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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Reuters | Charles Placide Tossou

13 Sep 2018

Featured trade, regional policy events:

(i) In Abidjan. @ECOWASParliamnt: Parliament-arians convene in Abidjan for the three day seminar on African Continental Free Trade Area. Challenges and prospects of free trade in Africa – role of the Regional Economic Communities

(ii) In Pretoria. @CharlesKwenin: Day 1 of MIDSA generated fruitful discussions among the various panelists and delegates, on issues such as migration and development relating to harnessing the youth dividend; and on migration governance and the need for a Regional Migration Policy Framework for Southern Africa. Day 2 of MIDSA: Delegates had fruitful discussions on the proposed draft of the SADC Regional Migration Policy Framework.

(iii) In New York. Enhancing global partnerships for the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africakey for successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. To be held on the margins the 73rd General Assembly, the high-level event (pdf) is expected to bring together more than 100 high-level stakeholders.

Profiled trade policy commentaries: (i) Ousmane Badiane: Trade is essential for Africa’s prosperity (ii) Abdoul Salam Bello: Make AfCFTA a reality

World Export Development Forum

Closing speech by ITC Executive Director Arancha González

In my welcome speech I referenced that Africa - unlike some others - is embracing trade and integration. The AfCFTA is a vehicle to realize the aspirations of a borderless continent. What we have learnt here will be important inputs into that process: (i) That trade facilitation at the border is only really effective if all parties modernize, increase transparency and cut down on red tape. (ii) That placing women and youth at the centre of Trade and development policy - including the AfCFTA - is critical if we are to deliver for inclusive growth. (iii) That adding value to goods and services, in particular in agriculture, and increasing the capacity to develop and extend value chains in Africa must be part of the Continental strategy. (iv) That the voice of youth matter. They will take forward tomorrow for what we are putting in place today. This morning I met with over 120 African youth to discuss trade and development issues and I can tell you the future is bright. (v) That supporting the competitiveness of MSMEs must be at the centre of the Continental development trajectory. From ensuring financial literacy to meeting quality standards and packaging to supporting trade and investment data and intelligence to moving to automation and the digital economy - this is where the cursor must be placed; competitiveness rather than protectionism. (vi) That the future is green. Greening value chains, incorporating sustainability into production methods and promoting green financing.

And the week does not end today. On Thursday and Friday ITC will be supporting an investment discussion between China and Zambia through one of our flagship programmes, the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa; we will be facilitating international media exposure of a series of projects that ITC and the EIF have supported in Zambia including on honey and mushrooms; and we will be facilitating a trade and investment discussion with trade promotion organizations from the COMESA region.

Launched at WEDF2018: the joint ITC/Huawei report Faster customs, faster trade - using technology for trade facilitation. This paper (pdf) demonstrates how governments can optimize complementarities at the intersection of technological change and the implementation of trade facilitation policy. Through a careful analysis of the interplay between WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement of 2017 and the Information Technology Agreement of 1996, this report demonstrates how countries can get the technology-policy mix right, creating a positive feedback loop to disrupt the digital divide and improve livelihoods.

AU’s institutional reform process: update (AU)

The Sixth Retreat of the Executive Council opened yesterday, Wednesday, in Addis Ababa. For two days, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and External Relations from the African Union member states, will brainstorm on the progress made on the AU Reform as well as consider the key reform issues and challenges so as to agree on the specific outcomes that this reform process should deliver. The Retreat of the Executive Council is expected to prepare for the upcoming summit on the AU Reform billed for November 2018 in Addis Ababa. [Deputy Minister Landers to lead South African delegation to Ethiopia]

SACU: SA pushing for a bigger slice of SACU revenue (Business Day)

Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and trade and industry minister Rob Davies briefed parliament’s finance and trade and industry committees on Tuesday about the deadlocked negotiations. The committees resolved to support their stance and to submit their decision to the National Assembly for endorsement. This will strengthen the position of SA’s negotiators during the talks. Nene told MPs that very little progress has been made in discussions to review the revenue-sharing formula despite intense engagements. The major difficulty was the underlying principle of the negotiations, which was that no-one should be made worse off by any agreement. This meant no-one should be better off either. “A review which will see us being put on a better footing will be very difficult to arrive at,” Nene said.

