Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: AU-UN IST | Stuart Price

Mali’s parliament yesterday, 15 November, unanimously ratified the AfCFTA Agreement. @AbdoulayeDiop8: Bravo au gouvernement & a l’Assemblée nationale du Mali pour cette prompte adoption conforme a l’engagement Panafrican de notre pays.

The 11th Extraordinary Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union takes place this weekend. From earlier this week:

Highlights from the Executive Council meeting

  1. Address by Chairperson of the AUC, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat. “As you are aware, at the Nouakchott Summit, it was decided that the Executive Council convene a session enlarged to other relevant Ministers to consolidate the Common Position on Post-Cotonou arrangements with the European Union. This meeting was held in Addis Ababa on 14 September. Unfortunately the meeting was inconclusive. The main point of divergence has been the role that should be played by the AU in the negotiation of a Compact between Africa and Europe. The Chairman of the Executive Council and I will have the opportunity to report in detail on the proceedings of the meeting held last September. Suffice it, at this stage, for me to underscore that the expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement affords us the opportunity to build a relationship that really takes into account our achievements in the areas of peace and security, governance and integration, and serve as a lever for the fulfilment of our aspirations as stipulated in Agenda 2063. I wish to state frankly that the old patterns certainly offer the comfort of familiarity, but they are no longer adapted to the exigencies of the time. I believe that we can, on the basis of the deliberations of your Extraordinary session, find the necessary compromise between the various concerns expressed and speak with one voice on this matter in the interest of the continent.”

  2. Address by Chairperson of the AU Executive Council, Dr Richard Sezibera. “Our work over the next two days will be demanding, but we can aim to complete our Executive Council Session with clear recommendations to our leaders on the AUC Reforms, AUDA’s mandate, APRM’s budget, and proposals on the division of labor among key African institutional stakeholders. We certainly owe our collective people that much. Let me conclude with a special mention of the post-Cotonou Framework, which we will briefly discuss tomorrow and further submit for consideration to the Assembly of Heads of State. Africa needs to speak with one voice, and negotiate as one. That is the only fitting way for a vibrant Africa, finally taking her rightful place in the concert of nations.” [Infographic: pdf Institutional reform of the African Union (387 KB) ]

  3. AUC deputy chairperson Ambassador Kwesi Quartey: 5 key takeaways of the adoption of the 2019 budget

  4. An AFP preview: African leaders meet for ‘last push’ on AU reforms

7th EU-South Africa summit: outcomes, statements

  1. Joint statement. Recognizing the EU as a significant and long term investor in South Africa, we commit to exploring all of the opportunities for investment, technical assistance including project preparation, and the improvement of business and investment climates to promote sustainable development. We agree that attracting direct investment will contribute to support growth and fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa. Therefore we are committed to enhancing bilateral investments by improving skills for employability, and by ensuring a conducive and value-based business environment, within transparent and predictable policy and regulatory frameworks, and with the aim to ensure accountability and competitive practices. To this end, we agree to establish, where appropriate, an ad hoc multi-stakeholder dialogue on investment, with the aim of deepening strategic cooperation in key sectors. We exchanged views on land reform and the Constitutional process in South Africa and how to maintain investor confidence, promote agricultural production, improve food security and reduce poverty, as key components of our partnership.

    We reiterate our commitment to respecting the WTO Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade. In order to find mutually acceptable solutions to impediments to trade in agriculture, agri-food and manufactured goods, we agree to strengthen our dialogue and cooperation on TBT and SPS issues, including regionalization concerns of both the EU and South Africa. We welcome the conclusion and provisional implementation in 2016 of the EU-SADC EPA, which has created the foundation for a new and mutually beneficial economic relationship between the EU, South Africa and the other partners of the EU-SADC EPA. We also commit to work towards a prompt resolution of trade impediments – including the agriculture and agri-food sector – affecting smooth trade flows, where relevant, bilaterally and/or with other ADC EPA Member States in the framework of the EU-SADC EPA.

  2. Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa. “We have also agreed to strengthen cooperation on investment in support of economic development, infrastructure, industrialisation, skills development, small business development and entrepreneurship. We will work together to support the digital transformation of the economy in an inclusive manner by supporting digital innovation, digital infrastructure, the information society, and by fostering digital skills for all.”

