tralac Daily News
Parliament urges Trade and Industry to accelerate Coronavirus COVID-19-related price abuse investigations (South African Government)
The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry heard today about the high volume of complaints that the Department of Trade and Industry received within a period of three months during the lockdown on the inflation and abuse of prices on a variety of products that include food, fresh produce and products that are used to curb the spread of Covid-19. Briefing the committee, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Molefe Pule, told the committee that the department received a total of 1 700 complaints within a period of three months this year, a figure he said the department never received before even in a year.
The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan outlines immediate actions to rebuild the economy and to provide jobs and relief to the South African people. These actions include an aggressive infrastructure programme, far-reaching reforms to increase our competitiveness and inclusiveness, measures to catalyse industrialisation, relief for vulnerable households and individuals, and a public investment in employment programmes.
E-hailing companies Uber and Bolt have both raised concerns around government’s planned introduction of the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill. The bill broadly aims to introduce further controls around public transport in the country, including regulations around safety, competition and transformation. While Uber and Bolt have generally welcomed the draft legislation, both companies have raised red flags around a section of the bill which could be interpreted as introducing pricing controls for e-hailing in South Africa. The bill states that ‘every regulated entity is subject to price regulation in accordance with a price control determined by the regulator’.
Continuing impact of Covid-19 on the economy has forced the National Treasury to review government’s spending for this financial year revising the figures upwards to a tune of Sh128 billion. Treasury also announced it would increase its total financing from an earlier planned Sh841 billion in the budget to Sh1,001.8 trillion. To raise the extra money, the government will be seeking about Sh600 billion in domestic financing, up from the Sh494 billion that had been planned for.
President Paul Kagame has emphasised Rwanda’s ambition to put technology at the centre of its development plans, pointing out that it will even be more vital in helping the country recover from the effects of the New Coronavirus and for the future ambitions. President Kagame made the observation on Wednesday while participating in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Great Reset Dialogue under the theme “Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. President Kagame pointed out some of the partnerships Rwanda has built with global tech companies. “Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has continued to prioritize investment in technology, broadband, and digital skills,” he said.
Uganda, DR Congo decide to make roads, not war (The East African)
After two-and-a-half decades of testy relations, including an armed invasion in 1997 that contributed to one of the world’s deadliest conflicts since World War II, Uganda is betting that infrastructure investments and shared economic benefits will build better relations and long-term stability. Uganda’s cabinet recently approved plans to build three roads inside the DRC, continuing the country’s recent strategy of growing its influence in the Great Lakes region riding on infrastructure diplomacy.
Ugandan court suspends judgement outlawing cross-border lending (The East African)
Ugandan High Court has suspended the enforcement of a ruling that banned foreign banks from participating in syndicated loans in the Ugandan banking sector, pending the hearing and determination of the matter. The ruling effectively outlawed cross-border lending in the country, and thwarted efforts by other foreign banks seeking to make inroads into the country for lending purposes. The development could also have put on freeze an estimated $130 million worth of intra-EAC lending and undermine the on-going regional financial integration process.
Mnangagwa calls for private sector-govt dialogue (Bulawayo24 News)
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday called on private players in the economy to dialogue with his government to find ways of improving the country’s ease of-doing business and attract direct foreign investment. This comes amid calls from stakeholders for Mnangagwa to dialogue with various sectors, including political leaders like MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa, to address the country’s political and economic challenges. This also comes as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) recently commended Zimbabwe’s efforts in stabilising the country’s volatile exchange rate and runaway inflation through the introduction of the weekly forex auction system and its active participation in trade negotiations, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Tripartite Free Trade Area between Comesa, EAC and Sadc, in addition to concluding an EPA with the European Union.
Government seeks Shs6 trillion to meet budget shortfall (Daily Monitor)
Government is seeking a Shs6.2 trillion loan to finance a deficit in the Shs45.5 trillion budget of the current financial year. While tabling the request before Parliament yesterday, the State Minister of Finance for Planning, Mr David Bahati, said out of the Shs6.2 trillion, Shs4 trillion will be borrowed from the domestic market while the rest from the International Monetary Fund. In May, the government revealed that the Shs45.5trillion budget would be funded with Shs32.97 trillion raised locally and Shs12.52 trillion from external sources such as loans and grants. However, Mr Bahati told Parliament yesterday that because of the persistent trends of Covid-19, there was a shortfall of revenue in the last quarter of the 2019/2020, adding that the same problem was faced in the first quarter of the current financial year.
Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi yesterday tabled the mid-term budget for the 2020/21 financial year, consisting of N$841.6 million, with no new allocations being made but rather reallocation to priority areas. Shiimi proposed that the lion’s share of the reallocation, or N$326.4 million, be allocated to the basic education ministry. The freed-up funds announced in yesterday’s mid-term budget review consist of N$701.6 million realised from the operational budget and N$140 million from the development budget. The finance minister emphasised the proposed reallocation of budgetary resources leaves the overall expenditure allocation for the current financial year budget unchanged at N$72.8 billion.
