Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

An explanatory video on the AfCFTA, produced by the ECA_Official Video Channel: How will it benefit us in practice?

“Honour Ghana with AfCFTA Secretariat for sacrifices made towards AU”: President Akufo-Addo

The President said Ghana has the facilities to provide an efficient centre for the work of the Secretariat. He noted further that it was time that the AU recognised the sacrifices Ghana had made towards the African Agenda and hoped that when members meet in July this year, it would become a reality. President Akufo-Addo made these remarks when the AU inspection team, tasked by the Continental Body, to inspect and identify a suitable country to host AfCFTA Secretariat, paid a courtesy call on him at the Jubilee House. Members of the team include Ambassador Rosette Nyirinkindi Katungye, Mr Prudence Sebahizi, Mr Chiza Charles Newton Chiumya and Dr Guy-Fleury Ntwari. The rest are: Mr Alem Gebreamlak Kidane, Ms Lesedi Rantao, Mr David Luke, Mr Inye Briggs, and Mr Michel Jeremias Freire Cabral.

A $130bn opportunity in digital skills across Sub-Saharan Africa (IFC)

The IFC report estimates that 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, presenting investors and education operators with an estimated $130bn opportunity to train the future workforce in digital skills. IFC launched the report, ‘Digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa: spotlight on Ghana’, at the group’s office in Accra. Nearly $4bn of the opportunity in digital skills will be in Ghana. Although digital skills are perceived among the top seven skills for the future of the global workforce, the study finds that these skills are undersupplied globally and most particularly in Africa. Around 80% of industry participants interviewed believe that an undersupply in digital skills would hamper expected economic growth, and nearly 20% of Ghanaian companies surveyed recruit only internationally for digital skills, largely because they cannot find skilled local talent. The study concludes with a call to action: the private sector must play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges in digital skills. Extract (pdf):

Ghana is the first country we look to in a series of deep dive assessments of this topic. Ghana is particularly fertile ground for an exploration of digital skills for many reasons, including the relative stability of the country, which has emerged as an education hub for the region. It boasts a thriving private education sector featuring a range of models, including highly innovative homegrown institutions like Ashesi University, as well as cross-border or international institutions like Lancaster University. Ghana’s digital economy also has reached a relatively advanced level of development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it can help to illustrate potential for markets across the region to develop.

India’s WTO mini-ministerial meeting of developing countries: selected updates

  1. Extracts from the declaration. Multilateral avenues, based on consensus, remain the most effective means to achieve inclusive development-oriented outcomes. Members may need to explore different options to address the challenges of contemporary trade realities in a balanced manner. We note that in the post-MC 11 phase, many Members have evinced interest in pursuing outcomes in some areas through joint initiatives approach. The outcomes of these initiatives should be conducive to strengthening the multilateral trading system and be consistent with WTO rules.

    We recall that international trade is not an end in itself but a means of contributing to certain objectives, including raising standards of living. Special and Differential Treatment is one of the main defining features of the multilateral trading system and is essential to integrating developing Members into global trade. Special and Differential Treatment provisions are rights of developing Members that must be preserved and strengthened in both current and future WTO agreements, with priority attention to outstanding LDC issues.

    The process of WTO reform must keep development at its core, promote inclusive growth, and fully take into account the interests and concerns of developing Members, including the specific challenges of graduating LDCs. The way forward must be decided through a process that is open, transparent and inclusive. We agree to work collectively with the aim to develop proposals to ensure that our common interests are reflected in the WTO reform process.

    WTO rules seek to foster an open and non-discriminatory trade regime. In order to instill confidence among the Members, it is imperative that the Ministerial Conferences of the WTO are organized in a more open, transparent and inclusive manner. WTO notification obligations must consider the capacity constraints and implementation related challenges faced by many developing Members, particularly LDCs. In the WTO, a more cooperative and gradual approach is the best way in dealing with the issue of transparency, where many developing Members struggle to comply with their notification obligations.

  2. India bats for a strong WTO appellate body. India has made the appointment of new members to the WTO appellate body a pre-condition for discussing reforms to the multilateral trading system. The seven-member appellate panel is the highest adjudicating body of disputes among member countries. It has only three members, the minimum required for giving a judgement. However, two are set to retire in December, making the body defunct. Despite this, the US has been blocking new appointments.

  3. WTO DG Azevêdo: “Make your voices heard” on reform issues. In his overview, DG Azevêdo addressed the impact of rising trade tensions on trade expansion and global economic growth. He emphasized the fact that all will feel the effects and that developing countries and least-developed countries would be the most negatively affected. He outlined the key areas in which reform is being discussed and underscored the importance of engagement on all areas. He also observed that apparently not all issues are on the table yet, and the debate is in its early stages. He said that members seemed to prefer not to attempt to create a package of reforms as it would be better to work to change and adjust progressively, “harvesting what we can when we can”.

  4. India’s Commerce and Industry minister Suresh Prabhu: Questions raised on S&DT are quite divisive. “The crisis in the Appellate Body threatens to bring back power play to the multilateral trading system,” commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said in his address at the WTO ministerial meeting. “Questions being raised on S&DT are controversial and extremely divisive,” he said, adding there is reluctance on the part of some members to consider S&DT in the negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Prabhu called upon the participating member countries to come to a common understanding on the declaration. “These are difficult times at the WTO, particularly for developing members.” [Indian Trade Service’s Ajay Srivastava: Need to breathe life back into WTO]

G-20 Agricultural Summit: DDG Wolff highlights role of WTO in facilitating agri-food chains (WTO)

The WTO’s rules-based framework benefits farmers and other participants in nascent and developing agri-food value chains by facilitating their daily operations and encouraging regulatory cooperation among governments, WTO Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff told the G-20 Agricultural Summit in Niigata, Japan on 11 May. “All stakeholders in agri-food value chains, and all countries at every stage of economic development, stand to benefit from fully participating in a strengthened and dynamic multilateral trading system,” he said.

