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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
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National

South Africa misses Covax deadline to secure vaccines (Engineering News)

South Africa, the country hardest hit in Africa by the coronavirus, missed a December 15 deadline to make a deposit to secure vaccines to fight the pathogen, and hasn’t arranged a guarantee to make the full payment. The payment to the Covax program will be made in coming days, according to Tandi Nzimande, the chief executive officer of the Solidarity Fund, a philanthropic organization backed by some of South Africa’s richest people and biggest companies. The fund undertook to make the R327-million ($22-million) deposit, which represents 15% of the R2.2-billion rand that will ultimately have to be paid, after the government failed to do so.

Export earnings hit five-year high (Business Daily)

Kenya’s export earnings for the 10 months to October grew the fastest in five years, indicating continued resilience of the sector against the pandemic, and its support in the rebound of the economy. Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that total exports in the period grew by 6.4 per cent to Sh532.91 billion from Sh500.79 billion in the corresponding period last year. The growth in earnings has been attributed to better performance of the traditional exports such as coffee, tea and petroleum products.

Nigeria to reopen border with Benin for goods trade (Africanews)

Nigeria is lifting the closure of borders with neighbouring Benin and Niger which it imposed in August 2019 to curb the smuggling of rice and other commodities, the government said Wednesday. "Four land borders will be reopened immediately while the remaining borders are directed to be reopened on or before 31st of December," Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told a press conference. Under President Muhammadu Buhari's instructions, "the ban on importation of rice, poultry and other banned products still subsists and will be implemented by border patrol teams," she said.

Buhari stunned Nigeria's neighbours when he unexpectedly closed the country's borders to goods trade, saying the time had come to crush contraband trade. The unilateral move was criticised for violating commercial and freedom of movement treaties signed under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The closure had a major impact on Benin, a key exporter of foodstuffs to Africa's most populous country via its port of Cotonou.

Related: Nigeria backs down after 16-month border closure (The Guardian Nigeria)

Despite concerns about Nigeria’s readiness to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the race to meet the January 1, 2021 deadline appears to have forced the Federal Government to reopen the land borders, having recorded very little gains from its 16-month border closure. The Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, approved the recommendation of a committee for reopening of four of the nation’s land borders with immediate effect while stating that others would be “reopened in due course.”

CBN approves new license categorizations for payment systems (Nairametrics)

MUFG and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have signed a $520 million facility, following Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) agreement to support and cover the arrangement. Afreximbank will use the $500 million proceeds from the signed agreement with MUFG Bank for its Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA). The facility fully aligns with Afreximbank’s strategic priorities in the area of intra and extra African trade and investment, export manufacturing, as well as industrialization. These objectives find common ground with NEXI’s objectives of supporting sustainable African growth and development in line with TICAD objectives.

Govt rallies SMEs to tap into AfCFTA opportunities (The Chronicle)

With only a few weeks left before the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation begins, the Government has called upon small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to position themselves for lucrative export opportunities. Zimbabwe has one of the vibrant SMEs sector in Africa, which plays a critical role in job creation, empowerment, wealth generation and the economy as a whole. Minister Nyoni said since Covid-19 has disrupted traditional trading models, Zimbabwe would seek leverage on digital technology to enhance its export market advantage. She, however, admitted there was a gap in relevant infrastructure provision, which the Government and private sector players would need to urgently address.

Rwanda, DP World sign deal to boost exports (The New Times)

Logistical challenges that impede local producers from accessing international market could soon come to an end following the entrance of a new e-commerce platform by DP World, into the local market. The global logistics firm has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Rwandan Government which will see Rwandan producers use the firm’s newly launched e-commerce platform, Dubuy.com to get their products to the international market. The development is expected to bring to an end supply-chain logistics challenges that have held back local producers, from accessing the international market especially in markets where there is demand for Rwandan products. The platform will operate as a Business to Business platform meaning exporters will be trading with other business operators and consequently large volumes of orders.

KQ launches expanded Southern Africa operations to fly cargo directly from Johannesburg (Capital Business)

Kenya Airways has launched its expanded Southern Africa operations that will see the airline fly cargo directly from Johannesburg to other countries in the region. Currently all connections are done through its hub in Nairobi and going forward all cargo from Southern Africa will be delivered directly, resulting in shorter connecting times and speed to market, one of the unique selling propositions to its customers.

