tralac Daily News
Taking to the skies (SAnews)
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and requires all to act responsibly, for many the further easing of travel restrictions could not have come at a better time not only for individuals but for the aviation industry as well. Air traffic movement experienced a drastic reduction in the last few months as a result of travel restrictions put in place by many countries around the world. The pandemic has required aviation organisations and entities, particularly airport service providers and air navigation service providers (ANSPs), to analyse and review the way they operate. Lessons learnt in this respect include the need for robust communication channels with recipients of virtual learning programmes as well as adequate advanced planning.
Could Uganda be the next hub of automotive manufacturing? (Daily Monitor)
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has banned the importation of buses into the country to promote value addition in the nascent automotive industry. The directive taken with Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) in mind, which was established to champion value addition in the domestic automotive Industry, is expected to feed the sub sector with the Kayoola Solar Bus, a concept representing the next generation of public transport for cities within the region. Uganda’s automotive market is largely focused on retail and distribution of vehicles, and after-sales support in servicing and spare parts sales. Therefore, the involvement of KMC in the industry with its several projects, including the Kayoola Solar Bus concept, is commendable. However, the fruits of KMC are yet to be harvested.
Gambia Youth and Trade Roadmap is aimed at tackling the root causes of youth irregular migration in The Gambia and increases job opportunities and income prospects for the country’s youth. In order to achieve this, the roadmap prioritises those sectors that have the highest potential to generate decent jobs, but that are also appealing to today’s youth aspirations.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the 2017/2018 National Report of the Ghana Census of Agriculture. The Census report will provide a basis to monitor the progress of Government’s interventions, offer insights on the transformation of the sector, and ensure the integration of the agriculture, industry and services sectors. President Akufo-Addo noted that the importance of agriculture to Ghana’s growth and development demands that the data on the sector, which informed the formulation of strategies and policies, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of such policies, must be accurate and up-to-date.
CBN Raises Red Flag over COVID-19 Financing (THISDAYLIVE)
The Central Bank of Nigeria has advised all financial institutions to be abreast with emerging risks and other developments while taking proactive steps to address the new and emerging money laundering and terrorism financing. The banking sector regulator noted that changes in the trends of business activities and financial transactions precipitated by COVID-19 pandemic had inadvertently led to increase in financial crimes globally. The CBN stated this in a circular titled: “Administrative letters to all banks and other financial institutions,” that was signed by its Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, J. M. Gana.
Uganda: Nimule border trade to resume (New Vision)
Women traders operating in markets around Nimule, Uganda’s border with South Sudan, may soon resume business following the launch of the Safe Trade Zone Protocol on Friday. Developed by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), in partnership with Amref Health Africa, the Safe Trade Zone protocol seeks to facilitate safe opening of border markets, given the current COVID-19 pandemic. The protocol proposes several guidelines that need to be followed for border markets to re-open, so as to allow people to trade safely. It is now almost seven months since trade at border markets came to a halt after governments closed borders and banned gatherings to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We are concerned with cases of illegal crossing on the flanks of the legal border (Beitbridge),” said Mr Ncube. “Such a scenario is not good in terms of security and the country being able to collect revenue through imports/exports which are leaking via the many non-formal entry/exit points.” Assistant Regional Immigration Officer-in-Charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube said the two borders will help boost arrivals of tourists, with the Shashe point catering for people visiting the Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier conservation area which covers Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (west of Beitbridge).
Time for Nigeria to break restrictive trade shackles (New African Magazine)
Nigeria, as Africa’s biggest economy, is set to be a key player in the African Continental Free Trade Area but its challenges in leveraging this opportunity are significant. Participants at an Economic Commission for Africa workshop at the end of 2019 on Nigeria’s preparedness for the new trade regime highlighted the fact that the cost of doing business in the country and the dilapidated physical infrastructure were among the key priority areas that need to be addressed by the government. Nigeria’s enthusiasm for the AfCFTA has been lacking as it grapples with longstanding domestic issues that may affect its success in this regard.
Cape Verde Is Emerging as a Global Pivot Point (Foreign Policy)
Cape Verde doesn’t often make the news in the West, but since its initial settlement in the late 15th century, the small developing island state has seen it all: colonialization, slavery, piracy, revolution. And now it finds itself in the middle of a global pandemic and a fierce geopolitical rivalry. Against that background, Cape Verde is now redefining its long-term strategy known as Ambition 2030. The strategy hopes to jump-start a decade of action that leads to a new era of prosperity. The world’s great powers have long noted Cape Verde’s strategic position, about 350 miles off the coast of West Africa. Now investors should too.
Egypt Looks South (Global Finance Magazine)
While the global economy slows, Egyptian banks aim to expand their foothold in Africa and boost intraregional trade. In April, Commercial Bank of Egypt (CIB) became the first Egyptian bank to establish a presence in Kenya, through the acquisition of a majority stake in Nairobi-based Mayfair Bank (MBL). The $35 million deal allows Egypt’s largest private bank, with over $24 billion in assets, to take over a network of five branches and a portfolio of high-net-worth individuals and corporate clients.
