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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
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25 Oct 2019

EXIM 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee convenes interagency meeting to advance President Trump’s Prosper Africa Initiative (Exim Bank, US)

The 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States met earlier this week to discuss how EXIM can work closely with other federal trade agencies to fulfill President Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative aimed at increasing US trade with Africa and fostering Africa’s economic development. Interagency cooperation is vital to the success of President Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative. EXIM convened an open meeting with a wide variety of both public and private stakeholders to explore venues of cooperation on this important subject. “A whole-of-government strategy is necessary to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa,” said EXIM Board Member Judith D. Pryor. “Working with our sister agencies to leverage our collective resources can help provide the stimulus needed for sustainable economic development in Africa while also supporting US jobs here at home.”

“Since 2009, EXIM has authorized more than $12bn in support of America’s exports to sub-Saharan Africa,” said EXIM Board Member Spencer Bachus III. “We see great opportunities for American businesses, particularly small businesses, to dramatically increase US exports to Africa.”

“It’s critically important the US EXIM Bank be reauthorized to achieve the Trump Administration’s vision for Prosper Africa,” said SAAC Chair Daniel Runde. “There is a bipartisan consensus that we need to see Africa as a business opportunity, and we need the US EXIM Bank to make that happen. If the US EXIM Bank is not authorized, African businesses will work with others, including the Chinese.”

“In Africa, we are the good guys,” said Steven Dowd, executive director of the African Development Bank Group. “If you do business with U.S. firms, buyers will receive quality products and fair value, and they won’t be strapped with unsustainable debt.”

Newt Gingrich: The Export-Import bank is crucial to America’s ability to compete with China (Newsweek)

In the age of Huawei, the Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s state-sponsored companies, we need the US Export-Import Bank more than ever. The EXIM Bank, an independent agency, provides government-backed financing for those looking to export goods and services from the United States. Since the 1930s, it has helped grow the U.S. economy and foil unfairly aggressive foreign competitors. However, due mostly to recent politics, it hasn’t been fully functioning since 2014. This needs to change—for many reasons. [Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Anis Chowdhury: Development banks needed to finance sustainable development]

George Ingram, Sally Paxton: How the new Development Finance Corporation can get off to a solid start (Brookings)

As one of its earliest principles, the leadership of OPIC has stated that it wants the DFC to set the gold standard for a modern and transparent DFI. We think that approach is essential. The private sector is increasingly being looked to as a critical source to fill the financing gap for the Sustainable Development Goals. To mobilize more of this capital, governments are turning more towards utilizing scarce public money as the catalyst. To date, however, it is not clear whether or not this is a wise investment. To what extent, for example, can we measure whether the use of public money - such as a subsidy or de-risking an investment - has actually mobilized more/better private resources? Has the use of public money resulted in improved development outcomes? Has the investment introduced a new business activity that advances development in a business sector, has it brought in a more developmentally impactful approach to business, has it created more jobs than would have happened without the public funds? Do the DFIs themselves even have the necessary information to make their case that they deserve government resources? And do DFI policymakers and shareholders have the data they need to make informed decisions about the right level and type of contributions to DFIs? The bottom-line question on all of this is: Do we know what our public resources are buying?

Manufacturing in SADC: moving up the value chain (Exim Bank, India)

Exim Bank’s study analyses the current trade and commodity export composition in the SADC region. An analysis of the global value chain participation rate for SADC countries, highlights the high rate of domestic value added embedded in other countries’ exports. In this regard, the purpose of this study is to delve on making the region a globally competitive industrial base by having India’s engagements into key potential manufacturing sectors in the SADC region. India’s investment potential in SADC manufacturing:

According to data from the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of India, India’s approved cumulative investments in the SADC region during April 1996 to March 2019 amounted to $60.5bn. Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa are the top destinations of India’s investments in the region. India’s investments in the SADC region accounted for nearly 93.8% of Indian investments in Africa during April 1996 to March 2019, mainly dominated by investments in Mauritius. During 2010-11 to 2018-19 the cumulative Indian investment in the SADC region amounted to $51.2bn. The manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share of approved investments from India to the SADC countries (42%) of total investments received by SADC, followed by financial, insurance, real estate and business services (24%), wholesale, retail trade, restaurants and hotels (9%) transport, storage and communication services and agriculture and allied activities both accounting for 8% share in total investments by India. Mauritius has received the highest investment in manufacturing (98.7%), mainly due to the country’s offshore financial facilities and favourable tax conditions. The other SADC countries which have received Indian investments in manufacturing are South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi. [Note: This occasional paper, dated 30-09-2019, can be downloaded from the Exim Bank website’s publication section]

India - North Africa conclave to take place in Cairo in early November

The Confederation of Indian Industry will organize the “Regional Conclave on India - West Asia and North Africa” in Cairo in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India, along with the Export-Import Bank of India on 6-7 November. In a press release on Thursday, the Indian Embassy in Cairo said this is the first time that the Confederation of Indian Industry will organize a forum in the North Africa region. Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister of State of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Minister of State of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will lead the Indian delegation. Egypt’s ministers of trade and industry and investment and international cooperation will take part in the conclave along with a number of dignitaries and businessmen from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan and South Sudan.

