Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

AfCFTA: Nigeria not ready for restrictive Rule of Origin (Nairametrics)

Adopting a restrictive Rule of Origin will not allow the Nigerian manufacturing industry to enjoy the full benefits of the AfCFTA. This is according to Peter Lunenborg, the senior programme officer at South Centre. According to him, most sectors in the industry still source the bulk of their raw materials and expertise from outside the continent. Speaking at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria webinar themed AfCFTA Rule of Origin: Implication for growth of manufacturing sector, Lunenborg noted that while restrictive rules of origin are the best for wealth creation, the African continent cannot afford to toe that path just yet. “It needs to be flexible because so far, most of the things produced here still require some input from foreign countries, in form of raw material or technology or expertise. For instance, Nigeria imports half of the wheat used for its flour manufacturing from the United States, because Africa has a huge supply deficit,” he said.

Secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, stated in his presentation that some of the threats hindering Nigeria’s ratification of the agreement include: the rise in smuggling, illegal transshipment of goods from non-African countries, and import surge arising from trade liberalisation without corresponding growth in export of Nigerian products. “Nigeria also has to combat the influx of substandard products due to uneven quality standards in some African countries, and loss of revenue from import duties and levies, exacerbated by smuggling and Rule of Origin abuses. Putting these things in check will help speed the ratification of the AfCFTA” Anatogu stated. [Reuters: Starved of dollars, Nigerian businesses struggle for survival]

Malawi ready to ratify AfCFTA (Business Malawi)

The Malawi government says it has concluded consultations with stakeholders on the matter. In an interview Tuesday, Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, said the country is expected to deposit its ratification instruments to the African Union within a month from now. “Malawi [government], after consultations with private sector, has signed the approval of the AfCFTA. The instruments are with Ministry of Justice as we finalise the ratification processes. After proof reading the agreement, it will be deposited to the AU, but approval protocols are done. We should deposit the instruments within a space of one month,” Gwengwe said.

Gerhard Erasmus, Trudi Hartzenberg: Completing and implementing the AfCFTA in difficult times.This tralac paper discusses the steps still required to finalise the AfCFTA framework and to implement the relevant technical aspects as provided in or required by its legal instruments. The discussion commences with an overview of where the process stands and what is still outstanding.

Michel Russo: Impact of COVID-19 on Associations and Chambers in Africa (CIPE)

In June, CIPE began surveying business associations and chambers of commerce throughout Africa. The survey was designed to measure the impact of COVID-19 on these organizations and their respective communities. In the words of CIPE’s Executive Director, Andrew Wilson, business associations and chambers are “conduits of information, advocates for policy, providers of service, and mobilizers of relief.” The importance of a response from these organizations is critical to recovering from the pandemic and re-opening the economy. In light of the challenges, the survey reveals innovation and the creative response of organizations. The inherent nature of these organizations – to advocate and provide for their member’s interest and well-being – has hardly been more evident. Challenges are abounding, yet so are impactful responses. CIPE received over 100 preliminary responses from associations and chambers of all sizes and areas of focus across the continent from 12 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, Uganda, Mauritius, Algeria, and the Gambia.

COMESA, EAC and SADC adopt harmonised Guidelines on Trade and Transport Facilitation

The three RECs, on 29 July, adopted harmonised Tripartite Guidelines on Trade and Transport Facilitation Guidelines for Safe, Efficient and Cost-Effective Movement of Goods and Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In his remarks at the opening of the Tripartite Council of Ministers meeting, Mr Tarek Shalaby (Assistant Minister for Foreign Trade, Agreements and International Relations, Egypt), representing the chairperson of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Council of Ministers, said the harmonisation of guidelines presents an opportunity towards the realisation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area which was signed by the Tripartite Heads of State and Government in June, 2015.

The Chairperson of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Task Force, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, highlighted that the overlapping nature of membership and sharing of traffic among the three RECs necessitated the urgent need for harmonised Guidelines for the Movement of Persons, Goods and Services across the Tripartite Region during COVID-19 Pandemic. Dr Tax noted that mobility restrictions to contain COVID-19 affected regional trade and transport, and resulted in shortage of goods, and long queues at ports of entry and exit, translating into increased cost of doing business and consumer prices. On the experiences of cross-border truck drivers, Dr Tax said the COVID-19 cross-border restrictions that have been targeted on truck drivers have led to stigmatisation of cross-border drivers, impacts of which have not only affected the drivers and local communities, but also negatively impacted the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. She urged the Tripartite members to work together to sustainably contain the negative impacts of COVID-19 and address any future health emergencies that might arise.

During the meeting, the Tripartite Council of Ministers directed the Tripartite Task Force to establish the required institutional arrangements for monitoring the implementation of the adopted Guidelines. The Ministers agreed on the development and integration of Electronic Surveillance Systems to Monitor Driver Health and Track the Movement of Drivers and Trucks in order to facilitate the implementation of the Tripartite Guidelines. On this note, the Ministers agreed that the management of the electronic surveillance systems for monitoring the drivers and vehicles during COVID-19 Pandemic will be undertaken by Member/Partner States. [Download:  pdf Tripartite Guidelines for Trade and Transport Facilitation during COVID-19 (651 KB) ]

12th West Africa Internet Governance Forum: update

The two-day video conference forum with the central theme, Digital Inclusion and Access in West Africa in response to COVID-19, was convened from 22 -24 July 2020. The forum aims to strengthen the active participation of various stakeholder groups in the Internet governance debate on the utilisation of the Internet, exploration of the digital landscape in the context of COVID-19, which included the impact of Trust and Privacy in the current COVID-19 pandemic, Cybersecurity and cybercrime in the era of digital cooperation and beyond. Extract from the communique (pdf): On Emerging Technology

  • ECOWAS Member States to develop a national strategy on emerging technologies using multistakeholder processes which will allow for assessment of the viability and added value for emerging technology within local contexts.

