tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

29 Jan 2020

Launching tomorrow in Abidjan: The AfDB’s flagship African Economic Outlook 2020. The theme: Developing Africa’s workforce for the future.

A preview of UNCTAD’s Illicit Trade Forum (3-4 February, Geneva)

The USTR will hold a hearing on Thursday into South Africa’s intellectual property protection and enforcement regime: selected submissions

  1. The SA government’s lengthy submission will be presented by DTI DDG Xavier Carrim, Dr Evelyn Masotja: The submission will: Explain why the petition is misdirected in that the proposed law that is being objected to has not yet come into effect, is not part of South African law and accordingly no clear and present damage is being suffered by any US firm as a result of legislative changes; Recall the existing legal position in relation to protection of intellectual property, applicable in South Africa, including some challenges experienced with the existing framework that led to proposed changes to the law being developed; Set out briefly key points in the proposed legislation currently being reviewed by the Presidency in South Africa, including the objections to aspects of the proposed changes raised by the IIPA and why these do not constitute valid grounds for the removal of SA from the GSP benefits.

  2. Knowledge Economy International: “USTR is not qualified to act as a global licensing agent, protecting the MPAA and RIAA interests in every national dispute over performer rights, and the notion that countries have sovereignty and should make their own laws, accountable to their own citizens, should have some weight too, in matters like this. The provisions in the South Africa law regarding fair use, which is modeled after the U.S. statute, should be welcomed by the USTR, and not sanctioned. The IIPA asserts that the South Africa exceptions are more liberal than permitted by the Bern Convention or the TRIPS but do not suggest the USTR litigate these issues under the WTO dispute settlement system, preferring instead a situation where the USTR itself decides.”

  3. Sean Flynn (InfoJustice): “There are no ground on which USTR could conclude that the Copyright Amendment Bill, if enacted into law, violates the international three-step test. One particularly odd complaint is that South Africa has adopted a mix of specific exceptions and a general fair use clause. Every country that has a fair use or fair dealing general exception also has a list of specific exceptions. The various exceptions that the South Africa Bill adopts are framed in terms that commonly appear elsewhere. For example, the Bill’s exception for educational uses of excerpts for teaching can be found in roughly 70% of developing countries in Latin America and Africa.”

  4. Download the full set of submissions on the South African angle to the hearings here.

South Africa: Trade surplus for 2019 foreseen (Standard Bank)

December trade balance this Friday: we expect a further surplus of R9.0bn, from R6.1bn in November. The cumulative year-to-date trade balance is R13.5bn; therefore, the December trade balance will likely take the cumulative trade surplus to around R22.5bn in 2019, compared to the 2018 surplus of R13.8bn. The only months in trade deficit were January, April and July 2019. Exports in November fell by 4.8% m/m, to R116.9bn, from R122.8bn in October. Exports of mineral products, vehicles and transport equipment, machinery and electronics, vegetable products and base metals all fell significantly. However, imports fell by a larger 7.7% m/m in November, to R110.8bn, from R120.1bn in October. Imports of original equipment components and chemical products led that decline.

FACTI: New UN finance panel to push Global Goals forward

On Tuesday, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande and Mona Juul, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, introduced a joint initiative to establish a high-level panel on financial accountability, transparency and integrity, called FACTI. “It is critical that Member States get behind the panel’s work, both substantively and financially”, he urged, noting that in light of the Decade of Action, it would help promote faster progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. He said the flow of illicit cash and goods on the international black market, impacts every nation’s ability to mobilize domestic resources. Moreover, it is a cross-border problem that requires “inclusive multilateral action”. Ms. Juul set out a timeline, saying the panel would be launched in early March and its members to meet “face-to-face at least four times, in different regions of the world”. “It is a tight schedule, but we are aware of the urgency to address these issues”, she stated. The panel will produce an interim report in July 2020, and its final report with recommendations in January 2021.

African logistics: Time for revolution  (African CEO Forum)

The modernization of African logistics is one of the most important areas of development on the continent today. Despite the progress achieved over the past 15 years, particularly in the field of ports, which handle 90% of the continent’s trade, the sector remains insufficiently competitive and modern to support industrialization and African economic integration: China’s investment in logistics is 23 times greater than that of Africa, and only 10 African countries are in the two first quartiles of the Logistics Performance Index 2018. To coincide with the Continental Free Trade Zone entering into its operational phase, the Africa CEO Forum, in partnership with OKAN, has published an exclusive report which makes pragmatic recommendations to accelerate a real revolution in the African logistics sector. The report draws on case studies of several African success stories and examines the many challenges that are holding back the sector to formulate these recommendations for the benefit of investors and entrepreneurs. Six recommendations:

  • Speed up port modernization, create essential ports of call on the continent

  • Think as a “bloc”, develop intra-African logistics around multimodal corridors

  • Strengthen states’ capacities as strategists, financiers, and guarantors of security

