tralac’s Daily News Selection
African trade and regional integration event listings:
(i) Underway, in Nairobi: AU experts meeting on the Services Sector Development Programme. The UNECA’s Jamie Macleod: “Key outcomes of these meetings for ECA include identifying where and how best we can target resources to build capacities for the effective negotiation of schedules of commitment in the AfCFTA services protocol”
(ii) The COMESA Connect Industry Dialogue (21-22 June, Kigali) Smart technologies for sustainable businesses will seek to establish collective understanding and strategic focus on the potential of blockchain and other technologies for supporting trade and trade facilitation as well as the other business and industry within the African region and address constraints that affect business competitiveness in the region and promote positive interaction between industry and IT to promote the use of technology and growth of African private sector among others.
(iii) UNECA, Government of Benin experts meeting on the Implications of ECOWAS potential expansion and the AfCFTA (25-26 June, Cotonou). Participants will examine economic implications relating to trade flows and public revenues, identify and discuss the main challenges and stakes for ECOWAS and make recommendations for an economic and socio-economic expansion that is beneficial for the different parties, especially for an effective AfCFTA.
(v) The 6th SACU Summit, in Gaborone (preparatory meetings start on 23 June, the summit on 29 June). The summit will consider progress made on the implementation of the Ministerial Work Programme, which was approved by the SACU Council of Ministers and endorsed by the June 2017 summit.
Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee for Trade, Customs, Finance, Economic Matters and Home/Internal: report of the 7th meeting held in Cape Town
South Africa’s trade and industry minister, Dr Rob Davies, pointed out that most of the RECs have plans on how to advance the regional value chains hence there is need to identify where the comparative advantage lies in terms of industrial development. In addition, he highlighted that many of the AfCFTA Annexes are based on the TFTA Annexes which underscores the importance of the TFTA negotiations. He further urged the TTF to continue attending the AfCFTA negotiations to assist the Member/Partner States in their consultations at the AfCTA negotiations. He urged the need for the Tripartite region to continue fighting for the product specific rules with a view to advancing the regional value chain development.
The Secretary General of COMESA, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, emphasized that the TFTA has been a building block to the AfCFTA and underscored the need for urgency to conclude the TFTA negotiations with a view to consolidating and preserving the gains made, for the benefit of Tripartite Member/Partner States. The Executive Secretary of UNECA, Dr Vera Songwe, pointed out that the synergies between the TFTA and AfCFTA had already been demonstrated and there is need to agree on how to take it forward. She emphasized the need for a well resourced Tripartite Secretariat with a robust institutional framework and committed that the ECA would provide support where appropriate. She urged the Member/Partner States to advantage of the prevailing political momentum in CFTA to push the Tripartite agenda forward.
On the exchange of tariff offers: The TSMC (i) urged EAC and SACU to finalise their tariff negotiations by December 2018; (ii) urged Egypt and SACU to finalise their tariff negotiations by December 2018; (iii) Urged other Member States to who have not shared their offers to do so by December 2018; (iv) noted that those negotiating groups that have concluded their negotiations will share their Schedules with the TTF when ready for circulation to all Member/Partner States; and (v) directed the TTF to recirculate the negotiating modalities
On the signature and ratification of the TFTA Agreement: TSMC agreed that all Member States to ratify by April 2019.
On the industrial development pillar: The TSMC (i) directed the TTF to recirculate the studies on agro-processing value chains and industrial statistics capacities by the end of June 2018; (ii) urged the TTF to scale up the resource mobilisation effort for implementation of this pillar; and(iii) recommended the establishment of the Tripartite Industrial Development Coordination Unit.
Southern Africa regional report: Assessment of selected trade facilitation measures in five countries (pdf, USAID)
This report is part of an assessment examining the anticipated costs and benefits associated with implementing selected trade facilitation measures in five southern African countries: Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia (pdf links). The report highlights some of the key trade facilitation issues from a regional perspective and summarizes the multi-country concerns expressed in key informant interviews (KIIs) during the five country-level assessments. The first section presents the regional context for trade facilitation in terms of key trade data and the status of trade facilitation indicators for each of the five countries included in the review. It also presents a brief description of the trade facilitation programs being implemented by the three primary RECs in southern Africa, SADC, SACU, and COMESA. The second section presents the key findings and conclusions from the KIIs in the five countries of study about the priority TFMs at the regional level, as well as the related cross-cutting issues and implementation challenges. The third section presents specific recommendations to USAID and other trade facilitation actors and stakeholders in the region. These are a synthesis of many of the recommendations also included in the country assessments.
