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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Maria Gropa | UNESCO | Wikimedia

31 Jan 2018

Africa Business and Investment Forum:

(i) African leaders call for “partnership not support”: Their message was loud and clear: Africa requires partnership, not support. African Heads of State insisted they have a clear mandate to work with both public and private enterprises, to ensure the business environment is favourable and attractive to the international business community. The UNECA, in partnership with Corporate Council on Africa, hosted Heads of State from five African countries at the inaugural Africa Business and Investment Forum, held yesterday in Addis Ababa. Vera Songwe, UNECA Executive Secretary, said: “Today’s Africa Business and Investment Forum demonstrated a real commitment by our African leaders that they are focussed on paving the way for private investors in the U.S. and the rest of the international community, to invest in Africa.”

(ii) Opening remarks by President Paul Kagame: Let me say by the way, I remind Ali Mufuruki that he may wish to visit the Commission Headquarters for a different thing, and other business leaders here, I wish to remind you that you can go to the Commission for the African passport.I hope I am not putting the African Union Commission Chair on the spot when they are not ready to provide them, but I know they have stockpiles of passports to give. Among those they want to give the passports to are country leaders, as well as business leaders, which will facilitate people to move across the continent without having to go through the hassles of visas. These are very important measures for the competitiveness of African firms and their ability to expand to new markets and hire more employees, especially young people. And there are many other urgent frameworks for economic integration waiting to be finalised and applied. I think it will happen more quickly if Africa’s business leaders keep advocating for Pan-African economic cooperation with policy-makers and the public, especially through the media.

(iii) Remarks by Millennium Challenge Corporation Acting CEO Jonathan Nash

Obinwanne Okeke: Tear down Africa’s wall (Forbes Africa)

As an entrepreneur that operates a real estate business in Nigeria and South Africa, I have never found a more important moment to reflect on my own experience, and to highlight how a transnational collaborative platform can offer entrepreneurs from these two African economic powerhouses an opportunity for substantive engagement. The time to create a transnational collaborative platform for African entrepreneurs, one that provides a guided approach for sustained collaboration, is now. This transnational collaboration would guarantee a broadening and enriching of the imagination of the African entrepreneur. It would free the African entrepreneur from the shackles of borders, time and space. It would redefine business for the African entrepreneur.

The slow journey to reaping benefits of Africa’s open skies (Business Daily)

Despite the celebratory mood, however, the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market does not mean travellers will automatically crisscross the continent. On the runway to take-off are a number of significant steps that signatories have to take in realising this dream. “We are not ready to start today. It will take a bit more time to achieve the vision,” said the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe. Under the umbrella of the Single Market, cross-border flights will be treated as domestic flights for taxation and regulatory purposes. Airlines will also be granted fifth freedom rights, meaning a flight from Johannesburg can stop by Nairobi and pick up passengers on its way to Cairo. This will all serve to drive ticket prices down and increase connectivity on the continent.

Botswana signs the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement (SADC)

Botswana becomes the 22nd country to append its signature to the agreement which was launched by the Heads of States of the COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA Member States on 10th June, 2015 at Sharm el-Shaik. Speaking during the signing ceremony, Botswana’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent T. Seretse outlined veterinary vaccines; pharmaceutical products; electrical and machinery products; plastics products; salt and salt products; carpets and other textiles floor covering as among Botswana’s local products identified as having export potential under the agreement. [Downloads: speeches by Botswana’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry; COMESA’s Secretary General; SADC’s Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration]

South Africa: December 2017 trade surplus rises to R15.72bn (SARS)

The South African Revenue Service has released trade statistics for December 2017 recording a trade balance surplus of R15.72bn. The year-to-date (01 January to 31 December 2017) trade balance surplus of R80.55bn is an improvement on the surplus for the comparable period in 2016 of R1.05bn. Exports for the year-to-date grew by 7.9% whilst imports for the same period showed an increase of 0.7%. The R15.72bn trade balance surplus for December 2017 is attributable to exports of R104.32bn and imports of R88.60bn. Exports decreased from November 2017 to December 2017 by R11.87bn (10.2%) and imports decreased from November 2017 to December 2017 by R14.54bn (14.1%).

2nd South Africa-Uganda Joint Trade Committee: facilitating trade and investment flows (dti)

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe together with the Ugandan Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Kyambadde have committed to facilitating trade and investment flows between their respective countries as contained in the Trade Agreement signed in 2002 and in keeping with the principles of the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations. Magwanishe reiterated the need for the South African Bureau of Standards and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to strengthen collaboration on the harmonisation of standards to facilitate the smooth flow of trade between the two countries. Collaboration between the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa and the newly formed Uganda Development Corporation was encouraged. Furthermore, a new work stream under the JTC was created to focus on the development of small businesses.

