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South Africa’s economy bounced back in the third quarter (July to September) of 2020, coinciding with the easing of corona virus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by an estimated 13,5% in the third quarter, giving an annualised growth rate of 66,1%. This follows the significant slump of 16,6% (annualised: -51,7%) in the second quarter (April to June) of 2020 during the most restrictive months of the lockdown (April, May and June). Since the first quarter of 2020, agricultural sector has been a positive contributor to the country’s GDP growth with an increase of 28.6%, becoming the strongest performer (15.1%) in the second quarter of 2020 despite the unpleasant conditions of COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture continued to increase at a rate of 18,5% in the quarter of 2020.
SA needs structural reforms to bolster business confidence (Engineering News)
Business confidence continued its upward trend in November, but poor economic performance remains a concern. The business climate is still plagued by poor economic performance, recessionary conditions and high unemployment and fiscal unsustainability, says the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI). SACCI on Wednesday released the business confidence index for November, which is at 93.4 points. The index has climbed 23.3 points since the low of 70.1 points record in May 2020, amid harsher lockdown restrictions.
IMF asks Zambia to re-draft economic policy in return for funding (Eyewitness News)
Zambia must re-draft economic policy to make its public debt more sustainable, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday after the copper-rich country requested IMF funding for reforms. Zambia, which has seen its external debt surge to nearly $12 billion this year, had made a formal request to the IMF on Tuesday. But wrapping up a visit to Lusaka, the director of IMF Africa’s Department, Abebe Aemro Selassie, said that “given the deep-rooted challenges faced, policies would need to be calibrated to restore sustainability while protecting the vulnerable and creating more inclusive growth”.
Kenya, Ethiopia border point to boost trade ties (Business Daily)
Kenya and Ethiopia have signalled an intent to deepen integration with a new border crossing after years of struggling to conduct robust bilateral trade under a regime of poor infrastructure. There has been subdued bilateral trade between the two countries as a result of non-tariff barriers such as long bureaucratic procedures, bans and sanctions. Officials see the Moyale One-Stop Border Posts an important signal to start implementing several key trading agreements reached between the two countries but which had largely been untouched.
Uganda’s Textile Industry Is Well Protected (New Vision)
The National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) for FY2020/21 laid out planned interventions for Uganda’s economic transformation. In light of this agenda some tax policies were put in place to achieve this vision. Until this financial year 2020/21, the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC CET) structure provided for a maximum import duty rate of 25% on textile fabrics. However, it was realised the duty rate of 25% was not providing the level of protection that is adequate to attract investments and add value to the cotton and create jobs and thus guarantee a market and better prices to farmers.
Yemi Osinbajo launches Process Manual on Port Operations (Nairametrics)
The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, has launched the Process Manual on Port Operations to boost efficiency and accountability in Nigeria’s port industry, and also ensure predictability. “The process manual is expected to ensure predictability, promote efficiency and accountability, reduce corruption in the port processes, eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks faced by port users and reduce the opportunity for illegal demands in the ports,” he said.
In the next three years, an average Nigerian could see a reversal of decades of economic growth and the country could enter its deepest recession since the 1980s. The latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU) argues that this path could be avoided if progress in the current reforms is sustained and the right mix of policy measures is implemented. The report “Rising to the Challenge: Nigeria’s COVID response” takes stock on the recently implemented reforms and proposes policy options to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and foster a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive recovery.
OANDO Plc has disclosed the reason why the integrated oil giant has delayed the release of its third (Q3) Unaudited Financial Statement for 2020. The company stated that the inability of the oil company to meet its 2020, Q3 filing of accounts obligation, which was due on November 20, 2020, is as a result of the indefinite suspension of the company’s 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The upward trend in African countries liberalizing their visa regimes and welcoming African travelers continues, according to the 2020 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank on Thursday. This fifth edition of the Index highlights the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to reverse Africa’s economic gains of recent years, affecting sectors from tourism through to investment. As travel restrictions ease and safety measures are put in place to contain the pandemic, sustaining progress and momentum on more comfortable continent-wide travel is vital.
Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on the continent’s ability to mobilize resources, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said on Wednesday. “The speed and quality of recovery will depend on how much we are able to mobilize resources to deal with this,” Adesina said, adding that Africa needs global backing in many areas, but principally in three areas: fiscal support, healthcare provision and youth employment.