  3. Remarks by President Donald Tusk. “South Africa is a key player, both regionally and globally, and we will step-up our cooperation accordingly, to defend our shared values and interests. These include support for multilateral solutions, including trading system, and the rules-based global order, which will be discussed in two weeks’ time at the G20 in Argentina. Next year, South Africa will be on the United Nations Security Council, providing another opportunity to enhance our cooperation on peace and security further. Also when it comes to migration. Like Europe, South Africa is a destination country for migrants and refugees. So, it is important for both of us that sending-countries take back irregular economic migrants, when requested.”

  4. Carien du Plessis: Amid the Brexit high drama, SA and the EU chiefs talk up trade. The “reboot” of the relationship with the European Union comes as South Africa is emerging from what Ramaphosa likes to call “difficult times”, mostly referring to former president Jacob Zuma’s final term in office which was dominated by State Capture and corruption allegations. Ramaphosa’s administration started reaching out after he took over in February, partly driven by a will to attract $100bn in foreign investment to get South Africa’s economy going again. The compact size of his delegation, consisting only of finance minister Tito Mboweni and trade and industry minister Rob Davies, clearly pointed to a business-mindedness.

  5. Eurostat: The EU is the third largest partner for trade in goods with Africa, behind China (the largest partner) and Japan, and in front of South Korea and the United States. Since 2015 there has been a trade in goods surplus with Africa and in 2017 the surplus was €18bn. This was lower than the peak of €28bn in 2016, due to an increase in imports from Africa – the first increase in imports from Africa to the EU since 2012. 23 EU Member States had a trade in goods surplus with Africa in 2017 – highest two were Germany (€8.3bn) and France (€5.6bn). [Download pdf Africa-EU International trade in goods statistics (1.03 MB) ]

Illicit financial flows via trade mis-invoicing: WCO study report

The WCO’s study report, Illicit financial flows via trade mis-invoicing (pdf) is now available for public consultation. The report is the result of a successful collaboration between the WCO Secretariat, academic, intergovernmental and industry experts and a few customs administrations who provided key data to the Secretariat. The Report was endorsed by the WCO Council in June and subsequently presented to the G20 Development Working Group in July 2018, which had originally tasked the WCO with the composition of a report during the 2016 Hangzhou Summit. The report contains an overview of the current methods employed in assessing the magnitude of IFFs via trade mis-invoicing - the Price Filter Method and Partner Country Method - and features pioneering research from Global Financial Integrity and Central Michigan and Pennsylvania State universities. Additional contributions on inter-agency cooperation, best practices from the Korean Customs Administration and new technologies such as Blockchain provide a comprehensive account of the scale of IFFs and their wide-ranging impact.

Beitbridge, Chirundu: Border economies linkages to the development of trade corridors and regional value chains in SADC (GEG Africa)

There is a complex relationship between trade facilitation and local border economies. Trade facilitation is essential to keep traffic flowing through border towns and maintain their viability; but very efficient border posts also reduce the need for firms specialising in helping traders overcome hurdles at borders. The research considered this relationship as part of a broad-based approach used to engage with different stakeholders. Economic development opportunities for border economies are intimately linked to the operation of border posts. Our research highlights some of the complex linkages to be considered. The subsequent policy recommendations can be simplified into four key policy observations: [The authors: Anna Ngarachu, Christopher Wood, Heinrich Krogman, Elisha Tshuma, Dale Mudenda, Catherine Grant Makokera. Commentary: Reformed pan-Africa policies and OSBPs enable fish traders and processors to conduct easier and more equitable cross-border trade]

SADC Business Council: The voice of the private sector for regional industrialisation and integration

During a recent meeting of SADC’s National and Regional Business Apex Bodies, participating delegates officially adopted and endorsed the platform which will become the formal regional body for engaging with all SADC structures through the channels of the SADC Secretariat. “The SADC Business Council will foster a stronger working relationship between the public and private in the execution of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063. We are honoured that SADC’s National and Regional Business Apex Bodies have appointed the NEPAD Business Foundation as an interim Secretariat for the SADC Business Council until mid-2019,” said Peter Varndell, NBF’s CEO.

WTO updates:

Advanced global workshop on government procurement and governance issues. DG Azevêdo: “The event stands out for many reasons. It is the first time that we are holding a three-day workshop of this kind here at the WTO. And it also brings a different perspective to the table. Usually our capacity building efforts in this area focus on market access issues involved in government procurement. However, this initiative focuses primarily on governance matters. We all know the importance of the government procurement sector to the global economy. Government procurement accounts for a significant proportion of GDP, on average 13-15% worldwide.”

New ICTSD commentaries on WTO issues: WTO members prepare to shift gears in fisheries negotiations; Trade tensions and agriculture: a proposal for WTO action

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