Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Reuters | Charles Placide Tossou

Featured consultancy on the SADC Trade Protocol: TOR for sugar sector study

Forthcoming African trade and development events:

(i) 11th Joint Consultative meeting between AUPSC, UNSC (8 September, New York): to exchange views on peace and security issues in Africa, specifically, on conflict and crisis situations in Somalia, South Sudan, Lake Chad Basin.

(ii) Nepad Agency HLF on the margins of 72nd United Nations General Assembly: Harnessing skills for rural transformation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: what needs to be done? (20 September); Sustainable tourism development in Africa: transforming opportunity for inclusive growth

(iii) 3rd International Conference on Tax in Africa (25-29 September, Abuja): Building strong domestic tax regimes in Africa

(iv) Peace, Security and Development Nexus (28-29 September, Cape Town): expert group meeting

(v) OSAA Africa Week 2017 (16-20 October, New York): Towards the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Bernard Hoekman, Dominique Njinkeu: Integrating Africa – some trade policy research priorities and challenges (Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)

This paper (pdf) discusses opportunities for trade policy research to contribute more to efforts to integrate African markets, a stated policy priority for African leaders. Much of the economic research in this area has sought to quantify aggregate trade costs and the potential welfare impacts of reducing such costs, including through regional integration. This is important, but we argue that more focus is needed on the ‘micro’ dimensions of regional integration. These centre on the trade-restricting effects of nontariff measures and regulatory policies and their political economy underpinnings. Of particular importance is research on mechanisms to support market integration initiatives that recognize the multidimensional nature of the sources of trade costs in Africa, and the associated political economy forces within and between countries and regional economic communities. Specifically, we discuss four research challenges: Analysis of the effects of trade policy, especially NTMs affecting trade in goods and services; Research on issues related to inter-REC liberalization; Improving economic governance and regulatory frameworks; The design of mechanisms to enhance policy coherence and accountability. [RSCAS Working Papers]

Free Movement of Persons to stimulate African regional integration (GoM)

The implementation mechanism of a Draft Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons in Africa aimed at promoting regional integration across the continent was the focus of discussions during an Experts’ meeting which opened yesterday at the Hilton Hotel in Flic en Flac. The three-day event is organised by the AUC with the objective to develop a roadmap and establish a task force to guide the Commission on implementation strategies. Representatives from 55 African countries are participating. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, said it is necessary to ensure the ease of movement of persons in parallel with the liberalisation process of trade in goods and trade in services. In her speech, the President of the Committee on the Free Movement of Persons Ambassador Catherine Jackden, outlined that this process encourages innovation and knowledge-transfer across the continent and helps societies to get acquainted with each other and to become more accepting.

Tunisia launches charm offensive to join ECOWAS as Maghreb Union crumbles (North Africa Post)

In the face of the paralysis crippling the Maghreb Union, Tunisia is following the example of Morocco by repositioning itself on the African continent. Tunisia’s bid to join ECOWAS is thus part of an endeavor to seek regional integration facilitating the flow of goods and investments in an increasingly globalized and competitive world. After the ECOWAS has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application, Tunisia is following suit looking forward to becoming a member of the regional bloc before the end of 2017. In line with this momentum, Tunisia will also open new embassies across the continent as well as trade representations. For its part, the North African country’s flagship carrier, Tunisair, will expand its African network to include new routes to Benin, Sudan, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Nigeria and Guinea over the next four years. Like Morocco, Tunisia also seeks to boost its soft power in Africa through increasing educational and cultural cooperation. In this respect, Tunis aims at receiving 20,000 Sub-Saharan students by 2020, compared to 7000 currently. [Tunisia eyes Africa with Tunisian African Empowerment Forum]

Sahel and West Africa: Cross-border flows of agricultural and livestock products, June 2017

Regional trade in agri-food products plays an important role in regional integration, in the fight against food insecurity in the Sahel and in West Africa. Apart from livestock, corn, millet, sorghum, parboiled rice and cowpea for which CILSS has set up a monitoring system since 2013, the system also monitors other products: cola, onion fish, tomatoes, Fruit and vegetable products. The volume of food products traded during the month of June 2017 increased by 11%, because of a considerable increase in banana volumes (98%), orange (95%), and eggplant (84%). In addition, the products such as pepper, sweet potato, cassava, ginger and carrot increased by more than 50%. However, these increases did not result in an increase. However, this overall increase did not result in an increase of the value which declined (-1%). The decline in value could be explained by the simultaneous declines in volume and the value of tomatoes and onions, which declined respectively by 486% and 137% in value.

