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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Bloomberg

07 Feb 2020

The shortlisted candidates for General Secretary of AfCFTANigeria’s Cecilia Akintomide has served as a former VP and General Secretary of the of the AfDB; South Africa’s Wamkele Mene has served as SA’s Head of Mission to the WTO; the DRC’s Faustin Luanga has served as the economic advisor to President Joseph Kabila. An official announcement will be issued on Sunday by the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, after a decision by the Heads of State of the African Union.  

Mr Mansur Ahmed, the president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, has been appointed the new chairperson of the Pan African Manufacturers Association

Diarise: Africa Pharma Conference 2020 (8-10 June, Nairobi)

African Union 2020 Summit: keynote speeches from yesterday’s opening of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council

(i) Moussa Faki Mahamat (chairperson of the African Union Commission). At the opening of your meeting, I wish to share with you, in broad outlines, the activities carried out in 2019, the prospects for the current year and especially the most obvious challenges. The preparatory work for the actual launching of the AfCFTA, scheduled for 1 July 2020, is at an advanced stage, which reflects the efforts made by the different actors. For this launching, its Secretariat will emerge as at the end of March this year to take in hand, with the necessary competence, the management of the outstanding issues and on whose resolution will depend the success of its full operationalization. As you are aware, the establishment of Free Trade Area of this scale is a laborious process. The participation of all the Member States in the negotiations meetings is key to the success of the process so as to fulfil the dream long nurtured by the Founding Fathers of our Organisation. 

The Free Trade Area, pole of impetus for economic coherence, challenges our creativity and further our mastery of the digital technology. It is in this perspective that the AU Commission has worked, throughout the year, on the proposed strategy for the digital transformation of Africa for the period 2020-2030 as well as the execution of the African Electronic Network project. During your deliberations, you will have to pronounce yourselves on this Draft Strategy which is an orientation document, but of great importance for the digital future of the Continent.

(ii) Vera Songwe (UN Under-Secretary-General; Executive Secretary of the UNECA). Finally, Let me now turn to the economics of silencing the guns in Africa. Today, over 77% of all arms imported into the continent are from four countries. The agenda of securing the peace and the agenda of silencing the guns must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. To effectively silence the guns African countries will have to ensure all gun imports into the continent are consistent with international practice and the governance systems around the circulation of arms on the continent is transparent. We must respect global, UN resolutions. The economics of the arms sector does not favour the continent as more and more of our young perish at the end of the gun while we continue to spend more and more resources on security at the expense of education health care and infrastructure. In Niger for example over 15% of the budget is spent on security expenditures. This is true of most in the Sahel.

(iii) Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki (AUDA-NEPAD CEO). In collaboration with our development partners and the private sector, we – the African Union bodies, shall enhance our efforts in supporting the Member States and Regional Economic Communities to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2063 – as defined in our respective mandates. Today, Agenda 2063 is the identity, badge of honour and catch-phrase for the African Union. We must stay the course and continue to make Agenda 2063 the continent’s pre-eminent guiding framework for its social, economic, cultural and political development. The flagship projects of Agenda 2063 speak to every aspect of life for our people.

Selected AU Summit updates:


Kenya-US trade relations: 

(i) President Trump announces intent to negotiate trade agreement with Kenya. At the direction of President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer will officially notify Congress of the Trump Administration’s intention to start negotiations following the consultations with Congress that are required by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 - often referred to as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). USTR will also publish notices in the Federal Register requesting public input on the direction, focus, and content of the trade negotiations. In accordance with TPA, USTR will publish objectives for the negotiations at least 30 days before trade negotiations begin. The announcement came while the US-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group held its third meeting in Washington this week. The Working Group, established by President Trump and President Kenyatta in August 2018, is laying the groundwork for a stronger bilateral trade relationship. Other outcomes of the third meeting of the Trade and Investment Working Group include the following: [Related: USTR fact sheet on the US-Kenya trade and investment relationship

(ii) US, Kenya launch talks on trade deal in move welcomed by industryMyron Brilliant (head of international affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce), said Kenya could serve as a key gateway for U.S. companies seeking to expand in Africa. U.S.-Kenyan trade amounts to $1bn now, but could grow substantially. “Just announcing the agreement is going to be a huge boon for Kenya because investors are going to start looking at which country is locking in access to the U.S. market,” said Nicole Bivens Collinson, a former senior U.S. trade negotiator and attorney with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg.

