Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo source: Global Trade Review

The AGOA Forum 2017 begins today: the programme.

Profiled AGOA Forum tweet, by SACU’s ES, Paulina Elago: Attending the African Trade Ministers’ preparatory meeting ahead of the 2017 AGOA Forum tomorrow. Africa to articulate her position on AGOA

Gaborone Declaration: 2017 African Caucus Meeting of Governors of IMF, World Bank Group

  1. Agriculture policy foundations - reforms and agenda: Recognizing the need for sustained political will and the importance of standards and practices to continue structural transformation and diversification of African economies; Aware that Africa remains the most undercapitalized region, with public spending in agriculture below its required level for inclusive growth; and public investments that are largely insufficient to transform the sector and allow it to increase its contribution to GDP; and, Observing that the current approach to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture has proven inadequate and often unsuitable for agriculture growth and for food security...;

  2. Agricultural technologies, private sector participation, value chains, and sustainable job creation for youth and women: Working to strengthen agricultural production across the whole value chain, from input supply, production, post-harvest handling, to processing and marketing...;

  3. Agriculture infrastructure financing and financial inclusion: Noting that agriculture infrastructure financing and financial inclusion are crucial for boosting productivity in agribusiness...;

Célestin Monga: Truth is the safest lie - a reassessment of development economics (AfDB)

Development thinking should aim at providing more actionable sets of policies to political leaders, and avoid offering laundry lists of reforms that are politically difficult to implement and may not immediately yield the intended results. Leaving economic development to the market is taking a bet on what I call the painful economics of chance, approaching economics as a prayer that may or may not be answered. Different industries require distinct types of infrastructure. And since low-income country governments do not have the financial resources to accommodate all industries at once, it is best to work with the private sector to identify industries where the economy has a comparative advantage, and to focus on providing specific infrastructure and transparent, limited incentives that would allow these industries to grow.

Look at the list of recent success stories in Africa to understand the role of industrial policies. Textiles in Mauritius, apparel in Lesotho, cotton in Burkina Faso, cut flowers in Ethiopia, mangos in Mali, and gorilla tourism in Rwanda all required that governments provide different types of infrastructure. The refrigeration facilities needed at the airport and the regular flights to ship Ethiopia’s cut flowers to the auctions in Europe are obviously quite different from the improvements required at the port facilities for textile exports in Mauritius. Similarly, the type of infrastructure for the garment industry in Lesotho is distinct from the one for mango production and export in Mali or for attracting gorilla tourism in Rwanda. Because fiscal resources and implementation capacity are limited, the government in each of those countries had to prioritize and decide which specific infrastructure they should improve or where to optimally locate the public services to make those success stories happen.

Economic integration tops WAMZ statutory meetings: selected updates

(i) West African Monetary Zone: 38th meeting of the Convergence Council. President Sirleaf noted that notwithstanding the efforts by Member Countries, the challenges that confronted us in recent times still made serious adverse effects on the region’s economy, such as rising inflation, declining growth, investor apathy, among others. She said it is important to note that these meetings are taking place at a time of major developments in the global economy, especially Britain’s exit (i.e., BREXIT) from the Euro zone. “What does this mean for our regional drive towards ECOWAS VISION 2020 and the WAMZ desire for a monetary and economic cooperation? Let us think about it. The lessons from BREXIT should guide our deliberations by ensuring that we arrive at a regional-specific framework that works best for the WAMZ,” she reckoned. The Liberian Chief executive observed that most of our countries are still highly vulnerable to exogenous shocks given our net-importer characteristics reliance - primary commodity-export, external financing and aid dependency, all exacerbated by frequency of political and health crises and other natural disasters. This, she said explains why none of our Member Countries has been able to sustain all of the primary macroeconomic convergence criteria for three or more years consecutively. The Liberian leader was speaking on Friday, 4 August 2017 when she officially opened the 38th Meeting of the Convergence Council of the West African Monetary Zone.

(ii) West African Monetary Zone: 26th meeting of College of Supervisors. The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr Milton A. Weeks, set the tone of the 26th meeting of the College of Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone by urging members of the College of Supervisors of West African Central Banks to think through what is likely to cause a banking/financial crisis in the West African monetary zone as well as the efforts required to address such crisis. He said: “The need for a zonal crisis prevention, management and resolution framework is more and more evident. Do we have the right mechanisms to address the potential risks associated with the increasing digitization of our financial systems?”. Mr Weeks also stressed the need to provide an enabling environment that would be conducive for competition and innovation, while at the same time balancing risk management and internal control against overbearing regulations. This view, he said, is informed by lessons learnt by past failures/crises and the need to regularly assess existing practices and make future crises less damaging. The CBL Governor said: “In this new age of ‘hi-tech’ and financial technology, our supervisory approaches need to be scaled up and technologically powered”. He however expressed happiness that most countries within the West African monetary zone already have electronic systems for the rendering of the returns of financial institutions but that there was still opportunities in using computer-assisted techniques and other tools to facilitate enhanced early warning systems.

Related West African updates:

(i) WAIFEM regional seminar on international trade, taxes and policies begins. A week-long regional seminar intended to provide participants with an understanding of pertinent issues relating to international trade, taxes and negotiations, as well as to build capacity for the formulation and implementation of good and effective external trade policies to yield maximum benefits, kicked off on Monday, August 7, at the Central Bank of Liberia conference hall. The course, which is being organized by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, will expose participants to contemporary issues in trade policy analysis and provide a theoretically consistent and quantitative way to evaluate different economic policies.

