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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: AFP

17 Sep 2020

National news

South Africa to ‘cautiously’ reopen borders as lockdown eases (Nation)

South Africa will reopen its borders to most countries next month, the president said Wednesday, part of a wider easing of anti-coronavirus measures announced as figures continue to improve. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said most remaining rules will be rolled back from September 20, and that international travel would “gradually and cautiously” resume on October 1st. Restrictions on movement and business have been gradually eased since June, but borders stayed sealed to avoid importing the virus from abroad. “Our economy and society have suffered great devastation,” Ramaphosa said. “It is now time to remove as many of the remaining restrictions... as it is reasonably safe to do so.”

SA commits to global socio-economic development (SAnews)

South Africa, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, is also committed to protecting the planet for future generations to ensure the prosperity of the country, region and continent. “In broad brushstrokes, South Africa’s national interest revolves on promoting the well-being, socio-economic development and upliftment of the country’s people, protecting the planet for future generations and ensuring the prosperity of the country, region and continent.” Despite the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa remains committed to promoting the well-being, socio-economic development and upliftment of the country’s people.

Fish the only product with a diversified market (The Namibian)

The latest trade statistics put fish exports at the top of the country's competitive products, being send to at least 10 countries around the world. This is an achievement no other Namibian product in the top five exports in volume has achieved, according to the latest trade statistics for July 2020, compiled by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).Apart from being the only non-mineral product in the top five exports for many years now, the sector is slowly expanding its market from Spain – which in July accounted for 50,3% of Namibian fish.

Tanzanian industrialists revel in electrification drive (Dailynews)

Industrialists have welcomed the pledge given yesterday by CCM presidential candidate Dr John Magufuli that his government would ensure the country’s power generation capacity reaches 5000 MW in the next three years. Dr Magufuli, who seeks his second presidential term, stated yesterday that with the ongoing power projects set to beef up the national grid considerably, Tanzania will have adequate power to feed its envisaged industrialized economy, sell the surplus and get rid of power outages. CTI’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mr Akida Mnyenyelwa, argued that having enough and reliable power would really boost local industries production and increase their competitiveness in the market in the wake of reduced production costs. “Not only for AfCFTA, improved power supply would reduce costs of production, it will empower local industries to compete in other regional markets such as EAC and SADC,” he stated.

How Covid-19 is catalysing race for e-banking (Business Daily)

The Covid-19 pandemic looks likely to be the catalyst accelerating the reduction of physical branch networks in the banking industry, as lenders eye more uptake of digital services. The pandemic comes at a time when lenders had undertaken new measures in 2019 by cutting costs and restructuring their operations in favour of shift to online banking while focusing on increase in market share and tapping into regional markets. The last Bank Supervision Annual Report 2018 by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), shows the number of bank branches decreased from 1,518 in 2017 to 1,505 in 2018. This means 13 branches were closed.

Reform measures augmenting private banks’ capacity (Ethiopian Press Agency)

The various reform measures implemented in the financial sector have bolstered private banks’ capacity with the latest being the bank note change which would bring the unbanked community to the sector. In an unprecedented meeting that housed cabinet Ministers, security heads as well as bank board chairs and CEOs together on Monday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured of the financial sector’s improvement resulted from the reform measures taken thus far. “By any standards, the financial sector has improved hugely.” administration rescued the economy from spiraling downward. It is to be noted that the government was unable to pay public servants’ wages and the country had been listed under a high risk of debt distress, not to mention the dwindling of bank reserve and export revenue.

Prices of flour, rice, beans, tomatoes, pepper, others jump, as low patronage hits major markets (Nairametrics)

The persistent increase in the price of food items across major markets in Lagos State continues to hit harder on consumers, as local and foreign rice, tomatoes, pepper, flour amongst others, recorded significant surges in their prices Despite the ease of lockdown in the country, the prices of household items continue to trend upwards, as traders across Lagos markets have once again lamented the sustained decline in patronage. This is according to the latest Household Market Survey conducted by Nairalytics, the research arm of Nairametrics.

