Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie | World Bank

Tomorrow, in Addis Ababa: 6th African Union Commission-United States High Level Dialogue. Amb. Kwesi Quartey (AUC Deputy Chairperson) and Tibor Peter Nagy (US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs) will lead their respective delegations.

Update on next month’s Intra-African Trade Fair (11-17 December, Cairo): exhibitor registrations pass the 1000 mark

Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018 (AU, AfDB)

In this 3rd edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018, published today by the AfDB and the AUC, the findings shows that on average, African countries are becoming more open to each other. The top 20 most visa-open countries continue to improve their average score, reflecting the countries’ more liberal visa policies. In addition, 43 countries improved or maintained their score. Benin made the most progress in opening up its borders to African travellers, moving from 27th place in the 2017 edition to 1st place in the 2018 report. Zimbabwe also broke into the top 20 with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for SADC members. Overall, when compared to 2017, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22%); can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries (same as last year); and need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54%).

Regional overviewFree movement of people continues to vary region by region, in part reflecting regional policies. In 2018, the top 20 countries include the same number of countries in East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and North Africa as in 2017, and no countries in Central Africa. 8 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in East Africa (Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania). 7 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in West Africa (Benin, Cabo Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Togo). 4 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in Southern Africa (Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Zimbabwe). Only one country in the top 20 most visa-open countries is in North Africa (Mauritania). Of the top 20 most visa-open countries, none are in Central Africa. Open reciprocity (measuring ‘no visa’ policies) Africa-wide was 19% (up from 17% in 2017). Closed reciprocity Africa-wide was 33% (down from 36% in 2017). Top performing RECs on open reciprocity include: ECOWAS (100%), EAC (90%), UMA (60%) and SADC (56%).

REC updates:

  1. ECOWAS early-warning gender integration and training manual validation workshop. The workshop (26-27 November, Abuja) reviewed the draft document to ensure that it serves as a practical guide on integrating gender into the different phases of the regional community’s early warning system. The experts discussed whether the methodology employs a gender-sensitive lens in data collection and analysis, as well as in the formulation and implementation of responses to situations. The director, Early Warning at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Abdou Lat Gueye, commended the ECOWAS partners including West Africa Network for Peace building, UNOWAS, gender experts and other supportive or collaborative organisations for their commitment to the process. Noting that early warning deals with data collection, management and analysis in relating to human security, he disclosed that the Directorate has been expanding its thematic areas and field activities in order to effectively cover the five sectors in the manual.

  2. ECOWAS Commission urges strengthening of cross-border trade through e-commerce. Commissioner Zouli Bonkoungou told participants attending a regional workshop in Abuja on the quality of postal services that in order for the postal sector to play a role in e-commerce and help stimulate cross-border trade in the sub-region, “postal operators must have the necessary means to achieve and maintain a high level of quality”. He maintained that the current trend of an increased wave of migration to the use of ICT, to facilitate socio-economic transactions, also influences the expectations of users who now demand higher quality services. The Postmaster General of the Nigerian Federation, Bisi Adegbuyi, admitted that the region needs to provide appropriate tools that will ensure an efficient and quality based exchange of postal items at all levels in terms of physical, digital, electronic or financial postal network. Bold steps, he maintained have been taken by the Nigerian Postal Services to restructure its services to meet the challenges of the contemporary times, and bring it at par with global best practices. The West and Central Africa Regional Coordinator for the Universal Postal Union, Mr Salam Sanfo, hoped for better times after the workshop, as most African postal companies “have a poor quality services, resulting in poor performance in terms of their results with difficulties and all that, hinders the financing of investments for the modernization of postal infrastructures”

  3. French Development Agency commits to support EAC regional projects. The Head of the French delegation, Amb Frédéric Clavier, said France is committed to support EAC integration, as they do for other RECs, like ECOWAS. He said France was keen on supporting initiatives that will promote peace, political stability and political integration. He proposed that the cooperation between France and EAC cooperation should focus on resolving challenges such as job creation through support to the private sector. Other areas of interest include the environment, sustainable agriculture, sustainable cities, transport, and water management. Mr Benoit Gauthier, head of Regional Economic Department for East Africa and the Indian Ocean, noted that France and Germany are the main investors in the EAC region because of the EAC integrated market. He emphasized the need to remove non-tariff barriers and re-affirmed France’s commitment to supporting the resolution of NTBs.

  4. ITC to launch SheTrades in two more COMESA countries – Uganda, Egypt. The International Trade Centre will, next year, launch the SheTrades programme in Uganda and Egypt, bringing the number of COMESA countries implementing the programme to five. SheTrades Chapters have been launched in Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia as part of efforts to connect three million women to markets by 2021.

  5. Youth unemployment, trade, and migration in West Africa: lessons and opportunities. In West Africa, an observatory was established to monitor abnormal practices relating to free movement, which documents irregular practices by national authorities, border agencies, and other stakeholders. The missing link is a mechanism that connects the reports from the observatory to the policymaking process at the national and regional level. To address this gap, the observatory should collaborate with the ECOWAS task force on the free movement of goods and people. The ECOWAS Heads of States and Government has taken the task force reports seriously and implemented their recommendations, especially as they relates to the free movement of goods.

