tralac’s Daily News Selection
Nigeria and neighboring countries Benin and Niger have agreed to set up a joint border patrol force to tackle smuggling between the West African countries, they said in a communique on Thursday. The joint communique from the meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, said the Benin and Niger delegations had appealed for the immediate re-opening of Nigeria’s borders. The concerns were noted and the delegates agreed on the “establishment of a joint border patrol team comprising the police, customs, immigration, navy and state security services of the three countries”, the communique said. The force will hold its first meeting in Abuja (25-26 November) and will later advise on the re-opening of the borders. The delegates also agreed that the ministers of finance and trade from the countries would set up a committee to promote intra-regional trade, and said they would ensure people crossing their borders would display travel documents recognized by the Economic Community of West African States regional bloc.
The mandate of the newly implemented committee includes:
To adopt measures and actions that will facilitate and enhance the suppression of rice smuggling and other prohibited items along the borders of the three countries; The committee will prepare and put into force the necessary bilateral agreements to combat smuggling along the common borders of the three countries; It will establish a tripartite Anti-Smuggling Joint Border Patrol Team with power to arrest and handover any person arrested to the appropriate authorities in the three countries for investigation and prosecution
It will put in place the modalities for the establishment of Joint Inspection Task Force comprising of the customs of the three countries for the purposes of inspection and excursion of transit goods at the point of entry to their destination; The customs administration of the three countries must ensure strict adherence to the implementation of various agreements entered into; Pursue vigorously the escort and handing over of goods in transit from customs to customs. Initiate anti-smuggling sensitisation and awareness program/measures among the populace of the three countries.
Intra-regional trade within the EAC bloc rose by 10.3% last year, courtesy of harmonisation of cross-border rules and procedures. “Reforms taken under the Customs Union has also boosted intra-regional trade,” Christophe Bazivamo, EAC deputy secretary general responsible for productive and social sectors, says. He said intra-EAC trade catapulted to $3.2bn last year from $2.7bn in 2016 and $2.9bn in 2017. Bazivamo disclosed this at the just-concluded second meeting of the EAC Development Partners’ Group. Officials at the EAC secretariat officials say there was “no one rule or procedure” introduced but insisted generally most of the trade procedures within the region have been simplified. They cite the operationalisation of the EAC Single Customs Territory, the Authorised Economic Operator and One Stop Border Posts, and their respective rules and regulations, as having a multiplier effect on the ease of doing business in the region. Alongside with these is enhanced customs operations inter-connectivity in the region which has seen the introduction of Electronic Cargo Tracking System to monitor the movement of traded goods across the region.
East Africa: Maize, regional supply and market outlook (Relief Web)
Preliminary estimates suggest that 2019/20 production in the structurally-surplus countries of Tanzania and Uganda was lower than 2018/19. While production in Tanzania was similar to average, Uganda’s production was 9% below average. Harvests in import-dependent Kenya and Somalia are lower than 2018/19, with Somalia’s production significantly lower than average. Production in Burundi is above average. Production is average elsewhere in the region. After accounting for domestic requirements, aggregate regional exportable maize surpluses will be 18% below average. Tanzania and Ethiopia are expected to have above-average exportable maize surpluses, while Uganda will have a below average surplus. Kenya and South Sudan will have above average import gaps that will be filled through imports from regional markets. Maize prices are expected to remain above average region wide. This will constrain export opportunities to central and southern Africa (e.g. the DRC and Malawi). The region will continue to import wheat and rice from well supplied international markets (Annex 2 and Annex 3).
Kenya: Reprieve for importers as goods to be inspected at point of entry (Standard)
The government has reversed the requirement that all imported goods be inspected in their country of origin to protect the interests of local importers. Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said this would ease delays faced by importers as they await clearance from abroad, and also reduce the high costs of navigating through standards in foreign countries. He told the National Assembly Committee on Trade and Co-operatives on Wednesday that his ministry has reversed the 2015 directive that goods be issued with certificates of inspection in their countries of origin to be allowed into the local market. This was to curb the entry of illicit and sub-standard products. But the move was opposed by traders who complained about the high fees they were paying private inspection agencies contracted by the Kenya Bureau of Standards. Mr Munya told a committee chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega that the traders had made their case on how they were being exploited by the agencies, necessitating the change to have goods inspected at the point of entry.
Rwanda: $600,000 injected in digitalizing licensing and inspection services (New Times)
Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, together with Trademark East Africa, have put pen to paper on a $600,000 deal to facilitate the digitalization of major processes which will greatly improve ability to provide services to traders as well as monitor and enforce compliance to standards on selected imports. Particularly, the fund will go towards supporting the adoption of Converged Licensing Management Systems that will enhance compliance to standards and enforce regulation in Rwanda’s trade environment by reducing transaction time and costs incurred by businesses through effective trade systems and procedures. The funding will also see to it that licensing gets digitalized, inspection of imported electronics and allied goods as well as protection of intellectual property rights and also greatly contribute towards the government’s ambition to have zero trips and zero paper in all government services.
