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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Reuters | Akintunde Akinleye

16 Apr 2019

AfCFTA update: The Gambia, today, deposited its instruments of ratification for the AfCFTA with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, becoming the 20th country to do so.

Underway in Abidjan: Enhancing the quality of informal cross-border trade in the ECOWAS region (organised by ATPC, Afreximbank, AfDB, AUC)

Underway, in Marrakech: Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (16-18 April). Access Forum documentation here; details of side events

Underway, in New York: 4th ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development. Profiled side event: Investing in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises for achieving the SDGs [Related: Achim Steiner (UNDP Administrator): remarks at LDC ministerial breakfast meeting – Strengthening resilience to debt vulnerability in the LDCs; UNCTAD’s new report: Selected Sustainable Development trends in the least developed countries 2019]

New ACP-EU partnership: ACP Caribbean dialogue (ACP)

As the EU works to modernise its relations with the 79 countries in Africa, the ACP chief negotiators Neven Mimica and Robert Dussey met with ACP Caribbean leaders for a dialogue on the regional EU-Caribbean pillar in the context of the post Cotonou ACP-EU partnership. The discussions form part of broader regional consultations and are focused on the Caribbean’s specific needs and priorities for the coming years. Professor Robert Dussey, the ACP’s chief negotiator, Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Africa integration of Togo, said: “These regional consultations proved to bring valuable perspectives on this region’s priorities to our talks. Productive exchanges between the two parties will contribute enormously to the current negotiations for the new post-Cotonou Agreement, and especially to those which will begin on the Caribbean Regional Protocol. Today’s meeting follows the consultation held in Samoa with our ACP Pacific partners in February. The Africa consultation is due to take place soon in Eswatini.” [African farmers to EU: Rein in dairy exports to our continent]

Trade and gender nexus in the context of regional integration: a comparative assessment of EAC, Mercosur (UNCTAD)

This study adopts a comparative perspective to examine the trade and gender nexus in the context of regional integration by drawing upon case studies from two continents: EAC and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). The findings of the study (pdf) show both important differences and similarities between the two regional contexts. With respect to gender mainstreaming in trade policy, the EAC started in a position ahead of Mercosur. The EAC has considered gender issues as part of its regional integration process since the beginning both through the provisions in the founding treaty and through the 2017 East African Gender Equality and Development Bill. In contrast, Mercosur did not introduce gender provisions in its foundational treaties; gender mainstreaming in regional integration polices was mainly driven by the mobilization of civil society groups (especially women’s organizations).

In both regions, the process of regional integration has been accompanied by a shift of sectoral employment structures towards the services sector. Services absorb the largest share of total employment in MERCOSUR, especially for women, while agriculture continues to be the main sector of employment for women in the EAC. However, in services, women are segregated in lower-skilled services sectors - a pattern that is particularly evident in Mercosur. Gender employment implications of regional integration in manufacturing also show important similarities across the two regions. In both regions, tariff liberalization in export markets contributed towards a feminization of labour in manufacturing (i.e. had a positive effect on the female employment share in manufacturing firms) mainly for production workers without any significant change for non-production ones.

EABC, TMEA team up to push for reforms in EAC’s business, investment (IPPMedia)

The East African Business Council, in collaboration with TradeMark East Africa, are behind the Public-Private Sector Dialogue for Trade and Investment which will last between 2019 and 2023. EABC’s CEO, Peter Mathuki said the project aims to enhance advocacy and dialogue on transport and logistics, trade facilitation, customs and tax, standards, and non-tariff barriers at regional and country level. “In addition, the programme extends beyond the EAC and incorporates the COMESA, COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area and Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” Mathuki said. “Barriers to trading across borders such as multiple product standard inspections, bureaucratic trade procedures delays business transactions and increase the cost of doing business. EABC will evaluate and monitor EAC policies to ensure they work for businesses at the ground level and create momentum for accelerating the policy reforms,” the EABC CEO stressed. [AmCham (Kenya) hosted a State of East Africa Trade breakfast forum this morning in Nairobi]

Mauritius-Kenya updates

Ministerial Session of the Mauritius-Kenya Joint Commission for Cooperation: outcomes (GoM)

As regards standards, both parties agreed that the Standards Bureau will continue to engage constant dialogue to establish a structure of cooperation. As for connectivity an agreement between the Mauritius Ports Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority will be signed in Mombasa shortly. Discussions also took place on the opportunities for exporting refined sugar by Mauritius to Kenya and on standardisation issues regarding Mauritian products entering the Kenyan market. Moreover, the Ministerial Session took note of the areas of cooperation identified as well as progress made to finalise the six agreements of bilateral cooperation that were signed on 10 April 2019. These are: a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement; an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; a MoU on Cooperation for Development of Special Economic Zones and Export Processing Zone in Kenya; a MoU in the field of tourism; a MoU in the field of higher education and scientific research; and a MoU in the field of arts and culture.

