Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Featured tweet, infographic, @fadyhocheimy: So I sent DHL from Gambia to Senegal and this is how it traveled to get there. There is a direct 25 min flight almost daily between Gambia and Senegal. So I don’t get it.

New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO, David Parker, is the new chairperson of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body

Afreximbank’s 2019 Annual Meetings, Moscow: registration opens

Guidelines for national AfCFTA implementation plans: Libreville meeting (UNECA)

Experts, now meeting in Libreville, will review current production and trade within a national and regional context; the identification and prioritization of opportunities for value chain development; a thorough analysis of constraints, including non-tariffs barriers and competitiveness issues faced by businesses and means to address them; strategic actions to boost identified priority sectors; a monitoring and evaluation framework; and financial resources mobilization plans. Taking also the macroeconomic context into account, all these factors will feed into producing guidelines to support 30 countries with the development of their national AfCFTA implementation strategies.

ATPC acknowledges that the AfCFTA could bring about some short-term adjustment costs such as lower tariffs revenues. Furthermore, a range of cross cutting and very critical issues need to be integrated into the national plans, including gender mainstreaming, the environment, climate change, and new technologies. David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the UNECA, said that “country strategies will not be developed from scratch. African countries have in place a number of well-grounded knowledge products and frameworks, national development plans, trade, industrialization and export policies that will inform the AfCFTA strategies.”

REC, sub-regional updates:

  1. ECOWAS to develop new Sahel strategy. A committee, comprising of several ECOWAS Directorates, in a meeting on 26 February in Abuja, drafted the Terms of Reference (TOR) that would be used by a consultant to craft a new Sahel Strategy for ECOWAS (2020-2025). The Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, stated that the TOR will enable the consultant to draft a strategy which will deliver clear objectives and chart the path for a comprehensive set of programmes that will guarantee ECOWAS’ development through the provision of enhanced security and stability as well as the improvement of the living standard of the people in the Sahel region. He noted that the implementation of the ECOWAS Sahel Strategy has been challenged by duplication of activities due to the multiplicity of Sahel Strategy initiatives. Hence he stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy which will improve synergy and coordination among all stake holders and interest groups such as WAEMU, the Permanent Inter-state Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, the Liptako Gourma Authority and the Niger Basin Authority.

  2. Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway. ECOWAS launched the project implementation unit for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project, on 27 February in Abuja. The PIU is meant to, among others, provide day-to-day management of the highway project under the supervision of the Commissioner for Infrastructure of the ECOWAS Commission, through his technical project manager. Giving a remark at the start of the 2-Day meeting covering its launch at the Commission’s headquarters, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr Pathe Gueye stated that the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Project remains of high importance to the ECOWAS Commission, Corridor Member States as well as Development Partners considering the enormous benefits which will accrue to the region from its implementation.

  3. Port Sudan Corridor. Preparations have started to establish the Port Sudan Corridor. This will serve as a gateway to international markets, especially Asia, for countries in the eastern and southern African region. Specifically, the corridor will directly serve COMESA states, Ethiopia and Sudan, and later Uganda. It will then extend beyond the regional bloc to Central Africa Republic, Chad and South Sudan. The decision to establish the Port Sudan Corridor was made by the COMESA Ministers of Infrastructure during their 10th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in October 2017. “The corridor concept has improved the management of international traffic as it provides scope for harmonization of operating procedures, policy, skills, infrastructure and equipment hence directly supporting regional integration,” senior transport economist at the COMESA Secretariat, Mr Bernard Dzawanda, said during the meeting of stakeholders from all Corridor States in Khartoum, 21-24 January 2019. The meeting reviewed and validated the project’s strategic plan and financial strategy and the Corridor Work Programme and Sustainability Strategy. A draft Corridor Agreement developed by COMESA was presented to the delegates. The formation of a corridor management institution, known as the Port Sudan Corridor Authority, was identified as a priority activity.

  4. Zambezi Watercourse Commission. The Council of Ministers met in Dar es Salaam on Thursday to, among other things, approve the strategic plan for the Zambezi Watercourse. The Zambezi water ministers were also expected to approve another big ZAMCOM project - the Zambezi Water Resources Information System – Decision Support System. “It is a framework for facilitating investments in the basin to address Zambezi River Basin development challenges. It is also a step in the right direction in realising benefits of cooperation in the Zambezi River Basin and it will unlock enormous development potential in the Basin,” says Evans Kaseke, ZAMCOM programme manager for strategic planning. Note: The Zambezi River originates in the Kalene hills in northwest Zambia, at an attitude of 1,5000m, and flows south and eastwards to the Indian Ocean, covering a total of 2,574 kilometres. It is shared by eight riparian countries namely Angola (18.2%), Botswana (1.5%), Malawi (7.5%), Mozambique (11.6%) Namibia (1.1%), Tanzania (2.2%), Zambia (41.9%) and Zimbabwe (15.9%).

