tralac’s Daily News Selection
The African Continental Free Trade Area and its implications for India-Africa trade (Observer Research Foundation)
The AfCFTA will provide a number of opportunities for the Indian firms and investors to tap into a larger, unified, simplified and more robust African market. It is critical for India to view Africa not just as a destination for short-term returns but as a partner for medium and long-term economic growth. An important component affecting the volumes of trade with Africa is the “third-country fabric” provision. Various Asian countries’ traders and investors, including those from India, are reaching out to the African markets as a market of “choice”. This is often perceived as a way to indirectly take advantage of the preferential trade programmes offered to the African countries by the third parties. A case in point is the African growth and Opportunities Act of the US, under which some African countries are eligible to source raw materials from third countries like India and China, to make clothes and then export to US duty-free. Such provisions help to shield African industries such as textiles and apparel, which have benefitted from huge amounts of Indian and Chinese investments in African export processing zones. Therefore, to establish a long-term partnership with Africa, India should not target African markets only for its unilateral preferences granted by the third parties.
To mitigate the expected trade losses for the African countries resulting from the establishment of MRTAs, especially the RCEP, India and Africa must build a solid partnership to boost their bilateral trade and investment flows. To this end, India’s active support towards Africa’s ongoing continental integration efforts can serve as basis for negotiations aimed at reciprocal market access and investment opportunities. It is important to note that positive outcomes for the India-Africa trade and investment partnership are hinged on Africa having sufficiently integrated markets, enhanced regional and continental connectivity, and improved infrastructure facilities. These will, in turn, help the African countries to address the supply-side constraints, remove bottlenecks, and move up the regional value chains. The African Trade Policy Centre of the ECA and CII must continue to work closely to identify the sectors that offer opportunities for development in Africa in the context of AfCFTA reform. [The author: Abhishek Mishra; Related ATPC, CII study: Deepening Africa-India trade and investment partnership]
SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement: the need for civil society engagement (Daily Maverick)
How should civil society and other interested stakeholders engage with this agreement, if at all? What should be the form and content of that engagement? Civil society should engage, first to demand a formal mechanism for citizens engagement and secondly to influence the implementation. While the EU has a mechanism for government-civil society engagement on the agreement, SADC countries do not, nor have they demonstrated a willingness to set up one. This is unfortunate, as it goes against the now widely accepted principles of civic participation in global governance. And this is in spite of the fact that both the SADC and AU have otherwise come a long way in providing for engagement with civil society in their processes. It is useful to point out that though the agreement has been finalised, mechanisms for its implementation are still being developed. This will entail alignment with domestic priorities, regional trade frameworks and processes. In this, CSOs have a role. There are therefore a number of areas to watch out for as the agreement enters into implementation phase. [The author: Showers Mawowa] [Related tralacBlog by Talkmore Chidede: Identifying the role of civil society in the SADC EPA]
TICAD Ministerial Meeting:
Opening ceremony: remarks by Mr Taro Kono (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan). Looking at some positive developments, Japan’s foreign direct investment in Africa has increased by more than five times since 2000 and Japanese companies have established more than 800 offices in Africa now. The first Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum was also held in May in Johannesburg and a Public and Private Sector Joint Mission was sent to Rwanda and Zambia in July. On a related point, I would like to reiterate the importance of sound debt management in order to enable sustainable development for Africa with African ownership. International assistance should be provided in accordance with international standards such as transparency, openness, and economic efficiency, in view of life-cycle costs as well as debt sustainability of recipient countries. These principles are crucial components of Japan’s “Quality Infrastructure” initiative, based on which Japan is supporting enhanced connectivity throughout the entire African continent and beyond. In keeping with these ideas, Japan encourages African efforts toward economic transformation, as provided for in “Agenda 2063.” To realize Africa’s economic transformation, I would like to refer to the importance of free trade. There is increasing uncertainty surrounding the current international world order and widespread use of unilateral actions is eroding multilateralism. Japan, however, remains determined to maintain and develop free and fair multilateral and plurilateral trading systems.
