tralac’s Daily News Selection
Featured tweet, Kenya School Of Revenue: Africa is far from integration when Kenya imports Zambian copper from China and Nigeria imports Kenyan coffee from London. We need to build value chains to facilitate trade within the continent - @UNCTADKituyi
Underway, in Niamey: Senior Trade Officials Meeting (26-30 November) in preparation for the 4th African Ministers of Trade meeting (1-2 December)
Underway, in Banjul: WCO, West and Central Africa customs experts meeting to discuss border protection from illicit trade, international terrorism
Diarise: African Entrepreneurship Policy Forum (13-14 December, Kigali); The annual Conference of Ministers of Finance, Economic Planning and Development (5-10 April 2018) will discuss trade and financing for Africa’s integration.
Today, in Yaounde: Central African countries to set up single regional economic community. Ahead of the meeting of the Finance and Integration ministers due to open on Monday, experts are currently working on the topic to be submitted to the Council of Ministers. The Central African region has three economic communities (CEMAC, ECCAS, CEPGL) whose quasi-autonomous way of functioning slackens the sub-regional integration. [Discours de Mme Mfoula M T Chantal: reunion des experts (23-25 November, pdf)]
North Africa’s trade relationships: complementarities and contradictions with the Continental Free Trade Area (Regions Refocus)
Overall, the workshop (June 2017) raised urgent questions of how the CFTA can contribute to industrialization and development while promoting efforts towards gender equality and improving the conditions of small producers, in North Africa and throughout the continent. Concrete recommendations, such as including a people-centered compensation mechanism within the CFTA agreement or coordinating strategic litigation on behalf of civil society, emerged from the discussions. Getting these and other important concerns of infrastructure, free movement of people, and required industrial policy into the CFTA framework will prove challenging, especially if the agreement is to be concluded by December as planned. The primary lens for civil society engagement around the CFTA and other trade relationships, Saadi asserted, is to consider who will benefit and how the needs of the majority of the population will be met. These political and economic choices can prevent or enhance developmental efforts, added Ziad Abdel Samad of Arab NGO Network for Development, emphasizing the importance of broad-coalition building, awareness-raising, and advocacy around the right to development and the trade relationships of both the Arab states and the African continent. [Various downloads available, including the conference backgrounder]
IGAD woos EAC 3 for a new common market (The East African)
Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan could soon become members of a new common market, further complicating the existing tensions over free movement of persons in East Africa. The three East African Community members are being targeted alongside the other five members of IGAD - Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan - which is planning to have a common market by December next year, allowing for free movement of persons, goods and services in the bloc. The decision by IGAD to have a common market comes at a time when a similar initiative in the EAC is faltering, over partner states’ fears of losing land or jobs. So far only Uganda has agreed to the IGAD free movement of persons protocol. South Sudan, the other country that has so far been consulted, would like to get an exemption. IGAD’s Ms Daxbacher said that to overcome such hurdles as some countries rejecting critical clauses in the protocol, IGAD is looking to Uganda, which is a willing participant, to push the others.
South Africa overtakes US in exports to Kenya (The EastAfrican)
South Africa’s exports to Kenya grew by Ksh11bn ($106.4m) in the first eight months of 2017 saw it overtake the US in sales to Kenya. South Africa sold goods worth Ksh42.7bn ($413.1m)in the eight-month period, a 34% growth from Ksh31.7bn ($306.7m) in a similar period a year earlier. The faster growth in sales saw Pretoria displace the US to emerge sixth biggest seller of commodities to Kenya. [KNBS: Leading Economic Indicator September 2017 – see Tables 11-15c for trade data]
ECOWAS: An increase on excise duty on tobacco products (Leadership)
ECOWAS has begun talks to increase excise duty on tobacco products, a measure that is targeted to raise revenue for member states and decrease tobacco consumption in the region. This is one of the major topics of discuss by the Financial Council of Ministers meeting held at the ECOWAS Commission aimed at harmonizing the draft ECOWAS Customs Codes. Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Edward Singhatey, said the community is working on a draft document that will harmonize excise duties on tobacco products. The draft, he says will also embody the legislative and regulatory processes of member states in tracking and tracing tobacco products. Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, says Nigeria is setting up policies to increase excise tax on tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol and tobacco beverages. “Without putting in place an effective track-and-trace system, illicit trade will undermine trade and tax measures and will have serious adverse effects on public health in West Africa,” clarified Adeosun, who was represented by the Finance Permanent Secretary, Mahmoud Dutse. [ECOWAS Finance Ministers meet on consolidation of the ECOWAS Customs Union]
In the run-up to the fifth EU-Africa summit in Côte d’Ivoire, the future of the Economic Partnership Agreements between Europe and its former colonies looks bleaker than ever. While most of Europe’s trade partners around the world keep refusing to sign the deals, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade will most likely announce a moratorium on all EPAs. “There has always been a diabolic whiff about EPAs,” former EPA chief negotiator Sandra Gallina said a few weeks ago at a meeting of trade ministers from all ACP countries in Brussels. “There is nothing diabolic about them, they were just extremely badly communicated. For the last five years I have been fighting a misinformation campaign.”