(ii) ECOWAS, UNECA join hands to create a robust Regional Statistical Portal. With the support of Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, ECOWAS and the UNECA are fashioning a reliable statistical database which can be customised for the planning of programmes by the ECOWAS Commission among others. To this end, relevant experts and officials gathered in Abuja for a five-day training forum, via the UNECA’s technical assistance programme, towards the realisation of ECOWAS’ Statistical Portal (StatBase) which will help the Research and Statistics Directorate at the ECOWAS Commission to upgrade its web dissemination tools while birthing a new configuration that would provide access to the economic and social data of ECOWAS.

(iii) ECOWAS Immigration Chiefs endorse Nigeria’s proposal for the establishment of a Migration Training Academy. The final recommendations texts read out on behalf of the immigration chiefs by the ECOWAS Head of Division Free Movement and Migration, Dr Tony Luka Elumelu, on 4 August 2017, bordered on regional progress on the implementation of ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol effectiveness of free movement, border management, data management and sharing, regional coordination, as well as monitoring and reporting among others. The regional Immigration heads called for the setting up of a committee to implement a strategy on the ECO visa and determine a timeframe for its convergence while stressing that all major airports in the region should be linked continuously with the data base of the International Police Organisation.

The chiefs recommended that a checklist on the annual assessment on Free Movement protocol should be developed and shared with Member States while an assessment on the protocol, be implemented by an independent body making sure that ECOWAS and Member States are assessed in the process. The immigration Chiefs reviewed existing instruments and held that the architecture of ECOWAS units dealing with Migration (particularly Peace and Security, Free Movement) at the regional level should be applied also to the national level for “enhanced harmonisation”. They also recommended the inclusion of migration in the national political agendas, particularly in the development of strategies and policies alongside having elaborate migration strategies/policies for all ECOWAS countries on the road to the attainment of a regional common migration policy.

Interconnectivity of African customs IT systems: WCO supports AU process (WCO)

At the invitation of the AU, the WCO participated in the 4th AU Customs Technical Working Group Meeting on Interconnectivity of Computerized Customs Clearance Systems that was held under the Chair of Zimbabwe from 31 July to 2 August 2017, in Yaoundé. Based on the discussions and inputs shared by delegates, the Meeting reviewed the Roadmap and Strategy on Interconnectivity of Computerized Customs Clearance Information Systems in Africa with a goal of achieving full interconnectivity by 2025 through a 4-phased approach. This meeting made a good progress in consolidating the ongoing work with a clear roadmap and well-defined roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders including the expectations from the WCO. The WCO is committed to providing all necessary support going forward.

Mauritius-Senegal Cooperation: Parc Industriel International de Diamniadio operational soon (GoM)

Senegal’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, Mr Amadou Bâ, said Senegal intends to position itself as a regional logistics and industrial hub through the Senegal Emerging Plan. The management of the Park is vested in the SIAA, a Senegalese-Mauritian joint venture in which the Mauritian government is majority shareholder to the extent of 51% through the MAF. With the signing of these conventions, the first phase of the International Industrial Park of Diamniadio spread over 13 hectares becomes operational. More than 30,000 m2 of floor space built in this first phase are spread over four industrial sheds and one administrative building. This project is an opportunity for Mauritian companies to establish their business activities in Senegal in order to benefit from access to the emerging regional market of West Africa and especially the American and European markets given their proximity to Senegal.

Kenya-Tanzania trade: Private sector lobbies want trade barriers removed (The EastAfrican)

A consultative meeting held in Dar es Salaam last week between the Tanzania Private Sector Federation and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance noted that Kenyan exporters of cement, edible oils, cigarettes and other products still encounter restrictions on entry into Tanzania while Tanzanian dairy traders are finding it difficult to export to Kenya. “There is a need to facilitate administrative processes on the movement of goods, including clearance at border points,” the trade lobbies said in a joint communiqué after the meeting on Thursday. The recommendations of the meeting will form the agenda in the expected bilateral talks between the two countries to be held after general election in Kenya.

Gender mainstreaming in the Regional Economic Communities (UNDP)

To help break barriers to gender equality in Africa, there is need for better coordination among regional and continental institutions, accompanied by robust accountability mechanisms to ensure that commitments to women’s empowerment and gender equality are met. These are among the conclusions of a three-day policy meeting on gender mainstreaming in the Regional Economic Communities, that took place in Ghana’s capital Accra, with more than 30 representatives from the AUC, five of Africa’s RECs, UN agencies, civil society and academia. Many REC participants noted that while the relevant global, continental and sub-regional legal instruments and policies for gender mainstreaming existed, translating these into action and impact in their Member States remained a challenge, along with sustainable financing to train colleagues working in other sectors on how to mainstream gender in their programmes. Other challenges collectively identified included little coordination among continental and regional institutions, a dearth of sex-aggregated data, and continuing harmful cultural practices and patriarchy. [UNDP, RECs dialogue on gender mainstreaming opens]

World Trade Outlook Indicator points to continued modest recovery of world trade in third quarter (WTO)

The WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) suggests that global merchandise trade growth will continue to strengthen in the third quarter of 2017. The latest reading of 102.6 is higher than the previous reading of 102.2 issued in May this year, suggesting sustained momentum for trade growth. Strong performances in air freight, export orders and container shipping are balanced by weaker results in other indices.


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010