Nigeria: NEPC mulls Malaysian model to support exports (This Day)

As the federal government intensifies effort to diversify the economy, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council has advocated the possibility of adapting the Malaysian model as part of strategic collaboration to promote Nigeria’s export trade. The Acting Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr Sidi-Aliyu Abdullahi, disclosed this yesterday while receiving in his office a delegation from Performance Monitoring and Delivery Unit, a trade promotion organ under the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Mr Sidi-Aliyu, while noting that the nation’s food import bill was high, stated that the key objective of the Zero Oil Plan initiative of NEPC was to reduce imports by scaling-up production in key sectors of the non-oil export as well as stimulate value addition, job and wealth creation along export value chains.

Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit (27 January, Addis Ababa): communiqué (pdf)

The Heads of State and Government notes the considerable difficulty in allocating statutory positions to Member States, in particular with respect to a 9-member Commission. In this regard, in the name of solidarity and cohesion, and in order to allow all Member States occupy a Commissioner position without increasing the running costs, they decide to return to a 15-member Commission. They direct the outgoing Commission President to work together with the incoming President on the allocation of positions to enable the new statutory officers assume duty.The Authority also takes note of the Memorandum on the enhancement of criteria for the allocation of statutory positions presented by the Chairman of the Authority for consideration and invites Member States to submit their observations within 15 days.

Conference on Promoting Growth, Jobs, and Inclusiveness in the Arab World: statement by IMF, AFESD, AMF

The Marrakesh Call for Action will guide the IMF, AFESD, and AMF as we engage with policymakers and other stakeholders in the region. They will form the basis for a set of recommended policy actions for governments together with the private sector, civil society and international financial institutions, to raise growth and living standards in the region and generate a more prosperous future. More external financing, preferably as grants, will also be needed to support the region, particularly to help post-conflict countries and those displaced by war. [Christine Lagarde: Scaling-up the inclusive growth agenda in the Arab Region]

How much does BDS threaten Israel’s economy? (Brookings)

Another measure that suggests the low substitutability of Israeli exports is the quality of its goods. Using data on export quality, Figure 2 shows that over the past 30 years Israel has become increasingly an exporter of high quality goods (relative to other countries’ exports). In the early 1980s over 90% of the value of Israeli exports were below the median world quality, with barely 5% of its exports being above median world quality. Yet, as of 2015, almost 40% of Israeli exports are above median world quality with less than 10% in the bottom quartile. If high quality goods are harder to replace, this would again suggest that Israeli exports are, today, less prone to boycotts and import bans. By contrast, more than 70% of South African exports in 1990 were below median world quality, with more than half of such figure being below the 25th percentile. [The authors: Dany Bahar, Natan Sachs]

ARC, UNECA partner to increase insurance coverage in Africa (Rwanda News Agency)

The African Risk Capacity (an agency of the AU) and the UNECA have announced a new partnership which will see the two organisations work together to increase insurance coverage against climate risks for African states. The multilateral deal, announced at the AU’s summit, commits ARC and UNECA to build the capacity of their 33 common Member States by embedding risk management investments into government planning through policy development. ARC and ECA also will share expertise and commit financial resources to joint analytical work in areas of economic and climate risk research in order to promote risk transfer instruments. The UN estimates that Africa will see the adaptation costs of climate change rise to $50bn per year by 2050.

Senegal: Impact on tobacco use and tax revenues (World Bank)

This study has three main objectives. First, it aims to assess the impact of tobacco excise tax increases over 2012-14 on prices, consumption levels, and tax revenues in Senegal, as well as the response by tobacco companies to such increases. Second, the report models the potential impact of two scenarios involving future excise tax increases on tobacco products in Senegal, and considers alterations in the structure of tobacco excise taxation. Finally, it offers policy options to government authorities.

Rwanda, Tanzania finance ministers meet over joint railway financing (New Times)

Rwanda and Tanzania finance ministers on Monday met in Dar es Salaam to consider the finance matters regarding accomplishment of the two countries’ joint 521 kilometre Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway project, which is estimated to cost $2.5bn. Sources say the latest meeting, among others, agreed that some critical issues including feasibility studies impacting on cost be re-examined so that both countries have a clearer picture on the financial implications before charting the way forward as regards mobilising funds. The project’s estimated total cost of $2.5bn was made in 2015 and it is possible that there could be changes that need to be well factored in considering inflation and other economic factors.

Kenya ranked 112 globally on key economic metrics (Business Daily)

Kenya has been ranked 112 globally on macroeconomic stability, institutional strength, openness and human capital and remains behind 11 other African countries. Mauritius, Botswana and Rwanda are the top-most in Africa in terms of future growth promise on account of the measured indicators, according to a newly released report by audit and financial advisory firm KPMG titled Growth Promise 2018. By macroeconomic issues the report refers to government deficit and public debt while openness refers to the stock of foreign direct investment and total trade. Other metrics used are infrastructure which refers to availability of financial services, the quality of transport and technology readiness.

Today’s Quick Links:

Tanzania launches e-passport as Magufuli calls for tighter control of illegal immigrants

Tanzania adopts facial recognition technology to improve border control

Pakistan’s business community urged to venture into Africa via Mauritius

Wilson Center Africa Program: Africa - Year in Review 2017

Why are more sovereigns issuing in Euros? Choosing between USD and EUR-denominated bonds

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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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