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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country focus

Supply Chains Latest: Covid Curbs Shut Busy African Border (Bloomberg)

South Africa’s decision to shut its land borders to most travel to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has blocked hundreds of thousands of foreigners trying to return to work after the December holidays. Beitbridge, the only legal road crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa – and southern Africa’s busiest inland border post – was worst affected. Even before the Jan. 11 announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that 20 of South Africa’s land border posts would be closed to almost all travelers except those hauling freight, people waited for as long as four days in lines of traffic that stretched miles from the gate.

“There is significant movement of persons,” said Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Tralac Trade Law Center in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Labor market developments across the region show “we really are so closely connected to Zimbabwe specifically, but then to Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and so on, so it really is a regional effect.”

DHL Global Forwarding invests 126.5 million rand in new facility in South Africa (EIN News)

Clement Blanc, Managing Director, DHL Global Forwarding, South Africa said, “While it’s too early to fully grasp the economic impact of the current pandemic, our confidence in investing ahead of the curve is abetted by our diverse service portfolio and long-established foothold in Africa. As the world’s largest free trade area moves toward economic integration, our five-year strategy to sharpen our core business offerings and accelerate digitalization will further our growth in the region and specifically, in South Africa.”

Wheat, sugar and salt lead import for January (Vanguard)

There are indications that the confectionary industry will experience a boom in the first quarter of 2021 as wheat, the major condiment for bread and other confectionaries, is leading the import chart with a total of 178,358 metric tonnes. Wheat is followed by sugar, another major condiment used by confectioners, with 49,000 mts, while salt took a third position on the chart. According to the shipping position, a statistical document of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, for the month of January 2021, most of the wheat imports are due in the country before the end of the month while some of them have already arrived and are awaiting clearing and evacuation.

UNCTAD lists Nigeria among ship-owning countries (Vanguard)

The United Nations Conferences on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has recognized Nigeria in the class of ship-owning countries. Disclosing the development in an interview, Ms Olufunmilayo Folorunso, Secretary General of African Shipowners Association, said that UNCTAD, which is dedicated to trade and development, captured the information in its annual report for 2020, confirming Nigeria as the only African country in the class, besides Liberia, which is not flagged Africa. Her words: “UNCTAD does global pictures and they produce an annual report. In the annual report for 2020, excerpts of which we got in November 2020, and went through it thoroughly, the highlight for me was the fact that Nigeria is part of the Top 35 ship-owing countries.”

Nigeria requests 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from African Union (Reuters)

Nigeria has written to the African Union to request 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to supplement the COVAX programme and has allocated $26 million for licensed vaccine production, the health minister said on Monday. Nigeria, like other countries across Africa, is grappling with a second wave of the novel coronavirus. The African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers for member states, its chair South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week.

Nigeria’s China-built railway has to avoid debt pitfalls (Quartz Africa)

The 156-kilometer Lagos-Ibadan railway costs $1.5 billion and runs from Lagos to Ibadan, the second largest city in the country’s southwest, and, subsequently, with additional funding, on to the northern cities of Nigeria. It is funded by a $1.3 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and about $182 million from the Nigerian government. The Lagos-Ibadan line is a critical section of the broader $11.1 billion 2,733 kilometer Lagos-Kano standard-gauge north-south railway being constructed by Chinese engineering giant the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) consider port hauling service, not intercity travelers, to be sufficient for the service to be profitable and to generate enough funds to pay off the loan from China.

Nigeria issues fresh conditions toward smooth implementation of AfCFTA (Nigerian Tribune)

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Tuesday, issued conditions for the smooth implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. In a statement signed by the Service Spokesman, DC Joseph Attah, the Service reminded all parties of their roles and responsibilities towards the agreement. According to the statement, “Sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation.”

Border closure failed to achieve objectives – Prof Asiwaju (2) (Vanguard)

Government has, in the course of the border closure lost so much in image, especially in the weighing scale of human rights abuses and havoc wreaked on such regular socio-economic operations as peasant agriculture, petty trading, carpentry, iron welding, barbing and hairdressing salons, tailoring and fashion shops, hospitalities and road transportation, to mention just the leading examples of small-scale economic operations that suffered untold losses as a result of the ill-advised 15-month unilateral border closure.

