tralac Daily News
As the country recovers from the devastation of the Coronavirus pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the need to take stock of the mammoth task of creating employment as the country’s battered economy recovers. The President said this in his weekly newsletter, which follows on the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan he delivered during a joint sitting of Parliament last Thursday. Amongst other things, the stimulus is expected to protect and create directly funded jobs and livelihood support interventions while the labour market recovers from the pandemic.
South Africa records growth in exports to China (The Africa Logistics)
As expected, South Africa saw an overall decline in exports during the lockdown. However, that was not the case for South Africa’s trade with China. SA exports to China grew year on year by just over 2% during the second quarter of 2020. The result is that during the quarter China’s dominance as South Africa’s main export destination grew even further to 13.4% of all exports to the tune of R36.6 billion. During this period, the top five export products to China included ores (67.7%), iron and steel (11.7%), wood pulp (3.3%), copper (3.2%) and fruit and nuts (2.9%), altogether accounting for 88.8% of South Africa’s total exports to China by value. This emerged from the second quarter Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) export tracker which unsurprisingly saw a strong decline in the remainder of SA’s trading partners.
Zambia is in the global spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The southern African nation skipped a coupon instalment on its Eurobonds this week, increasing the likelihood of a debt default. The government has called on private creditors to agree to a deferral of payments at an Oct. 20 meeting, but many are reluctant to comply. The country is now a test case for how the international community will treat nations that can’t meet their commercial debt obligations, even if it’s a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Countries from Africa to Latin America and beyond are facing similar struggles, leaving them at the mercy of lenders trying to get their money back.
BITC restrains targets amidst COVID-19 crunch (Mmegi Online)
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has decided to maintain, rather than review, its investment promotion and job creation targets this year, as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaks havoc with its activities. Annually, the BITC, which is the country’s lead agency for attracting investment and promoting exports, increases its targets by a minimum of 10%. For the current financial year, which began in April, the BITC will keep to the same targets it had last year, executives said on Tuesday. “We are living in an era of radical uncertainty,” he said.
Zim exports on upward trend (The Sunday Mail)
“The need for increased diversified exports of value-added goods and services as opposed to the present reliance on the exportation of primary commodities is now urgent and imperative.” This call to action made by President Mnangagwa during last year’s ZimTrade Exporters’ Conference is now bearing fruits, evidenced by improvements in the nation’s exports this year. According to ZimStats figures released for January to August 2020 exports, Zimbabwe’s exports stood at US$2,563 billion, representing a 4,9 percent rise from US$2,442 billion recorded in the same period in 2019. With the relaxation of lockdown regulations, exports grew by 35 percent month on month for the period July-August 2020.
Covid cuts EAC exports to Sh28bn (Business Daily)
Kenya’s exports to its five partners in the East African Community (EAC) bloc fell 15.83 percent in the second quarter of the year, largely reflecting impact of travel restrictions and reduced demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Earnings from goods sold to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi in the April-June 2020 period dropped to Sh28.83 billion from Sh34.25 billion a year earlier, latest data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows. The Sh5.42 billion contraction came at a time when Kenyan traders experienced lengthy cross-border delays because of the requirement for Covid-19 testing for truck drivers.
President envisions cross-border business (Daily News)
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed the hope that the small stock initiative would translate into cross-border business opportunities and collaborations. President Masisi explained that the initiative to assist up-and-coming small stock farmers was prompted by government’s resolve to empower citizens and his determination to support the agricultural sector towards attainment of food security.
Jumia Launches 2020 Ghana Food Index Report (Modern Ghana)
As part of the World Food Day celebrations on 16th October, Jumia has published its 1st Ghana Food Index Report showing the impact of COVID-19 on food trends in Ghana. New innovations in the food industry, one of the world’s oldest and largest industries, are creating attractive opportunities for women and youth on the African continent. More than 3 millions jobs can be created in 2025 in Africa by Online Marketplaces.
