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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

18 Jul 2018

Underway, in Addis: IFF Working Group meeting. Operating as the technical arm of the Consortium to Stem Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, the meeting brought together 17 African institutions and several non-African partners, to put in motion the practical steps to initiate Phase 2 of the Consortium’s work, which entails direct implementation of the High Level Panel recommendations and re-engagement of member states.

A reminder: The AU's e-Commerce Conference takes place next week (23-25 July, Addis)

The mobile economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2018  (GSMA)

More than half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by 2025, according to the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report series, published at the GSMA ‘Mobile 360 – Africa’ event being held in Kigali this week. The new report forecasts that there will be 634 million unique mobile subscribers across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52% of the population, up from 444 million (44%) at the end of last year. The report also calculates that the mobile ecosystem will add more than $150bn in value to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8%of regional GDP.  Last year, mobile technologies and services accounted for 7.1% of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa, a contribution that amounted to $110bn of economic value added. By 2022, the region’s mobile economy is forecast to generate more than $150bn (7.9% of GDP) of economic value as countries continue to benefit from improvements in productivity and efficiency, particularly due to the increase in mobile internet adoption.

South Africa, India seek WTO relook at e-commerce norms (Livemint)

In a joint proposal circulated at the WTO on 12 July, India and South Africa said “the realities prevailing in 1998, when WTO members agreed for the first time to the temporary moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, have changed significantly during the subsequent two decades. These changes necessitate a re-examination of the implications of the temporary moratorium, particularly from the development perspective,” particularly on the fiscal side. Given the manifold increase in the volume of electronic transmissions, which initially covered only “digitized products” such as e-books, music and a variety of services, it is important to re-examine all the issues because of diffusion of additive manufacturing technology through 3-D printing as well as manufacturing physical products. Both these trends are likely to become more prominent in the near future, thereby bringing electronic transmissions closer to the centre stage of national economies, India and South Africa emphasized.  Earlier, Indonesia had opposed the continuation of the moratorium on electronic transmissions at the WTO’s Buenos Aires ministerial meeting arguing that it has had an impact on customs duties and domestic companies.

Rwanda:  90% of international money transfers to Rwanda via mobile phones (New Times)

The report, which was released yesterday by WorldRemit, a leading international digital money transfer company, says that Rwanda – along with Tanzania – is experiencing the fastest growth in mobile money remittances in East Africa, increasing on average 9% month-on-month. The report was published ahead of a continental meeting on mobile usage and penetration, which will kicks off in Kigali today. The meeting, dubbed Mobile 360 Africa, is being organised by GSMA, a body representing mobile operators across the world.

Kenya's Safaricom taking M-Pesa to Ethiopia, sources say (Reuters)

Kenya’s Safaricom is in advanced talks with the Ethiopian government to introduce its popular M-Pesa mobile money service, a major step towards establishing a toe-hold in the market of 100 million people, two sources said on Tuesday. The deal could also give Safaricom and its parent companies, South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone , a head-start when the Ethiopian government follows through on its stated intention to open up its telecoms sector to foreign companies. [Reuters: Ethiopia says reforms "to unleash private sector"]

Announcement: The Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian economy, edited by Fantu Cheru, Christopher Cramer, and Arkebe Oqubay, will be published in May 2019 by Oxford University Press.

Mauritius: Mobile cellular subscriptions increased by 1.4% in 2017 (GoM)

Mobile cellular subscriptions increased by 1.4% from 1,814,000 in 2016 to reach 1,839,500 in 2017. Mobidensity, or the number of mobile cellular phones per 100 inhabitants increased by 1.3% from 143.6 in 2016 to 145.5 in 2017, according to a press communiqué released by Statistics Mauritius on Information and Communication Technologies statistics, 2017 on 13 July 2018.  The number of internet subscriptions increased by 14.5% from 1,090,300 in 2016 to 1,248,000 in 2017. The number of large establishments (employing 10 or more persons) operating in the ICT sector was 135 in 2017, compared to 130 in 2016. Employment increased by 3.6% from 15,634 in 2016 to 16,201 in 2017. Extract (pdf):   External Trade – share of ICT goods and services (see Annex for definition). (i)  Trade in ICT goods decreased between 2016 and 2017 as follows: imports decreased by 21.7 % from Rs 12,327 million to Rs 9,653 million; exports, including re-exports, decreased by 69.5% from Rs 4,243 million to Rs 1,295 million;  (ii)  Trade in ICT services between 2016 and 2017 are as follows: imports increased by 34.2% from Rs 2,625 million to Rs 3,523 million; and exports declined by 19.5% from Rs 5,449 million to Rs 4,385 million;  (iii)  Between 2016 and 2017, the share of ICT goods and services: over total imports decreased from 6.4% to 5.2%; and over total exports from 5.0% to 2.9%.

Mauritius:  Export Oriented Enterprises - 1st Quarter 2018 (Statistics Mauritus)

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, total employment in EOE decreased by 1,034 (-2.0%) from 52,172 to 51,138.  Some 525 new jobs were created, while 1,559 were lost. The job losses were due to the contraction of workforce in some enterprises (-1,442) and to the closure of 5 enterprises (-117). Employment of Mauritians went down by 579 (-2.0%) from 28,973 to 28,394 and that of foreign workers decreased by 455 (-2.0%) from 23,199 to 22,744.   Extract (pdf):  3.1.1 Exports (f.o.b).  Provisional figures show that EOE exports during the first quarter of 2018 amounted to R9,853m, that is, R 1,049m (-9.6%) lower compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 (Table 6). That was mainly the result of decreases of R723m (-14.3%) in the exports of “Articles of apparel and clothing” and R238 million (-33.4%) in “Pearls, precious & semi-precious stones”. Compared to the corresponding quarter of 2017, EOE exports increased by R 456 million (+4.9%).  The UK, France, USA and South Africa, remain the principal EOE markets, together accounting for R 5,328 million (54.1%) of total EOE exports (Table 9).

