Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Pablo Tosco | Oxfam
Today’s tralac daily news selection marks International Women’s Day 2018: enjoy our compilation of commentaries, data sources, event pointers

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Namibia’s Mrs Sabine Böhlke-Möller has been elected, by consensus, as WTO Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology 2018 chairperson

tralac’s Ashly Hope: A gender responsive AfCFTA

As the finishing touches are being put on the first parts of AfCFTA Agreement, it is worth considering how this agreement can contribute to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 aspirations and targets for gender parity as well as the UN’s sustainable development goal of achieving gender equality and women empowerment.

It has become increasingly clear that it is not sufficient for policy making to be blind to gender. Rather, to ensure that women are included, and for economies to make the most of the contribution of women, it is necessary to make policy that takes into account gender difference and the structural and institutional barriers to female participation. Trade policy is no different.

We present some practical suggestions for negotiators and members states to consider for purposes of making the AfCFTA Agreement a gender responsive trade agreement.

Time is Now to scale up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa (NEPAD)

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.

However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment. [Op-ed by Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency, Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition]

Aubrey Hruby, quoted in: Why Tillerson pitch of US as soft-power partner will be a hard sell in Africa

“I get that [Tillerson] is positioning security as the precondition for prosperity, and many African leaders – clearly those he’ll be meeting with – will agree with that,” says Aubrey Hruby, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. “But for broader stakeholders in the economy, the emphasis leaves the US out of the picture,” she says. “Security partnerships are important, but they are invisible to a lot of people, and so leave US engagement invisible as well.”

Masako Hiraga: How many companies are run by women, and why does it matter? (World Bank)

One area we have data on comes from companies: what share of firms have a female CEO or top manager? Only 1 in 5 firms worldwide have a female CEO or top manager, and it is more common among the smaller firms. While this does vary by around the world – Thailand and Cambodia are the only two countries where the data show more women running companies than men. Better representation of women in business is important. It ensures a variety of views and ideas are represented, and when the top manager of a firm is woman, that firm is likely to have a larger share of permanent female workers. [The author is a senior statistician / economist with the Development Data Group]

The experiences and challenges of women in trade and agriculture (Southern Africa Trust)

The study was conducted through primary and secondary data collection as well as key informants and focused group discussions, with a specific focus on Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The study also makes an analysis of the status of women involved in agriculture and trade and their level of knowledge of existing sector policies. Some of the findings are that more than 60% of households in the trade sector are headed by single, widowed and divorced women. The education levels of women surveyed differed among the three countries. In all three countries covered, almost all the women and key stakeholders reported that the majority of women in agriculture were involved in small scale farming due to limited financial resources, knowledge and use of farming technologies as well as complex trade procedures and requirements.

The level of knowledge of both agricultural and trade policies among women was very low and a cause for concern. ”The Trust recommends coherence between agriculture and trade on the one hand and with other relevant policies supporting agriculture and trade. Wider use of Information communication technologies by women traders and farmers should be encouraged to close the information gap,” said Phiri. The report (pdf) also points to the need to create new and alternative avenues for borrowing in order to support women in the trade and agricultural sectors as well as simplified customs procedures and documentation and a reduced burden of domestic taxes and other fees and charges at borders of SADC Member States.

Women’s prospects at work still ‘a long way’ from being equal to men’s (ILO)

The women’s labour force participation rate worldwide stands at 48.5% in 2018, 26.5 percentage points below that of their male counterparts, according to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2018 – Global snapshot, released Wednesday on the eve of International Women’s Day. The report, authored by the ILO, also shows that the global unemployment rate for women is 6% for 2018, about 0.8 percentage points higher than that for men. Extract (pdf):

Women are over-represented in informal employment in developing countries, in part because there is a higher proportion of women who work as contributing family workers – a category which accounts for around one-third of the overall informal employment in developing countries. According to the ILO, the share of women in informal employment in developing countries was 4.6 percentage points higher than that of men, when including agricultural workers, and 7.8 percentage points higher when excluding them, in the latest year with available data (ILO, 2018b). This gender gap is much higher in some sub-Saharan African countries, where the gap stands at over 20 percentage points (ibid.). In close to one-third of sub-Saharan countries with available data, the share of women in non-agricultural employment who are in informal employment is over 90%, while for men the share hovers at around 82% (figure 1). [Related ILO International Women’s Day 2018 resources]

Central Bank gender balance declined this year, OMFIF says (Bloomberg)

A gender balance index fell to 19% in 2018 from 31%, reflecting a decline in women in senior roles, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum said in a report. The slide in the overall score compared to last year can be explained largely by the stepping down of women in large-economy central banks that carry a greater weight: Janet Yellen’s departure as Chair of the Federal Reserve in February was the single largest factor. The score for North America fell to 24% from 68%, leaving Europe as the highest-scoring region. The top 20 league in terms of gender balance is dominated by small countries, which together make up only 6.6% of the world economy. They include four island states in the Caribbean, two in the Asia-Pacific region, one in Africa, and others in the Balkans and former Soviet Union. Only two G-20 economies - France and Russia - make the top 20.