Finance Ministry warned govt of huge losses due to Internet shutdown (Daily Monitor)

Government, on January 13, shutdown the Internet on the eve of the presidential and parliamentary election, citing fears that unnamed individuals had planned to mobilise protests in the event that the elections are not declared in their favour. In a January 18 letter, Finance Ministry permanent secretary and secretary to Treasury Patrick Ochailap, warned Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda of massive cross-cutting losses, which included defaulting on debt repayments and other international obligations, drawing attention to “the crippling effects of Internet lockdown on Treasury operations, financial sector and business sector”.

Kenya now eyes Sh69bn debt service suspension (Business Daily)

Kenya has widened its debt service relief request to all its bilateral lenders, hoping to save Sh69 billion, the National Treasury has said. The move comes days after a decision by the Paris Club of international decision to give Kenya a Sh32.9 billion loan repayment break to help ease the financial distresses linked to Covid-19. The Treasury said Nairobi had expanded the bid for reprieve from servicing its looming debt payment obligations under the landmark debt relief initiative – known as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) – that came from the G20 grouping of the world’s largest economies – spurred on by the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) and World Bank – last April. The G20 nations agreed to freeze bilateral government loan repayments for 76 low-income countries until the end of the year and called on private sector creditors to participate on a voluntary basis.


News from Africa

Africa’s Development Dynamics report shows digitalisation of economic sectors will kick-start a new growth cycle after COVID-19 (OECD)

The response to the COVID-19 crisis builds momentum for Africa’s digital transformation to overcome the pandemic and create more productive jobs, according to the 2021 edition of Africa’s Development Dynamics (AfDD) launched today. The COVID‑19 pandemic is the hardest shock to African economies in 25 years. Gross domestic product (GDP) has decreased in 41 countries in 2020, compared to 11 countries in 2009 when the Global Financial Crisis hit. Yet Africa’s governments are facing today’s crisis with lower financial resources than they did then: over 2010‑18, domestic revenues per capita decreased by 18%, and external financial flows per capita by 5%; total national savings could drop by 18%, remittances by 25% and foreign direct investment by 40%. In that context, Africa’s booming digital sector offers an opportunity for governments to help kick-start a new growth cycle in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the report. By encouraging the spreading of digital technologies, data and interconnection to all sectors, starting with healthcare, African countries can accelerate economic transformation and the creation of productive jobs, in line with the Aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063.

6th PIDA Week positions infrastructure at the heart of Africa’s economic recovery (African newspage)

The 6th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, a weeklong event aimed at engaging and exchanging information on progress in the implementation of the PIDA programme, has commenced virtually on Monday.

The event which is being hosted by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the AU’s development agency, is holding January 18 -21 under the theme: “New decade, new realities, new priorities – positioning PIDA and infrastructure development in Africa’s continued growth and economic recovery.” PIDA is the AU’s strategic framework for regional and continental infrastructure development, guiding its infrastructure development agenda, policies, and investment priorities; it provides a framework for engagement with Africa’s development partners on the provision of regional and continental infrastructure as well as facilitating the physical, economic and social integration of the continent in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The African Statistical Yearbook 2020 (AfDB)

The Yearbook series is a result of joint efforts by major African regional organizations to set up a joint data collection mechanism of socioeconomic data on African countries as well as the development of a common harmonized database. The Joint African Statistical Yearbook is meant to break with the practices of the past where each regional/subregional organization was publishing statistical data on African countries of the continent in an inefficient way, leading to duplication of efforts, inefficient use of scarce resources, increased burden on countries and sending different signals to users involved in tracking development efforts on the continent.

EXPLAINER | What to know about the African free trade area – and when you can start exporting (Fin24)

The free trade agreement came into effect on 1 January. But that was more of a symbolic launch. A number of processes must be concluded before meaningful trade can take place. [Subscription service]

Market integration is a process, says AfCFTA secretariat amid challenges (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has dismissed talks that the AfCFTA arrangement was being rushed, saying there is no trade agreement where all members were ready at the same time. Indeed, there have been concerns about countries’ readiness for the trade deal; many are yet to address issues bordering strategies and customs procedures. According to the Organised Private Sector, the AfCFTA serves as an avenue for local industries in Nigeria to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with other African countries, even though it also poses new competitiveness risk for many firms especially for those in the real sector.

Understanding AfCFTA and Nigeria-Niger rail project (Pulse Nigeria)

AfCFTA’s potential, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022. With this, economists posit that AfCFTA will consolidate Africa into one trade area to provide great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers across the continent to support sustainable development in the world’s least developed region. To achieve part of the aims of the initiative, the federal government embarks on a rail line project between Nigeria and Republic of Niger as a way of improving trade relations and boosting economic activities between the two countries.

