tralac’s Daily News Selection
AfCFTA ratification update, @GovUganda: Today (Wednesday) the Instrument of Uganda’s ratification of the AfCFTA was officially handed over to the African Union Commission. Uganda is the 9th country to ratify this initiative, which will bolster trade opportunities for Ugandans.
AfCFTA: Big economies afraid of ‘cheating’, says ECA’s David Luke (New Times)
David Luke spoke to Business Times’ James Karuhangaabout about issues to be resolved before completing Phase One of negotiations, approaches to adopt for liberalising trade in goods under the deal and explained why big countries fear they could be cheated. Excerpts:
Q: Then what is complicating things on the agreement? Luke: What has complicated the rules of origin for the AfCFTA is that a number of countries, big countries that are especially in Southern Africa, and Nigeria, are afraid of cheating. Q: How can this be, or who would be cheating them? Luke: They don’t want a situation where, for example, China or India makes a deal for example with a small country to say that ‘goods coming from China will qualify because they made some small changes here and there.’ In some cases quite frankly, they just change the label on the product and put a local label and send it as qualifying. To avoid this, they want product-specific routes and not across-the-board cumulation of 15% or 30%, or any other. What this means is, in the customs declaration, there are about 6,000 tariff lines for all products. There is a whole classification in customs and it is called the harmonised system used worldwide. The difficulty with that is that obviously it takes time to sit down and agree that for this category this is the minimum that we accept. But it’s much more specific.
Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations tweets: DG NOTN, Ambassador Osakwe, engages with the Technical Working Group of the Presidential Committee on a 21st Century Trade Policy for Nigeria and parameters for AfCFTA implementation. “A Nigerian 21st Century Trade Policy should be constructed on the solid foundations of trade integration, openness, digital economy, opposition to dead-end protectionism and accompanied by robust rules-based safeguards against injurious trade practices”
African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees: Committees are cornerstone of pan-African trade dream (UNCTAD)
Because the range of issues covered by trade facilitation provisions in the agreement are so broad, implementation can’t be the remit of one entity, said Willie Shumba, a chief customs expert and adviser for the AUC. “The need for a multi-stakeholder committee on trade facilitation at national level cannot be overemphasized,” Mr Shumba told government agencies and trade operators gathered for the First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees. Issues to tackle include reducing quotas and other harmful non-tariff barriers to trade, setting up single-windows systems, ensuring freedom of transit and improving security and risk management. “The issues are not purely customs issues,” , adding that a host of stakeholders must participate, including trade and transport ministries, port and road authorities, the police, freight forwarders, chambers of commerce. Poul Hansen, who oversees UNCTAD’s work on trade facilitation, said that because there is strong coherence between the AfCFTA and the TFA, the same committee could feasibly work on the provisions under both. “I think it is worthwhile for countries to have a review of what is existing in their national landscape in order to not have what I would call committee clutter.”
PIDA Week 2018 ends with calls to accelerate implementation of game-changing infrastructure projects
ATI Forum: De-risking Nigeria’s investments and trade (Vanguard)
The Government of Nigeria and private sector investors will soon receive important support that will help boost key industries such as the banking sector as well as providing access to competitively priced credit and loan facilities for institutions in Nigeria. Relief is expected once Nigeria finalises its membership into ATI, which is nearing completion. ATI’s Chief Executive Officer, George Otieno commented: ”There are numerous benefits to Nigeria becoming a member of ATI. First, investors and international lenders will look favourably on this action and second the time couldn’t be better for our solutions. We can support the government to diversify the economy, boost banks liquidity, and even help the government to borrow internationally at more competitive rates. This year ATI’s products will stand behind around 5% of all new FDI into Africa so joining ATI literally boosts growth. Lastly, ATI is now paying dividends to shareholder making membership a near budget neutral decision for governments.” [Related: Nigeria perfects measures to join ATI with $20m commitment; Nigeria quits 90 foreign groups over economic agenda]
A group of 30 Chinese entrepreneurs on Wednesday concluded their three-day trip to Uganda to look for business opportunities. Uganda has held several Chinese investment forums with the aim of persuading the Asian country that it is among the best investment destinations in Africa. Lyu Xinhua, chairman of the Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation, said from their brief stay, members of the delegation have observed that Uganda’s investment climate, legal frameworks, affordable labor and infrastructure makes the country more attractive to Chinese investors. [Tanzania snubs Uganda’s invitation for bilateral talks]
The expectations from the four-day forum (26-29 November, Entebbe) is to draft a protocol/agreement on the establishment of the regional Criminal Investigation Services and/or the platform roadmap providing a plan of action towards its implementation through coordination and information sharing against trans-security threats. During the meeting, the team will also revisit the findings and recommendations of the Task Force report.
