Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: UNCTAD

Featured infographics: @TheEIU_Africa team forecasts Ethiopia as sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing economy in 2018. East African/Franc Zone economies feature in region’s top 20. Overall sub-Saharan Africa to grow around 3% in 2018 - Nigeria, South Africa recovering but sluggish. Our forecasts for sub-Saharan Africa’s slowest growing economies in 2018. Region’s giants, Nigeria and South Africa, still slow.

Statement by the African Group: Ninth Session of the Trade and Development Commission (UNCTAD)

The African Group expresses its deep concerns that Africa’s share in international trade eroded to 2.2%. In absolute terms for example, Africa’s total exports fell by nearly half from $639.7bn in 2012 to $348.5bn in 2016. To simply recover from this loss, and develop resilience in future, Africa will need to invest more in the development of robust supply capacity to trade in upgraded products especially services and manufactured goods because they are less vulnerable to external shocks. In this regard UNCTAD’s support to Africa must be strengthened and put in the context of the continent’s participation in international trade.

Industrialize Africa: strategies, policies, institutions, and financing (AfDB)

Introductory remarks by Joseph E. Stiglitz: The issues of development are so complex that there is no magic bullet; we cannot approach them with any single tool. Instead, we need a comprehensive approach with a comprehensive industrialization framework and toolkit, adapting to the circumstances of the individual country. [Contributors to the publication include: Célestin Monga, John Page, Arkebe Ogubay, Justin Yifu Lin, Xiaobo Zhang, Ravi Kanbur, Haroon Bhorat]

Ethiopia bets on clothes to fashion industrial future (Reuters)

Ethiopia’s road link with the port in Djibouti is outdated and congested in many parts and, together with the limited capacity and dense bureaucracy of its customs service, slows companies’ supply chains. This is undermining the benefits of being closer to European markets than most of its Asian rivals. It takes up to 44 days from the time a clothing consignment leaves the factory to when it reaches buyers in Europe, compared to an average 28 days in Bangladesh and 21 days in China, according to a report from the Ethiopian Textile Development Institute compiled for investors this year. This drives up costs. It costs up to $1,870 to export a 40-foot container, compared with $1,290 in Bangladesh and $679 in Vietnam, according to an internal report compiled by a major European clothes retailer and seen by Reuters. However officials say the $4bn electric railway between Addis Ababa and the Red Sea, to be inaugurated in the coming weeks, will reduce the transit time to the Port of Djibouti from 2-3 days to eight hours.

Trade facilitation in East Africa: update (WCO)

As the ongoing Trade Facilitation Project in East Africa is about to complete In December 2017, the Commissioners were informed of the latest progress and achievements of the Trade Facilitation Project made through the collaborative work done by the respective Working Group members of the Revenue Authorities with the assistance of experts from the WCO, JICA, Japan Customs and EAC Secretariat. Five revenue authorities are now preparing to launch the next Project in East Africa which is expected to tackle not only trade facilitation but also enhancing border control in East Africa with the support also to be extended jointly by the WCO and JICA, in which the WCO is going to implement Program Global Shield as part of the Project.

South Africa: industrial and competition policy, private sector postings

(i) Manufacturing Circle’s report Map to a Million. The first priority is to prevent further de-industrialisation in rust belts like the Vaal Triangle, arresting further job losses and stabilising the industrial base. Then, to increase the utilisation of existing capacity, and boost the demand necessary to underpin new investment, additional demand for manufactured goods must be created. The Map to a Million (pdf) proposes a number of demand-side interventions to increase domestic demand, pursue import substitution and enhance South Africa’s export competitiveness. It also proposes various supply-side interventions to improve manufacturer’s competitiveness by reducing input costs, making changes to fiscal policy and supporting labour productivity.

(ii) The corporate footprint of Business Leadership South Africa’s members. Big business supports small enterprises in the supply chain. Nearly R1 trillion, or 66.7% of BLSA member expenditure was paid to suppliers, enabling them to employ people, pay taxes, purchase supplies and make investments. BLSA collectively received 34.4 points out of 40 for black enterprise development as prescribed by BEE Codes. Business employs 6.9 times the number of public sector employees. BLSA members themselves employ 1.29 million people, with another 1.97 million jobs supported in the supply chain. 596,719 people are dependent on BLSA employees. The 57 member companies in the study contribute 23.5% of total private sector employment, and pay full-time and part-time employees just under R2 trillion. A further R8.7bn was devoted to training and skills development for BLSA’s employees. Business contributes to the public sector and supports the most important institutions of state through taxation. Taxation to government from BLSA members alone amounted to over R431bn in 2016, 35.9% of total taxes collected. That’s the equivalent of more than one million teacher’s salaries, or almost two million police officers, or almost 1.5 million low-cost housing units. Downloads: A Social Accounting Matrix based input-output model (pdf) for was used to estimate the economic contribution that these companies made to the South African economy. For each, the members’ direct and indirect impacts will be shown, on a sectoral basis, by means of a “dashboard”. Although, strictly speaking, the induced effects do not form part of members’ footprint, these figures will also be shown. [Appendices (pdf)]

(iii) SA needs a sharp, targeted weapon to tackle competition challenges (Business Day)

