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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

29 Sep 2020

National news

Public comment sought on draft COFI Bill (SAnews)

National Treasury is soliciting public comments on the second draft of the Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill, which was published on Monday. “The COFI Bill is a key pillar in government’s Twin Peaks financial sector regulatory reform process, which aims to entrench better financial customer outcomes in the South African financial sector. It is a financial institution-facing law that sets requirements for financial institutions to meet and outcomes to deliver.” The Bill aims to significantly streamline the legal landscape for conduct regulation in the financial services sector and to give legislative effect to the market conduct policy approach, including implementation of the Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) principles.

Unemployment rate: These industries recorded the highest job losses (The South African)

Stats SA released the quarterly Labour Force Survey and it’s not looking good. Several industries recorded devastating unemployment figures. The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2020 look bleak to say the least. The report indicated that the number of employed persons decreased by 2.2 million to 14.1 million compared to the first quarter of 2020. According to Stats SA, industries across the country suffered significant rates of unemployment. 

Ethiopian Airlines rides out pandemic on strength of cargo boom (The Citizen)

Ethiopian Airlines has lost more than $1 billion in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic but has so far managed to avoid seeking a bailout or laying off any full-time employees, CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said in an interview with AFP. By pivoting in March to meet spiking cargo demand, Africa’s largest carrier partially offset the blow of a 90-percent drop in international traffic, Tewolde said. The slow rebound in passenger traffic -- total flights are at half of 2019 levels -- means Ethiopian remains in “survival mode”, Tewolde said.Yet it is simultaneously looking to deepen ties with other airlines on the continent.”It is... an opportune time now to support other airlines because we are in a better position,” he said.

Mombasa port half-year cargo volumes drop on Covid effects (The Star)

“A positive first half performance in the period July to December 2019 was overshadowed by steep decline in the preceding months of January to June 2020 due to the effects of the Covid-19,” KPA management says in its report.A survey by the East African Business Council (EABC) notes over half (51 per cent ) of EAC’s exports, Kenya included, are destined to countries highly impacted by Covid-19, while 53 per cent of its imports originate from such highly impacted countries.”Disruption of global supply chain has impacted negatively on demand of EAC exports,” EABC chief executive Peter Mathuki said.

Traders query borders and airport opening (New Vision)

Cross border, traders are not sure if during the planned opening of Uganda's borders and airports, traders and business people will be allowed in and out of the country. Margaret Auma, chairperson Elegu Women Cross Border Traders Association said they were not clear if they would be allowed to cross with their goods. Auma said they coped with doing business with the South Sudan counterparts by sending them by trucks. “Truck drivers drive the goods to Nimuli Border Post in South Sudan. They leave them there and come back. Payments are done by mobile money,” Auma said. She said if traders are allowed to move they will be able to travel where necessary. Business activities are likely to pick up  as the airport, borders open to tourists, visitors and returning Ugandans on Thursday  October 1.

Uganda accuses Tanzania of unfair charges on transporters (The Citizen)

Uganda and Tanzania are locked in a dispute over road user fees for trucks headed to the Dar es Salaam port, with Kampala threatening to retaliate against “unfair” charges imposed on its transporters that are higher than those applicable to Rwandan shippers. Kampala has filed a complaint with the EAC Council of Ministers, accusing Tanzania of breaching the Common Market Protocol by imposing different road user charges to partner states in the same trading bloc. Escalation of the dispute could hit over $171 million worth of trade between the two East African neighbours, and inflict more damage on the fragile regional integration process.

FG inaugurates digital Nigeria portal, mobile app (Punch Newspapers)

The Federal Government on Monday inaugurated the digital Nigeria portal and mobile app. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said the move was in furtherance of the Digital Nigeria Programme, which was kicked off by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on March 19, 2020. At the inauguration in Abuja, the minister said the programme was part of the Federal Government’s initiatives aimed at empowering innovators and entrepreneurs with the requisite skills to thrive in the emerging digital economy.

