tralac’s Daily News Selection
The concept note and draft programme for tralac’s 2018 Annual Conference are available to download: The African Continental Free Trade Area – opportunity for Africa
tralac’s Weekly e-Newsletter is posted: Willemien Viljoen discusses how the AfCFTA can contribute towards the realisation of the SDGs
19th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State of the EAC: communiqué
The summit took note of the progress on the development of the automotive industry in the EAC region to reduce importation of used motor vehicles from outside the region and to make the region more competitive and directed the Council to expedite the process and report to the 20th summit. The summit, with regard to promoting the cotton, textile, apparel and leather industries in the region, to make the region more competitive and create jobs, decided to prioritize the development of a competitive domestic textile and leather sector to provide affordable, new and quality options of clothing and leather products to EAC citizens.
The summit directed the Council to implement this decision and put in place a mechanism that supports textile and leather manufacturing in EAC and report to the 20th summit. The summit launched the 5th EAC Development Strategy 2016/17-2020/21 and directed the Council of Ministers to mobilize resources for its implementation.
The summit received a report on European Economic Partnership (EU-EAC EPA) from President Museveni and decided that the EAC continues to engage with the EU for satisfactory clarification of concerns of some partner states on the EPAs. The chair of summit was mandated to follow up on this matter and in the event that an acceptable way forward is not reached, the Community shall explore the use of variable geometry in the implementation of EPAs.
Museveni: “Integration is good for economics”
Kenya-Uganda Busia OSBP launched
Infographic, @sautiorg: Cereals and Beans make up the majority of cross-border traders’ consignments at Busia and Malaba border crossings
LAPSSET update, @NEPADKenya: A team drawn from Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, @lapsset and @ECA_OFFICIAL is this morning meeting at the @NEPADKenya offices to discuss the progresss made by the 3 countries in the Lapsset corridor project so far and the way forward.
SADC Employment and Labour Sector: update (GCIS)
It is against this concern that the South African Chairship decided to become innovative and creative in terms of how we report. As you may be aware, in the past weeks leading to this meeting, the Secretariat sent a Declaration Document to all member states to prepare for the meeting of SADC Ministers for Labour and Employment and Social Partners, to take place 1-2 May 2018. The member states and social partners were asked to comment and/or give inputs. We thank everybody who responded to improve the document. The Declaration Approach is a departure from the past practices where Member States were required to give updates and report on Protocols, Frameworks and Codes. Documents such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, SADC Decent Work Programme and SADC Charter are mere frameworks that are supposed to guide our work as Member States.
However, there was a serious de-link between frameworks and activities performed by Member States, as individuals and/or as a group, in the sphere of labour market governance. There was no mechanism to ensure that what happens within states and between states (bilaterally and multilaterally) gets reported or captured. To facilitate accurate reporting, South Africa deliberately avoided the clutter of reporting on frameworks and codes - starting with the formulating of an overarching theme which was supported by a set of priorities to guide delivery during its Chairship. This is in line with broad goals of regional integration through a creation of a conducive and harmonious labour regime in SADC. [Speech by SA Deputy Minister of Labour, Phathekile Holomisa, at SADC Joint Tripartite Technical Meeting today in Cape Town]
COMESA Technical Committee on Gender and Social Affairs: update
Over 40 gender experts from 15 COMESA Member States began their annual meeting in Sudan yesterday to review the gender policy implementation plan and other policy documents and reports. The reports will be presented to the gender ministers later this week for adoption. On the agenda of the meeting are: The Draft Gender Policy Implementation Plan and Monitoring Tracking Matrix, the Framework for Comprehensive Support for Women and Youth, Cross Border Traders and the Draft COMESA Youth Internship and Volunteer Programme. A progress report on the implementation of the 50 Million Africa Women Speak Platform Project was also presented.
Gauteng’s intra-Africa trade, FDI performance: full text of Premier Makhura’s SOPA 2018 (Mail & Guardian)
We in Gauteng have intensified our work regarding trade and investment activities on the African continent. There is no doubt that our work is bearing fruit. In 2016 alone, we attracted 75 FDI projects into our provincial economy, worth R36bn. These projects have created 9 354 jobs in our economy. Over three years (2014-2016), our province attracted more than 200 FDI projects worth R69bn, which created 19 000 jobs. Gauteng is the leader with regard to intra-Africa trade. As of 2017, Gauteng companies had 169 projects worth R356bn across our continent. Intra-Africa trade generated a total of 46 732 jobs in the Gauteng economy. [Clayson Monyela: Renewed interest in SA’s foreign policy under President Ramaphosa welcomed]
Niger’s President commends ECA’s quality contribution in ECOWAS march towards single currency (UNECA)
According to Mr Issoufou, the study helped ECOWAS in drawing a new roadmap “that is certainly leading us towards the creation of a single currency in 2020. Our single currency will thereby give us the opportunity to build a strong economic space, capable of competing with other economic spaces under construction around the world,” he said, adding this was certain following a review of the conclusions of the meeting of the Ministerial Committee and approval of its proposals. We must take advantage of this historic opportunity, we must not fail for our people have been hoping for this for just too long,” President Issoufou said.