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reiterated Government’s commitment to assisting Ghanaian enterprises to take advantage of the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Speaking at the 2nd National Conference on the African Continental Free Trade Area, held on Tuesday, 20th October 2020, at the Accra International Conference Centre, the President explained that the AfCFTA will ensure that trading amongst Member States on the continent will be duty-free and quota-free. “We, in Ghana, cannot afford to let this window of opportunity slip. We hope that the private sector, facilitated and actively supported by Government, will be at the forefront of trying to take advantage of the vast possibilities presented by the AfCFTA,” he said.
Google and Amazon seek investment in e-commerce within AfCFTA (Citi Business News)
The Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has disclosed that e-commerce giants, Google and Amazon, have approached the Secretariat for investment in AfCFTA. According to him, discussions are yet to be finalized on the necessary regulatory framework that will be used for the digital trade aspect of AfCFTA. “We have an opportunity with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as we implemented to negotiate a digital trade e-commerce protocol per the agreement that will set the regulatory framework for e-commerce to take place in Africa for digital trade to take place in Africa, and in this regard we have already been approached by Google and Amazon who are interested in investing where of course we establish the right regulatory framework to invest in data storage centers on the African continent.”
The implementation stage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is due to begin in under three months. While the COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly complicated the picture, the East Africa region is actually well-placed to implement the AfCFTA. Despite the skepticism expressed in some quarters about the ability of countries to get the landmark trade agreement up and running, there are strong reasons for optimism. Thus far, it is true that only five countries in Eastern Africa have deposited their ratification of the AfCFTA. However, it is not the number of countries that counts but the fact that a regional block of contiguous countries – representing around three-quarters of regional GDP – is coalescing. From January 1, 2021, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda will all begin a reduction in their tariffs – starting with a linear reduction on 90 percent of tariff lines – leading to the elimination of tariffs on intra-regional imports over a period of five years (10 years in the case of countries classified by the United Nations as “least developed countries”); by the standards of regional trade agreements, this pace of liberalization will be quite rapid.
Africa operating as a bloc best for economic recovery (FurtherAfrica)
African trade experts have called for the swift implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to lift Africa out of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. Speaking at a trade forum in Dakar, Senegal, AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene said that the pandemic had, for the first time in 25 years, caused a contraction of GDP of between 2 to 5 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, said the continent must work toward operating as one trade bloc by January 1, 2021. She also announced the launch of ONE TRADE AFRICA, a new ITC programme to unlock the full business potential of the AfCFTA targeted at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Curbing illicit financial flows (IFFs) can help African countries mobilize capital to finance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other national priorities. Financing shortfalls continue to hamper progress towards the SDGs, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Investment in national development priorities, such as infrastructure and education, is often wanting as well.
Africa: Pandemic could be dawn of a new day for the continent (The Africa Report)
In Africa, the impact of COVID-19 is not only widespread, but it is also devastating and has the potential to have a deeper and longer-term impact on the growth trajectory of the continent, investment banker Yvonne Ike tells The Africa Report. That potential includes plunging 40 million people on the continent into poverty, out of 100 million globally projects the World Bank. In addition, about 300 million youth in Africa will be negatively impacted one way or the other, points out Ike, managing director and head of Sub-Saharan Africa (except South Africa) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the third largest investment bank in the world.
Regional tourism players push for harmonised travel protocols (The New Times)
The East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP), the top private sector body for tourism in the region on Tuesday, October 20, advocated for harmonized reopening protocols in partner states. This is to allow east Africans and international tourists to take advantage of attractions in the region and discover the hidden treasures. Fred Odek, the outgoing EATP Chairperson, said: “We are looking at ways to harmonise protocols; without having harsh conditions, work out a way to ease travel in East Africa, because easing travel is easing doing business.”
Covid-19 cited for contraction of East African economies (The East African)
Regional economies received a battering courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the numbers now just prove how damaging. Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda had by the end of March instituted measures to contain the virus, shutting down the economies leading to job and other economic losses.
Ghana and Ivory Coast account for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply, but unlike oil-producing countries, they are unable to influence prices that are historically too low to meet the basic needs of small planters. “They could decide the market prices, above all if they allied themselves with other major producers like Ecuador, Cameroon and Nigeria, but there’s a lack of real political will,” an industry expert said on condition of anonymity. For the first time in years, the neighbouring west African countries have matched their cocoa prices to halt a thriving traffic in cocoa beans between Ivory Coast, with its 40% of the world market share, and Ghana, in second place with more than 20%.
A Case for Tax Overhaul in Eastern Africa (Bloomberg Tax)
Cephas Osoro of Crowe Kenya looks at the historical context of the tax regimes in Eastern African countries and discusses the current system, using Kenya as an example. He suggests a complete review and overhaul of the tax system in these countries may be necessary to suit their circumstances and improve tax collection.
