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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

29 Aug 2019

Madagascar has notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it has initiated three safeguard investigations: on soaps, lubricating oils and on vegetable oils and margarines

The East Africa Community will host a High Level Conference on Trade and Regional Integration (25-27 September, Nairobi) on the theme: Paradigm shifts in manufacturing value chains

Two EAC events presently underway, concluding tomorrow: 6th Meeting of the Ad Hoc EAC Competition Authority, Regional Technical Group on the East African Development Bank

Results and performance of the World Bank Group 2018: an independent evaluation (World Bank)

2018 was an ambitious year for the World Bank Group. At the Spring Meetings, the shareholders approved major capital increases for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation, building on the “Forward Look,” IFC’s new strategy, “IFC 3.0,” and the commitments made as part of the 18th Replenishment of the International Development Association. The Bank Group has emphasized its ambition to achieve greater results and impact in all client segments as well as leading on global issues. IDA18 and the capital increase also bring with them a push to provide more financing, including for fragile and conflict-affected situations. This report provides a retrospective assessment of the Bank Group’s results and performance across its project and program portfolio. This is relevant for understanding the stock of achievements to date and the foundations on which the Bank Group is delivering on the Forward Look and its ambitious capital package. The report synthesizes trends in Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) ratings and identifies explanatory factors behind portfolio performance. Each of the three Bank Group institutions assesses results differently because of their differing reporting periods, operating models, and clients. Extract: Beyond the project level, ratings for country strategy outcomes for FY14–18 increased to 69 percent MS+, just below the FY17 corporate target of 70 percent. Country strategy outcomes in FCS were rated far lower, however, at 46 percent MS+. Ratings for Bank Group performance in country strategies were 62 percent good or above for all country strategies reviewed in FY14–18. This rating was particularly low in Africa and in FCS countries at 42 percent and 54 percent good or above, respectively.

Somali Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment: findings from Wave 2 of the Somali High Frequency Survey (World Bank)

Remittances are central to the Somali economy and provide a lifeline to some segments of the population but not the most vulnerable. The World Bank implemented the second wave of the Somali high frequency survey in 2017-2018. This report is based on the most recent and first extensive household survey, wave 2 of the SHFS. The report is organized into six chapters. The first chapter presents an updated profile of monetary and nonmonetary dimensions of poverty for the Somali population, including the nomadic population. The second chapter explores in more detail spatial variation, with a focus on urbanization. The third chapter examines the impact of the 2016-2017 drought on livelihoods to identify the populations at risk and the factors that protected households against its negative effects. The fourth chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the internally displaced populations to identify displacement-related needs and to inform durable solutions. As a reaction to the analysis of poverty and vulnerabilities, the fifth chapter focuses on social protection as a means of promoting equity and building resilience against the effect of shocks on livelihoods. Similarly, the sixth chapter examines remittances and their role for livelihoods and resilience.

The #AF19 opens next week in Cape Town: previews

  1. What to expect from the World Economic Forum on Africa 2019. While young Africans are 13% more entrepreneurial than the global average, start-ups on the continent are 14% more likely to fail than elsewhere in the world. That’s why the World Economic Forum (4-6 September) will launch the Africa Growth Programme, a new platform to bring enterprises together with investors and institutions, helping them secure smarter funding. Among the 29 entrepreneurs heading to the meeting are fintech start-up Flutterwave and Evergreen, a Tanzanian company recycling waste plastic into furniture.

  2. Africa Growth Platform. A new World Economic Forum initiative, the Africa Growth Platform, will help Africa’s community of start-up enterprises grow and compete in international markets. The Africa Growth Platform will do this in three ways: firstly, by securing commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth. Secondly, it aims to build a community of investors, whether private investors, foundations, multilateral institutions or corporate intrapreneurs to enable better coordination and pooling of resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding. Third, the platform will create and sustain a community of start-up businesses themselves, promoting collaboration and sharing best practices. The need for an innovative approach to helping Africa’s start-ups reach the scale where they become sustainable is backed up by data. The founding members of the Africa Growth Platform: Alibaba Group, A. T. Kearney, Dalberg Group, Export Trading Group, US African Development Foundation, Zenith Bank


TICAD7 Updates:

  1. Keynote address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening session. And so I will say it again: the Japanese government -- New TICAD -- will do its utmost to support Japanese enterprises that are betting on the future of Africa. We are in an era in which the challenges Africa faces will be resolved through S, T, and I -- science, technology, and innovation. At the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology and at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, we will foster 5,000 young people who will advance STI into the future. We want to cultivate seamlessly the generations that will come after them. Doing this means making science and mathematics subjects they understand. That’s what is included in the collaboration between Japan and Africa, and it is now significantly changing the classrooms of African primary education. The Japanese way, which values pupils’ involvement in such activities as cleaning classrooms and serving lunch, has just started to spread in Egypt in its elementary schools.

    A project to improve school management through community participation, or the “school for all” project, was launched by JICA in Niger and has now spread to more than 40,000 schools, including in Burkina Faso and Senegal. Our target for the near term is to have the number of children benefitting from reforms to primary education reach three million. This kind of human resource building is where Japan has invested the greatest amount of effort in Africa over the years. The ABE Initiative, which nurtures industry leaders, has grown as many as 2700 young people over the past five years. We now have twenty applicants vying for every opening. The number of Japanese companies welcoming them as interns is now 358, 5.4 times the number when the initiative was first launched.