Senior Gov’t Officials Hope to Complete WTO Accession by Next Year (Ethiopian News Agency)
Ethiopia is working to complete its accession to World Trade Organization (WTO) by next year, Senior Policy Advisor and Chief Trade Negotiator at the Office of the Prime Minister said. “Our goal is to conclude Ethiopia’s WTO accession negotiations in 2021. But that of course very much depends on what we will successfully discuss and conclude bilateral negotiations with the member countries. For us concluding the WTO accession is critical because we consider it as an external anchor to our domestic reform effort. Being part of the multilateral trading system is a natural outcome of the domestic economic reform program that the government is currently undertaking,” the chief trade negotiator stressed.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is calling on rich countries to consider extending the moratorium on debt servicing from poorer countries. Mr. Ofori-Atta made this call as he ended his tenure as chairman of the joint ministerial committee of the boards of governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Finance Minister urged the G-20 countries to not only extend their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by two years but also re-examine the scheme. To help developing countries deal with the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the G20 launched the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which freezes low-income countries’ external debt service payments to official bilateral creditors until the end of 2020.
pdf National Export Development Strategy (11.25 MB) (GEPA Exporters Portal)
The Ghana National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) envisages that over a duration of 10 years Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) will grow from $2.8 billion in 2020 to $25.3 billion in 2029 accompanied by deep structural transformation that positions Ghana as a competitive export-led industrialized economy if NEDS is fully funded and implemented.
African Continental Free Trade Area – The Opportunity Africa Offers (Peacefmonline.com)
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a single, duty -free, Quota free market covering the African Continent. Trade is key to Africa’s growth. Africa with all the enormous resources has about 2.6% of all world trade as at 2018 (AfrieximBank report, 2019). In this paper by Ellen Ohene-Afoakwa, Regional Corporate Director, West Africa at Absa Bank Ghana, will focus on five essential opportunity areas in Africa, and suggest steps that African Governments, Policy makers, Private Sector, The Youth, Financial institutions and Investors can take to translate the opportunities into profitable, sustainable enterprises for Africa’s growth.
Ghana is ready for AfCFTA – Trade Minister (Ghanaweb)
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen has given assurances that given the structures in place, Ghana is ready to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). According to him, the government has rolled out the necessary structures capable of facilitating the take-off in January next year. “I say we are ready on two grounds. First, we have introduced institutional frameworks that makes us ready and I believe you recall that the President has introduced an inter-ministerial facilitation team made up of critical sector ministers who are supposed to provide strategic guidance and support to make Ghana ready for the AfCFTA. There is a national steering committee that is coordinating and guiding the support that will be given to the private companies and other stakeholders.”
The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has said it is working on a cross-border trade platform to enhance market access and trade connectivity for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across the continent. The digital platform, it said, will enable SMEs to expand their reach and explore growth opportunities in the AfCFTA, while ensuring seamless cross-border trading when the free trade deal takes off in 2021. “We are exploring various digital-enabled platforms that aim at enhancing market access, trade connectivity of SMEs to new markets across the continent,” Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene told a gathering in Accra.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry on behalf of the People of Ghana has signed the framework for the grant disbursement between the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the West African country. The Grant is in fulfilment of Ghana’s pledge to play host to African Union / AfCFTA secretariat which will be in full operation from the 1st of January 2021.
Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana has put in place the “One District One Factory” initiative; the development of new, strategic, anchor industries such as garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobile assembly and component manufacturing; the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs; the Planting for Exports and Rural Development (PERD) initiative; the establishment of 67 Business Resource Centres, and 31 Technology Solution Centres; and the development of Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones, all of these initiatives are to help the nation harness to the fullest, the benefits of the AfCFTA.
Ghanaian enterprises seeking to exploit duty free access to consumer and business to business markets across the continent are eagerly awaiting full access to the new African Union online portal known as the African Trade Observatory. The development of the impending new portal, which is now at its pilot stage, is supported by the European Union and the International Trade Centre, and is billed to play a crucial role in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) The new online tool, designed to help businessmen and businesswomen in Africa understand how best to trade between African countries came a step closer to becoming fully operational in August 2020, as a demonstration version came onstream.
African countries are trying to tear down barriers to commerce through a continent-wide trade pact, but developments in West Africa show some immediate neighbors prefer to keep the fences up. Hundreds of trucks have been parked at Benin’s border with eastern neighbor Nigeria for more than a year. That’s because the government in Abuja abruptly curbed imports in a move to throttle widespread smuggling of products that were sabotaging local industries and inflaming insecurity. Companies have had to resort to Lagos’ congested port – bedeviled by delays and inefficiencies – to move goods.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says proper management of the interface between continental and regional free trade regimes is critical in generating win-win outcomes towards continental integration agenda. Such continental and regional free trade regimes include the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) as well as the East African Community. Zimbabwe is part of the 21-member Comesa trading bloc and in February this year, the country officially joined AfCFTA.
