Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Reuters | Charles Placide Tossou

2017 PIDA Week is underway in Swakopmund. Profiled, recent PIDA documentation: PIDA Progress Report 2017 (pdf); Evaluation of PIDA water projects and formulation of respective action plans; AU-NEPAD Continental Business Network: 5% Agenda Report; Backgrounder from the recent 6th EU-AFRICA Business Forum session: Unlocking investment for regional infrastructure to accelerate job creation. Download additional PIDA reports here.

ACP Council takes key positions taken on trade, migration, ACP-EU relations

Several decisions were taken on trade, including a commitment to enhance intra-ACP trade and economic relations by setting up an ACP-wide trade information portal for ACP individuals and businesses in search of information on manufactured products, commodities, services, investment opportunities and best practices. Ministers also endorsed an incremental approach to intra-ACP trade, targeting areas that could bring immediate benefits such as dealing with non-tariff measures and trade facilitation. To tackle non-tariff measures set by the EU that impede, the Council of Ministers mandated the establishment of a new programme to support ACP states to cope with the myriad of SPS, TBT and other challenges related to exporting to the EU market. The Council of Ministers also passed a resolution welcoming progress towards the implementation of the ACP’s “New Approach” to commodities, which focuses on transforming ACP commodities by enabling integration into regional and global value chains. The Council urged the expeditious completion of a new programme on value chains that will provide support to sectors such as cotton, sugar, banana, cocoa, kava, fisheries and rum.

A suite of CFTA updates, related African trade policy issues:

Featured tweets: (i) @rsezibera: How can @jumuiya compete without deeper and wider integration? Complete the CFTA now. Implement the Tripartite FTA. (ii) @jattamensah: Africa can’t afford not to have CFTA. The youth of Africa needs it yesterday. We could be bolder and go for the common market. @AfDB_Group @_AfricanUnion @ECA_OFFICIAL report ARIA IV on intra-African Trade is the genesis.

Slow implementation of African single aviation market irk experts. “The year (2017) is almost over, yet only 23 countries have signed the solemn commitment on the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision,” said Soteri Gatera, the chief of the industrialisation and infrastructure section of the Economic Commission for Africa, during his opening remarks at the three-day meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week. “It is my duty today to remind the other 30 or so countries of the benefits of the Single African Air transport market,” Gatera added, stating that SAATM is strategic for the implementation of the African Agenda 2063.

Fourth Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and the African Transformation Agenda. Governments were also urged to deploy ICT to improve access to higher education, reduce the cost of research innovations and to use continental trade policy, notably Continental Free Trade Area that is currently being negotiated, to advance the focus of African universities and to drive STI. In closing, Mr Nwuke said this SED was successful as participants had used it to broaden and deepen the constituency for higher education and STI on the continent as they sought to help Africa to support higher education and STI ‘because it is only by so doing that we can achieve African development and integration’.

Commentaries on the CFTA: (i) The Economist – African countries are building a giant free-trade area; (ii) Bridges Africa – African countries make headway towards the creation of the CFTA

Egypt’s trade with Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa registers $3.1bn (Egypt Today)

Egypt’s trade with Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa registered $3.1bn in the first eight months of 2017, a recent report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said. The exports of Egypt to these countries recorded $2.1bn, while imports were $1.1bn, according to the report. Egypt’s total exports from January and August were $17bn, compared to $41.8bn of imports. Bilateral trade between Egypt and other African countries in 2016 recorded $5.46bn, $3.25bn of which is exports, while the remaining amount is imports. In the first half of 2017, bilateral trade between both parties reached $2.43bn, including $1.66bn in exports. [Afreximbank, Export Development Bank of Egypt sign $500m intra-African export support scheme]

Africa 2017 Forum postings: Africa 2017 Forum urges acceleration of African integration; African leaders draw consensus on inclusive growth; Ex-ECA official lauds Chinese investment in Africa; ‘Africa 2017’ emphasises Egypt’s stance on African cooperation: Shoukry; Egypt-Chad road project on agenda of Africa 2017 forum: EU to fund feasibility studies

11th WTO Ministerial Conference: updates

Ministerial Conference opens with signing of presidential declaration in support of WTO. The World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial Conference opened in Buenos Aires on 10 December with a forceful declaration by four Latin American presidents pledging support for the WTO and its guardianship of the multilateral trading system. In their joint declaration, the four presidents reaffirmed the importance of the multilateral trading system as the “best way to take advantage of the opportunities and to face the challenges of international trade”.

New WTO book examines the impact of accessions on the multilateral trading system. The book concludes that the new realities of the 21st century require an upgrading of trade rules to take into account the new architecture of the multilateral trading system. By erecting its ‘upper floors’ on the foundation of existing trade rules, the WTO can continue to adapt to a fast-changing environment and to maximize the benefits brought about by its ever-expanding membership. The book has been co-edited by Dr Alexei Kireyev, Senior Economist at the IMF, and former IMF representative to the WTO, and Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, Director-General and Chief Negotiator at the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations and former Director of the WTO’s Accessions Division. It pulls together a wide range of topics related to accessions and draws on a broad range of contributors – from politicians and chief negotiators to academics and trade practitioners – who provide first-hand accounts and expertise in trade policy-making.

