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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
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15 Nov 2017

Underway, in Yaoundé: 9th AU Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs meetings (13-17 November)

Mr Nadir, head of the AUC’s Trade Division, underscored the dire need to address issues of corruption and integrity and improvement of data handling in the context of digitalization which has resulted in an explosion of available data. “One of the questions is how, and to what extend Customs Administrations can help diversify the types and sources data with a view to create a data-rich repository. The project of establishing an African Union Trade Observatory constitutes one of the plausible solutions and Customs Administrations should contribute to the realization of this project”

Yesterday, in Windhoek: SACU stakeholders discussed Namibia’s request on sugar tariff rebate mechanism and an increase in the wheat rebate quota

Calestous Juma: How Africa can negotiate an effective continental free trade area agreement (The Conversation)

The negotiations need to shift their [focus] from protectionism to greater regional trade integration. One way to do this is to set up a high-level expert committee or panel – drawn from government, private sector, academia and civil society – to include other relevant perspectives on issues such as infrastructure, technological capacity, and industrial growth. This would help to broaden discussions to reflect Africa’s current needs of trade as an instrument for economic transformation. This committee would be guided by evidence-based research as well as by Africa’s own regional trade experiences. There are many examples that show how quickly Africa is learning about the risks of using bans and exemptions to restrict regional trade. For example, Zambia’s positive decision to reverse a ban on fruit and vegetable imports. The committee would also need to draw on lessons from other regions of the world.

Reading the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance results (Ibrahim Foundation)

To construct the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, the Foundation’s research team collected 177 variables that measure governance concepts from 36 independent sources. These were combined to form 100 indicators, which are organised under the IIAG’s key governance dimensions: the 14 sub-categories and four categories that make up the Overall Governance score. The 2017 IIAG structure covers 17 years’ worth of data from 2000-2016, inclusive for all 54 African countries. This construction method provides vast amounts of data, and in total there are over 200,000 data points where the IIAG has data for any given country, in any given year, for any given measure. [The author: Yannick Vuylsteke] [David Pilling: Rise of Africa’s wealthy class drives change from within]

A series of postings on evolving US-Africa trade and investment policy processes:

(i) US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will welcome 37 African foreign ministers to Washington later this week in the largest African foreign policy event to date under President Donald Trump. The event (16-17 November) will include discussions on trade and investment, counterterrorism, and good governance. In addition to the ministerial attendees, AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and other AU representatives will attend. Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto said the goal is to craft policy that goes beyond aid to build mutually beneficial partnerships.

(ii) The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa will hold an open meeting (29 November) to deliberate on analysis of the top three obstacles US companies face (pdf) in approaching African markets, competing for business opportunities, and operating business activities. Topics may include market risk, capital market development, market size, localization requirements, foreign government support to enable competitors, procurement practices, local skilled workforce availability, foreign exchange, trade facilitation, and infrastructure.

(iii) Extract from transcript of the 22 August meeting of the Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (pdf). Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary: As you articulated in your letter, economic growth and demographic trends across Africa are translating into rising buying power and demand for high quality products, services and infrastructure. American companies should be meeting this demand. However, it’s not happening. Last year US exports to Africa hit a 10-year low just two years after an all time high. Now I know that African imports are down but we are also losing market share. The market itself we can’t control. We know that commodity prices have a strong influence on the total trade statistics with Africa but the part we can try to control is our market share. And US exports to Africa account only for around 2% of our total exports to the world but the demand is there and will grow and our competitors are capitalizing on it so there’s vast potential for us to reverse this trend. As you know, your work will inform the Trump administration’s economic and commercial strategy for Africa that’s currently being developed by the National Security Council. The goal is to have that strategy in place by the start of Calendar 2018 and so we request you to deliver your report by the end of October this year.

(iv) Selected commentaries: K. Riva Levinson: With Nikki Haley’s Africa visit, White House finally gets it right; John Campbell: Trump’s dangerous retreat from Africa

Nigeria: Be strategic in dealing with WTO – Institute cautions FG (Daily Post)

A Senior Research Fellow from Economic Policy Research Department, NISER, Bashir Adelowo Wahab gave this warning while delivering monthly lecture of the institute titled “Competitiveness of the Nigeria Textile Industry”. Wahab charged textile firms in Nigeria to begin to look inwards in terms of fabricating local technology through investment in Research and Development (R&D), urging firms to plough back part of their profits to contribute to funding R&D activities to develop local engineering capacity. He attributed the decline in the number of firms in the modern textile sector partly to inconsistent policies of various governments, including the WTO agreement, which he said affected the textile industry negatively by allowing inferior or low quality textile products to flood the country and the ineffective monetary policy and exchange rate volatility, which he observed affected the importation of raw materials used in the production of textile products.

