Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: MediaClub South Africa

tralac’s Gerhard Erasmus on the AfCFTA’s institutions: Could the Secretariat hold the key to implementation?

This working paper discusses what institutions the AfCFTA will have and what they will be able to do once the Agreement enters into force. How will these institutions (the AfCFTA Secretariat, in particular) contribute to the fulfilment of the ambitious objective of boosting trade in goods and services among the 55 Member States of the African Union? Will they ensure that intra-African integration will happen in a rules-based manner? The answers to these questions are important. Institutions will be vital for what happens once implementation of the AfCFTA Protocols begins. The institutional design of the AfCFTA contains indications of a compromise between creating a structure within the existing AU system and a proper trade organisation. The former feature might be more dominant but ultimately the State Parties will be individually responsible for implementing the obligations agreed to. If the AfCFTA structures are not endowed with monitoring and oversight powers, there will be delays and incoherent results. And if they cannot provide technical assistance and practical guidance, the promise of the AfCFTA will remain beyond the reach of many.

AU Trade Observatory Project: AUC, EUC, ITC, and RECs to sign letter of intent, tomorrow in Addis, for its implementation

Trade information systems in Africa have traditionally been oriented towards the exterior; mainly to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. In addition, an important bulk of intra-African trade has gone largely unrecorded, partly due to the predominance of informal trade. An increasing number of African countries are gradually establishing national trade information portals and systems and some RECs are progressively moving in the same direction. However, several challenges remain, including: outdated information; uniformity of data; limited expertise in data and information collection, processing and analysis; absence of data and information on non-tariff measures and, most importantly, on informal trade and limited collaboration between various government agencies as well as between Member States and RECs. The African Union Trade Observatory will perform the following functions: Collect trade and trade-related qualitative and quantitative data and information from Member States and other sources; Analyse trade and trade-related data and information, focusing on emerging issues such as regional value chains and e-commerce; Establish a data base for African trade that is used to publish and disseminate information on intra-African trade; Monitor and evaluate the implementation process and impact of the AfCFTA and the BIAT; Provide relevant and detailed trade and trade-related information for the private sector.

Ahead of the AU Summit (starting Sunday):

  1. Africa making encouraging progress in the ratification of the AfCFTA, says AUC Chairperson. “At the current pace of ratification, we can anticipate the entry into force of the agreement in the coming weeks. I hope that the six countries that have not yet signed this instrument will do so in the shortest possible time and that those who have already taken this step will quickly conclude the ratification procedures”, Mr Faki Mahamat said, as he addressed the opening ceremony of the AU’s executive meeting in Addis Ababa. But he also noted, as important, the need to be vigilant in ensuring that international commitments made by some Member States with third parties do not contradict the provisions of the Free Trade Area. The attainment of the objectives of the Free Trade Area also implies the need to quicken the ratification of the Single Air Transport Market and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, and the African passport, as part of the integration process. The Chairperson added that the establishment of the financial institutions of the Union namely the Central Bank, the investment bank and the African Monetary Fund, must be accelerated. [ pdf Download statement (274 KB) ]

  2. 34th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council: pdf statement by Vera Songwe (432 KB) . “For a continent desperate for growth, we cannot afford to marginalize a considerable share of our population. If we are to put the numbers into perspective, 22 million refugees represent twice the population of Tunisia, it is close to the population of Ivory Coast. The GDP of Tunisia today is about $40bn, twice that is $80bn, the GDP of Ivory Coast is $40bn. Or if the populations could be as productive as some of our most productive societies like Mauritius, whose GDP is $12bn with a population of slightly over 1.2 million people, this means with only a third of our refugee and IDP populations we could add another $42bn to Africa’s GDP. We cannot afford to let the $80bn of Africa’s economy go to waste in camps. The benefits of the AfCFTA must benefit those people too. They must have an identity and they must be able to engage.”

EU-SADC EPA Joint Council (19 February, Cape Town): provisional agenda (pdf)

Institutional aspects of the EPA between the EU and SADC: (i) Rules of Procedure for the Joint Council and the Trade and Development Committee; (ii) Rules of procedure for Dispute Settlement and Code of Conduct for Arbitrators and Mediators; (iii) List of arbitrators under the Dispute Settlement. State-of-Play of trade relations under EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement. SACU safeguard duty on frozen bone-in chicken cuts imported from the EU.

South Africa: FDI, Doing Business highlights from President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (The Presidency)

As part of our ongoing work to remove constraints to greater investment, we have established a team from the Presidency, Invest SA, National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation that will address the policy, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers that frustrate investors. This is an important aspect of our work to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa, which is essential to attracting investment. This team will report progress to Cabinet on a monthly basis. The World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report currently ranks South Africa 82 out of 190 countries tracked. We have set ourselves the target of being among the top 50 global performers within the next 3 years.

