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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: UN | Eskinder Debebe

31 Aug 2018

Ethiopian trade, industrial policy updates:

(i) Ethiopia’s PM appoints new policy reforms advisor, chief trade negotiator (ECADF). Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has assigned Mamo Mihretu, a senior project manager at the World Bank, as his senior adviser on policy reforms and Ethiopia’s chief trade negotiator. Mamo has more than 16 years of experience in economic policy, legal, and logistics sector reforms. Based out of Kenya, he led the World Bank Group’s work in Ethiopia in the areas of finance, competitiveness and trade for the last eight years. In his previous role as Principal Trade Attorney, he advised the Ethiopian government on WTO accession and other trade policy issues.

(ii) CNN’s new interactive feature: Employed by China. “China is a rising economy, and it’s going to be the global number one by 2030 latest,” says Arkebe Oqubay, a senior government official and architect of much of Ethiopia’s industrialization strategy. “There’s always rivalry when a great power diminishes. But we as the Africans are the ones to say if we are benefiting from China. We don’t need a witness.”

(iii) A response by @haugejostein (Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge): I enjoyed this [CNN] piece on China’s investments in Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector. Been researching this for some years now, and would like to share some additional thoughts through a thread.

(iv) StanChart CEO Winters wants to “take a look” at Ethiopia banking (Bloomberg). Winters, head of London-based Standard Chartered since mid-2015, would “love to think that there are opportunities” in Ethiopia, he said in an interview in Nairobi. The problem is that it’s entirely closed to foreign banks. “The underlying fundamentals are pretty interesting. It’d be nice if we could get in and take a look and see if we could add some value.” Winters is part of a British business delegation accompanying Prime Minister Theresa May on a three-nation tour of Africa, designed to enhance trading opportunities with the continent. [Addis Fortune: Mobile money comes of age with banks]

(v) Ethiopia hails ties with China as model of successful South-South cooperation (Xinhua). More than 400 Chinese investments that are worth over $4bn are presently active in the East African country, creating more than 100,000 job opportunities for Ethiopians, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry further reiterated that Chinese investments in Ethiopia are largely engaged in the Ethiopian government’s key priority sectors, mainly the manufacturing and infrastructure building sectors. It also indicated that out of the total more than 400 Chinese-investments in the East African country, some 105 are a joint-venture between Ethiopian and Chinese investors, indicating the positive relations among business communities of the two countries.

(vi) Headlines: Ethiopia’s road development strategy to boost economy; US finance Ethiopia’s 50 megawatts geothermal energy project; Ethiopia hosts East Africa International Arbitration Conference on the theme Re-focusing regional trade, energy and arbitration; Vietnamese investors eye trade and manufacturing opportunities in Ethiopia

Profiled FOCAC preview: Despite debt woes, Africa still sees China as best bet for financing (Reuters)

A wave of African nations looking to restructure debt with China on the eve of a major Beijing summit provides a reality check for the continent, where most countries still view Chinese lending as the best bet to develop their economies. China has denied engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy, but President Xi Jinping is likely to use next week’s gathering of African leaders to offer a new round of financing, following a pledge of $60bn at the last summit three years ago. Ethiopia and Zambia, heavy borrowers from China, have expressed desire to restructure that debt, while bankers believe Angola and Congo Republic have already done so, though details of such deals are sparse.

But many countries, even those heavily indebted to China, still say Beijing offers far better terms than Western banks, and that European nations and the United States fail to match its generosity. “Especially when you go to multilaterals, it takes such a long time,” Aboubakar Omar Hadi, chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, told Reuters. [The authors: Joe Bavier, Christian Shepherd]

Luke Patey: To balance Chinese influence, India needs to ensure its Africa gaze is more constant (The Wire)

India is often seen as a footnote in China’s Africa engagement; one of many emerging economies, from Turkey to Brazil, engaging the continent in new economic and political activities. Together these interactions have relegated the West to a spectator position, but until India improves its attention span to changes in Africa, China will increasingly dictate the geopolitical future across the Indian Ocean.


Nigerian trade policy updates:

Making Made-in-Nigeria products competitive (The Punch editorial board commentary)

But the country that should arrest Nigeria’s interest most is Ethiopia...It is not by accident that Ethiopia has made its recent strides; it is as a result of painstaking plans and deliberate actions to improve sectors that aid manufacturing. In a new research, the IMF said, “Ethiopia can be the new China because it has been improving its road and rail connections, and also has good air connections.” Taking a cue from Ethiopia, Nigeria knows what to do. The government has to improve on infrastructure development; this is very pivotal to making the country’s products competitive.

