tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

06 Dec 2019

Next week, in Addis: Committee on Private Sector Development, Regional Integration, Trade, Infrastructure, Industry and Technology. Extracts from featured submissions:

  1. pdf Issues Paper (709 KB) : Private sector development and the digital economy in support of regional integration in Africa. The large-scale uptake of digital technologies in Africa is still under way. As a relatively new phenomenon, there are fewer tried and tested routes to learn from in navigating industrialization in the digital era. This makes the recommending of policy responses to industrialization through digitization inherently difficult. Governments can respond by improving their policymaking processes so that they are more reactive to a fast-changing environment – in other words, policymaking needs to be both adaptive and properly coordinated.

  2. African Continental Free Trade Area: pdf an update on the establishment of the agreement and the status of negotiations on phase II (551 KB) . The Specialized Technical Committee recommendations were adopted during the AU Summit in February 2019, which gave a concrete mandate to the African Union Commission, in cooperation with African Union member States, ECA and all relevant stakeholders, to develop a comprehensive African Union Digital Trade and Digital Economy Development Strategy, to be presented for adoption during the summit scheduled for January 2020.

    In 2020, it is planned that the sub-programme will scale up its pilot project on informal cross-border trade and apply the methodology to other corridors and regions on the continent, with the ultimate goal of developing a single continental framework for informal cross-border trade data collection in the context of implementation and monitoring of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

    In 2020, sub-programme 2 proposes to explore the possibility of a research project on the structural and policy underpinnings required to facilitate the emergence of an African Customs Union to support the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

    A new work programme that is focused on assessing the human rights and inclusivity implications of the trade and climate change nexus will be launched in the context of the partnership of ECA with OHCHR and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. In the context of the AfCFTA, this work stream will further focus on strategies for green industrialization and technological leapfrogging to ensure a low carbon and sustainable growth trajectory for member States. The findings are expected to provide cutting-edge and innovative contributions to the climate change policy debate and the United Nations Climate Change Conference – 26th Conference of the Parties in 2020.

    The digital trade and digital economy work stream will engage more deeply in the themes of e-commerce in free trade agreements and support the implementation of the African Union Digital Trade and Digital Economy Strategy. The work stream will also support preparations across the continent for multilateral and plurilateral e-commerce negotiations through a study on the practical issues of e-commerce entrepreneurship to identify African interests and possible negotiating positions.

  3. pdf Assessment of progress on regional integration in Africa (611 KB) : focusing on the regional economic communities and lessons on the implementation of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA. Following the introduction, the structure of the report is as follows: section II focuses on trade integration; section III on productive integration; section IV on macroeconomic integration; section V on infrastructure integration; section VI on migration and the free movement of people; section VII on governance, peace and security; and, to close, section VIII offers a conclusion and recommendations.

  4. Profiled side events (9-10 December): Governing the interface between the AfCFTA and RECs’ Free Trade Areas: issues, opportunities and challenges; Review and validation of the methodological approach to produce the AfCFTA Country Business Index; Africa’s Services Trade Liberalization and Integration under the AfCFTA; Towards a common investment area in the AfCFTA: levelling the playing field for intra-African investment

Nigeria’s national AfCFTA forum: selected updates

  1. Nigeria is determined to fully implement the terms of the AfCFTA and uphold its commitments on trade and regional integration, the country’s Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, said Monday. In remarks to a two-day national AfCTA forum, Mr Adebayo said Nigeria, however, will not allow smuggling and other predatory trade practices to continue unchecked in the country as this undermines the nation’s development efforts and destroyed local industries, leading to job losses. “We also will not allow rogue traders to manipulate the rules of origin and disguise goods from outside the continent as made in Africa so as to qualify for duty free passage,” he said, adding for a successful implementation of the AfCFTA, his government had constituted the National Action Committee to coordinate a wide range of actions at the domestic, regional and continental levels. “Whilst we have rightfully been wary of the risks posed by the AfCFTA to Nigeria, we ought now to look at it with significant optimism,” the Minister said, adding the Nigerian Export Promotion Council had mapped out goods and services where the country has strong potential to export to Africa.

  2. National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Mr Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, said successful implementation of the AfCFTA was of crucial importance to Nigeria. “This is because it has the potential to generate a range of benefits for Nigeria by its ability to support trade expansion, create employment, improve national prosperity and tackle poverty,” he said, adding for this to become a reality issues of trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity of the private sector, the need for trade-related infrastructure, finance, trade information and market integration must be tackled. Mr Mansur Ahmed, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said Nigerian manufacturers can compete well on the continent if the right policies and regulations were put in place to make manufacturing more cost effective.

Concluding today, in Yaounde: Fostering African Private Sector in the Big Data Era – the 2019 Annual Africa Regional Review of WSIS Implementation. Extracts from featured submissions:

  1. pdf Fostering African private sector in the Big Data Era: draft report (1.66 MB) . The following are some recommendations identified from the findings of this report for possible considerations by businesses and policy- and decision-makers:

    African mainstream businesses need to develop agile and adaptable business model for embracing big data to work in different African markets.

    Government and other stakeholders need to support upcoming yuth start-ups to further investment in innovative products to scale-up and move beyond start-up and becoming a leading market player. Start-ups also need to network and use their data and customer relationships to develop new products and services to create new revenue opportunities.

    African governments need to capture the booming tech hubs to create or change regulations to support growth of entrepreneurialism;

    African governments need to ensure and make the necessary reform in the education system to generate the necessary people with key technical skills for the big data ecosystem

    African governments need to adapt to the emerging technologies and the digital disruption environment to improve policy making and deploy recourse more efficiently

    Countries need to elaborate the interface between big data and the new phenomenon of ‘open data’ to promote innovation and to make the potential of big data much more powerful and useful.

