tralac’s Daily News Selection
OECD’s 2019 Global Forum on Competition (5-6 December, Paris):
The profiled paper: Competition policy within the context of free trade agreements (pdf). This paper reports the findings of a mapping exercise of the competition-related provisions of 267 free trade agreements included in the WTO Regional Trade Agreements database. This represents by far the largest sample of FTAs analysed to date in this type of mapping exercise. Drawing lessons from this mapping exercise, we formulate tentative suggested ways forward, exploring the appropriate fora and methodologies for harmonising competition provisions within the international trade system. [Access other advance Forum documentation here]
South Africa and the AfCFTA: today’s dti AfCFTA policy dialogue. According to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Fikile Majola the dialogue will focus on the possible trade and economic spin-offs for South Africa from AfCFTA: “The expectation is that this dialogue will expand on the possible areas of gains and identify potential areas where losses for South Africa might be expected. The upshot of this is the creation of a solid platform for South African policy makers to intervene in areas of economic policy, in order to derive maximum gains while reducing the possible losses to a minimum.”
Seminar on the potential impact of the AfCFTA on Maghreb economies (11-12 November, Rabat). Extract from the concept note (pdf): The Maghreb is the sub-region with the lowest level of economic and trade integration in Africa. As it stands, the Maghreb Arab Union’s (UMA) economic grouping is characterized by very limited trade within its borders. In 2018, only 3.34% of exports from UMA member countries were aimed at the Maghreb market, accounting for an extremely small proportion when taking into account the performance achieved by other African regional economic communities and the sub-region’s potential. With the exception of 2018, the past few years have witnessed a decline in intra-Maghreb trade, with a steady downward trend since 2013. In 2018, intra-Maghreb trade amounted to $3.6bn. However, this sharp pick-up of 23% from 2017 happened on the heels of a steady downward trend over the 2013-2017 period during which the volume of intra-Maghreb trade dropped below the $3bn mark in 2017, losing more than 45% in comparison with 2013. There is nevertheless a clear paradox between the current status of intra-Maghreb trade and the potential for intra-regional trade. ECA studies confirm that there is a potential for intra-regional trade growth in the Maghreb of around 70%, assuming that the necessary regulatory conditions are in place to facilitate cross-border trade, by simplifying and harmonizing trade rules in goods and services, alongside those related to enhancing investment, competition and intellectual property policy.
IGAD member states scrutinise regional infrastructure master plan: Entebbe meeting. The joint steering committee’s key objective is to guide the development of the IGAD regional infrastructure master plan that will enhance regional economic integration through trade, free movement of goods and persons and poverty reduction amongst IGAD Member States. The IRIMP covers the regional sub-sectors of transport, ICT, energy and trans-boundary water resources. The workshop was a follow-up and build-up of the previous two workshops conducted in July 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya and the other one in December, 2018 in Mombasa, Kenya on the Inception Report and the Broad Sectors Overview and Project Prioritization Criteria Report, respectively.
Pan African Parliament: Resolutions from the Third Ordinary Session, 6-18 October. Profiled resolutions (pdf): On the adoption of the African model double taxation agreement; On managing debt and fighting corruption in Africa; On the peace and security status on the African continent
Police Minister Bheki Cele says the fight against counterfeit goods in South Africa will now include stricter border control. The minister added that it’s no good cracking down on operations in the country when it’s clear the counterfeit goods emanate from South Africa’s ports. Cele was addressing the International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property Crime Conference in Cape Town on Tuesday. He said as a national police force, “we have declared war against the selling of illegal goods, especially in Gauteng”. The conference - now in its 13th year and making its first appearance on the African continent - is themed “Fighting IP crime through innovation and cooperation” and continues until Wednesday. During his keynote address to delegates, Cele emphasised that raids would continue to take place within the counterfeit market, even going as far as boasting about the successes police have had over the last few months as goods valued at more than R235m were seized. However, Cele said police have asked pertinent questions on how to effectively close the net on the sale of illegal goods. The answer, he said, was in better vigilance and a crackdown on South Africa’s entry points.
“It’s a well-known fact that women in technology are underrepresented and poorly funded,” said Candace Nkoth Bisseck, UNCTAD’s eTrade for Women project manager for the new initiative. According to Pitchbook, in 2018, start-ups in the US with only female founders took a meagre 2.2% of the $130bn venture capital deployed. Greater momentum behind a new narrative is needed to change the funding landscape while inspiring would-be women digital entrepreneurs to pursue their business ideas. Earlier this year at the fifth annual UNCTAD eCommerce Week in April in Geneva, leading women in e-commerce came together to discuss how to change the women in e-commerce narrative. Here are the six lessons they shared about women in e-commerce and how a narrative change can help:
Lesson 3: We simply need more women on the internet. While the internet has opened new opportunities for women to participate in global trade and businesswomen can access a bigger global consumer base than ever before, there’s a big gap between male and female internet usage. These trends play out in developed and developing countries alike. Overall, 12% fewer women use the internet than men. In sub-Saharan Africa it’s as high as 25%, and in LDCs even 33%. Given the opportunity, women entrepreneurs are more likely to engage in digital entrepreneurship, but the challenge is facilitating this access in the first place. More needs to be done and more attention needs to be focused on digital inclusion. Our women in e-commerce called for greater efforts to achieve gender equality online to inspire more women-led e-commerce.