The Regional Integration Section of the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) of the United Nations ECA seeks to carry out in-depth research and write an analytically rich and policy-relevant report on the governance of the interface between the AfCFTA and RECs FTAs, including the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite FTA. The overall objective is to provide concrete policy actions that need to be adopted and implemented, including strategies on how to leverage the trade integration achievements of RECs for the benefit of the AfCFTA; as well as lessons that could be drawn from areas of failure of RECs FTAs towards enhancing the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
‘No African nation yet to meet AfCFTA requirements’ (The Guardian Nigeria)
The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), yesterday, said no nation had met the requirements for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), despite the political will to get the pact ratified in good time. They noted that with the coming of AfCFTA, Nigerian and African practitioners were on the verge of being relevant globally, adding that this could only be achieved by expanding frontiers of practice and knowledge base beyond the Nigerian context.
The government of Mauritius, with technical assistance from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and financial support from the European Union (EU), held a one-day meeting in Port Louis, Mauritius. The main purpose of the event was to review the Mauritius National Response Strategy, which is being developed to help Mauritius take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The meeting also sensitized private operators in the country about the market opportunities offered by the continental agreement.
Indaba panel unpacks challenges to Africa’s industrialisation agenda (Engineering News)
The African export basket continues to lack manufactured products and is overly-reliant on raw materials and in cases, a single commodity; as a result, African countries continue to be affected by commodity volatility and to experience high inequality. Speaking during the Manufacturing Indaba on December 9, consultancy Deloitte emerging markets and Africa MD Dr Martyn Davies said countries with high levels of manufacturing value-add (MVA) had better opportunities to create employment and achieve higher equality. He explained that the countries with the highest Gini coefficients, or most inequality, had lower MVA as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) on Wednesday hosted a virtual webinar showcasing the power of data partnerships in combating the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic in Africa. The webinar brought together UN Resident Coordinators and their teams, Heads of National Statistical Offices and COVID-19 surveillance teams in Africa, and providers of data, interactive data, platforms, analytics and tested solutions to share their experiences, showcase results from their work and share learning from their collaborative efforts.
The Smart Africa Alliance hosted its 9th Board Meeting virtually on the 7th of December 2020. The meeting welcomed the Islamic Republic of Mauritania as the 31st country member of the Smart Africa Alliance. Additionally, the meeting outcomes included approval of the Bulk broadband capacity project and launch of the Digital ID Blueprint for Africa, Smart Broadband 2025 Blueprint for Africa, ICTStartUps and Innovation Ecosystem Blueprint, and the Smart Villages Blueprint.
Africa is better prepared to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 after stakeholders put measures in place to counter the initial pandemic’s adverse health effects. This is according to a panel of experts who took part in a special event on the second day of the 2020 virtual Africa Economic Conference, with the theme, “Africa beyond COVID-19: Acceleration towards inclusive and sustainable development.”
Assessing Impact of COVID-19 on W’Africa’s Economies (THISDAYLIVE)
The past one year has been tough for countries that depend heavily on primary products as their major source of revenue. COVID-19 saw many countries face turmoil linked to commodity dependence as commodity prices reacted negatively to the crisis, reflecting changes in supply and demand due to measures to limit contagion. Among those that were worst hit were West African countries because of their heavy dependence on primary products.
Airlines back in the sky, raising hope of recovery (The East African)
Tourism stakeholders are optimistic over industry’s recovery following Kenya Airways resumption of service on the Nairobi-New York route on November 29, despite low bookings ahead of the Christmas holiday. Regionally, last week, Uganda Airlines announced resumption of direct flights from Uganda to Mombasa. The flights, which resumed on December 4, have also lifted prospects of business between the two countries.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has commended the African Risk Capacity Group (ARC) for the cooperation that continues to exist with SADC in a number of areas of collaboration, both at the national and regional levels. The cooperation between SADC and ARC is guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in October 2019.
UK and Kenya sign trade agreement (GOV.UK)
The UK has today (Tuesday 8 December) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with Kenya. The deal was signed in London by International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Minister Betty Maina. This trade agreement will ensure that all companies operating in Kenya, including British businesses, can continue to benefit from duty-free access to the UK market.
