Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Maria Gropa | UNESCO

Diarise: Joint SADC-EU Council meeting (19 February, Cape Town)

An update on the 2019 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning & Economic Development (20-26 March, Marrakech): besides the plenary sessions, at least 16 side events will take place

Ahead of the Sixth COMESA Research Forum (scheduled to take place in Kigali in August): COMESA posts a call for papers under the theme: Promoting intra-COMESA trade through innovation

Today’s featured trade policy tweets – from @ECA_OFFICIAL:

Happening now in Addis Ababa: ECA and UNCTAD train the trainers seminar on services trade in Africa; measuring the contribution of services to regional value chains. One of the main stumbling blocs to the implementation of trade services-related policies in many countries, is the lack of understanding and quantification of services trade, and more generally the role services play in regional and global value chains, says @snkaringi. “It is therefore important that we build and strengthen the capacity within the continent to measure and quantify services trade, especially in the broader context of services value chains if we are to turn the AfCFTA dream into a reality.”

Profiled EAC tender/EOIs:

  1. Consultancy services to develop an EAC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan Implementation Plan

African policymakers must pay more attention to counterfeit drugs (ENACT)

‘In Africa, the domestic pharmaceutical market is growing quickly. This creates new opportunities and challenges for the continent,’ says Robin Cartwright, lead author of the policy brief, The rise of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Africa. Currently, only 37 out of 54 African states have some level of pharmaceutical production, but as new, legitimate firms enter these markets, so will additional counterfeiters. The case of Nigeria shows how a bespoke and comprehensive policy backed by political will can bring about real solutions. Nigeria managed to achieve an 80% reduction in counterfeit drug circulation by implementing targeted regulatory activities. Among other steps, the Nigerian food and drug agency, NAFDAC, banned imports of medicines through all but two national points of entry and furnished customs officials with mobile ‘minilabs’, enabling them to identify falsified drugs. Like Nigeria, other African nations should enact legislation that criminalises the manufacture and sale of counterfeits. Legislation should also provide clear authority and responsibility for the investigation, detection and seizure of counterfeit products. Given their ability to authenticate drugs in the supply chain, track-and-trace systems of the type officially sanctioned and used in EU and USA have shown great potential to thwart the penetration of counterfeits.

The Rosewood Trade: the illicit trail from forest to furniture (e360)

The most widely traded illegal wild product in the world today is rosewood, an endangered hardwood prized for its use in traditional Chinese furniture. International nonprofits such as Forest Trends and Global Witness are advocating for tighter timber legislation, modeled on the EU Timber Regulation or the U.S. Lacey Act, that forces companies to take responsibility for the sourcing of their wildlife-based products. They are also hoping that China will assign timber trade regulation and enforcement to a well-funded agency or ministry; currently, the task is assigned to low-level bureaucrats in the State Forestry Administration. Madagascar is in the process of installing its own new set of bureaucrats. The incoming president, who was sworn in on 19 January, is the same man who led the country from 2009 until 2013 — the most intensive period of rosewood logging in the country’s history. He’s thought to be close to the timber barons, and conservationists fear that another major rush to the rainforests could commence. Of course, a lot depends on how much the Chinese want the wood.

Nigeria: Industrialists to FG – sign African free trade pact now (Daily Trust)

Industrialists have urged the Federal Government to immediately sign the as Nigeria’s delay in keying into it is “shameful.” Speaking to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, at a reception for members of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the president of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, said Nigeria has nothing to fear about the pact as the country stands to benefit more when it keys into it. “I want to use this opportunity to ask government to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement immediately. We’ve delayed enough. It’s already a matter of shame for all of us because we play leadership role,” he said. Allaying fears that the pact would open Nigeria’s borders for dumping, Kayode said, “nobody can use us as dumping ground. It is we that people are actually afraid of. We can compete. We are not lazy people.” [In Nouakchott, ECA’s Vera Songwe congratulates Mauritania on ratification of AfCFTA]

African trade data releases: Botswana and Ghana

  1. Botswana’s November 2018 international merchandise trade statistics(pdf). In November 2018, total imports were valued at P7, 387.0 million while total exports were valued at P3, 433.4 million, resulting in a trade deficit of P3, 953.6 million. Total imports for November rose by 1.2% compared to the revised October 2018 value of P7, 298.6 million. Diamonds contributed the most to total imports, at 36.7%, and constituted 82.4% of total exports during the period under review. SACU was the main source of imports into Botswana during November 2018. Within the SACU region, South Africa was the largest contributor to Botswana total imports, having contributed 60.1%. The major destinations at regional level for Botswana exports were Asia, SACU and the EU with a share of 54.8%, 19.5%, and 17.7% respectively, during the period under review. [Cape VerdeExports up 44.3% in 2018, with Spain the main destination]