Increased trade – exactly what Africa needs post-Covid-19 (News24)

The AfCFTA is not as yet fully operational: January 1 this year marked a landmark date in the process of full adoption and implementation, but we are not yet over the finish line. On the AfCFTA – and increased African trade – Emeritus Professor Jaime de Melo and economist Anna Twum have identified “low-cost inputs trade, simple rules-of-origin, and digital connectivity” as key to “regional trade integration and global value chain participation.” Regarding barriers that could inhibit supply chain participation – and by extension, trade – they point to: 1. High tariffs on intermediate inputs; 2. Complicated rules-of-origin; and 3. Expensive and unreliable digital connectivity.

AfCFTA: Ecobank Pledges to Facilitate Payments for Customers (THISDAY)

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, has said that the pan-African banking group is positioned to facilitate payments across Africa as the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) commences. Ayeyemi, who was quoted in a statement to have made this assertion during an interview recently, pointed out that Ecobank has been able to effect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform.

Access Bank Targets Eight More African Countries in Expansion Drive (THISDAY)

Access Bank Plc has unfolded plans to expand to eight more African countries as part of a strategy to support trade and finance in the continent and take advantage of the newly formed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The countries are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Angola, Namibia and Ethiopia. Presently, the tier-one bank operates in 12 countries. According to Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, across Africa, there is an opportunity for the bank to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA. He stated that the plan is for the bank to establish its presence in 22 African countries so as to diversify its earnings and take advantage of growth opportunities in Africa. Africa has enormous potential and there are opportunities for an African bank that is well run, that understands compliance and has the capacity to support trade and the right technology infrastructure to support payments and remittances, without taking incremental risks.

Kenya Led Other African Countries in Startup Investment in 2020 (Techweez)

Kenya is known for its vibrant startup hubs and reports show that investors are very interested in ideas in this country. According to a preliminary overview report about startup investments in Africa by Startup list Africa, Kenya is the leading destination for startup investments in Africa in 2020. Kenya received over 25% of total funding in Africa which is a significant cut of the pie. The top industry that received the funding was renewable energy which is an industry that has seen tremendous interest in. According to their report. Kenya led the way with $266 million (Kshs 29.3 billion) in investments ahead of Nigeria ($237 million), South Africa ($198 million), Egypt ($125 million) and Ghana ($90 million). The top industries that got funding in Kenya are in renewable energy, Agritech and logistics.

COMESA Secretariat Signs Sub-Delegation Agreement with Malawi to Upgrade Mchinji Border Post (COMESA)

The COMESA Secretariat and the Government of the Republic of Malawi have signed a 3.54 million Euros agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities under the broader Trade Facilitation programme with COMESA at Mchinji border post between Zambia and Malawi on the Malawian side. The project will support the implementation of key pillars of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operations. Some of the major activities to be implemented under this agreement include upgrading the customs e-management system and bandwidth; improving inter-agency connectivity; implementation of the Trade and Transport Corridor Management System; capacity building, training and sensitization of National Trade Facilitation Committee and Border Agencies among others.

High demand for vaccines puts Africa on the back burner (The East African)

As the AU announced this past week that it had secured 270 million doses of Covid vaccines, East Africans will have to wait a bit longer to access the required quantities. While the announcement provides relief as countries may soon access the much-needed vaccines for frontline workers, the elderly and people with chronic ailments, the available doses are not enough to contain the pandemic as scientists recommend at least 60 per cent vaccination of the population. And even though it is the largest such agreement yet for the continent, it will not be until April that the first shipment of 50 million doses arrives and is then distributed through June, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (AfricaCDC) John Nkengasong said on Thursday.

An additional 19 million Euros is expected into the ECOWAS Fund (Vanguard)

Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Finda Koroma has said that an additional 19 million Euros is expected into the ECOWAS Stabilization Fund. The Fund expected this year will be provided by the German government which would cover post Ebola countries like Guinea and Liberia. The fund will consist of several components. It will have four components as a private sector promotion and employment window, consisting of short term employment like labor, construction projects, maintenance of basic economic and social infrastructure as well as Medium term employment creation through investment in value chain especially in agriculture.’

