Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Arne Hoel | World Bank

Niger assumes the G5 Sahel Presidency during this week’s Niamey summit

Mozambique joins the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Southern African states (European Commission)

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and SADC became the first regional EPA in Africa to be fully operational after its implementation by Mozambique. Mozambique was the last piece of the SADC-EPA jigsaw to fall into place. The other five countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland – have been implementing the agreement since October 2016. Implementing the EPA means that Mozambique will not have to pay customs duties on its exports to the EU.

Tanzania: Board tasked to make assessment on meat imports (IPPMedia)

Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Luhaga Mpina, yesterday tasked the country’s Meat Board and Department of Veterinary Services to assess whether there is any need for the country to continue issuing permits for meat importation. The move is meant to make Tanzania an exporter of meat rather than an importer, taking into account that Tanzania ranks second in Africa on livestock production and in terms of cattle population after Ethiopia. He said that statistics show that Tanzania imports an average of 2,000 tonnes of meat from Kenya, Dubai, South Africa, Britain and Belgium.

Kenya’s duty-free sugar imports rose by 196% last year (Daily Nation)

Sugar imports increased by 196% in 2017 compared with the previous year as traders rushed to ship in duty-free commodity to bridge a local deficit. A market report from the Sugar Directorate indicates the volumes shipped into the country nearly tripled from 334,109 tonnes in 2016 to 989,619 tonnes. The bulk of the sugar imports was brown/mill white type (table sugar 829,871 tonnes), representing 84 per cent of the total consignment, while the balance was industrial sugar used for manufacturing. About 263,990 tonnes of the commodity were imported from COMESA Free Trade Area while 627,756 tonnes was shipped in from non-COMESA region.

Botswana: Government to manage deficit (Daily News/Mmegi)

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Kenneth Matambo has proposed P67.8bn as total expenditure and net lending for the 2018/19 financial year. Presenting the budget proposals before parliament yesterday, Minister Matambo said 66.5% of the total amount, or P45.14bnn, was earmarked for recurrent budget; 28.4%, or P19.31bn, was for development and the remaining P9.08bn had been proposed as statutory expenditure. The minister said the total revenues and grants for 2018/19 budget were estimated at P64.28bn against an expenditure of P67.8bn resulting with a deficit of P3.59bn, or 1.8% of GDP. Talking about revenues and grants, he said mineral revenue, driven mainly by positive performance of diamond exports, accounted for P24.59bn, or 38.3% of the total amount. He said Customs and Excise revenue was the second largest contributor at P14.3bn, or 23.1%, of the total amount while non-mineral income tax revenue was estimated at P13.36bn or 20.8% of total revenue. The minister said Value Added Tax is estimated at P8.11bn, or 12.6% of the total revenue. [Full text of the budget speech]

Star of Africa in 2018 lenders’ economic forecasts is Ghana (Bloomberg)

Africa’s likely star economic performer this year isn’t in much doubt, according to all three of the international lenders focusing on the continent. Ghana’s post-election upswing now is looking so strong that the country is poised to take the lead as Africa’s fastest-growing economy this year - for the first time in at least three decades. Expansion in West Africa’s second-biggest economy in 2018 should surpass that of recent champions Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, according to forecasts from the World Bank, the African Development Bank - both released in the past month - and the International Monetary Fund.

Experts move to bridge digital standards gaps in Africa (New Times)

Lara Srivastava, the head of International Telecomunication Union’s Bridging the Standardisation Gap Programme, told The New Times that it is critical to have a platform where different stakeholders take part in decisions that benefit them, highlighting that the standardisation forum was yet another moment to remind countries of the importance of setting standards for technologies. “International standards increase competition and reduce costs, they enable companies in developing countries to access the global marketplace, but also enable global players to access emerging markets,” she said. She said that, so far, Africa has 52 written contribution standards, making it one of the ITU regions with a high number of contributions. This means that Africa has in the recent past put in place many standards in regard to ICTs. “Africa is one of the active regions in terms of creating draft texts. For example, we have received many draft recommendations on roaming and over-the-top services, as well as other emerging technologies from Africa,” she noted.

Namibia: Smith takes over to turn around struggling TransNamib (New Era)

After 11 years as Chief Executive Officer of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Johnny Smith ended months of speculation when he finally took over the reins of beleaguered state-owned enterprise, TransNamib, on Friday. Smith, who holds a B Comm degree and a Masters in Business Administration, also serves as the chairperson for the Alliance for Corridor Management in Africa, chairperson of Telecom Namibia and commissioner of the National Planning Commission. Chairman of the WBCG Board of Directors, Bisey Uirab, indicated that Smith’s visionary leadership and commitment to seeing results, helped develop the corridor concept not only in Namibia but also in Africa and the world over.

Mozambique: Indian investment aims to reduce logistics cost for coal miners (Club of Mozambique)

India’s Essar Group, which operates Indian ports handling 82 million tons per annum with expansion to 110 mtpa in the near future, will be investing $440m in creating a new coal terminal at Beira, Captain Tej Nargundkar, the CEO of Mozambique, Essar Ports Limited, told the IHS South African Coal Export Conference in Cape Town. Essar signed a 30-year (with possibility of 10 years extension) Concession Contract in February 2017 and the first phase of 10 mpta capacity with a project value of $26m is due for completion in 2020. The second phase will be launched depending on the success of the first phase. Although Beira has a severe limitation in that it can only accept ships with a draft of less than 12 meters, the 50 000 ton limitation on ships is not a limiting factor when exporting to India, where many of the ports are also not deep water ports.

