tralac’s Daily News Selection
Events, Thursday, in New York: (i) Flagship reforms for a more effective African Union: a conversation with Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Brookings Institution); (ii) Income inequality trends in sub-Saharan Africa: launch of UNDP’s 440-page study
Yesterday, in New York: launch of NEPAD’s Infrastructure Financing For Africa Initiative
UNCTAD’s High-level Panel at the 64th Session of the Trade and Development Board: Accelerating progress in building productive capacities in Least Developed Countries and other vulnerable economies
African Ministers of Trade on Monday met in Ethiopia on priority issues for the continent in the current Doha Development Round. SA’s trade minister, Rob Davies: “On the new issues being proposed for rule-making in the WTO, the meeting agreed that there was no negotiating mandate on the new issues. It is premature to consider multilateral rules on e-commerce and in South Africa’s view, priority should be given to cooperation, addressing the digital divide and exploring options for promoting digital industrial policy.”
10th Session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration: a focus on CFTA shared gains (UNECA)
The CRCI (31 October - 2 November, Addis Ababa) will be held under the theme ‘Implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and Shared Gains’. The meeting will be held back-to-back with Expert Group Meetings that will review and discuss a number of crucial publications on various themes, including policy options for boosting intra-African investment through regional harmonization of investment policies and treaties; how the promotion of Africa’s industrialization can be strengthened through infrastructure development and smart industrialization through trade in the context of Africa’s transformation. Participants will also discuss policy options needed to strengthen agribusiness and agro industries as pathways to sustainable and inclusive Africa’s transformation.
Bruce Byiers: Regional organisations in Africa – mapping multiple memberships (ECDPM)
One consequence of this is the overlapping memberships of multiple organisations that characterise most African countries, now shown in this new interactive map of 39 African regional organisations developed by ECDPM. But as the map also shows, there are a whole range of other regional organisations of which countries are members where politics are key. Egypt is member of at least five African regional organisations, all of which together offer fora for diplomatic discussions around trade, water, and energy, not to mention the issues that can be raised on the margins of such fora. The map lights up when one looks at the DRC with its membership of 14 organisations, or Burundi with 13, and Rwanda with 11. These high numbers may just reflect geography – those in the centre will always be on ‘the edge’ of other arbitrarily defined regional boundaries. But is that the only factor?
ECOWAS and the UN Office for West Africa and Sahel have reiterated their commitment to support the development of the institutional capacity of the Economic Community of Central African States in order to mitigate peace and security challenges in both Communities. At a three-day workshop on interregional Exchange and Good Practice in Abuja, the ECOWAS Commission’s Vice-president, Edward Singhatey stated that the gathering was yet another example of the growing international cooperation among relevant stakeholders in and around the region, in their collective resolve to collaborate and jointly confront the challenges that threaten our collective security.
Ghana commits to ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol (Ghana Business News)
Mr Charles Owiredu, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said the two Protocols together, aims to create a single ECOWAS Regional Community, devoid of obstacles and impediments to free movement of people, goods, services and capital. “Indeed, it is our steadfast conviction that free movement, constitute the cornerstone of our regional integration efforts, and serves as the basis for unlocking the dividends thereof, with an immense potential to advance the sustainable development of our Region.” The Deputy Minister said this at the inauguration of the National Steering Committee in Ghana of the Regional Monitoring Mechanisms for Free Movement of Inter-State Passenger Vehicles, Persons and Goods within ECOWAS. The two-day meeting is being organised within the framework of the ECOWAS-Swiss Agreement for the removal of harassment along ECOWAS highways and the joint ECOWAS EU funded 10th European Development Fund (EDF) -Project “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa”.
