Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s final Daily News Selection 2018


tralac’s final Daily News Selection 2018

tralac’s final Daily News Selection 2018
Photo credit: European Commission

Today in Vienna: The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe

President Kagame and Chancellor Kurz decided to call for a High-Level Forum to provide a space for European and African leaders, together with CEOs of major global companies, innovation champions, start-ups and other stakeholders, to reflect and act on what needs to be done to secure prosperity and competitiveness on both continents as well as to deepen the relationship in all its aspects with a specific focus on taking our cooperation to the digital age.

Highlights from the  pdf Co-Chairs’ Summary (118 KB) :

  1. The Forum underlined the critical need to step up European private‑sector investments in Africa and highlighted the changes to the policy and legal framework that are needed for that to happen.

  2. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe contributed to achieving the development goals of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by encouraging and promoting effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, especially those which mobilise and share cross-regional expertise in challenging policy areas.

  3. The Forum focused on innovation and digitalisation and the need to realise the full potential of the digital transformation of our societies and our economies. In our endeavour to promote innovation and digitalisation as important enablers of future development we will work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from the ongoing digital transformation. It is our common aim to improve the cooperation between our two continents based on a fair and equal partnership. [Twitter: #africaeurope2018]

EU and ACP countries conclude first round of negotiations to modernise their relations

The two chief negotiators – the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and ACP Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, Professor Robert Dussey – met on Friday, 14 December 2018 in Brussels to take stock of the progress achieved and discuss next steps. The first series of talks between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) led to broad convergence on the structure of the future agreement and the strategic priorities.

Seventh Meeting of the African Union Ministers of Trade

Some deadlines for further work on AfCFTA policy issues:

AfCFTA Adjustment Facility: AMOT was informed that a study on the Adjustment Facility had been carried out, based on requests from member states, and that the findings of the study would be disseminated in a dedicated session of the Negotiating Forum (NF). AMOT took note of this update and directed the AUC to organise a dedicated session of the NF to discuss this by April 2019.

Rules of Origin: AMOT took note of the progress towards the development of Appendix IV to the Annex 2 on Rules of Origin and directed the Senior Trade Officials (STOs) to finalize outstanding work on rules of origin by end of June 2019.

Trade remedies: AMOT was informed of some inconsistencies in Annex 9 on Trade Remedies and the need to align these with the Draft Guidelines. AMOT took note of the recommendation of STO on this matter and agreed that the TWG on Trade Remedies considers the inconsistencies and report back to the next session of the NF.

Development of regulations benefiting Special Economic Zones: AMOT noted that the AUC was in the process of developing a technical note which would inform the drafting of the Regulations on Special Economic Zones. Amongst others, the technical note would examine the contributions of the SEZ to industrialization, exports and economic development in Africa. AMOT directed the AUC to present the technical note on this matter to the NF at its next meeting.

Roadmap for finalization of outstanding work on AfCFTA negotiations: Negotiations on Trade in Services be concluded by January 2020; [convene] a meeting of the TWG on Trade Remedies and schedule it for March 2019.

With regard to Phase II issues, AMOT agreed to establish three separate technical working groups for Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights and requested the AfCFTA NF to complete negotiations by June 2020. AMOT further directed the AUC to: (a) develop draft terms of reference for each TWG for consideration by the AfCFTA NF by April 2019; (b) carry out the Situation Analysis studies on Phase 2 issues by April 2019. [AU-ECA Joint Press ReleaseAfrican Union Ministers of Trade conclusively reach consensus on all outstanding issues on AfCFTA modalities for tariff liberalization]

WTO outcomes must support Africa’s trade priorities: AU trade ministers (New Times)

A confidential report shared to the trade ministers by the coordinating member of the African Group last week and accessed by Business Times says that the proposed reforms do not appear balanced. “It appears that the ideas for WTO modernisation are essentially designed to advance a set of proposals that reflect the particular interests of some members,” the document reads. The document highlights that the proposals are likely to further polarise the WTO membership. It recommends that, “Africa’s defining trade policy objective is the AfCFTA and WTO outcomes must support, not undermine, our integration and industrialisation objectives”.

At the backdrop of these developments, ministers adopted a joint declaration, urging African countries to prepare a common vision to activate the role of the WTO in supporting African countries to ensure that they affirm their entitlement to integration into the international trading system. The declaration has not yet been made public, but ministers made a number of recommendations including, among others, encouraging members to cease from unilateral trade agreements which they say might undermine the principles of global trade.

The Second Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa:  pdf The Djibouti Outcome (508 KB)  (WTO)

The discussions (3-6 December 2018) enabled participants to engage in informative and interactive discussions on the contributions of trade and WTO Accessions to peace-building. The Dialogue also discussed various aspects of the WTO accession process, including its interface with the AfCFTA, emerging best-practices in the preparatory and the negotiating phases of the process, the role of the Accession Chief Negotiator, the inclusiveness of the private sector and other stakeholders in the process. Participants welcomed the recent progress registered in the accessions of Comoros, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. They pledged their collective support for the conclusion of the accession of Comoros in 2019, the resumption of the accession Working Parties of Ethiopia and Sudan in early 2019, and the holding of the first Working Party meetings of the accessions of Somalia and South Sudan in 2019 following the submission of their respective MFTRs.