WTO-generated news updates

UNECE side event: Advancing trade facilitation and paperless trade for sustainable growth

All goods are not created equal: a Q&A on rules of origin with UNCTAD’s Stefano Inama

India’s Suresh Prabhu reaches out to China and South Africa to put up united front

India pushes for a work programme on services at WTO

B20 recommendations: Make MC11 a success

tralac: MC11 Resource box

Mauritius trade and development policy analyses: new IMF reports

(i) Selected Issues Report (pdf). Extract – Boosting international competitiveness. Mauritius’ progress in improving competitiveness over the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable, however some areas of concern have emerged. During the last decade, Mauritius has jumped 15 places in the international competitiveness rankings, and is now the most competitive economy in SSA. However, stagnating productivity in some sectors and recent associated increases in unit labor costs have signaled growing cost competitiveness concerns. To propel Mauritius to the next level of economic development, further reforms are necessary to address the competitiveness gaps emerging vis-a-vis emerging market comparator countries. While Mauritius is leading the pack in SSA on international competitiveness, data also suggest that competitiveness gaps are opening vis-à-vis emerging market comparator countries (Singapore, Panama, Hong Kong, Iceland, and Malta). Areas to be urgently addressed are the labor market, skill mismatches, and innovation policy.

(ii) Staff Report for the 2017 Article IV Consultation (pdf). Mauritius is seeking to become a high-income economy within the next ten years. The growth strategy is anchored around an ambitious public investment program and improvements in the business climate. However, fiscal space is limited, and competitiveness bottlenecks are limiting the gains from trade. The macroeconomic outlook is broadly positive. Growth in 2017 is projected at 3.9% in 2017, and about 4.0% over the medium term. However, the vibrant Global Business Sector faces pressure from international anti-tax avoidance initiatives.

(iii) IMF Executive Board Concludes 2017 Article IV Consultation with Mauritius. Attaining the next level of economic development will require Mauritius to overcome the variety of policy challenges outlined above. A bold, coordinated, strategic vision, guided by strong and independent institutions, is necessary to guide the economic transition. Early signs are promising, with both the pending formation of the National Economic Development Board and the drafting of the Financial Services Sector Blueprint, important welcome steps towards harmonizing the policy direction and implementation across sectors. Considering Mauritius’ track record of reinventing its economic model, there are grounds for optimism that the country will successfully manage the reform process.

Nigeria: CBN plans revival of moribund manufacturing companies with N500bn (ThisDay)

Determined to significantly boost the contribution of the non-oil sector to Nigeria’s GDP, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said it plans to revive moribund firms in the non-oil export business through its N500 billion export stimulation facility. CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this plan Friday night when he spoke with journalists after meeting with stakeholders in the non-oil export business. “The basic issue is that we have decided to bring back to the table the N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility that we had proposed two years ago, as well as the N50bn direct intervention fund from the Nigeria Export-Import Bank.” [As FG introduces new export, import guidelines…]

Nigeria: Less than 14 of 34 FTZs operating – NEPZA MD (Vanguard)

Less than 14 of the nation’s 34 Free Trade Zones are operating, actively, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime, disclosed at the weekend. He told journalists in Abuja, that lack of infrastructure, especially electricity power supply, good roads and water, among others had made the FTZs unattractive to investors and that immediate steps must be taken to address the challenge. He added: “Today, most foreign investors coming to Africa, the first place they think of is Ghana. That should be a critical concern for us. I hear some people say ‘Nigeria has a big market.’ Oh yes, but we should recognize that there have been partnership agreements and platforms that enable a businessman to set up his factory in Accra and be able to access the Nigerian market. He can use the ECOWAS platform. So that argument, quite frankly is defective and we must be honest with ourselves. “This is what I think we must engage ourselves with at the policy level, that without putting our house in order, the likelihood that we will be able to attract foreign investors is very slim.”

Botswana: Govt clashes with SA retailers again (Weekend Post)

The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry is once again on a collision course with South African retailers – this time warning them that they risk revocation of their licenses should they continue pricing their goods in foreign currencies. Peggy Serame, the Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary issued a statement (Friday) stating that government will review their licences if they do not comply. There have been complaints in recent years that locals are being cheated by retailers by being forced to pay more than they should owing to the exchange rate between foreign currencies, especially the South African rand and the Pula. This situation usually involves South African retailers, who dominate Botswana’s retail sector.

ECOWAS moves to harmonize biosafety regulations in West Africa (ECOWAS)

Experts from ECOWAS Member States, the Republic of Chad, the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel have commenced a joint technical consultative meeting in order to validate the draft regulations on biosafety in the region. Opening a two-day meeting on the 6th of December, 2017 in Abuja, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources and Environment, Mr. Tchambakou Ayassor said the aim of the consultative meeting is to achieve a joint regional approach to prevent and manage the risk of biotechnology in the region.

Today’s Quick Links:

Fitch cuts Nigeria’s 2017 GDP growth forecast to 1%

Benin cassava flour makers seek Geographical Indication

Amazon says it may build SA data centres

Huawei opens latest OpenLab in Egypt

South Centre: China’s debt problem and rising systemic risks – impact of the global financial crisis and structural problems

UAE-KSA joint trade mission concludes African tour

China and the new phase of trade expansion: commentary by World Bank’s Otaviano Canuto


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