South Africa: Decline of the poultry sector has far-reaching negative implications (Business Day)

 Until a year or two ago, the chicken industry was the largest agricultural sector in SA. It was also the most important market for maize, as animal feed. The total value of production in the local chicken industry is estimated to be R51bn a year and it consumes two-thirds of the 6.5-million tonnes of animal feed every year. The decline in the chicken industry has far-reaching negative implications and directly damages the grain farmers’ market.

Adan Mohamed: Improved business environment is good news for local investors (Daily Nation)

Through a multi-institutional Business Environment Delivery Unit under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, government agencies, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, and the World Bank Group/International Finance Bank, we’ve undertaken reforms; as a matter of fact, amongst the highest on the continent. Benchmarking on competitive global best practice, Kenya diagnosed its regulatory business environment and found the need to get rid it of the red-tape that hinders entrepreneurship and creativity among citizens. Burdensome regulation has been a big culprit that we have dealt. With 200 businesses registered daily, we are certainly on the rise. Eventually, the sequence of expected results is to trigger an increase in the registration of start-ups, ensuring their smooth operation and further investments and direct increase in sales/turnover or net income. [The author is Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives]

European Commission posts an update Aid for Trade strategy (EU)

The updated Communication proposes to: (i) Better combine and coordinate tools for development finance of aid for trade, both at European and national level; (ii) Improve synergies with other instruments, such as EU trade agreements, trade schemes or the EU’s innovative External Investment Plan, which will support investments for sustainable development. One of the aims is to support local small and medium-sized enterprises in benefitting more; (iii) Strengthen social and environmental sustainability, together with inclusive economic growth. This will be done for example through increased stakeholder-engagement such as structured dialogue with the private sector, civil society and local authorities; (iv) Better target least developed and fragile countries, as well as tailoring approaches to individual countries’ specificities.

DAC High Level Meeting: communiqué (pdf, OECD)

We thank the High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee, whose report provided thoughtful and insightful suggestions for transforming the DAC into a more robust, responsive, transparent and inclusive institution. We will provide an update in January 2018 on the measures taken to implement any recommendations and make a public report available online. While the DAC continues to focus on its core strengths, we have identified six main strategic priorities in transforming the Committee to ensure it is fit for purpose to respond to the realities of the 2030 Agenda: (i) focus on fostering development impact and mobilising resources; (ii) learn from existing development approaches; (iii) explore new development approaches; (iv) reach out to development actors beyond its Membership to influence and be influenced; (v) increase transparency, proactively self-assess and hold itself to account; and (vi) work in effective governance, systems and structures. At the heart of this transformation, we adopt a new mandate for the DAC (see Annex C):

The Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2017 (UNIDO)

A new report analyzing the potential to produce entrepreneurial cleantech start-up companies in eight countries taking part in the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme has been launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn. The GCIP is an initiative of UNIDO and the Global Environment Facility conducted in Armenia, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey. The Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2017 (pdf) – Global Cleantech Innovation Programme Country Innovation Profiles draws on a wide range of factors and sources, and seeks to answer the question: which countries currently have the greatest potential to produce entrepreneurial cleantech start-up companies that will commercialize clean technology innovations over the next 10 years?

Today’s Quick Links:

Can regional groupings help change Africa?

African leaders urge support for new security doctrine

Deloitte: Mozambique Economic Update

As Mozambique marks historic Cahora Bassa transfer, attention shifts to big capex plan

OECD: Issue paper on a proposed framework for a satellite account for measuring the digital economy (pdf)

Financial Times: Will blockchain accelerate trade flows?

WEF: Countries are so last-century. Enter the ‘net state’

Why the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights Matters for India

Launched, yesterday in Accra: The AU’s Gender and Development Initiative for Africa

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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECs, national government trade departments and research and development agencies.

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