EAC urged to preserve investment policy space (New Times)
Conditions which host countries impose on multinational enterprises requiring them to meet specified goals with respect to their business activities are one way regional countries can preserve their investment policy space. This was at the end of a workshop Friday organised by SEATINI-Uganda, and Governance for Africa -Rwanda, a non-profit with a continental mandate on aspects such as regional integration. For three days, regional government officials responsible for investment promotion convened for a workshop meant to equip them with knowledge on historical perspectives of investment policy, among others, and how they shape current investment policy dynamics. Fred Karemera, Division Manager One Stop Center at Rwanda Development Board, told Sunday Times that the country’s investment legal framework “has catered for that.” Deogratius Mbarara, an EAC investment officer, said the EAC Investment Policy does not provide for the Performance Requirements. However, he explained, there are provisions on promotion of local content.
Mozambique: Import and export of fishery products only through Single Electronic Window (Club of Mozambique)
The process of importing and exporting fishery products in Mozambique will, from January 2018, be conducted through the Single Electronic Window of Customs, simplifying procedures and reducing customs clearance times. The first three-month phase will cover only the city and province of Maputo, and implementation in other parts of the country will be preceded by training for operators in the fisheries sector and customs brokers. Director of the National Fish Inspection Institute Lucia Sumbana Santos said the platform would facilitate the collection of statistical data, “which remains a challenge for us, because often the information that is provided by customs does not coincide with that of the operators”.
Kenya: Clearing agents blame tough KRA rules for slow port operations (Business Daily)
The logistics lobby group, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, claimed that nearly all goods coming to the country by sea were being subjected to stringent procedures including mandatory verification that took too long. “For the first time in the history of clearing and forwarding, all cargo is attracting storage charges because it is not possible to clear the goods within the stipulated four days,” Kifwa chairman, William Ojonyo said. The Kenya Ports Authority gives an allowance of four days to clear domestic cargo for free while transit goods should be cleared within nine days after which they start accruing storage charges. Mr Ojonyo said Kifwa would engage relevant government agencies to ensure that their concerns are addressed.
Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project: update (COMESA)
20 Trade Information Desk Officers that were recruited recently to facilitate small cross border trade between Eastern D R Congo and the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Uganda are participating in a two-day capacity building workshop at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka. The training is intended to enhance the capacity of the TIDOs to effectively deliver on their duties and responsibilities of serving the small scale cross border traders, majority of whom are women. In addition, it is a platform for sharing experiences by various stakeholders in the implementation of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime at the project border posts.
Tanzania: Bagamoyo EPZ set to vitalise industrial drive (Daily News)
Plans are underway to set up 190 industries at Bagamoyo Economic Special Zone before 2020, Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Charles Mwijage said yesterday. The industries, according to the minister, will include fertiliser and fish processing plants at the 100 square kilometer Bagamoyo Economic Zone. Mr Mwijage made the revelation in Dar es Salaam yesterday while officiating at the Symposium on Belt and Road Initiative between Tanzania and China. “The discussion to implement the initiative is going on between Oman, China and Tanzania,” he said, adding that the setting up of the industries will go in line with the building up of modern mega port at Bagamoyo. Mr Mwijage said the government plans more economic special zones along the Standard Gauge Railway Linein order to ease and fast track the supply of finished goods in and outside the country as the nation heads and achieves its mission of making Tanzania an industrial country come 2025.
Nigeria is Africa’s second largest producer of tomatoes with nearly 2 million tonnes annually, yet up to 40% of the crop never makes it to market, impacting food security and smallholder farmers’ incomes. However, stakeholders who spoke at the 2017 Agra Innovate West Africa in Lagos, said challenges affecting tomato value chain need a holistic effort to address post harvest losses in the country. Despite government placing a 50% import duty on tomato paste, 96% of tomato imported into Nigerian market are said to be substandard and not good for consumption. The policy, which took effect in May this year has been very slow to create any effect on the sector as no tomato paste industry is currently in operation in Nigeria and imported pastes are still finding their way into the Nigerian market. [Importers frustrating Nigeria’s tomato policy – experts]
Promoting the African Internet Economy (Internet Society)
Internet-based companies currently represent a single digit percentage of the economy of most African countries. The Internet Society believes efforts should be made to bring the benefits of the Internet to the rest of the economy. A virtuous circle exists — greater demand for Internet-enabled content, applications, and services leads to greater demand from users for Internet access services, which leads to greater taxation generation, greater revenues for telecom operators, greater interest from investors in Africa, and, of course, greater usage of Internet applications and services. Extract (pdf). Business use of email: Research from the World Bank reveals that just over 60% of surveyed companies in sub-Saharan Africa use email to interact with clients or suppliers. This is fairly high, but below the global average of 72%. Business with websites: The World Bank queried businesses as to whether they have a website. More than two-thirds of companies in sub-Saharan Africa do not have a website. [The author: Michael Kende]
According to the Bank of Central African States, which has just published a study on mobile money at the end of 2016 (pdf), there were 32,551 points of service across Cemac (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Chad), compared with 23,867 a year earlier. The BEAC notes that this figure is below the reality because, for some operators, it is not possible to accurately determine the number of resellers (called “call box” in Cameroon) affiliated wholesalers. Nevertheless, the Central Bank is able to ensure that Cameroon accounts for 49% of activity and Gabon 41%.
Suresh Prabhu: India should be very realistic about Buenos Aires WTO meeting (LiveMint)
India’s new commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu will face his first big challenge of defending multilateralism and securing India’s interests at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the WTO in Buenos Aires starting 10 December. In an interview, Prabhu talks about his strategy for WTO, China and free trade agreements. Prabhu also hopes to use exports as a tool to create employment opportunities in India.
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