Where to Invest in Africa 2018: RMB’s Investment Attractiveness Index
In this edition of Where to Invest in Africa 2018, RMB’s Investment Attractiveness Index, which balances economic activity against the relative ease of doing business, illustrates how subdued levels of economic activity have diluted several scores on the index when compared to last year, resulting in some interesting movements within the Top 10. Notable omissions from the Top 10 this year are Nigeria and Algeria, which have fallen from numbers six and 10 to numbers 13 and 15 respectively. Ethiopia and Rwanda, on the other hand, have climbed three and four places respectively. But probably the most notable change is that South Africa has fallen from first place for the first time since the inception of the report, ceding its place to Egypt which is now Africa’s most attractive investment destination. [Egypt knocks SA from top investment spot in Africa]
Ghana’s economy is on positive trajectory as the nation’s balance of trade is expected to move into a surplus in 2018, the first time in at least two decades, BMI, research outfit of ratings agency Fitch has predicted. The projection will see a further strengthening of the local currency which is expected to end the year 2016 at GHS4.33 to the US dollar. The cedi began the year 2017 with a rate of GHS4.20 against the American greenback. According to BMIs report, oil growth which is expected to increase by about 60 percent this year over that of 2016 will significantly boost the country’s balance of trade. Presently, crude oil is trading at US$53.27 and is expected to end the year at US$ 54.0 per barrel. [BMI’s Ghana Trade and Investment Risk Report: request executive summary]
Ghana: ‘Address bureaucracy in granting business permits’ (Graphic)
The Turkish Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Nesrin Bayazit, has asked the government to address the perennial bureaucratic procedures that businesses go through before getting permits and licences to operate in the country. She acknowledged the stringent steps being taken to address the challenge and urged the government to expedite action to overturn the hurdle to attract investors into the country.
Tanzania: Oil, gas local content regulations almost ready (Daily News)
Oil and Gas Local content regulations will come into effect in November this year, the government has said. National Economic Empowerment Council acting Director of Local Content Esther Mmbaga said in Dar es Salaam that both the policy and law are in place and the government is only finalising the regulations. Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ on the sidelines of the first oil and gas annual congress, Ms Mmbaga said a lot of work will be needed to build local capacity skills for effective participation in the new oil and gas sector. “The government will work closely with investors to ensure successful implementation of local content in the country,” she said.
Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi held a bilateral meeting with her Namibian counterpart Netumbo Nandi-Ndiatwah, and the two ministers agreed to intensify cooperation to boost bilateral trade. “Indonesia will increase its economic cooperation with Namibia, including those under the Preferential Trade Agreement between Indonesia and SACU,” Marsudi noted in a statement here, Tuesday. The two ministers held the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday. [Namibia to ratify SADC Treaty on Arms Trade]
India: State Bank of Mauritius may become first to open local subsidiary (Economic Times)
State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) is likely to become the first foreign bank to open a wholly-owned subsidiary almost four years after the Reserve Bank of India allowed overseas lenders to open local units in India. SBM is awaiting a final approval from RBI and has laid out an ambitious business plan for what will be the largest market for the government-owned lender from the island nation. “We have identified 25 to 30 SME and retail clusters and our distribution is targeted around that. We expect to start 30 to 40 branches within five years in tune with the different branch formats allowed by the RBI,” said Siby Sebastian, India CEO at SBM.
National Cashew Association of Nigeria, NCAN, has warned that unless something urgent was done to address the leadership crisis rocking the association, the Federal Government’s $7 billion cashew export target annually would be derailed. Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Vice President of NCAN, East Zone, comprising cashew-producing states in the South-East and South-South states, Mr. Chuks Nkanele, declared that currently, there was a huge demand for cashew from Nigeria, but lamented that the country was struggling to meet up with less than 1% of the demand. He also warned that unless something was done urgently to curb the activities of foreign produce buyers that had invaded the country, Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings from cashew export would be completely eroded.
A three-member team of auditors from the Food and Veterinary Office of the EU is in the country to assess the quality of Ghana’s vegetables. The audit will enable the EU office on food safety to reconsider a three-year-old embargo on vegetables export from Ghana to the EU Market. The auditors who are expected to end their duty tour by Saturday, September 21, 2017, will among other things thoroughly assess the sanitary and phytosanitary systems in Ghana required for ensuring the safety of food items and fresh produce.
Today’s Quick Links:
An overview of the UN General Assembly’s annual debate, underway in New York
SWIFT Business Forum East Africa: meeting report (discussions covered compliance and cybercrime, economic growth and banking innovation)
Klaus Schwab: Systems strengthening - the key global challenge
Christine Lagarde: Addressing corruption with clarity
OECD: Findings of the recent literature on international capital flows: implications and suggestions for further research
DFID’s use of private sector contractors: Government response to the Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2016–17