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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

15 Nov 2018

AfCFTA Phase II negotiations: expert workshop concludes today in Addis (UNECA)

The AfCFTA Phase II issues are investment, competition policy, and intellectual property rights. These provide a critical complement to the Phase I topics of trade in goods and services, by helping to “ensure that the benefits from integration are not only deepened, but shared for a win-win AfCFTA”, says Mr David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre. Following the experts group meeting, a validation workshop is to be held, 16-19 November, to review draft chapters of the Assessing Regional Integration in Africa IX report on the theme, Next steps for the African Continental Free Trade Area. Publication of the ARIA report is scheduled for February 2019, coinciding with the launch of the AfCFTA Phase II negotiations. [ARIA: pdf Concept note, chapter outline (209 KB) ]

AUC, NEPAD rally partners for next phase of PIDA (AU)

The event (13 November) gathered representatives from GiZ, EU, Chinese Mission to the AU, and the embassies of Indonesia and Korea, representing the Group MIKTA, which is an informal partnership between Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia. A number of key themes emerged in the main discussion, covering a wide range of issues including: strengthened involvement of the private sector in infrastructure, formulation of project selection criteria, pre-screening of projects against these criteria, support to the expert pool under the Service Delivery Mechanism for early-stage project preparation and support to the optimization of the Continental Business Network for an increased private sector engagement.

ECOWAS Ministers of Finance approve draft Supplementary Act on Community rules of origin, procedures (ECOWAS)

The final report of their meeting, which concluded on 2 November, stated that the draft supplementary Act was approved, subject to rephrasing its Article 26 to ensure that companies which already benefit from tariff preference under the old protocol do not lose it with the coming into force of the new text. Also approved is the draft Supplementary Act on Mutual Assistance and cooperation between customs administrations of ECOWAS member states and collaboration between them and ECOWAS Commission on customs matters. In addition to the draft regulation on the Change of Product Category in the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, the Ministers approved the draft Supplementary Act adopting Community Rules for the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to taxes on Income, Capital and Inheritance as well as the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance within the ECOWAS Member States. On the strength of the progress made, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Finance Mrs Halima Ahmed, entreated the Ministers on the timely remittance of Community levy that is collected directly and domiciled in the ECOWAS account maintained in the various Member States. She also called for a rigorous application of the tax base.

The Ministerial Session of the EAC’s Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment takes place tomorrow, Friday

Mozambique Economic Update: Shifting to inclusive growth (World Bank)

Buoyed by a drop in inflation and the advancement of one of two major gas projects, the pdf Mozambique Economic Update: Shifting to inclusive growth (701 KB)  notes that the country is more stable since the 2016 debt crisis triggered the economic slump, but growth prospects are limited. GDP growth was an average 3.8% in 2016 and 2017 and is expected to reach a slightly lower rate of 3.3% in 2018. Services such as tourism, transport and finance – all hardest hit by the crisis – have shown a modest increase in growth, the report says, however these gains were offset by slowed growth in the extractives sector. Mozambique’s growth opportunities also hinge on the recovery of consumer spending, especially in services, which had been the largest driver of growth before 2016, the report notes.

While poverty has been reduced, the MEU notes that there is more inequality as economic progress increasingly becomes less inclusive. The analysis notes several positive developments, including an acceleration in the rate of poverty reduction between 2008 and 2014, bringing poverty down from 59% of the population to 48%. However, these gains were accompanied by a widening gap between the better-off and the poor, the report says, hindering Mozambique’s progress in achieving shared prosperity and making it now among the most unequal countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, the rate of the economy’s labor productivity growth declined as people moved away from agricultural jobs to services such as catering and retail, the report notes. “When looking back, it is clear the Mozambique’s high growth period yielded important progress for poverty reduction,” Mahdi said. “But in looking ahead at the future drivers of growth, it is even clearer that it is the quality, not just the quantity, of growth that will matter for making economic progress more inclusive.” [The Portuguese version can be accessed here]

Mauritius-India CECPA negotiations nearing conclusion (GoM)

Mauritius’s negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India is nearing conclusion with the 7th round of negotiations scheduled for next week. It is expected that the CECPA will be signed during the Prime Minister’s, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, visit to India in January 2019. This announcement was made yesterday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day national workshop on the state of play of the WTO.

pdf Ghana: The 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government (902 KB) (MoF)

Mr. Speaker, this Government continues to improve the attractiveness of Ghana as an investment destination. Our efforts to improve the business environment are being recognised. Ghana’s ranking on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report rose 6 places, from 120 to 114 out of 190 countries, and we maintained our status as the highest ranked West-African nation. In 2019, the Ministry of Trade will prioritize and fast-track the implementation of the Business Regulatory Reform programme including the Legislative and Administrative reforms to further improve Ghana’s performance in the Doing Business Index. In addition, an online Electronic Registry will be launched in 2019. It will document all business-related laws, regulations, administrative notices, procedures and fees. This will provide open and transparent access to business regulations in Ghana.

