tralac’s Daily News Selection
Diarise: Gender considerations in trade agreements (28 March, Geneva). The workshop is organized by Iceland, Botswana and UNCTAD in cooperation with the WTO. It will explore the role for trade agreements in promoting gender equality and how gender has been integrated in FTAs, in regional integration agreements and preferential trade schemes.
Africa CEO Forum: Trade experts call for more reforms (EA Business Week)
The 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum has officially opened in Kigali, with business leaders and trade experts calling for more reforms to make the continent more attractive to investments. The forum, which is arguably the continent’s largest international meeting of Africa’s private sector, has brought together more than 1,800 CEOs from top companies, international investors, experts and high-level policy makers from the continent and beyond. Also in attendance are presidents of Rwanda (the host), Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Togo, among other delegates. In his opening remarks, President Kagame called the forum is a timely platform to discuss mechanisms on how to make the most from the recently signed ACFT treaty. He urged participants to take the same spirit in driving the continent towards economic success. “Open responsiveness and accountable governments are critical in driving the continent’s economic integration agenda, therefore the private sector should notice what needs to be changed share it with those in the public to able to move forward.” [AfCFTA: Kagame speaks on Buhari and the Nigeria problem. Asked if he was talking to President Muhammadu Buhari on getting Nigeria to come on board, Kagame said: “Not at the moment, but we were talking to President Buhari in the build-up to where we are now, and I think that is as significant as talking to him now”]
David Tarimo (PwC Tanzania) preview of the Africa CEO Forum: It’s time we pushed for greater intra-Africa trade (The Citizen)
Whilst there has been significant focus on how goods can move tax free within the EAC, the same cannot be said for services. A general concern in relation to intra-Africa trade in services is that the tax regimes act to discourage such activity by imposing costs (in particular high non-resident withholding taxes and sometimes irrecoverable Value Added Tax) that would not apply on similar transactions taking place between two parties in the same country. So, why erect these barriers on trade in services between countries? One mechanism that had been hoped would help alleviate some of these distortions had been an EAC double tax treaty - a first version of which was originally signed in 1997. Subsequently, following renegotiation an amended version was signed by all EAC Ministers for Finance on 30 November 2010. But neither the 1997 nor 2010 versions ever came into force as relevant ratification procedures were not completed. In the case of the 2010 agreement I understand that ratification remains pending by Burundi and Tanzania, both of whom appear reluctant to take this step. Even if ratified it would not completely eliminate withholding tax on intra-regional cross border changes but at least the reduced rates would significantly reduce withholding tax costs. Clearly measures such as the recent signature of the CFTA are to be welcomed as a step towards greater African trade integration - but again this initiative focuses on goods. As services become an ever more important part of our economies, there should be a commensurate focus on reducing tax distortions that inhibit regional trade in services. [Africa CEO Forum: Experts make case for economic integration]
Selected extracts from the presentation by David Luke: pdf Assessing regional integration in Africa – next steps for the AfCFTA (900 KB) . AfCFTA Protocol on Investment (slide 8). Africa’s investment landscape is fragmented: 854 BITs (512 in force), of which 169 are intra-African (44 in force) – many overlapping and “old generation”, often with ISDS, vulnerable to treaty shopping, and policy space; AfCFTA Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights (slide 9). Africa’s IPR commitments are fragmented: 44 countries member to WTO TRIPs, others in different IP international agreements and FTAs with IPR; Three models proposed for integration in IPR: a) regional cooperation and sharing of experience, b) regional filing systems, c) unification of IP laws; AfCFTA Protocol on Competition Policy (slide 10). Africa’s competition regime is patchy and incomplete: only 23 countries have competition laws enforced by competition authorities.
Selected extracts from the presentation by Wafa Aida: pdf African Regional Integration Index report (229 KB) . Profiled slides: continental ranking on regional integration (slide 6), trade integration (slide 7), productive integration (slide 8)
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, ECA’s Executive Secretary Vera Songwe and the AU’s Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology Sarah Anyang Agbor spelt out the merits of this AU-UN synergy in the light of dovetailing the UN’s mandates of peace and security with sustainable development.
COMESA’s Assistant Secretary General, Dr Kipyego Cheluget: “Taking into account the new developments both at the UN and AU Reforms, this calls for a rethink of the RCM-Africa, aim at aligning the coordination and leadership roles to the ongoing reforms, the four sub-regional mechanisms need to focus on the regional economic communities where the regional mechanism focuses on support to the AUC.”