How Ethiopia’s new railway could launch an inclusive urban boom (Next City)

The country’s secondary cities are positioned to emerge as rival centers of productivity and growth. Adama and Dire Dawa are now expanding faster than Addis Ababa and have more space to do so. They have been selected as two of 12 major cities prioritized in federal government plans to promote what, in technocratic verbiage, it calls “clusters” of urban economic hubs along strategic transportation corridors, or “growth poles.” The cities both have two new industrial parks, either completed or under construction. Dire Dawa - at the crossroads that lead to the port in Djibouti to the north and in Somaliland to the south - has been earmarked as a special economic zone with a free-trade area, a dry port and a new asphalt road connecting it to Djibouti. Addis Ababa, like many large cities across Africa, is dominated by services and construction. But, in the secondary cities lies an opportunity for something rarely seen on the continent: urbanization with industrialization. [The author: Tom Gardner] [Note: This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. Next City’s coverage]

Kenya: Forced ferrying of imports raises fresh queries on viability of SGR (Daily Nation)

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association last Friday wrote a strongly worded letter to the Kenya Ports Authority management, protesting the purported issuance of a directive forcing its members to use the SGR. It has also emerged that the government has also stopped importers from choosing their cargoes’ destinations going forward, meaning some cargo that is not meant for inland transport could end up in Nairobi at the importer’s cost.

Chinese firm lends Kenya Sh25bn to electrify SGR (Business Daily)

Kenya has signed a $240m (Sh24.4bn) loan to electrify the SGR in a move that is expected to push it up to scale with rival lines being built in neighbouring Tanzania and Ethiopia. Money for the upgrade, which has been sourced from a Chinese company, is being funnelled through the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (Ketraco). Ketraco says in an opinion piece published elsewhere in this newspaper that it signed the financing deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited, a Chinese government-owned multinational on January 25, paving the way for work to begin. [Fernandes Barasa: Why SGR should ditch diesel for electric trains]

Tax reforms in the United States: implications for international investment (UNCTAD)

The most significant change to the tax regime for multinationals is the shift from a worldwide system (taxing worldwide income) to a territorial system (taxing only income earned at home). Under the old regime, tax liabilities on foreign income became payable only upon repatriation of funds to the United States. As a result, US multinationals kept their earnings outside their home country. Measures in the tax reform include a one-off tax on accumulated foreign earnings, freeing the funds to be repatriated. Retained earnings overseas of US multinationals amount to an estimated $3.2 trillion. The 2005 Homeland Investment Act, the last tax break on funds repatriation, led firms to bring home two thirds of their foreign retained earnings. Funds available for repatriation are today seven times larger than in 2005.

Ultimately, the impact on global investment stocks will depend on the actions of a relatively small number of very large multinationals that, together, hold the bulk of overseas cash. Five high-tech companies alone (Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Alphabet and Oracle) together hold more than $530bn in cash overseas - one quarter of the total amount of liquid assets that are estimated to be available for repatriation. Repatriations could cause a large drop in the outward FDI stock position of the United States, from the current $6.4 trillion to possibly as low as $4.5 trillion, with inverse consequences for inward FDI stocks in other countries. About one quarter of United States outward stock of FDI is located in developing countries. However, it is likely that a large part of the stock located in developing countries is invested in productive assets and therefore not easily repatriated. [Download: UNCTAD Global Investment Trends Monitor special issue, pdf]

Expert group meeting on macroeconomic policies and women’s economic empowerment (UN Women)

Among the issues to be discussed (5-6 February, Berlin) are: (i) which types of growth and labor market strategies can create more productive employment opportunities for women, (ii) how to maximize fiscal space for women’s economic empowerment, and (iii) how to create political space for advocacy and public policy on macroeconomic policy and women’s economic empowerment. More specifically, the main objectives of the expert group meeting are to: [Stephanie Seguino: Engendering macroeconomic theory and policy, pdf]

IDRC’s GrOW research consortium: Economic growth and gender equality

A research project in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire compares differences in growth patterns and job creation in the two countries, and how these have affected women’s economic empowerment, particularly around extractive industries. Research led by the universities of Chicago and Stellenbosch is generating evidence on how women’s political participation and representation in Africa influences the connection between economic growth and women’s economic empowerment. [WIEGO: Macroeconomic policy and women’s economic empowerment]

Women in the economy: an untapped resource for growth in the Asia-Africa region (RIS)

Ensuring women’s participation in the economy requires access to skills, technology and finance. India and Japan have supported such initiatives in Asia and Africa in the past, but a joint effort in the form of Asia Africa Growth Corridor will be a catalyst for ensuring gender equality and women empowerment. Financial inclusion is a driver of women empowerment and entrepreneurship. The success of India and Bangladesh in micro-finance and self help groups and other such experiences can be replicated in Africa to speed up women’s inclusion. Similar experiences in Africa could also be replicated in Asian economies. Another area of intervention is to develop inter-country and inter-regional markets for women entrepreneurs. There is need for public investment in child care and educational services to create space for women’s participation in economic activity. Under the aegis of Asia Africa Growth Corridor, an Asia-Africa Women Economic Growth and Empowerment Fund may be created to facilitate exchange of experiences across Asia and Africa. [The author: Renana Jhabvala]

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