Customs agents describe PAAR illegal, seek review (The Guardian Nigeria)

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), has said that the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) on cargoes is not backed by any existing law. Therefore, its component is strange and not recognized for the treatment of valuation and other Customs matters, and aligned with the international valuation process. “PAAR has no legal relevance with regards to pre-assessment procedures and treatment of imports, as such goods are not pre-assessed before arrival and not inspected, which require the select principle of examination to be conducted with frequent lifting of value in contravention of the Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act 20 of 2003.

USAID, FG Launch $16.6m New Initiative To Improve Agriculture In Nigeria (Leadership)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have launched an innovative new initiative that will leverage the power of entrepreneurship to improve agricultural outcomes in Nigeria. The initiative which is a five year, $16.6 million innovative Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity, will facilitate learning and replication in agriculture through private sector-embedded extension models to help more than two million small stakeholder farmers make use of new agricultural technologies and practices.

AfCFTA: Nigeria To Benefit From $900bn Global Shipping Business (Leadership)

As deliberations and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) continues, the president of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr Mark George Onyung, has said that Nigeria would benefit from over $900 billion daily global shipping business. Onyung, who disclosed this at the weekend in Lagos, during a meeting with the visiting secretary general of AfCFTA, said, SOAN would diversify as many of their ships have been moving oil to other parts of the world.

Leaders join sanctions removal crusade (The Herald)

Zimbabwe has endured the intolerable and crushing impact of economic sanctions for almost two decades. This has largely affected economic growth as the country is not accessing lines of credit to boost productivity and even address other wider social and health issues such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, HIV and Aids, cancer and other new and emerging diseases. Sanctions have inflicted considerable economic harm on Zimbabwe and this has been felt in a number of sectors. Lack of access to the global financial system has contributed to the suffering of masses as they suffer from shortages of specialised medicine and other important national services that require imported machinery and equipment.


Regional and continental news

Africa could gain $89 billion annually by curbing illicit financial flows (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2020 says stopping illicit capital flight could almost cut in half the annual financing gap of $200 billion that the continent faces to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are movements of money and assets across borders which are illegal in source, transfer or use, according to the report entitled “Tackling illicit financial flows for sustainable development in Africa.” It shows that these outflows are nearly as much as the combined total annual inflows of official development assistance, valued at $48 billion, and yearly foreign direct investment, pegged at $54 billion, received by African countries – the average for 2013 to 2015.

AfCFTA negotiations continue despite coronavirus snag, ECA’s Stephen Karingi (UNECA)

Member States are continuing negotiations on phase 1 issues of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, says Economic Commission for Africa’s Stephen Karingi.Mr. Karingi, Director of the ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division, says though timelines may have been revised for the commencement of trade with the global pandemic taking a toll on the advancement of the operational phase of the AfCFTA, the need for further analysis on the linkages and interplay between phase II issues was critical to support negotiations.Mr. Karingi was speaking during a virtual Expert Group Meeting to review the draft publication; Towards a Common Investment Area in the African Continental Free Trade Area: Levelling the Playing Field for Intra-African Investment.

Covid-19: Accountants urge digital shit to boost recovery (IPPMEDIA)

Experts in the field of accountancy who participated in an online conference organized by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) East Africa made these assertions in discussing the theme, ‘Covid-19: The Road to Recovery,’ fielding leading accountants from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. These include shift from ‘business as usual’ to creativity and adaptability as well as strong cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Pandemic spurs Africa's mobile telcos to ramp up banking bid (Business Report / Reuters)

When Covid-19 hit Ivory Coast, Bonaventure Kra, who works at an import-export business, began to worry. Handling hard cash all day was a risk. Queuing in crowded bank branches exposed him to infection. Africa's mobile phone operators are ramping up plans to bring banking to millions of Africans, in some cases for the first time, after the coronavirus crisis caused a surge in use of digital financial services. "It's one of those industries that we consider to be ripe for disruption," Sibusiso Ngwenya, financial services managing executive at South Africa's Telkom, told Reuters.

East Africa slowly reopens for business after Covid-19 havoc (The East African)

Businesses across East Africa are racing to pick up the pieces after six months of Covid-19 restrictions, setting the stage for economic recovery and a rise in employment numbers.Emboldened by the declining Covid-19 infections, EAC partner states are in the process or have already re-opened their borders, hotels and schools. “Flattening the Covid-19 curve is a national endeavour that requires action at the individual, community, county, and national levels. Every one of us must play our part for Kenya to triumph over the disease,” said Kenya’s Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua, in a statement to the media last week.