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative allocates second round funding (World Bank)

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) has announced its second funding allocations – expected to benefit 70,000 women-led businesses and mobilize nearly a billion dollars of additional public and private sector resources. The second round allocates $129m for programs to boost women’s entrepreneurship that will be implemented by four multilateral development banks, expecting to mobilize $990m of additional funds from other public and private sources. The AfDB was granted $61.8m for its programme Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa. Of 21 economies targeted, AFAWA will mainly service IDA and fragile or conflict-affect countries where women are underserved in accessing financing, markets, knowledge, and mentoring programs. These countries include Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Gambia’s pathway to prosperity (IMF)

Trade integration will also help frame the reforms of this country’s state-owned enterprises. In many cases, the long-term viability of those companies will depend on increasing their regional orientation. Take the example of the energy sector. The stabilization of electricity output has contributed to your country’s stronger growth. So, the ongoing investment in the electricity transmission not only will link the Eastern and Northern parts of the country, it will also open doors to West Africa’s power networks by enabling cross-border energy trading, including under the flagship OMVG project uniting The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau with the aim of harnessing the water resources of The Gambia River Basin to produce low-cost renewable energy for the member countries. In the same vein, investment to upgrade the port of Banjul could create a new trans-shipment hub for the region. Seen in this context, the Senegambia Bridge could be just one step in the development of the Trans-Gambia corridor within ECOWAS. Regional integration and cooperation are particularly important for improving the structure of the economy and enhancing competitiveness. Let me offer two examples: [The author: IMF Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang]

South Africa: Astral Foods ‘hit by imports, dumping’ (IOL)

South Africa’s leading integrated poultry producer, Astral Foods, yesterday highlighted the impact of chicken imports on the local industry after it reported a 68.9% decline in the operating profit of its poultry division for the six months to end March. Astral said the profit fell to R258m from R828m last year, driven largely by materially higher feed input costs and lower sales realisations that buckled as a result of imports. The division said its revenue rose a modest 1% to R5.5bn. Chief executive Chris Schutte said: “Long-term investments in local chicken production will be hampered should poultry imports and dumping continue unabated.”

Kenya: Trading in mitumba items soars amid rise in apparel exports (The Standard)

Second-hand items trade surged significantly, with traders importing 177,160 tonnes of clothes in 2018 valued at about Sh17bn, up from 135,868 tonnes in 2017 and 106,974 in 2014, according to data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. “The secondhand items business in Kenya is soaring because of three things, first is stifled incomes, second it is offering thousands of jobs and third the items are of good quality fuelling demand,” said Ernest Manuyo, a tutor at Pioneer Institute. However, even as second-hand items business grows, Kenya is working to boost the manufacturing of clothes using genetically modified cotton. The cotton is expected to start to be grown this year. But as Kenya works on the cotton, apparel exports, mainly sewn at the export processing zones, surged to a new high in 2018. According to KNBS, the export of apparels increased from Sh32.4bn in 2017 to Sh34.2bn in 2018, accounting for about 6.3% of total domestic exports. [Details of new programme leaves River Road counterfeit traders in tears, pain and anger]

Kipkirui Langat: Nuts, bolts of making Kenya industrial hub (Business Daily)

Limiting age of imported used vehicles will raise average price. In the short term, this will affect small enterprises, low-income earners and reduce government revenues. However, in the long term, this is likely to reduce traffic congestion, leading to a substantial increase in productivity, reduction in fuel consumption, improve air quality and road safety. Used motor vehicle business makes the region more of a trading economy than an industrial and technological hub. The use of second-hand goods always affects or slows down industrial and technological development. A systematic phase-out of implementation of age limit while increasing capacity of local manufacturers will spur local demand, thus encouraging and accelerating technology and industrial development in the region. To mitigate on the impact of age limit, there should be a policy change covering transport planning and land use to promote public transport. There is also a need to develop laws on domestic, regional and international trade including taxes, subsidies, incentives and import/export regulations. Finally, road transport standards are necessary for management of road transport vehicles from design, manufacture, operations, scrappage and disposal. [Kenya: Government’s policy on maize imports a ploy to cheat farmers]

Stablecoins, central bank digital currencies, and cross-border payments: a new look at the international monetary system (IMF)

Let’s take stock. Uncertainty as to the course of technology and its impact on the financial sector; risks to the international payment system, of fragmentation and instability; risks of dollarization; dangers of weak institutions and policy frameworks: each calls the IMF into action. The best defense against loss of monetary autonomy, of excessive dollarization instigated by foreign eMoney, is good policy. IMF surveillance can help. And requests for technical assistance in this area are already on the rise, in number and urgency. We must be ready to answer these calls. Clearly the IMF can also help with its analytical capacity, to identify disruption, fathom future scenarios, and evaluate how policy choices can favor the more attractive ones. And the IMF’s convening power may be needed more than ever, to bolster the international payments system. But this time, also with new technologies. [Remarks by Tobias Adrian at the recent IMF-Swiss National Bank Conference]


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