To stimulate growth in the economy, to build more businesses and employ more people, we need to find new and larger markets for our goods and services. We will therefore be focusing greater attention on expanding exports. In line with Jobs Summit commitments, we will focus on the export of manufactured goods and trade in services such as business process outsourcing and the remote delivery of medical services. We will also be looking at establishing special economic zones that are dedicated to producing specific types of products, such as clothing and textiles, for example. To improve the competitiveness of our exports, we will complete the studies that have begun on reducing the costs of electricity, trade, communications, transport and other costs. We will focus on raising the sophistication of our exports. [Selected associated responses: BUSA, COSATU, Minerals Council

Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative closes its doors (FTW)

Following its 14th AGM in Mbombela this week, the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative has closed its doors. Established in 2004 to make the Maputo Corridor the first choice for the region’s stakeholders, it has worked closely with public and private sector stakeholders to address non-tariff and technical barriers to trade on the corridor. Capacity and funding issues have however forced the organisation to close shop. “It is extremely difficult to quantify the impact of the MCLI’s work over the years, but it is clear that without the organisation’s ability to harness and exploit every available platform for highlighting the benefits of the Maputo Corridor and its growth in capacity and throughput, the Maputo Corridor would not have achieved the status it has as one of Africa’s leading transport corridors,” said MCLI CEO Barbara Mommen. “The Board’s decision to cease operations at the end of February 2019 was taken after two years of unrelenting pressure and a thorough examination of the different options confronting us.”

Nigeria, Gulf of Guinea safe hub for international trade (ThisDay)

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside has stated that efforts by the federal government to check piracy will provide the necessary assurance to foreign investors that Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, to a large extent, is a safe hub for international trade. Speaking shortly after the unveiling of the Nigerian Maritime Forecast 2019-2020 in Lagos, Peterside opined that the maritime sector has the potential of increasing greatly its contribution to Nigeria’s GDP in no distant future, as the country has the biggest market in Africa. He noted that the country generates about 65-67% of cargo throughput in West Africa, and 65% of all cargo heading for these regions will most likely end up in the Nigerian market. On the regulatory aspect of the 2019 forecast: ”It is expected that the Maritime Offenses Bill (Anti-Piracy) will be passed into law within the margin of the 8th National Assembly to provide a robust and detailed framework to criminalise and punish piracy and unlawful acts in the Nigerian maritime domain as well as give further expression to the relevant provisions of the International Maritime Convention on maritime security to which Nigeria is a party. Other Bills that would impact on the sector are National Transport Commission Bill, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, National Inland Waterways Authority Amendment Bill, Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Amendment/Revised Bill and Ports and Harbour Bill.” [...…Says multilateral cooperation key to vessel safety]

Benin joins ECOWAS regional hydrocarbon programme (Journal du Cameroun)

Benin has agreed to join a regional programme to facilitate the supply of petroleum products in the ECOWAS region, the cabinet said in a statement seen by APA on Thursday.”Due to its geographical position and the security conditions it offers, Benin can become a regional hub for the supply and distribution of petroleum products,” the statement said. To this end the Beninese government intends to make investments, particularly in the context of a public-private partnership, to expand its current storage capacities and develop means of transport, the statement noted.

Regional MoU for the importation and storage of natural gas to be signed next month in Mauritius (GoM)

A regional Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to the importation and storage of natural gas will be signed next month between the countries of the Indian Ocean. This announcement was made yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Ivan Collendavelloo, at the inauguration of a Photovoltaic solar plant in Solitude. The Southern African Development Community, he recalled, is developing a Master Plan for natural gas in the region.

Siddharth Chatterjee (UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya): The Blue Economy as the new frontier for Africa’s growth (Pulse)

In addition to the issues raised above, we expect TICAD 7 to promote Africa’s blue/ocean economy to enhance sustainable use of marine resources, developing port facilities and facilitating marine transport. Furthermore we expect the issue of Africa’s infrastructure and connectivity to be high on the TICAD 7 Agenda as this will unlock the construction and management of quality transport infrastructure, such as ports, maritime corridors, airports, railroads, bridges and trunk roads that are efficient in view of life-cycle cost, reliable, safe, resilient against natural disasters and environmentally friendly, to strengthen connectivity in Africa, utilizing state of the art infrastructure technology.

Today’s Quick Links:

Free movement of African citizens: an imperative for Continental Free Trade in Africa

AU summit 32: Beyond the hype of Africa’s free trade deal

Cotonou successor: EU-Africa relations at the crossroads

Buhari assents to Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2019

Brexit is nine days away for exporters sending ships to Asia


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