Nigeria and the AfCFTA: Why manufacturers are adamant (The Nation)

The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations says Nigeria is almost ready to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. But this flies in the face of the stiff opposition of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), particularly manufacturers, against the deal. The OPS is worried by what it calls the absence of a study to determine the impact, benefit and downside of the agreement, among others. [AfCFTA ratification deadline suffers setback with only seven signatories]

Nigeria’s lawyers run the rule over free trade deal (African Law & Business)

Greg Falkof of Eversheds Sutherland and Kunle Ajagbe of AIDAN Partners provide observations from the Nigerian Bar Association’s business law conference (in June), where the African Continental Free Trade Area was the main topic of conversation.

Nigeria: $8.1bn: Senate clears us – MTN (Vanguard)

Telecommunication firm MTN, yesterday, refuted claims by Central Bank of Nigeria that it illegally repatriated $8.1bn from its Nigerian operations to offshore investors, in collusion with four Nigerian banks. CBN said two days ago that MTN repatriation violated its rule that required such transaction be done with regular Certificates of Capital Importation issued by the apex bank. The apex bank further claimed MTN did the repatriation after illegally converting shareholders’ loan of $399, 594,146 to preference shares. But in a statement by Mr Funso Aina, MTN’s Corporate Affairs Manager, the firm stated: “MTN Nigeria strongly refutes these allegations and claims. No dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of CBN as required by law.” He added that the issue surrounding the CCIs was already subject of a thorough enquiry by the Nigerian Senate.

South Africa: FAWU urges clampdown on illicit trade but condemns attacks on foreigners (IOL)

The Food and Allied Workers Union on Thursday condemned this week’s killing of foreign traders accused of selling counterfeit and expired products but called on authorities to stage a clampdown to protect the local economy. “We call on local citizens to cease with and desist from further attacking foreign nationals because we believe that every evidence of fake and expired goods, counterfeit and smuggled products, and illegally manufactured foodstuff and other products must be reported to law enforcement agencies, consumer commission and other authorities,” said the union’s general secretary Katishi Masemola. [COSATU’s statement]

Tensions grow over the future of the ACP group (EURACTIV)

Conversely, other European powers consider that the ACP framework is no longer relevant, given the diversity of the countries it brings together. “There are frictions between the AU and the Pacific and Caribbean over the negotiating framework,” admitted a French diplomat. And for good reason. Without the African partner, the group of 79 countries would no longer be worth the trouble for the European Union. “The main challenge of the ACP partnership is, after all, the relationship between Africa and Europe,” acknowledges the French diplomat. While negotiations for the redefinition of the Cotonou Agreement are due to start on 1 September at the latest, the various blocs have agreed on their negotiating mandate.

Gender gaps in property ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank)

This paper uses data for 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to shine a spotlight on gaps between men and women in land and housing (property) ownership and analyze patterns across and within countries. The results indicate that men are about three times as likely as women to claim sole ownership over property. Gender gaps are smaller if joint ownership is taken into consideration, but still materially disadvantage women. Men are significantly more likely to own property than women even after controlling for a host of other factors. This paper is an important step toward a better understanding of gender gaps in property ownership in Africa and outlines an agenda for future data collection and analytic efforts. Extract (pdf):

Estimates in this paper – based on data representing more than three-quarters of Africa’s population – suggest that just under 13% of African women (aged 20-49 years) claim sole ownership of land, compared with 36% of African men. The gender gap is smaller if one considers joint ownership, but even then, it remains significant: 38% of African women report owning any land (alone or jointly), compared with 51% of African men. A similar picture emerges for housing ownership. Why is it important that in most African countries land and housing property and, by extension, overall wealth are disproportionately concentrated in the hands of men? [WB grant to prevent gender-based violence in the DRC]

Friday’s Quick Links:

Kenya’s Council of Governors conference on Arid and Semi Arid Lands: 5-7 September, in Malindi Kilifi County. #ASALConference2018

Africa Ireland Economic Forum (11 October, Dublin): keynote speakers include Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Peter Munya

Raphael Hogarth, for The Times: If Britain supports free trade it needs to oil the wheels in Africa

Ronak Gopaldas, for ORF: Understanding Africa’s policy conundrums in a changing global order

WEF, VoxEU: What’s the future of Blockchain?

World Bank: Rethinking public employment services for the digital era

Previews of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (11-13 September, Vietnam): Everything you need to know about the WEF on ASEAN 2018; ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (pdf); 7 key challenges for the future of ASEAN – and how to solve them

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