Illicit Gold Trade Thrives with Impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africanews)

Traders and exporters who are legally registered in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda are operating without apparent fear of sanction, even after being publicly named by the United Nations and international organizations year after year as contributing to the illicit trade of artisanal DRC gold. In its latest report, "The Intermediaries: Traders Who Threaten the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Efforts for Conflict-Free Gold,” IMPACT documents how registered traders and exporters provide a sheen of legality by declaring a small percentage of their gold exports while pocketing massive profits from the illicit trade. They thwart attempts to disrupt their scheme by reconfiguring their operations across the region when necessary or by creating phantom entities.


Regional and continental news

Trade Experts Discuss Trade Negotiation Modalities in Time of COVID-19 (COMESA)

Trade experts from the 21 COMESA Member States met today to review progress on trade negotiations between them and review progress towards concluding Trade in Services negotiations. The virtual meeting, which was the 8th for the COMESA Technical Working Group on Trade in Services, considered the complexities prevailing during this COVID period and provided technical and policy guidance from the Member States regarding the negotiations. COMESA considers Trade in Services as a fundamental economic activity globally given its contribution to job creation, building competitiveness and significantly contributing to economic growth. It creates the need for Member States to streamline their policies and promote it among themselves.

AfCFTA urged to ensure level playing field for African sugar producers (New Business Ethiopia)

The African Sugar Development Task Force (ASDTF) called on the African Continental Free Trade Area to ensure a level playing field for African sugar producers as member state negotiators aim to finalise trading rules under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by January 2021. “The AfCFTA provides a unique opportunity to create preferential markets for African products within the African continent, facilitating preferential trade amongst member states, and reduce or eliminate high tariffs that have restricted intra-continental trade over decades,” said Eltayeb. Africa has the natural resources to fill the growing supply gap, but it is lacking policies required to develop fair intra-African sugar trade flows, increase demand for African-produced sugar and attract billions of dollars of foreign and regional investment into the sector which in turn will create thousands of new direct and indirect jobs

Africa: Lift barriers, increase trade (Al-Ahram Weekly)

The 2020 Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM), published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), has recently been released, providing an analysis of continental and regional trends in African agricultural trade flows and policies. According to the report, countries should not let the pandemic stop progress towards economic integration. It said that agreements like the AfCFTA could provide not only a solid basis for long-term economic development, but also a means of effectively fighting future pandemics by facilitating the cross-border trade of food and medical goods.

Africa’s climate change fight gets a boost as Global Center on Adaptation sets up regional home at the African Development Bank

African leaders welcomed the opening of a regional office of the Global Center on Adaptation on Wednesday, voicing hopes it will spur the continent’s efforts to combat climate change. In speeches marking the virtual launch of GCA Africa, the leaders said the Center could also provide an impetus for a more resilient recovery after COVID-19, which they said had compounded climate-induced vulnerabilities. “In the post-COVID period, our objective should not only be to recover and build better but to do so in a climate-conscious way,” said Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Africa rising: Development calls for further cooperation (CGTN)

From the “African Century” to “Africa Rising,” Africa’s economy has been growing in recent years. Unfortunately, 85 percent of Africans live on less than 5.50 U.S. dollars per day, poverty is a challenge for sustainable development in Africa. Both the UN SDG 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 listeed “poverty reduction” as their primary goal. However, with Covid-19 hitting Africa, what does the continent need to do to facilitate sustainable development and further reduce poverty? What are the new opportunities rising for sustainable development in Africa?


