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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Andrew Kasuku

19 Feb 2019

Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (20-26 March) on the theme Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: a strategy for Africa. Profiled submissions:

(i) pdf Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: issues paper (635 KB) . The aim of the present report is to articulate and frame key policy issues and imperatives for African Governments to address challenges and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of fiscal policy in a digital economy, with special emphasis on the link between trade, the private sector and fiscal performance in a digital era. In particular, the present report analyses how fiscal policy can leverage digitization to increase revenue collection and management, the benefits of digitization to the economy and fiscal policy through private sector and trade, and the challenges of administering the current revenue frameworks in the digital era.

(ii) pdf Assessing the status of regional integration in Africa (1.26 MB) . Overview of African investment trends. The international legal framework governing FDI flows in Africa is complex, consisting of bilateral investment treaties and regional investment agreements. Since the 1960s, African countries have signed 853 bilateral investment treaties, out of which 173 are intra-African. In line with global trends, the pace of concluding bilateral investment treaties picked up around the turn of the century, but it has slowed significantly in recent years. Many of the existing African bilateral investment treaties belong to the old generation marked by broad standards of treatment. Those unreformed treaties can make African countries vulnerable to costly investor disputes. See Figure V: Evolution of bilateral investment treaties in Africa (1980 − December 2018)

Free movement of persons and right of establishment. Overall, as of December 2018, only 11 African countries offered liberal access, either they did not require a visa or allowed one to be obtained upon arrival, which indicates that most countries on the continent still have restrictive visa policies. Going forward, removing visas or offering more visas on arrival could help to make the free movement of Africans a reality. To date, 30 countries have signed the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment; however, the implementation of it remains challenging.

Infrastructure Integration: road transport. Road density in Africa is more than four times lower than the world average, 10 and only 25% of the continent’s road network has been paved compared to more than 50% worldwide. Rwanda, the highest ranked African country in terms of road transport with a score of 5, is only 0.9 points away from the global leader, United Arab Emirates. Efforts are under way to promote an extensive infrastructure project, which is expected to boost significantly AfCFTA.

The mining sector. In seeking to deepen economic integration, deliberations underpinning the launch of AfCFTA have also helped to reinforce the leveraging of continental synergies with the mining sector. Those synergies include the potential for AfCFTA to foster regional linkages between mining and other economic sectors; promote regional mining policies, incentivize the development of regional mineral value chains and enhance resource corridor projects.

(iii) Final outcome report for the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts Southern Africa (18-21 September, Mauritius): pdf The Blue Economy, Inclusive Industrialization and Economic Development in Southern Africa (682 KB)

(iv) Final outcome report for the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for West Africa (27-29 June, Cotonou): Regional integration in West Africa − new challenges and prospects


EALA commences plenary sitting in Zanzibar

The isles of Zanzibar is hosting the East African Legislative Assembly Sitting (18 February - 8 March). The President of Zanzibar and the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, is expected to officiate at a special Sitting on 26 February. Key items at the Sitting include debate on the East African Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2019 and the consideration of various key Committee reports. The Assembly is further expected to receive a briefing by the EAC Secretary General on the status of EAC projects.

Kagame on African Union, EAC and what keeps him awake at night (The East African)

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has called for an urgent resolution of differences between countries in the region, which he says are standing in the way of the East African Community’s progress. In an exclusive interview with The East African, President Kagame said relations between Uganda and Rwanda are not improving because of reluctance to solve the differences. The interview discussed his tenure as chair of the African Union, his plans for the East African Community, and his leadership of Rwanda.

COMESA’s Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme: update (Africa News)

The European Union has committed EUR 10 Million for this programme with the aim to improve competitiveness and market access of SMEs and private sector in a selected number of value chains in the COMESA region. The specificity of this programme is that it will entail a much greater role of the private sector in its implementation, alongside with some COMESA specialised institutions - the COMESA Business Council, Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA Regional Investment Authority, African Leather and Leather Products Institution and the Federation of National Association of Women in Business. [Speech of Ambassador Mariani at signing ceremony]

Kenya’s trade surplus with Africa drops to record low (Business Daily)

Kenya’s goods trade surplus with Africa in the first 11 months of 2018 fell below the Sh10 billion mark for the first time in more than two decades, underlining the growing uncompetitiveness of its products in the continent. The surplus - the gap between exports and imports - narrowed to Sh8.89 billion in the January-November 2018, the lowest ever recorded since 1998 when such data was publicly made available. Latest data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya show exports earnings from Africa in the 11-month period through last November slipped 2.16% compared to a year earlier to Sh200.12 billion — the lowest value since Sh171.35 billion in 2010. Imports from African countries, on the other hand, hit a record of Sh191.23 billion, a growth of 5.84%, or Sh10.20 billion, over the corresponding period in 2017, which posted a Sh181.03 billion bill. [See the infographic: Kenya’s trade with Africa. 2007-2008]

