Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: AngloGold Ashanti

Posted, by the AU: The decisions, declarations, resolution and motions from the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union (February, Addis Ababa).  pdf Decisions include (1.73 MB) : On the institutional reform of the AU; the AfCFTA; the Post-2020 Partnership with the EU; the reform of the UNSC; Financing the Union; Scale of assessment for the regular budget and the Peace Fund.


  1. 22nd session of Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for West Africa (8-10 May, Liberia): Demographic dynamics for sustainable development in West Africa (pdf)

  2. Demographic dividend with a gender dimension: entry points for implementation of SDGs in Africa, Asia, Pacific (23-25 April, Addis Ababa). “For the Africa region, the interventions will focus on three countries - Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. Two more countries, Ghana and Zambia, have been engaged in the project to champion the commitments and enrich the lessons drawn from the project.”

Cameroon’s national AfCFTA consultation concludes today (UNECA)

More than 100 stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society are associated with this first-of-its-kind workshop (in Yaounde) to formulate practical recommendations for the state and its partners with regards to leveraging the opportunities offered by the creation of the AfCFTA. Issues relating to Cameroon’s current state of preparedness for the entry into force of the AfCFTA as well as possible spinoffs and fallouts for the subregion, particularly with regard to the effective harmonization of ECCAS and CEMAC preferential tariffs will be specifically addressed. Cameroon’s preparation for the second round of the AfCFTA negotiations will also be at the heart of the exchanges, with particular emphasis on competition issues, intellectual property and investment.

Congestion at border slows down Zambia, DRC trade (The East African)

Zambia and the DRC are struggling to resolve a gridlock that has made the Kasumbalesa border impassable in the past week, hurting trade between the two countries and threatening diplomatic relations. President Edgar Lungu said last week he would report DRC to SADC over congestion at the Kasumbalesa border post in Chililabombwe district. He blamed DRC for the congestion that stretched 67kms on the Zambia side at the time. It had been reduced to about 50kms on Monday evening. SADC Truck Drivers vice president, Webby Puta, said documentation that is done at Whiskey check point should be done at Kasumbalesa border post to decongest the long queues. Doing so, he said, would cut the distance to the off-loading bay by 90kms. The logistical nightmare at the border is hardly what the two countries need at this time. [Museveni to open one-stop-border post in Kasese]

US EXIM signs MOU with Angola’s Ministry of Finance

“This MOU is a sign of EXIM’s commitment to President Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative and our eagerness to partner with the Ministry of Finance to create economic opportunities and jobs in the United States and Angola,” said Ambassador Gerrish. “We anticipate that the EXIM-backed financing to follow from this agreement will support exporter and supply-chain jobs in multiple industries across the United States and also foster job creation in Angola.” Under the MOU, EXIM and the Angolan Ministry of Finance agreed to exchange information on business opportunities to further the procurement of U.S. goods and services by both state-owned and private-sector small and medium-sized businesses in Angola. Sectors for business development include energy, oil and gas development, infrastructure, railway and road transportation, supply chain infrastructure, environmental projects, agriculture, health care, water and sanitation, and telecommunications. EXIM agreed to explore options for providing the bank’s medium- and long-term guarantees or loans of up to $4bn to support U.S. exports to Angola.

East Africa Regional Economic Outlook: Manufacturing key to growth in East Africa (AfDB)

Speaking during the launch ceremony of the East Africa Regional Economic Outlook (pdf), Dr Marcellin Ndong-Ntah said the manufacturing sector’s potential to accelerate regional economic growth and ultimately reduce poverty was significant. “In order to achieve this objective, countries must continue to look for alternative sectors of economic growth, emphasise regional trade and continue to process goods for export rather than selling raw commodities,” Ndong-Ntah said. Economic growth across East Africa will remain robust at 5.9% in 2019, higher than the continental average annual growth rate of 4% and making it a promising investment and manufacturing destination, according to the 2019 East Africa Economic Outlook Report. The report puts Ethiopia in the lead as the fastest growing economy in the region with an average annual growth rate of 8.2% followed by Rwanda next at 7.8%; Others are Tanzania at 6.6%; Kenya 6%, Djibouti 5.9% and Uganda 5.3%.

Extractive sector updates:

  1. Resource Governance Index: from legal reform to implementation in Sub-Saharan Africa (NRGI)

    This report explores common resource governance successes and challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, taking advantage of the rich dataset and wealth of evidence documentation provided by the Resource Governance Index. While the authors detect common trends across the region, there is also great diversity between and within countries. It also documents examples of good practices from which officials in other countries can learn. The authors conclude with the suggestion that policymakers, parliamentarians, civil society, media and regional institutions focus more on narrowing the implementation gap, which will help to restore trust between government, communities and investors and thus strengthen sustainable management of natural resources. Extracts (pdf):

    Two countries, Ghana (for oil and gas) and Botswana, achieve satisfactory RGI scores, showing that abundant resources can be governed well. However, no country in the region achieves a good composite score, and five score in the failing category. The overall picture remains that the more dependent a country is on natural resources, the less transparent and accountable the management of the extractive sector. In countries assessed for oil and gas, resources represented 50% of exports and 23% of government revenues on average, and in the RGI they score an average 41 out of 100. In contrast, for mining assessments, the average score is 45 out of 100, while resource dependency was lower: 27% of exports and 14% of government revenues. However, in many countries, these shares reach much higher levels: in Guinea, DRC, Zambia and Niger, minerals accounted for well over 50% of exports. For the biggest oil producers, Angola and Nigeria, oil represented over 90% of exports. In comparing regional averages in the RGI, sub-Saharan Africa emerges as a global leader on contract disclosure rules, an important transparency norm. The region also achieves a relatively high average score for taxation, which reflects growing levels of transparency in revenue collection. In contrast, sub-Saharan African countries fall below global averages in governing SOEs and sovereign wealth funds. Beyond regional averages, there is a great degree of score diversity between countries. The best sub-Saharan African performer in the index (Ghana’s oil and gas sector) and the weakest (Eritrea gold-mining sector) are 57 points apart, which is the widest difference exhibited in any region.