  2. Japan-South Africa summit meeting. Prime Minister Abe added that the Japan-South Africa Business Council (tentative name) should be established to support Japanese companies entering the South African market in order to further enhance trade and investment relations between the two countries. He also mentioned the holding of the Special Conference on Promoting Cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean and stated that Japan intended to cooperate with South Africa to ensure that the Indian Ocean develops as a free and open ocean. Prime Minister Abe further called for South Africa’s participation in the “Osaka Track” that promotes international rule making for data distribution and electronic commerce and its support for WTO reform. In response, President Ramaphosa welcomed the establishment of the Japan-South Africa Business Council and appreciated Japan’s supports related to the establishments of a universal health insurance system as well as the Universal Health Coverage, to measures against marine plastic litter, to industrial human resources development, and to some other areas.

  3. Japan-Egypt summit meeting. Prime Minister Abe stated that he was pleased that both countries announced enhanced cooperation for the African development under the Japan-Egypt Triangular Cooperation Program at TICAD 7 co-chaired by Egypt, and stressed his intention to expand the scholarship program at Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) to include 150 African postgraduate students under the collaboration between Japan and Egypt. PM Abe also stated that we would newly establish “Japan-Egypt Business and Investment Promotion Committee, in addition to the existing Japan-Egypt Business Council which aims at business networking, and we would like to seek further support from Egyptian Government in improving the investment environment, which will further promote Japanese companies’ investment to Egypt. Furthermore, he stated that we would like to ask your continuous support towards removal of all the import restrictions on Japanese food products imposed after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In response, President El-Sisi stated that we would like to make efforts in this matter. [Short notes of other bilateral meetings (by Prime Minister Abe, Foreign Minister Kono) can be accessed here]

  4. Japanese and African business leaders hold first investment dialogue at TICAD. Top African and Japanese business leaders held the first business-focused meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development on Thursday in Yokohama, underlining Japan’s strategic policy shift from government aid to promotion of investment as international competition on the continent grows. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, said several influential countries now organize African summit conferences similar to TICAD. “Just think about it. TICAD by Japan. China-Africa forum. India-Africa forum. U.S.-Africa forum. And now, soon to be, the Russia-Africa forum. Africa should no longer be seen through the development lens. Africa should be seen from an investment lens. Japanese companies should not only be at the table, they should be on the ground in Africa. I encourage the Japanese private sector to form joint ventures in Africa for a win-win investment partnership.”

Duane Newman, Catherine Grant Makokera: The questions your company needs to ask as Africa frees up trade (Business Day)

As is the case with so much in life, the devil will be in the detail, and companies need to keep a close eye on these negotiations to see exactly where the opportunities will lie and where they will need to press for better access. The big questions any company needs to be asking are:

Anthony Asiwaju: Back again at draconic border closure policy (Punch)

But now, in August 2019, the country appears to be drifting back towards the draconic traditions of arbitrary border closure against our regional neighbours, beginning with the Nigeria-Benin to the west, especially in the South-West, our nation’s main gateway into ECOWAS, and the Nigeria-Niger to the north. I hear the closure, which took effect on August 20, is, as was done on 24 April 1984, temporary, a month for now, in the first instance. In 1984, which affected all our borders, remained officially in force till 1 March 1986, even in spite of the change in the military baton in August 1985 when the Buhari regime was booted out by a coup that brought in Babangida. Within the three days of the ongoing 2019 border closure, the sufferings of the local populations, at least here, in Imeko/Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State, where I live, the strains and stresses have been incalculable and economic losses colossal for predominantly rural and agrarian communities:

South Africa’s untapped rare earths mine plans for success amid US-China feud (Japan News)

The Steenkampskraal Mine may be about to become piping hot mining property thanks to some of the world’s highest-grade deposits of rare earth metals. “Steenkampskraal will become a very important source of rare earths for the global industry,” Trevor Blench, chairman of Steenkampskraal Holdings Ltd., said during a recent tour. The mine, located about 350 kilometers north of Cape Town, used to produce thorium, a component of nuclear fuel, in the 1950s and 60s. But now it’s been found to also have monazite ore which contains extremely high grade rare earth minerals including neodymium and praseodymium — elements vital to cutting-edge industries. Steenkampskraal has secured all the licences required to start mining. It plans an initial production of 2,700 tonnes a year once funding of $50 million has been secured, with further plans to expand.

The drivers, implications and outlook for China’s shrinking current account surplus: the individual country perspective (IMF)

Some Asian economies have benefitted from China’s current account decline. In line with China’s rapid increase in imports of computers, electronics, and electrical equipment, the trade balance vis-à-vis China - in both gross and value-added terms - has improved the most for Asian economies exporting those items to China (Taiwan Province of China, Singapore, and Korea). The rise in Korea’s trade balance - supported by the depreciation of the currency vis-à-vis renminbi towards end of 2007 - has been predominantly due to electronics exports, which constituted 41% of total exports to China in 2017, up from 28% in 2008.

The trade balance of others (e.g. Japan, India, Indonesia) deteriorated. Notably, Japan’s trade balance with China, though improving in recent years, deteriorated by around $33bn in the period 2008-2015—equivalent to a decline of 0.7 percentage points, when expressed as a share of Japan’s GDP. Japan’s imports from China, owing to items like electronics and textiles, outpaced exports, where the sales of electronics—the country’s top exports to China—slowed down possibly due to China’s own increase in high-tech electronics production. Outside Asia, Germany’s trade balance with China improved markedly, predominantly due to the rise in exports of motor vehicles and machinery. The share of vehicles - Germany’s top exports to China in 2017 - increased to 24% of Germany’s total exports to China from 15% in 2008. In addition, the commodity exporters (Brazil, Australia) witnessed higher trade balances with China. For the US and Canada, gross trade balance with China improved marginally while the value-added trade balance deteriorated moderately. [Note: Being the IMF’s new Selected Issues report]

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