Hundreds of MSMEs Apply for the Recovery Funds as Disbursement Begins (Capital Business)

Over 200 local businesses in Kenya have applied for COVID-19 relief loans under a programme run by Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Mastercard Foundation. The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) aims to benefit 400 MSMEs through the partnership with KEPSA, whose operations have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are working to spur economic recovery with a focus on small businesses, and these loans can be used to restart and rebuild businesses as the pandemic-related restrictions continue to be lifted and recovery begins,” KEPSA Chief Executive Officer Karuga says.

Cash in Kenyans’ pockets jumps to 19-month high (Business Daily)

The amount of cash circulating outside the banking system and in people’s pockets hit a 19-month high in October, buoyed by more firms resuming operations after the easing of some restrictions imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19. Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that cash outside banks rose to Sh223 billion in October from Sh217 billion in September and Sh194 in April. The jump in circulation came in a month when Kenya eased Covid-19 restrictions, reducing the nationwide nightly curfew by three hours to between 9 pm and 4 am and lifting lockdowns on Nairobi and Mombasa.

Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda rank top for rapid digital growth, demand (The East African)

Kenya ranked top within the region in digital growth and demand, according to the latest Digital Intelligence Index payments firm Mastercard and the Fletcher School at Tufts University. According to the Digital Intelligence Index, Kenya is followed by Rwanda and Tanzania. Together, the three countries are categorised as “Break Out” economies for evolving rapidly and their significant growth. Growth in internet penetration, improved infrastructure and more young people who are digitally savvy are some of the factors that made Kenya and Rwanda more attractive to investors.

Madagascar Needs Bold Reforms to Reopen the Country, and Rebuild Stronger After COVID-19 Crisis (World Bank)

The latest World Bank economic update for Madagascar, Setting a Course for Recovery, estimates that the economy contracted by 4.2 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions to global trade and domestic activity. The depth of the recession is therefore comparable to that of the 2009 constitutional crisis and was primarily driven by a sharp drop in export revenues and private investments. According to the report, a sudden stop in activity led to significant increase in extreme poverty, with vulnerable populations in urban areas being particularly affected. In the first semester of 2020, 64.4 percent of households reported a loss of revenue and 97 percent of companies a decline in the demand for their products and services.

Morocco-Africa trade: Average annual increase of 6.1% between 2009 and 2019 (The North Africa Post)

Trade between Morocco and the rest of Africa showed an average annual growth of 6.1% over the period 2009-2019, according to “Al Maliya”, the magazine of the Moroccan Ministry of Economy & Finance. The share of this trade in the Kingdom’s overall trade volume stood at 5.1% in 2019, according to data from the Foreign Exchange Office. Morocco-Africa exchanges were marked by a structural change from 2015, as Morocco’s trade balance started being marked by a surplus, the magazine indicates. This result is due to a greater increase in exports than in imports.


Africa

ECA’s ERA 2020 launched; focuses on innovative finance for private sector development (UNECA)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Tuesday launched its flagship Economic Report on Africa, titled: “Innovative Finance for Private Sector Development in Africa”, which looks at innovate financing as a way of providing solutions to the challenges of private sector financing, hence enabling Africa’s private sector to thrive and drive the continent’s economic growth and recovery; and, importantly, to increase the private sector’s resilience to the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. Executive Secretary, Ms. Vera Songwe expressed her hope that the analysis in the ERA would allow stakeholders, particularly during, and in the post-COVID-19 pandemic, to look at how financing and innovative tools for infrastructure, agriculture and technology, are designed as the Continent tries to build forward out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Intra-Africa Trade Key To Cushioning The Blow Of Trade Tensions And External Shocks, Says Afreximbank (Africa.com)

Afreximbank released yesterday its annual African Trade Report (ATR). This year’s report examined trade and economic developments in Africa in 2019, a year dominated by trade wars and escalating tariffs that resulted in a sharp deceleration of global trade growth. This has been compounded by Covid-19, and as a result, following a fall of 2.9% last year, global trade is expected to shrink by 9.2% in 2020. The ATR conducted an extensive study of informal cross-border trade (ICBT), the first attempt at measuring in a detailed manner the size and composition of informal trade.