We continue to achieve marked success in our investment promotion drive. As at September, this year, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre had registered 93% of its target of 126 businesses with foreign participation for the year. These businesses represented $2.0bn of FDI, and in 2019 the Centre is aiming to register 130 new businesses with foreign participation, attracting FDI of $2.3bn. Attracting FDI into our country is critical for growth and regional competitiveness. To make Ghana more attractive for FDI, Government intends to make Ghana a member of the Africa Trade Insurance Agency. [Ghana’s SDG Budget Baseline Report]

Republic of Congo: IMF staff completes staff visit (IMF)

Substantial progress has been achieved in the implementation of the authorities’ structural reform agenda, including the publication of a diagnostic study on governance, the introduction of a legal requirement to publish annual audited financial statements of the Congolese national oil company (SNPC), and the online publication of production sharing agreements in the oil sector. Additional progress is needed to strengthen the legal frameworks for the Commission on Transparency and the asset declarations regime, and to increase transparency in the management and accounting of oil revenues. The IMF team will continue discussions with the authorities on the remaining steps needed to bring the Republic of Congo’s request for a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility to the consideration of its Executive Board. This will require some adjustments to the 2019 Draft Budget, implementation of reforms to improve governance and transparency, and the provision of explicit assurances on financing from external official creditors, including debt relief, which is needed to restore debt sustainability.

Tanzanian cashew price hike could lead to global shortage, traders say (Reuters)

Tanzania’s plan to buy the country’s entire 2018 cashew nut crop could lead to a global shortage, with processors in Vietnam and India likely to be hit first, traders said. President John Magufuli has ordered a 94% increase to cashew nut prices to protect farmers from low prices and told his government to acquire the estimated 220,000 tonne crop after private buyers refused to buy at the higher price. Tanzanians would eat the nuts themselves if they could not sell them, Magufuli said, raising concerns that the nation’s most valuable export crop will not reach global markets. If the nuts are not sold to buyers in Vietnam waiting for them, “there is going to be a shortage” Sushant Gupta, owner of Indian-based commodity trading company ReloBridge, said. Tanzania exports 75% of East Africa’s cashew crop, the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation says and its export revenues doubled to $540m last year from $270m in 2016, official data shows.

Egyptian investments in Africa reach $10.2bn – Minister (Egypt Today)

Egyptian investments in Africa recorded $10.2bn, and African investments in Egypt hit around $2.8bn, according to Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr. Nasr noted that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi puts the economic and investment relationships with Africa as a priority. Nasr invited the AIF audience to participate in Africa 2018 Forum (8-9 December), which will be held under the auspices of the president and will be organized by the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and the Regional Investment Agency of the COMESA. The minister affirmed the importance of this forum in setting priorities for development of the African continent.

Egyptian National Corporation for Investment in Africa to be established (Egypt Today)

The Cabinet, on 7 November, granted the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and other public institutions, approval to establish “The Egyptian National Corporation for Investment in Africa.” Parliamentarian Mohamed Saad Temraz affirmed that the committee will host representatives of the ministry in few days to explain the prospective corporation’s mission, and how it will deal with countries in the continent.

US trade with Southern Africa grows (Fresh Plaza)

The two-way agricultural trade volume between the US and countries in Southern Africa reached a record $1.5bn last year, according to most recent international ag trade report from the USDA. “South Africa is sort of the entry point, an anchor, for a lot of Africa,” said Ted McKinney, undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at USDA, who recently visited the region on an agriculture trade mission.

India’s digital services exports hit $83bn says new survey (UNCTAD)

The survey, conducted by India’s Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, with technical cooperation from UNCTAD, shows that “digital delivery” is particularly important for small enterprises. The survey (pdf) made use of a definition, measurement concepts and guidelines developed by UNCTAD and approved by the UN Statistical Commission. Results for the financial year 2016-17 show that from $103bn of services with the potential to be sold abroad over ICT networks, approximately 81% was in fact delivered via ICT, with 19% being delivered by experts temporarily travelling abroad. Of those digitally delivered services, computer services accounted for 63%, management and administration services accounted for 14%, and engineering and R&D services accounted for 11%. Delivery through the temporary movement of technical experts was also most significant for computer services (27%), followed by engineering and R&D services (17%). A little over half the value of the ICT-enabled services were destined for the USA, followed by Europe with a quarter of the total value. Exports represented a particularly high proportion of total sales of computer services (89%) and management and administration services (85%) – indicating a high level of dependence on exports for these sectors.

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