tralac’s Daily News Selection
Underway, in Nairobi: African Union E-Commerce Conference
The main expected outputs of the conference are: (i) Roadmap for the development of an African e-commerce strategy, which will be recommended for adoption by the relevant policy organs of the AU; and (ii) inputs to inform the development of the Assessing Regional Integration in Africa IX report under preparation by UNECA, which will consider the case for e-commerce and digital trade as a topic for the Phase II negotiations in the AfCFTA.
Underway, in Nairobi: 6th Annual Secretary General's Forum for Private Sector, Civil Society, other interest groups (EAC)
About 100 delegates have confirmed participating in the SG’s Forum. The forum will review the work plan and progress reports on the Consultative Dialogue Framework for Private Sector, Civil Society and other interest groups, which was adopted by the 26th Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers; consider translating SG’s Forum resolutions to policy; define success stories of the Dialogue Process; and consider sustainability of the Consultative Dialogue Framework by redefining the Roles of the Dialogue Parties.
Launching today, in Addis: A study of the benefits and challenges of free movement of persons in Africa
Imminent trade events to note (courtesy of the AUC Department of Trade and Industry newsletter): 2nd Roundtable on intra-African Trade (24-27 July, Kigali); Stakeholder workshop on the AfCFTA (26-27, Dakar); 7th meeting of the TWG on Rules of Origin (30 July - 11 August, Addis Ababa); Sensitize and support RECs/MS on the ratification and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (including best practices on border management (30 July - 1 August 2018, Abidjan)
From the recent AU Summit: decisions, declarations, resolutions
(i) Mandates the Commission to organize a Civil Society Forum and a Private Sector Forum preceding the June/July 2019 Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in Niamey, Niger in order to enhance stakeholder engagement on the implementation of the AfCFTA;
(ii) Further commits to establish National Committees on AfCFTA to ensure meaningful participation of all stakeholders and come up with national AfCFTA and Boosting Intra-African Trade strategies;
(iii) Reiterates its directive to the AU Ministers responsible for Trade to submit the Schedules of Tariff Concessions, and Schedules of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services in line with agreed modalities to the February 2019 Assembly for adoption; and to conclude the negotiations on Competition Policy, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights, and submit the draft legal texts to the January 2020 Session of the Assembly for adoption through the Specialised Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
B. Other decisions to note: Decision on a new agreement on post-Cotonou cooperation with the European Union; Decision on the progress report on the implementation of the institutional reform of the African Union; Decision on the transformation of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency into the AU Development Agency; Decision on the Dates of TICAD VII Ministerial Meeting and the Summit (28-30 August 2019, Yokohama). [Downloads available in English (pdf) and French ([pdf)]
COMESA Yellow Card: latest dividend in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal (COMESA)
The National Insurance Corporation of Eritrea, which administers the Yellow Card has confirmed that Eritrea, was ready to accept of COMESA Yellow Cards issued to Ethiopian motorists to Ethiopia on the Addis – Assab Corridor and other routes. Following this development, COMESA has pledged full support on the implementation of the Yellow Card Scheme and other COMESA trade facilitation instruments. This includes engaging with the National Bureaux of Ethiopia and Eritrea to provide technical support to ensure the smooth operations of the scheme. The scheme is currently operational in 12 COMESA Member States, namely;
The Migration Dialogue for West Africa, in a three-day annual meeting of thematic working groups which ended on 19 July in Abuja, has recommended improved collaboration and synergy between Member States and migration institutions in the areas of border management, immigration data, mixed migration and the return and reintegration of migrants in the region. The experts called for the ECOWAS Commission to provide technical assistance to Member States to facilitate the issuance of the biometric identity cards and data exchange platforms in order to share and analyze migratory flows in the region. They also recommended increased border surveillance through joint border posts and the upgrade and standardization of border posts in the region. This they noted can be achieved by constituting a common fund within ECOWAS to address persisting challenges on border management.
Nigeria Time Release Study: NCS to reduce time of cargo clearance (NAN)
The Nigeria Customs Service says it has embarked on Time Release Study to measure the efficiency of its trade facilitation scheme and reduce the time of cargo clearance. Mr Wale Adeniyi, Deputy Commandant, Customs Training College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria at a workshop on TRS in Lagos on Thursday. The workshop, organized in conjunction with World Customs Organisation, was attended by clearing agents, freight forwarders, terminal operators and government agencies operating at the ports. Adeniyi, coordinator of the study, said WCO had deployed some tools to test the efficiency of customs administration in Nigeria. He said that the group had been able to validate the business process involved in clearance of goods and accessing online tools for conducting TRS. He explained that the group would fix a date to design and test the questionnaire it collected from the data.
Rwanda joins Pan-African infrastructure platform (New Times)
Finance ministry’s Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Caleb Rwamuganza, who signed Rwanda’s membership on behalf of government, said that Africa50 provides Rwanda with a unique opportunity to pursue to key infrastructure projects. “We have several infrastructure projects in the pipeline that we hope to realise in the near future. Joining Africa50 simply takes us another step closer to that objective,” Rwamuganza said. Africa50’s investor base is currently composed of 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States, and Bank Al-Maghrib, with over $800m in committed capital.
South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, told participants at a Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa business meeting that partner nations should focus on investment-led trade, “instead of it being the other way around”. Davies was speaking at a specially convened investment session on Sunday during the BRICS Business Council meeting being held at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. “In this global environment, we need to play catch-up on the investment front. We need investment-led trade instead of the other way around,” he said.
Anzetse Were: US-China tariff fallout sets stage for shift in Africa’s international trade (Business Daily)
Keeping track of the back and forth of tariff imposition between the US and China is a task on its own but what is more important is unpacking how these trade tensions will affect Africa. There are three implications of the US-China trade war of which Africa should be cognisant. First, the imposition of tariffs between two of the most lucrative markets in the world may well encourage both countries to diversify their export markets away from each other. Second, the trade feud will deepen the resolve of the Chinese government to diversify away from export to consumption-driven growth. The third implication of the US-China trade spat is that it may provide added impetus for increasing manufacturing investment and activity in Africa, particularly by the Chinese private sector that is already on this trajectory.
The World Customs Organization has initiated work to identify possible case studies and uses of blockchain for Customs and other border agencies with a view to improving compliance, trade facilitation, and fraud detection (including curbing of illicit trade through the misuse of blockchains and Bitcoins), while touching on associated adjustments in legal and regulatory frameworks. The objective of this paper is thus to discuss ways in which Customs could leverage the power of blockchain and the extent to which the future of Customs could be shaped by the use of blockchain-based applications. [The author: Yotaro Okazaki]
The communiqué (pdf) issued at the close of the Third G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Buenos Aires this weekend shows support from the world's main economies to international trade and investment as “important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development.” The document, agreed by all G20 member countries, reads that “global economic growth remains robust and unemployment is at a decade low.” However, it acknowledges “downside risks over the short and medium term.” The communiqué also covers progress made on the Argentine G20 presidency priorities this year. On the future of work, senior officials endorsed a set of public policies designed to maximize the benefits and overcome the challenges posed by technological transitions.” The document also provides 68 examples of related policies carried out by G20 member countries. As regards infrastructure for development, participants approved a set of pre-investment guidelines for attractive projects for private investors with a focus on efficiency and feasibility. They will also address issues such as data, risk mitigation and capital markets.
Tanzania set to implement EAC vehicle load control regulations from 1 January 2019
Kenya bags COMESA sugar safeguards for another two years, but with conditions
South African Trade Minister Rob Davies condemns US trade war actions
Egypt hikes gas prices by up to 75% in IMF-backed austerity plan