  • Call on Member States to encourage the production of local content and local datasets for the designing and training of emerging technologies.

  • Urge Member States to collaborate with the private sector, civil society and technical organisations to encourage innovation and an enabling environment for start-ups.

4th annual Ministerial meeting on ECOWAS regional migration cooperation: update

Following the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on regional free movement, the ministers were also briefed on guidelines to be adopted by member states, in this regard, on border management for ease of implementation given that they have oversight function on the enforcement agencies. Mr Rauf Aregbesola (chair of the meeting and Nigeria’s Minister of Interior) sued for greater collaboration with the government of Nigeria in order to deal more decisively with the incursion of bandits, terrorists and insurgency elements that are infiltrating the territories of Member States. While rounding up the meeting, he called on delegates to ensure that resolutions on ease of movement are well guarded even as a harmonized data management and integrated systems for efficiency are developed. Ms Eleni Zerzelidou (International Office for Migration) disclosed IOM’s optimism that ministers will validate the ECOWAS Regional Migration Policy and the manual on border management and free movement training. This also include the guidelines for the harmonization of migration data management in the ECOWAS Region as well as the MIDWA Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. [African Union launches a new programme on Migration and Health]

The World Bank Board of Directors has approved $300m in International Development Association credits and grants to support reforms that will help promote electricity trade in West Africa. The West Africa Regional Energy Trade Development Policy Financing Program is the first World Bank operation to use the IDA Regional Window for a DPF program.

IGAD-FAO-WFP: Urgent action required to prevent a major food crisis in Eastern Africa. Considering the combined effects on vulnerable populations of current and projected shocks, in addition to the protracted impacts of previous hazards, significant food security deteriorations across the region are now projected. Ongoing and upcoming food security assessments and IPC analyses will soon provide a better picture of food security outcomes. In the meantime, however, current estimates suggest that the compounding impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, desert locust upsurge, and flooding may drive the population facing severe food insecurity up sharply by the end of 2020, potentially to 50.6 million people, or approximately 20% of the population in the IGAD region. Though the bulk of the food insecure population will remain in rural areas, these estimates assume a significant deterioration in food security amongst the urban poor, who are not often factored into IPC analyses and are driving the steep increases in humanitarian needs.

IMF Executive Board approves $49.1m in emergency support to Lesotho. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe social and economic impact on Lesotho. Disruptions to supply chains for major industries and a national shutdown to contain the virus have led to a sharp drop in production. The economy is being further hit by declining external demand for textiles and diamonds, shrinking remittances, and delays to major construction projects. The authorities have been taking strong actions to mitigate the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic. In collaboration with development partners, they are scaling up urgent health spending, and are introducing measures to mitigate the economic impact, including by boosting social safety nets and ensuring access to credit for affected businesses. The economic shock, as well as the additional required spending, has generated urgent balance-of-payments (BOP) financing needs.

IMF Executive Board approves $110.4m in emergency support to Eswatini. The authorities’ commitment to transparently use and report all emergency spending— including through the publication of pandemic-related spending execution, awarded procurement contracts, and independent audit of such spending—is crucial to ensure that emergency funds are used for their intended purposes. Accelerating public financial management (PFM) reforms, including by applying the implementation guidelines for the 2017 PFM law and strengthening public procurement process, will be key towards improved fiscal transparency and governance. Once the pandemic subsides, steadfast implementation of the authorities’ multi-year fiscal consolidation strategy and structural reform agenda will be critical to ensure debt sustainability and to support a durable and inclusive recovery and stronger governance.

IMF Blog: Corruption and COVID-19. Governance safeguards for emergency assistance related to COVID-19 are part of a more comprehensive effort by the IMF to improve its member countries good governance and efforts to tackle corruption. The IMF has significantly increased its focus on governance and corruption over the last few years. We adopted in 2018 an enhanced framework designed to make our work with countries more candid, even-handed, and effective. This laid the foundation for our COVID-19 policy and lending response, where stronger governance matters even more. We recently assessed our progress in recent years and published the findings in a staff analysis.

WHO, WIPO, WTO launch updated study on access to medical technologies and innovation. Building on the first edition launched in 2013, the publication seeks to strengthen the understanding of the interplay between the distinct policy domains of health, trade and intellectual property, and how they affect innovation and access to medical technologies, such as medicines, vaccines and medical devices.

World Bank’s China Economic Update: Leaning forward – COVID-19 and China’s reform agenda

The report projects that economic growth in China will slow sharply to 1.6% this year - marking the slowest expansion since 1976–before rebounding to 7.9% in 2021. Even as economic activity rebounds, the pace of China’s poverty reduction is expected to slow, reflecting slower growth in household incomes. Without additional policy measures, 8-20 million fewer people are projected to escape poverty in 2020, compared to pre-pandemic projections. Risks to China’s economic outlook are unusually high. On the downside, recurrent COVID-19 flare ups could continue to disrupt economic activity, despite efforts to suppress the spread of the virus. Externally, a deeper and more protracted global recession and escalating bilateral tensions between China and some of its main trading partners could also derail the recovery. On the upside, the downturn could be less severe if domestic and global confidence recover faster than anticipated, and if economic tensions de-escalate.

Today’s Quick Links:

Neil Cole: Recruitment for African Union positions should be transparent and favour best candidates

Jutta Urpilainen: “Africa wants a balanced partnership, and that is what we are offering”:

Olivier Caslin: EU wants to keep its status as one of Africa’s largest trading partners

AfDB: Strengthening Somalia’s institutions for economic policy management

WEF Briefing Note: Plastics, the Circular Economy and Global Trade


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