SA contributed about R30.3bn (98.3%) of the SACU revenue pool annually on average between 2007-08 and 2016-17 but took out R26.4bn (45.8%) while Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia contributed R510m (1.7%) but took out R31bn (54.2%). This was a source of concern, Nene said. SA’s share of SACU revenue has steadily declined. SACU revenues, which are drawn from customs and excise duties, contribute 27% of Botswana’s total revenue; 45% of Eswatini’s; 40% of Lesotho’s; 32% of Namibia’s; and 3% of SA’s. None of the revenue is used for common development to promote the region. [See also: Davies explained that there are differing policy perspectives when it comes to tariffs. Currently, SA views tariffs as an instrument of industrial policy – while other governments rely on tariffs as a source of revenue. SA will also put forward that the agreement focuses on national development. “The focus should be on industrial development. But not one brass cent has been used on development,” said Davies.]

Indian Ocean Commission needs a new impetus, says Mauritius’ foreign affairs minister (GoM)

The Indian Ocean Commission has to be given a new impetus with particular emphasis on restructuring the Commission in view of aligning it with the global strategy and ensuring a consolidated regional cooperation for the benefit of the IOC member states. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and Chairperson of the IOC, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, made this statement yesterday at the opening of the 33rd Council of Ministers meeting of the IOC currently being held at Le Maritim Hotel. The two-day meeting is focusing on four thematic areas of intervention namely political and diplomatic cooperation, economic and trade cooperation, environmental sustainability and regional cultural cooperation.

Namibia: Quarterly trade statistics bulletin – 2nd quarter of 2018 (Namibia Statistics Agency)

Exports to key markets: During q2-2018, Namibia’s top five export destinations were United Kingdom, South Africa, China, Botswana and Belgium. Among the largest export partners, the highest growth rates were recorded with United Kingdom (4,839%), China (727%), Belgium (144%), and Botswana (13%). Exports to South Africa, Namibia’s largest trading partner, grew by 11%. Together, these countries made up 70% of the value of all exported goods, with United Kingdom lodging on top of the list as the largest export destination, accounting for 25% of the total exports. South Africa ranked second with 16%, followed by China with 13% of total exports. Botswana and Belgium absorbed 8% of the Namibia’s total exports each.

Imports from key markets: The domestic economy mostly relied on South Africa, Zambia, United Kingdom, Botswana and China for its import requirements (see Chart 3). The aforementioned countries accounted for the largest share of Namibia’s total imports, with 83% of the value of all imports of goods into Namibia coming from these countries. Imports from these markets grew by 27% to register N$19.845 billion compared to N$15.630 billion observed in q2-2017. Whereas, overall imports increased by N$3.373 billion (16%) from N$20.652 billion to N$24.025 billion.

Trade with Export Processing Zone: Trade flow between Namibia and the EPZ was mostly dominated by exports. Exports to the EPZ stood at N$1.819 billion, rising from N$1.196 billion in q2-2017; this translates to a 52% increase. In comparison with the previous quarter, exports rose from N$1.239 billion, indicating 47% growth.

Ghana’s gold mining revenues: an analysis of company disclosures (NGRI)

Focusing on the gold sector, the aim of this briefing is to explore ways company disclosures can be used by government, civil society, media and other oversight actors to better understand the revenues generated within Ghana’s gold sector and use this new data source as an accountability tool within the country.

AmCham Shanghai, AmCham China issue new survey on impact of US-China tariffs

Conducted in early-September, the survey (pdf) found that the negative impact of tariffs is clear and far-reaching. Sixty percent of the 432 survey respondents say the initial $50bn of tariffs from both the US and China has negatively impacted their companies. The percentage of companies expecting to be negatively affected by the second round of tariffs jumps to 74.3% for the US tariffs and 67.6% for Chinese tariffs. Nearly 50 % of US companies expect a “strong negative impact” from this proposed $200bn tranche of tariffs.

Thursday’s Quick Links:

Diaspora remittance driving economic growth for Africa – ICAEW report

Absa opens UK office to entice post-Brexit trade in Africa

Bloomberg: The fear gap’s back as dollar pinch worsens after Zimbabwe vote

IATA World Air Transport Statistics released: Africa has a 2.2% market share of the passenger market (88.5 million, up 6.6% over 2016)

South-South Cooperation Day focuses in on sustainable development, a ‘new phase of cooperation’

IRU Blog: Training, big data and keeping trade safe

The Latin American and Caribbean Competition Forum (18-19 September 2018, Buenos Aires): access documentation, including country submissions

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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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