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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: John Hogg | World Bank

14 Sep 2020

National news

Namibia records N$3.5 billion deficit for July (New Era)

In July 2020, Namibia recorded a trade deficit of N$3.5 billion, after the country’s exports stood at N$5.9 billion and imports at N$9.4 billion. According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) in its monthly trade statistics report released last week, July 2020 figures show that exports weakened, falling by more than 20% from its revised level of N$7.5 billion in June 2020 and N$7.6 billion recorded in July 2019. Total imports increased by 31% from its level of N$7.2 billion in the preceding month and declined by 3.8% when compared to its level of N$9.8 billion recorded in July 2019.

Tito Mboweni: Reform is critical to survive (Citypress)

South Africa faces tough choices in the coming months and we will all have to make painful sacrifices, writes finance minister Tito Mboweni.

“The large contraction in growth raises three questions. First, what can we learn by unpacking the GDP numbers? Second, what does this mean for South Africa’s finances? And third, what does government plan to do to turn the situation around? We know what we need to do to improve our growth potential and competitiveness. Priority areas include ensuring an adequate and reliable electricity supply, driving employment-oriented industrialisation, reviving the tourism industry, implementing mass public employment programmes and pursuing aggressive infrastructure investment to rejuvenate our construction sector, especially in network industries such as ports, rail and roads.”

Cabinet approves climate change plans (SAnews)

Cabinet has recently approved three key actions that will contribute to an environment that is not only healthy for all South Africans, but one that is conducive to sustainable economic development and job creation. During its meeting last Wednesday, Cabinet approved the Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission (PCCCC) to coordinate and oversee the Just Transition. Also approved was South Africa’s Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) and the revised National Waste Management Strategy 2020.

South African Airways Saga Continues As It Needs Funding Again (Simple Flying)

South African Airways has said that it needs additional funding by the end of the next week. The financial support will be used to continue its business rescue. The South African government has shown support for the plan. However, it has not said where it will get the money from. South African Airways Business Rescue Practitioners set out a plan of action in June. The focus was on restructuring, which required R10bn ($598m) and the termination of aircraft leases.

Kenya Airways State takeover frozen in legal hitch (Business Daily)

The nationalisation of Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ (KQ) has suffered a setback after Parliament stalled a proposed law that seeks to return the national carrier to government ownership due to lack of public participation. The legal hitch looks set to further delay the plan to nationalise the loss-making Kenya Airways as regional competitors seeking to carve out market share pour cash into their national carriers. Members of Parliament stopped debate on the National Aviation Management Bill, 2020 because it lacks the input of Kenyans and other stakeholders in line with the Constitution.

Kenya imposes 25% customs on Egypt exports, violating COMESA agreement (MENAFN.COM)

Kenya has decided to impose a 25% customs on Egyptian exports, in violation of the COMESA agreement. The issue was raised with the 10th of Ramadan Investors Association, which has received complaints from factories in Egypt that their goods are accumulating in some African ports, including in Kenya. The Kenyan move contradicts the principles of the agreement. Accordingly, the association, headed by Samir Aref, called on the Egyptian government, to accelerate the reactivation of the COMESA agreement. This would then open the way for Egyptian products moving to the 21 countries under COMESA, the largest economic grouping on the continent.

Big boost for SMEs as KEBS steps in to ease operating challenges (The Star)

Small and medium enterprises are set to enjoy a raft of preferential benefits from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) following the passing of a policy geared at supporting their growth. Statistical data estimates that Kenya’s MSMEs contribute approximately 40 per cent of the GDP with the majority falling in the informal sector. Conscious of the challenges facing upcoming entrepreneurs including access to affordable financing options, the application of graduated fees, KEBS Board Chairman Eng Bernard Ngore said.

Rwanda: Tourism on a progressive trajectory since reopening (The New Times)

Rwanda eased tourism restrictions on June 17, allowing local and international tourists to visit the country after months of suspension due to Covid-19 and travel bans imposed by countries. Data from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) show an optimistic picture of slow recovery since the country reopened tourism activities.

Nigerian keen on increased trade ties with East Africa (The Citizen)

Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, is keen on increased trade links with the East African Community (EAC). Outgoing Nigerian High Commissioner to Tanzania Sahabi Issa Gada, said his country was ready for deeper relations with the EA bloc. “There is a need to encourage deeper integration through business exchanges,” he said when he paid a visit to the EAC headquarters here. He stressed the need for Ecowas and EAC to work together in order to achieve the set goals as the building blocks for the continental integration. Dr Gada, who was also accredited to the EAC, said increased trade between the two sides would boost the economies of the same.

Leaked letter by Poultry Farmers Association triggered CBN emergency approval to import maize (Nairametrics)

A letter from the Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria is touted as the trigger for the recent decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria to approve emergency importation of 262,000 tons of maize into Nigeria. In the letter, the association called on President Buhari to allow for guided importation of maize, in order not to shut down the poultry industry in Nigeria, since poultry farmers rely heavily on maize to feed their chickens. The Central Bank, in July, adding to its 41 items ban list, announced a ban on forex for maize importation into the country, so local farmers could compete.