EALA launches delayed five-year strategic plan (IPPMEDIA)

EALA Speaker Ngoga Martin said yesterday that the just launched document is the regional assembly’s third strategic plan, projecting its activities from 2019 to 2024, meant to guide EALA operations under ten broad thematic areas. “This is a significant milestone to be proud of and on behalf of the Commission, the broad membership and Secretariat, I take great pleasure in introducing the new strategic plan,” he stated.

EAC seeks integration of financial services (The Citizen)

The East African Community (EAC) has approved several draft policies aimed to integrate the financial services among the partner states. The integration will be realized through fast-tracking of implementation of Payment and Settlement systems in the region, among others. The EAC Banking Certification Policy and its implementation strategy and road map is among the key document endorsed. Also approved are the draft EAC Microfinance Service Policy and the draft EAC Insurance Bill.

ECOWAS Commission begins consultation for post-2020 vision on South-South (The Sun Nigeria)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has begun a-two day consultation workshop on the organisation’s post-2020 vision for the South-South zone. Head of ECOWAS National Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. J. U. Oyi, said in his key note address noted that the workshop was targeted at outlining the expectations of the people of Nigeria, with regards to the formulations of ECOWAS vision-2050 documents. To achieve this, Oyi said the workshop would be “consultative, participatory and forward thinking as the outcome of this workshop would be communicated to ECOWAS Commission as Nigeria’s position.”

A New Paradigm of African Agricultural Development (Bain)

In order to feed and employ the fastest-growing population in the world, we need a new approach to agricultural development in Africa, one with farmer-allied intermediaries at its center Working hand in hand with smallholder farmers, farmer-allied intermediaries, including producer organizations, aggregators, processors and vertically integrated food brands, can simultaneously achieve a number of critically important outcomes for a broad set of stakeholders. These include enhancing the livelihood of smallholder farmers and alleviating rural poverty, delivering quality agricultural output to buyers, creating a more efficient sales channel for input providers, making more nutritious food available to Africa’s growing populations, and creating jobs and contributing to broader economic development (see Figure 3). This approach to agricultural transformation is consistent with the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development


Global trade news and Africa's global relations

Germany’s trade with Africa falls amid coronavirus pandemic (DW)

In recent years, German companies doing business on the African continent have expressed their delight at the supposedly record-breaking trade between Germany and Africa. This year, though, it’s a different story. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, German imports from Africa fell sharply to 10.4 billion euro ($12.1) from January to July 2020, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office. That’s a decline of nearly 3.6 billion euro, or 26%, compared to the same period in 2019. Exports aren’t looking much better. They fell by around 2.6 billion euro, or 18%, to around 11.6 billion euro from January to July 2020 compared to the same period last year.

South Africa, China working on new 10-year strategic cooperation plan (BizNews.com)

South Africa and China are working on a new 10-year strategic program for cooperation, as the current one nears its end. The new plan will focus on collaboration in areas including higher education, skills transfer, health, the digital economy, science and technology, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said at an online briefing hosted by the Chinese Embassy on Monday.

G20 debt service suspension initiative applications rose to 46 countries to date

The G20 International Financial Architecture Working Group (IFA WG) concluded today its September meetings, where it discussed updates on the implementation of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), alongside various financial resilience and stability topics, including in the context of COVID-19 impacts and global economic recovery.

The initiative provides an estimated USD14 billion of immediate liquidity relief by bilateral official creditors alone in 2020. The G20 is also working with International Organizations to complement these efforts, including Multilateral Development Banks, who are planning to commit USD75 billion for DSSI-eligible countries over the period between April-December 2020 alone, part of their USD230 billion commitment for emerging and low-income countries as a response to the pandemic. In addition, since late March, the IMF has provided debt relief to 28 DSSI-eligible countries and also provided financial assistance of more than USD88 billion to 81 countries, 53 of which are DSSI-eligible countries facing the economic impact of COVID-19.

