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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

06 Aug 2018

The 5th COMESA Annual Research Forum is underway in Nairobi: download the programme (pdf)

The annual meetings of the African Caucus for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund began yesterday at Sharm El Sheikh: an overview

Three commentaries on the WTO: Dani Rodrik: The WTO has become dysfunctional (Financial Times); Giovanni Di Lieto: Australia has to prepare for life after the WTO (The Conversation AU); Leïla Choukroune, James J. Nedumpara: The problem at the WTO (The Hindu)

AGOA eligibility hearing: South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill

In our comments, IIPA raises significant concerns with South Africa’s 2017 Copyright Amendment Bill, which remains riddled with problematic and troublesome provisions that run afoul of international norms and are inconsistent with South Africa’s international obligations, including under the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the Berne Convention. Adoption of this bill would place South Africa out of compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria that require beneficiary countries to provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property. Many of the proposals in the 2017 Bill suggest a mistaken assumption that there is a fixed market for copyrighted works and that the government’s role is to regulate the internal relationships of the creative community rather than to incentivize new investment in creative output. This misguided approach will stagnate South Africa’s cultural community. If it does not make important revisions to these proposed provisions, South Africa will take a giant step backward in its effort to strengthen its copyright-based industries. South Africa would be better served by providing clear and unencumbered rights in its law that will allow its creative communities to increase investment to meet the growing demand for creative works of all kinds, in all formats. [Note: Summary of testimony of the International Intellectual Property Alliance ahead of next week’s (16 August) hearing before the AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Office of the United States Trade Representative]

How South Africa’s competition bill is a threat to investment (Business Day)

Even if one were to argue that competition in South African markets is limited, it seems legislators do not appreciate that competition policy alone cannot achieve more competition. It is the coherence of the policy framework that ensures economic dynamism: one cannot ignore the competitive effects of ill-advised mining, agricultural, tele-communications, financial and other sectoral policies. One of the key premises of competition policy internationally is that its primary aim is not the engineering of more competition, but the prevention of competitive abuses. The latter focus indirectly serves to increase dynamism and long-term investment. [The author, Willem Boschoff, is the co-director of the Centre for Competition Law and Economics at Stellenbosch University]

Anzetse Were: Rwanda AGOA exit signals era of reciprocal trading (Business Daily)

Washington and Europe seem tired of ‘babying’ the continent and being ‘soft’ on sovereign African states. They are acutely aware of the problems and suffering in their own countries and communities, and wonder why these issues remain unaddressed while their governments give Africa generous aid and trade packages. Africa needs to read the signs and prepare for the future. In an era of growing economic nationalism, Africa can expect fewer trade deals that are non-reciprocal where Africa gets access to massive external markets while the other party does not benefit from penetration into African markets. This is not to say there is no concern with the economic nationalist movements. A KMPG survey revealed that two-thirds of UK CEOs are most worried about the growing use of protectionism, which includes measures such as tariffs and quotas on imports and view populist politics as the greatest threat to growth.

World Bank: $15m IDA grant for AUC capacity development

Component 2: Facilitating regional integration results with stakeholders (pdf). On a pilot basis, this component aims to leverage the AUC’s unique convening role and to support results-oriented external partnerships and collective actions designed to enhance the implementation of key regional economic development initiatives. This would be largely achieved by “leveraging” the AUC’s convening role to advance priority economic integration programs through consensus building, policy harmonization, and advocacy in collaboration with RECs and other stakeholders; “positioning” of the AU globally for the voice and agency, through partnerships and representation in multinational institutions and global fora and diaspora engagement; and “connecting” the AU to its citizens especially women, youth as well as to civil society more broadly.

EAC Secretariat, AfDB strategize on EAC’s integration agenda (EAC)

Discussions during the two-days of the mission focused on strategic priorities and corresponding indicative operational program to accelerate EAC’s integration agenda. These strategic and operational priorities and operations will be articulated in the Bank’s programming document, namely the Regional Integration Strategy for East Africa (EA-RISP) 2018-22, which is expected to be approved by the Bank’s Board in 2018. The AfDB mission explained that the EA-RISP seeks to operationalize the Bank’s Integrate Africa corporate strategy (2018-25) approved in May this year, and support the implementation of the EAC 5th Development Strategy (2017-21). Consultations on the new RISP started last year when the Secretariat presented a number of projects in November 2017 for consideration and support under the RISP. This mission therefore served to discuss Bank’s feedback on the proposed projects and further consult on the RISP prior to its approval by the Bank.

Country updates

Mozambique: IMF statement

Regarding the ongoing preparations for the 2019 budget, the mission recommended the submission of a draft budget underpinned by realistic macroeconomic assumptions, as well as prudent revenue and spending projections. On the revenue side, the mission recommended removing VAT exemptions, except for basic basket goods, and strengthening VAT administration. It advised, on the spending side, reducing the size of the wage bill as a share of GDP through moderation in wage increases, particularly for top earners in the public sector, and parsimony in additional hires, which should be limited to urgent needs in social sectors. The mission also stressed the importance to continue limiting other spending items through better prioritization, including public investment outlays.