Nigeria: House urges government to install scanning machines at seaports (This Day)
The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to install scanning machines at various seaports across the country. The House gave the directive following the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance brought by Nicholas Ossai, who lamented that most scanners at various ports across the country are no longer functional. He said between 2006 and 2013, the Nigerian Customs Service entered into a contract with three companies-service providers-got the provision, install, operate and manage the X-ray scanning machines and computerised management for the examination of goods at the various ports. Ossai explained that all the installed scanners had broken down, saying there are no functional scanners in all the port at the moment. He added that scanners, particularly cargo scanners, allow for easy detection of contrabands as well as promote efficient inspection of consignment, which in turn contribute immensely to the ease of doing business at the port. According to him, “At the moment, Nigerian ports are not business-friendly, which has made ports in neighboring countries take over activities that are supposed to be done by Nigerian ports. The House, therefore, mandated the House Committee on Ports and Harbours to urgently organise a one-day stakeholders’ meeting in order to install scanning machines in the country’s ports.
One in three companies in French-speaking Africa struggles financially and faces difficulties growing as a result, according to a new report by the International Trade Centre. Training and information that help these businesses access finance is the most effective way to support their growth, it says. The report, Promoting SME competitiveness in francophone Africa: Improving access to finance for inclusive growth, is based on a survey of more than 9,500 enterprises in 17 francophone countries in Africa and was prepared in collaboration with the Permanent Conference of African and Francophone Consular Chambers. It finds that small and medium-sized enterprises are more likely to record a fall in turnover, compared to larger companies. The report suggests that the proportion of large companies with falling turnover (15%) is less than half of the proportion of micro enterprises with falling turnover (34%). Economic performance goes hand in hand with financial position. According to the report (pdf), the vast majority (66%) of companies in a difficult financial position are companies with falling turnover.’ French-speaking African firms would also benefit from better access to financial information.
This paper contributes to the empirical literature on the incidence of skill and educational mismatches of African youth and explores the linkages between job mismatch and wages, job satisfaction, and on-the-job search. It uses school-to-work transition survey datasets from 10 African countries and controls for unobserved heterogeneity, sample selection bias and endogeneity problems during the estimation of job mismatch. Results show that skill and educational mismatches are prevalent in Africa: 17.5% of employed youth are overskilled, 28.9% underskilled, 8.3% overeducated and 56.9% undereducated.
Ethiopia’s energy sector transformation (World Bank)
By assisting the Government of Ethiopia in incorporating gender-focused solutions, bolstering markets for off-grid products, and scaling up private sector participation in the country’s vast renewable energy resources, ESMAP has facilitated new investments, strategies, and approaches to help reach the goal of universal electricity access.
The economy is continuing to recover, with economic growth set to pick up in 2019 to 5.1%, up from 3.5% in 2018, buoyed by improved activity in agriculture, mining, and construction. While external accounts have improved, the current account deficit is expected to narrow to 14.1% of GDP from 18.7%, and exchange rate pressures remain, in particular during the lean season in the third quarter of the year. Overcoming the legacy of prolonged economic instability and numerous shocks, and improving the wellbeing of Sierra Leoneans remains challenging. In this regard, the Government’s National Development Plan promises to put the country on a sustainable development path.
The SADC Secretariat and the EU launched an Intra African, Caribbean and Pacific Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme to strengthen capacity of SADC Member States to undertake climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions. The launch of the programme, an integral part of the implementation of SADC Regional Integration Agenda, was held in earlier this month. The programme aims to support SADC governments, regional organisations, private and public sector, to deliver on the following areas: [COMESA: Regional climate change resilience framework developed]
Only some of us economists who believe a low-tariff free trade regime can force Indian enterprises to become more competitive have lamented India’s exit. It is seen as part of an ongoing reversal of the liberal trade regime established 25 years ago. Instead of going down, average tariffs in the manufacturing sector have gone up from 11% to around 14% in the last three years and in agriculture, from around 33% to nearly 39%. Quantitative trade restrictions have also come back in various ways. However, it is important to look at the evidence. India’s experience with FTAs has largely been disappointing. While trade has grown, so has India’s trade deficit with most of these countries/groups. It was believed that India had a comparative advantage in services. However, as Amita Batra pointed out, India has not gained any more from FTAs in services than in goods. There is little evidence that FTAs have nudged Indian enterprises towards greater competitiveness. So, where do we go from here? [The author, Sudipto Mundle, is a Distinguished Fellow at the National Council of Applied Economic Research]
Today’s Quick Links:
EAC signs MoU with Development Bank of Southern Africa
Irish companies ink Sh4.8 billion deals in Nairobi
Kenya upgrades Kisumu old rail track, dims SGR
Ethiopia’s integrated agro-industrial parks: AfDB appraisal report
Kenya committed to meeting maritime framework expectations
Measuring the Informal Economy: speech by IMF’s David Lipton
International Debt Statistics 2020: Promoting debt transparency through newly published debtor classifications