Kenya lifts China fish ban to boost supply (The East African)

Kenya has lifted a ban on fish imports following a biting shortage after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive against Chinese catch that had flooded the market. The ban was lifted in January, barely three months after the restrictions took effect in November. Mr Kenyatta, in ordering the ban, had said it was inappropriate to bring in the fish when local sources could well satisfy the demand. “We were forced to lift the ban to ease the shortage after a huge consignment of fish got stuck at the port, impacting negatively on local supplies,” said an official at the Fisheries Department who is not allowed to speak on the matter. Kenya imports approximately 1.8 million kilogramme of fish every month. It produces about 135,000 tonnes annual against an annual demand of 500,000 tonnes.

Gauteng eyes mega special economic zone (SAnews)

The Gauteng government will be more aggressive and decisive in pushing their vision of turning the province into a single, multi-tier, mega special economic zone. The provincial government has already started a compact and highly integrated single economy, Premier David Makhura said on Monday. He was delivering his last State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Alberton Civic Centre, Ekurhuleni, ahead of the May general elections. Makhura said Gauteng is also leading the country in promoting intra-Africa trade with Gauteng based businesses having more than 300 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects, worth R356 billion, across the major regions of the continent. These projects have created and sustained more than 45 000 jobs in Gauteng while contributing to Africa’s industrialisation. [Download: State of the Gauteng Province address by Premier David Makhura]

South Africa: “Time for business to roll up its sleeves” (Forbes Africa)

Ms Busi Mabuza has just been appointed Chair of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council. Also the chairperson of the Industrial Development Corporation, she speaks to Forbes Africa about her plans for trade and investment.

South Africa: Outward Trade and Investment Mission to New Delhi, Mumbai (dti)

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will provide a group of companies with an opportunity to explore trade and investment opportunities in India when it leads the Outward Trade and Investment Mission to New Delhi and Mumbai from 4-8 March 2019. The purpose of the mission is to increase the trade of value-added goods and investment between South Africa and India. The companies’ trip is funded by the dti through its Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme. Trade Minister Rob Davies says the mission is also part of the dti’s Integrated National Export Strategy (Export 2030) which is the country’s blueprint towards ensuring export promoting industrialisation to spur economic growth. The strategy aims to increase South Africa’s capacity for exporting diversified and value-added goods and services to various global markets.

Tanzania: Declining exports affect balance of payment (IPPMedia)

The country continued to record a negative balance of payment to the tune of $774.9m in the year ending December 2018, Bank of Tanzania said in its latest Monthly Economic Review. This stands in contrast to a surplus of $1,669.6m in the corresponding period last year. BoT said in the review that the situation was a result of widening current account deficit. But the country continued to maintain impressive foreign reserves with official reserves standing at $5,044.6m, sufficient to cover 4.9 months of imports as of December last year. “The import cover remained above the country and EAC benchmarks of 4 and 4.5 months, respectively,” said the Central Bank report. [Related: Minister assures private sector of conducive business environment]

Nigerians in diaspora remittance contribute 6.1% to GDP (Nairametrics)

Nigerians in Diaspora sent an estimated $25bn in remittances to the country in 2018, representing 6.1% of the nation’s GDP, a PricewaterhouseCoopers Economic Outlook Report (pdf) disclosed. Nigeria’s migrant remittance inflow was also 7 times larger than the net official development assistance (foreign aid) received in 2017 of $3.359bn, while the figure translates to 83% of the Federal Government budget in 2018 and 11 times the FDI flows in the same period. According to PWC, Nigeria’s foreign direct inflow growth in half-year of 2019 is expected to remain low and lower than the moderate increase for FDI growth predicated for half-year of 2018 – adding that election will be a factor in the growth process.

Herman J. Cohen: Trump may be about to undermine Obama’s Africa’s policy (Newsweek)

My message for President Trump is this: you have been wise to continue the US-Africa programs started by your predecessors of both parties. These initiatives aren’t just good for Africa, they’re good for Americans, who enjoy job growth and economic activity from our relationship with the continent, to say nothing of protecting homeland security through close cooperation with African governments. There’s no reason to let a few China hawks goad you into denying Americans those benefits.

Today’s Quick Links:

IGAD chief welcomes call by AU for cancellation of Somalia debt

Tanzania finds Chinese ‘Ivory Queen’ guilty of poaching

China supplies 98% of Kenya’s solar panels

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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECs, national government trade departments and research and development agencies.

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