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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Bloomberg

18 Jun 2018

Profiled African trade and regional integration events:

(I) The 24th ARSO General Assembly starts today in Durban on the theme: One Africa One Market – the role of standardisation in attaining sustainable development within the context of regional integration

(ii) Joint UNECA/AU-convened discussions start today in Gaborone on the theme of Corruption and the challenge of economic transformation in Southern Africa. The keynote address at the regional conference (18-20 June) will be delivered by Professor Amos Sawyer, the former President of Liberia. The three-day event (18-20 June) will be marked by robust discussions on the problem of corruption including the scourge of illicit financial flows in Southern Africa, its sources and dimensions, the role of key actors in addressing it, and how national policies can be strengthened in addressing it. These discussions will be followed (21-22 June) by a meeting of National Anti-Corruption Institutions in Southern Africa, to share experiences, lessons and challenges, discussing anti-corruption strategies, and the way forward, and tp establish a network of national anti-corruption institutions in Southern Africa through which the capacity of those institutions can be enhanced and better performance promoted.

(iii) Launching tomorrow, in Addis: the inaugural Africa SDG Index and Dashboards 2018 Report. “The Africa Index and Dashboards aim to help tackle three key problems by addressing the urgent need for comparable data, resolving issues between international and national level statistics, and raising awareness of the SDGs as a shared framework.”

(iv) Joint UNECA/UNCTAD-convened discussions start on Thursday in Geneva on Achieving accelerated structural transformation in Eastern Africa. “Eastern Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world but it is also one of the poorest. Yet the emphasis on structural transformation arises from concerns that the recent growth pattern in the region is neither sufficiently inclusive nor sustainable.”

(v) IGAD will convene a meeting of ministers in-charge of trade in Mombasa on 21 June to consider and adopt a regional policy framework on leveraging informal cross-border trade to promote cross-border security governance. The draft policy framework is aligned with important gains made in formulation and harmonization of trade policies at regional and continental levels through COMESA, as well as the recent milestone achievement of the AUC in gaining broad support towards the realization of the AfCFTA.

(vi) The theme of next month’s COMESA Summit is Towards Digital Economic Integration. The choice of theme is designed to rally member States towards the full adoption of digital technologies to reduce the disparities in the state of digitization across sectors in the COMESA region, particularly between high-tech and more traditional areas, and between countries and regions. Among the key issues in this year’s Summit Agenda is the consideration of membership to COMESA by Tunisia and Somalia. The Summit is also expected to appoint a new Secretary General of COMESA to take over from Mr Sindiso Ngwenya whose tenure of office is coming to an end. The Summit timetable:

(vii) The 17th AGOA Forum takes place next month in Washington (9-12 July) on the theme Forging new strategies for US-Africa trade and investment. The 2018 AGOA Private Sector Forum, presented by the Corporate Council on Africa, takes place on 10 July.

African trade news:

SA traders urged to focus on neighbours (IOL)

South Africa has lost more than half of its capital-goods share of the market over the last decade, losing out to aggressive competition in markets such as the mining-rich Copperbelt region. This is according to Nigel Gwynne-Evans, chief director for African integration and industrial development at the Department of Trade and Industry’s industrial development division. Gwynne-Evans was one of the guest speakers at an event hosted by The Exporters Club Western Cape in Cape Town last week focusing on the topic: Where to Invest in Africa 2018 - How the Africa landscape has changed since 2017. Highlighting a few key aspects impacting investment into Africa, Gwynne-Evans’ presentation covered key market opportunities, issues of country data, and South Africa’s geographical position in relation to the region.

Zambia: 25 South African investors arrive in Zambia (Lusaka Times)

The delegation, whose main focus sectors are steel, energy, rail and mining, will hold meetings with government ministries and the private sector. The mission is organised by the Trade Invest Africa, a division of South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry. It also comprises the Export Credit Insurance Corporation, the DBSA and the IDC.

EAC executive decries high number of East Africans seeking health services in India (EAC)

The Executive Secretary of the East African Health Research Commission, Professor Gibson Kibiki, has decried the high number of East Africans going to India to seek medical services which can be accessed in hospitals in the region. Prof Kibiki attributed the huge exodus of patients to India to the lack of information on health services that were available at referral hospitals in the region. He revealed that East Africans may soon be able to access treatment across national borders in addition to enjoying portable health insurance across the region, adding that the Commission would soon undertake research to gauge the feasibility of a regional health insurance scheme before piloting the scheme. He described as counterproductive the tendency by health researchers and medics in the Partner States to work in silos since the region was one and that diseases did not know national borders.

Ghana: Government to review paperless port system – Bawumia (GhanaWeb)

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has announced government’s decision to review operations of the paperless port system to bring about more efficiency, improve revenue collection and rein-in corruption. He said from 1 July, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports will be reduced from 16 to three – Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority. Officers from the National Security or Narcotic Controls Board will join, based on intelligence. The Vice-President, speaking at the launch of ‘Mobex Africa Tech Expo’ – a technology trade show in Accra, said he found reports that some officials at the ports had been demanding documents from importers for stamping to be shocking.