Recommendations for Tripartite Free Trade Area Member States:
(i) To address the concerns of many KII respondents about the lack of transparency in the application of regional transit procedures and measures, TFTA member states should encourage the development of a regional monitoring and advance notification mechanism among SADC member states. Given the complexity of regional membership, with most countries being members of at least two regional economic configurations, perhaps this agenda can best be tackled as part of the SADC-COMESA-EAC Tripartite negotiations.
(ii) Member states should strengthen the Monitoring and Compliance Mechanism through greater awareness-raising activities, to ensure active participation from the private sector in reporting on barriers encountered. While the removal of barriers largely rests with national governments, the regional economic communities could facilitate the process by providing technical support, arranging discussions between the stakeholders involved, and reporting on progress in a transparent way that enables greater levels of accountability.
(iii) Member states should develop a regional transit and bond guarantee scheme along the major corridors to Beira and Nacala with Mozambique and Zambia. This would lower the risk associated with international transport.
(iv) Donors should coordinate with SADC to facilitate agreement on terms for regional level mutual recognition of AEO status when it is certified by other member states. This intervention should facilitate channels for increased information sharing among agencies in the region. It should also include the development of regional level communication tools to increase the awareness of private sector actors on the incentives for uptake of preferred trader schemes.
(v) Recognizing that ICT will remain an important component of trade facilitation as technology evolves, member states should invest more in the ICT infrastructure to avoid being left behind.
(vi) Member states should ensure that the focus of the infrastructure pillar under the tripartite process includes dialogue on the effective and efficient management of physical transport infrastructure (not just a focus on the development of new projects).
(vii) Member states should constantly monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Tripartite Trade and Transport Facilitation Program under the Tripartite Free Trade Area. [Download the country reports: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Malawi]
Under the framework of the WCO-SACU Connect Project, a two-day session (21-22 May, Pretoria) gathered IT experts from the Swaziland Revenue Authority, the South African Revenue Service and external consultants supporting Swaziland in developing their interfacing capabilities. The session aimed at establishing connectivity and data exchange and built on lessons learned from recent pilots and tests. SARS and SRA are now ready to share their experience in establishing customs systems interconnectivity and data exchange, so that it can be replicated regionally and globally.
The National Response Strategy to the AGOA has been developed by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry with the support from the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub as part of efforts to enhance the utilization of trade preferences under the initiative. The strategy will run from 2018 to 2025 in order to synchronize it with the expiry date of the current extension period of AGOA. Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, said during the launch of the strategy that despite the market preference opportunities provided by AGOA, Zambia has failed to take advantage of the offer due to a number of challenges.
Agriculture accounts for 70% of employment, overwhelmingly on small farms; occupies half of all land area, and provides half of all exports and one-quarter of GDP in Uganda. It is considered a leading sector for future economic growth and economic inclusion in the current National Development Plan. Yet despite having very favorable natural resource and climate conditions for production of a wide variety of crops and livestock, average Total Factor Productivity growth - the difference between aggregate output growth and the growth of all inputs and factors of production that produced it - in Ugandan agriculture has been negative for the last two decades. This suggests that on balance the country is now getting less for equal or greater effort. National agricultural output has grown at only 2% per annum over the last five years, compared to agricultural output growth of 3 to 5% in other EAC members and 3.3% per annum growth in Uganda’s population over the same period. [AfDB: Mozambique agricultural value chain and youth empowerment project – ESMP summary]
Today’s Quick Links:
Côte d’Ivoire: IMF concludes 2018 Article IV Consultation
Trans-Kalahari Corridor operation clamps SADC’s unruly drivers
Trade negotiations: next frontier for artificial intelligence