tralac’s Daily News Selection
Decisions, declarations and resolutions of the Assembly of the African Union (29-29 January): extracts
(i) Declaration on internet governance and development of Africa’s digital economy. Undertake to ensure legal and regulatory environments that will enable growth of Africa’s digital economy through innovative applications and services, making the Internet central to Africa’s development agenda; Request the Commission and NPCA, in collaboration with other key stakeholders, to assess Africa’s digital economy to determine areas that need strengthening or development of new policies in line with stimulating the growth of Africa’s digital economy; Further request the Commission to work with relevant stakeholders to develop a common African Program of Action on Internet Governance, which will ensure that the rights of Africans on the Internet are promoted and upheld, and that African concerns are recognized in the global Internet Governance regime;
(ii) Decision on the progress report on the status of implementation of the Assembly Decision on institutional reform of the African Union. On financing the Union: That the membership of the Committee of Ministers of Finance shall be expanded from 10 to 15 members, i.e., three Member States per region. In this regard, the Committee will be called the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15). To endorse the F15 budget oversight role and function based on the following six primary duties: (i) Comparing the expenditure and the rate of results achievement; (ii) Establishing a baseline for the following financial year’s budget; (iii) Ensuring alignment between the budget and results achieved; (iv) Ensuring the link between revenue forecasts and affordability; (v) Ensuring that the proposed budget does not pose any unsustainable risk over the long term.
(iii) Related: Executive Council decision on the Pan African Investment Code: Requests the Commission to submit the draft revised Pan African Investment Code to the STC on Trade, Industry and Minerals, as well as the relevant STCs, for consideration and refer to the STC on Legal and Justice Affairs for further consideration prior to their submission to the Executive Council.
Why the African Continental Free Trade Area should be digitized (Ventures Africa)
Ventures Africa spoke to Microsoft’s Director for Corporate Affairs in Africa, Mr Louis Otieno, last week on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan. He says Africa needs to digitize its Free Trade Area to enable it to incorporate at scale. “Digital data flows is what defines the economic area as opposed to traditional boundaries,” he said. “For Africa to complete globally with the likes of China, we have to incorporate at scale. We have a billion people, which makes us a viable market today, with the youngest billion people, which makes us a viable market tomorrow.” [Digital economy data gap risks widening inequalities, UNCTAD says]
The notification by the United States on suspension of duty-free status for Rwandan apparel products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act follows a decision by East African countries to raise tariffs on second-hand clothing imports, in order to promote local manufacturing capacity in garment and other industries. AGOA is a commendable unilateral gesture to African countries, including Rwanda, meant to promote trade and development through exports. The withdrawal of AGOA benefits is at the discretion of the United States.
Related: Tanzania, Uganda survive as Rwanda is removed from AGOA beneficiaries list; USTR statement: President Trump determines trade preference program eligibility for Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda; Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association: statement in response to USTR decision;
Notice of an open meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (18 April, Washington)
Mauritius-China FTA talks: update (GoM)
Mauritius and China reiterated their determination towards consolidating economic and trade relations by signing the agreed minutes pertaining to the first round of negotiations on the Mauritius-China Free Trade Agreement yesterday. The signatories were the Director of Trade Policy, International Trade Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Narainduth Boodhoo, and the Head of the Chinese delegation, and Deputy Director General, Ministry of Commerce, Mr Hu Yingzhi. Mr Boodhoo said a joint feasibility study was finalised in May 2017 after which negotiations discussing the framework agreement kick-started. Now, the following step, he emphasised, will be to complete detailed negotiations relating to market access of both countries after rigorous internal consultations. The next meeting will be held in Beijing during which both countries will proceed to the official exchange of requests regarding market access, Mr Boodhoo announced.