South Africa becomes first country in the world to allow an illegal cigarette brand to become the top seller (pdf, TISA)

The trade in illegal cigarettes has increased dramatically, despite promises of a crackdown from the South African Revenue Service, according to the latest Tobacco Market Study from research house Ipsos. Cigarettes selling for less than the tax of R17.85 per pack owed to SARS have grown market share by over 25%, from 33% to 42% in the informal market, in just three months. According to a 2015 judgment, cigarettes that sell for below the minimum tax can be deemed as illicit. In a remarkable show of defiance, manufacturers of cigarettes selling below the minimum tax have expanded their distribution at the very same time as SARS has been promising to crack down. Gold Leaf Tobacco’s RG brand is now the top selling brand in South Africa overall, overtaking all legal brands. It sells for an average price of just R10 and is, therefore, clearly evading the R17.85 owed to SARS on each pack. Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation now represents 73% of the market for illegal cigarettes. It is on track to become the biggest tobacco company by sales volume in the country, especially if there is another tax increase on legal cigarettes in February 2019. [Various downloads are available] [Gold Leaf calls illicit tobacco survey smoke and mirrors (Fin24)]

The rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Africa (Enact)

We are still in the foothills of combating falsified medical products in Africa. In the past 10 years, Western regulatory, technology and measurement systems have successfully adapted to the threat of counterfeit medicines. SDG 3 needs to emphasise the need to ‘ensure healthy lives’60 through ‘quality, affordable medicines’. Yet fake pharmaceuticals in Africa continue to account for up to 30% of the market. The EU’s FMD and similar legislation in the US have helped to shore up a leaky supply chain. Moreover, evidence of successful enforcement of countermeasures and investigations show a strong bias towards more economically developed countries. In Africa, the WHO’s GSMS is the first large-scale monitoring mechanism. African national medicines regulatory authorities, in co-operation with each other, must complement international efforts with local enforcement, monitoring and reporting. Extract (pdf): Our recommendations call for a substantial overhaul of the regulatory, legal, enforcement and education systems around African medical supply chains. The legal and regulatory frameworks for combating medicine fraud will need to be enacted and established nationally. A consistent and regular assessment of counterfeits should be undertaken, and awareness-raising and training campaigns improved. Options to introduce mass-serialisation forms of track-and-trace should be investigated and evaluated, and supply chains will need to be carefully assessed to identify risk areas. Capacity building in enforcement should follow the successful Nigerian example. [The authors: Robin Cartwright, Ana Baric]

Global Wage Report 2018/19: what lies behind gender pay gaps (ILO)

For the first time, the ILO report also focuses on the global gender pay gap, using data from 70 countries and some 80% of employees worldwide. Its findings indicate that despite some significant regional differences, men continue to be paid around 20 per cent more than women; “perhaps the biggest single injustice in the world of work”, Mr Ryder said. In high-income countries the gender pay gap is at its biggest in top-salaried positions. In low and middle-income countries, however, the gap is widest among lower-paid workers, the ILO report found. Its data also suggests that traditional explanations for this - such as differences in the levels of education between men and women who work - play only a “limited” role in explaining gender pay gaps. Executive summary: extract (pdf): In Africa, where wage data have been collected for the first time for a significant number of countries, real wages appear to have declined overall in 2017 by 3.0%. This is mainly attributable to negative wage trends in Egypt and Nigeria, two large countries which exert a strong influence on our weighted regional average. If these two countries are taken out of the sample, real wages in Africa are estimated to have increased by a moderate 1.3% in 2017.

G20 Investor Forum input: The landscape for institutional investing in 2018 – perspectives of institutional investors

As part of preparing for the Forum, the World Bank Group conducted semi-structured interviews with senior executives – mostly chief executive officers and chief investment officers – in 34 global institutional investors, soliciting their views on the current operational and investment environment; strategic priorities going forward; and actions required to scale up investments in sustainable, long-term projects, particularly investments in infrastructure. A key finding from the interviews was the significant degree of consensus among global investors on what were the principal concerns, opportunities, and actions needed.

Section 6.3: Infrastructure investments in emerging markets: Many of the respondents viewed infrastructure investments in emerging markets as a key source of future opportunities. At the same time, infrastructure investing in emerging markets was regarded as especially problematic, with regulatory and political uncertainty and a lack of institutional capacity (which can vary even within a single institution) resulting in significant difficulties in sourcing projects and negotiating their funding with sponsors. Respondents felt that transparency and predictability in the legal and institutional framework were key to estimating risks and returns on investment, while they saw political and business risks – including corruption, regime change, breach of contract, and the inability to enforce policy changes – and foreign exchange/currency risk as the most significant risks for infrastructure investment in emerging markets. [Download pdf The Landscape for Institutional Investing in 2018: Perspectives of institutional investors, An Input into the Investor Forum (953 KB) ] [Project Syndicate commentary, by Jeffrey Sachs: Financing international cooperation]

IMF podcast: Managing the remarkable jump in capital flows in Sub-Saharan Africa

Today’s Quick Links:

World Bank: Economy profile of Tanzania, Sudan

UNECA: Mauritania iGuide now available to download

Somaliland holds investment forum in Nairobi (30 November)

ECA presents new Harmonized Regional Framework for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Africa to local authorities

UNCTAD: 50 years of Review of Maritime Transport, 1968-2018


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