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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Kevin Sutherland | Bloomberg

17 Dec 2019

AfCFTA Ratification update: Great news out of Accra at the 2nd meeting of AfCFTA Council of Ministers is that Algeria has ratified the AfCFTA, bringing the number of countries that have ratified to 29. [Source: @jattamensah]

Visualizing 2020: Trends to watch (Council on Foreign Relations)

Trend 3: Africa’s urban housing crunch is already a serious problem, and without significant investments and policy interventions, it’s projected to get far worse in the decade ahead. As the continent’s booming youth population flocks to cities in search of work, many will struggle to find a place to call their own. A major housing shortfall in African cities could threaten urban health and safety and provoke serious social frustration and political unrest. To head off a crisis, civic leaders should move quickly to introduce zoning, construction, and related reforms that set the stage for smart, sustainable additions to the urban housing stock. [The contributor, Michelle D. Gavin, is a senior fellow for Africa Studies; Mark Lutter: The three trends shaping the future of Africa’s cities]

25th anniversary of the creation of the WTO – 1 January 1995 (Council on Foreign Relations)

So the WTO starts its twenty-sixth year with its future in flux as Washington blocks its enforcement operations and threatens to cut what it contributes to its budget. [Related: 11 December 2019 was the 18th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. It also marks the start of an era in which the WTO no longer has a functioning appellate body to adjudicate trade disputes among member countries. Why is the WTO imploding, and can it be resuscitated before it’s too late?]

AfCFTA implementation: Let’s meet 1 July 2020 deadline, President advises Africa trade ministers (Ghanaian Times)

Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged African trade ministers and experts working on the AfCFTA implementation, to conclude all outstanding issues on time for trading to start on 1 July next year as planned. He said meeting all the deadlines set by the AU Heads of State and Government at their extra-ordinary summit in July this year, would allow the new African market commence smoothly and bring about the much anticipated socio-economic impact on the continent. “Similarly, for the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, African trade ministers must ensure that the institutional structures, that are established to support the AfCFTA, are based on practical approaches that work in Africa. Existing, as well as new AU programmes and projects aimed at supporting trade, investment and economic development in Africa, at national, regional and continental levels, must all be properly coordinated to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, and, thereby, fast track regional integration, economic growth and development,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 10th meeting of African Ministers of Trade and 2nd Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers in Accra on Saturday. It was for stakeholders to continue discussions towards AfCFTA implementation. Various governments, he said had the responsibility to assist this process by fashioning and implementing a comprehensive set of policies that will empower the private sector to achieve its goal. “Appropriate fiscal, monetary, financial, energy, exchange rate, tariff and non-tariff policies must be co-ordinated to enable African enterprises to be competitive, and, where possible, achieve comparative advantage.” [The Gambia hosts technical workshop on National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy]

“I want African nations to have more say in international standards body”: Kenya’s Eddy Njoroge (The Standard)

On 1 January 2020, Kenya’s Eddy Njoroge will take over the presidency of the International Organisation of Standardisation. He will be the first African to lead the global standards body, the entity that sets the bar for products and services across different industries. While he could have opted for an office in Geneva where ISO is headquartered, he has opted to have the ISO president’s office in Nairobi. And even before he sets foot in the office, he is clear what success will look like at the end of his tenure – bringing Africa and other developing countries to the table where standards are made. He expects to reverse a scenario where these countries have been what he terms just ‘standard takers’ but also become ‘standard makers’.

Past ISO presidents have all been from the developed countries, except in three instances where there was one from Brazil and two from India. “We have not had anybody from what you can truly call developing countries. That is why I want to be the voice of the developing countries and get them more involved. We have over 300 technical committees within ISO, which are the developers of standards but we have very few developing countries in these committees. We must sit at the table to safeguard our interests. What mostly happens is that standards are developed and while we, as developing countries have not participated, have to take them when they are adopted as global standards. I would want more countries to participate.”

Nigeria and the AfCFTA: SON approves 128 new standards in readiness for AfCFTA (Leadership)

The Standards Organization of Nigeria has taken proactive measures to ensure there is no blowback, in Nigeria’s participation in the AfCFTA, by approving a new set of 128 Nigeria Industrial Standards. Director General of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Osita Aboloma, said the SON Council has approved the Industrial Standards for publication, dissemination and use by Stakeholders in Nigeria to drive economic advancement by Manufacturers, Processors, Assemblers and Importers of products and services. He enumerated areas covered by the approved standards as including civil/building technology, chemical technology, electrical and electronics, food/codex, petroleum products as well as liquefied petroleum cylinders among others.

Ghana and the AfCFTA: GEPA to begin implementation of National Export Strategy in 2020 (BusinessGhana)

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority will begin the implementation of the ten-year National Export Development Strategy next year, once the document is approved. The document, which has been completed by GEPA, is awaiting approval of the Minister of Trade and Industry and Cabinet. Addressing stakeholders at the 79th Exporters Forum on Thursday, Dr Afua Asabea Asare, the Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, said the key target of the Strategy is to achieve a Non-Traditional Export Revenue of at least $10bn by the end of the strategy’s implementation period in 2028. Dr Asare said GEPA had been able to embark on some strategic interventions geared towards ensuring that the Authority was aligned towards expanding the country’s export revenue base, especially with the coming into effect of the AfFTA. Dr Asabea said GEPA would lead the task of breaking down what AfCFTA means to the ordinary man on the streets, adding that the Authority would embark on a nationwide roadshow to bring the relevance of AfCFTA home. “Otherwise, sadly we will only be a host to AfCFTA and not a successful participant. I implore all partners here present, to rise up to the task when we call on you to come along with us on this nationwide roadshow in the coming months.”