Ethiopia seeks to legitimise port deals with Somalia (Daily Nation)

Ethiopia has agreed on a joint investment in Somali ports in what could be seen as Premier Abiy Ahmed’s move to legitimise logistical deals initially questioned by Mogadishu. After a meeting in Mogadishu on Saturday, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’ and PM Ahmed said they will be investing in major infrastructure projects including ports and roads. “In an effort to attract and retain foreign investment to the two countries and the Horn of Africa Region, the leaders agreed on the joint investment in four key sea ports between the two countries, and the construction of the main road networks and arteries that would link Somalia to mainland Ethiopia,” a communiqué from the meeting said. The two said they will constitute a designated joint technical team to craft the details and timelines for the project.

New rail treaty will save South Africa over R20bn (pdf, Rail Working Group)

Speaking at AfricaRail, Howard Rosen, chairman of the Rail Working Group, told delegates that the Luxembourg Rail Protocol will save R20bn for South Africa. This assessment comes from an independent study by economics consultancy Oxera and commissioned by the Group, published today, that estimates the direct microeconomic benefits of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol. “The Oxera study does not measure the wider benefits of the Protocol, such as the environmental, social and economic advantages for the community as a whole,” said Rosen, “nor the potential benefits for the South African economy from new African markets for South African locomotive and wagon manufacturers, financiers, operators and service providers”. The protocol is expected to enter into force in 2019. South Africa has already ratified the Cape Town Convention and the equivalent protocol for aircraft. [Download: Luxembourg Rail Protocol – estimated impact on rolling stock financing cost in South Africa, pdf)

Lesotho looks forward to post-Cotonou ACP-EU agreement (IDN)

Lesotho’s finance minister, Dr Majoro attended the ACP-EU Council of Ministers’ meeting in Lomé. “It is production capacity that ensures that Lesotho has things to sell. Our considerable potential in primary and processed agricultural crops has not materialized into actual production, exports and trade with Europe,” he explains. This is where Lesotho investors should focus on, Dr Majoro adds. He says his government is working on global trade standards that would make it possible for crops such as asparagus to find their way into European markets. “Likewise our trade capacity on garments has focused mainly on AGOA, devoting little capacity to the high-value textile needs in Europe.”

Kick-starting economic transformation in Rwanda: four policy lessons and their implications (pdf, ODI)

Conclusions and implications, in summary: (a) Wise specialisation, in the Rwanda context, means giving clear priority to niche manufacturing that is employment-intensive and geared to global markets; (b) This implies clustering closely related industries in SEZs and supporting them preferentially with infrastructure – buildings, roads, power and water – and high-grade, responsive organisation; (c) As well as attracting foreign investors linked to global value chains, GoR should use its demonstrated ability to mobilise domestic private capital to encourage local entrepreneurs to support export manufacturing; (d) RDB should be authorised and resourced to follow the best Asian models in learning how to coordinate government action well and support the ‘discovery’ processes of firms in selected value chains. These conclusions point to four practical questions for the GoR and organisations wanting to support NSTP1:

Uganda maize influx prices Kenyan farmers out of market (Daily Nation)

Traders trucked in 3.28 million bags of cheaper maize from Uganda in five months through May, fresh official statistics indicate, helping price out maize farmers from Kenya’s food basket regions. Data released by the Kenya Revenue Authority shows 295,200 metric tonnes of staple maize was imported from the neighbouring country in the period, which was 47,610 tonnes more than what was bought in the whole of 2017 and 2016. Uganda accounted for 70.36% of the nearly 419,548 tonnes of maize, an equivalent of about 4.66 million 90-kilo bags, which was shipped into Kenya in that period. The rest of the maize was bought from Zambia (64,800 tonnes), Tanzania (56,245 tonnes), Mozambique (3,300 tonnes) and United Arabs Emirates (1.45 tonnes), KRA Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Julius Musyoki said in a report to legislators.

Regional Trade Agreements in Africa (pdf, FREIT)

By using a wide period of analysis, we find that RTAs were trade promoting over the period 1955-1990 but less successful more recently. To explain this result, the aim of this study has been to take into account the heterogeneity of the RTAs and of the countries involved. A “home-market effect”, beneficial to large countries but detrimental to small ones, has not been detected; but countries that are well connected to international markets were clearly the winners in RTAs in the first era of integration (1955-1990). It may be interesting in the future to pursue this analysis in order to quantify the cause of the gains erosion found here. The proliferation of RTAs between African countries and the numerous preferential trade agreements signed with developed countries have certainly contributed to make RTAs less meaningful, but to what extent? Based on current estimates it is also possible to use simple models of international trade to quantify whether more ambitious RTAs can be more efficient than the current ones. [The authors: Fabien Candau, Geoffroy Guepie, Julie Schlick], [Catch me if you can: Trade mis-invoicing and capital flight revisited in Ethiopia (pdf, FREIT)]

Today’s Quick Links:

Goals set for upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing summit

South Africa: download the new pdf draft Mining Charter – comments are invited (956 KB)

Chairman of the World Trade Centre Accra, Togbe Afede XIV: The biggest threat to African Free Trade Agreement is ourselves

WTC, Accra embarks on 2nd trade and investment mission to Zimbabwe

Egypt: Suez Canal revenues rise to $503m in May

ISS: Food security under threat in Kenya

Ruth Stewart: The benefits of African countries stepping up their use of data and evidence to inform policy

IDN: Experts debate digital media’s role in tackling global inequalities

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