Kenya: IMF statement

Discussions focused on (i) fiscal policies to achieve the authorities’ fiscal deficit target of 5.7 percent of GDP in FY2018/19; (ii) interest rate controls; and (iii) structural reforms aiming to ensure the sustainability of investment-driven, inclusive growth. The authorities reiterated their commitment to macroeconomic policies that would maintain public debt on a sustainable path, contain inflation within the target range, and preserve external stability.

Kenya: Maize earnings fears over Uganda imports (Business Daily)

The government has raised the alarm over an influx of cheap maize from Uganda that look set to depress grain prices ahead of harvest. Traders have stepped up imports from Uganda and the cross-border trade is expected to rise as maize prices in the neighbouring country dropped to Sh16 a kilogramme compared to Kenya’s average cost of Sh51.47. While the imports will help to lower the cost of maize flour, they will hurt farmers’ earnings, setting the stage for a fresh round of confrontation between farmers and the government. “Obviously this will affect farmers’ prices because we are also expecting a bumper harvest this year. But we do not have much control over it because the East African Protocol allows for free movement of goods,” said Agriculture chief administrative secretary Andrew Tuimur.

Tanzania slaps 25% tax on Ugandan sugar (Daily Monitor)

Tanzania has slapped a 25% import duty on Ugandan sugar exports contrary to the EAC Common Market Protocol, which recommends zero tax on goods manufactured within the region. In a media briefing at the weekend, Mr Vincent Seruma, the Uganda Revenue Authority assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs, said sugar that had been exported by Kakira Sugar Works in May had been denied entry and forced to return. Kakira Sugar Works, according to URA, had exported 12,000 bags (600 tonnes) of locally manufactured sugar but was denied entry. “Under the EAC Common Market Protocol, this [sugar] is supposed to enjoy preferential treatment at 0% import duty within in EAC partner states because it is wholly produced in Uganda. However… Tanzania decided to impose duty of 25 per cent, a violation of the EAC rules of origin and the Common Market Protocol.”

Ensure Ghana stops importing chicken soon: VP Bawumia charges Agric Ministry (GhanaWeb)

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has challenged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to implement targeted, deliberate policies to make Ghana self-sufficient in chicken production and save the nation from the huge poultry import bill. This follows an announcement by the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, that there was no maize imports this year after the implementation of policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs which resulted in a bumper harvest. The Vice President has therefore challenged the Ministry to replicate this success in the poultry sub sector to ensure a drastic reduction, if not an outright cessation, of poultry imports in the next few years. [Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body: Smuggling at inland borders killing local rice industry]

India makes final plea to avail GSP benefits (LiveMint)

India has made a final plea for continuation of the generalized system of preferences (GSP) benefits currently under review before the USTR, arguing that the cheaper imports of intermediary products from India enable availability of cost-effective and price-competitive inputs to the US downstream industries and helps the US firms remain domestically and internationally competitive. In its initial submission during the hearing, India had threatened to drag the US to the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO, claiming withdrawal of the GSP benefits would be “discriminatory, arbitrary and detrimental” to its developmental needs. In its post-hearing submission, while answering the queries raised by the USTR GSP sub-committee and other US industry lobbies, India has maintained that GSP benefits are integral and catalytic in promoting the pace and sequence of domestic and external economic reforms in India.

Market access, trade and sustainable development: the labour market channel (UNCTAD)

This report provides guidance to trade-policy makers aiming to design employment-centered trade policies. The first chapter is a brief introduction to the issue at stake and underlines its relevance to the current debate about the role of international trade in facilitating the achievement of the SDGs. The second chapter of this report reviews the existing theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between trade and labour market outcomes. Informality, which is an important feature of the labour market in most developing countries, and its role in framing the latter relationship are discussed in detail. The third chapter of the report presents a diagnostic tool constructed based on insights from the previous chapter, providing detailed information on data requirements and methodology. The diagnostic tool is designed to be used as a first step in assessing the potential employment implications of trade policy.

Monday’s Quick Links:

Ethiopia’s Commodity Exchange celebrated its 10th anniversary this week: a review

Malawi’s Songwe-Kasumulu OSBP on course: Trade Minister Mussa

Namibia’s SME sector will benefit from the AfCFTA: Meyer

WCO successfully conducts ‘People Diagnostics’ mission in Ethiopia

Mauritius to host regional workshop on marine spatial planning, October 2018

UNCTAD’s trade facilitation work boosted by new UK funding

India to bring in regulator for e-commerce

Brazil: 2018 Article IV Consultation report

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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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