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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: AFP | GUILLEM SARTORIO

22 Sep 2020

National news

Corruption an ‘added burden’ in fight against Covid-19, says Mkhize (The Citizen)

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has decried how corruption, particularly in pricing and tender irregularities, has become an “added burden” in the fight to save lives from Covid-19. “…I must take this opportunity to highlight the added burden of corruption which has unfortunately reared its ugly head during this crisis,” the minister said on Monday. He was concluding his keynote address for the high-level panel discussion on the economic impact of Covid-19 in Africa organised by the Center for Global Development, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the African Union.

Tourism sector pledges to support South Africa’s economic recovery (Engineering News)

An enabling environment can further boost the multiplier effects of tourism on job creation and economic growth in regions not supported by other industries, says #IAmTourism lobby spokesperson Thembi Kunene-Msimang. She says the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity for collaboration between the public and private sectors to get tourism back on track. “We have taken the first step by announcing a date for the reopening of South African borders, thus providing some confidence to our international customers and airlines. But beyond our reopening as an international tourism destination is the need for political support at the highest level of government so that tourism-friendly policies can be enacted and market failures that affect tourism can be addressed.”

Treasury raises debt target by Sh29.7bn on tax shortfall (Business Daily)

The Treasury has raised domestic borrowing goal for the current financial year, which started in July, by Sh29.72 billion on fears of a deeper shortfall in tax receipts than earlier projected. This came after tax collections by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) fell 15.03 per cent, or Sh33.27 billion, in the first two months of this fiscal year to Sh188.08 billion on prolonged knock-on effects of the Covid-19 containment measures on economic activity. “A rise in the government’s borrowing requirements to finance the deficit will intensify financing risks arising from a high share of short-term Treasury bills and maturing external debt,” analysts at global credit rating agency Moody’s wrote in a September report on Kenya last week.

COVID-19 causes multiple shocks to Zimbabwe’s businesses: World Bank (The Zimbabwean)

The COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple shocks to businesses in Zimbabwe, with close to 90 percent of formal businesses suspending operations for about seven weeks on average since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in March, according to a survey by the World Bank (WB).

Zambia seeks relief to avoid Africa’s first default since start of pandemic (BusinessLIVE)

Zambia became the first African country to ask bondholders for relief since the onset of the coronavirus, seeking to defer interest payments on its Eurobonds as it battles the economic hit from the pandemic. The securities plunged. The southern African nation asked for meetings on October 20 with the holders of three Eurobonds totalling $3bn to seek consent for a standstill until April 2021, to create “breathing space” as it plans a debt restructuring. Zambia’s $1bn notes due 2024 fell more than 5% in London to 52.12c on the dollar, after the government said a coupon payment due October 14 would be included in the proposed suspension.

Reform of investment law and policy in the pipeline (The Citizen)

The government yesterday met representatives of the private sector to collect their views for the ongoing review of the country’s investment policy and legislation. Tanzania’s investment activities are guided by the country’s Investment Act of 1997, the National Investment Promotion Policy of 1996 and the Long-term Perspective Plan 2011/12–2025/26. “As a country, we need to have a comprehensive investment policy to attract investments - especially as we approach joining AfCFTA,” the director of Planning and Budgeting at the Prime Minister’s Office (Investment), Mr Packshard Mkongwa, told the joint meeting in Dar yesterday.

Government to issue long-term business visas (New Era)

In an attempt to attract more investment to the country, government will soon introduce electronic visa applications, and plans are afoot to grant businesspeople long-term visas. International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah last week said her ministry, in consultation with home affairs, has finalised plans to introduce electronic visas. Namibian airspace opened as of Friday via Hosea Kutako International Airport and Walvis Bay Airport. For the past six months, land borders were only opened for essential trade in accordance with the SADC guidelines of movement of goods during Covid-19. Nandi-Ndaitwah said to open land borders fully, such an exercise has to be done bilaterally.

Innovations Will Continue to Define Future of Banking, Says Ecobank Boss (THISDAYLIVE)

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan has reiterated that the future of Nigerian banking will continue to be shaped by innovation and technology disruptions. He stressed that only financial institutions that are amenable to such transformation would remain relevant in the sector. Bajomo added: “Digital disruption will hit every industry; it is what you make of it that counts. Fintechs are instrumental to closing the financial inclusion gap. Regulation is key to building the desired fintech ecosystem. Cyber security will be one of the top risks facing financial institutions, up-skilling and reskilling is key. Any bank that doesn’t have an online platform will struggle to survive the pandemic.”

Up to 90% customs duty cuts on industrial inputs to boost local manufacturing: Finance Minister (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt’s Minister of Finance, Mohamed Maait announced new amendments to custom duties, reducing them by up to 90% on industrial inputs. On Sunday, Maait said that the reduced rates on customs duties will be based on several bands, according to the percentage of the local component in the final product. The minister explained that the decision includes a package of adjustments to the current customs tariff structure, to encourage an increase in local manufacturing. This will reduce the customs duties imposed on imported parts, whenever the percentage of local components in the finished product increases. The move will ensure that local factories enjoy a customs reduction on their production requirements imported from abroad.