The commission has reviewed more than 2,150 mergers from 2009 to March 2016, identifying 294 dominant firms in defined product markets falling within 31 sectors. At least 70.45% of SA’s sectors have defined product markets with dominant firms. At least 42% of all product markets have dominant firms active within the manufacturing sector, a sector traditionally associated with jobs-rich development opportunities. Another phenomenon evident when analysing SA’s merger control record is that of creeping concentration — whether through cross-shareholdings and cross-directorships, or through a series of incremental acquisitions in a relatively short period of time that, if considered a single transaction, would raise competition concerns. Concentration should be understood and tackled as a competition problem, a recognised structural feature of markets that are not operating competitively. [The author, Michelle M Le Roux, chairs the ministerial advisory panel on amendments to the Competition Act]

Nigeria’s capital importation: Q3 2017 (NBS)

The capital importation into Nigeria in 2017 Q3 recorded a substantial increase compared to the past few quarters, as the economy continued to recover from recession following its exit in Q2 2017.The total capital imported in the third quarter was recorded at $4,145.1 million, more than double the inflow in the second quarter of this year, representing an increased value of 147.5% on a year on year basis. This inflow of capital in Q3 2017 is the first time since the beginning of 2015 that capital hit over $4,000 million in a quarter. The boom in capital importation in Q3 2017 was mainly driven by significant growth in both portfolio investment and other investment. The country from which Nigeria imported the most capital was the United Kingdom (pdf), which accounted for $1736.58 million, or 41.89% of the total of capital inflow in 2017 Q3. This value represented a 149.26% increase in capital importation relative to the figure in the previous quarter, and a 58.22% growth over the same period in last year. The country accounting for the second largest value of capital importation was the United States. The US accounted for $962.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, or 23.21%. The next two largest investors in the third quarter of 2017 were Tanzania (accounting for 7.61%) and Mauritius (5.53%). [Tables]

Regulation harmonization: Africa’s blueprint for health care success (Devex)

Speaking to Devex, Ndomondo-Sigonda explains why improvement in medical products and pharmaceutical regulation is vital and how harmonization can be achieved: As far as regulation of medical products is concerned, one of the pressing issues at the moment is really that of substandard and falsified medicines in circulation on the African markets. There is a prevalence of 25 to 30% of substandard and falsified products on the market and, of course, this is posing a big challenge in terms of public health because sometimes the public is subjected to these medicines, which can be very harmful. Secondly, we have an issue around the different requirements for the registration of medicines. That means the industry finds it very difficult to get products into the market. This poses a challenge when it comes to availability of the most needed medicines, especially new products. Generally speaking, all of this is compounded by the capacity limitations we see in most [African] countries — they either don’t have appropriate frameworks to regulate medicines, the laws are outdated, or just not comprehensive enough. [NEPAD: Concept note for the 3rd Biennial Scientific Conference on Medical Products Regulation in Africa, 27-28 November, Accra]

Drug security in Nigeria: technology for supply chain integrity (PWC Nigeria)

The presentation, by Dr Andrew S. Nevin, presents an overview of the health landscape in Nigeria noting the huge supply and financing gap across the health system evident in the relatively small pharma market in Nigeria. It highlights the challenge of drug counterfeiting and discusses how technology can be used to increase the supply chain integrity and prevent counterfeiting.

Opening markets will remove barriers to EA food security (Business Daily)

However, since most food products are tradable on world markets, food security is heavily dependent on the purchasing power of the poor and not only on management of domestic supply. These protectionist tendencies have negative implications on the region’s food security and shifts in government agricultural policy on regional trade and domestic food price controls can at times be ad hoc. For instance, it is not uncommon for farmers who arrive at a border to find that a government has imposed an unannounced export ban, or sometimes a ban has been removed but customs officials have not been informed. A wide range of barriers to trade have resulted in the fragmentation of markets for both agricultural products and their inputs. This has led to a high level of price volatility and has contributed to food insecurity. In countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimba­bwe where governments have directly intervened to control prices of staple food crops, prices are more volatile than in countries with fully liberalised food markets like Uganda. [The author, Steve Orr, is attached to FoodTrade ESA]

Southern Africa: humanitarian outlook, November 2017 to April 2018 (RIASCO)

The population of SADC has doubled since 1990 to about 333 million people. Over the past six years the region has recorded economic growth of around 4.4%, which is far below the SADC growth target. Yet even this meagre growth does not necessarily improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society. Malnutrition remains high in the region, with 13 of the 15 countries reporting stunting prevalence above 20%, and 7 countries reporting stunting prevalence above 30%. Similarly, prevalence of global acute malnutrition is >5% in 8 of 15 countries in the region, with the highest reported national prevalence in Madagascar at 8.6% (13.9% at district level). Prevalence of acute malnutrition and admissions are expected to increase in the region as a result of the lean season from October through March and partners are preparing contingency plans including nutrition response activities for the upcoming lean season.

Today’s Quick Links:

UNECA experts group meeting on fostering sustainable transformation of agriculture in Africa through inclusive green economy: the case of livestock value chain in Southern Africa

Zimbabwe records $1,6bn trade deficit

Kenya: FDI inflows in 6-year low

Zambia: Chinese railway group inks $393m deal with Zambia

The UK, the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Summit 2018: report on the pre-CHOGM conference

World Bank: Economic growth, convergence, and world food demand and supply


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