  2. Ghana’s 2018 exports improve significantly – BoG data. Figures from the Bank of Ghana show that Ghana’s exports increased significantly between 2017 and 2018. Substantial improvement in Ghana’s export receipts from oil, helped in adding more than $1bn to Ghana’s export figures for 2018. The country in 2017 saw total exports reach $13.835bn, whereas in 2018 the country exported goods worth $14.868bn. This represents an increase of 7.5% in exports over the period. Total imports also witnessed an increase in 2018 as compared to imports in 2017. From $12.647bn recorded in 2017, total imports increased by $3.5bn. As a result, Ghana’s trade figures for 2018 show that the country recorded a trade surplus of $1.7bn. This translates into 2.7% of the country’s GDP for 2018. The Central Banks’s latest economic data show that the country’s increased exports was largely driven by the oil sector. [For further details see Table 6: External Sector Developments (pdf, BoG)

India-South Africa trade issues highlighted in the joint communique (The Presidency)

Welcomed the holding of the inaugural meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment. Welcomed the significant investment and presence of a large number of Indian companies and business entities in South Africa and the growing number of South African investments in India. In this regard, [India and SA] agreed to enhance bilateral investments between the two countries within the context of the MoU between Invest SA and Invest India on enhancing bilateral investment relations. Agreed to cooperate, share best practices, technology and expertise on the Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme and committed to expanding cooperation in the fields of trade and investments between business entities in South Africa and India. Agreed to cooperate in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises which play an invaluable role in job creation and creating trade and investment opportunities. Agreed that both countries should explore solutions aimed at boosting trade and investment: in this context, President Ramaphosa agreed to simplify and reform South African business visa regime [South Africa-India Business Forum: speech by President Ramaphosa]

Making it easier for women in Malawi to formalize their firms, access financial services (World Bank)

The rate of informal firms is high in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for those that are women-owned and in the poorest countries, despite a total of 107 business regulatory reforms recorded by Doing Business across 40 economies in the region. Through an experiment in Malawi, we established an effective and replicable design to offer informal firms support to formalize, costing much less than the typical private sector development intervention. The study shows that one of the primary barriers to registration for women-owned firms is transaction costs. When registration is made virtually costless, an overwhelming number of women-owned firms (73%) choose to register. However, when offered the chance to engage in costless registration for taxes, almost no firms select to pursue this opt ion. Combining business registration with an information session at a bank including the offer of a business bank account leads to an increased use of formal financial services, and results in increases in women owned firms sales and profits of 28% and 20% respectively. On the other hand, business registration on its own is not as effective in improving access to financial services and does not result in enhanced sales and profits.

Senegal and the IMF:

  1. pdf Staff Report for the 2018 Article IV Consultation (1.28 MB) . The PSE II growth strategy aims to develop clusters of economic activity, with SEZs now up and running. Planned investments in the three established SEZs: Diamniadio, Diass, and Sandiara amount to about 3.7% of GDP (see text table on Special Economic Zones), with companies coming from several countries, including China and Tunisia, and representing different sectors like plastics, food processing, bank cards, medical services and research. It will be important for the SEZ rules regarding both imports and exports to be simple and consistent (e.g., at the moment, the three SEZs have slightly different rules regarding the percentage of exports in total sales that are required to benefit from incentives). More generally, staff emphasized that SEZs should be governed by transparent rules, with no granting of ad hoc tax exemptions and all companies paying a reasonable corporate tax rate. In the agricultural sector, three integrated agropoles are being launched to help the sector develop high value-added in agrobusiness and reduce reliance on imported foodstuffs. A somewhat similar approach is planned for the tourism sector. All these initiatives play a role in advancing economic activity outside Dakar. The development of the plateformes d’investissement, which aims to give enterprises and households access to administrative services outside of Dakar, is also consistent with this strategy.

  2. Themes explored in the pdf Selected Issues report (679 KB) : Revenue mobilization and inequality in Senegal, Gender gaps in Senegal: from education to labor market, Natural resources in Senegal before and after the recent oil and gas discoveries

Free zones lift UAE non-oil trade by 2.5% to Dh1.2 trillion (Khaleej Times)

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade grew 2.5% to Dh1.2 trillion in the first nine months of 2018 as compared to Dh1.17 trillion during the same period in 2017. This was driven by increased trading activity from companies based in free zones, according to Federal Customs Authority (FCA) data released on Sunday. Non-oil foreign trade from free zones accounted for 37% valued at Dh439.2 billion while trade from customs warehouses was equivalent to 2%, or Dh8.4 billion of the total. Total non-oil foreign trade through the mainland reached Dh726.4 billion, accounting for 62% of the total trade. The preliminary statistics of the Authority indicated that the Asia-Pacific region was at the forefront of trading partners during the period, accounting for 42% of total non-oil trade with a share of Dh460.6 billion, while the region of Europe was second with a share of Dh250.2 billion (23%) of the total, Mena with Dh207 billion (19%), America and the Caribbean region with Dh102 billion (9.2%) of the total, the region of East and South Africa worth Dh46.4 billion (4.2%) and West and Central Africa representing 3.6%.

Today’s Quick Links:

Nigeria: NESG’s macro-economic outlook for 2019

Nigeria’s rising foreign debt profile bad for economy: Senate panel

Renault considers establishing assembly plant in Ghana

UBA, Jetro collaborate to promote MSMEs in Africa

Kenyan traders want long-running business war with Tanzania solved

Kenya’s sugar imports drop 71% on production


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