tralac Daily News
South Africa is on tenterhooks over the second wave of Covid-19 infections with experts warning the newest outbreak could wreak havoc on an already battered economy. Economists this week warned that this, coupled with the end of Covid-19 relief funds, could threaten the steady economic recovery and put consumer spending in jeopardy. Statistics South Africa said its data showed that the recovery in mining and manufacturing production had stalled due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in key trading partner countries and the associated lockdowns.
The South African sugar industry is looking to the recently signed Sugarcane Master Plan to stabilise the sector in 2021 after a flood of sugar imports devastated it. South African Sugar Association (Sasa) executive director Trix Trikam said last week, “We are particularly concerned about high volumes of sugar imports from Eswatini. India and Brazil have continued to be the main non-African countries importing sugar into South Africa. These issues are being addressed through the recently signed Sugarcane Value Chain Master Plan to 2030.”
Zanzibar’s Second Vice-President Hemed Suleiman Abdallah has said it was crucial for local manufactures to strengthen internal system to satisfy the domestic market and surplus be sold in the international market. “From a production perspective, strengthening internal system means a companywide commitment to eliminate errors at every stage of the product development process – product design, process design, and manufacturing. It also means working closely with suppliers to eliminate defects from all incoming parts,” he noted.
‘Trading’ requires something to trade (Mmegi Online)
For Botswana’s aspirations of an export-led economy, AfCFTA is a dream come true. On the ground, however, is the recurring nightmare of AfCFTA leading to a swamping of the local market by cheap imports, drowning out the little manufacturing capacity available. Voices in certain circles fear that AfCFTA could be a ‘mega-South Africa’, which for decades has overshadowed the local productive sector empowered by the provisions of the SACU agreement.
Zimbabwe’s power utility ZESA Holdings on Saturday joined the growing list of state entities which are charging for their services in foreign currency. The generated foreign currency will be used to procure equipment for the utility’s transmission and distribution network. “The power utility has introduced a system where all post-paid customers can optionally settle their bills in foreign currency at the prevailing bank rate in line with the multi-currency regime,” a statement from the company’s stakeholder relations unit said.
DR Congo now ratifies African Court Protocol (The Citizen)
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has ratified the African Court protocol bringing the signatory countries to 31. The giant country in the heart of Africa deposited its instrument of ratification at the African Union (AU) on Tuesday this week. As of to date, only six of 31 state parties to the protocol have deposited the declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases directly from NGOs and individuals.
Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea announced, on Sunday, that her ministry will start implementing the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) programme, which was launched by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), during this month. Gamea added that the AATB programme will last until the end of September 2021. She noted that the programme aims to enhance capacity of Egyptian exporters and encourage exporting to new markets in Africa. The minister said that the Export Development Authority (EDA) would implement the programme in Egypt in cooperation with the ITFC, export councils, and the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
The Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON) has urged the federal government to request for a delay in the implementation of the Proposed ECOWAS Fuel Grade and Vehicle Emission Standards Regulations, which is expected to be in operation from January 1, 2021. The association further asked the government to independently review perceived errors in the regulations and address them to provide accurate assessment of the multi-billion-dollar costs and benefits, particularly in the light of the current financial stress occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, instability in the global oil market and recession.
MPs urged to learn from COVID-19 (The Herald)
As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the world with no immediate end in sight, SADC Members of Parliament have been urged to learn from the pandemic and work towards retaining their healthcare professionals, which has become a major challenge in some countries. Trudi Hartzenberg, the Executive Director of the Trade Law Centre (tralac), made the call recently when she addressed parliamentarians who represent their countries on the Standing Committee on Human Social Development and Special Programmes (HSDSP) of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
SB Morgen, Africa focused geopolitical research firm, has identified events that would shape Nigeria’s international trade dynamics in 2021. These are the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement by the federal government, and the emergence of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the director-general (DG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) SB Morgen in its latest report, titled: ‘The year ahead: Light at the end of the tunnel, What to expect’ in 2021 said with a transition to the Biden-led United States (US) administration in January 2021, consensus will likely be reached for Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment, noting that a Nigerian nominee landing the position would give the country’s international reputation a much-needed boost.
AfCFTA: NAFDAC Harps on Adherence to Best Practices (THISDAYLIVE)
As the world awaits the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has called on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country to embrace best practices as well as ensure that they have Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Satisfactory Analysis Report (SAR) for their products. The GMP and SAR will position local manufacturers to take competitive advantage of the nation’s involvement in the continental trade agreement and help in reducing the number of Nigerian made products that have been rejected internationally.
