Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Reuters | Charles Placide Tossou

AfCFTA Ratification Barometer: Rwanda, Ghana (with Kenya’s ratification imminent)

Ghana on Thursday night ratified the AfCFTA agreement that will help African countries carry out trade within their borders without restrictions. Ghana becomes the second country to ratify the agreement after Rwanda. Ghana’s parliament was recalled from recess Thursday to among other things, consider and ratify the agreement as Ghana lobbies to host the Secretariat for the AfCFTA. The Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism said an early ratification of the agreement was going to enhance the chances of Ghana being selected to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.

AfCFTA commentaries:

(i) Success of AfCFTA depends on creation of traded goods by private sector. The success of the AfCFTA will rest significantly on the ability of the continent’s private sector to generate or create the goods that will enter the trade, Dr Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank’s president said today. Addressing Egyptian business leaders, Dr Oramah said that it would also depend on how the private sector in one market was able to identify and realize opportunities in other markets. He highlighted the need for the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities that the CFTA would offer, arguing that Egypt, with its relatively advanced industrial base, could serve as a viable manufacturing hub and major source of technologies for most of the continent. Its nearness to major markets in Africa also offered a tremendous opportunity for accessing the abundant raw materials and other intermediate goods from other African countries for further processing and export at competitive rates to other markets. According to Dr Oramah, the AfCFTA has the potential to increase Egypt’s trade with the rest of Africa by at least five fold.

(ii) Wanja Wanjiru: What is at stake for consumers in Africa free trade area? Much like other Free Trade Agreements, the AfCFTA will be largely producer-oriented with a focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the larger private sector. The prevailing sentiments around it reflect this. For instance, the Kenyan cabinet specifically called upon the private sector to leverage the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA in relation to Kenyan exports. Though its Protocol on Trade in Services recognises consumer protection, it is only within the preamble and not the substantive text. As Africa embarks on its AfCFTA journey, this is the opportune moment to ensure that it builds up a robust consumer protection framework.

(iii) African Corridor Management Alliance moves towards AfCFTA implementation. The African Trade Policy Centre hosted, in collaboration with the Walvis Bay Group, the second African Corridor Management Alliance board meeting on 11 April in Addis Ababa. Stressing the need to address one of ACMA’s challenge of ensuring long-term sustainability, ATPC coordinator David Luke said: “Developing strategic partnerships is fundamental to driving our agenda of converting transport corridors into economic corridors, thereby enhancing value chains to boost intra-African trade”. The need to build stronger strategic partnerships with RECs, regional and continental agencies and private sector players was noted as a priority for ACMA. The need to improve efficiency, performance monitoring along corridors and collective fine tuning of various performance indicators was discussed. Harmonizing current efforts for data collection was agreed as a measuring tool for all Corridor Management Institutions. The meeting also highlighted the need to support CMIs that were weakly developed, and agreed to explore a CMI link to the Sahel countries with Northern Africa. The Walvis Bay Corridor Group will continue the role of Interim Secretariat for ACMA.

(iv) Olu Fasan: Integrating Africa’s economies – the Osakwe factor. International trade negotiations are a function of technical expertise, diplomatic efforts and political will. The first two were fully covered by Dr Osakwe, who is also an ambassador, and the trade minister, Dr Enelamah, who was the chairman of the African Union Ministers of Trade, with responsibility for the AfCFTA negotiations at the ministerial level. The AfCFTA treaty and two annexes on goods and services were agreed at the technical level and approved at the ministerial level by African trade ministers. Of course, the political end of the spectrum proved more difficult. Obviously, Dr Osakwe could not effectively be, simultaneously, Nigeria’s chief negotiator and chairman of AfCFTA’s Negotiating Forum. But, apparently, while he was building consensus across Africa for AfCFTA, none in NOTN was managing the domestic political side of the negotiation in Nigeria. Any serious trade negotiating body must have political strategists, who actively manage the domestic politics through proactive public outreach and engagement with critical stakeholders, including the media. According to the famous negotiation theorist, Robert Putnam, every international negotiation is a “two-level game”, played at the domestic and international negotiating tables. And, as another negotiation expert, John Odell, puts it: “If negotiators take the domestic political landscape for granted, they can step on a landmine”. Nigeria’s AfCFTA negotiators took the domestic political landscape for granted! [Update from the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations: Happening now. Amb. Osakwe speaking at the Stakeholders’ Sensitization Workshop on AfCFTA organized by Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies]

(v) Michelle D. Gavin: Are Africa’s civil servants ready for the new free trade deal? But sometimes overlooked in the litany of reasons to temper enthusiasm for last week’s news is the important question of government capacity. Even when political will is firm and decisions at the top are clear, many states are operating with extremely weak civil services, making policy implementation challenging and often erratic. Donor demands gutted many African civil services in the 1990s. In some states, a toxic mix of patronage-based hiring with a rent-seeking culture transformed officials from public servants to public parasites. In others, a lack of training and a failure to delegate and empower officials created a culture of inertia. As unglamorous as it is, investing in the infrastructure of good government in the form of the civil service is just as important, if not more, as investing in physical infrastructure, such as ports and roadways, if last week’s agreement is to realize its potential.


