tralac’s Daily News Selection
tralac’s weekly e-Newsletter: Are African trade arrangements rediscovering trade remedies?
UNCTAD’s expert meeting on trade, services and development (18-20 July, Geneva): explore the extensive range of presentations, many with an African focus
UNCTAD Trade and Development Board meeting (11-22 September, Geneva): Is the world integrating or disintegrating?
SADC Development Fund gets the nod (The Herald)
The SADC Council of Ministers, on Wednesday, endorsed a decision from the Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment to operationalise the Regional Development Fund set to enhance self-sustenance. Annotated Agenda minutes of SADC/CM/2/2017/1A urged members to expedite internal processes to stay on course in operationalising the Regional Development Fund. It was agreed that member states need to contribute an initial capitalisation of $120m payable in equal instalments over a three-year commitment period starting from 2017/2018 financial year. The council urged members that have not ratified the agreement on the operationalisation of the regional fund to do so to enable Member States to make first subscriptions.
A recommendation to effect a moratorium on new proposals of funds and facilities to allow for analysis of all existing funds and how they can be incorporated in the SADC Region Development Fund including modalities of accessing the funds was also passed. Only seven Member States have so far signed the agreement on the operationalisation of the fund, but none has deposited instruments of ratification with the Secretariat with Mauritius indicating its willingness to sign. The seven that have signed the agreement are Angola, DRC, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. “SADC is further considering to set up four new funds, namely: the Regional Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund; the Agricultural Development Fund; the Transfrontier Conservation Area Fund and the SADC Standby Force Peace Fund,” reads the Council of Ministers annotated agenda adopted on Wednesday.
Chelsea Markowitz: What SADC needs to do to make the most of regional value chains (Business Day)
The OECD and SAIIA recently undertook a pilot study in the Sadc region to better understand both international and local firms’ perspectives on the challenges and prospects for inclusive global and regional value chains in SADC. Many of the takeaways from this and other studies converge on one fundamental point: despite much research on value chains, as well as efforts from Sadc and development partners to address private sector constraints, it is ultimately the role of SADC countries themselves to adopt a “regional perspective” and prioritise these initiatives in order to reap the benefits of value chain driven industrialisation.
Brian Mureverwi: Epic confrontations on international trade governance await Zimbabwe ahead of SADC summit (Tutwa)
In the last 5 years, business relations between Pretoria and Harare have turned sour, as a result of the later resorting to the use of various techniques and shenanigans to minimise imports from her neighbour across the Limpopo River. All in the name of sovereign industrial policy development. Accompanying these tensions, the unresolved trade disagreements between the two countries are expected to take a new twist, as South Africa takes over the chairmanship of the SADC on the 17th of August for a full year.
Initiatives to improve agricultural productivity, value chain development, employment creation, and food security are often constrained by market and trade-related bottlenecks which are a result of the misalignment between agricultural and trade policies. This was part of findings discussed at a meeting convened by the FAO in Maputo (25-26 July). The high-level meeting attracted decision makers from the ministries of agriculture, finance, trade, industry and commerce, private sector representatives and donor groups. To help address this challenge, FAO, in collaboration with Enhanced Integrated Framework at the WTO and ECDPM, has piloted a regional project to help countries coordinate policy making processing, starting with agriculture and trade. Mozambique is one of four countries in East and Southern Africa targeted in the pilot project aimed at developing a model for best practices in policy development and harmonization in enhancing economic development. [The author: Busani Bafana] [Mozambique: Developing a coherent national policy framework on agricultural trade]
(i) Abidjan Agro-Industries Forum. During a July forum in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, West Africa cereals stakeholders discussed business opportunities and supply solutions to the thorny problem of local agro-industries sourcing grains from abroad. As uncovered in an earlier Trade Hub report (pdf), agro-industries like breweries and animal feed processors in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Togo buy significant amounts of cereals from other countries, largely due to high levels of aflatoxin contamination and long delivery time. On 6-7 July, the Trade Hub hosted the Abidjan Agro-Industries Forum, which brought together more than 30 cereals stakeholders from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Togo —including industrial companies, producers, processors, traders, and managers of cereal associations—to discuss business opportunities and supply solutions. Working groups made several recommendations within the framework of an action plan to address issues raised, including training stakeholders to establish a traceability mechanism and an effective compliance system to meet regional standards. The action plan also envisioned a sustainable partnership to improve farm gate prices and organize logistics and transport.