Nigerians hungrier now, thanks to Buhari’s policy on food imports (The Africa Report)
Since 21 August 2019, Nigeria shut its borders with Benin and effectively the main artery of trade between Accra and Abuja. What was thought to be a short-lived closure has dragged on for over a year later with unforeseen consequences coupled with the pandemic. About 15 months ago, Tunrayo Akinola spent N30,000 a month out of her N60,000 monthly salary feeding herself and her small family of two. That was before President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the closing of the Nigerian border against its neighbours to prevent smuggling of rice and other products, thereby halting trade between Nigeria and the remaining African countries with which it had signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement.
Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Africa (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene, has revealed that the budget of the secretariat has been approved. He said this paves the way for the secretariat to start advertising for various vacant positions in order to get qualified persons to fill all the posts. At a media engagement on Thursday October 15, Mr Wamkele Mene said “in the next few weeks we shall be in the position to start advertising positions both the ones that are the professional levels and those that will be support staffs.”
The AfCFTA Secretariat is located in Ghana Government will hold a two-day National Conference in Accra from Tuesday 20th to 21st October, 2020 on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. A statement issued in Accra on Sunday 18th October 2020 by the Ministry of Trade and industry said the theme of the conference is “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement under the framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS)”. The statement said “the National Conference will bring together relevant stakeholders from the private and public sectors in Ghana to discuss Government of Ghana’s export development interventions aimed at empowering the private sector to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA”.
SADC trade sneezes amidst corona pandemic (The Southern Times)
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide and to try and contain the spread of the virus governments the world over have imposed various measures which have limited movement of people and goods across borders. Some ports of entry were closed and only limited types of goods were initially allowed across the few open borders, skeleton staff reported for duty, more controls for COVID-19 protective equipment and medical supplies were introduced, health checks for cross border crews are now mandatory and many other measures which vary from one country to the other, have been adopted. However, the introduction of these measures have had negative effects on trade facilitation in the Region.
pdf SADC Call for Action on Food Security in the Context of COVID-19 (557 KB) (Southern Africa Trust)
In order to respond to the immediate socioeconomic hardships caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as to build a new foundation for sustainable, resilient, broad-based socio-economic recovery, we believe that SADC needs an updated framework to accelerate commitments to end hunger by 2025. To this end, we call upon SADC governments to prioritise enhanced regional cooperation and radically expand people centred rights based public investment in the following areas:
Uganda-DRC road projects viable move (New Vision)
Media has been awash with complaints following Uganda’s news to supporting DR Congo (DRC) for three bitumen road projects. Such projects fit into broader African economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). From 3 States, East African Community (EAC) expanded to six and still counting on Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, DRC, etc. International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) protocol informed the November 2019 Uganda- DRC communique, concluded in Munyonyo. These frameworks, inter alia, invite states to joint investment, trade and security. The Uganda-DRC communique committed them to trade facilitation interventions commencing within 24 months, including eventual bitumen of at least 1,200 km road networks.
East Africa could become a major cannabis export hub (The East African)
The East African Community could become a mass producer of medical cannabis for export to fast-growing markets in the West. This is after Rwanda on October 12 became the latest EAC partner state to approve medical cannabis production for export, following closely in the footsteps of Uganda. Tanzania and Kenya, which produce the largest amounts of cannabis in the region, are yet to legalise the commodity and so it is exported illegally. Rwanda government officials said the decision to legalise the export of medical marijuana was based on the revenue potential for the country.
“Digital payment systems are a focus area on course to improving the efficiency and performance of SMEs in the region. This is therefore a very important forum which provides Government to Business, Business to Business and Business to Consumer, key policy aspects that needs to be addressed in order to promote intra-COMESA trade which is currently low.” This was said by Mr. Marday Venkatasamy, Chairman of the COMESA Business Council (CBC), in his opening statement during the Financial Services Regulators Sub-regional Stakeholders Meeting – Towards Harmonization of Policies for an Integrated Digital Common Payment Scheme for MSMEs – which took place on 13th October 2020.