Mauritius, Morocco Join AfDB Index (THISDAY)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced the addition of two new countries – Mauritius and Morocco – to its Bloomberg African Bond Indices (ABABI), marking a steady progress in the Bank’s efforts to deepen the continent’s local currency bond market. The African Development Bank administers the ABABI, a family of African bond indices launched in February 2015 and calculated by the independent, global index provider Bloomberg. “This is a positive development as the inclusion of Mauritius and Morocco, two of Africa’s better-rated issuers, will improve the overall credit quality of the ABABI, which now captures close to 90 per cent of the outstanding amount of African sovereign local currency bonds,” Director of the Bank’s Financial Sector Development Department, Stefan Nalletamby said.

Africa’s Evolving Cyber Threats (Africa Center for Strategic Studies)

African governments face a fast-evolving array of digital threats from espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, organized crime, and combat innovation. African governments and security sector actors have only just begun to identify and respond to the ways in which digital technology is transforming African security. Cyberspace has amplified the nature of four major types of security activity in particular: espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, organized crime, and the contours of the African battlefield.

International trading partners

Maiden Africa Investment Roundtable Discusses Using Technology to Drive Regional Development (Proshare Nigeria)

The Africa Investment Roundtable (AIR) held its maiden edition in which it addressed the issue of the application of technology in driving growth in Africa. The session focused on a few issues ranging from lessons of the COVID-19 and sundry challenges in 2020 to the continental economic outlook in 2021 and how African policymakers can turn crisis into opportunities. Co-Founder of the AIR Initiative, Ms. Arunma Oteh, said that the Africa Investment Roundtable was conceived as a thought leadership series to bring expert-opinion to bear on the ways of taking advantage of investment opportunities in Africa.

UK to host 2021 UK-Africa Investment Conference (Foreign Brief)

The UK Department for International Trade is set to virtually host the 2021 UK-Africa Investment Conference today. The event links British and African businesses in hopes of creating future investment opportunities in sustainable infrastructure, agriculture and green technology. Last year’s showing announced over $8 billion worth of trade and investment deals. This year’s meeting follows December’s breakthrough deal between the UK and EU.

The UK has drawn up trade deals with 13 African nations post-Brexit, but the new bilateral agreements differ little from previous EU-Africa deals. However, negotiating comprehensive regional deals may prove more complex. For example, Kenya’s efforts towards an independent agreement with the UK have been criticised for its potential to compromise the East Africa Community (EAC) trading bloc’s ability to forge a collective bargain. Kenya will likely continue to push for an immediate replacement to the pre-Brexit deal for fear of losing access to the UK market, Nairobi’s fifth-largest trading partner. The rest of the EAC stands to lose bargaining power as a bloc without the inclusion of one of its most powerful members. If Kenya decides to rush ahead without the EAC, already strained relationships may drastically flatten the trajectory of African economic development.

We must seize the opportunity to pursue a post-Brexit trade deal with Africa (PoliticsHome.com)

A year on from the first UK-Africa Investment Summit (AIS), progress has been made to improve our links with the great continent of Africa. We have only just started. On the anniversary of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, we look back on this historic event which brought together heads of state, politicians and business leaders from the UK and Africa. In the year since the summit, progress has been made. Post-Covid and post-Brexit, it is key for the UK to promote exports and investment to this magnificent region. Why, then, was our total trade with the continent just $27bn in 2019 (2.4% of the UK’s total trade). Germany and France export double the value of goods that Britain does to Africa. In stark contrast, over half of the UK’s exports are sent to European countries.

The UK has deregulated citrus imports, including from South Africa (Engineering News)

With the UK’s departure from the European Union’s (EU’s) single market and customs union at the start of this year, London has deregulated, among other commodities, citrus fruit and leaf imports. The UK is a major market for South Africa’s citrus sector, reportedly taking 9.5% of the country’s citrus exports in 2019. “Leaving the EU single market and customs union means we can tailor regulation and import controls specifically to the needs of Great Britain rather than the EU,” a spokesperson for the UK High Commission in South Africa told Engineering News in an exclusive interview. “However, imports of citrus fruit and leaves into Northern Ireland will currently continue to be subject to the EU’s plant health import requirements.”