What opportunities does the AfCFTA hold for women? (NewsDay Zimbabwe)
According to the African Union chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will help advance the empowerment of Africa’s women, by improving women’s access to trade opportunities which will in turn facilitate economic freedom for women, and expand the productive capacities of countries. “We must ensure that there is sufficient support given to women-owned SMMEs and co-operatives in both local and regional economies,” he emphasised.
KRA Commissioner-General to Lead African Tax organization (Capital Business)
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General Githii Mburu has been appointed as the first Chairperson of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes Africa Initiative. Africa Initiative is a continental program launched in 2014 by the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum), its African members, and various partners. It aims at unpacking the benefits of tax transparency and exchange of information (EOI) to fight tax evasion and other illicit financial flows (IFFs) and serve African countries’ development.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will from next year roll out a five-year strategic economic governance plan for the continent, the Director of Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research at the bank, Dr. Morsy Hanan, has said. According to her, the “New Strategy for Economic Governance in Africa” (SEGA), expected to run from 2021 to 2025, deals with a comprehensive collation of data to inform regular debt sustainability analyses, and supports the design and adoption of legislation and regulations on implicit guarantees and contingent liabilities of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Africa expected to see a subdued economic recovery in 2021 (The Exchange)
Analysts at the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) annual roundtable noted that Africa is expected to see a subdued economic recovery in 2021 and not likely to reach 2019 growth levels until 2022. One of the striking features of the impact of the pandemic that was revealed as a key factor that should guide the continent’s recovery is that the pandemic is affecting a broader number of countries including more diversified economies and those who rely on aviation and tourism, unlike previous economic shocks that left their mark largely on commodity-dependent countries.
The speakers also noted that by 2021, six African countries are expected to record government gross debt over 100 per cent of GDP while debt burdens overall are expected to rise then stabilize by 2021/2022 above 60 per cent of GDP.
The First extra-ordinary meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Intercontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) will be held from 14-15 December 2020 virtually, under the theme Africa’s Infrastructure Priorities 2020-2030. The meeting eyes at validating the priority list of projects for the Second Phase of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA-PAP2).
The Second Biennial Review Report of the African Union Commission — on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity, and Improved Livelihoods – finds that considerable efforts have gone into improving the quality of the data, with more countries reporting in this round, and there is an overall positive trend in the performance of countries, even though only four countries achieved the required milestone to be on-track. This trajectory should be maintained, and the rate of progress accelerated while measures are put in place to address weaknesses.
As African countries, in general and those in Central Africa in particular, gear up towards going-live with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021, they must tidy-up smart strategies for ecommerce, without which they would lose out considerably on the promise of the fourth industrial revolution – a scenario which is simply not acceptable. Ecommerce, which is the monetary exchange of goods, services and information products via the Internet, will be a key component of phase two negotiations of the AfCFTA.
Member states look away as EAC 2020/21 budget stalls (The Citizen)
The East African Community (EAC) and its organs will now be compelled to agree on the bungled budget for 2020/2021. After settling down for the $97.6 million estimates, the contentious issue is now on re-allocation of funds within the same ceiling. The main contenders are the Council of Ministers, a powerful policy organ of the Community, and the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
Related: EALA Speaker urges to settle budget matter (The Citizen)
EAC states pledge to ease trade (The East African)
Regional countries have agreed to make trade between them and with other countries cheaper, faster and simpler, in a significant boost for economic integration in East Africa and continental trade facilitation. Meeting in Nairobi under the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Africa e-Commerce Week, representatives from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda said they would implement trade facilitation reforms. These include reducing non-tariff barriers such as burdensome and incompatible product regulations.
The training of trainers’ course on COVID-19 preparedness and response at 12 One Stop Border Posts between the EAC Partner States started in October 2020 and will end on Sunday, 13 December 2020 at the Gasenyi border post in Burundi. By then about 230 staff will have been trained and will scale up the measures by teaching further colleagues. “The scope of the training has focused on operations at the OSBP with close contact to travelers and their luggage including traded goods,” explains Anthony Kihara of AMREF Flying Doctors.
