Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: IFC

Tunisia’s Ms Aya Chebbi (31) has been appointed as the AU’s Youth Envoy. A brief bio is available here.

The World Bank has posted 25 Africa country Training for Reform analyses derived from the Doing Business 2019 report released earlier this week. Analyses are posted for: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania

Launch of Ethiopia’s visa-on-arrival, e-visa regime for all African citizens: remarks by AUC’s Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat

One of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 is the free movement of people in Africa. In January this year the Heads of States and Government of our Union adopted the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment, as well as its Implementation Roadmap. To date, 32 Member States have signed the Protocol, while only one Member State - Rwanda - has ratified it. It is critical that all Member States become parties to this instrument, as soon as possible. The Protocol on Free Movement is one of the pillars of the integration process of the continent, along with the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market. As we gather here, I dream of the day when all Africans can freely circulate in their own continent. This will be the day when Pan-Africanism will assume its full meaning for our citizens. This will be the day when Africans will no longer experience the indignities and impediments that, more often than not, mark their travels on the continent.

EU-Africa trade relations

Economic Partnership Agreements: joint ITUC-Africa/ETUC/ITUC statement

We ask for the EU and African groupings to develop a new mandate for negotiations. This should follow the principles listed below (extract):

  1. Before starting trade discussions, the EU and Africa should identify economic activity and sectors where trade opening would be beneficial for the creation of decent jobs, particularly for women, young people and other vulnerable groups. This impact assessment must involve evidence from both employers, trade unions, academia and international organisations, and be transparent. In this regard, we call for the public release of the three sustainability impact assessments conducted by the EU in April 2008, April 2012 and January 2016 and never made public.

  2. There must be explicit guarantees that any trade agreement will not affect the current market access provided to all Least Developed Countries with no request for reciprocity in market access as long as these countries remain “least developed” in the UN Human Development Index.

  3. Any future agreements must be more asymmetrical in terms of tariff reductions and other concessions than the current EPAs. Countries must retain the ability to vary tariffs and other protections to allow African countries to develop. This must include the ability to exclude sectors where women and vulnerable groups are particularly likely to be disadvantaged by liberalisation.

  4. Digitalisation is also a form of industrialisation, so special care must also be taken to avoid any disciplines on the ability of governments to regulate e-commerce and demand local presence.

  5. Agricultural products from the EU should be completely excluded from liberalisation because the European agricultural sector is subsidised. Tariffs of 20% are sometimes too low to effectively protect a sensitive market in African countries. African governments must have the ability to vary tariffs to ensure their food security. Special care should be taken not to further worsen Africa’s food deficits, and particular attention should be given to the condition of life and work of rural workers...

Uganda Trade Sector Review 2018: tweeted highlights from the Uganda Export Promotion Board

The country’s merchandise exports are still dominated by unprocessed and or primary products. The export to import ratio in the financial year 2017/18 was 52.66%. In a nutshell today Uganda is spending $100 on imports when it has earned an income of only $52.66 from exports. In that effect, the country is living on borrowings. It is vitally important to halt this escalation by making reduction of the trade deficit a top national priority and galvanizing all efforts by key MDAs like @ugandaexports to expand exports on a sustainable basis.

For the first time in history Uganda had a surplus balance of trade with Kenya in the financial year 2017/18 of $122.78m: exports of $628.47m, against imports of $505.70m. The COMESA trading bloc has been the main destination for Uganda’s formal exports for the last decade with the share in total export earnings on average throughout the years, from 25.58% in 2005/06 to 51.32% in 2017/18. COMESA member states that contributed significantly to the export earnings in 2017/18 were Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and DRC, accounting for $628.47m, $311.34m, $197.44m and $196.87m respectively (90% composition of Uganda-COMESA trade).

It intended to narrow the trade deficit as a % of total exports from the current annual average of negative 96% to, at most, negative 35% over the next five years. The National Export Development Strategy also intends: (i) To increase the value of priority products exported to the negotiated preferential markets by an average of 25% for regional markets (EAC, COMESA) & 40% for the EU annually for the next five years. (ii) To increase the value of priority products exported to the selected unilateral preferential markets (US, India and China) by an average of 40% annually over the next five years. (iii) Increase the value of priority products exported to the selected non preferential markets (Singapore, UAE & Hong Kong) by average of 35% annually over the next five years. (iv) Provide a two-way communication mechanism between the productive sectors & export markets with a view to fostering oriented investment & production. [Uganda’s exports increase by 7%]

Nigeria: MTN issues frightened foreign investors – US, UK envoys (Punch)

