Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: EurActiv

Eckart Naumann: Trump’s steel and aluminium tariff action – putting America first? (tralac)

This paper includes an overview of the recently published trade policy agenda to provide additional policy context, background developments to the steel and aluminium remedies, an overview of the legislative context and specifically the Section 232 investigation, as well as its key findings relating to steel and aluminium, details of the remedial action articulated through various presidential proclamations, and a review of trade patterns in categories covered by this remedial action (including how AGOA beneficiaries are impacted). [Note: An accompanying infographic is available for download] [@bbaschuk: 36 WTO members said they’re concerned about “increased trade tensions” and “risks of escalation”]

Posted earlier today: The IMF’s latest Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook. Chapter 1: Slow recovery amid growing challenges; Chapter 2: Domestic revenue mobilisation in SSA - what are the possibilities?; Chapter 3: Private investment to rejuvenate growth

Forthcoming AfCFTA policy discussions to note: The dedicated session of the AfCFTA Negotiating Forum, now underway in Addis, will be followed by Senior Trade Officials and AU Ministers of Trade meetings (25 May to 2 June, Dakar); ECA, ACBF panel on AfCFTA implementation: Moving beyond the signing to building the capacity for implementation (13 May, Addis)

Updates from the Transform Africa Summit 2018 and its side event, Transform Africa Economic Forum

Opening speech by President Kagame at the Forum. The idea I wish to share is that technological integration should be seen as the vanguard of economic integration more generally. Regional cooperation on technology has produced good results to some extent on our continent in recent years. Meanwhile, other urgent integration projects have languished on the African agenda, sometimes for decades. We surely can find ways of speeding that up. It is beginning to change, and with a forum such as this, bringing together so many people with diverse backgrounds, I think we can make it happen faster. Technology cooperation is part of that story. But behind it there has to be political will in real terms. Political will is not confined to the public sector. I think business leaders need that political will as well because it comes with the thinking and what you connect with, in the interest of our continent and our people.

The future of blockchain technologies in Africa. At the event, experts indicated that there are endless possibilities that this technology can create in Africa, from bringing efficiency in voting systems, to registering land titles, and to finally enabling seamless transactions online. Norbert Haguma, the head of Blockchain Hub in Rwanda, said that blockchain has the potential to dramatically change how Africans trade, removing unnecessary middlemen and commissioners. The Blockchain Hub, which is under Smart Africa, is a month old and the hub’s activities will be exploring the wider applications of the technology and form the basis to which a roadmap to adopting Blockchain technology in Africa will be created. [Africa lags on blockchain due to undeveloped infrastructure]

Experts call for inclusive policies, infrastructure to drive Africa’s connectivity. The experts were speaking Monday at the Transform Africa Economic Forum, in a panel discussion dubbed Digital Connectivity, an enabler and Foundation. MTN’s Rob Shuter said telecommunication operators in Africa are ready to play their role in the achievement of a single regional market and enable digital transformation on the continent, but infrastructure and policy frameworks remain a challenge. “Cyber Security and fraud are a big concern in the digital world. The more harmonisation of policies, implementation and innovations, the smoother the integrations will be.”

A suite of related, digital trade policy postings:

(i) Uganda to host Africa Blockchain Conference. The Blockchain Association of Uganda will host the Africa Blockchain Conference (23-24 May, Kampala) on the theme “The role of Blockchain technology in Africa’s transformation”. Discussion will include governance, regulation and policy, cryptocurrencies and digital assets, cyber security, innovation and technology, and risk and investment opportunities.

(ii) Blockshipping’s plan to improve shipping across East Africa. A Danish company, Blockshipping, plans to change all that by creating the Global Shared Container Platform. Powered by blockchain technology it has 14 features to improve performance. “The shipping industry today is under tremendous financial pressure,” said Peter Ludvigsen, CEO. “We have more than 25 million freight containers in the world used for transporting all types of goods. However, there is no central registry which means a large number of thesm are being moved around the oceans unnecessarily.” GCSP plans to save the global industry $5.7bn every year and cut CO2 emissions by more than 4.5 million tons. Blockshipping want to achieve 60% market coverage in three to four years which would mean having 16 million container units in their registry.

(iii) International data flows and privacy: the conflict and its resolution. The free flow of data across borders underpins today’s globalized economy. But the flow of personal data outside the jurisdiction of national regulators also raises concerns about the protection of privacy. Addressing these legitimate concerns without undermining international integration is a challenge. This new World Bank research paper describes and assesses three types of responses to this challenge:

Nairobi to host seminar on trade in digital currency, 22-24 May

Bloomberg: Africa’s e-commerce giant Jumia sets sights on Egypt’s promising market

Stears Business: Rise of the Nigerian Instapreneurs

Harvard Business Review: As cryptocurrencies rise, who needs banks?

