tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: World Bank

09 Mar 2018

ECOWAS Commission gets a new President: Ivorian Jean-Claude Brou takes over from Marcel De Souza

African Union Commission, US State Department perspectives on AU-US relations:

Chairperson Faki: In this visit, we see the illustration of the will of the United States to strengthen the partnership with the African Union and the continent. The visit of Secretary of State Tillerson is taking place at a time when Africa is firmly embarked on the path to integration and reform. We informed him of our efforts aimed at establishing a market of more than a billion people, and to stress that a strong African Union is in the interest, not only of the continent, but that of our partners also, including the United States of America. We have agreed to work for the strengthening of the trade and commercial relations between Africa and the United States, including the post-AGOA arrangements.

Secretary Tillerson: The African Union truly is a force for good, and we’re grateful to the African Union’s role in seeking solutions to help this continent move towards greater stability. On trade, we also support the African Union’s economic regional integration efforts to lower intra-trade barriers on the continent, boost more intra-regional trade, which we know has been a central goal of the negotiations around the continental free trade agreement which we are quite supportive of. We look forward to engaging further with the African Union once that agreement is in place on how this will also promote greater participation of U.S. private sector business interests as well.

Final remarks by WTO General Council chair Xavier Carim (South Africa): transparency and inclusivity important to build trust

From the vantage point of the Chair of the Council, I now have a much better appreciation of the myriad of processes, procedures and decisions that shape the day-to-day workings of the organisation. Effective decision making at this level is vital for the proper functioning of the organisation and, generally, these processes and decisions are uncomplicated. However, where procedures are not set out precisely, and where discretionary action is called for, transparency and inclusivity may be even more important to build the trust that is needed to advance our collective, multilateral work. Issues related to such matters arose periodically in the course of the year, and we should deal with such matters sensitively.

African Ministers of Trade meet in Kigali to review draft agreement (New Times)

The ministers’ meeting follows a meeting of technical experts from trade and justice departments of AU member states, where the draft underwent the final negotiating stages. The experts meeting aimed to ensure that the 250 page draft is well aligned in all AU official languages, and also ensure the legal scrubbing of the document. Prudence Sebahizi, the Chief Technical Advisor and Head of the CFTA Unit at the AU Commission’s Department of Trade and Industry, told The New Times that the ministerial gathering will also review protocol for dispute resolution. Once the ministers of trade have reviewed and approved the draft, it will be submitted to Justice Ministers who will review the legal consistency. “The Ministers for Justice will submit it to ministers of Foreign Affairs ahead of the signing,” Sebahizi said. The agreement has been tailored to ensure that it is not in contravention of any international trade rules and is compatible with existing trade agreements in the eight regional economic zones. [CFTA Summit 2018, 17-21 March: AU launches conference www; AMOT: Vote of thanks by Uganda]

The AfCFTA and African quality standards: ECOWAS update (UNECA)

Mr David Luke (ATPC coordinator) highlighted that the AfCFTA offers substantial opportunities for industrialization and diversification, but that this transformative potential will not be realized without the development and implementation of African quality standards. Mr Luke commended ECOWAS as being the first REC to publish its Quality Policy and emphasized the need for strong National Quality Infrastructure to support its implementation. He concluded by noting that RECs serve as building blocks for the AfCFTA, and will continue to have a crucial role to play in African standards.

African Development Bank Governors: Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb

The AfDB and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.” The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world. “The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB. At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170bn infrastructure investment gap. To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the AfDB-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa. [AIF updates: The Africa Investment Forum will be held in Johannesburg, 7-9 November; Ms Stella Kilonzo has been appointed Africa Investment Forum senior director]

January passenger demand growth slows on temporary factors (IATA)

IATA announced global passenger traffic results for January 2018 showing traffic (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 4.6% compared to January 2017. This was the slowest year-over-year increase in nearly four years, but results were affected by temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018 as well as less favorable comparisons with the strong upward trend in traffic seen in late 2016-early 2017. African airlines saw January traffic rise 4.9% against a mixed backdrop for the region’s largest economies. In Nigeria, business confidence has risen sharply while in South Africa, political uncertainly continues to inflict an economic toll. The region’s capacity rose 4.2%, and load factor edged up 0.5 percentage point to 70.3%.