Addressing supply chain disruption and compliance in the IMT sector in Africa (The Africa Logistics)
Industrials, manufacturing and transportation (IMT) companies have some of the most complex supply chains of any sector and have been particularly hard hit by quarantines, travel restrictions, and other disruptions brought about by the global COVID-19 outbreak. Marc Yudaken, Partner and Head of the Industrials, Manufacturing and Transportation (IMT) at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg says that African IMT companies that have operations in multiple jurisdictions, or source products from other regions, have faced intense challenges when reacting to and minimising supply chain impacts.
While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the oil market has been unforgiving, the latest meeting of the African Energy Chamber’s Investment and Regulatory Affairs Committees last week tended to downsize the responsibility of such external shocks to explain the lack of investment in Africa. While it is clear that 2020 will remain one of the worst years in oil & gas history, the end of the pandemic and the rebalancing of the market will not necessarily translate into investments in Africa unless bold reforms are made. From a regulatory perspective, most African jurisdictions were already uncompetitive for oil & gas investment before the current crisis, and plagued by policy uncertainty and issues around the sanctity of contracts.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected developed and developing countries alike, despite vast disparities in initial response capacities. Global leaders were especially concerned about the disease’s potential implications for Africa, given the continent’s lack of financial and medical resources, weak health-care systems, fragile economies and vulnerable populations. But preparation and cooperation among African leaders and African Union agencies, particularly the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have resulted in many successes – including increased testing capacity, resource mobilization and coordinated policies to prevent and contain the coronavirus’ spread and promote economic recovery. We therefore propose six ways the world can cooperate with Africa to improve the continent’s crisis response, accelerate its economic recovery, and build momentum for its post-pandemic development.
Landry Signé is a professor and senior director at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is former president of Mauritius.
The US government makes its big push for investment in Africa (Atlantic Council)
Buoyed by bipartisan commitment and a new government agency, the United States has taken new and significant steps to help drive investment in Africa, strengthen the region’s dynamic economies, create lucrative opportunities for US and African businesses, and advance US foreign-policy goals in the region. “America’s goal in [Africa] s to support locally led problem-solving for enterprise-driven growth, inclusive societies, and transparent, accountable governance,” US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said on October 16, as part of the opening session of the Investing in Africa’s Future conference hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
South Africa has been China’s biggest trading partner in Africa for 10 years and China the largest recipient of SA goods and services for 11 years, Chen Xiaodong, China’s ambassador to SA, said recently. In 2019, total trade was $43.2bn (about R700bn) between the two countries, according to Bloomberg. Standard Chartered forecasts that China will be by far the largest economy in 10 years. In the global bank’s list of the most exciting economies, resource-rich friend SA is conspicuously missing.
Global Poverty Soars – As Incomes of World’s Billionaires Hit New Highs (Inter Press Service)
Addressing poverty eradication last week, just ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17, UN chief António Guterres warned that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are falling “disproportionately on the most vulnerable: people living in poverty, the working poor, women and children, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups”. Pooja Rangaprasad, Director, Policy and Advocacy, Financing for Development (FfD) at the Rome-based Society for International Development (SID) warned: “Unless global economic solutions are prioritised to ensure developing countries have the fiscal space to respond to the crisis, the consequences will be devastating with millions being pushed back into extreme poverty.”
More trade, less aid: EU and Africa renew their relationship (The Brussels Times)
The European Union and the African Union are looking to renew and strengthen their relationship, from aid donor and -recipient to equal trade partners. Both the EU and the AU made it clear at the Africa-Europe Civil Society Conference 2020 on Friday that they are looking to renew the quality of the Africa-Europe Partnership in the near future, with higher involvement for the people of the two continents. In the short term, tightening the EU-AU relationship will result in more support for African health systems in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
EU and Africa team up on taxing Big Tech (POLITICO)
Europe and Africa are teaming up to push for international rules for taxing tech giants in the face of American skepticism and the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Monday is set to publish technical blueprints on how to tax digital companies across borders, like Facebook, Amazon and Google. The plans consist of two pillars: one aimed at ensuring big digital and multinational companies are taxed in the places where they generate profit – not where they book them. The second pillar aims to set a global minimum corporate tax rate.
