Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: EAC

Events listing, Part II

Profiled trade and development event listings: events happening outside of Africa

ITC and Commonwealth Secretariat: Women in the digital economy and international trade (29-30 January, Kuala Lumpur)

5th Powering Africa Summit (25-27 February, Miami)

CSAE Conference 2019: Economic development in Africa (17-19 March, Oxford)

EAC Trade Policy Review (20 and 22 March, Geneva)

UNCTAD’s Ecommerce Week 2019 (1-5 April, Geneva)

World Bank’s Civil Society Policy Forum (9-12 April, Washington)

WBG/IMF’s 2019 Spring Meetings (12-14 April, Washington)

2019 Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains (23-25 April, Paris)

UNCTAD’s Multi-year Expert Meeting on Trade, Services and Development (1-3 May, Geneva)

UNCTAD’s Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation (6-10 May, Geneva)

Africa Energy Forum (11-14 June, Lisbon)

Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics 2019 (17-18 June, Washington)

2019 G20 Osaka summit (28-29, June, Osaka)

Global Review of Aid for Trade (3-5 July, Geneva)

Tokyo International Conference on African Development (28-30 August, Yokohama City)

WBG/IMF’s 2019 Annual Meetings (18-20 October, Washington)

Featured tweets by NEPAD Agency’s Symerre Grey-Johnson: Presidential Infrastructure Champions Initiative Technical Task Team meeting opens in Windhoek. Positive progress made on all 9 projects; particularly Trans-Sahara Highway, LAPSSET and Namibia’s International Logistics Hub. At the PICI TTT meeting, both Algeria and Nigeria confirm that by end of 2019 the TAH2: Algiers-Lagos Highway will be fully completed. One can literally drive from one end of this city to the other! This is the Africa we want!

EU-AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meeting: Joint Communiqué

The AU and EU held the first of a series of annual joint ministerial meetings in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 and 22 January 2019. Ministers stressed the importance of having this meeting as an annual event, which will contribute to strengthening the continent-to-continent partnership and addressing common challenges.

As closest neighbours, Europe and Africa are already prime trade, investment and development partners. The meeting was updated on the important progress made in the continental integration process through the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Single African Air Transport market and the adoption of the  Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. The EU, having experienced the multiple benefits of regional integration and of an increasingly harmonised business and investment climate, reaffirmed its commitment to share its own experience and partnership in regional integration and cooperation, to which it will lend its full support. Ministers agreed on the importance of developing trade relations between Africa and Europe.

EPA: Test of unity as Kenya breaks away (The East African)

Kenya hopes to marshal support for its ambitious plan to trade with Europe during the EAC heads of state scheduled for 1 February, in Arusha, after efforts to get its partners to sign and ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU bore little fruit. The EastAfrican has learnt that Kenya is planning to table a proposal before the EAC Council of Ministers on 30 January, seeking to be allowed to enforce its own trade agreement with the EU as other partner states sort out their own issues. If Kenya’s proposal on variable geometry is adopted by the ministers, it will be forwarded to the heads of state for review and final decision. Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Department of Trade, Dr Chris Kiptoo, confirmed to this paper that the country has settled for the principle of variable geometry but the proposal has to get the backing of all the EAC member states. The EastAfrican has learnt that some of the regional partners are of the view that such a move will compromise the principle of solidarity that binds EAC member states together. It is also feared that signing the pact as individual countries would weaken the region’s rules of origin principle and give rise to partner states operating on different trading regimes, compromising efforts towards regional integration.

SADC experts support East Africa on load control law (The Citizen)

SADC experts have added weight to the government’s argument in favour of the newly-adopted East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016, even as Tanzanian transporters continue to cry foul. During a workshop Thursday, experts urged Tanzanian transporters to reconsider their position and back the law to avoid inconvenience. Passed in 2017, the law aims to protect roads by curbing overloading, while at the same time seeking to address the scourge of accidents. Transporters have since condemned the law saying it would affect the competitiveness of Tanzania’s ports against other SADC member countries. The government postponed the launch of new weighbridges that would have complied with EAC regulations due to incomplete installation of the facilities. The launch has been pushed back to 1 March. Mr Gerrit Fischer, team leader of a Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme, told The Citizen on the sidelines of a workshop on Thursday, that the law would ultimately be implemented in 20 countries and thus transporters should not think of diverting their goods to other countries. “Once we come up with installation of proper weighbridges to enforce the maximum tonnes of cargo in south, central and east corridors, no transporter will divert cargo to any country, and it will not make any change because the required specifications would be the similar.”

International Customs Day 2019: selected updates

  1. Message from the World Customs Organization. Traditionally, to mark International Customs Day each year, the WCO Secretariat dedicates a theme that is pertinent to the challenges facing the global Customs community. The slogan chosen for 2019 is “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.” At a time when the number of passengers and the volume of freight crossing borders is expected to increase exponentially, and technology has transformed the economic landscape in which Customs is evolving, WCO Members are encouraged to look at how they can best ensure the swift and smooth cross-border movement of goods, people and means of transport. Customs, working with other border agencies, plays a pivotal role in facilitating trade and travel, through simplified, standardized and harmonized border procedures, and in securing borders. It is, therefore, quintessential for Customs to take the lead in consolidating and further amplifying the ongoing efforts to ease the flow of goods and people across borders, thus turning globalization into a positive force.