  • Structure projects better

  • Rethink the logistics of African cities

  • Put the African middle class at the heart of logistics modernization

Kenya: Inspection agencies accused of flouting Uhuru’s cargo directive (Business Daily Africa)

Some of the inspection agencies that were removed from the port following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive last year have illegally resumed operations. This is according to importers who say the agencies are not only flouting the president’s directive, but they are causing delays in release of cargo. The importers say the Port of Mombasa and Inland Container Depot in Nairobi are now experiencing more delays in removing cargo from the facilities after issuance of release order. According to the latest Northern Corridor weekly performance report, the average time between entry of release order and removal of container increased from an average of 35.33 hours in the week ended January 14 to 41.89 hours in last week’s performance. Highlights from the latest Northern Corridor weekly performance report:

Most cargo handling indicators recorded positive performance with the average time difference between ship entering port area and exiting recording most improved time surpassing set target of 72 hours from 108 hours in the week ended January 14 to an average of 51.89 hours last week.

Ship waiting time also improved from 13 hours previous week to 12.10 hours in the last weeks’ performance records while containerised cargo dwell time — which is an average time between landing and exit of container from the port— recorded average of 51.71 hours last week from 65.65 hours in the previous week.

At Document Processing Centre, time between passing of customs entry registration and issuance of release order recorded two hours from previous 2.63 hours.

Number of truckers using Namanga borders increased twofold as recorded in the Athi River weighbridge traffic, which registered an average of 11,418.71 trucks weighed daily last week compared to 6,537 trucks in the previous week which ended on 14 January. Mariakani weighbridge only recorded an average of 4,522.71 trucks compared to previous total of 4,250 trucks. At Malaba border, an average time between issuance of release order and issuance of certificate of export at border crossing reduced from 120.21 hours in the week ended January 14 to 71.46 hours last week.

Nigeria “on track to commence rice exportation by 2022” (Guardian)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, during a working visit to Nestle Nigeria PLC’s Office in Lagos, yesterday, noted that the country’s land border closure has resulted in increased outputs by many rice milling plants, which were hitherto operating below capacity. Nanono disclosed that there has been expansion in the local rice value chain as well as the creation of many jobs due to increase in rice production. “As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day. In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas,” he said.

Kenya: Sugar imports up 61% as production dwindles (Business Daily Africa)

Data from the Sugar Directorate indicate the volume of sugar imported in 2019 increased to 458,631 tonnes compared with 284,169 the previous year. The decline was attributed to poor performance of cane. “Overall, sugar imports in January-December 2019 totalled 458,631 tonnes against 284,169 tonnes in the same period last year, attributed to a significant increase in table sugar imports in this year to bridge the rising domestic demand against the declining local production,” says the report by the Directorate. But even with enhanced cheap imports, consumer prices have remained high in retail shops.

Zambia: Country Forest Note (World Bank)

This country forest note aims to foster dialogue between the World Bank, the government of the Republic of Zambia, and key development partners on future engagements in the forestry sector in Zambia by offering a comprehensive analysis of Zambia’s forest sector while shedding light on potential long-term engagements. In response to the government of the Republic of Zambia’s policy and development ambitions to improve the forest sector’s contribution to the national economy, a number of interventions are highlighted in this CFN that could lead to transformative impacts. Data and information available for the forest sector in Zambia is fragmented and inconsistent. This is, in part, due to the lack of consistent monitoring in the context of widespread informality within the forest sector.

Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism governing council calls for more investments in Africa’s fertilizer value chain (AfDB)

“The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism has now effectively started implementing its activities as its first agreements were signed in 2019 to foster the fertilizer market in Nigeria and Tanzania. New projects are being prepared for implementation in other countries,” said Marie Claire Kalihangabo, the AFFM’s coordinator. Participants said the organisation could significantly transform the fertilizer value chain in Africa and strongly recommended mainstreaming its projects into the lending program of the African Development Bank and other stakeholders, like Afreximbank, for increased impact. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture who also serves as Chairperson of the AFFM Governing Council, called on the AFFM to work closely with key stakeholders to implement the resource mobilization objectives. Sacko also provided an update on the second Fertilizer Summit, scheduled to take place in 2021.

Namibia: Feasibility study on crop and livestock value chain analyses (AfDB)

The Government of Namibia has received a grant under the Middle Income Country Technical Assistance Fund towards the cost of the preparation of Namibia’s Feed-Africa Agriculture Transformation Agenda Projects, and intends to apply part of the agreed amount of this grant for payments under the contract for consultancy services for the feasibility study on crop and livestock value chain analyses.

International trade in services, 2019 Quarter 3 (pdf, UNCTAD)

World services exports recorded a 2.7% increase in the third quarter of 2019 (measured in current US dollars, year-on-year). Services other than transport grew at a combined rate of 4/1%, travel increased by 1.4%, while transport stagnated. Overall, trade in services recovered from the sluggishness observed in the first quarter of 2019.