Fiscal headwinds could scuttle economic recovery – CBN report (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has admitted that the expanded Federal Government’s budget deficit, escalating level of unemployment, rising inflation arising from increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and border closure threaten various efforts to reduce the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the masses. “Headline inflation is expected to hover around 13.97 and 14.15 percent at end-December 2020, owing to supply shocks, which may likely happen due to declining economic activities globally as a result of COVID-19 pandemic that started in China in Q4, 2019; demand shocks emanating from domestic and international lockdowns; food supply shocks associated with non-tariff border protection and effect of the implementation of the new budget and minimum wage,” it noted in the 143-page document.

Ghana won’t use U.S definition of ‘salvage’ to ban second-hand cars – Trade Minister (GhanaWeb)

Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen has revealed that the government of Ghana will not adopt the United States’ definition of what constitutes salvaged cars in banning the import of second-hand cars into Ghana. He said there are some cars that have been described as salvaged by insurance companies in the US and other parts of the world that could still be fit-for-purpose and can be used in Ghana.


Regional and continental news

COMESA launches Regional Customs Transit Guarantee Scheme mobile app

The COMESA Regional Customs Transit Guarantee Scheme (RCTG Carnet) has launched a Mobile Application designed to provide access to real-time information to Clearing and Forwarding Agents. The Application which is accessible on Google Play Store and Apple Store is a one-stop shop that will allow Clearing and Forwarding Agents in member countries to view current bond balance and active Carnets, get notifications on Carnet acquittals and expiry of RCTG Bonds.

SACU treads with care on AfCFTA (The Southern Times)

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has cautioned members to tread with care when implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Chairperson of the SACU Ministers of Trade and Industry, South Africa’s Ebrahim Patel told his colleagues that, “The AfCFTA raises a number of questions that go to the heart of policy and strategy. The first question is what we want to achieve from the Continental Free Trade Area.”

Petty sibling rivalry slowing trade in EAC – Kituyi (The Star)

East Africa Community (EAC) members need to rise above petty sibling rivalry and ride on superb mutual trade deals to spur economic growth in the region.In an interview with the Star, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) undersecretary Mukhisa Kituyi hailed the region’s Common Market Protocol as the best open market policy model in the world. ‘‘The region has a great market of more than 200 million people. They simply have to focus on putting to use excellent trade policies in place to promote trade and attract foreign direct investments,’’ Kituyi said.

AGRF 2020 Concludes With Call For Greater Focus On Urban Food Markets (East African Business Week)

The 10th edition of the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali Rwanda, saw heads of state, government ministers, civil society, and business leaders resolve to use the flourishing urban food markets as a launchpad for growing the continent’s agricultural investments into stable businesses.

The 10th edition of the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali Rwanda, saw heads of state, government ministers, civil society, and business leaders resolve to use the flourishing urban food markets as a launchpad for growing the continent’s agricultural investments into stable businesses. Speaking in his closing Presidential Address, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, commented: “Increasingly, African consumers live in cities. Our continent has the world’s fastest rates of urbanization and will continue to do so, for decades to come.... The quality of that urbanization depends, in large part, on ensuring solid linkages between urban food markets and Africa’s rural producers.”

Museveni, Magufuli agree to fast-track crude oil pipeline project (The Kampala Post)

President Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli agreed to fast-track the harmonization of issues that are delaying key projects in extracting Uganda’s crude oil. “In principle, we agreed that our governments expedite the harmonization of pending issues in the spirit of the East African Community (EAC), the remaining agreements be fast-tracked including the Tanzanian HGA and we quickly carry out the implementation of EACOP project,” President Museveni said in a tweet posted late Sunday. The project, upon completion, will enable Tanzania to earn about $3.2 billion and create between 10,000 to 15,000 jobs over the next 25 years.

Group tasks new ECOWAS Chairperson on Trans-West African railway (Vanguard)

The African Railway Roundtable, a rail advocacy society, has tasked President Nana Akuffo Ado of Ghana to use his chairmanship of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) to revive the moribund Trans-West African Railway project. In a statement issued over the weekend and signed by its Director, Olawale Rasheed, the group lamented that ECOWAS has remained silent for so long on the regional rail project which is to connect West African States from Nigeria to Mauritania.

Osinbajo says Africa should use AfCFTA as template for trade negotiations with rest of the world (Pulse Nigeria)

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has encouraged African countries to take advantage of the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to ensure trade negotiations with the rest of the based on the free trade agreement rather than deals separately endorsed by regional economic blocs. “The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalization can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and sharp trade practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who might have to close down their businesses, and for our workers who would then lose their jobs.”

Senegalese President Macky Sall is right about African Debt Relief – and the G20 shouldn’t stop there (African Energy Chamber)

The Senegalese leader urged members of the G20 group of countries to continue helping African nations balance their obligations to creditors with their obligations to their own citizens in the face of a deadly pandemic. Debt relief is necessary to flatten the curve. It’s what will give Africa time and space to start carving out a path towards recovery – to take the steps necessary to bring new investment to the oil and gas industry, to build Africa’s sustainable energy sector, to expand business and residential consumers’ access to electric power, to revive small businesses, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, to foster job creation, and to remove red tape and regulatory obstacles.

