tralac’s Daily News Selection
Towards a Mauritius-China FTA: trade negotiations begin (GoM)
The first round of negotiations on the Mauritius-China Free Trade Agreement kicked off yesterday. The Head of the Mauritian delegation, Ambassador Mrs U. C. Dwarka Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said the start of talks marks an important date in Mauritius-China economic ties as both countries embark on negotiations of the first ever FTA between China and an African state. According to the SFA, it is necessary for both sides to be ambitious for the FTA to be a success, and, therefore it is important to eliminate trade barriers on core products of interest to Mauritius and China as well as on key services sectors. The Head of the Chinese delegation, and Deputy Director General, Ministry of Commerce, Mr Hu Yingzhi, said an FTA will provide an institutional guarantee for future Mauritius-China economic, trade and investment relations, further consolidate friendship ties, and contribute to added cooperation between China and Africa on a larger scale.
Statistics indicate that in 2017 total imports from China amounted to $853m and total exports to China stood at $27m. Ambassador Dwarka Canabady, recalled that China is currently the third main trading partner of Mauritius and the largest source of imports. Mauritius’s exports towards China have, however, remained limited to a narrow range of products (metal scraps, clothing, and aquatic and handmade products), and, the trade gap between the two countries remains huge, she pointed out adding that the FTA should contribute to closing this gap. [Moody’s maintains Mauritius Baa1 rating with a stable outlook]
Nairobi, Maputo team to pinpoint trade barriers (Business Daily)
Kenya and Mozambique are set to jointly form a team of experts to identify immediate barriers to trade as the two states eye investments in minerals and agribusiness to kick start commercial relations. The Joint Technical Committee will identify possible areas of cooperation, including goods and services to be traded, for discussions in Nairobi in June, officials said on Friday. Trade between Nairobi and Maputo remains at negligible levels despite national carrier Kenya Airways operating up to six flights a week on the route. [Related: Uhuru urges private sector ties with Mozambique firms; Kenya, Mozambique to link major ports]
NAMA negotiations: Egypt re-elected liaison for WTO African group (Ahram)
The WTO African Group unanimously re-elected Egypt as the liaison point for the African group in agriculture and in non-agricultural market access negotiations, Egypt’s Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil announced in a statement on Monday. The re-election is in line with the Egyptian government’s strategy which prioritizes African interests on political and economic issues, Minister Kabil said. “Egypt’s election to lead the African group at this time is a renewal of the trust Africa grants to Egypt, especially with the changes within the multilateral trading system and the rise of the protectionist tendencies among developed countries.”
Zambia’s February 2018 trade surplus (pdf, CSO)
Zambia recorded a trade surplus of K694.6m in February 2018 compared with a trade deficit of K 651.8m recorded in January 2018.Imports declined by 12.2%, from K8,841.2m in January to K7,765.1m in February; exports increased by 3.3%, from K8,189.3m in January to K8,459.7m in February 2018.
Tanzania: Country Partnership Framework for FY18-FY22 (World Bank)
The Systematic Country Diagnostic for Tanzania identifies three pathways to leverage the country’s advantages to achieve the national development goals: (i) structural transformation to leverage Tanzania’s natural assets and capture latent comparative advantage to create more jobs; (ii) spatial transformation to build on Tanzania’s geographic advantages and maximize benefits from spatial integration and agglomeration; and (iii) upgrading public institutions and organizations, under-pinned by expanding human capital, gender equity, and macroeconomic stability. [BMI sees current account deficit widening in 2018 and beyond]
Tanzania: Plans underway to put cashew transporters under tight checks (Daily News)
The government is considering fixing GPS tracking systems on all vehicles carrying cashew nuts from producers to the point of export to check sabotage by dishonest transporters and traders. The minister’s remark follows a recent report indicating that Tanzania cashew nuts which were exported to Vietnam had stones. The report was handed to the minister last month. Tanzania is the largest East African country in export of raw cashew nuts to India and Vietnam. Official figures show that until February this year, the country had exported 190 tonnes out of the target of 230 tonnes during the current season.
