Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Mercator Media

Diarise: SADC Council of Ministers to meet in Pretoria (26-27 March). Preparatory meetings start 22 March.

AfCFTA commentaries:

(i) ACBF’s Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie: Moving beyond the signing of the AfCFTA agreement to building the capacity for implementation. With the signing of the CFTA set for end of March 2018, the African Capacity Building Foundation is concerned that the agreement may follow several others that have not been effectively implemented, if implementation capacities are not addressed. ACBF has, to date, channelled efforts and conducted regular surveys of the capacity needs of African RECs in which the implementation of the CFTA should be rooted. ACBF’s 2016 Survey of the capacity needs of Africa’s RECs revealed the need for critical capacities in support of good governance, human rights, political stability, and peace and security in Africa; critical capacities for effective socioeconomic policy analysis and management; building and fully utilizing human capacities; and critical capacities for statistics and monitoring and evaluation.

Developing capacity for the CFTA must be seen in its interrelated and interlocking human, institutional, and infrastructural dimensions at national, regional and continental levels. Action must be taken in each of these three areas simultaneously, reflecting the interdependencies and inter-linkages among the critical development issues and priorities facing Africa. ACBF has done it at national and regional levels, and has the requisite expertise. My appeal to Africa and beyond is for more support to scale up the interventions we had on RECs for the continent’s transition into a continental free trade area, an African Economic Community.

(ii) COMESA’s Francis Mangeni: How we can achieve African free trade area with quality content. There is an increasing body of literature suggesting that services will provide new pathways for Africa towards social economic transformation. In their recent book The Unexplored Potential of Trade in Services in Africa, Grover and Dihel graphically and empirically demonstrate how trade in services is providing the much needed employment and incomes to ordinary people, and contributing towards social economic transformation. What will be required soon, however, is to go beyond the framework of rules and disciplines that have been agreed in the Protocol, and identify the services sectors in which to create an African integrated services market and in which to attract investment. This would be followed by sector regulatory frameworks and trade and investment terms and conditions, and creating awareness about these trade and investment opportunities. Some clear considerations can assist the identification of the initial group of services sectors, to target infrastructure services - services that are already liberalised autonomously or in the regional economic communities; services already opened up at the WTO; and high growth sectors for job creation. On these criteria, the following few services could be initially prioritised: [26 Heads of State to attend free trade area summit]

The latest Bridges Africa compilation is posted: How should Africa engage in e-commerce and the digital economy? Profiled contributions: Jamie MacLeod: Using digital trade for development in Africa; Maxime Weigert: How the private sector is shaping African e-commerce; Christopher Foster, Shamel Azmeh: The digital trade agenda and Africa

Madagascar calls on UNCTAD to assess its e-commerce readiness (UNCTAD)

Madagascar has asked UNCTAD to evaluate how well the country can do business online by carrying out a Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessment in the second half of 2018. The official request, received on 7 March from the country’s ministry of trade and consumption, came as the result of a February workshop held by UNCTAD on the legal aspects of e-commerce for more than three dozen Malagasy magistrates and lawyers. In 2014, Madagascar adopted laws on aspects of e-commerce - including electronic transactions, cybercrime, and privacy and data protection - but has yet to put in place the regulations to effectively enforce the legislation.

Malawi: Growth Development Strategy –  2017-2022 (AFIDEP)

The theme of the MGDS III Building a productive, competitive and resilient nation (pdf). According to the government, this strategy is built around this “one theme that aims to improve productivity, turn the country into a competitive nation and develop resilience to shocks and hazards”. The MGDS III is anchored on five key priority areas namely: Agriculture, water development and climate change; Education and skills development; Energy, industry and tourism development; Transport and ICT infrastructure; Health and population. These key priority areas were chosen on the basis of their strong linkages among each other as well as other sectors of the economy.

What’s the world’s fastest-growing economy? Ghana contends for the crown (New York Times)

The boom has some experts worried. “If you suddenly see a resource bonanza coming, there’s a tendency to spend money you don’t have, and that has been the case in the Ghana situation,” said John Page, a senior fellow in the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institution. At the same time, Mr. Page cautioned, if the Ghanaian currency strengthens as a result of oil exports, it could place domestic manufacturers at a disadvantage to imports and lead to a slowdown in manufacturing investment. What happens in Ghana could hold lessons for other West African countries, including Senegal, which recently announced discoveries of oil and gas off shore, and Mauritania, which has signed an exploration deal with Total, the French oil company.

Rwanda posts 6.1% economic growth in 2017 (New Times)

Rwanda’s economic growth exceeded the previously projected 5.2% and grew 6.1% last year, a positive performance that was mostly driven by fourth quarter growth. Figures released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda yesterday indicated that in the year 2017 the country’s GDP was estimated at Rwf7,597 billion up from Rwf6,672 billion in 2016. The economy grew 6.1% in 2017, mostly driven by agriculture, industry, and services which contributed 31%, 16%, and 46%, respectively. Recovering from poor performance in the first and second quarters, the 2017 annual growth was mostly influenced by the fourth quarter GDP growth which was 10.5%.