Tax Inspectors Without Borders: supporting developing countries to increase tax revenues despite COVID-19 challenges (TIWB)

The international community continues to make progress towards strengthening developing countries’ ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises, despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis on domestic resource mobilisation efforts. Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint OECD/UNDP initiative launched in July 2015 to strengthen developing countries’ auditing capacity and multinationals’ compliance worldwide, has gained increased relevance in the COVID-19 era as a practical tool to help developing countries collect all the taxes due from multinational enterprises. To-date, TIWB assistance has delivered more than USD 537 million in additional revenue for developing countries up to June 2020, according to its latest annual report.

Mission Impossible? Can Fragile States Increase Tax Revenues? (IMF Blog)

The COVID-19 shocks are proving to be especially challenging for fragile states. Pre-COVID, fiscal revenues were low in such countries and governments were struggling to raise them. Now, COVID-19 is hitting them hard and fiscal revenues are falling. Once the pandemic abates, restoring and further enhancing tax collection is even more important to secure debt sustainability, facilitate the post-COVID-19 recovery, and meet development financing needs in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This is a formidable challenge. However, our new staff research finds that achieving sizable gains in tax collection in fragile environments is not “mission impossible.”

New WTO working group established to deepen trade and gender discussions

A group of WTO members agreed to establish an Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender on 23 September, marking the next phase of an initiative kickstarted in 2017 to increase the participation of women in trade. The online meeting to launch the new WTO working group was held at the invitation of Iceland and Botswana. The Informal Working Group’s objectives will be to continue to share best practices among members on increasing women’s participation in trade, consider and clarify what a “gender lens” is in the context of international trade and review how a gender lens could usefully be applied to the work of the WTO, review and discuss gender-related analytical work produced by the WTO Secretariat, and explore how best to support the delivery of the WTO Aid for Trade work programme. It will convene for its first meeting in the second half of 2020 and establish a schedule of activities and themes to be discussed in the run up to the 12th Ministerial Conference.

UNDP and UN Women launch COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker

Most of the world’s nations are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the COVID-19 crisis, according to new data released today by UNDP and UN Women from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker. The tracker, which includes over 2,500 measures across 206 countries and territories, specifically analyses government measures with a gender lens in three areas: those that tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG), support unpaid care, and strengthen women’s economic security.

Structured discussions on investment facilitation for development move into negotiating mode (WTO)

Participants in the structured discussions on investment facilitation for development began on 25 September 2020 formal negotiations on a multilateral agreement on this issue, with a view to achieving a concrete outcome by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled for next year. “Our objective for this new and crucial stage of the structured discussions is clear: to advance as much as possible on the drafting of the specific provisions of the future multilateral framework on investment facilitation for development with the aim of making meaningful progress towards the end of the year, keeping in mind our overall objective of achieving a concrete outcome at MC12,” Ambassador Francke added.

How will COVID-19 change global development? 5 experts weigh in (Devex)

The unofficial theme of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, which certainly looked and felt different, was the response to and recovery from COVID-19. The unprecedented crisis has cast a long shadow and disrupted ongoing development efforts, which were already falling short of what was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

While COVID-19 has in some ways paused “everything,” it has not stopped climate change, the need for poverty alleviation, or “all the issues we had when we shaped the agenda for the SDGs,” said Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general at the U.N., at a World Economic Forum event last week. COVID-19, therefore, should only reinforce the need for the SDGs as a framework, and the goals should be front and center in any response, she said. Mohammed called on the world’s richer countries, those which have spent trillions on their domestic stimulus packages, to step up and support poorer countries.

Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Work moves forward with informal meet (Republic World)

While the world is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate activists along with several world leaders have tried to raise the issue of environmental degradation at the United Nations. Recently, UN’s Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee (PAICC) took forward the 2015 accord in an informal virtual meet addressing the different ways in which the world can work in unison to effectively tackle the issue. The statement said, “The draft Rules of Procedure under discussion aim to address any matters necessary for the proper and effective functioning of the PAICC. Once completed, the Rules of Procedure will address any matters necessary for the proper and effective functioning of the PAICC, including the

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