Africa trade deal could tap $84bn in export potential (Moneyweb)

A continent-wide free-trade pact could help to realise more than $84 billion in untapped intra-African exports, according to a new report by the African Export-Import Bank. If the export potential is tapped under the deal, intra-continental trade could rise to more than $231 billion, or about 22% of total African commerce, even if all other conditions remained the same, Afreximbank said. Most of the untapped gains would come from southern Africa, from sectors “already proven to be internationally competitive and which have good prospects for export success in other African markets,” such as mineral commodities, machinery, food products, vehicles and parts, plastics and rubber, Afreximbank said.

Afreximbank expands Trade Finance Intermediary Initiative (Afreximbank)

During 2020, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has increased the number of its Trade Finance Intermediaries (TFIs) to more than 65 in 30 African countries. A key component of the Bank’s business model, the Trade Finance Intermediary initiative enables a smoother delivery of Afreximbank’s initiatives and credit solutions. In line with its charter and mandate, Afreximbank delivers its products and services with and through central banks, commercial banks and other eligible bank and non-bank financial institutions. The Trade Finance Intermediaries also act as Local Administrative Agents for Afreximbank’s facilities. The Bank has put in place the Trade Finance Intermediary initiative to establish lasting relationships with these partner financial institutions. New guidelines for appointing Trade Finance Intermediaries were introduced in 2017.

Africa on the Right Track to Implement its Infrastructure Priorities for the Next Decade (2021-2030) (African Union)

The First extra-ordinary meeting of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Intercontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) kicks off virtually on Monday under the theme “Africa’s Infrastructure Priorities 2021-2020” On its first day, the meeting brought together more than 170 experts drawn from African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional and Continental Institutions, and partners. Officially opening the Experts’ meeting, Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohina, First Undersecretary Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, current Chair of STC-TTIIT, said that Africa, is the land of promises with untapped potential in natural resources and human capacity. Dr. Mohina highlighted that it's urgent for Africa to invest in infrastructure and enhance interconnectivity thereby improving the standard of living of its citizens. “We require massive investments in the infrastructure sector. So far, much of Africa’s infrastructure has been financed by governments that strain public resources. We need to promote the full participation of the private sector to pull appropriate financial and technical resources to the sector”.

‘Imported Vehicle Prices To Increase Next Year’ (Economic Confidential)

The prices of vehicles imported into Nigeria will increase significantly from next year once the Fuel Grade and Vehicle Emission Standards Regulations of the Economic Community of West African States is implemented, the Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON) has said. AMDON said the plan of ECOWAS was to implement the regulation next year, which would restrict the importation of passenger vehicles of not more than five years old and heavy duty vehicles of not more than 10 years old into ECOWAS member states, including Nigeria.

Financing cost impedes agribusinesses in Africa (BusinessGhana)

Access to finance emerged as the greatest priority for agribusinesses in Africa and cost of finance cited as the biggest impediments, a new survey has revealed. This is not surprising, given that across the continent less than five per cent of commercial bank lending goes to agribusinesses. The inaugural ‘Africa Agribusiness Outlook’ has noted that the issue is not just about access to finance, it is about the cost of finance and availability of financial instruments that are adapted for the agricultural sector. “It is also about making agriculture attractive, viable and profitable rather than being looked at as a risky endeavour. Given the importance of the agricultural sector to many African economies, we believe this is an area that needs to be given urgent attention,” the survey stated.

ECA’s Chinganya calls on national statistical systems to maintain efforts to modernize & transform (UNECA

The Forum on Statistical Development in Africa (FASDev) continues to play a critical role in contributing to partnership building for statistical development on the continent for informed decision-making, says Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Statistics Centre at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Its main aim was to have an overview of statistical activities, including technical assistance and training in Africa; set up a permanent system for monitoring statistical development in Africa; and to strengthen modalities for cooperation, with a view to leveraging each partner’s comparative advantage. “These objectives remain valid today after 16 years of FASDev’s existence,” said Mr. Chinganya, adding over the years FASDev has established linkages three areas - producers of official statistics; statistics training centres, and partners supporting statistical development resulting in an improvement in quality of data and statistics, and increased capacity building and training of young statisticians.

