Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Simon Davis | DFID

Today, in Addis: Informal meeting of AU Ministers of Trade

The main objectives of the meeting are to: (i) take stock of recent developments in the negotiations at the WTO since the Geneva Retreat of the African Group of Ambassadors and Experts held on July 6-7, 2017; (ii) discuss and formulate common positions on current issues of offensive and defensive interest to Africa as well as new issues, with a view to guide African negotiators in their final preparations leading to the WTO MC-11; and (iii) reflect on the overall strategy Africa should adopt in the WTO multilateral trading system in order to achieve its structural transformation in the context of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

Today, in New York: (i) Meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change; (ii) Sustainable Development Impact Summit

Africa’s private sector and the CFTA: African business leaders establish the African Technical Business Advisory Committee (PACCI)

At a meeting organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business leaders and executives from Morocco to Ethiopia, Nigeria to Namibia, business leaders from 38 African countries agreed to establish an independent Advisory Committee, which will comprise the various private sector interests, such as the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, regional business councils, industry associations, women entrepreneurs and services to play an advisory role to the African Union policy organs, namely the Conference Trade Ministers and the High Level African Trade Committee comprising of Heads of States from the countries that are chairing the Regional Economic Communities. The African Technical Business Advisory Committee which will play the role assigned to the entity referred to as African Business Council in the CFTA structure, will comprise the private sector, industry associations and the wider community at the regional and national levels to ensure an inclusive and participatory approach to the integration process. Dr. David Luke, Program coordinator at the UNECA/ATPC: “Governments don’t trade, it is business enterprises that trade with each other. This is why at African Trade Policy Center we believe that the private sector must play a significant role in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the CFTA”.

SADC Macroeconomic Convergence Indicators: recently posted by the Committee of Central Bank Governors in SADC: Budget Balance, Current Account Balance, Gross International Reserves, Inflation, Public Debt, Real GDP Growth (pdfs)

ECOWAS Convergence Council: Marcel De Souza calls for measured pace in the creation of the ECOWAS Common Currency

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza, has appealed for an unhurried creation of the West African common currency. He made this appeal in Bamako at the opening ceremony of the 10th ordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Convergence Council. Speaking to finance ministers, central bank governors and technical experts of the ECOWAS Macroeconomic Policy Committee, de Souza stated that an immediate transition to the single currency would present grave consequences for the sub-region. He requested that finance ministers serve as the regional organisation’s advocates in their respective countries, in order to create an enabling environment for the implementation of the ECOWAS monetary cooperation programme. He noted with satisfaction the significant strides in the coordination of monitoring activities and the production of the sub-region’s macroeconomic convergence reports.

Malawi time release study workshop: update (WCO)

In pursuance of the WCO National Mercator Plan for Malawi, designed to provide sustainable, tailor-made and results-based capacity building support to enable effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the WCO organized a 5-day training workshop to strengthen Malawi Revenue Authority’s capacities in the area of Time Release Study. In her opening remarks, Deputy Commissioner General of the Malawi Revenue Authority Mrs Roza Mbilizi, stressed that Malawi is interested in conducting TRS as Malawi wants to identify bottlenecks and trade facilitation opportunities in the clearance process and aims to build and maintain effective operational procedures that are carried out by Customs and other actors in the processing of imports, exports and transit movements of goods. The periodic use of the TRS methodology will be important in positioning Malawi Customs as a constructive leader in coordinated border management discussions.

Connecting African, Chinese businesses to boost trade and investment (ITC)

More than 260 business people participated in one-on-one matchmaking meetings in Changchun, Jilin Province, on 4 September, to discuss trade and investment opportunities in the agro-processing and light manufacturing sectors in Africa. The 200+ meetings between 21 companies from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia and 75 Chinese investors were organized by ITC, the Jilin People’s Government, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and the China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) under the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa project.

African countries back India-China stand on curbing rich nations’ farm sops (The Hindu)

A joint India-China paper for disciplining the so-called trade-distorting farm subsidies given by rich countries has found backers in African nations, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Egypt. With just three months to go for the crucial Ministerial meet of the World Trade Organisation, in December, battle lines are getting drawn with those opposed to the India/China stand on subsidies and their demand for prioritising a solution on public stock-holding, too, getting a traction, a government official told BusinessLine. At the Committee on Agriculture meeting, which attempted to shortlist the agenda for the Buenos Aires Ministerial, Botswana (for the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States or the ACP Group) and Egypt (for the African group), supported by South Africa and Zimbabwe, welcomed the Indía-China proposal as the starting point for negotiations. Egypt went further and suggested that norms to address blue box support and green box subsidies (permissible subsidies not linked to production) should also be introduced, as also rules to avoid “box shifting” (changing the features of a subsidy programme to make it non-actionable).