Mauritius-Kenya Business Forum: An economic corridor promoting intra-African Trade and Investment (GoM)

Stressing on the need for a Regional Maritime Service for the Indian Ocean Commission and East African countries, as already discussed with the President of Mozambique and the President of Madagascar, the Prime Minister underscored that this endeavour would get a major spur if supported by Kenya. As it is, he said, both parties have during bilateral sessions, agreed to look at ways and means, in a collaborative manner, to harness the opportunities that the Blue and Ocean sector offer in their respective national economies. Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth dwelt on Mauritius’ New Africa Partnership policy which is centered on accelerating outward investments in African countries for which the Mauritius-Africa Fund to spearhead Mauritian investment on the continent and to execute project has been established. The Prime Minister emphasised that it is in that same spirit that Mauritius wants to nurture the Kenya-Mauritius relationship. Over the last few years more than 10 billion shillings have been invested into the Kenyan economy mostly in the financial services and sugar sectors. In the last five years, he indicated, our domestic exports of goods to Kenya increased by about 13 times, that is, from Rs 96 million to Rs 1.3 billion. [GoM: Mauritius wishes to tap the potentials offered in the SEZs being set up in Kenya]

Infrastructure financing in Africa: Raila warns against appetite for foreign loans (Star)

AU envoy Raila Odinga has asked African governments to be cautious about borrowing from abroad. Raila said African nations including Kenya should think first what they can do with their own resources before turning to international donors. “We are here to think about what we can do for ourselves as Africans before we go to the World Bank, EU or to the Chinese,” Raila said. He was speaking in Nairobi during a summit on infrastructure financing in Africa on Tuesday. Raila said Africa needs to come up with a new transcontinental corridor to connect the eastern, western and central countries to the deep sea ports of Lamu in Kenya and Duala in Cameroon. [See also tweeted highlights from @RailaOdinga, @NEPADKenya]

PIDA steering committee meeting: update (AU)

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa steering committee has concluded its deliberations in Cairo, setting the stage for the next phase of PIDA, which will officially launch in January 2021. The committee heard presentations on the status of the implementation of PIDA PAP from RECs and partners, updates on the PIDA Capacity Building Project and the development of the next phase of PIDA, including a short presentation on the African Women in Infrastructure. The Steering Committee discussed the upcoming events until the closure of the current phase of PIDA PAP 1. It also served as a platform for partners to voice their ideas for the next phase of PIDA PAP. PIDA’s governance structure the Institutional Architecture for Infrastructure Development in Africa also came under strong review by the Steering Committee. AUC Director for Infrastructure and Energy, Mr Cheikh Bedda: “The next phase will radically be different in the way it addresses pressing needs on the continent including jobs, youth and women, low access to energy and other basic infrastructure among rural communities.” [Related: Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative: Technical Task Team Project Status Report presented at the Windhoek workshop (23-24 January); PIDA documentation]

Nigeria: FG sets up task force to dismantle 43 checkpoints on Benin-Nigeria highway (Eagle Online)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Federal Government has set up a Presidential Task Force to dismantle all checkpoints on the Nigeria-Benin route to encourage trade and regional integration. Onyeama said this on Monday in Abuja when members of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme Task Force at the borders of member states paid him a courtesy visit. The ELTS task force, led by its spokesperson, Ken Ukaoha, also gave the report of its finding on activities across the borders along the Lagos-Seme-Benin route and factors impeding free trade in the region. The minister said the Presidential Task Force on Checkpoints, which would be inaugurated soon, was domiciled in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Ukaoha said the team undertook a tour from Lagos to Seme and to Benin Republic and discovered 10 checkpoints manned by different uniformed men instead of two approved by ECOWAS law. The task force leader said the situation became worse when the team was returning, as the check points, made up of the police, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps and quarantine staff, had increased to 33. [Poor implementation of sub regional projects worries ECOWAS parliamentarians]

Uganda: Cement export earnings rise by 25% (Daily Monitor)

Uganda’s cement exports mainly to the region registered recorded 24% increase in the calendar year ending 2018, a Bank of Uganda report has indicated. Uganda exported a total of 393,052 metric tonnes of cement valued at $56m (Shs210b) in 2018. Last year’s cement exports were higher than the 295,726 metric tonnes exported the previous calendar year 2017 valued at $41.6m (Shs156b). [Botswana: Matsiloje Cement MD claims his company was not protected]

Exploring the role of trade facilitation in supporting integrity in trade (pdf, Working Party of the Trade Committee, OECD)

Private sector surveys have regularly signalled lack of integrity at the border as one of the key obstacles they encounter both when exporting and importing. At the same time, lack of integrity has also been acknowledged by Customs authorities and other border agencies as a critical challenge not only at the border but for the whole economy due to the risks of revenue leakage, the resulting disincentives to trade and foreign investment, and even the decline in public confidence in government institutions. Against this background, the analysis explores available data on border-related corruption as well as on its potential determinants. It thus looks at a set of factors identified through the existing literature in conjunction with the trade facilitation environment, as measured through the OECD TFIs.

Today’s Quick Links:

SARB’s Lesetja Kganyago: Reflections on central bank independence (pdf, Stavros Niarchos Foundation lecture, PIIE)

Namibia boosts bilateral trade with new Lagos visa office

Egypt imposes temporary duties of 15% on iron billets, 25% on steel rebar

Sudan: PSC communiqué on the situation in Sudan

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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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