Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Arne Hoel | World Bank

2018 African Economic Conference: outcomes

Economic integration is seen as a game-changer for achieving inclusive sustainable development. Read more in the pdf Overview of Conference Outcomes (1016 KB)

Côte d’Ivoire holds the UNSC Presidency for December: updates from two debates from its work programme

  1. UNSC debate stresses need for robust, coherent UN cooperation with regional bodies. Moussa Faki Mahamat, AUC Chairperson and one of several regional leaders briefing the Council, agreed that the world currently faces grave threats, citing climate change, migration and the rise of xenophobia, as well as transnational crime and terrorism – all of which can turn latent tensions into open conflict and are particularly acute in Africa. Emphasizing that the Council’s credibility and legitimacy depend on its ability to deal effectively with such crises, including through sustained preventive action, he cited the reluctance of some Member States – perceiving early intervention as a breach of sovereignty – as a major obstacle.

    Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, ECOWAS President, outlined the challenges confronting that body, including the devastating civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. They led ECOWAS to shift its mission towards the prevention, management and containment of crises, in addition to providing assistance to states in post-conflict recovery. The Community now employs an “Early Alert and Response” system and, when preventive diplomacy fails to yield the desired results, works with political actors to defuse crises through mediation, as it has done in Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire and the Gambia.

    Ethiopia’s representative – one of three African Council members helping to drive negotiations on that text – expressed hope that today’s debate will build the momentum needed for its adoption. The need for predictable, flexible, and sustainable financing of Council-mandated operations led by the AU has long been recognized, emphasizing that the timing is perfect for a decisive step forward. He added that the AU has demonstrated a real commitment to sharing the burden by injecting $75m into the AU Peace Fund – with the ultimate goal of $400m by 2021 – while also demonstrating determination to fulfil the Council’s conditions relating to conduct, discipline and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. More than 60 speakers took the floor to share their experiences with, or future visions for, structured cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations.

  2. National ownership, economic investment, key to post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. As the floor opened for the debate, many delegates noted that the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire – first deployed in 2004 – was able to formally withdraw in 2017, in contrast to other missions the mandates of which have lingered for decades. Some speakers expressed concern that serious and evolving terrorist threats in West Africa and the Sahel may jeopardize today’s efforts to recover from recovery conflict. Several called for stronger United Nations support for peace operations, spearheaded by the African Union, while others supported mandating the G‑5 Sahel joint force – currently combating extremists in that region – under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, stated: ”Côte d’Ivoire’s experience is an eloquent demonstration that peace is within reach” when actors are determined to turn commitments into action. Countries in which recurrent conflicts persist would do well to learn from its experience, he said. Welcoming recent diplomatic progress in the Horn of Africa, he recalled that, similarly, Côte d’Ivoire’s political agreement extended a hand to “the enemies of yesterday”.

US-Africa: trade issues canvassed in yesterday’s briefing with Tibor Nagy (Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs)

Q: Has the annual review for the countries’ eligibility to participate in the AGOA program been finalized? Nagy: That I really don’t know. I will have to check when I get back, so I wish I could give you a full answer on that. On the free trade agreements, here’s the background on that. Currently, the USA has no – that’s no – free trade agreements with any sub-Saharan African country. The only one we have with the continent of Africa is with Morocco, so this administration is very eager to pursue the first ever free trade agreement with a sub-Saharan country, which in effect would serve as a model. So we’re going through the process now of talking to a number of countries to try to decide which one would be an ideal country for a model, and you know there would be many considerations for such, but part of my visit to Addis Ababa was two parts: it was both bilateral with the Ethiopian government, but it was also with the AU, and while I was there for the AU, we had our annual high-level dialogue, and the whole issue of a US free trade agreement versus a continent-wide free trade agreement came up for considerable discussion, and we kept emphasizing the point that absolutely we support - the US supports - the continent-wide free trade agreement, because we support Africa’s attempts at regionalization, sub-regionalization, and continental consolidation. So we don’t want it to be in any way conflicting with or competitive with; we want it to be complementary to. So we’ll be undertaking bilateral discussions with potential countries, and then we’ll make a selection and take it from there. [Africa50, Energy Futures Initiative: launch of report on natural gas in Africa]

Germany-Africa: Linking policies on development and trade (D+C)

Germany’s Federal Government has announced a Development Investment Fund. The new scheme can become an important milestone for realigning cooperation with Africa – towards dovetailing aid and trade, increasing private-sector involvement and self-sustaining economic development in African countries. And yet German involvement does not reflect the country’s economic weight. Smart action could increase the €1bn worth of projects currently in the pipeline across Africa several fold. For that to happen, SMEs need to see Africa as an attractive investment destination. The Development Investment Fund could offer the right leverage, making a key contribution to creating more jobs for African youth. [The author, Christoph Kannengießer, is German-African Business Association CE]

Italy-Africa: two updates

  1. AfDB President, Akinwumi A. Adesina, in interactive session with the Italy’s Minister of Finance. The support of Italy for the AfDB is paying off, in terms of development impacts that the Bank is achieving in Africa. Italy is today the 7th largest contributor to the African Development Fund, with a contribution of 246 million Euros pledged for the last replenishment in 2016. Italy is also an important shareholder of the African Development Bank since 1982. I would like to urge for greater and continued support of Italy for the African Development Bank. I am pleased that Italy is recognizing this potential and investing in Africa. Announced FDI from Italy for green field projects in Africa reached $10.4bn in 2017, up from $4bn in 2016, a 160% increase. But we need to work hard to turn around the trend of trade between Italy and Africa. Exports from Italy to Africa declined from $27bn in 2013 to $ 19.4bn in 2017, a decline of 28%. Africa’s export to Italy declined from $45bn in 2012 to $20.6bn in 2017, a decline of 54%. This is not the right trajectory. We must work hard to turn this around. This is especially critical given the AfCFTA.