Japan-Africa Public Private Economic Forum (3-4 May, Sandton)

The next AU Summit will be held in Mauritania: Permanent Representatives’ Committee (25-26 June), Executive Council (28-29 June), Assembly (1-2 July).

pdf Annual Report of the African Union and its Organs, 2017 (1.33 MB) : profiled extracts:

para 215: On its part, and with a view to ensuring that customs procedures are consistent with the AfCFTA, the Commission carried out a study of customs procedures and cooperation, trade facilitation and transit instruments in member states. The study provided the status of implementation of customs instruments in Africa and highlighted existing gaps with respect to custom cooperation, trade facilitation and transit. It also identified areas of convergence and divergence while providing necessary information on areas of focused interventions.

para 229-230: Deepening the engagement with the African private sector remains a strategic priority for the African Union. In this regard, the Commission worked with various private sector stakeholders on the establishment of the African Business Council. The first Trade Policy Dialogue took place in Addis Ababa in November 2017, as part of the process of establishing the BIAT/AfCFTA architecture currently under development. The Commission also reached out to the Pan African Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Afro-Champions Club. A draft concept note was prepared with the support of the International Trade Centre to facilitate development of a resource mobilization strategy for the Pan African Trade Observatory, which will serve as a repository of information about trade and industry in Africa. We anticipate the establishment of the Pan-African Trade Observatory in 2018.

Anzetse Were: Implications of the Kenya Economic Survey (Business Daily)

Fourthly, data of exports paints an interesting picture in that top export earners were tea, horticulture, articles of apparel and clothing accessories, coffee and titanium ores and concentrates. Thus Kenya’s exports continue to be dominated by agricultural products and products with limited value addition. Further, Africa remained the leading destination of Kenya’s exports, accounting for 37.7% of total exports in 2017, with East African Community accounting for more than half of total exports to Africa. What this means is that Kenya’s exports mainly go to countries with low GDP per capita that informs spending power and aggregate demand. It is important that the country restructures exports such that they are more sophisticated and target countries with higher incomes so that exports become a stronger engine for job creation and income growth. [Posted: Kenya Economic Survey 2018]

Mozambique: Essential that bulk cargo moves by rail (Club of Mozambique)

If the port of Maputo is to reach its ambitious target of handling 20 million tonnes of cargo a year by 2020, rising to 30 million tonnes by 2033, then it is essential that more of the bulk goods heading for the port travel by rail rather than road. Speaking at the 6th Maputo Port Conference, the managing director of the Maputo Port Development Company, Osorio Lucas, said: “Although this is mostly a port for bulk cargo, about 80% of the traffic for Maputo port is still moved by truck, which is not the most efficient or ecologically sound way of moving cargo.” This was imperative, if the port’s targets are to be reached, Lucas stressed, since there is simply not enough capacity on the roads to and from the port to move 33 million tonnes a year.

Mauritius Declaration on Maritime Security (GoM)

In the wake of the ministerial meeting (pdf) of the Indian Ocean Commission on maritime security issues, Ministers agreed on Regional Maritime Security Mechanisms, adopting the Declaration on Maritime Security in Western Indian Ocean. The Conference called for the establishment of the legal framework to effectively guarantee the confidentiality of information sharing and the coordination of joint actions at sea.

ECOWAS conference on pastoralism, cross-border transhumance: HLM update (ThisDay)

Proposals and recommendations for peaceful resolution of conflicts between farmers and herders in the Community will be submitted to the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS at their next session in Lomé, Togo. This was stated by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, at the opening on Thursday 26 April 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria, of the joint high-level meeting of Ministers of Security and Agriculture/Animal Resources from ECOWAS, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania and the Central African Republic on pastoralism and cross-border transhumance. [South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya strengthen implementation of cross-border disease surveillance]

World Public Sector Report 2018 (UN DESA)

The World Public Sector Report 2018 aims to inform efforts by countries to foster policy integration for implementing the SDGs. It asks, what are the challenges to and opportunities for policy integration across the different stages of policy cycle at the national level? What are some innovative examples of institutional and administrative arrangements that can foster integrated approaches to the 2030 Agenda? The report illustrates the importance of integrated approaches for three topical issues: international migration, health, and sustainable development in post-conflict contexts.

Today’s Quick Links:

The EAC’s Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs is meeting this week in Arusha

Somalia to host Horn of Africa conference on illegal charcoal trade

Africa’s startup funding deals are entering the million-dollar era

‘Cashew into cash’ is Mozambique’s new mantra to boost the economy

India’s non-basmati exports rise 34% on Africa’s import demand

Team up for SGR transport, Kenya Railways urges small-scale importers

Kenya: Chinese bank cuts Sh32bn SGR funds

Southern Africa Price Bulletin: April 2018

Craig Atkinson: Disruptive trade technologies will usher in the ‘internet of rules’

Chinese leasing firms a new force in global shipping

How realistic is India’s dream of becoming a global arbitration hub?


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