World Economic Forum: Six charts that show how to get the most out of digital investment

World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Economic Update: Cryptocurrencies and blockchain

Reviewing Africa’s strategic partnerships: Retreat of the PRC Sub Committee on Multilateral Cooperation (GoM)

The Retreat of the Permanent Representatives Committee Sub Committee of the AU Commission on Multilateral Cooperation, concludes today in Mauritius. The meeting focuses on cooperation with multilateral institutions as well as with several countries at the multilateral level. Discussions are converged on the review of the evaluation report of the nine strategic partnerships that the AU has with the European Union, China and India, amongst others. The meeting is also examining the contribution of these partnerships within the AU and what can be done in addition to further extend these partnerships so that it is mutually beneficial that is for the African continent and the countries involved.

Bilateral African trade and investment updates:

  1. Zambia, Angola to improve trade, investment relations. The countries last week signed five bilateral agreements which, among other things, provide for visa exemption for ordinary passport holders from either country to enter the territory of the other. Other agreements are on security and public order, reciprocal visa exemption on diplomatic and official passports, agreement on mutual cooperation and administrative assistance on customs matters and protocol of cooperation in the area of agriculture. Under the visa agreement, citizens of either country, who hold valid ordinary passports will be allowed to enter the territory of Angola or Zambia for official or private business as well as transit without a visa. The protocol of cooperation on agriculture is aimed at establishing and strengthening bilateral relations, specifically in agro-production, hydraulic and agro-research, processing technologies and farm block development. The agreements were signed on the side-lines of Zambia-Angola Business Forum.

  2. South Africa, Kenya commit to resolving outstanding bilateral issues. The Director-General of Trade and Industry, Mr Lionel October together with the Kenyan Principal Secretary for the State Department of Trade in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Dr Chris Kiptoo have committed to resolving outstanding bilateral issues between South Africa and Kenya in preparation for the upcoming 6th Session of the Joint Trade Committee which will be held in Mombasa in September, 2018. Director-General October undertook to hosting the first ever Kenya-South African Trade Week in South Africa in October 2018 and to also share a list of the Top 40 Investment Projects in South Africa that Kenyan businesses can invest in. The meeting agreed on the following action plan on trade and investment activities:

  3. Kenya, Ethiopia look at mega link projects afresh. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, on his first tour of Kenya since he became premier, announced they will focus on the development of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor. “They committed to the development of Lapsset, the Northern Corridor including road network between Isiolo, Moyale through to Addis Ababa and the railway from Addis Ababa to Nairobi,” a joint statement said. “Both sides agreed to finalise the Ethiopia-Kenya interconnection transmission line. Both sides agreed to jointly supervise and inspect the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Moyale and Moyale-Hawassa-Addis Ababa road networks.” Both leaders announced they will allow their national airlines, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, unfettered marketing on each other’s soils, in the interests of enabling growth in aviation. This could be positive, especially since Ethiopia has traditionally locked up its local market to protect Ethiopian Airlines.

  4. Cape Verde aims for free trade zone with Atlantic islands. The Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde hopes to create a zone of free circulation for people and goods with the nearby Spanish Canary Islands and Portugal’s Madeira and Azores, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva said on Monday. Cape Verde, made up of 10 islands off the West African coast, hopes to boost economic growth and tourism with such a deal, which could be helped further by plans to scrap all visa requirements for European travellers from the start of 2019. “Our objective is to reinforce our links with Macronesia,” Correia e Silva told business leaders and politicians at a conference in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais.

East Africa to harmonize vehicle inspection standards to enhance road safety (New Times)

Gerald Wangai, director of Motor Vehicle Inspection at Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority, told Xinhua that currently each of the six EAC partner states have different vehicle inspection standards. “All the road safety agencies in the EAC have agreed to adopt a single vehicle inspection standard to ensure road traffic accidents are reduced,” Wangai said during the stakeholders’ forum of truckers on self regulation on the axle load limit.

SADC Senior Trade Adviser, Malcolm McKinnon Trade in logistics services and food losses reduction (pdf): a presentation to the UNCTAD Multi-year Expert Meeting on Trade, Services and Development:

Today’s Quick Links:

Maputo to host first CPLP Economic Conference, starting on tomorrow

Regional integration: what it means for Busia residents

Uhuru says Kenya losing billions in fake goods racket

Kenya: SGR loan payments to triple to Sh83bn next year

Subsidized FX rate as major downside to Nigeria–China $2.5bn swap deal

IMF urges Nigeria to expand tax base, streamline currency policy

The culture and policy of arbitration is still in its infancy in Nigeria

Key messages from the 14th CAADP PP


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