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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Gilles Paire | Alamy

24 May 2018

African Development Bank (AfDB) updates, from Busan: Annual Report 2017, Annual Development Effectiveness Reviews 2018, Annual Meetings documentation

A reminder: Meetings of senior African trade officials, followed by AU Ministers of Trade, start tomorrow in Dakar and are expected to conclude on 2 June. Bridges Africa: Following these meetings, members will have approximately one month to undertake national consultations and prepare schedules for their commitments and concessions. Ministers have been directed to finish the process of reviewing the annexes before the African Union Summit meeting from 1-2 July in Nouakchott, Mauritania. In August, a second round of negotiations will continue with a focus on competition, investment, and intellectual property rights.

Human rights and digital trade in the context of the AfCFTA: a forthcoming ATPC/OHCHR/FES workshop (31 May – 1 June). Extract from the concept note: Achieving inclusive and human rights consistent digital development in Africa impacts several policy areas. However, for the purposes of the collaborative work between ATPC, OHCHR and FES, the following five important areas are prioritized: employment; MSMEs; agriculture, industry and services; women; and youth. Following the conference, the three partnering organisations will prepare a short meeting report outlining the key messages and next steps for the triangular partnership, which may include preparing a human rights analysis of digital trade, with policy recommendations for the next round of AfCFTA negotiations and for policy-makers and entrepreneurs in this area.

Bringing down the barriers: the law as a vehicle for intra-Africa trade – the theme of next month’s Nigeria Bar Association conference (27-29 June, Abuja)

Featured presentation, by Ecobank’s Dr Edward George: pdf Outlook for intra-regional trade in Sub-Saharan Africa (2.16 MB)

AU-EU Commission to Commission meeting: outcomes

The two commissions discussed their cooperation to enhance resilience, peace, security and governance, including support to African peace initiatives such as the G5 Sahel joint force. In this regard, the two sides signed a MoU reinforcing the existing cooperation in the area of peace and security. Extracts from the Factsheet: Taskforce Rural Africa: The European Commission will set up a Task Force of experts on rural Africa to provide expertise, advice and possible recommendations to the African Union Commission partners in relation to agriculture, agri-business and agro-industries. Food and farming have a prominent role to play in strengthening the partnership with the African Union. Unleashing the potential of the sector can contribute to economic growth and generate decent employment opportunities for Africa’s increasing young population. The institutions of the EU and AU indeed have been engaging in regular policy dialogue in this sector. The EU-AU Agriculture Ministerial Conference “Making Sustainable Agriculture a future for youth in Africa” of 2017 being a good example of stronger cooperation. EU-AU task force on digital economy: To deepen the AU-EU cooperation in the field of digital economy, the two Commissions will set up a joint task force. It will be comprised by African and European decision-makers, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives that will steer the future work on this subject.

Trump versus Rwanda in trade battle over used clothes (Reuters)

In March, the USTR warned Rwanda it would lose some benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, America’s flagship trade legislation for Africa, in 60 days after it increased tariffs on second-hand clothes to support its local garment industry. The 60-day grace period expires on 28 May. But no matter the outcome, the row is further straining Washington’s relations with Africa at a time when it is being aggressively courted by America’s global competitors, not least China. Rwanda has held out. If it does not concede by the end of this month it faces losing duty-free access for its garment exports. “The United States has been explicit about what Rwanda must do to adhere to the AGOA eligibility criteria,” a US official told Reuters. “It is up to Rwanda to make a decision.” The dispute has provoked dismay in Washington and Africa. [US launches auto import probe, China says will defend interests]

Nigeria wraps up investment summit (Xinhua)

Nearly 200 global investors from 14 countries and four continents attended the summit organized by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission. Themed “Investment meets opportunities,” the summit showcased about 100 investment-ready projects or opportunities in seven sectors for match-making to both foreign and domestic investors. The Nigerian government said it aimed to attract long-term investments into agriculture, transport, manufacturing and processing, power, gas, and information technology. Between January 2017 and March 2018, Nigeria recorded a total investment commitment of $83bn, according to official data. These investment commitments were secured in three key sectors of the economy, namely oil and gas, manufacturing and real estate. The government said it is seeking to translate the 83 billion dollars investment commitment into actual investments.

Transport, trade facilitation updates

First African Observatory to tackle the continent’s road safety crisis (World Bank)

The World Bank, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, and the International Transport Forum have signed a MoU to establish the first regional Road Safety Observatory in Africa. ITF Secretary-General, Young Tae Kim, said on the occasion of the MoU signing: “Africa has 2% of the world’s cars but 20% of the road deaths. The continent must be empowered to tackle this problem now. Supporting governments in the region to collect, analyze and use quality crash data is a powerful way to direct scarce resources to their most effective use and save more lives.” The MoU follows a resolution signed in February by Benin, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, confirming their interest for the project. These seven African countries are currently working on finalizing the Observatory’s governance structure and funding mechanism.

Borderless Alliance Mali conference: Efficient corridor management for improved trade and transport in West Africa

The Ghanaian Ambassador to Burkina Faso raised concern about the non-compliance of the francophone countries to implement the axle-load policy. He said it has served as an injustice to Ghana, which has complied with the implementation of the policy since 2009. “The ECOWAS protocol, for example, Ghana is implementing this protocol, but a lot more countries in the sub-region, especially the Francophones, are not implementing the protocol and it is detrimental to those implementing the protocol because the operators are running away from our route to the other routes where the protocol are not being implemented,” he lamented.