  2. A vision for Africa’s future: mapping change, transformations and trajectories towards 2030 (ISPI)

    This report (pdf) sets out a vision for Africa’s future based on five key traits: an archipelago of heterogeneous growth trajectories; the revolutionary impact of technological leapfrogging; regional integration and the growing role of sub-regional processes; the clustering of instability mainly around the core of the region; and the migration movements that originate from – but also predominantly remain within – the African continent. The study was conducted as part of a project funded by the Directorate General for Global Affairs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Table of contents: Introduction (Paolo Magri); Mapping change in Africa (Giovanni Carbone); Africa’s multi-speed growth prospects: diverging policy options? (Thang Nguyen-Quoc, Arthur Minsat, Rodrigo Deiana); Sub-regions first: the role and evolution of RECs in Africa (Brendan Vickers); Faster than expected? Technological progress and connectivity in Africa (Michael Minges); Peace and security challenges in Africa (Clionadh Raleigh); Exploring intra- and extra-continental African migration: trends, drivers and policy options (Richard Mallett); Human development, education and mobility (Sara de Simone); Conclusions and policy implications (Giovanni Carbone, Tiziana Corda)

Carlos Lopes: Strengthening Africa’s climate resiliency (Project Syndicate)

By 2020, Africa will spend $7-15bn annually to adapt to climate change, and the price tag could hit $50bn by 2050. Fortunately, proactive policies and investments in sustainable development could unleash a wave of economic opportunity, which in turn could make adaptation more manageable. [Daniel Mundeva: Building Africa’s scientific talent]

Africa’s tourism potential: trends, drivers, opportunities, and strategies (Brookings)

This report (pdf) starts with an overview of tourism development in Africa and explores some of the key constraints that have prevented this sector from maturing. It identifies important stakeholders and potential opportunities for its future development. It also provides illustrative examples of countries representative of different trajectories of tourism development. Finally, with attention to current major policy reforms, the report draws conclusions about the future of the tourism sector in Africa. [The authors: Landry Signé, in collaboration with Chelsea Johnson] [Cathay Pacific customers to benefit as Moroccan airline joins Oneworld Alliance]

Sovereign debt, growth and development in Southern Africa conference: Public representatives must be held accountable for government debt (Daily Maverick)

Stakeholders from across the region recently converged in South Africa to initiate dialogue aimed at finding solutions to the unfolding sovereign debt crisis. In attendance were parliamentarians, academics, diplomats, industry experts and civil society groups from several Southern African countries to discuss the matter. The keynote speaker, Hung Tran, Managing Director at the Institute of International Finance, said 40% of low-income countries are at high risk of debt distress or are already in debt distress. This translates to 15 countries. The top six among them are Mozambique, Chad, Eritrea, Congo, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. The convenors of the conference will seek to strengthen regional dialogues on sovereign debt in Africa. The next step will be to build a mechanism to monitor sovereign debt developments, and empower various partners to hold their governments accountable for sovereign borrowing. [The author, Simi Siwisa, is executive director and convener of the Sovereign Debt Conference]

Angola and the IMF: Angola implements the IMF’s Enhanced General Data Dissemination System

Angola has implemented the recommendations of the IMF’s Enhanced General Data Dissemination System by publishing critical data through a “data hub” – National Summary Data Page. Publication of essential macroeconomic data through the NSDP will reduce data-reporting burdens of Angolan authorities to different agencies and the markets. The NSDP will provide national policy makers and domestic and international stakeholders, including investors and rating agencies, with easy access to information that the IMF’s Executive Board has identified as critical for monitoring economic conditions and policies.

Tanzania: IMF’s 2018 Financial System Stability Assessment

Notwithstanding such progress, financial stability challenges could be significant. Bank asset quality has deteriorated in recent years and provisioning needs have increased. Credit growth has decelerated, while dollarization of bank balance-sheets could create liquidity pressures under adverse shock scenarios. Vulnerabilities could amplify the impact of external and domestic shocks, including from tighter global financial conditions, lower trading partner growth, prolongation of domestic economic uncertainties, and delays in addressing difficulties related to fiscal management. Key near term FSAP priorities include measures to reduce nonperforming loans and increase provisioning and buffers to manage liquidity, credit, and concentration risks. These measures should be complemented by strengthening banking supervision and problem bank oversight. Measures to deepen financial markets and modernize the monetary policy framework should be combined with new prudential tools to enhance systemic liquidity management.

Today’s Quick Links:

Harmonisation of customs processes in Eastern Africa key in trade facilitation: KRA Commissioner General

Kenya’s fresh produce farmers gain entry into Korean market

SA raises concern over Peugeot’s assembly plant in Namibia

Mauritius establishing a regional centre of excellence on cybersecurity and cybercrime

Ghana: President commission’s Africa’s largest diaper factory

Extreme weather and poverty risk: evidence from multiple shocks in Mozambique

ECOWAS science, technology and innovation experts meet on way forward for regional development

Gulf Cooperation Council: Trade and foreign investment are keys to diversification and growth

Age of Ingenuity: Reimagining 21st century international cooperation’. The Eighth Henry A. Kissinger Lecture, delivered by Christine Lagarde


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