Ghana: Industry captains positive about business conditions in 2020 (Ghana News Agency)

Industry captains interviewed for the Third Oxford Business Group Chief Executive Officers report expect local business conditions to be positive in the coming year. They were also upbeat about the AfCFTA, which would be headquartered in Ghana, and the benefits it could bring to the region. About 100 CEOs’ from across Ghana’s industries were asked a wide-range of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging the business sentiment. Seventy-one per cent of respondents described their expectations of local business conditions as positive or very positive for the coming year; while 68% viewed the level of transparency for conducting business in the country relative to the West African region as high or very high.

South Africa: Trade conditions will decline in next six months (IOL)

Trade conditions in South Africa will decline over the next six months as expectations weakened last month due to power cuts, according to the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci). Sacci’s seasonally adjusted Trade Expectations Index slid from 49 points in October to 46 points in November. The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index, a measure of recent trade conditions, improved slightly by 1 point to 43 points in November.

Job creation for youth in Africa: Assessing the employment intensity of industries without smokestacks (Brookings)

To further assess the employment potential of these industries, the Africa Growth Initiative has initiated a new multi-year research project to estimate the job creation potential of industries without smokestacks in Africa. The first framework conducts a comparative assessment of the employment elasticities for IWOSS and other sectors in the economy. Framework 2 (forthcoming) presents a methodology to identify constraints to growth in industries without smokestacks. Framework 3 (forthcoming) presents a methodological framework to identify the employment creation potential of industries without smokestacks and the skills required for individuals to be absorbed in these sectors. In this paper (pdf), we examine the potential of tourism, transport and telecom (T-T), agro-industry, and horticulture sectors to create jobs. [The authors: Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly, Dhruv Gandhi, Ahmadou Aly Mbaye]

Is African agriculture waking up? (EIF/IFPRI)

Moreover, the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM) 2019 report evaluates what comes from an initial pattern of specialization, and what comes from a reallocation of exports to specific products or specific destinations over the period. Geographical reallocation has benefitted 27 countries, and notably four LDCs. Niger has increased its export shares to China, Malaysia and Thailand; Angola to Chile, China and Peru; Somalia to Gulf countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia, and China; and Liberia to Malaysia and the Netherlands. Sixteen countries, on the other hand, have seen their export performance undermined by negative reallocation. The effect is still limited, but has had noticeable impact on Eritrea with a reduction in export share to Europe and the United States in favor of Egypt; Benin and Burkina Faso with reallocation from China and Thailand to India and Vietnam; and East African countries such as Rwanda and Burundi that strengthened trade with regional partners with limited import demand.

Namibia: 2019 Q3 Trade Statistics Bulletin (pdf, Namibia Statistics Agency)

Recent figures show that the overall value of exports and imports amounted N$19,360m and N$26,153m respectively, hence the total trade (export plus imports) amounted to N$45,513m, reflecting a decline from a revised figure of N$55,025m recorded in the corresponding period a year ago and from N$51,100m registered in the previous quarter. Namibia’s persistent trade deficit is displayed in Chart 1 over a period of ten quarters, starting from q2-2017 to q3-2019.

The largest deficits over the period shown in Chart 1 was recorded in q1-2018 (N$9,289m), q3-2017 (N$8,317m), q3-2019 (N$6,792m) and q2-2017 (N$6,438m). Whereas the smallest deficits of N$1,140m, N$2,612m, and N$3,716m were observed in q2-2018, q4-2018 and q2-2019 respectively. On the other hand, it is not surprising that no surplus was recorded throughout this period. The persistent deficit is mostly driven by the country’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and industrial machinery from the rest of the world as opposed to exporting low value primary commodities such as raw minerals and unprocessed fish. [Download the associated presentation, pdf)

Lesotho: World Bank Poverty Assessment (World Bank)

Lesotho’s poverty rate is lower today than it was 15 years ago. However, with a poverty rate of 49.7% in 2017, poverty remains widespread. Economic vulnerability is high, with more than 75% of the population either poor or vulnerable to poverty. This suggests that most of the population lack economic opportunities and are deprived on multiple fronts. Urban areas experienced greater poverty reduction due to improvements in education and increases in incomes from well-paying jobs, largely in the services sector. In rural areas, poverty stagnated due to slow growth in agricultural incomes, a fall in remittances and vulnerability of the rural population to weather shocks. Despite the growing urban-rural poverty divide, inequality fell as a result of expansion of social protection and an increase in wage incomes among the poor. In spite of this, Lesotho remains one of the 20% most unequal countries in the world.

Angola: First diamonds from Angola’s new pipe to arrive mid-2020 (Reuters)

Angola’s major new Luaxe diamond deposit may start trial mining in mid-2020 and could produce 1 million carats of diamonds worth $90m in 2020, Russian diamond producer Alrosa said. Angola’s state-controlled diamond miner Catoca and Alrosa found Luaxe’s Luele pipe in 2013. Catoca has spent $200m studying and developing it further and has said the pipe may turn out to be the largest discovery in the industry in 60 years. “It will be one of the largest deposits in the world,” Vladimir Marchenko, Alrosa’s deputy chief executive in charge of its Africa business, told Reuters. In November, Alrosa’s specialists finished reviewing a sample of Luaxe’s ore containing 45,000 carats of diamonds. This data will be used to complete the reserves audit, he said.

World Tourism Barometer: November 2019

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 4% in January-September 2019 compared to the same period last year, with mixed performance among world regions. The Middle East (+9%) led growth followed by Asia and the Pacific and Africa (both +5%). Europe (+3%) and the Americas (+2%) enjoyed a more moderate increase. [Modern Diplomacy: The growing power of tourism]

Please note: This is the final Daily News selection for 2019. tralac’s Daily News bulletin will resume in January 2020

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