The African Development Bank secures nearly $90 million in new donor funds to transform the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa

The African Development Bank announced $90 million in new donor commitments for the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) during a virtual launch event held on Monday, in which SEFA’s transformation into a Special Fund was also unveiled. The new SEFA Special Fund is expected to expand,  be more flexible, as well as more responsive to Africa’s fast changing energy market, with a sharper focus on green mini-grids and green baseload, and offering a wider array of catalytic finance instruments. Over 300 development partners and financiers attended the launch event, as well as representatives of African governments and energy sector institutions, project developers and sponsors, commercial banks and infrastructure funds.

Opinion: Build Africa back to 'better'...not just to 'normal' (CGTN Africa)

Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, countries, societies, and individuals have struggled to respond to the pandemic’s devastation of health systems, economies, trade, and human wellbeing. While Africa has been spared the pandemic’s harshest health impacts, it has absorbed a heavy economic burden. The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has demonstrated the need to rethink Africa’s development model, as the world contemplates emerging from the pandemic and aims to build back economies quickly following the current shock—and ensure resilience against future ones. Africa must do more than get back to normal: it must build back even better, an idea captured in the theme of Africa Economic Conference 2020, Under the theme: Africa beyond COVID-19: Acceleration towards inclusive and sustainable development,  the conference, being held 8-10 December and jointly organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme, provides a platform for established and up-and-coming academics to present solution-oriented research to policymakers and decision-makers.

Majority of Africans would take a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine (Africa CDC)

A survey conducted by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has shown that a predominant majority (79% average) of respondents in Africa would take a COVID-19 vaccine if it were deemed safe and effective.


International

Transforming trade, backing productive capacities is key to fixing global economy (UNCTUD)

The COVID-19 crisis has been both an accelerator and a decelerator for already rooted trends in the global economy. On the downside, the pandemic hit amidst widening inequality, declining economic prospects, mounting vulnerabilities to climate change, and a weakened multilateralism. But there is a solid route out of a fractured picture: expanding the transformative productive capacities of all could form the core of a new, more resilient multilateral consensus for accelerating achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This according to UNCTAD’s Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, who outlined that the pandemic demands new economic and intellectual beginnings in his new report to member States. The report sets the scene for the UN trade and development body’s quadrennial conference due to take place next year in Barbados.

"Building productive capacities that facilitate structural transformation and economic diversification will be vital to overcoming the current fractured global economic landscape and addressing the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Kituyi. In his report, Transforming Trade and Development in a Fractured, Post-Pandemic World, Dr. Kituyi lays out the key issues on which UNCTAD member States could find consensus and frames the discussion for the fifteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD 15, where the organization’s mandate is updated and adapted to new and emerging needs.

UNCTAD’s Statistical Handbook Reveals Partial Recovery in Merchandise Trade Amid Declines in Services Trade (ISSD)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2020 Handbook of Statistics shows that COVID-19 has contributed to significant declines in international trade, with services trade experiencing a drop not seen since 1990. The handbook provides a range of statistics and indicators on international trade in merchandise and services, investment, population, maritime transport, and development. This year’s online edition adds new interactive charts and maps, enabling increased visibility of small territories and allowing for user customization. The handbook notes that the total value of world services exports in 2019 was valued at USD 6.1 trillion, after a “modest” 1.9% rise. Prior to COVID-19, between 2014 and 2019, all main service categories exports – transport; travel; insurance, financial, intellectual property, and other business services; telecommunications, computer, and information; and “other” categories – were increasing, with telecommunications experiencing the highest growth rates. However, in the wake of the pandemic, trade in services is likely to fall by 15.4% in 2020 compared with 2019, the handbook projects.

Year-on-year, the handbook notes in a “nowcast” – UNCTAD’s data-led projections for the immediate future in response to increased demands for up-to-date statistics in light of the pandemic – that a 19.9% decline of services trade is expected this quarter relative to the third quarter of 2019. The plunge has been driven by sharp declines in travel, transport, and tourism activity, UNCTAD finds.