(ii) Bridging apparel export gaps in Nigeria. From 5-7 July, the Trade Hub and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council brought together about 40 Nigerian apparel stakeholders to learn how to expand and enter international markets, particularly the US market through the US African Growth Opportunity Act - an important challenge for Nigerian apparel factories - as identified in a 2016 Trade Hub assessment of the apparel sector. The team identified areas for improvement for apparel companies, namely more technical capacity to increase regional and international exports. The team also identified companies that have some export experience but need a better understanding of export best practices to expand their apparel exports. At the end of the workshop, participants decided to form the Nigerian Association of Apparel Manufacturers (NAAM) and elected members of the association’s steering committee. NAAM is expected to engage government and other key apparel stakeholders to sensitize them on the opportunities that prevail in the sector particularly job creation and revenue generation.
(iii) Guinea, Mali become latest countries to drop costly Certificates of Origin trade barrier. At the Hub’s urging, the governments of Guinea and Mali have agreed to formally drop a moot requirement that traders of staple crops and livestock produce Certificates of Origin (COO), which adds time and costs to trade throughout ECOWAS. In direct violation of the three decades-old ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, the certificate of origin requirement hinders the free movement of agricultural goods across West African borders. The Trade Hub’s direct advocacy efforts have helped eliminate this requirement in six West African countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin - and now Guinea and Mali. For an upcoming study, the Trade Hub surveyed 290 traders, freight forwarders, and drivers who trade 15 common agricultural and livestock products within the ECOWAS region. The study found traders along primary corridors are required to obtain a COO for half their shipments. Each time, it costs them an average of 15 hours and $41.74 just to get the one document—and traders reported it requires its own, separate process, so they can’t do it while meeting other requirements. The Trade Hub’s findings show that ending illegal or ill-informed requests for the COO would save significant time and money - though widespread publicizing remains to be done. Only 14.8% of respondents were aware of any initiatives, changes, or reforms affecting the time and cost to trade across borders, including in the countries that have dropped the COO requirement within the past 18 months.
(iv) Related: USAID to launch research report on cassava, yam flour, ginger production (ThisDay). The Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport project, funded by USAID, has announced the launch of eight model business/industry studies for processing, export and subsequent development of their value chains in Nigeria. The commodities are cassava, ginger, kenaf, moringa, sesame, shea, soya milk and yam flour. They form a great deal of staple food consumed across Nigeria as well as export market. But processing of these commodities has remained at the primary and crude level, limiting the massive inherent gains available across the entire value chain if well managed, hence the need for the industry study. The industry studies, were conducted to resolve financing barrier that prevents potential investments in value addition for these commodities, which will result in creating thousands of jobs as well as increasing productivity and income of smallholder farmers across Nigeria.
Opening opportunities: Kenya’s electronic single window connects East Africa to global value chains (World Bank)
One of the most challenging experiences for businesses involved in cross bordertrade along Kenya’s border points is the clearance of imports and exports. Until 2015, the process of clearing cargo was largely manual. More than 29 different government agencies with different roles in the clearance of international trade goods required businesses to apply for and submit different sets of cargo clearance documents. The World Bank Group’s trade and competitiveness team, through the Kenya investment climate program, has supported the government of Kenya in implementing the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System, also known as the Kenya TradeNet System. This smart lesson describes the system, how it works, its accomplishments, and lessons learned along the way.
Eliminating subsidies that contribute to IUU activities, formulating enforceable WTO rules, and using a well-established forum for informed discussions among flag, coastal and subsidising states could prove a novel and useful addition to the toolbox of measures to fight IUU fishing. Above all, the WTO would provide a forum for an open and frank discussion among members who are concerned with the link between subsidies and illegal fishing activities. [The author: Carl-Christian Schmidt]
Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South (IIED)
This paper examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled. But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies’ focus. By moving the dependence on manufacturing before these jobs are replaced and preparing for the changes that automation and other technological developments will bring, governments can help protect men and women’s livelihoods. [The author: Andrew Norton]
Today’s Quick Links:
Guinea: IMF mission statement