UK Export Finance unlocks trade to Egypt and supports UK jobs with £1.7bn guarantee (GOV.UK)

A consortium led by Bombardier Transportation has confirmed a deal with the Egyptian Government to build two new monorails thanks to £1.7 billion backing from UK Export Finance (UKEF), the largest amount of financing it has ever provided for an overseas infrastructure project. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Trade is an incredibly powerful way to propel growth and create jobs as we recover from the pandemic. This deal shows why we are so determined to get businesses to grasp these opportunities and take advantage of the support available from Government. One third of our economy is exports. That’s why support from our export credit agency is vital. It can help the UK get a bigger slice of the global economic pie, secure jobs across the country and make the most of our newfound independence as a trading nation.”

SACU’s economic partnership agreement with UK officially commences (Namibia Economist)

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the SACU Member States (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) and Mozambique on the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the other part (SACUM-UK EPA), entered into force on 1 January 2021. The agreement came into force following the end of the UK’s transition period and the deposit of the instruments of ratification by all the Parties to the SACUM-UK EPA.

US-Africa policy can be reset under Biden (The Mail & Guardian)

Since American agricultural commodities’ demand for slave labour brought the United States and Africa together four centuries ago, the US-Africa relationship has been mainly defined by economics and the shifting strategic value of the continent to America. As President Joe Biden takes office, it is time to consider how to elevate US-Africa relations through policies that can bring more prosperity to ordinary Africans and Americans.

What can Africa expect from the Biden administration? (The Africa Report)

Tomorrow, the whole world’s eyes will be on the inauguration of Joe Biden. Stepping into a moment of unprecedented domestic crisis, he will probably have relatively little bandwidth for Africa. While the incoming Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs hasn’t been confirmed yet, many State Department appointments have been filled by veterans from the Obama era. Repairing alliances and boosting multilateralism seem to be on the agenda. What will be fascinating is how this will play out on the ground in Africa. One of the first casualties of the Biden reforms could be the Trump administration’s free trade agreement with Kenya. Nairobi is reportedly concerned that the nascent deal could be dead in the water, with the Biden administration opting to focus more attention on working via the African Continental Free Trade Area. This won’t only boost multilateralism in theory, it will also bolster the East African Community’s role as a negotiator – one undercut by both the Trump administration and Kenya itself.

Africa: How Fighting Climate Change Policy Can Help President Biden Re-Engage Africa (AllAfrica)

Despite dire predictions, the Trump Administration’s overall policy toward Africa represented continuity. Foreign aid continued; skilled diplomats were appointed and deployed to resolve conflicts; and the signature Africa programs of past presidents remained unabated. Biden will innovate new ways to engage with the continent towards a more stable, more secure Africa Because of Biden’s focus on climate change, it is likely that his signature program will focus on this issue. Herein lies Biden’s opportunity for an innovative Africa policy.

ECI signs agreement with Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (EIN News)

Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE’s Federal export credit company, has partnered with Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), the financial arm of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, to advance economic development through trade finance and project and infrastructure finance, thereby bolstering the competitiveness of UAE-based businesses as they explore new markets and expand their operations in the international marketplace. The UAE is Africa’s fourth-largest global investor in Africa after China, Europe and the United States of America, with an investment of AED 92 billion ($25 billion) over the 2014-2018 period. This agreement is set to further boost the appetite of UAE businesses to increase their exports and investments in Africa.

CDC inks facility with TDB to boost pandemic trade recovery in Africa (Global Trade Review)

CDC Group, a publicly funded development finance institution, has moved to support the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) with a new US$100mn finance facility. The agreement aims to boost TDB’s capacity for providing credit to African businesses in need of short-term financing, and who are grappling with the economic impact of Covid-19. According to a statement from the parties, the commitment will provide top-up loans and much-needed capital to new and existing TDB clients, which in turn will support the import, export and production of “strategic inputs” and agricultural commodity goods in the 22 members states where TDB operates. There will be a “strong focus on those economies with the most challenging investment climates”, the release says.

Project launched to define role of finance in South Africa and India’s ‘just transitions’ (Engineering News)

A new multi-partner initiative has been launched with the aim of defining the role that finance can and should play in supporting both South Africa and India’s aspirations to implement “just transitions” to more climate-resilient economies. The ‘Just Transition Finance Roadmaps in South Africa and India Project’ is being backed by the UK’s development finance institution, the CDC Group, in partnership with Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the National Business Initiative (NBI), of South Africa, as well as the Observer Research Foundation, LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Initiative for Responsible Investment and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.


