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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

20 Mar 2019

16 minute read

The joint trade policy review of EAC member countries began today at the WTO: download reports prepared by the EAC and WTO secretariats, advance questions

The World Travel and Tourism Council has posted its Economic Impact Research 2019 report: the Africa Region highlights (pdf)

Artisanal and small-scale mining: the paradox of extraction (ACET)

There are an estimated 9 million artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operators and about 54 million dependants of the activity in Africa. ASM is the second largest employer after agriculture and employs 10 times more miners than the large-scale mining sector, producing 18% of Africa’s gold and almost all gemstones except diamonds. ASM has gained more prominence as a source of livelihood over time, with the number of miners quadrupling between 1999 and 2014. In Eritrea and the Central African Republic, for example, more than half the population is dependent on ASM. ASM affords higher income than agriculture, often provides employment in depressed agricultural areas, and slows down rural-urban migration. The problems associated with ASM are manifested in different ways across countries. However, Ethiopia’s fundamental policy changes can inform how other countries go about harmonizing ASM and agriculture in order to achieve sustainable growth. The key takeaways here are that there is need to:

Tanzania sets up mineral trading centres to curb illegal gold exports

Tanzania has ordered all mineral-producing regions in the East African nation to set up government-controlled trading centres by the end of June, accelerating efforts to curb illegal exports of gold and other precious minerals. The trading centres will give small-scale miners direct access to a formal, regulated market where they can go and directly trade their gold. They currently struggle to access formal gold dealers who mostly based in the capital Dar es Salam and major towns. A statement from the prime minister’s office said the first mineral trading centre was inaugurated in the northwestern town of Geita on Sunday, close to the country’s biggest gold mine owned by South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti. Small-scale miners produce around 20 tonnes of gold per year in Tanzania, but an estimated 90 percent of the output is illegally exported, according to a report by a parliamentary committee. It exported gold worth $1.549bn last year, up slightly from $1.541bn in 2017, central bank data shows.

Free movement of labour in East Africa: IOM study

A new study has urged member countries of the East African Community to adopt labour migration policies based on international best practices, improve data management and boost the operationalization of One Stop Border Posts. The comparative study assesses migration patterns and policy issues in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania – four of the six EAC countries. “We appreciate the commitment and cooperation from the United Republic of Tanzania in conducting this study and are confident that the presentation of the results will assist the Government of Tanzania and the other three EAC Member States in improving their management of migration flows, in p articular those related to labour,” said IOM Tanzania Chief of Mission Dr Qasim Sufi. Twenty different institutions in the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar, including the President’s Office, the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Ministries of Labour, Immigration Departments, Trade Union Congress of Tanzania and Association of Tanzanian Employers participated in the launch event that took place in the capital city of Dodoma. Three similar events will be held in Bujumbura, Burundi on 20 March; Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March; and Nairobi, Kenya on 4 April 2019.

IGAD drafts protocol to end border restrictions

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has drafted a new protocol to resolve cross-border restrictions among member states and cause easy mobility of people, goods and services. During the high-level experts technical review meeting at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo, Kampala on Monday, the technocrats said the new protocol was drafted on a unanimous decision by all IGAD member states as prescribed in the 1966 IGAD establishment agreement, trade unions and the East African Community. The draft protocol seeks to address four major freedoms: “Movement of people aimed at abolishing visa, labour mobility, establishment of businesses and residence.” Dr Mehari Taddele, the IGAD lead expert, said currently there are many border conflicts within African countries and the problem has been caused by absence of a direct protocol to address the issues. “By the time the first protocol was made, there were no problems we are seeing right now like fights at borders. These have been mainly caused by countries assuming sovereignty, political affiliations and trans-border issues. The new protocol will tackle these issues. We also want to see that we develop infrastructure and also abolish visas in the region.”

Increased EAC border disputes threaten Kenya’s export market (The Standard)

Already, Kenya’s share of the EAC export market has shrunk considerably as an influx from cheaper goods from China and India and South Africa flood the region. “We have expressed our concern with authorities in both countries that the stalemate at the border of Uganda and Rwanda does not augur well for the free movement of goods across the community,” said East African Business Council Chair Nick Nesbitt, who also heads the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. Mr Nesbitt says the stalemate not only threatens the business of transporters and clearing and forwarding agents but also has a knock-on effect on the future of Kenya’s business interests in the region. “To the extent that Rwanda could turn to the Rwanda-Tanzania corridor for its transport solutions, this presents a challenge to Kenyan cargo operators as well as the businesses and communities along the Northern transport corridor that depend on the same for their livelihood.”