Liberia: Country Partnership Framework FY19-FY24 (World Bank)
The medium-term growth prospects remain positive, although substantial downside risks remain. GDP growth is projected to recover at an annual average rate of 3.8% over the period 2018-2020. The recovery is expected to be largely driven by agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors, as the economy begins to reap the benefits of improved access to roads and cheaper sources of electricity. Inflation is projected to decline from 11.5% in 2018 to 9.5% by 2020. Additionally, in line with projected improvements in the economy, poverty is expected to fall from 50.5% in 2018 to 48.6% in 2020. The CPF focuses on human development and intangible capital, while keeping the balance with investments in infrastructure to consolidate successes of the previous Country Partnership Strategy and reinforce the impact of the WBG program aimed at building human capital and boosting private sector development.
International trade statistics: trends in third quarter 2018 (OECD)
G20 international merchandise trade, seasonally adjusted and expressed in current US dollars, grew marginally in the third quarter of 2018, on the back of rising oil prices, with G20 exports rising by 0.3% and imports by 0.7%, following the minor contractions in the second quarter of 2018. Excluding large oil exporters, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, G20 trade was flat suggesting that the steady expansion seen over the last two years may have stalled as recent protectionist measures begin to bite. [Various downloads available]
The publication (pdf) introduces the technology with a basic explanation of how, as a tamper-proof, decentralized record of transactions, it allows participants to collaborate and build trust with each other. It describes different classifications of Blockchains and their current and possible applications in the various areas covered by WTO rules. In doing so, it provides an insight into the extent to which this technology could help with trade facilitation, including how it can hasten the transition to paperless trade transactions. It considers Blockchain’s potential and limits in transforming services by looking at payment systems, insurance and the automation of contracts. The publication also discusses how Blockchain could help ease the administration of intellectual property rights and enhance government procurement processes. Other potential benefits identified by the publication include: [Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa: here’s how]
pdf Trade and the Commonwealth: developing countries (667 KB) (House of Commons)
Our report is structured as follows. Chapter 2 considers the EU’s unilateral preference schemes, and the possibilities for the UK’s own unilateral arrangements with developing countries after Brexit. Chapter 3 examines the EU’s EPAs and Chapter 4 looks at the role of the Commonwealth in the context of the UK’s relationship with developing countries. Chapter 5 looks at the relationship between trade and gender, particularly in a development context, and Chapter 6 explores the links between trade and development policy, including the coordination of policy between the Department for International Trade and other departments, especially the Department for International Development . Finally, Chapter 7 considers UK support for investment into, and trade with, developing countries. Extract:
There is a relationship between trade and gender. Women are disproportionately affected by trade policy decisions, particularly in developing countries. UK trade policy should seek to not only “do no harm” but to actively promote gender equality, for example by ensuring that women can “move up the value chain” and that trade liberalisation does not undermine labour rights. The UK has an opportunity to show leadership and develop a truly gender-responsive approach to trade policy and should make the most of this opportunity. The Department for International Trade should publish an analysis of its understanding of the relationship between gender and trade. We also consider that before any trade negotiation, DIT, in close collaboration with the Department for International Development, should conduct impact assessments relating to the impact of any agreement on gender inequality. There is not yet enough evidence of whether gender chapters in Free Trade Agreements have a positive impact, but the Government should evaluate such chapters where they are in place; analyse the circumstances in which they might be most effective; and use this analysis to guide future trade policy.
Owing to the high uncertainty regarding the final trade agreement between the negotiating parties, the choice has been made to assume a worst case outcome where trade relations between the UK and EU are governed by WTO most favoured nation rules. In doing so, it provides an upper bound estimate of the potential negative economic impact stemming from disruptions in trade. Any final trade agreement that would result in closer relationships between the United Kingdom and the EU could reduce this negative impact. Simulations using the METRO model suggest that from an increase in tariff and non-tariff measures Dutch exports to the UK would fall by 17% and GDP declines by 0.7% in the medium term compared to baseline. [WTO: Parties to government procurement pact approve UK’s terms of participation post-Brexit]
Today’s Quick Links:
Mauritius-EU Gender Action Plan: joint monitoring framework agreement
After initial bluff, Nigeria off with largest delegation to AfCFTA Intra-African trade fair in Egypt
Morocco: FDI increases, trade deficit deepens
Why Nigeria needs Free Trade Zones around international airports
Twiga Foods mobile phone platform: Technology helps African farmers sell what they sow
Kigali Principles an African mechanism to solve continental conflicts better – Sezibera