The price of cobalt is at $80,000 per tonne: will Zambia ever benefit from this price surge? (Lusaka Times)

Today, the prices of copper and cobalt, the minerals in which Zambia has the largest stake, have risen at an unprecedented high rate of $7,000 and $80,000 per tonne respectively. This increase in price of these two minerals is a great opportunity for the economy of Zambia. The big question, therefore, is whether Zambia is prepared to draw maximum benefits from the new boom? [The authors: Claude Kabemba, Edward Lange]

Landry Signé: Capturing Africa’s high returns (Project Syndicate)

Over the next 12 years, Africa’s expanding population and strong economic growth across globally competitive sectors could translate into especially high returns for investors. If Western firms do not step in to meet the consumer demand of Africa’s growing middle class, their Chinese competitors will.

WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and Doing Business reforms: are they related and how? (World Bank)

Which Doing Business reforms are related to TFA? Drawing on the reforms recorded by Doing Business 2018, we find that reforms in line with TFA recommendations were implemented in 30 economies, of which 80% are developing economies. Article 10 of TFA is the most popular area of reform. Specifically, 20 economies streamlined the formalities and documentation requirements (Art. 10.1), 7 economies began accepting paper or electronic copies instead of original documents (Art. 10.2) and 6 economies implemented Single Windows that enable sharing of information between trade actors through a single platform (Art. 10.4) (Table 1). Sub-Saharan Africa carried out the highest number of reforms within the scope of the agreement, with 15 economies reforming under TFA. The case of Mauritius, which has the highest number of TAB reforms related to TFA, shows that the recommendations can be implemented fairly quickly with significant results:

DoingBiz: Nigeria, India updates

(i) Nigeria targets improved growth, ranking by 2020 with focus labs. President Buhari gave the assurance at the launch of the Focus Labs for the nation’s   pdf Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (6.59 MB)  (pdf), held at the Presidential Villa. The labs which are scheduled to run for the next six weeks, will start with setting the agenda and end with the final syndication and sign offs on projects capable of impacting on the economy and creating jobs for Nigerians. “Focus Labs have been successfully used in other countries. The Labs in Nigeria are designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on GDP and job creation. We remain committed to working hard to attain our target of moving up in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings by 2020. The Labs will also enable pre-screened private sector investors to have access to senior government officials, regulators, and cabinet ministers. The goal is to efficiently and effectively resolve the most pressing bottlenecks delaying their proposed investments. Accordingly, I have directed the relevant Ministers and heads of government agencies to be available to the participants at the labs to respond to their inquiries and issues”, he added.

(ii) NCCN Sub-National Competitiveness Index: Lagos leads overall ranking. The National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria focused on boosting the competitive advantage of the nation, last Thursday launched the first ever Sub-National Competitiveness Index for Nigeria in Lagos. CEO of the NCCN, Mr Chika Mordi, said the Index served as a potent tool for catalysing business friendly policies, that will spur job-rich growth in Nigeria’s 36 States. Mordi was of the view that the index played a vital role in emphasizing the role of States in driving the socio-economic growth of Nigeria.

(iii) Ease of doing business in India: PMO acts as BMC fails test. The PMO, unhappy with the progress made by BMC in the ease of doing business, has come down heavily on the richest civic body in Asia. Last month, the PMO summoned Maharashtra chief secretary and the BMC commissioner to Delhi to discuss the reforms initiated by the civic body and further simplify some procedures. The meeting comes in the wake of the World Bank’s perception survey which said that some of BMC’s crucial reforms remained only on paper as developers complained that they still needed to pay bribes to get their projects cleared.

(iv) Bretton Woods Project: After 15 years, World Bank’s Doing Business Report still missing the mark. Given the persistent flaws of the DBR and the Bank’s supposed focus on sustainable and equitable growth, it should heed civil society’s calls, echoed by the IEG’s report, to cease country rankings and to ensure that indicators used are robustly linked to poverty eradication and inclusive growth objectives.

India Development Update: India’s growth story (World Bank)

The questions being raised are: Is the deceleration in economic growth structural or cyclical? Is the Indian growth story over? What is the “new normal” for India’s growth potential? What sets of policies, structural or cyclical, might be needed to revive growth? In this report, we take a long-term perspective on India’s growth outlook. Looking back at the last 50 years, we note that India’s average growth has accelerated slowly but steadily across sectors - agriculture, industry and services - and become more stable. This is reflected in increasing labor productivity and total factor productivity. [Why digital protectionism will not work for India]

Impact of US market access on local labor markets in Vietnam (World Bank)

The study finds that following the implementation of the Vietnam–United States bilateral trade agreement in December 2001, manufacturing employment increased in provinces that were more exposed to US tariff cuts. In those provinces, employment also increased in many service sectors, reflecting strong spillovers of job gains. The new job opportunities have attracted labor from agriculture, thus reducing agricultural employment. The paper examines three possible channels of job gain spillovers, namely, demand, production, and real estate. Although there is evidence for all three channels, the demand channel is the most important. [Singapore: Big firms pull further ahead of SMEs]

Today’s Quick Links:

ITC’s B2B project update: East African leather suppliers expand sales, business linkages with Indian buyers

Nigeria produces 3.93MT of sweet potato: the largest producer in SSA

World Bank: Harnessing the Nile’s potential through private finance

The World Economic Forum on Latin America 2018 is underway in São Paulo


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