Bart Minten: Ethiopia’s coffee farmers struggle to realize benefits from international markets (IFPRI)

Yet despite its leading position in Africa and the positive changes made in the coffee trade in the last decade, the Ethiopian coffee sector is underperforming, according to recent research by IFPRI, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, and Bonn University’s Institute for Food and Resource Economics. Ethiopian yields are slightly higher than those of Kenya and Rwanda, but lower than Uganda’s—and only one half to one third the size of major Latin American producers’. Ethiopian farmers, meanwhile, receive a smaller share of export prices compared to most other countries.

Egypt garment exports reach $941m in 8 months (Ahram)

Egypt’s garment exports reached $941m in eight months in 2017, compared to $865m in the same period last year, the readymade garments export council of Egypt announced in its monthly report on Sunday. August saw an 8% rise in exports compared to the same month last year, reaching $132m compared to $122m the previous year. The report said that exports to the United States -- which received the highest number of exports -- increased by 6%, reaching $461m in the last eight months compared to $436m in the same period in 2016.

Kenya, Ethiopia could overtake Africa’s economic heavy weights in attracting investment (New Times)

A report released by a global risk consultancy, Control Risks, on Thursday shows that Kenya and Ethiopia might soon outshine Africa’s economic giants, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt in the competition for investment. The report Africa Risk-Reward Index, developed by Control Risks, was released in Johannesburg. The report noted that while Nigeria and South Africa have recovered, there are still some risks. Ethiopia, which is one of the fastest growing countries in the continent, outperformed all African countries in the survey.

SA banks can still thrive in Africa - EY analyst (Fin24)

Low revenue growth is behind the low growth in profit. Banks have held back on extending credit, particularly in African markets with weak economic activity, said Andy Bates EY’s financial services leader for Africa. The big four banks have a “decent” footprint in Africa. “What we see is a desire to continue to invest, but not as quick as the banks would like,” he said. There is also the pressure of costs associated with the investment. But given the average age of the population across Africa, which is quite young and the amount of unbanked people there is a great opportunity for them to join the formal banking sector, explained Bates. There is not just a demand for banking products, but also for wealth and asset management, insurance and pension products. “This is a massive opportunity not one South African bank can afford to ignore,” said Bates. [Steinhoff puts high price on Africa unit]

London looks to cement trade links with SA (Business Day)

As the 689th Lord Mayor of the City of London, I act as an ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector, and have been in SA this past week to meet with senior business and government officials to discuss how we can build closer business ties between our two countries. With some of the most promising emerging markets in the world, the UK’s relationship with African nations will become ever more important, and, as a financially mature country, SA will be a key partner in the region. [The author: Andrew Parmley]

UK’s International Trade Secretary: increasing financial support for UK businesses to trade with South Africa, Mozambique

Dr Fox announced that UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, will double support for trade with South Africa to up to £3.5bn, meaning an additional £1.75bn will be available for UK companies exporting to South Africa and for South African buyers of UK goods and services. The International Trade Secretary also announced that UKEF are offering UK businesses wider access to government-backed overseas investment insurance which will protect UK businesses investing abroad.

Human Capital Report 2017 (WEF)

The report measures 130 countries against four key areas of human capital development; Capacity, largely determined by past investment in formal education; Deployment, the application and accumulation of skills through work; Development, the formal education of the next generation workforce and continued upskilling and reskilling of existing workers; and Know-how, the breadth and depth of specialized skills-use at work. Countries’ performance is also measured across five distinct age groups or generations: 0-14 years; 15-24 years; 25-54 years; 55-64 years; and 65 years and over. With an overall average score of 52.97, sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest-ranked region in the index. Rwanda (71), Ghana (72), Cameroon (73) and Mauritius (74) have developed more than 60% of their human capital. South Africa (87), the region’s second largest economy, comes towards the middle in the region. Nigeria (114) ranks in the lower midfield and Ethiopia (127) is the lowest performer, fourth from the bottom on the index overall.

Today’s Quick Links:

South Africa: Standard Bank to ask tribunal to compel competition commission to provide evidence

Wandile Sihlobo: SA’s trade statistics provide good news for farmers

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World

11 West African ministries explore practical policy tools to turn extractives into development outcomes

Trade pacts stuck ahead of India-EU summit

What the surging Yuan means for China’s economy


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