Chinese opening-up policy to boost Kenya’s exports: PRC official (Xinhua)

China’s opening-up policy will boost Kenya’s exports to the Asian nation, a Chinese government official said on Tuesday. Li Xuhang, Charge d’Affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya told a press conference in Nairobi that Beijing’s ever growing consumer market will bring more export opportunities for Nairobi. He revealed that currently the annual bilateral trade value has reached 537 billion shillings ($5.37bn) while China’s non-financial direct investment in Kenya amounted to about $520m dollars in 2018, which was more than two times the amount during the previous year. The Chinese official also noted that due to the strong bilateral ties, there were around 170 Kenyan students who obtained Chinese-funded scholarships for studying in China in 2018, and 686 government officials and professionals went to China for training programs during the same year. In the aviation sector, Li said that direct flights between China and Kenya have now increased to 10 per week, and the number of annual Chinese tourists visiting Kenya has reached 81,000. [Govt, China talks on $3,7bn railway loan underway]

Nigeria: Strategic approaches to industrialisation never worked – Emefiele (ThisDay)

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has responded to critics of the central bank’s intervention initiatives in the textile and garment industry, maintaining that contrary to suggestions, the adoption of strategic approaches towards industrialisation of the economy had never yielded positive results in the past. The CBN governor, who said this in response to the Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, who had in a statement urged the Federal Government to reconsider the recent CBN ban of forex to textile importers and allow for strategic approaches, said allowing for continued importation, dumping as well as smuggling - as insinuated by Yusuf - was not the best way out of the current situation. He said smuggling remained the greatest challenge to the country’s industrialisation, adding that nothing could be achieved unless it is tackled head on. The CBN governor was speaking during a stakeholders’ engagement on repositioning the oil palm value chain. [Dangote’s Nigeria tomato plant resumes after years idling]

US poultry exports to South Africa: an update from GAIN (pdf, USDA)

On 1 February 2019, South Africa notified Post of the amended guidelines for the utilization of tariff rate quota allocations for US bone-in chicken imports. The amended guidelines are supposed to address the primary challenges that have arisen since the inception of the quota in 2016, and will take effect on 1 April 2019. Some local importers have expressed their concerns that certain amendments could adversely affect the full utilization of the quota. Post will continue engaging with South African government and industry contacts to monitor the changes and resulting impact on the administration of the quota. Through the first 10 months of the 2018-2019 quota year, the United States has exported 58,600 tons of U.S. bone-in chicken meat to South Africa compared with 51,600 tons during the same period in 2017-2018 quota year. Overall, many importers are of the view that their submissions to ITAC were not incorporated into the amended guidelines. Some of the importers, especially HDIs, are concerned that the amended guidelines do not address the main challenges they have been facing since the inception of the TRQ; financially, partnerships and operational challenges.

Ethiopia: Gender Diagnostic Report (World Bank)

This report presents evidence on the mechanisms underlying gender gaps in the Ethiopian workforce. Using data from the 2011-2016 Ethiopia socio-economic surveys, this report provides a detailed understanding of the constraints faced by female farmers, entrepreneurs, and employees. To that end, the diagnostic makes four key contributions (pdf): first, this report provides an overview of the labor force in Ethiopia and identifies the factors that predict whether, how much, and in what sector an individual works. Second, this report uses Oaxaca-blinder decompositions to measure and account for gender gaps in economic outcomes in agriculture, self-employment, and wage labor. Third, this report identifies the links between labor market skills, social norms, and gender gaps in the Ethiopian workforce. Fourth it provides policy makers with a menu of innovative programming examples.

Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa region: WCO update

At the invitation of the WCO Council Vice-Chair, Général de Brigade Toumany Sangaré, Director General of Guinea Customs, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 24th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa region, held in Bangui, 13-15 March 2019. There was a particular focus during the conference on: Performance measurement and national experiences of using performance measurement tools, such as the WCO Time Release Study; Progress achieved with regional security-related initiatives, such as “Sécurité par Collaboration (SPC++)” where the WCO West and Central Africa Security Project was highlighted, as well as the efforts aimed at countering the illicit trafficking of cultural objects; Developments with regard to pre-shipment inspection contracts, which were discussed at length; The interconnection of transit systems, including advances as regards the development of the different existing systems and pilot projects.

14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnerships: selected updates

  1. India proposes pact with Africa to enhance bilateral trade. India has proposed to Africa that both sides should work towards entering into a free trade agreement or a preferential trade agreement to enhance and strengthen their economic relationship in a new global trading order. This suggestion came from Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Commerce and Industry and Aviation, during his address at the 14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership in the Capital. Prabhu said the proposed FTA should look to first benefit Africa and help increase its share in the global market place. Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said the Commerce Ministry was working on a “comprehensive strategy” to boost India-Africa trade. In 2017-18, India-Africa bilateral trade was about $63bn, higher than $52bn in the previous fiscal. The potential for trade and investment ties is much more and there is also need to diversify the bilateral trade basket, Wadhawan added. [Conclave on India-Africa project partnerships concludes]

  2. Conclave documentation: (i) A listing of project opportunities (by sector, country), (ii) Conference programme (pdf)

  3. Related commentaries: In search of the Africa Manifesto; Abhishek Mishra, Gayathri Iyer: Can the Western Indian Ocean region be a game changer for India?

Today’s Quick Links:

AU scaling up engagement with political parties: West African region workshop (28-29 March, Accra)

Branislav Gosovic: What, after Buenos Aires conference on south-south cooperation?

Mauritius set to become an organic island, states Agro-Industry Minister

Experts push towards digitalization of postal services in Africa

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