tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: World Bank

18 Mar 2019

Underway, in Marrakech: Africa Regional Midterm Review Meeting of the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014–2024

Starting tomorrow in Mauritius: Pension Funds and Alternative Investments Africa Conference. Presentations and panel discussions will cover: The search for returns in a low global return environment; Regulatory developments in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Morocco, Egypt; Preserving and growing capital by insulating investments against market stress; Mega funds; Benchmarking and performance insights.

Profiled EAC policy events taking place this week: Inception meeting on the formative evaluation of the EAC Common Market Protocol; Meeting of constitutional experts; Meeting of legislative draftspersons and competition experts to draft the EAC Competition Act (Amendment)

Diarise: The Africa Pharma Conference 2019 (4-5 June, Johannesburg)

Gender and trade spotlighted at UN Commission on Status of Women (UNCTAD)

Trade policies are not gender neutral and can affect men and women differently due to the distinct roles each plays in our economies and societies, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said on 13 March at the UN headquarters. Ms. Durant was speaking at an event her organization held with the newly-formed Gender and Trade Coalition during the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women convening at the UN, 11-22 March. “If trade policies are designed without taking into account their gender-specific outcomes, these policies risk magnifying existing gender inequalities instead of alleviating them”, Ms. Durant said. For example, trade integration policies in the EAC may have helped create employment opportunities for women in services (though agriculture is still the main employer), but the new jobs sit at the bottom of the career ladder. “White-collar tasks” and higher levels of responsibility and decision-making are still out of reach for women, Ms. Durant said. UNCTAD analysis of manufacturing in SADC and Mercosur reached similar conclusions. Avoiding such outcomes requires an assessment of the potential gender impacts of a trade agreement before negotiations conclude. “Such an assessment could help guide negotiations towards a more gender-sensitive outcome,” she said, adding that UNCTAD’s Trade and Gender Toolbox provides a methodology for these types of evaluations. [ITC: Effective measurement tools essential for empowering women in the economy]

The case for accelerating gender mainstreaming in CARICOM trade policy (Barbados Today)

But there is still lots to do in CARICOM. Despite the fact that CARICOM member states are signatories to a plethora of international treaties aimed at the empowerment of women, their trade policies are, to a large extent, being enacted and maintained in the absence of evidence and data that is timely, comparable and sex-disaggregated. Mainstreaming gender into CARICOM countries’ trade and development policymaking would help to ensure that initiatives under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and CARICOM’s trade negotiations with third parties are gender-sensitive. It is, therefore, a welcome development that Belize’s recently launched National Trade Policy (2019-2030) incorporates gender equality as a cross-cutting issue [see Chapter 10]. Another praiseworthy development is that in February 2019, it was announced that national consultations were underway on a draft CARICOM Regional Gender Equality Strategy to advance gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women and girls in each of the 15 CARICOM member states. Based on the above, we recommend the following ways in which CARICOM’s trade policies may be more gender-sensitive: [The authors: Dr Jan Yves Remy, Alicia Nicholls]

Arancha González: Helping women crack the “export code” (Project Syndicate)

At the International Trade Center, we are working to enable women to crack the export code and join men as equal players on the global economic playing field. Our research from 25 countries finds that only one in five exporting companies are owned by women, owing to significant gender-based discrimination. With the ITC’s SheTrades Initiative, we hope to connect three million women entrepreneurs to global markets.

New global report calls for urgent measures to close justice gap for women (UN)

The High-level Group on Justice for Women, comprising of justice, human rights and gender experts from different parts of the world, launched a pathbreaking global report, Justice for Women, on 13 March, at a side event on the margins of the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York. The report, authored by Jeni Klugman, a fellow of the Kennedy School of Government’s Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard University and Managing Director, Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security, was developed as part of ongoing work of the Task Force on Justice, established by the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. It documents and explains the justice gap for women and girls; makes the case for investment in the justice sector in a gender-responsive manner; proposes strategies for scaling up existing interventions; and articulates an eight-point call to action to close the existing gender justice gap. [Download: Executive summary, pdf]

Gender quotas help women parliamentarians to rise in numbers (IPS)

When the Inter Parliamentary Union , based in Switzerland, released its annual report on the representation of women legislators worldwide, four of the top five countries were from the developing world. Rwanda led the way with 61.3% of the seats held by women in its lower or single house of parliament followed by Cuba (53.2%), Bolivia (53.1%) and Mexico (48.2%). The fifth place was held by Sweden (47.3%), the only Western industrialized country among the top five. The next five countries in descending order were Grenada, Namibia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and South Africa, completing the top 10, with the world’s largest number of women parliamentarians. The survey was released to coincide with a two-week long meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. According to the IPU’s yearly analysis, the share of women in national parliaments increased by nearly one percentage point last year, from 23.4% in 2017 to 24.3% in 2018.

