News

tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Gilles Paire | Alamy

02 Feb 2018

tralac’s Weekly e-Newsletter is posted: feature articles by Prof Gerhard Erasmus and Talkmore Chidede

Lighthizer’s African dream (Politico)

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sparked a new conversation in trade circles on Wednesday when he floated the idea of the Trump administration launching bilateral trade negotiations with an African country “before very long.” “Personally, I think that before very long we’re going to have to pick out an African country - properly selected - and enter into a free trade agreement with that country,” he said in an interview on Sirius XM radio channel “Patriot 125.” “And then that will, if done properly, become a model for these other countries.” [AGOA loss cost Swaziland 600 mn emalangeni: FSE&CC]

Blockchain to track Congo’s cobalt from mine to mobile (Reuters)

Blockchain is to be used for the first time to try to track cobalt’s journey from artisanal mines in Democratic Republic of Congo through to products used in smartphones and electric cars. Sources close to a pilot scheme expected to be launched this year say the aim is eventually to give manufacturers a way of ensuring the cobalt in lithium-ion batteries for products such as iPhones and Teslas has not been mined by children. Tracking cobalt presents many challenges as scores of informal mine sites would have to be monitored, all players in the supply chain would need to buy into the scheme, and accurate, electronic data would need to be transmitted from remote areas - all in a vast country plagued by lawlessness. But companies are under growing pressure from consumers and investors to show the cobalt they use has come through supply chains free of rights abuses, just as they have for minerals used in electronics such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold.

Zambia: December 2017 trade surplus rises (pdf, Central Statistical Office)

Zambia’s trade surplus increased by 11.4% from K421.7m in November 2017 to K469.9m in December. The increase can be mainly explained by a decline in imports which outweighed that of exports. Imports declined by 4.7%, from K8,270.2m in November to K7,878.5m in December, while exports declined by 4.0%, from K8,691.9m to K8,348.5m in December. Metal export earnings marginally increased by 0.3%: the overall contribution of metals and their products to the total export earnings between December and November 2017 averaged 80.4%. Non-traditional exports decreased by 19.7%. Switzerland was the largest market for Zambia’s total exports in December 2017, accounting for 43.9%. Asia was the second largest market for Zambia’s total exports, accounting for 26.1% in December 2017. Within Asia, China was the dominant export market, accounting for 59.5%.

Ghana seeks national dialogue over cocoa pricing quandary (Xinhua)

There is the gradual convergence of opinions on the need for a national dialogue over the producer price of cocoa Ghana pays its farmers in the face of dipping global prices. Edward Kareweh, General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union of Ghana Trades Union Congress, said such a national conversation should not only determine the pricing of the commodity in-country but also to redefine the role of cocoa in the country’s economy in general. Kareweh described as “great at the time” the decision by government to maintain prevailing prices when other cocoa producing countries had slashed their producer prices in line with the drop in world market price for the commodity. “It showed our willingness to ensure that the farmers are not directly affected by the vagaries of the global arena,” the trade unionist said in a telephone interview with Xinhua. Cocoa prices on the world market have dropped from a high of $2,287 per metric ton around December 2016 to as low as the current price of $1,800 per metric ton with Ghana still paying 7,600 Ghana cedis, or $1,687 per metric ton, as producer price to farmers.

Single unified market: Nigeria’s FG assures on the economy (The News)

The federal government has said that the proposed launching of African single trade market would not affect Nigerian economy as adequate measures were being put in place to protect the economy. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Chief Negotiator for Continent Free Trade Area, Amb. Chiedu Osakwe, stated this in Abuja on Thursday night at a joint news conference on the outcome of the just concluded AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Osakwe said that as the scheme is set to be launched in 4 March, Nigeria is bracing up to ensure that it does not become a dumping ground for counterfeit and substandard products. “We will embark on sensitisation programme, we have been to the Nigeria trade negotiation agency, we have developed a time table as advised by the presidency to meet with industry group and private sector. We are putting in place measures to safeguard our unprotected economic environment from dumping, counterfeiting and unfair trading practices by some of the trading partners.” [Nigeria’s Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative: ‘Imperatives of cooperation, strong carriers for open sky’]

Nigeria: Customs launches strike force to intensify crack down on smugglers (Daily Trust)

Attah said the new strike force is headed by the National Coordinator, Deputy Comptroller, Abubakar A.U., along with four Assistant Comptrollers of Customs who will oversee its operations at the four zones comprising Lagos, Kaduna, Bauchi and Port Harcourt. To promote the Ease-of-Doing-Business, the new team which will be at the zones and training colleges will not erect checkpoints on the highways and will only be seen patrolling when they have credible information of smugglers’ activities as furnished by the Surveillance operatives who do covert operations. The spokesman said Col. Ali initiated this to ensure that there are no impediments to the free flow of doing business on the Nigerian highway. “On trade facilitation, there should be no unnecessary hindrance to trade on our highways,” Attah added.