Regional and continental news

SACU backs proposals to advance industrialisation (SAnews)

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Ministers of Finance and Trade support the proposal of working together, through a regionally coordinated approach, to advance industrialisation, trade market access regionally and continentally, and to strengthen resource mobilisation. “Ministers observed that much disagreement remains around issues involving the Revenue Sharing Formula (RSF) and Tariff Setting architecture, respectively. However, in the spirit of unity, they were unanimous that specific attention should be put on those issues that propel SACU forward,” the Ministry said.

Nigeria urged to explore Africa’s $7trn GDP projection (Daily Trust)

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has said Nigeria can leverage on Africa’s $7 trillion projected Gross Domestic (GDP) by 2025 to grow its domestic market and reach over a billion consumers. Mene said this on Monday in Abuja when he visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, alongside the Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Victor Liman.

Nigeria set to ratify AfCFTA agreement - Minister (Premium Times Nigeria)

Nigeria is currently in the process of ensuring the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the minister of trade, Niyi Adebayo, said on Monday. Ratification is the action of signing or formally consenting to a treaty, contract, or agreement, after due legislative process, thus making it valid for official purposes. In his remarks, H.E. Wamkele Mene said Nigeria plays a leadership role in the success of the AfCFTA and he looked forward to having a good working relationship with the federal government “We have a lot to leverage in terms of experience in trade policy and negotiations experience of Nigeria in this area. And so it’s very important to me, that we have a very good and close working relationship,” he said.

Regional Economic Communities critical for AfCFTA implementation, experts say (The New Times)

The role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) “will remain critical” once implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area starts, officials including Prudence Sebahizi, Chief Technical Advisor on the AfCFTA at the AU Commission, have told The New Times. From the legal point of view, Sebahizi said, the Agreement shall not nullify, modify or revoke rights and obligations under pre-existing trade agreements that members already concluded at regional level. “The Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty) provides a roadmap for Africa’s integration agenda that will culminate into African Single market through stages. The formation and strengthening of Regional Economic Communities is one of those stages.... Therefore, both the AfCFTA and Regional Economic Communities will pave the road towards achieving a Continental Customs Union as well as Common Market that will lead to One African Single Market.”

‘No allowances, no budget’: EALA members suspend debate (The East African)

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members of parliament have suspended all debate on the 2020/21 annual budget, demanding payment of their allowances in arrears since March. The unpaid allowances have accumulated to $2.5 million, reflecting the cash crunch facing the regional trade bloc.

How can African governments unlock private sector financing (Miningreview.com)

A critical driver of economic and social progress for Africa is infrastructure development. It underscores virtually all other productivity and growth objectives. Regardless of advancements made in other GDP activities, poor infrastructure acts as a “brick wall” standing in the way of rapid and impactful progress. In addition, poor infrastructure has a negative impact on the quality of life for citizens.

Workshop on promoting manufacturing of personal protective equipment in Africa – Africa CDC

The Infection Prevention and Control Technical Working Group of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus Response (AFTCOR) held a special virtual workshop to promote manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Africa on Thursday, 3 September 2020. In his opening address, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, said with a population of about 1.3 billion Africa cannot continue to import over 95% of its PPE requirements. He said adequate and continuous supply of PPE is needed to protect vulnerable healthcare workers from being infected while caring for others.


Global trade news and Africa's global relations

Why US-Kenya trade deal matters for world’s poorest continent (Armenian Reporter)

African economies have actually been struck hard by the pandemic with falling product need, exports, remittances and tourist incomes. But the hit has actually been unequal, and a looming United States-Kenya trade deal might make this distinction in fortunes even starker.

Resource-extensive economies, such as oil exporters Nigeria and Congo, and exporters of other minerals such as Namibia and Botswana, are set to diminish much faster than the remainder of the continent owing to toppling product rates. This year, resource-intensive sub-Saharan African economies are anticipated to agreement 6.7 percent on a per-capita basis, IMF information revealed. The IMF has actually called for the advancement of more distinguished African economies through different policies, consisting of the conclusion of the African Continental Free Trade Area, a pan African trade contract, which is anticipated to increase performance and intraregional trade. With this in mind, the United States-Kenya trade deal being worked out at present might really be the last thing the continent requires today.

Kenya takes solo path in negotiating UK trade deal (Citizentv.co.ke)

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced the commencement of negotiations to a potential UK-Kenya economic partnership agreement. The negotiation based on the European Union-East African Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-EAC EPA) text however sees Kenya go for the deal alone as partner states in the region seemingly back out. “The United Kingdom and Kenya are both committed to securing a trade agreement that encompasses the whole of the East African Community, should other partner states wish to take such an agreement forward. In equal step, however, the United Kingdom and Kenya will not stand still and are working at pace to secure an agreement before the end of the United Kingdom’s transition period with the EU at the end of the year,” the Ministry of Trade said in a statement on Monday.