Explaining the WAEMU growth spurt: the role of financial deepening and macro policy (World Bank)

Most countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union experienced a growth acceleration in 2011-17. This paper identifies the determinants of this growth by combining country-specific information with the results of a cross-country regression model. Growth was characterized by capital accumulation and driven by structural factors, including financial deepening and infrastructure development. What sets WAEMU countries apart from other African countries is the very sharp increase in private sector credit supporting private investment. This was facilitated by a prudent and accommodative regional monetary policy and improved financial regulation. Pro-cyclical fiscal policies supported public infrastructure investment but led to a buildup of public debt. Going forward, growth may lose some steam, given the renewed policy emphasis on fiscal consolidation and monetary tightening.

Madagascar and the Indian Ocean: Appraisal report for project to develop corridors and facilitate trade (AfDB)

Inadequate development and ageing transport infrastructure are among the main obstacles to Madagascar’s capacity to expand its trade with other member countries of COMESA, SADC and the IOC, and, consequently, to promote regional integration. The country’s road network has hardly received any major interventions in the last ten years, due in part to the impact of the 2009-2013 political crisis. Only 24.6% of the paved road network is in good condition. Consequently, improving transport systems connectivity between production areas and export points (ports and airports) to countries in the sub-region is still a key element for increasing trade and investment within the framework of regional integration. This project aims to lay the groundwork for road network development in Southern Madagascar (currently the most isolated part of the Big Island), which is connected to potentially important ports on two maritime fronts: the South-West with Tuléar Port and the South-East with the Ehoala Mineral Port. Both ports provide the country access to the Mozambique Channel and Indian Ocean countries, respectively. The project will be implemented over 5 years, from 2019 to 2023.

The political economy of regional industrialisation strategies (ECDPM)

This paper summarises the political economy analyses of the regional industrialisation strategies in the COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC regions, looking at these in terms of the three main market failures that national industrial policies seek to address. At the regional level, targeted coordination and ‘self-discovery’ approaches appear to have had most traction, while public inputs seem best provided at the national level. Establishing regional industrialisation as an overarching objective of regional cooperation and integration processes can also help to ensure that regional approaches to, for example, infrastructure development and trade facilitation, contribute more directly to economic transformation ambitions. Regional strategies make sense at one level, given the potential for regional market integration to promote value chain development and support other industrial objectives. However, they largely ignore the competition dynamics between states in specific sectors. Moreover, their implementation is complicated by the fact that mechanisms used to pursue national industrial objectives often contradict regional commitments. The findings suggest that regional industrialisation strategies should be used to complement national industrial policies rather than to replicate or guide them. [The authors: Bruce Byiers, Karim Karaki, Sean Woolfrey]

Yesterday the ECA commemorated the 60th anniversary of the UNECA: ECA Knowledge Management Digest compilations

Volume 1, October 2018: A review on statistical development in Africa – resolutions adopted by the Conferences of Ministers (1958- 2018); Volume 2, November 2018: Establishment and programmatic review of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. Explore resources contained in the ECA Knowledge Repository.

In a first, Vibrant Gujarat Summit to observe ‘Africa Day’ (Indian Express)

To tap the resource-rich and rapidly developing African continent, the Gujarat government in consultation with the Union Ministry of External Affairs is for the first time organising “Africa Day” at the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit where the heads of states, including Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, will be present. “Africa Day is being organised in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs,” said S J Haider, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of Gujarat, while speaking about the event that will be held as part of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit scheduled from 18-20 January. The ‘Africa Day’ event will be organised on 19 January at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Currently, South Africa and Morocco are the two African countries who are among the 15 “partner countries” for the summit. At least 12-15 MoUs are expected to be signed during the event.

Russians need to strategise trade with Africa (Modern Diplomacy)

The Deputy Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Latin America of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Alexander Dianov, spoke about the non-financial support measures for Russian companies operating within the department: “Currently, there are 10 intergovernmental commissions between the Russian Federation and African countries.” He added: “There are trade missions only in four African countries, and if you take sub-Saharan African countries, the trade mission operates effectively only in South Africa. It is obvious that there is something to work on in terms of developing the infrastructure to support Russian businesses. If there is a serious request from the business community, we are ready to expand the geography of our presence.”

John Stremlau: Trump’s Africa strategy should have cast China as a regional partner, not a global adversary (Times Live)

But does it need to be this way? I would argue not. Africa offers China and America an opportunity to demonstrate to the world – and to each other – that their competition can be constructive with Africa playing a moderating influence by brokering an agreed trilateral agenda. We need to explore ways to advance cooperation between Africa, China and the US as a confidence building measure in relations between the US and China. This would obviously need to be designed for the primary benefit of African partners. Collaborative projects that involve the US and China, with Africa in the forefront, have been the focus of a Carter Centre project since 2014. The centre’s many successful programs in Africa, especially public health, have generated high-level trilateral policy interest. Since the Trump administration took over, these conversations have excluded his senior advisors. Nevertheless, work has continued. This has included recent developments which suggest headway is being made. In early December the South African Institute of International Affairs hosted the troika that leads this project: [Related: Yinka Adegoke: Trump’s focus on Africa might be about China but that could be a good thing; The importance of improving America’s investment policies in Africa: an interview with Yuri Vanetik]

Trade Policy Review: United States of America (WTO)

The 14th review of the trade policies and practices of the United States of America began yesterday at the WTO and resumes tomorrow. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of the United States of America.

Today’s Quick Links:

African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Higher Education: update

France pledges support to strengthen trade skill set of developing countries

UNCTAD: pdf Statistical Tables on the Least Developed Countries – 2018 (1.00 MB)

Rwanda will host the second Intra-African Trade Fair, in 2020

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body meets today in Geneva: agenda items

Murky climate deal lets down poor countries

UN Africa Renewal: Towards a safe and orderly migration

World Bank Blog: Digitizing to succeed in MENA


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