  2. Mauritius launches coordinated border management service. A Coordinated Border Management Service, which aims at facilitating cooperation and promoting trade facilitation measures in terms of early clearance, reduction in costs and dwell time in the supply chain, was launched on Friday by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah, at the Customs House in Mer Rouge. To this end, important border agencies will now be housed at the Customs, in Mer Rouge, for expedited clearance. The CBM Service will thus comprise the Government Pharmacist; the Mauritius Standards Bureau; the National Plant Protection Office; the Food Import Unit; and the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security.

  3. Nigeria’s FG sets N887bn revenue generation target for NCS in 2019. The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, says the federal government has set a revenue generation target of N887 billion for the Service in 2019. He assured Nigerians that the figure will be significantly surpassed as the management had earlier set a higher self-target. Speaking at the opening of the 2019 International Customs Day, the Customs boss warned that it would no longer tolerate the incessant killing of its officers by smugglers, vowing to counter such attacks with appropriate force going forward. Ali said the Service intended to raise its revenue drive by acquiring non-intrusive equipment to boost trade facilitation and urged stakeholders to comply with trade rules.

  4. Reduce levy on imported brand new cars, Nigeria Customs begs FG. The Nigeria Customs Service has urged the Federal Government to reduce automotive levy on imported brand new vehicles from 35% to 10%. The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), gave the advice at a news conference to mark International Customs Day (ICD) in Abuja on Monday. The Federal Government had put customs duty on brand new cars at 35% and levy to 35%, making importers to pay a total of 70% of the cost of a new car as levy and duty. Ali explained that this policy had discouraged importers as they had diverted their importations to neighbouring countries. He said that the policy had also heightened smuggling, hence reducing the revenue the service would have generated. According to him, the policy is put in place to encourage local automobile industries but that seems to be difficult to achieve.

  5. Zimra to set up virtual border posts. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is targeting to establish virtual border posts where travellers and their cargo will be cleared in less than five minutes. This was said by Zimra Commissioner-General Ms Faith Mazani while officiating at the International Customs Day commemorations in Victoria Falls last week. “The Electronic Temporary Import Permit project (e-TIP) has been so successful in dealing with border congestion at Beitbridge Border Post during this past festive season as it allowed travellers to pre-clear their vehicles online thereby reducing congestion. We are now working at improving the e-TIP system so that visitors will spend an average of between three to five minutes to get their temporary import permits processed,” said Ms Mazani. She said work would soon start at Beitbridge, Kazungula, Plumtree and Victoria Falls border posts towards establishing a One-Stop border concept. Ms Mazani said engagements were underway between the Government and Zimra on the need for patrol vehicles and drones to monitor border posts and seal porous ports of entry and curb corruption.

Uganda’s labour export now earns it $1.2 billion (The East African)

Remittances to Uganda last year grew to $1.21bn, boosted by receipts from labour exports to Middle Eastern countries, which over the years have grown to eclipse some of the traditional remittance sources, preliminary data from the central bank shows. Dr Adam Mugume, executive director of research at the Bank of Uganda told The EastAfrican that remittances from the Middle East are rising while receipts from regions that were traditional sources of transfers have dropped due to troubled economic conditions. “Out of the $1.21bn, more than half are remittances from the Middle East,” said Dr Mugume. But this figure, he added, represents stagnation” in remittances due to weak receipts from elsewhere, especially European countries. Bank of Uganda officials say this data is based on figures reported by money transfer operators in the first 11 months of 2018 and estimates for December, which reflect an improvement of 4.1% on the previous year’s receipts. The central bank says estimates for December 2018 alone were $227.9m.

Kenya: Diaspora forex inflows exceed CBK projection (Daily Nation)

Diaspora remittances for June for the first time in three years beat those of December, lifting cumulative inflows above Central Bank of Kenya target. Fresh figures released by the CBK show Kenyans living in the diaspora sent home $244m (Sh24.79 billion) in December last year, a growth of 20% sent on the previous similar month. “North America, Europe and the rest of the world accounted for 45%, 32% and 23%, respectively, of the total remittances in December 2018,” said the regulator. However, this was dwarfed by the $266.2 million (Sh27.08 billion) that was sent home in June according to data from CBK. This is the first time since 2015 for December remittances to be lower than those of any other month.

India’s mid-year external sector review (Reserve Bank of India)

Country-wise pattern shows that about half of FDI flows since April 2000 has been routed through Mauritius and Singapore which enjoyed special status under the double tax avoidance agreement signed with India in 1982 and 1994, respectively. The DTAA provided for a capital gains tax exemption to resident entities of these countries on transfer of Indian securities. In 2016, these agreements were amended with the purpose of source-based taxation of capital gains on shares, preventing round tripping of funds, curbing revenue loss and preventing double non-taxation. Country-wise, Singapore and Mauritius remained top source countries in H1:2018-19. Importantly, FDI equity flows routed through Mauritius declined sharply reflecting the impact of the amended DTAA. Notwithstanding the revised DTAA between India and Singapore in December 2016, the latter remained a top FDI investor in India (Table 1).

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