The door is “still ajar” for talks with the EU over a post-Brexit trade deal but only if it moves ground in key areas, Michael Gove has said. He said the EU must speed up the negotiations and offer better terms. It comes as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will not travel to London for talks tomorrow but will join “remotely, as planned”, his team said. Negotiations between the UK and the EU have stalled amid disagreements over fishing access and competition issues. The EU has said it is prepared to “intensify” talks but it would not agree a deal at “any price”.
Nigeria’s candidate for the vacant World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed confidence in her quest to lead the crisis-ridden global trade organization after all of Africa backed her candidacy, vowing she would champion reform. This disclosure was made by Nigeria’s former Finance Minister at a virtual press briefing on Friday, October 17, 2020, after 55-member African Union officially supported her over the sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
The World Bank has warned that the coronavirus outbreak is turning into a major economic crisis and could likely see the emergence of a financial crisis from the pandemic. This disclosure was made by the World Bank Chief Economist, Carmen Reinhart, during an interview with Bloomberg Television. Reinhart during the interview said, “This did not start as a financial crisis but it is morphing into a major economic crisis, with very serious financial consequences. There’s a long road ahead.”
The third annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) is set for Shanghai early next month as planned. The staging of the event is emblematic of China’s triumph over Covid-19 and a demonstration of the confidence in the vitality of the Chinese economy. Kenyan enterprises have participated in the previous CIIE and will leverage this edition to further scout for export opportunities to China.
While the global shift from fossil fuels to renewables is helping new ecosystems and technologies to emerge, many of the pursued steps towards decarbonisation pose unique challenges. Deloitte’s newest global report – titled “The 2030 Decarbonisation Challenge: The Path to the Future of Energy“ – explores potential strategies and tactics for how companies in the energy and resources industry, that intend to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, can accelerate decarbonisation
A total of 62 WTO members are currently engaged in discussions to develop new disciplines on domestic regulation in services trade. These disciplines apply to licensing and qualification requirements as well as procedures and technical standards for trade in services. The objective is to create good regularity practices that mitigate any unintended trade-restrictive effects of procedures for authorizing the supply of services. The Chair, Jaime Coghi Arias of Costa Rica, stressed the participants’ objective of finalising the negotiating text by the end of the year. “Achieving an agreement on outstanding drafting issues as soon as possible would be of critical importance,” he said.
WHO lends support to IP-waiver proposal from South Africa, India (@businessline)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has lent its support to a proposal from South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking a waiver on certain intellectual property (IP) provisions that could come in the way of access to medicines, vaccines and devices developed to tackle the novel coronavirus. The support comes even as the recently-concluded TRIPS Council meeting failed to reach a consensus on the issue, setting it up for informal consultations for resolution by the year-end. The TRIPS Council is responsible for implementing the TRIPS (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement.
African migrants’ overwhelm not Europe/America, but each other’s countries: IOM (Ethiopian Press Agency)
African migrants’ destinations are overwhelmingly not to Europe or North America, but to each other’s countries, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM). African migration in the 21st Century takes place mainly by land, not by sea. The report released on Thursday by IOM and the African Union Commission (AUC). It is the first continent-specific report on migration and is being released during a virtual meeting bringing together policymakers, experts on migration and UN partner agencies.
Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Governments need to secure the health and safety of all workers in essential activities and maintain spending on integration to help migrants continue to contribute to society and the economy, according to a new OECD report. The OECD International Migration Outlook 2020 says that the COVID-19 crisis has had unprecedented consequences on migration flows.