Inclusion matters in Africa (World Bank)
Social, economic, and political transformations are sweeping the African continent. We discuss transitions under some broad categories: demographic changes and their relationship to the accumulation of human capital; economic changes, of which poverty reduction is a big part; spatial transitions and their social ramifications, including urbanization, spatial inequality, and climate change; the growth of technology and its implications for social inclusion; and the pervasive nature of conflict and fragility, with its implications for a range of outcomes. Finally, we draw attention to the nature of political and civic participation and dynamic social movements. Extract (pdf):
This report sets out Africa’s development imperatives within a framework of social inclusion. It outlines some of the areas in which Africa has taken major strides and simultaneously asks who is left behind, from what, in what ways, and what can be done. The key questions in this report are drawn from the Social Inclusion Assessment Tool and from Das (2016). The report also highlights the many solutions that are already in place in various African countries. It is deeply influenced by the myriad conversations and engagements that World Bank teams have had with partners and counterparts across Africa. The groundswell of thought and action, combined with the strong push from both state and non-state actors for the WBG to articulate social inclusion in the African context, has led to several structured engagements between the WBG and a multitude of its partners. The report contains five chapters: [Inclusion matters in Africa: overview report (pdf)]
Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe (UNDP)
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator: “Scaling Fences (pdf) highlights that migration is a reverberation of development progress across Africa, albeit progress that is uneven and not fast enough to meet people’s aspirations. Barriers to opportunity, or ‘choice-lessness’, emerge from this study as critical factors informing the calculation of these young people. By shining a light on why people move through irregular channels and what they experience when they do, Scaling Fences contributes to a critical debate on the role of human mobility in fostering progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the best approaches to governing it.”
New global roadmap of action to guide the future of mobility (Sustainable Mobility for All Initiative)
With growing urbanization, increasing world trade and new technologies, the global mobility system is stressed. More than 1 billion people, or one-third of the global rural population, lacks access to all-weather roads and transport services—a major barrier to social and economic advancement. The GRA will help tackle this urgency by taking a holistic approach of sustainability and offering concrete policy solutions countries can adapt and adopt to achieve sustainable mobility. As a tool, the GRA helps countries identify gaps, crucial steps, and appropriate policies to ensure that transport contributes to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and improve the sustainability of their transport system. According to the GRA, globally, one billion more people would be connected to education, health and jobs if we close the transport access gap in rural areas; improvements in border administration, transport and communication infrastructure could increase global GDP by up to $2.6 trillion; and an additional 1.6 billion people would breathe cleaner air if transport pollution was halved. Extract: Universal rural access — Ethiopia (pdf):
Ethiopia belongs to country classification group D for efficiency and for universal access in rural and in urban areas, to country group C in terms of safety, gender equality, and air pollution, and it is among countries in groups A with respect to GHG emissions, shown in figure 6.1. Ethiopia’s rural accessibility index (RAI) is lower than the median RAI in Sub-Saharan Africa and as such, Ethiopia has channeled efforts toward improvement in this area since 2010. Connectivity has been improved over the years because of expansion of rural roads, exemplified by an increase in rural access between 2010 and 2016. In addition, there has been a significant increase in the market accessibility index (a measure of access to markets) for 25% of kebeles (smallest administrative unit in Ethiopia), and approximately an average 20% decrease in travel time to the nearest town since 2010. In 2008–09, only about 37% of kebeles had all-season access, 20% had seasonal (dry season) access, and 43% did not have motorable access, and were impassable or unreachable by motorized transport in any season. More than 91% of rural households traveled a minimum distance of 15 kilometers to reach a health center. Two thirds of the rural population were located more than 5 kilometers from an all-season road, with 48 million people located more than 2 kilometers from an all-season road. The average distance to an all-season road was 11.3 kilometers, equivalent to more than 3.5 hours walk.
2019 ICSID Annual Report (World Bank)
ICSID is an international facility available to States and foreign investors for the resolution of investment disputes. Established in 1966 by the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, it is the only global institution dedicated to international investment dispute settlement. Through its specialized rules of procedure, world-class facilities, and expert legal and administrative support, ICSID provides unparalleled dispute resolution services to States and investors. Since the first case was registered with ICSID in 1972, the majority of all known international investment disputes have been administered by ICSID.
Regulating alternative finance: results from a global regulator survey (World Bank)
The survey aims to comprehensively and comparatively analyze how regulators from both developing and developed economies are regulating and supervising online alternative finance activities. This report focuses on peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding and initial coin offerings, which constitute a rapidly growing segment of fintech for meeting credit, savings and investment needs. Survey findings informing this report are based on responses from regulators in more than one hundred and ten jurisdictions across the world. The survey identified expanded access to finance for firms and individuals and strengthened competition as primary triggers for advancing the development of alternative finance.