Mauritius: Addressing inequality through more equitable labour markets (World Bank)
The report estimates that the incidence of absolute poverty between 2007 and 2012 would have declined twice as quickly had growth been shared more widely and inequality not worsened. Building on these earlier findings, this study investigates the driving forces behind the growing income inequality and identifies policy levers that could mitigate and, in the long run, possibly reverse the upward trend. This study takes a comprehensive approach to the determinants of inequality by including the role of the choices of households and individuals, markets, and institutions.
Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa: an assessment of drivers, constraints and opportunities (World Bank)
This report documents the progress South Africa has made in reducing poverty and inequality since the end of apartheid in 1994, with a focus on the period between 2006 and 2015. The main conclusions are as follows: First, by any measure, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Inequality is high, persistent, and has increased since 1994. Second, although South Africa has made progress in reducing poverty since 1994, the trajectory of poverty reduction was reversed between 2011 and 2015, threatening to erode some of the gains made since 1994. [UNU-WIDER: Innovation activity in South Africa – measuring the returns to R&D]
Assessing fiscal space in Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank)
This paper presents new empirical evidence on how fiscal space in Sub-Saharan Africa has evolved over the past 15 years. Fiscal space is a multi-dimensional concept that is proxied by indicators capturing aspects of fiscal sustainability, balance sheet vulnerabilities, external debt positions, and market perception. The analysis relies on a new comprehensive database developed on a wide array of indicators (28) for a large set of countries in the world – of which 48 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis finds that, breaking with history, Sub-Saharan African countries were able to conduct countercyclical policies amid the 2008-09 global financial crisis, thanks to built-up liquidity and policy buffers. The evidence shows that fiscal adjustment efforts in the region were reversed amid the 2014-16 plunge in commodity prices, and oil and minerals and metals exporters saw a sharp deterioration in their primary balance sustainability gap.
Parliamentary group calls on Commonwealth leaders to put trade for development at the heart of CHOGM 2018 summit
An inquiry committee of distinguished experts has today published its final report (pdf) examining the potential of the Commonwealth family of 53 nations to help its poorest countries and citizens to trade out of poverty, in line with the values of the Commonwealth Charter and the SDGs. The committee – co-chaired by Lord Jeremy Purvis of the UK and Hon. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria – was established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade Out of Poverty and the UK Overseas Development Institute in September last year. The central message of the report is to call on Commonwealth leaders to establish a road-map for a major new Commonwealth work programme on trade and investment for inclusive development at the CHOGM 2018 summit in London later this month.
Global Value Chain Development Report 2017 (World Bank)
This first GVC development report draws on the expanding research that uses data on the value added in trade. Its main objective is to reveal the changing nature of international trade that can be seen only by analyzing it in terms of value added and value chains. This report highlights how shifting the analysis to value added radically changes the picture.
Paris climate agreement and the global economy: winners and losers (World Bank)
This paper estimates the economic impacts of implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement in terms of its implications for welfare, gross domestic product, investments, and trade for major countries and regions. It uses a computable general equilibrium framework to model global, regional, and country impacts. The analysis suggests that the economic impacts will be mostly felt in the European Union if the Paris Agreement is fully implemented. The European Union is likely to suffer a welfare loss of 1.0 to 1.5% by 2030.
Women, Business and the Law 2018 (World Bank)
It tracks progress that has been made over the past two years while identifying opportunities for reform to ensure economic empowerment for all. The report updates all indicators as of June 1, 2017 and explores new areas of research, including financial inclusion.
Today’s Quick Links:
Botswana: President Masisi’s inauguration speech
Ten years of Khamanomics: a review
Namibia: A year of trade
South African fruit exports to the UK: update
Guinea: Systematic Country Diagnostic
India imposes 10% tax on import of key smartphone components