Global news

Making the WTO Work for Africa | by Hippolyte Fofack & Pat Utomi (Project Syndicate)

Three Africans are among the eight candidates to become the World Trade Organization’s next director-general. But regardless of who eventually prevails, Africa must demand a level playing field from the WTO. Trade is vital for Africa’s development and to generate enough good jobs to absorb the 17 million young people who enter the labor market every year. But, for too long, global trade regulations have left the continent holding the short end of the stick. Africans are hoping that one of these three highly competent candidates will emerge victorious when the winner is announced in November. But regardless of who eventually prevails – three of the eight candidates will be eliminated after the first round – Africa must demand a level playing field from the WTO.

BRICS stands for rules based on multilateralism: S. African official (Xinhua)

BRICS stands for rules based on multilateralism and governance, South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said here on Wednesday. Pandor made the remarks while giving a lecture on the topic of “South Africa’s place in the changing global order” at the Wits School of Governance on Wednesday evening. “BRICS nations have shown unshakable confidence in and reinforce support for the rules-based international system and for multilateralism. We believe that BRICS is an important forum for global political, economic and financial partnership and for promotion for the world that is equitable, balanced and shaped on the important pillars of multilateralism and international law,” said Pandor.

EUIPO launch of AfrIPI aims to shake up trademark registration in Africa (World Trademark Review)

AfrIPI is the EUIPO’s first IP-focused project that collaborates with African jurisdictions. Expected to last four years, it was launched in February 2020 and the Project Steering Committee’s inaugural meeting was on 7 September 2020. At the inaugural meeting, AfrIPI’s general plan and future activities for the coming years were discussed and approved, the main objective of the project being to increase the protection and promotion of IP rights in Africa, thus contributing to national economies, trade and business across the continent. AfrIPI also aims to reinforce EU and African cooperation to further implement all IP-related aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

India’s African oil imports hit 10-month high in August: Shipping data (@businessline)

India’s oil imports from Africa jumped to their highest in 10 months in August as refiners switched out more expensive crude from the Middle East, shipping data provided by trade sources showed. The world’s third-biggest oil importer shipped in about 3.95 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in August, the highest volume since April, with African nations accounting for about 17.5 per cent, the data showed. He said in order to raise revenue, Nigeria was supplying more oil in July than it pledged under a production cut agreement between OPEC and its allies, while Angola was scouting for a new market after the Chinese cut purchases.

Africa’s Mineral Wealth Gives it Key Role in New Global Economy (Chatham House)

Citizens of resource-rich countries are demanding greater social and economic benefits from their natural resource endowments, and governments have moved to exert increased control of resource rents – for national benefit or, in the worst cases, personal enrichment. In Africa, these tensions are exacerbated by the vestiges of colonialism and narratives of exploitation, legacies of prior waves of nationalization – and now the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on societies and economies across the continent. For international mining companies and investors, ‘African agency’ is often synonymous with state intervention, resource nationalism, and risk amid unquestionable opportunity.

Remarks at the High-Level Launch of the Global Center on Adaptation Africa (IMF)

For the IMF, the topic of climate adaptation is one of great significance. Unless we work everywhere – and especially in the most vulnerable parts of the world – to address climate change and adapt to its consequences, we cannot possibly achieve economic stability, growth, employment and improvements in living standards that are at the heart of our mandate. Yesterday, with my colleague the Director of the Africa Department, Mr Abebe Aemro Selassie, I published a blog charting the path for a resilient recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa. And it is focused on integrating resilience into the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In our recent Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, we recommend the three areas of focus: enhancing key infrastructure, investing in people and strengthening coping mechanisms.

WTO issues report on measures to expedite access to COVID-19 critical goods, services

The WTO Secretariat has published a new information note on how WTO members have used trade measures to expedite access to critical medical goods and services as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortages of medical personal protective equipment encountered around the world in the early phase of the pandemic have eased, as production and trade have expanded to meet the unparalleled demand spike. Initial data for 41 countries indicates trade in medical goods grew by 38.7 per cent in the first half of 2020, the Secretariat said, although sourcing of certain products remains a challenge for some developing countries.

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