Partnering for Africa’s future: Japan and UNDP
Japan-Africa Business Dialogue: Looking ahead to TICAD 7. Official figures estimate that in 2017, 795 Japanese corporations were operating in the continent, up 7.7% from 738 in 2016.
Women’s economic empowerment and WTO trade negotiations: potential implications for LDC, SVEs and SSA countries (Commonwealth)
It is not clear whether gender issues are to be included in discussions at the WTO. What is apparent is that some LDCs, SVEs and SSA countries support the JDTWEE, which seeks to provide a framework for making trade and development policies more gender-responsive. In this regard, it is crucial that LDCs, SVEs and SSA countries acquire a better understanding of the impacts of reforming their policies, and the implications of possible negotiations on multilateral rules on gender and trade for their economies, and for women in particular, so they can more meaningfully participate in trade and gender activities at the WTO. In addition, it is critical that these countries address the barriers that constrain women from participating in trade for inclusive economic growth and development, if they are to move further with gender integration and maximise the benefits from trade. [The author: Collin Zhuawu]
Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo (pdf) need far-reaching reforms of their infrastructure and legal systems to benefit from e-commerce, new studies of the West African countries by UNCTAD have revealed. The reports will be presented at a regional e-commerce workshop organized by UNCTAD and ECOWAS in Ouagadougou, 9–10 October. The workshop, the first step in the preparation of a regional plan, will be inaugurated by Ms. Durant in the presence of the ECOWAS agriculture, water resources and the environment commissioner Jonas Gbian and Daouda Ouedraogo, a representative of Burkina Faso’s commerce, industry and handicrafts ministry. While taking account of each country’s specific circumstances, the UNCTAD evaluations highlighted the common obstacles they face. UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said: “This is a win-win strategy, which must be pursued because e-commerce is now a key gateway to foreign markets.”
Digital Economy enabling environment guide: key areas of dialogue for business and policymakers (CIPE, NML)
Updates from Tanzania
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage said on Thursday October 4 that, as a minister, he cannot put restrictions on exports by local manufacturers. “But I have to ensure that what’s produced locally, satisfies local needs,’’ he said during the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum in Dar es Salaam. The forum brought together stakeholders to discuss opportunities, challenges and solutions for Tanzania as the country seeks to graduate into a semi industrialized middle income economy by the year 2025. “The middle income economy that we want to build is one where every Tanzanian earns $3000 a day and not $1000. Let’s remain calm. We just have to have to maintain peace and good governance,” he said.
New TPSF chairman’s five priorities (The Citizen)
The new chairman for Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, Salum Shamte will prioritise five key issues as he seeks to play a key role in fostering dialogue between members of the business community and the government for the sake of improving the country’s business climate. His first task will be to make a close follow-up on implementation of the Blueprint which the government adopted in May this year to set the stage for a raft of amendments to laws and regulations governing the conduct of businesses in Tanzania. The blueprint – prepared after thorough consultations with various private sector associations and World Bank officials – will see the government initiating amendments of various laws including those governing Value Added Tax, Indicative prices for imports, Immigration and Labour, Social Security and environmental management among others. The second priority area, according to Mr Shamte, is to broaden and strengthen dialogue between the government and the private sector by bringing it down to village, ward and district levels.
Today’s Quick Links:
Egyptian ‘Goldfinger’ targets African expansion
After troubles in Myanmar, Facebook charges ahead in Africa
Kenya’s $800m flower market is seeing a boost, thanks to China
Zimbabwe: ‘Rand answer to export competitiveness’
South Africa: Concerns over levy on bone-in chicken cuts
ECOWAS Commission urges for a more dynamic and flexible trade rules of origin
Seychelles to host the African Shipping Line Investment Forum in March 2019
Challenges for central banking: perspectives from Latin America