Here’s Africa’s ‘fire exit’ from Covid-19 pandemic (The East African)
Increasing intra-African trade, innovation, and the blue economy will provide African economies a “fire exit” from ravages of Covid-19 pandemic. These were some of the recommendations from the Kusi Ideas Festival, 2020 edition. “Why is Kenya importing things it used to export? Is it not because the informal sector is not being treated as an engine for growth?” he asked. Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said that all the economic recovery plans on the continent should be embedded within the health recovery plans.
The dangers of playing politics with COVID-19 cures (African Arguments)
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, court proceedings against the Gambia’s former president and his fraudulent HIV “treatment” underscore the dangers of politicians promoting unproven cures. In April 2020, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar announced that a plant-based tonic, Covid Organics (CVO), was an effective treatment for COVID-19.
Kenya-UK trade deal provides for other EAC member states to join in by 2025 (The East African)
Kenya is hoping that East African Community member states join the new trade agreement it signed on Wednesday with the UK. Although the agreement between Nairobi and London protects Kenya’s coffee, fresh vegetables, cut flowers and tea exports from taxation in the UK market, it also provides for exports of local products whose raw materials have been sourced from other developing countries. Kenyan officials say the deal has a framework for other countries in the region to join.
UK plans Africa conference for January (Energy Voice)
The UK Department for International Trade (DIT) will hold the Africa Investment Conference on January 20, 2021. The virtual event will focus on four areas: sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services, and agriculture and agri-tech. The UK will no longer be part of the European Union as of January 1. As such, it is making a push for new trading relationships, seeing Africa as a key region. The country has struck new trade deals with 14 African partners. 35 African partners will receive preferential access. The UK-Africa Investment Summit at the beginning of 2020 saw 27 trade and investment deals signed, worth £6.5 billion. Participants made commitments of £8.9bn.
Kenya to gradually remove taxes on UK goods in pact (Business Daily)
Kenya will gradually remove taxes on imports from the UK after seven years following a trade pact the two countries signed Tuesday last week. Mr James Duddridge, the UK minister for Africa, said the deal – strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – is aimed at “doing more trade with less friction” between the UK and the six-nation East African Community bloc. The pact, which will now have to be ratified by respective lawmakers, preserves duty- and quota-free access for exports originating from the EAC free trade area (FTA) after the UK formally leaves the European Union bloc at the end of this month.
UK-Africa trade after Brexit: Time for a reset (African Arguments)
As the UK prepares to leave the transition period with the European Union at the end of December 2020, there has been much discussion of what its newly independent trade strategy will look like. Much of this debate has focused on potential trading agreements with the EU and US, but far less on Africa. This may be understandable given that trade with Africa, amounting to £36.2 billion ($48 billion), represented just 2.5% of the UK’s total in 2019. However, Brexit combined with changing dynamics on the continent provide a huge opportunity for the UK and African countries to rethink their trade relations.
Aim for better Kenya, US trade deals in Biden era (Business Daily)
Kenya and the United States have strong and deep-rooted diplomatic relations, which have existed since Kenya attained self-rule. On February 6, 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Donald Trump in Washington DC announced the intent for Kenya and the US to negotiate and conclude a Free Trade Area Agreement (FTA). On July 8, the two countries officially launched negotiations for FTA. According to the World Bank, Kenya is one of Africa’s most dynamic economies and the second-largest beneficiary of Africa Growth Opportunity Act’s (Agoa) tariff benefits. The US views Kenya as a strategic partner in the region not only in terms of trade but also security. If successful, this agreement would be the first US FTA with a country in sub-Saharan Africa. Find out more.
China’s Southern Africa Debt Deals Reveal a Wider Plan (Chatham House)
Africa is experiencing its first continent-wide recession in 25 years due to the impact of the COVID-19, but many southern African states were already in economic distress prior to the pandemic – with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe partly because of unsustainable debt burdens they owe to China. The COVID-19 crisis propelled African debt – and repayment and forgiveness – to the top of the international agenda once again, although this time much of the debt is bilateral, non-concessionary, or commercial in origin.
As Pandemic Rages, Debt Burden on Developing Nations Grows (Voice of America)
As the coronavirus began to spread across the globe in the first half of 2020, international aid organizations began sounding the alarm about the outsized impact the virus would likely have on poor countries – especially those that are already forced to dedicate significant amounts of their annual budgets to paying off sovereign debts. Now, nearly a year into the pandemic, many of those warnings are coming true, and activists say efforts to relieve the debt burden on developing countries have been ineffectual at best, and a handout to private sector lenders at worst.
