tralac’s Daily News Selection
Interim EPA between the EU and the Eastern and Southern African States: report by the WTO Secretariat
The Interim Agreement establishing a Framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Eastern and Southern African states (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe) is the EU’s 25th RTA notified to the WTO. Among the ESA States for whom the Agreement is in force, for Madagascar it is the 2nd RTA notified, for Mauritius the 3rd RTA, the first for the Seychelles and the 4th for Zimbabwe; the other ESA States the Comoros and Zambia, did not sign the Agreement although discussions with the Comoros on signature are continuing.
Trade with the European Union is important for the economies of the ESA States. In 2014 the EU was the largest destination for merchandise exports from three of the four ESA States (Mauritius, 49.1% of its exports, Madagascar, 49.8% and the Seychelles, 59.3%). It is the third largest export destination for Zimbabwe (5% of its exports). In 2014 the EU was the largest source of merchandise imports for the Seychelles (33.6% of its imports), second largest for Mauritius (20.8%) and Madagascar (15.6%) and third largest for Zimbabwe (albeit representing only 8.6% of its imports). For the EU Mauritius is the 75th largest source of imports, followed by Madagascar at 78th, Zimbabwe at 91 and Seychelles at 109th large source of imports. In terms of EU exports, Mauritius is its 91st largest merchandise export market, followed by Madagascar (112), Seychelles (136) and Zimbabwe (139).
Rwanda: Trade deficit drops by 25% (New Times)
Rwanda’s trade deficit significantly in the first six months of 2017 by over 25% compared to the corresponding period last year, new data shows. According to the latest monetary policy and financial stability statement, the gap between import and export in the first half of the year stood at $671.2m compared to $902.3m in the same period last year. The statement, presented yesterday by central bank governor John Rwangombwa, shows that formal exports grew by 39.8%. Formal imports also declined by about 10.6% largely due to increased consumption of locally-made products under the Made-in-Rwanda campaign. Rwangombwa said the drop in imports was partly due to the completion of large infrastructure projects as well as a result of the positive impact of the Made-in-Rwanda campaign. For instance, cement imports dropped by 10.9% following an increase of production by CIMERWA from 134,001 tonnes to 162,351 tonnes in the first half of this year. Fertiliser imports also dropped as a local firm, Agro-processing Trust Company, went operational improve the efficiency of distribution and management of the commodity.
Transcripts of the recent AGOA eligibility hearings: (i) Public hearing for the annual review of the eligibility of the Sub-Saharan African countries (pdf) to receive the 2018 benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (23 August); (ii) Public hearing to review the Republic of Rwanda’s, United Republic of Tanzania’s, and Republic of Uganda’s eligibility (pdf) to receive the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (13 July)
(i) Country case studies on the implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Against this background, these studies aim at providing evidence-based insights on the implementation of AGOA at country level and how countries can optimise on the benefits of this preferential trade arrangement. Beyond AGOA, this will inform Africa’s other trade policies which will ultimately improve the continent’s positioning in the world trade. Based on geographical/language representation and performance under AGOA, the following 11 countries have been identified for the country case studies: Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia. The case studies are primarily aimed at documenting the AGOA experience of the 11 countries and drawing lessons for the rest of African countries. The specific objectives include the following:
(ii) A review to support regional integration Agenda reform at AU – Ethiopia. The objective of the assignment is to strengthen the working methods of the African Union in order to (a) increase coordination of the thematic implementation of the regional integration agenda, and (b) strengthen the institutional and governance linkages between Regional Economic Communities (RECs) amongst and the AUC.
(iii) Regional trade policy guidelines for cross-border infrastructure. The overall objective of the consultancy is to develop Regional Trade Policy Guidelines for Cross-border Infrastructure based on lessons and evidence drawn from the AU-recognized RECs (UMA; COMESA; CEN–SAD; EAC; ECCAS; ECOWAS; IGAD; and SADC). More specifically, the consultant will: identify cross-border infrastructure projects critical to trade; evaluate regional impact; identify stakeholders at the regional level; identify policies and laws and regulations surrounding the projects; identify capacity challenges associated with the projects; develop regional trade policy guidelines for cross-border infrastructure based on the analysis, including the key capacity requirements and how to enhance them; serve as resource-person for a workshop targeting Africa’s RECs.
(iv) Policy research papers on innovative methods for financing regional infrastructure: lessons for Africa from other developing regions. It is against this background that ACBF,is undertaking a series of policy-oriented studies that aim at identifying, documenting and sharing innovative methods for financing regional infrastructure in Africa with the present call focused on lessons for Africa from other developing regions. The lessons could be in any relevant infrastructure sector: energy, transport, ICT, etc. These studies will provide new insights and improve the body of knowledge on financing regional infrastructure in Africa. They will support decision-makers and practitioners in understanding and learning from innovative methods for financing regional infrastructure in Africa, to ultimately be capable of adapting and replicating those methods in their own context. [The full set of consultancy opportunities can be accessed here]
Namibia: Geingob rules out IMF bailout (New Era)
Geingob explained that the government is not to blame for the economic downturn and reiterated that it was caused mainly by subdued commodity prices and a drop in SACU receipts. He said although the country faces an economic slowdown, Namibia will not seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailouts, nor will it accept the so-called “structural reform packages” from external parties. “That is why Namibia has never gone to the IMF for an economic bailout package or entertained any internationally imposed structural reform programmes. Most of our debt is local and in keeping with continuing the legacy of my predecessors,” he said yesterday at the 18th Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair.
Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa: update following biennial elective meeting, 25 August (Mining Review)
To address some of these challenges Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa has decided to champion dealing with the trust deficit between governments and the mining industry in the region as part of its lobbying role. Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa hopes that that it will get a positive response from the Committee of Ministers of Mines in the region when it requests their audience through the SADC platform. Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa has further committed itself to work closely with the Southern African Business Forum with the intention of influencing SADC governments through the ministers of mines in the region towards ensuring the sustainability and growth of the mining sector.
Mozambique: Cargo traffic grows at major ports (Club of Mozambique)
Cargo handling in the first six months of 2017 grew 23% against the same period in 2016, Mozambican newspaper Notícias quotes Transport and Communications Minister Carlos Mesquita as saying. Minister Mesquita attributed the growth to the stabilisation of prices in the international market for Mozambican exports such as coal, sugar and cotton. However, “the volume of cargo we have been handling is below the total installed port capacity, which is in the order of 74 million tons,” he added. Even larger numbers, fuelled by exports from the primary sector, are expected in the coming months, since “the second half of each year is always the most active”.
Uganda: Committee to restrict foreigners in petty trade (Daily Monitor)
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has commissioned a committee comprising of several government ministries, departments and agencies to develop regulations restricting foreigners in petty and retail trade. According to Ms Kyambadde, a meeting where a progress report will be presented shall be convened after every two months at the ministry of trade headquarters in Kampala. The sectoral committee should also develop rules on a timeline in which expatriates should be employed in a foreign company as well as have a provision requiring attachment of local staff to understudy foreign experts in their specific fields of work.
Ugandan traders return to war-ravaged South Sudan (Daily Monitor)
Ugandan traders have started returning to South Sudan a year after they were evacuated by Uganda People’s Defence Forces. Some of the traders who talked to Daily Monitor said they returned to a risky country because they couldn’t cope with the economic condition in Uganda. The chairperson of the Ugandan community in South Sudan, Mr Bruhan Tibo Obiga, said Ugandan traders are returning because business [in South Sudan] is starting to pick up, especially in the capital.
Chinese companies eye Uganda’s oil sector (Daily Monitor)
A group of Chinese companies have shown interest in partnering with Ugandan businesses to participate in developing the oil and gas sector of in Uganda. Speaking during a recent oil and gas conference hosted by Stanbic Bank Uganda in collaboration with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), in Kampala, Mr Patrick Mweheire, the chief executive officer Stanbic Bank, said there are now numerous opportunities presented by the promising oil and gas sector. Mr Wang Lubin, the chief representative officer ICBC and board member of Standard Bank Group, said: “ICBC and Stanbic Bank are well-placed to play a leading role in the development of the sector. We have already been working with government and the companies which are executing a number of critical Oil related infrastructure projects and have vast experience working together on large scale projects across the continent.” [Nigeria: Chinese to build $5.8bn hydropower plant]
Ghana: CRIA launches reports on African integration issues (Ghana Press)
The Centre for Regional Integration has unveiled four research reports about matters regarding integration in Africa, highlighting challenges and prescribing solutions for an inclusive integration process for quicker economic growth in the continent. The reports included Regional Integration Issues Forum Network Planning Meeting, RIIF Policy Dialogue, RIIF Network Monitoring Team and Issues in African Regional Integration, 2017. CRIA unveiled the reports in partnership with the African Capacity Building Foundation, GIMPA, WACSI and AFRINVEST at the YALI Building on GIMPA Campus in the capital, Accra. [Ghana to leverage on the ECOWAS market to grow]
Three GSDRC reports on illicit trade in African wildlife: (i) Criminal networks and the illicit wildlife trade; (ii) The political economy of the illegal wildlife trade; (iii) Enforcement and regulation of the illegal wildlife trade in Sub Saharan Africa
Rice: Stirring up trouble in international trade (Statfor)
Rice exports are currently concentrated among a handful of producers, protective trade measures are rampant in the sector, and the grain’s variants cannot be easily substituted for one another – all factors that make the industry highly susceptible to disruptions in the market. These risks are unlikely to lessen in the near future, as rice seems all but certain to remain a sticking point in upcoming trade negotiations that involve the United States or its Asian competitors.
Today’s Quick Links:
Trade and Development Bank: Board of Governors meeting in Seychelles
Matti Ylönen (UNU-WIDER Blog): Too late, too little? The IMF and international tax flight
Improving gender outcomes for regional trade programmes (with particular applicability to South Asia)