  2. Dr Dereje Yohannes: Challenges and potential solutions for Big Data implementation in Africa (pdf)

    Take advantage of the high penetration rates of mobile phones to collect usage-associated data and sensor data for innovative BD projects. (Data Capture issue)

    Increase the number of data scientists trained. Make partnerships with nonprofit organizations. (Work force issue)

    Institute policies and regulatory frameworks to ensure the privacy and security of sensitive data. (Privacy and security issue)

    Implement strategic partnerships with private and public institutions with expertise in BD tools and techniques. (Adoption issue)

    Encourage institutions and private sectors to produce and share accurate, unbiased Big data. (Partnership issue)

John W.H. Denton: Don’t let tariffs break the Internet (Project Syndicate)

Most people have never heard of the WTO’s moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions. And yet it may be one of the most important trade deals in recent history, given the outsize effect it has had on the growth of the Internet. The moratorium – which has been renewed by WTO member states every two years since 1998 – has enabled the digital economy to flourish by prohibiting governments from applying tariffs to international data flows. It has thus shielded the Internet from distortions induced by levies at national borders. As such, the online sphere has been a virtual utopia, the likes of which trade economists can only dream when it comes to real-world commerce.

But this paradise will soon be lost unless cool heads prevail. A handful of countries – most notably India, South Africa, and Sri Lanka – have signaled their intention to let the moratorium lapse at the end of this year. That would leave governments free to begin experimenting with unilateral tariffs on everything from software, e-books, and cloud services to the data underlying popular streaming services. Proponents of ending the moratorium argue that the digitalization of previously physical goods – books to e-books, CDs to Spotify, DVDs to Netflix – has resulted in a loss of tariff revenues. Viewed through this narrow lens, the notion of applying duties to digital transactions may seem appealing to politicians seeking to protect domestic revenue bases, and who are increasingly feeling public pressure to tax the global tech giants. But applying tariffs to data flows would be a chimerical answer to a very real challenge. Not only would such a move add to a damaging pattern of escalating tariffs; it would also wreak potential havoc in the online economy. Move over Kim Kardashian: tariffs really could “break the Internet.” [Note: The author is Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce]

Blockchain and DLT in trade: a reality check (pdf, WTO)

Building on the WTO publication Can Blockchain Revolutionize International Trade?authored by Emmanuelle Ganne and TFG’s white paper Blockchain and Trade Finance, this study provides an overview of the main projects underway in trade, with a focus on trade finance, shipping, and the digitalization of trade documents, and assesses their stages of maturity. Based on a survey of more than 200 actors in the field, it analyses the key challenges that companies involved in blockchain projects are facing and discusses actions that may need to be taken to allow the technology to truly transform international trade. After years of hype around blockchain, the time has come for a reality check. Extract from the conclusion (pdf):

The survey we conducted and the analysis of its results have provided new insights into the perceptions held by the various players in the space and the differences amongst them. Examining the opportunities in combination with the challenges has allowed us to remove the rose-coloured glasses and view the industry in its unfiltered current state. With the views of a wide-ranging group of stakeholders in mind we will be better placed to steer the DLT-fueled global trading vessel in the right direction, meeting and surpassing each milestone along the way. If we all join forces to successfully address the various challenges that are currently slowing down the spread of blockchain and limiting its impact on trade, from technical aspects, to standardization, legal and privacy issues and governance, the future promises to be bright for all parties involved in the international trade space, from farmer, to shipper, to financier, to port operator, and even to the trendy hipsters waiting for a slice of avocado toast. [The authors: Deepesh Patel (TFG), Emmanuelle Ganne (WTO)]

Informal sector taxation: ATAF EOI for an individual consultant (AfDB)

The will be expected to perform the following services: Provide inputs for the project concept note; Collect and compile data on informal sector; Participate in the country visits for the identified pilot countries; Compile draft country field visit reports; Provide inputs for a work plan for the consultative technical workshop to be held in February 2020; Provide data and information as inputs for research papers and policy briefs; Gather inputs for the informal sector guidebook; Develop and maintain a list of key project stakeholders; Develop tools for data collection.

AUDA-NEPAD Land Governance Programme country assessments validation workshop: communiqué

The validation workshop (2-4 December, Accra) was aimed at galvanising technical partnerships to support building consensus on key priorities (datasets) for the design and development of digital land data and information repository, with visualization and analytical functionality; exchange information on country experiences on the assessments; review country specific needs and requirements for the establishment of their national help desk; and Agree on country-specific activities for help desk set up. Discussions were informed by five sub-themes: socio-economic data, administrative data, geo-spatial data, legal & institutional framework for land governance, legal & institutional framework for administrative and geo-spatial data management.

Today’s Quick Links:

Nigeria-South Africa Integrated Road Transport Infrastructure Initiative: update

UK signs MOU with Nigeria’s Standards Agency

Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone: China seeks strategic partnership with Nigeria

Nigeria: Exporters seek government’s support for small businesses

BloombergQuint: Moody’s warns Nigeria its reliance on hot money is damaging its economy

WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade: Moderators’ report of the thematic session on conformity assessment procedures – national quality infrastructure

Côte d’Ivoire: UNCTAD investment policy review workshop

Angola: IMF executive board completes Second Review, approves $247m disbursement

Namibia, Tanzania seek ways to exploit trade

Yariv Cohen: Africa is building bridges with global innovation hubs

African Union policy brief on Africa’s Future: Youth and the data defining their lives

AUDA-NEPAD report: Breaking Barriers – Women and Youth in agri-business