Pandemic has derailed EU-Africa strategy, concedes Borrell (EURACTIV)

Talks on a new EU-Africa partnership have been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, conceded on Monday (21 September), as a key summit of the two sides has been postponed until 2021. Speaking after a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs ministers, EU High Representative Borrell said that “the coronavirus restrictions have been slowing down our outreach efforts, but not our ambition to move our partnership to the highest possible level.” “The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the fact that we need each other now more than ever,” Botswana’s EU Ambassador, Samuel Outlule, told EURACTIV. “The EU-Africa partnership will be crucial in buttressing efforts to help countries and their economies to stay afloat and eventually recover in the coming years,” he said.

Good trade policy requires diverse voices (Trade 4 Dev News)

Bringing the world to Geneva and Geneva to the world, discussions to focus on how to make trade work for the 21st century, reaching sustainability through trade, how to reboot the WTO and digital trade.

Absent input from trade practitioners on the ground, from smaller businesses struggling to navigate trade, from developing countries facing unique challenges and from marginalized communities and groups, policymaking stumbles unseeing in the dark. Even the best, most dedicated and most creative international negotiator or civil servant cannot address a challenge they don’t know exists, or can’t properly understand. Input isn’t just valuable, it’s irreplaceable. This is especially true in 2020, when even before the pandemic the established global trading order looked to be on shaky ground. Tensions escalating to tariffs and trade barriers are rising. The WTO is reeling from a paralysis in its dispute settlement system, a near gridlock in several of its largest negotiations and a vacancy at the very top.

Hosted by the Geneva Trade Platform, a new entity within the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, Geneva Trade Week is launching next week. Taking place (mostly) digitally over five days between 28 September and 2 October, the week will bring together over 70 organizations from around the world for more than fifty free panels, plenaries, book talks by the authors and editors of Fostering trade in Africa and Practical Aspects of WTO Litigation, networking events, debates and discussions.

UN General Debate: Cyril Ramaphosa calls for African debt relief (The South African)

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered an address on the first day of the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Tuesday 22 September that called for members of the global organisation to unite in a bid to assist Africa to rebuild itself after the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his role as chair of the African Union (AU) and as President of South Africa, Ramaphosa urged global institutions to lift economic pressures on the ailing continent and come together to provide stimulus packages that would set Africa back on its aspirational path. “We call on the international community and our international partners to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries,” he said. “This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19, but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.”

COVID-19: UNCTAD warns of ‘lost decade’ if countries adopt austerity

In the face of a deep global recession amid a still unchecked pandemic, the world needs a global recovery plan that can return even the most vulnerable countries to a stronger position than they were in before COVID-19, says UNCTAD`s Trade and Development Report 2020. According to the report, key to success will be tackling a series of pre-existing conditions that were threatening the health of the global economy even before the pandemic hit.

Boost for global response to COVID-19 as economies worldwide formally sign up to COVAX facility (WHO)

64 higher income economies have joined the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live. By pooling financial and scientific resources, these participating economies will be able to insure themselves against the failure of any individual vaccine candidate and secure successful vaccines in a cost-effective, targeted way. With the Commitment Agreements secured, the COVAX Facility will now start signing formal agreements with vaccine manufacturers and developers, which are partners in the COVAX effort, to secure the doses needed to end the acute phase of the pandemic by the end of 2021.

Broader global rebalancing incomplete without re-emergence of Africa: India (Outlook India)

Any broader global rebalancing is incomplete without the genuine re-emergence of Africa, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday as he outlined India’s strong commitment in supporting the continent in its development journey. In an address at a conclave on India-Africa partnership, the external affairs minister said New Delhi welcomes the evolution and rise of the continent as a key factor in the contemporary world. “Broader global rebalancing is incomplete without the genuine re-emergence of Africa. Only then the world’s strategic diversity will come into full play. India welcomes the evolution and rise of Africa as a key factor in the contemporary world,” he said.

WTO members to discuss proposals to enhance special treatment for developing countries

On 23 September 2020, at a formal meeting of the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD), WTO members will discuss proposals on enhancing the special and differential treatment for developing countries contained in WTO legal texts. At the meeting, members will discuss the latest version of ten agreement-specific proposals on special and differential treatment (S&D) tabled by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, the African Group and the WTO’s group of least-developed countries (LDCs), which together comprise the G90. The proposals relate to S&D provisions contained in several WTO agreements and decisions on topics including transfer of technology, trade-related investment measures (TRIMS), technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, customs valuation, subsidies and countervailing measures and the accession of LDCs to the WTO.

DDG Wolff urges G20 trade ministers to step up engagement on WTO reform

At a virtual meeting of G20 trade ministers today (22 September), WTO Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff called for “renewed engagement” by WTO members to “ensure that the WTO is fully ready to meet the challenges of a changing global economy”. He urged members to conclude ongoing negotiations, to advance the process of systemic reform on the basis of concrete proposals, and to unwind pandemic-related trade restrictions when they are no longer strictly necessary.

pdf G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting: Communique (337 KB)