  2. Multi-year Expert Meeting on Commodities and Development: commodity-dependent countries urged to diversify exports (UNCTAD)

    Developing countries that depend on commodities ought to pursue diversification strategies to address the adverse effects of price volatility in international markets, said speakers at UNCTAD’s meeting of experts on commodities and development on 15 April at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva. UNCTAD defines a country as dependent on commodities when these account for more than 60% of its total merchandise exports in value terms. Today 67% of developing countries (91 out of 135 countries) are dependent on commodities, a situation that has changed little in the last two decades, UNCTAD’s Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant told attendees. Least developed countries are even more dependent as more than 80% of their export earnings come from commodities. Profiled presentations from the expert meeting:

    Laurent Pipitone: The state and future of the cocoa and coffee markets (pdf)

    Janvier Nkurunziza: Commodity markets – recent trends and outlook (pdf); Commodity dependence and risk management in CDDCs

Helping SMEs internationalise through trade facilitation (pdf, Working Party of the Trade Committee, OECD)

Small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role in generating economic activity and employment in developing and developed countries. However, partly due to remaining at-the-border trade costs, SMEs continue to be less represented in international trade – as direct exporters or importers – than larger firms. Indeed, although they represent the majority of enterprises, SMEs are responsible for an average of 33% of exports in selected developed countries and 18% in selected developing countries. Albeit to a lesser extent, the same pattern emerges in terms of imports, with SMEs representing, on average, about 40% of imports in selected developed countries and 34% in a range of developing economies. While less studied in the literature, imports are an important part of the gains from trade for SMEs. Drawing on the OECD Trade Facilitation Indicators and different firm-level datasets, this paper tries to identify specific trade facilitation policies that are critical for the participation of small and medium sized enterprises in international trade, as either exporters or importers. [The authors: Javier Lopez-Gonzalez, Silvia Sorescu]

African Women Leadership Fund: update from Marrakech discussions. “Over the next decade the fund is envisaged to have made an investment of up to $500 million in African owned and women-led companies. The fund is anchored on six pillars:”

Second Fair Pricing Forum (Johannesburg): Greater transparency, fairer prices for medicines ‘a global human rights issue’, says WHO

While developing countries have long struggled with the price of medicines, today’s costs have rendered it a world-wide challenge, and the key topic of concern at a global medicines forum in South Africa, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization. “This is a global human rights issue”, said WHO Assistant Director-General for Medicines and Health Products Mariângela Simão on Saturday at the WHO Forum on Medicines in Johannesburg. “Everyone has a right to access quality healthcare”. The forum on fair pricing and access to medicines provided a discussion platform for governments, civil society organizations and the pharmaceutical industry to identify strategies to reduce prices and expand access for all. It also called for greater transparency around the cost of research, development and production of medicines, to allow buyers to negotiate more affordable prices. [Daily Maverick: Forum steers the search for a ‘fair price’ for cancer medication]

‘Nothing to fear’: EU official says support for Caribbean won’t collapse (The Gleaner)

Nervous Caribbean leaders need not worry about dwindling political and developmental support from the European Union because of possible changes to the make-up of the European Commission, a top EU official has indicated. The EU is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections next month, which could mean personnel changes at the European Commission – the arm that deals with development issues – and a shift in financial support to the Caribbean. Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith admitted yesterday that she and her counterparts across the Caribbean will be watching closely to see how this unfolds. But EU Director General for International Cooperation and Development Stefano Manservisi sought to allay concerns, insisting that the mandate of the commission would not collapse because of personnel changes.

WBG launches consultations on future strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence (World Bank)

The consultations will focus on gathering perspectives in countries faced with diverse FCV challenges, as well as in countries that support World Bank Group programs in FCV settings. They will aim to capture lessons learned and best practices for reducing fragility, conflict and violence and promoting peace and prosperity. Inputs gathered from representatives of government, civil society organizations, international partners, the private sector and others, will be integrated into a comprehensive operational strategy focused on addressing the drivers of fragility and maximizing the World Bank Group’s support for affected people and communities. The development of a World Bank Group FCV strategy comes at a pivotal time: By 2030, at least half of the world’s poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected settings. [Download: Concept note, pdf]

Today’s Quick Links:

George Wachira: How Uganda refinery will impact the region

Despite lifting ban, Egyptian commodities still absent in Sudanese market

Vietnam, Nigeria eye closer investment, trade ties

How Africa became collateral damage in US-China trade war

Kenya: Bleak economic outlook as below normal rainfall now expected

Learning from power sector reform experiences: the case of Kenya


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