Extract from the pdf Issues paper: United Nations support to the African Union Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (661 KB) : The high-level panels on the theme of the 20th Session of RCM-Africa may wish to consider the following: Addressing the root causes of refugees and IDPs; Upscaling durable solutions, including addressing the forced displacement-development nexus; Coordinating the work under the Compacts for Migration, and on Refugees; The RCM for Africa’s support to the AU agenda on refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced Persons.
Extract from the pdf Report of the clusters of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (594 KB) : The present progress report contains a summary of the support of the UN system agencies working in Africa extended to the AU and its organs in the context of the Joint United Nations-African Union Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa. It covers support for the implementation of African Union priorities at regional and subregional levels, including those articulated in Agenda 2063. The work of the clusters presented the following challenges:
The goal of this study [prepared by Imani] is to identify the potential for establishing additional sustainable regional agroprocessing value chains as an integral part of the SADC industrialisation and market integration process. Specific objectives are: (i) Characterise the nature, form, ownership, size, depth and spread of the agroprocessing industry in the region; (ii) Identify regional value chains in the agro-processing industry; (iii) Select potential regional value chains of significance that could be promoted. The project team identified specific regional value chains and agro-processing technologies that offer significant opportunities. It is foreseen that some of these value chains will enhance cross-border and intra-regional trade, whilst others will have the potential to unlock international export markets.
SADC regional workshop for capacity building on Access and Benefit Sharing and Intellectual Property Rights for Animal Genetic Resources: summary of 4-6 March meeting
Companies that engage in South-South value chains and produce higher value-added goods are more competitive and better able to reach growth targets, a new International Trade Centre report says. The report, The power of international value chains in the Global South (pdf), was produced in collaboration with the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a think-tank based in New Delhi. Using macroeconomic data and a survey of 558 East African firms, the report finds that the recent proliferation of regional trade agreements and rising trade in technology-intensive goods have propelled the South’s ‘remarkable growth’ in the past two decades. The economy of the ‘Global South’ – which encompasses least developed countries, economies in transition and developing economies – more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2016, to $30.9 trillion. The report’s findings underscore the need for decision-makers to step up support for regional cooperation to promote South-South trade and international value chains alongside South-North initiatives. The report sets out almost a dozen strategies aimed at increasing South-South trade, including recommendations to encourage inward foreign direct investment, facilitate imports, target both bilateral and multilateral South-South trading arrangements, and support investment in technology.
Klaus Deininger: The World Bank’s Land and Poverty Conference – 20 years on (World Bank)
In 1999, when a few enthusiasts agreed to meet annually in an effort to base interventions on land, on solid empirical evidence rather than ideology, few would have expected this effort to have such a lasting impact. Twenty years on, the small gathering [which starts today in Washington on the theme Catalyzing Innovation] has morphed into a conference, bringing together over 1,500 participants from governments, academics, civil society and the private sector to discuss the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance around the world. Three examples illustrate how the years have changed the dialogue: [Launching today: Stand For Her Land]
Rwanda: IMF staff concludes visit
The Rwandan government and the IMF staff team reached preliminary agreement, subject to approval by IMF management and its Executive Board, on policies that could constitute the basis for Rwanda’s new program with the IMF under the new Policy Coordination Instrument. The overall objective of the program would be to support implementation of the National Strategy for Transformation, while maintaining macroeconomic stability. The program would consist of four main pillars: [How much more can Rwanda borrow?]
Looking at 2018 data from the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, the median PE transaction size across its key African sub-regions was $6m to $8m still quite modest in global private equity deal terms. The growth trajectory of PE investment in Africa has been inconsistent. Last year the number of deals rose to 186 from 171 deals from 12 months earlier, but the total value of those deals fell for a third year to $3.5bn, from $3.9bn in 2017.
The Center for Trade Policy and Development says for Zambia to maximize benefits from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the country will need a robust industrial development drive. CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo says the country may not need to go far in re-inventing the will as there is already a viable plan through the Multi facility Economic Zones initiative. Mr Mwaipopo said what the Zambian government now needs to do is to ensure that the MFEZ in general and in particular, the Lusaka South Multifacility Economic Zone is fully supported to realize the purpose of its establishment. He said the MFEZ is a strategic investment which if well executed will give Zambia a competitive edge as it engages in business with other countries on the continent under the continental free trade area.
Today’s Quick Links:
Download the study on the Free Movement of Workers in select EAC countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania (pdf)
The African Exchanges Linkage Project: update
Enugu Chamber of Commerce calls on FG to reconsider signing the AfCFTA
NPCC-World Bank: Productivity survey evaluates Mauritius’ current status
Mercosur-Chile: Agreement of Economic Complementation
SADC should halt democratic backslide of its member states: CSOs