Kenya, Zambia regional milk export dispute sucks in FAO (Business Daily)

Kenya’s long standing milk export standoff with Zambia has taken a positive turn with the regional trading bloc seeking intervention of the UN food agency. Comesa said it would engage the FAO and the Zambian government to resolve the 13-year-old stalemate. Zambia has for over a decade rejected Kenya’s milk on quality grounds, citing high level of bacteria which exceeds its national total bacteria count (TBC) of 200,000 per mililitre. Kenya follows the global benchmark of one million TBC per millilitre. Comesa director for trade customs and monetary affairs Francis Mangeni was quoted saying in local Zambian media that experts from FAO, the ministries of Commerce, Trade and Industry as well as Agriculture from both countries will meet to sort out the issue. “It’s about time the issue was finally resolved as it has been ongoing for the past 13 years,” he said. “As Comesa, we plan to engage international experts to meet with the Zambian government to find possible ways to resolve the conflicts that blocked Kenya export milk and milk products to Zambia.”

Agribusinesses, African smallholders seize $1trn food market (AGRF)

The Africa Agriculture Status Report, launched at this year’s African Green Revolution Forum in Abidjan, has identified Agriculture as Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that failed to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation. The report says that the power of entrepreneurs and the free market is driving Africa’s economic growth from food production, as business wakes up to opportunities of a rapidly growing food market in Africa, that may be worth more than $1 trillion each year by 2030 to substitute imports with high value food made in Africa. Adding that despite 37% of the population now living in urban centres, most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for more than half of the continent’s GDP. Smart investments in the food system can change this picture dramatically if planned correctly. Commenting on this year’s report findings, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa which commissioned the study said:

Logan Wort: African countries must collaborate to fix tax challenges (Daily Maverick)

Earlier in August, the African Tax Administration Forum brought together 16 African Ministries of Finance and tax administrators, as well as legislators, academics and civil society, among others, in a high level dialogue to discuss ways of improving domestic revenue mobilisation on the continent. This was the first such occasion of an event that is likely to become an annual feature. The Tax Policy Dialogue in Kampala, Uganda, sought to forge a crucial network that will ensure coordinated tax policy and tax administration decisions and actions in the ever-changing global tax environment. Over 60 delegates spent two days devising a framework under which both tax policy and tax administrators could lay strategies to stem the steady drainage of Africa’s resources and seal any gaps that affect efficient domestic revenue mobilisation.

Trade boom lies in wait for Kazungula Bridge (Zambia Daily Mail)

Zambian Road Development Agency acting communication and corporate director Anthony Mulowa said the bridge project is progressing and will also see the construction of one-stop border facilities between Kazungula and Kasane in Zambia and Botswana, respectively. Mr Mulowa said the construction phase of the bridge has created about 450 jobs for both Zambians and Batswana. “Construction of phase two of the project is going on well for the one-stop border facility, which will have about 10 buildings. Phase three is at mobilisation stage with about 30 percent works done,” he said.

African traders feel the pinch as China produces fewer cheap products (ecns)

When he arrived in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province in 2005, Sid witnessed the heyday of the Tianxiu Building and the neighborhood in which it sits, the largest African enclave in China which has been called a hub of “low-end globalization.” Back then, hundreds of African traders from dozens of countries flocked to the malls located on the first few floors of the building every day to purchase everything from garments to key rings, from batteries to mobile phones. They would then ship them back to their homelands for sale. But that is now distant memory. As commodity and labor prices have surged in China in recent years, the Tianxiu Building has lost its luster among African traders. Business in the building is in sharp decline, and more and more African traders have opted to move to cheaper countries in Southeast Asia.

Robert B. Zoellick: Trump’s looming trade crack-up (WSJ)

Donald Trump’s trade policy is speeding toward a shipwreck. Under the Constitution, Congress has principal authority over trade, although it has delegated considerable powers to the executive. Congress needs to reassert control to block Mr. Trump’s crack-up.

A troubling snapshot of Indian manufacturing (LiveMint)

There are a handful of accepted truths about Indian manufacturing. Enterprises in this sector have a growth problem, often turning out to be “dwarfs” rather than “babies”. These dwarfs dominate the sector numbers-wise. They suffer from low productivity given that their small size prevents them from achieving economies of scale, among other disadvantages. However, they employ a huge chunk of the labour force. The recently released Ease Of Doing Business report by NITI Aayog and the IDFC Institute, based on an enterprise survey carried out in 2016, lends some welcome empirical heft to these truths, and delineates the problems sharply.

Today’s Quick Links:

Project Syndicate: How African scholarship can reduce African unemployment

Costa Vazquez, Supriya Roychoudhury, Caio Borges: New Development Bank is BRICS’ best card (FT)

Egypt’s trade with BRICS hit $20bln in 2016

George Wachira: How EAC infrastructure plan has been evolving

CGD’s 2017 Commitment to Development Index


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