News from across Africa
As state fiscal pressures mount amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Rania Al Mashat, urged for the World Bank and international institutions to tap into Africa’s private sector and support economic recovery through enabling the mobilization of private sector investments and strengthening public and private partnerships (PPP) transactions. This was mentioned in her speech during the 2020 African Caucus Meeting of the Governors of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Digital payments holds the power to Africa’s development (Bizcommunity)
The statistics that hover uncertainly around Africa are not ones that should make the continent proud. The World Bank has estimated that Africa could potentially hold 90% of the global poor population by 2030 and has recently cut its economic growth predictions to between -2.1 and -5.1 in 2020 from the 2.4% of 2019. The situation has been significantly worsened by the global pandemic, as the continent hits its first recession in 25 years. Africa has undergone a remarkable journey over the past 30 years. It has not only leapfrogged legacy technology and systems into a more relevant future, but it has done so in spite of challenging circumstances. This is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile – the technology, the connectivity, and the financial inclusion.
The East African Community (EAC) bloc on Wednesday called for the development of bioeconomy strategy in the region to open opportunities for research cooperation. Christophe Bazivamo, deputy secretary-general of EAC, said that a regional bioeconomy strategy and the use of renewable biological resources sustainably to produce food, energy and industrial goods will lead to the promotion of trade in value-added bio-based goods and services. “The strategy will also augment the region’s efforts to engage more effectively in the African Continental Free Trade Area,” Bazivamo said during the first regional bioeconomy conference in Nairobi.
Four airlines across Africa have ceased operations due to the impact of Covid-19 and two are in voluntary administration, with many more in serious financial distress expected to fold without committed relief. This is according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which said in a statement on Wednesday that without urgent financial relief more carriers and their employees were at risk, as was the wider African air transport industry, which supports about 7.7 million jobs on the continent. IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East Muhammad Albakri said the risk of a “jobs bloodbath” was not just in aviation but across industries that depended on efficient global connectivity.
COVID-19 should not be a reason to renege on global climate commitments. That was one the messages shared by Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Power, Energy and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, on behalf of Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, at the Africa Regional Resilience Dialogue, titled Building Back Better and Greener: Seizing Transformation Opportunities for a Resilient Future in Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is contending with an unprecedented health and economic crisis – one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized years of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions. The current outlook for 2020-21 is broadly unchanged from the June update, with activity in 2020 projected to contract by 3.0 percent, still the worst outcome on record. For 2021, regional growth should recover modestly to 3.1 percent. Overall, the region’s outlook will be shaped by the availability of additional financing and the transformative domestic reforms to promote resilience (including revenue mobilization, digitalization, and fostering better transparency and governance), lift medium-term growth, create opportunities for a wave of new job seekers, and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable shipping possible through platinum, fuel cells − WPIC (Engineering News)
Shipping, which is vital to the global economy, is responsible for about 2.5% of the world’s total greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions as it is reliant on fossil fuels for power to transport about 90% of all freight goods transported by sea. Like other forms of transport, the maritime sector has committed to reducing its carbon footprint and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set a global target to cut yearly emissions by at least 50% by 2050 from 2008 levels. Industry stakeholders, however, believe hydrogen-powered proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells using platinum catalysts offer the potential for shipping to achieve zero emissions, where hydrogen generated from renewable sources is used as a fuel source, making the entire energy chain clean.
Global trade recorded a 5% drop in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according UNCTAD’s new Global Trade Update published on 21 October. This marks an improvement on the 19% year-on-year plunge recorded in the second quarter, and UNCTAD expects the frail recovery to continue in the fourth quarter, with a preliminary forecast of -3% compared with the last quarter of 2019. Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves in the winter months, the UN trade and development body expects the value of global trade to contract by 7% to 9% with respect to 2019.
The G20 group of rich nations and big emerging powers extended their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) this week to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis until the middle of next year. Below is an explanation of how the DSSI works:
India has opposed suggestions made by the US, Brazil and Colombia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of placing binding commitments on members for early implementation of provisions under the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the time of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a Geneva-based trade official has said. The country, however, declared that it was ahead of schedule in its own implementation of commitments made, at the meeting of the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation, on Tuesday.
China’s upbeat economic recovery offers global hope (The Herald)
China’s economic recovery posted an evident acceleration in the third quarter (Q3) among a flurry of key indicators that show an upward trend, underpinned by China’s outbreak containment success, strengthening domestic demand and strong foreign trade. A raft of effective stimulus measures have spurred domestic demand and investment, as well as supporting employment, including more fiscal spending, tax relief, and cuts in lending rates and banks’ reserve requirements. Those efforts cement the goal of keeping the domestic market as the mainstay while the domestic and foreign markets work to boost each other. They also galvanise China’s rebalancing of the economy from an export-and investment-driven one toward more focus on consumption and supply-side structural reforms.