La Réunion region opens economic office in China (Future Directions)
On an official visit to China, the president of the La Réunion regional government, Didier Robert, has opened a Regional Economic Office in the northern port city of Tianjin. Alongside a push for direct air links between Tianjin and Saint-Denis de la Réunion, the office is intended to facilitate economic and tourism links between China and the French Indian Ocean département. A major shipping port, Tianjin is the fifth most-populous city in China and is also home to the fast-growing Binhai New Area.
The first trade mission to Brazil comes in coordination and cooperation with the Egyptian Commercial Service Office, Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and the Egyptian Commercial Service office in Sao Paulo. The mission coincides with the Arab-Brazilian Forum that organized by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, along with the Union of Arab Chambers. Egypt’s exports to Brazil increased by 64.7% year-on-year in 2017, to stand at $155.4m, compared to $94.3m in 2016. The Brazilian Ambassador to Cairo, Roy Amarell, said earlier that entering the Mercosur Agreement into force will enhance trade and investment with Egypt, noting that Egypt is the main importer of Brazilian products in Africa.
Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy and Africa trade and development cooperation: policy brief (UNECA)
Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy represents a clear shift in emphasis for existing and future development assistance programming in Africa and in the developing world as a whole. The implications for trade and development cooperation will become more precise as Canada finalizes its implementation plan for the policy. What is nevertheless clear now is that changes in emphasis will be required. Current projects are already seeing some of their plans modified to meet the policy guidelines, and development partners should be prepared to show flexible thinking and broader scope to meet the objectives of the policy.
Without new money to fund its implementation, the Government of Canada will be looking at strategic solutions and innovative financing to test the application of the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. The advantage for Africa is the emphasis on innovation in the policy, in addition to the deliberate attempt to bring in new voices and perspectives into Canadian development assistance programming. There is therefore clear space for Africa to promote its own progressive and inclusive trade agenda through a partnership with Canada.
This paper reports and reflects the experiences and voices of a wide group of African senior government officials heard at the three NEPAD “dialogues” held between 2015 and 2017 in Senegal, South Africa and Cameroon. Over 30 African countries were represented, as well as Regional Economic Communities.
Rwanda: Only 40% of industrial food products meet all standards: NIRDA report (New Times)
The study was carried out by National Industrial Research and Development Agency between July last year and February 2018 to ensure agro-processing industries use one of the important tools known as “Hazard Analysis Critical Control point: HACCP”. The system calls for safe techniques averting any contamination of processed foods. According to the analysis, agro-processing is the largest manufacturing sub-sector constituting 80% of the total number of local industries. However, the findings show that 60% of industrial foods from those agro-processing industries on the local market are not certified for safety and quality because they are not aware of hazards control system. 57% of industries interviewed are aware of the safety system, 22% are aware of it at a low level while 21% have no knowledge of the tool while 43% think that ‘HACCP’ system is realistic, cheap and achievable.
Rwanda: No end in sight for ban on SA agriculture imports (New Times)
The Head of Regulation at the ministry, Beatrice Uwumuremyi, told The New Times that the ban will remain in place until the South African government confirms that the outbreak has been brought under control. “The outbreak is still rampant and it will be lifted when South Africa notifies us that it is over. There is a team put in place in Rwanda to continue monitoring the situation in South Africa. The team is composed of representatives from institutions, including our Ministries of Agriculture, Health, and Trade and Industry; Rwanda Standards Board; Rwanda Agriculture Board; and Rwanda Biomedical Centre,” she said. Rwanda imports up to 60 tonnes of fruits from South Africa annually; these include oranges, apples, kiwis, pears and grapes. The ban also affected beef of which reports indicate that Rwandan hotels alone import 2.4 tonnes of beef from South Africa every month. [Zambia partially lifts ban on South African listeriosis-risky food]
Today’s Quick Links:
Underway in Gaborone: SADC Directorate of Infrastructure 2018/2019 planning workshop
SADC-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue, 2018: joint dialogue statement
Zimbabwe: Govt launches trade facilitation roadmap
Customs Union between Guatemala and Honduras: from 10 hours to 15 minutes!