Modern, robust and transparent financial markets are essential to attract investors to the African continent and fund economic growth, according to a research report by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) as part of its annual study into the development of financial markets in African countries. The research, in collaboration with Absa, again puts SA first in its ranking of African countries in respect of different aspects in an attempt to measure the state of financial markets on the continent.
Digital business technology is progressing all the time; becoming faster, more capable and cheaper. It reduces costs and friction, provides detailed information in close to real time, and has the potential to open up new markets and opportunities. Covid-19 compelled many businesses to embrace the use of digital platforms to make and receive payments, given health concerns around physical interaction and the hygiene factor of handling physical cash during a pandemic. In fact, digital platforms allow SMEs the flexibility to create hybrid models between physical and online retail – or to bypass brick-and-mortar stores altogether.
Ten African Heads of State have issued a strong call to other world leaders to increase their funding to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) or risk jeopardizing Sustainable Development Goal targets for eradicating poverty and hunger, particularly in Africa. “Investing in building the resilience of rural people is now more important than ever in order to secure food supplies, safeguard rural livelihoods, ensure that progress made over the years is not lost and prevent more rural people from falling into poverty and hunger”.
The continent’s largest development finance institutions have emphasized that a sustained and collaborative approach among development partners to scale up project development activities, will boost the number of bankable projects attracting investor interest and contribute to closing the infrastructure finance gap in Africa. Launched at the end of 2019, the DFC has an investment cap of $60 billion and has selected Africa as a priority region for future investments.
The EU and African Union must use a new ‘strategic partnership’ to deepen their trade and investment relations, participants agreed during a EURACTIV event focusing on what is likely to emerge from discussions between the two blocs. One of the main priorities of African governments from the process is to secure improved trade terms that will enable them to develop domestic and regional manufacturing with a view to increasing exports to the EU. “It is our hope that the new partnership will create new global value chains, to increase exports of finished goods,” Botswana’s trade and industry minister, Peggy Serame, told the event, pointing out that most of sub-Saharan Africa’s exports to the EU are raw materials rather than finished products.
Africa CDC arrived 1.4 million anti-Covid kits. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), through the African Union, today received the third and last batch of 1.4 million COVID-19 test kits donated by the Government of Germany. The kits were delivered through a European Union (EU) Humanitarian Air Bridge flight as part of the EU’s global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, worth over €26 million, with contributions from the EU, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Sweden.
Launched on World Statistics Day, the portal allows users to conduct customized analysis of the trade-related SDG indicators, with the objective of improving understanding of the relationship between trade and development in the SDG agenda and highlighting the latest state of play in achieving the relevant SDG targets. The portal can be accessed here: https://sdgtrade.org/
Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah, who oversees development matters in the WTO, said at the launch event at the WTO: “Trade has an important role to play in the attainment of these goals. Over the last 15 years, trade has been an engine for economic growth and has unlocked massive poverty reduction gains and socio-economic development across the globe, particularly in developing countries…. The SDG Trade Monitor is the result of a collective effort between UNCTAD, ITC and the WTO. This multi-agency collaboration is an example of the hard work and the value proposition of the Geneva trade hub, further proving that multilateral efforts in trade are possible and worthwhile.”
WTO Race Hits Key Stage With U.S., EU Divided on Two Finalists (SWI swissinfo.ch)
The U.S. and Europe are heading for a clash over their preferred candidates to lead the World Trade Organization as the selection of the first woman to run the referee of global commerce enters a pivotal phase. The European Union is inclined to support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and may sign off on that position Wednesday, people familiar with the process said. Other observers say the Trump administration is leaning toward South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. Meanwhile, China’s preference and those of other major economies like Brazil and India remain unclear.
Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal remain stalled, after a phone call between the two sides’ negotiators failed to make a breakthrough. UK negotiator Lord Frost said his call with the EU’s Michel Barnier on Tuesday had been “constructive” but in-person negotiations could not resume. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged business leaders to prepare for the end of the transition period in December, in a conference call alongside Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
Headlines associated with tourism and COVID-19 are alarming. The pandemic has been called an existential threat to the industry. The cruise sector has been blamed for spreading the virus. Workers in popular destinations are sliding into poverty. Preliminary data shows the damage. Estimates indicate the number of international travellers fell by 56%, with US$320 billion in lost receipts through the end of May. While recent shocks wreaked financial havoc, this disruption is different. It is truly global. All countries are negatively impacted; with essentially no one traveling across borders, no one is winning. It has created a rare pause in which countries can learn from the past and prepare for the future.
Some 40 members engaged in a substantive discussion on a proposal submitted by India and South Africa for a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS obligations they said would facilitate an appropriate response to COVID-19. The proposal suggests a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the “prevention, containment or treatment” of COVID-19. The proponents argued this would avoid barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing and supply of essential medical products.
Global human mobility has halted with the overall impact of COVID-19, hitting people on the move hard. As borders re-open slowly, a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) report illustrates how governments can shape migration to benefit development and boost recovery. The report, Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities: A Review of the 2009 Human Development Report and the Way Ahead, looks back at the last decade and assesses how future policy responses could facilitate safe, orderly, and regular migration.