Top goods imports to the UK from Kenya last year were in tea, coffee and spices (£121 million); vegetables (£79 million); and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (£54 million). The UK market accounts for 43% of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least 9% of cut flowers, and this agreement will support Kenyans working in these sectors by maintaining tariff-free market access to the UK.
As the world reels from the deepening impacts of the coronavirus pandemic across health systems and the global economy and considers the protracted knock-on effects of a second wave, solutions are needed. A new report from UNCTAD, “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade and development: transitioning to a new normal”, plots both the economic impacts of the pandemic through 2020, and tangible first steps toward a better recovery. The greatest long-term risk, the report says, is worsening inequalities and vulnerabilities even long after a vaccine becomes available. But policy solutions do exist.
The COVAX international vaccine initiative requires $4.2 billion over the next two months to ensure that “sooner rather than later”, World Health Organization (WHO)-approved inoculation can get underway in Africa, UN chief António Guterres said. While expressing his “hope that we will be able to do it before the second quarter”, he acknowledged that several countries have made “an enormous effort” to ensure vaccinations for their own populations while at the same time, the COVAX financing requirements have yet to be fully met.
Nine in 10 in poor nations could miss out as West hoards vaccines (Thompson Reuters Foundation)
Nine out of 10 people in dozens of poor nations could miss out on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 next year because rich countries have hoarded far more doses than they need, campaigners said on Wednesday. Rich nations home to 14% of the global population had bought 53% of the total stock of the most-promising vaccines as of last month, said the People’s Vaccine Alliance. They said pharmaceutical companies working on COVID-19 vaccines should openly share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organisation (WHO) so more doses can be manufactured.
Urgently waive intellectual property rules for COVID 19 vaccine (Amnesty International)
Governments should stop blocking a temporary waiver of some global intellectual property rules that will help boost global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today ahead of a key World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Geneva on December 10, 2020. If adopted, the waiver proposal would enable more governments to fulfil their obligations to respect the rights to life and health. The warning comes as vaccinations for COVID-19 begin in the United Kingdom, and are likely to begin in other countries in the near future.
The General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to take up a proposal floated by India and South Africa in October to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights (IPR) to make Covid-19 vaccines, medicines and medical devices accessible to poorer countries.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published its first comprehensive review of its eTrade Readiness Assessment Programme. Initiated in 2017, the programme aims to identify and address challenges to the development of e-commerce, primarily in least developed countries (LDCs). Titled, ‘Fast-tracking implementation of eTrade Readiness Assessments,’ the report evaluates implementation measures taken in response to earlier recommendations made in seven policy areas:
Growing dimensions of Chinese presence in African continent (The Financial Express)
The evolving dynamics within the post-Brexit EU and the new US Biden Administration will need to take into account the growing influence of China in the African continent. The paradigm is changing and both Europe and the United States, in all likelihood, will try to even the scales within the matrix. This will be required because Africa is slowly developing its own narrative on the global stage.
Rebalancing Algeria’s Economic Relations with China (Chatham House)
The bilateral relationship between Algeria and China dates back to the Afro-Asian Bandung Conference in 1955. Their trade and investment relations took off in earnest in the 2000s during the era of high hydrocarbon rents, evolving gradually into a relationship of economic asymmetry and political expediency. Although China is likely to remain its preferred economic partner, strategic rebalancing would help Algeria hedge its bets and optimize relations with Beijing and beyond.
Brexit: SA’s wine exporters will actually be smiling (Food For Mzansi)
The South African wine industry will be able to export close to 71.5 million litres of wine tariff free to the UK in 2021 despite the country’s exit from the European Union, says Michael Mokhoro, stakeholder manager of Vinpro and the SA Liquor Brandowners Association’s Winebiz desk. This follows the signing of a trade agreement between the UK and members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which includes South Africa, Lesotho, eSwatini, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique that took place in September last year.
Cotton is a commercial crop grown mainly for its fibre or lint, a raw material used by the textile industry. In most least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa, raw lint is widely produced for export, creating vital revenue. But long and complex cotton-to-textile value chains are highly sensitive to external factors. These include policy-induced international price distortions, competition with manmade fibres and shocks such as the cancellation of orders from overseas textile manufacturers caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Cross-border paperless trade has great potential to not only grow trade competitiveness but also to address new challenges associated with e-commerce and the digital economy. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in collaboration with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), today launched an interactive guide to support readiness assessments on cross-border paperless trade.