Legislation for the UK’s independent tariff policy (GOV.UK)

From the 1 January 2021 the UK Global Tariff will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff as the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff – the framework it will use to trade independently outside of free trade agreements. The UK Global Tariff is tailored to the needs of the UK economy, backing British business to compete on the world stage.

It’s simpler to use, greener, and cuts red tape and other unnecessary barriers to trade. It will make it easier for businesses to import goods from overseas. Today, 16 December, steps will be taken to bring this into law, with the laying of Statutory Instruments before Parliament as part of a wider legislative package. This legislation implements the announcement of the UK Global Tariff in May 2020.

Alongside the UK Global Tariff, the Government has also acted to: establish the UK’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences to support trade with developing countries roll over existing trade remedies to protect domestic sectors from unfair international competition.

Africa visit by EU officials set off coronavirus super-spreader fears (POLITICO)

A visit to Addis Ababa in October by a high-level delegation including EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was designed to showcase a donation of 7.5 tons of coronavirus testing kits. Instead, it ended up setting off fears of a super-spreader event at the African Union headquarters and among top Ethiopian officials. The events surrounding the visit — and EU-Africa relations in general — came under renewed scrutiny after the surprise, last-minute cancellation by the African side of a planned videoconference summit that was to be held last Wednesday.

COMESA & the European Union sign EUR 7.6 million Financing Agreement for Institutional Capacity Building Programme

COMESA and the European Union have signed a EUR 7.6 million Financing Agreement for the COMESA Institutional Capacity Building Programme. Secretary-General Chileshe Kapwepwe co-signed the Agreement with the Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia who is also the Special Representative to COMESA, Mr. Jacek Jankowski on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 at the COMESA Secretariat. The objective of the programme is to deepen regional integration in the COMESA region, and to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the COMESA Secretariat in the implementation of regional cooperation projects and engagement with its Member States. The programme will support COMESA in the domestication and implementation of regional commitments at Member States level. It will further facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue on regional economic integration, in the Tripartite framework of COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Southern African Development Community :: SADC and EU working on increasing intra-regional trade

The resolution of Non-Tariff-Barriers to trade under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) is ongoing and playing a key role in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. SADC and the EU signed the TFP in 2019 and this is aimed at addressing several elements identified by stakeholders as crucial for developing an improved international market access and for increasing intra-regional trade between SADC Member States. The programme has to date seen trade flows within the SADC Region and with the outside world increasing along the North-South Corridor. The TFP programme, which will run from 2019 to 2025, is funded to the tune of Euro 15 million by the EU under the 11th Economic Development Fund. The TFP addresses non-tariff barriers to trade and facilitates harmonisation of technical, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and provides cross-border management tools to speed up processes and reduce the costs of exports within the SADC countries and with the EU. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures set out the basic rules for food safety and animal and

At WTO, a battle for access to COVID-19 vaccines (Devex)

High-income countries appear to be maneuvering to avoid a showdown at the World Trade Organization’s General Council meeting, beginning Wednesday, over a proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for all COVID-19 vaccines and other technologies.

There is some skepticism over whether countries are actually in a position to take advantage of the proposal, introduced by South Africa and India, or if mechanisms already exist to address these concerns. Supporters of the plan are willing to address these issues, as long as that debate is not being used just to sideline the conversations around access to COVID-19 vaccines.

WHO vaccine scheme risks failure, potentially leaving poor countries with no COVID vaccines until 2024 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The global scheme to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries faces a "very high" risk of failure, potentially leaving nations that are home to billions of people with no access to vaccines until as late as 2024, internal documents say.

The World Health Organization's COVAX program is the main global scheme to vaccinate people in low and middle income countries against coronavirus. It aims to deliver at least 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to cover 20 per cent of the most vulnerable people in 91 low and middle-income countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America.In internal documents — reviewed by Reuters — the scheme's promoters say the program is struggling due to a lack of funds, supply risks and complex contractual arrangements which could make it impossible to achieve its goals.