Pankaj Bedi:  How can Kenya become an export oriented economy? (Business Daily)

Currently, the textiles and apparels sector employs 52,000 people in the EPZs, 21,000 outside EPZs and over 30,000 people in the informal sector. Additionally, the sector provides a steady market to approximately 30,000 small-scale cotton farmers and to over 100,000 people indirectly. In 2017, Kenya exported textiles and apparels products worth over 40bn to various markets around the world, with the US market taking 85% of the exports. The export market, as we know, is very sensitive to price; thus the need to ensure that as a country we have a good blend of features that promote competitiveness and support export-oriented manufacturing. Our internal assessments against buyer proposals indicate that apparel manufacturers are 15% less competitive compared to global competitors. The rate is even higher in the textiles and fiber production. Nonetheless, our major advantage lies in having a highly productive labour force.  [The author is the apparel exports sub chair, Kenya Association of Manufacturers]

Afreximbank, AfDB sign agreement for grant to support African factoring firms

The agreement, signed at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and 25th Anniversary Celebrations in Abuja on 13 July, is aimed at upgrading the capacity and skill-sets of up to 20 emerging factoring firms and providing advisory services to enhance the sustainability of established growth-orientated factoring firms, regulators, financial institutions and business and trade associations in Africa.

Nigeria will get best deal in Africa trade agreement -VP Osinbajo (The Eagle)

Addressing the 8th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum,  Osinbajo said: “The rest of Africa sees the enormous advantage of Nigeria’s participation; everybody is waiting for us naturally. And that is because they see a huge market, there are advantages of our being there, but we must ensure to get the best possible terms for Nigerian trade and commerce.” Osinbajo, however, recalled the country’s experience with dumping and other injurious practices which “make it obvious to us that our market could be a real target, our local manufacturing could become unprofitable, our agricultural advances could be reversed”.  The DG of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Chiedu Osakwe, said that 13 of the 15 members of ECOWAS have signed the agreement, while Nigeria and Guinea Bissau are the two countries that had yet to sign the ACFTA.

World Economic Outlook Update, July 2018: SSA forecast  (IMF)

The recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to continue, supported by the rise in commodity prices. For the region, growth is expected to increase from 2.8% in 2017 to 3.4% this year, rising further to 3.8% in 2019 (0.1 percentage point higher for 2019 than forecast in the April WEO). The upgraded forecast reflects improved prospects for Nigeria’s Its growth is set to increase from 0.8 in 2017 to 2.1% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019 (0.4 percentage point higher than in the April WEO for 2019) on the back of an improved outlook for oil prices. Despite the weaker‑than-expected first quarter outturn in South Africa (in part due to temporary factors), the economy is expected to recover somewhat over the remainder of 2018 and into 2019 as confidence improvements associated with the new leadership are gradually reflected in strengthening private investment. [Maurice Obstfeld: The global expansion - still strong but less even, more fragile, under threat]

Second Oceans Forum seeks consensus on fish-to-dish solutions (UNCTAD)

“The oceans economy is important for small island developing States, which I prefer to call big blue ocean States. For example, the Bahamas has an exclusive economic zone of over 600,000 kilometres, compared to a land area of 14,000. Kiribati comprises 33 islands with a total land area of only 800 square kilometres yet more than 3.5 million square kilometres of marine waters lie in its jurisdiction,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said.  Profiled presentation, by Jodie Keane: Meeting SDG14 – the role of trade and seafood value chains.  Challenges: (i) Obtaining data on shares of value added across actors is extremely challenging because the information is highly commercially sensitive;  (ii)  Aggregate trade data do not reflect the geographical extraction and movement of primary fish products;  (iii)  Primary fish products from the waters and ports of SIDS may not actually be registered as exports, as they are caught by vessels under foreign flags;  (iv)  Issues regarding at-sea transhipment are also largely unaccounted for.  [Related: WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations - down but not out;  An interview with Dr Mukhisa Kituyi]

"Unlock full power of business" to achieve Global Goals, UN deputy chief tells HLPF (UN)

Businesses can contribute in important ways to the realization of a world free of poverty and hunger by 2030, including through job creation, technological innovation and the provision of finance resources, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said on Tuesday. “The 2030 Agenda cannot be achieved by Governments alone”, Ms. Mohammed said. “To address the needs of the most vulnerable in communities around the world, we need a bolder approach to partnership, a dynamically engaged business community, and new forms of sustainability financing.” [Progress has been made, but 'not at a sufficient speed to realize the SDGs': UN ECOSOC President]

China overloading poor nations with debt, top US official says (Reuters)

China is saddling poor nations with unsustainable debt through large-scale infrastructure projects that are not economically viable, the head of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation said on Monday. In an interview with Reuters in Johannesburg, OPIC CEO Ray Washburne warned that the Chinese strategy created a debt trap for many poor nations. “Just look at any project in these countries and they’re overbuilding the size,” he said. “We try to have countries realise that they’re indebting themselves to the Chinese.”  Washburne also voiced concern over a $360m expansion of the airport in Zambia’s capital Lusaka currently being carried out with financing from the Exim Bank of China.

Today's Quick Links:

The COMESA Council of Ministers calls for more training by UNCTAD on gender mainstreaming

Africa needs a continental transport bank

Breakbulk cashing in on China-Africa trade

At Partnership Forum, UN officials highlights need for continued support for Somalia

How can digital technology help transform Africa’s food system?

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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECs, national government trade departments and research and development agencies.

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