To ensure that India-South Africa’s proposal for a temporary waiver of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) obligations to fight the Covid-19 pandemic does not get buried without further discussions, World Trade Organization (WTO) members are likely to consider an early meeting of the TRIPS Council in January or early-February, instead of sticking to the scheduled mid-March slot, according to a Geneva-based official. “As countries could not arrive at a decision on the waiver proposal at the TRIPS Council meeting on December 10 because of strong opposition by some developed nations, the chair proposed that members should consider holding the next formal meeting, which is scheduled on March 10-11 2021, in January or early February. This would allow further consideration of the waiver request in the more immediate future,” a Geneva-based official said.
Technology can provide solutions to many development problems and new and emerging technologies can improve access to modern energy services and enhance agricultural productivity and livelihoods. But a deeper understanding of the full spectrum of change that these technologies can unleash across different socio-economic contexts, particularly in developing countries is needed. UNCTAD, which this week at the annual Science Forum in Pretoria, South Africa, announced a new technology assessment project it aims to roll out in key African countries.
The African Development Bank joined a group of 11 multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday in launching a first-ever joint report on financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The launch took place during a virtual ceremony attended by the heads of the institutions. The report is released at the end of a critical year, with the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to reverse progress on the SDGs. In response, MDBs have collectively mobilized a global response package of $230 billion between 2020 and 2021, to reduce the pandemic’s impact, of which $75 billion will be directed to the world’s poorest countries before the end of 2020.
The African Union Commission on Thursday, signed MoU with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) to enhance existing cooperation on Migration, and Mobility Governance between the two organisations. The Memorandum of Understanding is the result of continuous engagement, informed by the priorities and objectives of the African Union in an effort to improve political stability, enhance safety and security, advance social development and economic prosperity. Migration governance, particularly in the areas of the free movement of people, labour migration and mobility, trade, and remittances, amongst others is central to this effort.
The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) officially adopted at its meeting on 11 December a package of six recommendations and declarations aimed at addressing challenges smaller businesses face when they trade internationally. The package will be presented to all WTO members at a meeting of Heads of Delegation on 14 December. Ambassador José Luís Cancela (Uruguay), the Coordinator of the Group, noted that MSMEs often struggle to participate in international trade and have been hit very hard by the current pandemic. He added that by endorsing this package, the Group signals that it stands ready to help them.
The Director-General’s latest annual overview of trade-related developments shows a marked slowdown in the number of trade-restrictive and trade-facilitating measures adopted by WTO members related to goods trade over the past year. The report, presented at a 11 December meeting of the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB), notes the decrease observed in regular measures between mid-October 2019 and mid-October 2020 was mainly the result of the sharp decline in overall global trade since the COVID-19 outbreak. The document at the same time provides information about the numerous trade-facilitating and support measures introduced by WTO economies in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure a solid economic recovery.
It is widely accepted that the deployment of renewable energy technologies must be scaled up significantly to accelerate the global energy transition. To achieve the target of generating 57 percent of total power from renewables by 2030 will require a doubling of current investments – amounting to over USD 700 billion per year in total. As the costs of renewable energy steadily decline, the sector is becoming increasingly attractive to those looking for stable and cost-effective investments that offer consistent and predictable returns alongside significant potential to stimulate employment and global economic recovery.
Africa: Climate change and sustainable development must be a two-way street (The Africa Report)
Fossil resources have enabled a revolutionary wave of innovation in our societies since the start of the 20th century, but there are hidden costs in fossil resources to society. An IPCC Special Report defines climate risk as the likelihood of unfavourable impacts occurring as a result of severe climate events interacting with vulnerable environmental, social, economic, political or cultural conditions. This category of risks continues to dominate World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey
Five years after its adoption in Paris at COP21 organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement became effective in 2020 and the ECOWAS Commission intends to reaffirm its commitment to support the global response to the threat of climate change. According to Mr. Sékou SANGARE, Commissioner in charge of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources of ECOWAS “There is no time to waste in responding to the climate emergency, and this requires the action of all, in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility.”
Japan and South Africa agreed at their foreign ministers’ meeting in Pretoria on Saturday to strengthen post-pandemic business ties, with many Japanese companies looking to enter the emerging market as a key gateway to the whole African continent. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in his talks with Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, that Japanese companies have resumed full-fledged operations in South Africa following a suspension due to the pandemic. The ministers agreed to convene a forum at an early date to spur bilateral investment, the ministry said.