Powering potential: increasing women’s access to financial products and services (BNY Mellon, UN Foundation)

Closing the gender gap in women’s access to financial products and services could unlock $330bn in global annual revenue, according to a new report released today from BNY Mellon and the United Nations Foundation. Increased market opportunities for financial services firms, along with greater financial inclusion and empowerment for women, are additional key outputs from narrowing this gap. The report, Powering Potential: increasing women’s access to financial products and services, proposes actions to achieve major gains for both gender equality and market returns. By focusing on the financial sector, this report builds upon the approach used in the publication released last year, “Return on Equality,” to scale up the private, public and social sectors’ involvement in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

IWD2018 Quick Links:

  1. “We spotlight and applaud the tireless efforts of activists working to transform women’s lives”: statement by Li Yong, UNIDO Director General

  2. OECD Development Matters: Gender equality in West Africa? The key role of social norms

  3. Making trade agreements work for rural women: side-event at the Commission on the Status of Women (13 March)

  4. Ahead of UN Commission on the Status of Women (12-23 March): Rural women in trade agreements – a Q&A with activists

  5. UNCTAD’s Borderline series: Reliable data on women is crucial to measuring empowerment and equality

  6. ITC’s SheTrades initiative: a reminder to explore its networking ability

  7. A reminder of this recent tralac analysis: Women in services trade: participation and ownership, a Sub-Saharan African focus

New trade, logistics reports from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics:

(i) Foreign trade in goods (Q4 & Full Year 2017) (pdf). Total trade recorded for Q4 2017 was N6.022.93bn which represented a decline of 0.7% over the Q3 2017, and an increase of 13.9% over the same period last year Q4 2016). For full year 2017, total trade was N23,160.9 billion which is 33.5% higher when compared to the value in 2016 of N17,344.9bn. Trade balance, accordingly, stood at a surplus of N1,798.31bn in Q4 2017 compared to the surplus of N1,088.33bn recorded in the preceding quarter and the surplus of N671.30bn in the corresponding quarter last year. For full year 2017, trade balance stood at N4,035.5 billion compared to a negative trade balance of -N290.1 billion in 2016.

(ii) Ports Statistics 2012-2017 (pdf). The Nigerian Ports Statistics 2012 - 2017 reflected that ship traffic at the Nigerian ports recorded a total of 4,175 ocean going vessels with 131,569,821 gross registered tonnage in 2017 as against 4,622 ocean going vessels with 134,2,13,076 gross registered tonnage in 2016. [Air Transportation Data: Q4 and Full Year 2017, pdf]

Kenya: IMF statement as staff conclude visit (IMF)

The authorities requested a six-month extension of the SBA that expires on March 13, 2018 to allow more time to complete the outstanding reviews of the IMF-supported program. In support of this request, the authorities have committed to policies to achieve the program objectives, including reducing the fiscal deficit and substantially modifying interest controls. Annual growth could rise further to 6½ percent within a couple of years, provided that the authorities continue economic reforms, including reducing the fiscal deficit and amending interest rate controls.

Multinational production and trade in services (pdf, OECD)

Overall, the results in this paper demonstrate the intertwined nature of manufacturing and services activities, with implications for trade and investment policies aimed at promoting the manufacturing sector. Policy makers may actually need to focus more on services industries in order to support their manufacturing industries, suggesting the need for an integrated approach to manufacturing, services and investment in policy discussions. [Working Party on International Trade in Goods and Trade in Services Statistics: Measuring merchandise and international freight transportation costs in the Balance of Payments]

Simon Lester, Inu Manak: Fixing NAFTA’s institutional deficit (ICTSD)

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement provides a path for institutional innovation. This post argues that the institutions that were created by NAFTA have either not functioned well, or been insufficiently used, and that the opportunity to improve the institutions that exist and to create new avenues for continental cooperation should not be missed.

UK dept earmarks £21.4bn for African infrastructure development (Engineering News)

The UK’s Department of International Trade is pledging funding for infrastructure development in Africa, including £4bn in South Africa, £1bn in Kenya and £750m in Nigeria, through export credit agency, UK Export Finance.

Today’s Quick Links:

The Presidents of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are scheduled to meet in Botswana (10 March) to assess progress on the construction of the Kazungula Bridge

Witness statements are posted from the hearing: China in Africa – The New Colonialism?

IMF on Malaysia’s economy: getting closer to high-income status

Accounting for firm heterogeneity in global value chains: the role of small and medium sized enterprises (pdf)

United Nations Statistical Commission: download documents from the 49th Session (6-9 March)


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