The envoys of the UK and the USA in Nigeria have said that the problems being faced by leading telecommunications giant, MTN, have scared investors from both countries from Nigeria, resulting in some of them pulling back and others withdrawing fresh offers and taking them to neighbouring countries. The two envoys spoke in Lagos on Thursday on the sideline of the 2018 International Investment Conference themed, ‘Promoting Investment, Connecting Business’, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of activities marking the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair. The Consul General, US High Commission, Mr John Bray, said the message the MTN experience sent was that people could make investments in Nigeria only for the rules of the game to be changed overnight: “Apparently things are being resolved, but once you make an announcement like that (order to repatriate the funds), there are probably guys sitting back there and waiting to get on the plane and fly back to the JFK and say, I am not investing again.” [AFC to finalise N36bn investment in Nigeria’s mining sector]

The role of Mauritius in linking Africa and Asia: seminar highlights (GoM)

Organised by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in collaboration with the University of Mauritius, the seminar aimed at providing a platform for the holding of panel discussions. Speakers from the University of Mauritius, the Economic Development Board, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Bank of China (Mauritius) Ltd, and Business Mauritius addressed the participants. Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo highlighted that, since Africa is a vital continent with some 30% of global natural resources and has the youngest population around the globe, Mauritius can serve as a link between Africa and Asia, and as a lighthouse for the region. He underscored that India and China have a major role to play in the future. He underscored that Mauritius, in a bid to link Africa and Asia, needs to sign several free trade agreements. The country, he stated, is already a stakeholder in the African Continental Free Trade Area and agreements are already being prepared with some 12 African countries for bilateral cooperation. Furthermore, the Mauritian financial sector can be a significant focal point for massive foreign investment on the African continent.

REC updates:

Customs Services discuss consolidation of the ECOWAS Customs Union. The Directors-General of Customs Services of the 15 member countries of ECOWAS met in Abuja (yesterday) in a quest to consolidate the ECOWAS Customs Union. They are also deliberating on information exchange and cooperation between customs administrations as a concerted response to the obstacles to the free movement of goods, security challenges and resurgence of illicit trafficking. The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs, and Free Movement, Mr Tei Konz, said the Commission had made good progress on the construction of a regional automated transit system based on the interconnection of national customs Information Technology systems. He solicited for the necessary support (by the Directors-General) of the ECOWAS Commission’s efforts to consolidate the Customs Union so that all the elements contributing to its smooth realization “are quickly and effectively implemented”. Of particular importance to be taken into account, by the Commissioner’s estimation, is the new role of the Customs Administration in the current security context. He said in this regard: “There is today an expansion of customs missions with emerging missions such as the fight against trafficking, the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

EALA enacts the EAC Statistics Bureau Bill. With that, a new institution to be known as the EAC Statistics Bureau is now in the offing should the Heads of State assent to the enacted Bill. The Bill which was deferred at the last Sitting in Arusha, sailed through this afternoon with Members emphasizing its importance as the integration process makes strides and progresses towards the Monetary Union. The Bill provides for the functions, powers, governance and its funding with a view to establishing an institution responsible for statistics in a bid to support the East African Monetary Union. The Bill is now to be forwarded to the EAC Heads of State for assent in line with Article 63 of the Treaty for the EAC. [Download pdf EAC Statistics Bureau Bill, 2017 (51 KB) ]

Djibouti: Macro-fiscal implications of climate change (IMF)

Most Djibouti’s production capacity is located in coastal and other low-lying areas. Djibouti’s economy is mainly driven by service activities in coastal areas (76% of GDP and 53% of total employment), dominated by port and transport-related services, reflecting the country’s strategic location overlooking the strait of Bab el Mandeb. Djibouti is ranked seventh on the vulnerability to climate change among small developing states. The paper concludes that global warming resulting from climate change may have severe macro-fiscal implications for Djibouti. Extract: The cost of climate change for Djibouti can be relatively high. Estimates based on the PAGE model suggest than in the case of the baseline scenario of a temperature increase by 2°C, the total costs for Djibouti could be linearly increasing from 1 to 3 percent of GDP in 2020-60. In an adverse scenario of a +4°C temperature change, the potential cost for Djibouti of climate change may reach 6% of its GDP. These estimates of climate-related costs for Djibouti should be treated as indicative.

Releasing the 2017 Global Findex microdata (World Bank)

It’s financial inclusion week – a series of events exploring “the most pressing actions needed to advance financial inclusion globally” – making this a perfect time to launch the 2017 Global Findex microdata. In April, we released country-level indicators on account ownership, digital savings, savings, credit, and financial resilience. Now comes the microdata – individual-level survey responses from roughly 150,000 adults living in more than 140 economies globally. The good thing about the microdata is it lets you slice up the Global Findex variables in countless different ways. It’s also easy to mix in data from other sources and explore the factors driving financial inclusion. Here’s one small example: Let’s say you work on women’s financial inclusion, and you want to probe West Africa’s surge in account ownership. Looking at the main Global Findex data, you can easily find the share of women with an account. But maybe you only want to focus on the poorest 20% of women, or women who are out of the workforce. Using the microdata, you can define the demographic categories and produce the numbers. [How to download the data]

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