Related, quick links:

SADC: Significant achievements in gender equality, but more needs to be done

ECOWAS Commission to consolidate gender equality and women empowerment drive

Fatimah Kelleher: Why the world needs an African ecofeminist future

First Bank of Nigeria’s First Women Network

One in five ministers is a woman, according to new IPU/UN Women Map

East Asia Forum: Investing in women in Asia

SADC Council of Ministers: media briefing (pdf, SADC)

Council noted the progress on the implementation of the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) which is built on four pillars namely: Industrialisation, Competitiveness, Regional Integration, and Crosscutting issues; and noted that an updated progress report on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap will be submitted to its meeting in August 2019 after consideration by the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration in June 2019.

On the proposed transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament, Council directed the Secretariat to constitute a Task Force comprising of Double Troika Members, supported by the SADC Secretariat and the SADC Parliamentary Forum Secretariat to carry out a thorough analysis on the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and advise on, among others, the governing legal framework; structure; functions and powers; inter- and intra-relationships with other branches of SADC, like Summit and SADC Administrative Tribunal, national Parliaments and the Pan African Parliament; international law obligations; and financing arrangement. Secretariat will present progress to Council in August 2019.

Council also noted the dates for the Inaugural African Union and Regional Economic Communities Coordination Meeting (7-8 July, Niamey), during which the Status of Integration in the SADC Regional Report will be represented.

SACU, Mozambique and the UK ministerial discussions to resolve outstanding issues on the roll-over EPA (GCIS)

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, says discussions to resolve outstanding issues on the roll-over Economic Partnership Agreement between SACU, Mozambique and the UK were held on 15 March 2019.The meeting was co-chaired by Ms B.J. Kenewendo, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana, the coordinator for SADC EPA Group, and Mr G. Hollingberry, Minister of State for Trade Policy of the Department for International Trade in the UK. “The meeting noted that the UK’s EU Withdrawal Act of 2018 provides for incorporation of EU legislation that was operative before the UK exits the EU and will form part of domestic law of the UK on the day the UK exits the EU. Therefore, sanitary and phytosanitary legislation of the EU will be domesticated into UK legislation and continue to apply in the UK. Differences between the Parties were significantly narrowed in relation to timeframes for continued recognition of SPS import requirements and the meeting acknowledged that market access for agriculture products is critical to SACU and Mozambique” said Davies.

The meeting provided an opportunity to better understand each other’s positions in relation to continued recognition of EU materials and processing. Cumulation is when material of a third country or processing done in third country is accepted as being from the parties to the agreement. The Parties agreed that the objective of the exercise, as per the agreed terms of reference, is to roll-over the EPA and not to renegotiate the terms of the EPA. The EPA does not provide for cumulation on the basis being advanced by the UK, namely full cumulation with EU material, especially in cases where the EU material is subject to a higher duty when exported to SACU and Mozambique than when the material is exported from the UK. SACU and Mozambique are unable to give any better treatment to the UK than the EU. The SADC-EU EPA has a most favoured nation clause which provides for any better treatment granted to an economy that contributes more than one point five percent (1.5%) of world trade to be extended to the EU. In this regard, the Parties have agreed to continue to engage with a view to find an amicable solution that takes into account the interests of both Parties and promotes mutually beneficial trade, including regional cumulation for SACU and Mozambique.

Internet access in Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank)

Target 9.c of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for the achievement of universal and affordable internet access by 2020. This note (pdf) analyzes Sub-Saharan Africa’s progress towards this goal. It finds that (i) rates of internet access reported in household surveys differ markedly and are often lower than the prevailing estimates of internet use reported by the International Telecommunications Union, (ii) internet access in regions outside the capital city tends to be lagging and, (iii) lack of access to electricity is a key barrier constraining access to internet among poor Africans.

The AfCFTA and cross-border data transfer: maximising the trade deal in the age of Digital Economy (Lexology)

African leaders must see the nexus between protection of privacy rights, online security and commerce. A comprehensive digital development strategy should address investment in digital infrastructure, complex cross border internet regulatory concerns, bridge digital divide and inclusion, and curtail prospective undesirable social and development effects. Beyond a privacy and data protection framework, the success of the AfCFTA will be hinged on policies around addressing e-transaction and consumer protection, content restrictions and censorship laws, Intellectual property protection, Intermediary liability and competition. The implementation will see multi-national companies navigate global data protection compliance with ease, trade more with Africa without fear of inadequate protection, and increase the intra-continent trade volume. A proper harmonisation of data protection and AfCFTA would create opportunities and a sustainable path for Africa’s youthful and growing population. Also, Africans will dare to build digital businesses products and models not just for the African market, but equally to expand and seek global competitive advantage. Finally, the cybersecurity and data protection laws will be nothing without an efficient enforcement framework. [The author: Ridwan Oloyede]