Recommendations made at the conference were that there should be a single insurance document to provide insurance cover for truck drivers operating along the corridor, actors should be sensitized on their obligations and rights to avoid unnecessary harassment along the corridor, there should be harmonized procedures along the borders and also create awareness among public servants along the borders. Other recommendations included encouraging government to intensify the creation of infrastructure like roads, rail, warehouses etc. to facilitate trade in the region, emulate best practices of the Northern Corridor by establishing freight/truck parks, attached with well centres at strategic locations along the corridors for users of the corridor and collaboration among custom officials and efficient communication modes in countries in the region to facilitate trade and movement of goods.

SIC bemoans diversion of transit goods onto Ghanaian market (GhanaWeb)

In Ghana, the government appointed the State Insurance Company as the guarantor. The work of the national guarantor is to serve as security to the GRA against the loss of revenue for all cargo passing through Ghana to the neighbouring countries. Speaking on the side-lines of a Borderless Alliance conference in Mali, representatives of the SIC said the role of the national guarantor has been bedevilled with some challenges. Adelaide Fiavor, Head of Broker Relations, SIC, said, “In doing work with customs, usually the monitoring is done by all the stakeholders, including SIC. If it is found in Ghana, if they are arrested, they didn’t find their way in the market. But in any case, customs still works with SIC. If customs loses any duties on those, and they were not able find the goods, supposing the goods were sold and duties were not paid, SIC would have to pay and go after the transitors.” This, they said is made possible when transit truck drivers deliberately delay on the road for the batteries of the tracking devices fixed on the trucks to go off.

Single Window implementation in Africa: African Alliance for Electronics Commerce conference update

The two-day conference, underway in Monrovia, will look into best practices of Single Window implementation in Africa, as outlined in various publications and the AACE guide. “With the financial support of the UNECA through the ATPC, the AAEC has published a pdf Guide for single window implementation (2.67 MB) . Through the development and publication of this Guide, countries willing to establish a Single Window project can have a reference and a knowledge base on the best practices in terms of Single Windows in Africa,” he said. This year, Mr Soputamit said, the AAEC intends to organize six workshops in the different African economic regions.

Ghana: Cashew export levy awaits cabinet approval (GhanaWeb)

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has finally drafted a Bill – now awaiting cabinet approval for onward passage to Parliament – for the introduction of an export levy on raw cashew nuts (RCN), CEO of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority Gifty Klenam has said. The proposed Cashew Export Levy bill is expected to discourage excessive exports of RCN and promote value addition, aimed at reviving defunct cashew processing factories. Only two out of about 13 cashew processing plants in the country are in business; the rest have shut down, largely because of unhealthy competition from exporters of the RCN. The Bill will also give birth to the much-awaited Cashew Marketing Board. The Board is expected to regulate all activities in the cashew industry.

Stabilizing Mali, tackling terrorism in Sahel region hinges on long-term plan: UNSC debate

Maman Sambo Sidikou, Permanent Secretary of the Sahel G-5 countries, noted that, within a few months of the Sahel G-5 countries establishing the joint force, it now was manned with 5,000 soldiers, and its operationalization was currently under way with international support. However, although the force had incorporated the human rights compliance framework recommended by the United Nations from its inception, it nevertheless remained far from reaching a “smooth cruising speed” in responding to the region’s many crises. “What is happening in Africa reminds us of the fact that terrorists know no borders,” said Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union, calling for a coherent, comprehensive and integrated approach, as well as robust international engagement, to address that global threat.

Battle against corruption vital to 2030 Agenda: 15th anniversary of the UNGA’s adoption of UN Convention Against Corruption

Mr Akere Muna, a member of the High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, and AfDB Group Sanctions Commissioner, said that, as an activist, he had found the advent of the Convention to be extraordinary. Describing corruption as an “existential” issue in Africa, he said elections were increasingly fought around that topic, and thanks to the Convention, the level of consciousness on the continent had risen to the level of making corruption a moral question. However, the danger was that “too much discourse could cause numbness and that could lead to inaction,” he cautioned, noting that in some countries, the fight against corruption could even be weaponized politically. Noting that the recovery of stolen assets was especially important for Africa, he stressed that the Convention must be more robust in that area.

Today’s Quick Links:

Underway, in Nairobi: EAC experts meeting to consider amendments to the EAC Competition Act

Implications of e-commerce for competition policy: access the background note, country submissions for a forthcoming OECD workshop

Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative: Technical Task Team Nairobi workshop update

South Africa: SARS to re-establish teams to probe illicit tobacco trade

Boosting regional fish farming: EU-EAC TRUE-FISH Programme stakeholder workshop

Ghana: KIA’s Terminal 3 to service five million passengers annually says Aviation Minister

2017 CABRI Conference Report: fiscal responses to natural and man-made disasters

John W. McArthur, Jeffrey D. Sachs: Agriculture, aid and economic growth in Africa

Presidents Kagame, Macron discuss Africa-France ties

Wang Yi: The G20 has a responsibility to provide developing countries with more opportunities and support

European Commission welcomes green light to start trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

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