the COMESA region (UNCTAD)

Building upon the success of its online course on trade and gender, UNCTAD has broadened the scope of this initiative by tailoring its training for different regions of the globe. First in line has been the 19-country COMESA, the largest regional economic organization in Africa. Nearly 50 Representatives from COMESA - the Common Market for East and Southern African - have wrapped up their eight-week online course and committed to strengthening the gender perspective in trade policy. The online course for COMESA was accompanied by a new teaching module - Trade and gender linkages: An analysis of COMESA - which complements the existing teaching material with data, case studies and an in-depth analysis of the linkages between trade performance and gender equality in the COMESA region. The course is part of a capacity-building project on trade and gender funded by the governments of Finland and Sweden. Trade and gender linkages: an analysis of COMESA (pdf). Table of contents: Introduction; Trade and gender in the agricultural sector; Trade and gender in the manufacturing sector; Trade and gender in the services sector; Conclusions.

ECOWAS: Commission President urges setting up of regional data sharing mechanism for migration (ECOWAS)

As part of the trans-national holistic approach aimed at dealing with the problems associated with migration, irregular migration and border management issues, the ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza has drawn attention to the necessity of setting up a regional data sharing mechanism. The ECOWAS Commission President made the disclosure at the opening of the ECOWAS Heads of Immigration meeting in Abuja yesterday. Also speaking on the harassment of the citizens of the Community at the border crossings which constitute a major handicap to the free movement of persons, the President made an appeal to all Member States to create an “ECOWAS corridor” in the region’s ports, airports and land borders in order for ECOWAS nationals to “simply present their ECOWAS passports or identity cards, just like elsewhere, until the technology allows us to install electronic readers”.

Richard Goldstone: Predatory dumping is not unlawful, but SA should implement rule of law (Business Day)

It is for these reasons that I immediately accepted the invitation to become the patron of the FairPlay Movement. It is my hope that together with other interested parties, our efforts can make a difference. One area where we can make an immediate difference is in helping to tackle the plight of those rendered jobless by dumping and the many dependants who have previously relied on that income from the chicken industry. Where dumping has exacerbated poverty, hardship and hunger, civil society must devise ways to bring relief. This is what the Social Support Summit seeks to achieve. [Goldstone is a former Constitutional Court judge. This is an edited excerpt from his keynote speech at Wednesday’s Social Support Summit]

Nigeria becomes largest producer of catfish in Africa (Daily Post)

Nigeria has emerged the largest producer of catfish in Africa through the introduction of import reduction and backward integration policy. This feat was announced in Abuja by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, during the Think Tank Meeting on Ornamental Fish Trade and Intra-Regional Fish Trade. He said: “Before the present administration, Nigeria was spending about $900m annually on the importation of fish which earned the country the unenviable position as Africa’s largest importer of fish but with the new policy of import reduction and backward integration, Nigeria became the largest producer of Catfish in Africa”. The Minister lauded the recent formation of the African Network of Women Fish Processors and Traders as a platform for women who constitute the major players in fish post-harvest handling and marketing in Africa.

Nigeria: FG to launch national roadmap for cocoa production (ThisDay)

The federal government will draw the cocoa industry roadmap in order to attract investments to the sector by holding the first International Cocoa Summit, 28-31 August in Abuja. The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, said the summit would target raising the national cocoa production output to 500,000 metric tonnes per year from 2021. The summit is organised by the trade ministry in association with Cocoa Association of Nigeria, International Cocoa Organisation, African Ex-Im Bank and governments of the cocoa producing states. The cocoa sector used to sustain Nigeria’s economy before the advent of oil in the 70s and 80s. The industry has suffered unfortunate vicissitudes resulting in sharp drop of annual production from 420,000mts in the 60s to 300,000 mts and further to 192,000mts in 2015. Nigeria has nosedived to the seventh position in the world in cocoa production as against the fourth position it maintained some years ago.

Botswana: Debswana output set to reach 2014 peaks (Mmegi)

Debswana produced 24.2 million carats in 2014 before mid-stream overstocking and weak demand forced a limiting of production to 20.4m in 2015 and 20.5m carats in 2016. In April, the diamond giant revealed it was targeting 20.5m this year, but last week, a De Beers executive confirmed the figure would likely be closer to 22 million. De Beers executive head (strategy and corporate affairs) Gareth Mostyn told Mmegi Business the prospects for healthy demand in the second half of the year were looking strong.

Somalia: Helping a government harness revenue (World Bank)

This week in Mogadishu, the World Bank launched the second in our Somalia Economic Update series, Mobilizing domestic revenue to rebuild Somalia. The series aims to support policymakers and other stakeholders with analysis of trends in the Somali economy. What is starting to emerge is a picture of a country undergoing three parallel (and linked) transitions: political, security, and economic. Somalia’s new economy is decentralized and privatized. Long years of conflict dislodged Mogadishu from its dual position as political and economic capital and, in turn, reinforced the economic power of port cities and urban hubs like Kismayo (in southern Somalia), Berbera (in Somaliland), and Bosaso (in Puntland), giving rise to the powerful logic of federalism. At the same time, new technologies, a large Somali diaspora, and a regulation-free environment facilitated large scale telecoms and banking businesses to emerge.

Today’s Quick Links:

The costs of patenting in Africa: a tale of three intellectual property systems

Malaysia-Africa bilateral trade to grow 3%-4% in 2017

Trade community eyes busy autumn negotiations calendar on WTO, FTA fronts (ICTSD)

Food prices surge in July; FAO cites cereals, sugar and dairy as main drivers

All hands on deck: confronting the challenges of capital flows

Botswana: Sinohydro backs out of P92m suit against government  

India partners with Nigeria to promote ICT growth

Nigeria: Sentiments trail EPA ratification despite EU’s revision of clauses


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