Strong land governance can help rebuild Africa, fighting the effects of COVID-19

People-centred land governance is necessary to relaunch Africa’s agriculture. We cannot stand and wait until the sector is crushed. From 15-17 September 2020, the International Land Coalition in Africa (ILC Africa), African Union Commission (AUC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are convening various stakeholders on land governance to the Africa Land Forum 2020. Over 1000 development actors will grapple with one theme: Delivering on the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for people-centred land governance in Africa.

AfCFTA negotiators adapt to new virtual reality, highlighting trade in technology services (TechEconomy.ng)

The AU, which is leading discussions around first AfCFTA deal, noted that negotiations would take place via a new African Virtual Trade-Diplomacy Platform, allowing parties from across many different timelines to meet in a secure online environment. The physical constraints of doing deals during global lockdowns has made negotiation and due diligence more difficult for all dealmakers, but virtual teleconferencing services have done much to address the logistical challenges and have provided the ability for parties to continue negotiations.


Global news

Coronavirus shows the inequality among nations (New Frame)

At the end of July, and far away from the front lines where health workers were battling to extinguish the deadly fires ignited by the coronavirus, the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened a meeting of the forum that deals with the world body’s agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS). On the agenda of the TRIPS council was a plea from developing and least-developed members of the WTO for medicines, vaccines and other medical appliances to be accessible to all during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Given this present context of global emergency, it is important for WTO members to work together to ensure that intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information do not create barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines,” South Africa’s submission implored. 

Coronavirus Global Response: Access to COVID-19 Tools-Accelerator Facilitation Council holds inaugural meeting (WHO)

The ACT-Accelerator is the proven, up-and-running, global collaboration accelerating the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said: “We now need US$35 billion more to go from set-up to scale and impact. There is a real urgency in these numbers. Without an infusion of US$15 billion over the next 3 months, beginning immediately, we will lose the window of opportunity”.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda noted: “This is certainly one of the most important initiatives underway in the world today and perhaps ever”. He added “The difference between success and failure lies in building a robust public health infrastructure that can confront any health issue in a sustainable manner. Solid health systems combined with transformational partnerships such as this Accelerator are critical.”

China not pursing debt-trap diplomacy in Africa, middle income countries – Diplomats (Vanguard News)

A group of Chinese diplomats have denied United States government’s claims that China is advancing a debt-trap diplomacy to enslave poor and middle-income countries. “The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is frequently portrayed as a geopolitical strategy that ensnares countries in unsustainable debt and allows China undue influence,” the diplomats said in a new publication presented at the Chatham House, London, with the title: ‘Debunking the Myth of Debt-Trap Diplomacy: How Recipient Countries Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative’. “Economic factors are the primary driver of current BRI projects; China’s development financing system is too fragmented and poorly coordinated to pursue detailed strategic objectives; and developing-country governments and their associated political and economic interests determine the nature of BRI projects on their territory.”

FAO to continue to support G20 to address the pandemic and strengthen agri-food systems

In his address to the meeting, QU highlighted that measures and joint efforts, taken so far by countries and international organizations, have allowed global food value chains to continue to function well amid the pandemic. “Global food markets are well supplied. However, as the global economy struggles to recover, access to food will be negatively affected by income reductions and loss of jobs. We must ensure that trade continues to flow smoothly to contribute to food security and nutrition globally,” he said, noting that the 2020 edition of FAO’s flagship report

Emerging technology clusters driving evolution in financial services, says World Economic Forum

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, distributed ledger technologies and quantum are increasingly being used by financial services firms and forming clusters that are driving innovation throughout the sector. These advances can offer new services and savings to both consumers and financial institutions. Forging New Pathways: The next evolution of innovation in financial services offers a framework for understanding how AI is combining with other emerging technologies and shaping the financial services industry. “It is not sufficient to look at individual technology implementations,” said Drew Propson, Head of Technology and Innovation in Financial Services, World Economic Forum. “Financial services firms must consider the benefits derived from the coordinated deployment of emerging technologies to unlock the full potential of these technologies.”

Nations of the South display spirit of ‘global solidarity’ – UN chief (UN News)

At a Virtual High-level Commemoration and Panel Discussion on the theme “Pathways toward the Sustainable Development Goals through South-South solidarity beyond COVID-19”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message that developing countries are “delivering medical supplies, providing financial resources… and sharing best practices on how to fight the pandemic”. “To safeguard the future, we must work in a sustainable manner: addressing structural problems in global and national economies and investing in human capital” he advocated, urging Member States to continue to support the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and its initiatives.

More than 50 per cent of global destinations are easing travel restrictions: UNWTO (BW Hotelier)

A majority of destinations around the world (53 per cent) have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNWTO. Though many remain cautious in view of the development of the pandemic. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Coordinated leadership and enhanced cooperation between governments means tourism is slowly but steadily restarting in many parts of the world. Starting to ease restrictions on travel opens also the doors for tourism’s social and economic benefits to return. While we must remain vigilant and cautious, we are concerned about those destinations with ongoing full travel restrictions, especially where tourism is a lifeline and economic and social development are under threat.”