Tanzania lags behind on private equity (The Citizen)

Data compiled by the African Venture Capital Association show that the East African countries attracted a total of $2.4bn (about Sh5.4 trillion) in venture capital in the period from 2013 to 2017. However, Tanzania accounted for only 17% of the capital. As it is, the funding financed a total of 180 deals out of which Tanzania accounted for only 10%! According to the co-founder of the Tanzania Venture Capital Network (TVCN), Mr Salum Awadh, Kenya beat the other EAC countries, accounting for 56% of the value, and 49% of the deals. Uganda accounted for 19 and 6% of the total value and deals respectively – while Rwanda’s share of the total value was 6%. [Request a copy: 2017 Annual African Private Equity Data Tracker and regional spotlights]

Mauritius: Promoting female participation in the economy (NPCC)

The National Productivity and Competitiveness Council has launched its latest report which highlights salient features about the current situation, best practices used globally and presents strategies as well as an action plan to improve the participation of women in the economy. Extracts (pdf):

Employment by industrial sector. Table 3.9 shows that the tertiary sector is becoming increasingly important in terms of employment. Over the last decade, women’s employment has fallen in the primary and secondary sectors, whereas it has increased in the tertiary or services sector. This has been in line with the diversification of the Mauritian economy, initially from heavy reliance on agriculture towards manufacturing, especially with the setting up of the Mauritius Export Processing Zone, which employed a significant proportion of women who had very basic education. The economy is currently moving towards expanding the tertiary sector especially services, which is in line with the investment in education and type of human capital available in the country.

Senior positions in trade unions, employers’ associations and NGOs. Women remain in a minority in senior positions as director or head of trade unions, employers’ associations and in NGOs. The figures are lowest for trade unions, where women comprise only 11.9% of leaders of trade unions. In employers’ associations, women make up 40% of leaders, whereas they comprise 31.3% of leaders of NGOs. [Tanzania: Only 8% of TZ CEOs are female; Hannah Wanjie Ryder: Are women holding up Chinese and African skies?]

UNGA adopts resolution seeking alignment of efforts to end illicit diamond trade, achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN)

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, introduced the draft resolution titled, “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts”. Noting that Australia was the outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process she said that scheme had made a valuable contribution to international security, development and human rights. Noting that young people today were three times more likely than older generations to avoid diamonds unless they had been responsibly sourced, she nevertheless emphasized that more work remained to be done. The international community should examine new ways to align the diamond trade with the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace, and should seek a diamond market free from human rights abuses and forced labour. The resolution was a critical link between the Kimberley Process’ excellent work and its potential to contribute to the broader United Nations agenda by requesting the establishment of a dedicated secretariat and a multi‑donor trust fund to support broad‑based participation.

What did the world trade in 2017? (ITC)

The rise of artificial intelligence, political changes and severe weather conditions all contributed to changes to trade in 2017. To allow its clients keep abreast with the latest export and import trends, the International Trade Centre has so far made available on its portal yearly trade data for 2017 covering more than 30 countries. This represents more than 40% of world trade flows providing us with some indicators of what actually happened with trade last year. While we have yet to see a single coffee tree on the shores of Lake Geneva or elsewhere in Switzerland, the Alpine country exported roasted coffee worth an estimated $2bn in 2017. While it did not make it into the top 5 of global coffee exporters when it comes to volume, in 2017, Switzerland also increased the volume of roasted coffee it exports by 7%, hitting 65,000 tons. Could all this be down to the Clooney’s effect?

The changing economy: going factory-free (VoxDev)

In this column, we focus on unpacking the concept of deindustrialisation, or what we call the ‘factory-free economy’, and the role globalisation has to play in it. If manufacturing firms increasingly create services, while sourcing and design activities are performed by factory-less goods producers whose activities were once done by manufacturers, this need not be a contradiction. The boundaries of the firm – especially for multinational companies – are adjusted to focus on core competencies. These competencies have evolved. This raises two questions: What should the firm internalise? How has globalisation shaped these choices? [The authors: Lionel Fontagné, Ann Harrison]

José Antonio Ocampo: A better way to fight corporate tax avoidance (Project Syndicate)

The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, which I chair, evaluated alternative proposals to fix the current system. In arecent report, we found that the fairest and most effective way to allocate and tax corporate profits is to treat multinationals as single firms doing business across international borders. Thus, a firm’s total global profits would be taxed according to factors such as sales, employment, and resource usage – all of which reflect real economic activity – in each jurisdiction. As it happens, the European Union currently is considering a similar proposal, whereby it would treat all multinationals operating within its borders as single firms.

Today’s Quick Links:

Jaindi Kisero: Approach Kenya’s economic woes honestly

Kenya dismisses US concerns over mounting Chinese loans

Wharton Business School: How aviation can help African economies take off

SADC Food Security Update: 2017/2018 agricultural season (pdf)

WCO, SACU sign a cooperation framework agreement

Afreximbank, Development Bank of Central African States sign MOU

Namibia to establish National Productivity Organisation

Tanzania: Industrial drive gets army boost

South Africa: Tackling illicit trade a quick fix for Treasury’s cash shortfall

EALA: MPS under fire for skipping sessions


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