(iii) US-Kenya trade pact won’t affect AfCFTA: Kenyatta. Speaking in Washington after meeting US President Donald Trump on Thursday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said the proposed new trade arrangement would in no way undermine Kenya’s commitment to the continental economic bloc. “I want to put away a few doubts because there has been a feeling that by Kenya engaging with the US to have a trade arrangement, we are running away from our commitment to the African Continental Free Trade arrangement. I want to assure you that there can be nothing further from the truth as that is definitely not the case,” said Kenyatta. Kenya was among the first countries to sign and ratify the AfCFTA. Mr Kenyatta said that Nairobi’s commitment to the agreement is steadfast, adding that Kenya needs to move fast, and set the pace for other African countries in formulating new trade and investment arrangements with the US as the African Growth and Opportunity Act comes to an end in 2025. 

(iv) Trump says free trade pact with Kenya will ‘probably’ happen — a first for sub-Saharan Africa.  “We have provisions in the agreement which require a country to notify us when it intends to enter into a [bilateral] free trade agreement. And we also have provisions in the agreement which says any preferences given to a third party must also be given to other parties of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” said Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s commissioner for trade and industry. “We are hopeful that the government of Kenya is going to brief us on the initiative that it is taking with the United States of America.”

Exports from Kenya to the United States tend to be some of the African country’s more refined products, such as honey, coffee, and textiles, said Kwame Owino, a Kenyan economist. Kenya’s trade with China tends more toward more toward raw commodities such as avocados and flowers. “The clincher of a Kenyan agreement with the US will be if Kenya can secure more U.S. investment in those refined goods, giving U.S. companies a regional hub for those products, and a steppingstone to creating similar agreements with other East African countries,” said Owino.

Nigeria: Make policies industry-friendly to enhance AfCFTA competitiveness – MAN tells FG (Sundiata) 

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria says the Nigerian government must ensure that its policies are industry- friendly, as this is the only guarantee for a competitive intra-African trade. Its President, Mr Mansur Ahmed, spoke at the 2020 edition of the MAN reporter of the year award on Thursday in Lagos. He also urged the government to show readiness in addressing the supply side constraints of lack of infrastructure, to enjoy the gains of the AfCFTA. “As the association remains at the forefront for setting the pace for engagement with other African manufacturers, the Nigerian government must also lead by example in ensuring that policies are industry-friendly, as this is the only guarantee for a competitive intra-African trade. Modern industry competitiveness depends to a great extent on provision of adequate and efficient infrastructure. There is also the aspect of provision of soft infrastructure – like visa, tariffs, and foreign exchange – that will help ease up the process of carrying out business transactions between countries." 

Rwanda to host AfCFTA roadshow (KTPress) 

The roadshow will be conducted on 11 February and will provide members of the private sector in the country the substantial benefits of attending the second Intra-African Trade Fair (1-7 September, Kigali). According to Afreximbank, Rwandan businesses can take advantage of the AfCFTA by establishing new networks of business buyers and sellers from across the African continent, enabling the country to significantly expand its intra-African trade. Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “Rwanda’s economic transformation is undoubtedly one of Africa’s success stories. Rwandan businesses can further capitalise on this achievement by positioning themselves to take full advantage of the AfCFTA.”

Ghana: Invest in Africa prepares SMEs for the AfCFTA (GhanaWeb)

The Management of Invest in Africa is empowering small and medium scale enterprises to enable them to explore opportunities that come with the AfCFTA agreement. Mr Clarence Nartey, the country Director of IIA, there was still work to be done to educate and sensitise the private sector on both the opportunities and threats that the agreement comes with and work to develop a competitive AfCFTA strategy. He said from an IIA perspective, the good news was that some of its suppliers ware already engaged in Pan-African trade – equivalent to 15% of IIA’s active supplier pool. “However, this is not enough and the organisation is committed to increasing this to 40% in a few years,” he added. Mr Nartey said the 40% target would be done through rolling out its AfDB- sponsored flagship Business Linkage Programme.

Inside Kenya’s plan to boost trade with landlocked Ethiopia (Pulse Kenya)

Kenya is planning to build OSBPs along its border with Ethiopia as it moves to boost trade with its landlocked neighbour. The Border Management Secretariat, a bilateral agency, is of the opinion that the OSBPs will enhance security, boost revenue collection and ease movement between the two countries. “Putting two more OSBPs in Marsabit County will greatly boost trade facilitation and seal all the porous border points that encourage illicit trades,” said Mr Kennedy Nyaiyo, director of Border Management Secretariat. The director said the team was currently assessing suitability of Forole and Illeret, the two sites proposed to host OSBPs in Marsabit County. Marsabit currently has only one OSBP in Moyale Town despite the fact that the Ethiopia-Kenyan border straddles over 830km of its territory. Other areas marked for OSBPs include Siftu in Wajir, Markamari, Rhamu in Mandera, Todunyang in Turkana.