Global economy

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021: The Potential to Scale (World Bank)

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021 sheds light on one of the most intractable challenges faced by development policy makers and practitioners: transforming the economic lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Economic inclusion programs are a bundle of coordinated, multidimensional interventions that support individuals, households, and communities so they can raise their incomes and build their assets. Programs targeting the extreme poor and vulnerable groups are now under way in 75 countries.

Could 2021 be a comeback year for global trade? (Cayman Compass)

2020 was one of the most disruptive years in recent memory for global trade and the rules-based multilateral trading system. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sharp contraction in global merchandise trade growth which was already slowing due to escalating trade tensions among major trading powers. It disrupted global supply chains, provoking calls for nearshoring. COVID-19 also delayed the scheduled trade policy reviews of some World Trade Organization (WTO) members, as well as postponed key events on the global trade calendar, in particular the WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) and Fifteenth Quadrennial Conference of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XV).

Business performance, strategy, Covid-19 drive further change in nonexecutive practices (Engineering News)

While 2020 was a year of fluctuations and novel challenges, the remuneration of nonexecutive directors continues to be increasingly linked to the performance of businesses, as well as their ability to adapt to new challenges and new demands from stakeholders and shareholders, says professional services and advisory multinational PwC South Africa People and Organisation Reward Tax, Legal and Governance leader associate director and co-lead Leila Ebrahimi. Ebrahimi is the editor of the PwC ‘2021 Nonexecutive Directors Practices And Fees Trends’ report, released on January 19.

Independent panel finds critical early failings in COVID-19 response (UN News)

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response found critical elements to be “slow, cumbersome and indecisive” in an era when information about new disease outbreaks is being transmitted faster than countries can formally report on them. “When there is a potential health threat, countries and the World Health Organization must further use the 21st century digital tools at their disposal to keep pace with news that spreads instantly on social media and infectious pathogens that spread rapidly through travel,” said Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and co-chair of the panel.

Covid-related risks dominate Allianz Risk Barometer 2021 (Engineering News)

A trio of Covid-19-related risks heads up the tenth Allianz Risk Barometer 2021, reflecting potential disruption and loss scenarios companies are facing in the wake of the pandemic. Business interruption and pandemic outbreak are this year’s top business risks with cyber incidents ranking a close third. “The Allianz Risk Barometer 2021 is clearly dominated by the Covid-19 trio of risks. Business interruption, pandemic and cyber are strongly interlinked, demonstrating the growing vulnerabilities of our highly globalised and connected world.

Supporting a Green Post-COVID Recovery Can Generate Over $10 Trillion in Investment Opportunities in Emerging Markets, Says New IFC Report

Supporting low carbon investments through COVID-19 recovery targeting funding for ten key sectors across 21 emerging markets has the potential to generate $10.2 trillion in investment opportunity, create 213 million jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4 billion tons by 2030, says an IFC report published today. The report, Ctrl-Alt-Delete: A Green Reboot for Emerging Markets, analyzes the economic and climate benefits of a green recovery that focuses on decarbonizing existing and future energy infrastructure, building climate-smart cities, and helping speed the transition of key industries to greener production.

Innovation to counter food supply-chain disruptions and spur recovery (ReliefWeb)

Innovative solutions in agri-food systems helped households and countries contain disruptions in food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more will be required to “build back better and build back greener”, FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu said today. Innovation occurs on the technology frontier but also in policy making and business models, he emphasized while speaking at a virtual high-level panel on how to help strengthen the sustainability of food systems and prevent future pandemics. The event was organized by FAO as part of the week-long Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin.

Platform for Collaboration on Tax’s New Toolkit Helps Countries Implement Effective Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirements (IMF)

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT), a joint initiative of IMF, OECD, UN and the World Bank, released the final version of the Practical Toolkit to Support the Successful Implementation by Developing Countries of Effective Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirements. The PCT’s new toolkit serves as a sourcebook of guidance on implementing transfer pricing documentation requirements for developing countries. The toolkit compiles essential information on transfer pricing documentation and analyzes policy choices and legislative options.

Delays projected in poorer nations’ access to vaccines (Anadolu Agency)

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the 92 least developed countries will not start before late March, health authorities said Tuesday. While high and middle income countries are already undergoing vaccination, the least developed poor countries have not been able to receive the vaccines, which were supposed to be distributed in the COVAX program’s framework for equitable allocation. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus drew attention to the global inequality in access to vaccines in one of his recent addresses. “Even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots,” he said.