  5. SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme. The steering committee recommended that the SADC Member States accelerate the 2019 vulnerability assessments to ensure timely advisory of the unfolding regional food insecurity situation and disseminate the results of the national assessments preferably, by the end of June 2019. The RVAA Programme will synthesize the results of the assessments and analysis into the “SADC Regional State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa Report,” that will be discussed by the Council of Ministers and the Summit of Heads of State and Governments in August 2019. The Steering Committee deliberated on the rainfall season performance and the food security situation in the region noting that it is likely that crop production will be negatively affected in many southern and central areas. Satellite rainfall analysis indicates that October 2018 to January 2019 rainfall may be among the lowest since 1981 in parts of southern Angola, western Botswana, northern Namibia, western and central South Africa, Lesotho, western Zambia, and western Zimbabwe. Rainfall was also poorly distributed and below average in western Madagascar, southern Mozambique, and eastern Tanzania. [Southern Africa Price Bulletin: February 2019]

A legal tussle over a strategic African port sets up a challenge for China’s Belt and Road plan (Quartz)

It’s been exactly a year since the Dubai-based port operator DP World accused Djibouti of illegally seizing control of the Doraleh Container Terminal it operated in the northeast African country. The move triggered denunciation from Emirati officials, kick-started a succession of legal battles that have spanned the globe, and brought into focus China’s deepening role in the Horn of Africa. It’s not yet clear how the ruling in Hong Kong might differ from those in the UK, how the Djiboutian government might respond, or if a decision favoring DP World would be implemented in Djibouti. But as challenges involving commercial interests and state sovereignty unfold along the Maritime Silk Road, it might boost Beijing’s plans to establish special courts dedicated to settling the disputes. If DP World wins in Hong Kong, Link says “this will, of course, hurt the reputation of China Merchant’s Port, a growing rival of DP World.” [The author: Abdi Latif Dahir]

Reforming the WTO: a commentary by Switzerland’s WTO ambassador, Didier Chambovey

Reforming the WTO is not just about resolving the dispute settlement mechanism crisis, although this question remains a priority. For Switzerland, it is also about modernizing the organization to enable it to restrain protectionist tendencies and to adapt to major changes in the structures and modalities of international trade. To this end, it is important to increase the transparency of different trade practices and policies. The reform should also examine ways to differentiate commitments made by developing countries according to their respective economic capacities. [Related pdf tralac Newsletter, October 2018: The Multilateral Trading System – quo vadis? (1.10 MB) ]

US wins WTO ruling on Chinese grains; decision may also affect India (Reuters)

The US has won a WTO ruling on China’s price support for grains, successfully challenging a calculation methodology that is also used by India. A WTO adjudication panel agreed on Thursday with the US complaint that China had paid farmers too much for wheat, Indica rice and Japonica rice in 2012-2015. A disputed corn subsidy had already expired. “China’s excessive support limits opportunities for US farmers to export their world-class products to China,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. China said on Friday it regretted the lack of support from experts, noting that government support for agriculture was a common practice and allowed under WTO rules. [Download: WTO panel report on Chinese agricultural subsidies; Lighthizer sees bigger China ag trade; American Enterprise Institute: In the US-China trade deal both sides must recommit to the WTO]

Brazil joins Australia in formal complaint to WTO over Indian sugar subsidies (ABC)

The world’s largest sugar producing nation, Brazil, has joined Australia to lodge a formal complaint against India with the WTO. Brazil and Australia launched formal dispute action with the WTO overnight, claiming subsidies paid to farmers in India have led to a sugar glut and depressed global prices. “That’s hurting cane growers and sugar millers whether they’re in Australia, Brazil, or any other country in the world,” Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said. Mr Birmingham said Australia was “left with no other choice but to initiate formal WTO dispute action, together with Brazil”.

Christine Lagarde’s 32nd World Traders’ Tacitus Lecture (IMF)

How can finance support sustainable and inclusive growth? Let me start with a data point. Over the next 15 years, $24 trillion of wealth will be inherited by millennials - and they are more than twice as likely as other generations to invest in companies or funds that target social or environmental outcomes. The financial industry has seized this opportunity by offering various forms of impact investing, green bonds, and a panoply of fund products that take account of “ESG” - environmental, social, and governance issues. Clearly, sustainable investing is booming.

Today’s Quick Links:

Special Economic Zones as new frontiers for Nigeria’s industrialization

UK agrees WTO procurement membership post-Brexit

Distortions to agricultural incentives in light of trade policy: a study on Pakistan

ITC: Belgium commits €2m to strengthen work on inclusive and sustainable trade in Africa

UNIDO: Setting up a quality infrastructure system in Central Africa


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