India, France explore 3rd country projects in Western Indian Ocean region (Economic Times)

India and France have taken concrete steps to firm up their strategic partnership in the western Indian Ocean, as part of their respective Indo-Pacific strategies, within two months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Paris. Leaders of India, France and Vanilla Islands – consisting of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean – are currently meeting for the first time in Reunion Islands (French territory) for exploring economic and development partnership. India is being represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the meet. India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands, they said.

Communique on cross-border coordination, partnerships, and communication for Ebola virus disease preparedness in at-risk member states (WHO)

We, the Ministers of Health and senior immigration officials of the DRC and the nine neighboring countries to the DRC, met on 21 October 2019 in Goma in the DRC; Noting with concern the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in north-eastern DRC and the potential risk for EVD transmission including other public health threats into the neighbouring countries; Aware that there are several African Union Member States neighboring the DRC at potential risk for EVD transmission including Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. Collectively, we resolve to (extract):

Cross-border joint planning and implementation of EVD preparedness and response activities, including risk communication and community engagement campaigns; Movement of people across national borders in accordance with the International Health Regulations; and Legal and regulatory processes and logistics planning for rapid cross-border deployment and receipt of public health experts and medical personnel for EVD response; Establish the Africa Ebola Coordination Task Force (AfECT), hosted at the African Union secretariat in Addis Ababa, under the leadership of the Member States with support from the Africa CDC, WHO and other relevant partners to support the cooperation and collaboration described above. Whilst AfECT maintains political oversight through AU institutional arrangements, technical support would be facilitated through the WHO sub-regional technical coordination platforms in collaboration with the Africa CDC. [Related: Statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the DRC]

South Africa: Beitbridge port of entry challenges  (SA Parliament)

The Select Committee on Security and Justice earlier this week visited the Beitbridge Port of Entry. The committee received a joint briefing from the Department of Home Affairs, the SA National Defence Force and the South African Police Service who spoke to the responsibilities of the respective departments in managing the border crossing and the systematic challenges they faced. The port services an average of 30 000 trucks, 40 000 light motor vehicles and 10 000 buses a month. The committee noted the vast infrastructural challenges relating to poor road conditions, human resources challenges faced by the departments and the issues around the almost non-existent border fence. Officials from the Border Management Authority requested that the committee assist by asking the Department of Public Works to prioritise these issues, which pose a particular challenge to the South African National Defence Force that has to patrol an area stretching up to 1 000 kilometres. The committee heard that the SANDF budget and its human resources are just not enough to expand on these, and that the redeployment of members from Namibia to the Beit Bridge Port could possibly be an option to investigate. The committee thus notes that areas of high vulnerability need to be prioritised given the lack of resources. Whilst taking cognisance of these challenges, the committee noted the view that the illegal crossing on the South African borders is not necessarily what contributes to the large number of undocumented foreign nationals in the country, but rather those who enter through the legal channels and end up settling in South Africa despite (sic) overstaying their visas.

NACCIMA: Nigeria’s border closure in order (ThisDay)

The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has said the recent closure of the country’s borders “is in order and long overdue”. NACCIMA also maintained that the federal government should resist any pressure from any quarters for the reopening of the borders. Speaking to newsmen in Minna on Wednesday, the Director General of the Association in Niger State, Alhaji Adamu Salihu, however asked the federal government to seize the opportunity created by the closure to reform the nation’s ports. “The closure of the borders is a welcome development, it has been long overdue. We should seize this opportunity to reform our ports. We should eradicate human rats in the ports and make the ports safer,” he said. Salihu also tasked the federal government to, while the borders remain closed, put structures in place so that imported goods will be received in good order, insisting that “if we make this effort and no reforms in the ports, it will amount to wasted efforts, time and money”. “This is a good policy. All they need to do is that in the short run the structures should be put in place to avoid any backlash. The closure of the borders is a welcome development, it has been long overdue. We should seize this opportunity to reform our ports.”

Report of the Committee on Rules of Origin to the General Council on preferential rules of origin for Least Developed Countries (pdf, WTO)

This report is being submitted by the Committee on Rules of Origin to the General Council in accordance with the requirements of Paragraph 1.10 of the Ministerial Decision of 7 December 2013 ( WT/L/917 , the “Bali Ministerial Decision”) and of Paragraph 4.4 of the Ministerial Decision of 15 December 2015 ( WT/L/917/Add.1 , the “Nairobi Ministerial Decision”) on Preferential Rules of Origin for Least Developed Countries. Under these provisions, the Committee on Rules of Origin “shall annually review the developments in preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from LDCs” and report to the General Council. Extract (pdf):

To facilitate access to origin-related requirements, the Secretariat informed Members about a collaboration with the International Trade Centre and the World Customs Organization for the development of the online “Origin Facilitator”. The tool allows users to consult and compare origin requirements, at the tariff-line level (origin criteria, origin certification and other related elements) . Because preferential rules of origin entail compliance with dozens of variables, finding a user-friendly way of navigating these requirements is a key aspect of facilitating trade. The Facilitator was publicly available at no cost. It offered a useful tool for government officials in order to identify and compare market access opportunities. In that sense, it is an initiative aimed at facilitating exports from LDCs. Members also heard updates from some preference-granting Members about ongoing efforts to examine current origin practices in light of the Ministerial Decisions. In particular, Members heard an update about the implementation of the self-certification system for registered exporters (Registered Exporter system, REX) being implemented by the European Union; Norway; Turkey; and Switzerland.

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