Nigeria: Envoy raises the alarm over upsurge in smuggling, human trafficking, piracy at Seme border (ThisDay)

For the purpose of security, the ambassador also observed the need for scanner machines to be installed in all the land borders and the immediate opening of the abandoned Seme/Krake ECOWAS joint border post. He expressed the mission’s effort in repositioning the border agencies for improved performance, especially on making frantic efforts with the relevant agencies including the Nigeria government, the EU, ECOWAS and the Beninese authorities to ensure the joint border post is commissioned without further delay. The ambassador assured that the mission is working assiduously to ensure the promotion, facilitation and enforcement of ECOWAS trade liberalisation Scheme as this will increase the smooth movement of goods and products produced within the two countries into Nigeria and Benin Republic respectively. He charged the Nigeria border control agencies to continue to protect the Nigeria territorial integrity and National interest through effective and efficient border control and management.

Tanzania wants Kenya to pay Sh2.3 billion Uchumi Supermarket debt (The Standard)

The meeting had been called to discuss the waning relations between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam but saw the issue of Uchumi and Nakumatt supermarkets sneaked into the agenda. Uchumi shut its stores in Tanzania and Uganda in 2015 as it sought to stem further losses. But the NSE-listed retailer left behind a huge trail of debt owed to suppliers. At the Mombasa meeting, Kenya through International Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo, however, outrightly rejected the demand by the Tanzanian delegation. Dr Kiptoo said while the Government has about 14% stake in Uchumi, it has no control over the supermarket. “Uchumi is listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange and regulated by Capital Markets Authority,” said the PS. The Government in December last year gave Uchumi Sh700 million which the retail chain used for restocking.

Egypt: AUC research papers suggest progressive tax scale, other reforms to reduce income inequality (Ahram)

Working on policies that aim at striking a balance between economic growth and equitable development, Alternative Policy Solutions, a one-year-old American University in Cairo research project, has issued two papers on how to reform the tax regime in a way that increases revenues while adopting fairer taxation for different income brackets. “The sharp and rapid concentration of wealth in the higher-income brackets has the negative consequences of hindering economic growth, increasing speculation, and prompting imbalances in the balance of payments, in addition to the social consequences of the widening gap among social classes,” states a paper entitled “Towards a Wealth Tax in Egypt”. [Egypt’s new industrial strategy offers promises of new growth]

Informal WTO Ministerial on sidelines of WEF: the need for political discussion on development (dti)

It offered an opportunity for an assessment of the 11th Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires and to reflect how to ensure the WTO’s relevance to all Members. The meeting was attended by 29 countries from across all regions. Speaking on behalf of the Africa Group, Minister Davies re-iterated concerns with lack of outcomes on development issues of interest to Africa. He agreed with the need for a deeper reflection in the WTO that takes into account the backlash against globalisation and trade due to growing inequality and uncertainty amongst citizens, as well as a political discussion on development.

Classification decisions taken at the 60th Session of the Harmonized System Committee have been released (WCO)

The Harmonized System Committee held its 60th Session at WCO Headquarters in Brussels from 27 September to 6 October 2017. The decisions taken by the HSC during this session have now been published. These include, in particular, 21 new Classification Opinions and 18 sets of amendments to the HS Explanatory Notes, as well as 45 Classification Rulings dealing.

AU’s Peace and Security Council: new members

Amb. Dr. Namira Negm, the Legal Counsel of African Union Commission is pleased to announce the election of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (Central), Djibouti and Rwanda (East), Morocco (North), Angola and Zimbabwe (South) and Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo (West) as Members of the Peace and Security Council for a term of two years. The member states were elected as members of the Council during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council held 25-26 January 2018, Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Today’s Quick Links:

Angola-based pan-African conglomerate Aenergy joins Afreximbank shareholding

Angola’s Sonangol plans to build refineries, end fuel imports

Namibia bans foreign travel for government officials

Egypt’s agriculture ministry hopes new export controls will encourage repeal of Saudi ban on Egyptian produce

5 things we can learn from China’s e-commerce explosion

RCEP as a catalyst for deepening Asean’s partnership with India

India-Asean partnership: closer connect

IDSA commentary on ASEAN-India: challenges in economic partnership

Subscribe

Sign up to receive email notifications when the Daily News selection is posted online

Sign up to receive email notifications when the Daily News selection is posted online.

tralac’s Daily News archive

View previous editions of the tralac Daily News selection.

Archive

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.

Your feedback is appreciated. Send us your comments HERE.