WTO Members Delay Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies to 2021 | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD

World Trade Organization (WTO) members did not conclude negotiations on an agreement on curbing harmful fisheries subsidies by the 2020 deadline. A new schedule for meetings in 2021 is being developed, with the aim of bringing “this negotiation to the finish line.” The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) and SDG target 14.6 give negotiators the task of securing an agreement on eliminating subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by the end of 2020. In March 2020, the COVID-19 crisis resulted in the suspension of in-person meetings, and members used online meetings and written exchanges to continue negotiations. Despite their efforts and “almost daily” meetings in late November, WTO members were unable to finish negotiations at the 14 December informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee.

The draft text addresses all the main pillars of the negotiations, including prohibitions on subsidies, a placeholder for a capping mechanism and a list of non-harmful subsidies, provisions for special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries (LDCs), technical assistance and capacity building, notification and transparency, institutional arrangements, and dispute settlement. During the final “cluster” of discussions in the 2020 work programme, heads of delegations provided drafting suggestions on IUU fishing, overcapacity and overfishing, and special and differential treatment for developing countries.

WCO publishes updated version of the Coordinated Border Management (CBM) Compendium (WCO)

The latest version of the Coordinated Border Management (CBM) Compendium contains a number of new features and aims to comprehensively support Customs administrations, Cross-Border Regulatory Agencies (CBRAs) and international organizations in strengthening implementation of CBM in various fields.  The concept of CBM has existed for many years and refers to a coordinated approach by border control agencies, both domestic and international, in the context of seeking greater efficiencies in managing trade and travel flows, while maintaining a balance with compliance requirements

The Compendium also includes a new section on cooperation between the WCO and the UPU.  This section sets out potential opportunities for cooperation between Customs administrations and designated postal operators, including the exchange of advance electronic data aimed at improving risk management, trade facilitation and control of postal items, particularly in the context of growing e-commerce via post.

Policy Brief: Coherent Global Trade Policy Frameworks Needed for Circular Economy for Plastics (IISD)

As the consequences of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world, one of its unexpected impacts has been the increased use of single-use plastics, fueling concerns that plastic waste levels will grow with it. In parallel, the push by many governments to adopt measures at the domestic level to address this issue, which in some cases includes trade policy measures, requires better coordination to be effective. Part of the COVID-19-related increase in single-use plastics comes from the rapid transition to online shopping instead of traditional in-shop purchases. This has increased by 6-10%, according to a recent survey by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and is likely to grow further in the holiday season. The pandemic also spurred the use of disposable products due to health and hygiene concerns, many of which are largely or entirely composed of plastics – such as utensils, bottles, wet wipes, masks, and other personal protective equipment.

People, planet on ‘collision course’, warns UN Development Programme (UN News)

The coronavirus pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, and societies everywhere need to “release their grip on nature”, or risk more of the same, the agency said in this year's Human Development Report, entitled The Next Frontier, released on Tuesday. “Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record-breaking temperatures and spiraling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.  “As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development.” 

DESA Identifies 16 SDG Good Practices to Inspire Governments, Stakeholders (IISD)

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is showcasing 16 examples of successful SDG implementation efforts from around the world, in hopes of helping governments and stakeholders deliver on the 2030 Agenda while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing the risk of future emergencies. The success stories are described in the first-ever ‘SDG Good Practices’ publication and featured on a data visualization dashboard. The publication titled, ‘SDG Good Practices: A compilation of success stories and lessons learned in SDG Implementation,’ consists of examples submitted through an open call from DESA conducted in 2018-2019. DESA reports that it received over 700 submissions from all types of stakeholders. An inter-agency expert team from UN bodies identified over 500 “good practices” from the submissions. On the visual dashboard, 513 good practices are displayed by the implementing sector, the associated SDG(s), and their location. Another feature enables the user to see all of the good practices being implemented in a selected country. Individual examples also can be viewed in detail on a dedicated website.

Feeding the world's growing population while limiting the impacts of climate change will require urgent and radical transformation of our agri-food systems, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said at a High-Level event commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. "We need to interact differently with our environment," the Director-General said, pointing to the need for high-impact action focused on better production, better nutrition, a better environment for a better life . "Let us show nature the reverence it deserves and prepare ourselves to set the table for 10 billion people by 2050 with healthy diets."

Agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and livestock production, generates around a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, which must be reduced by 2030 to achieve the goal of limiting the global warming increase to 2°C.