Ghana’s President Akufo Addo said: ”Our quest for a single currency is not intended to boost trading of goods produced in third-party countries. It is meant to encourage the production of goods and services within the region.” For his part, Mr Sanga, Director of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, noted: “In this march towards the single currency within the ECOWAS zone, there is more and more of a political convergence as seen, in particular, in the constant renewal, by all countries, of their commitment towards strengthening their economic convergence, based purely on the convergence criteria”.
Lesotho: IMF concludes 2017 Article IV Consultation (IMF)
An expansionary fiscal stance has shielded the economy from external shocks recently, but at the cost of shrinking buffers. A steep decline in SACU transfers, a major source of government revenue, will result in a fiscal deficit that is likely to exceed 6% of GDP for the second year. The government is financing the deficit by using its deposits at the Central Bank of Lesotho, causing a sharp drop in the CBL’s international reserves. The drop in reserves is compounded by weaker remittances and demand for exports, particularly from South Africa. With SACU revenues only expected to recover in FY 2020/21 in line with the cyclical upswing in South Africa, the outlook is fragile. Addressing the fiscal and external challenges remains difficult in an environment of high inequality and weak institutions. While tax revenues are already relatively high, there is scope for expenditure measures, including by reducing the very high public wage bill. However, efforts by the authorities to stabilize the political environment, including by implementing the recommendations of SADC, should contribute to macroeconomic stability.
Mauritius: Japanese business mission explores avenues of cooperation (GoM)
Speaking about the advantages offered by Mauritius, the Minister explained that the situation of the country is quite exceptional as it is a member of all major African organisations, that is, African Union, COMESA, and SADC. The country is now completing trilateral negotiations whereby the EAC-SADC-COMESA will become one organisation and the countries signing this agreement will have access to 600 million consumers, he pointed out. In addition, a free trade zone, Jin Fei, will be launched in Mauritius and the country is part of Africa, offers facilities of ease of doing business, and will be setting up a regional Renminbi clearing centre with China for Southern Africa, he stated. During the meeting, the Minister invited Japanese investors to consider using Mauritius as a regional headquarter for their companies. The Bank of Tokyo and Insurance companies have also been invited to open a branch in Mauritius.
African governments are deploying a new development tool: growth poles aimed at kickstarting the shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Over a dozen agricultural growth poles, or “agropoles,” were established in the past four years, bringing the total to 36 growth poles and 9 corridors since 2002. They cover at least 3.5 million hectares of land in 23 countries, our research has found. [The author: Francine Picard Mukazi]
Fostering agro-industrialization agenda in Uganda: follow @EPRC_official for tweeted highlights from today’s discussion
The UNCTAD Manual on Consumer Protection 2017 edition (pdf) is the first comprehensive international reference in this field, aiming to support developing countries and economies in transition in their choice of policies and providing practical tools to assist policy makers in enhancing capacities while implementing the recently revised United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. UNCTAD, as the focal point for consumer protection issues within the United Nations system, is fully committed to promoting the guidelines and encouraging interested Member States to create awareness of the various ways in which they can promote consumer protection in the provision of public and private goods and services in collaboration with businesses and civil society. This is all the more important since consumer protection is not homogenous around the world. [Related analysis: Achieving the SDGs through consumer protection]
World Trade Monitor: December 2017 (CPB)
2017 turned out to be a remarkably good year for world trade with 4.5% year-on-year growth. The CPB World Trade Monitor shows that the volume of world trade increased 0.3% in December, having increased 2.7% in November (initial estimate: 2.4%) and increased 1.1% in 2017Q4 (1.4% in 2017Q3).
Today’s Quick Links:
President Akufo-Addo appeals to US Governors: “Do not ignore Africa”
Tanzania: Shilling depreciates 3% in seven weeks
Zambia-South Africa Business Forum Board appointed
An agreement allowing the Egyptian private sector to import Israeli gas is creating controversy