Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Chris Kirchhoff | MediaClub South Africa

Country focus

South Africa’s alcohol industry faces ‘economic abyss’ as alcohol ban continues (BeverageDaily.com)

With the third ban now having lasted a month with no date set for its end, liquor associations say many members are now near closure. The country’s alcohol industry – and associated livelihoods across the supply chain - had already suffered from more than 100 days of alcohol bans in 2020. In a letter sent to President Ramaphosa today, liquor and tavern associations say the tavern sector is ‘at risk of collapsing’ and over 250,000 jobs are at risk of dissipating if the ban is not lifted by February 1.

The South African government introduced the third nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol on December 28: citing a rising number of cases, increased pressure on health services, and the threat of a new more contagious variant. Meanwhile, the industry says the ban not only ‘plunges entire industries into a financial abyss’, but also reduces much-needed government revenue while promoting development of illicit sales of alcohol.

Calls for UK trade to help crippled SA by freeing up tank space (Harpers Wine & Spirit Trade Review)

Richard Bampfield MW has issued a call to the UK trade to support the beleaguered South African wine industry as producers continue to suffer crippling government restriction and oversupply issues. Winemakers in the country suffered a rollercoaster of a year in 2020 (see timeline below), and are still currently legally banned from selling wine domestically. Exports are now permitted once again. However, as the southern hemisphere heads into harvest, producers are facing the unenviable prospect of having to decide whether to throw away wine in order to make space in tank for the new year’s crush. Although not a permanent solution, Bampfield is imploring buyers in the UK to help deplete stocks in South African wine tanks and reinvigorate the industry by encouraging retailers to reorder.

Local poultry production ramps up to meet increased demand…as EU bird flu outbreak sees imports suspended (New Era)

While local poultry production has been steadily increasing over the last five years, with significant growth specifically emanating from numerous SMEs and a few medium-scale producers, a recent poultry ban has the potential to prove the country can be self-sustainable in terms of demand. The biggest national poultry producer, Namibia Poultry Industries (NPI) has therefore called on all poultry producers in the country to use the opportunity brought about by the suspension of poultry importation to show that Namibia can be self-sufficient and meet total local demand. Poultry imports were recently suspended by Namibia’s Chief Veterinary Officer in the agriculture ministry, Albertina Shilongo. The suspension affects the in-transit movement of live poultry, birds, and poultry products following the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in some European countries. According to International Trade Specialist at NPI, Arwil Viviers, the local demand for poultry products may increase due to the number of European countries which was included in the poultry import ban.

Kenya adopts Trusted Travel digital tool for COVID-19 test result verification (Africa CDC)

On 9 January 2021, the Government of the Republic of Kenya announced the launch of its Trusted Travel platform, based on the Africa CDC Trusted Travel platform, becoming the first country to adopt the platform for managing travels during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform provides information on travel requirements at the departure and destination ports and access to a list of government approved laboratories for COVID-19 testing in African countries. “As our economies, schools and borders re-open, Africa needs a harmonized approach to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is why we launched the COVID-19 trusted travel portal as an innovative digital tool to help Member States upload and verify test results and to harmonize entry and exit requirements to prevent cross-border transmission on the continent,” said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission.

Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) to Create 200,000 Jobs (East African Business Week)

The Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) is set to become the largest hub in Uganda. The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is in the process of acquiring an additional 400 hectares of land to expand its Industrial and Business Park at Namanve. “By establishing these Parks, we not only support business growth but also greatly contribute to the Government of Uganda’s industrialization agenda, create more jobs, ease access to land for investment, introduce new research and technology, boost skills developments and increase Uganda’s exports base,” said Mr. Joseph Kiggundu, Acting Director-General, UIA. “In implementing the infrastructure development project, UIA is engaging with its various stakeholders around KIBP in a series of engagements to ensure that the project is delivered within agreed parameters and requirements. This was the first in a series of such engagements,” said Mr. Alex Nuwagira, Project Manager – KIBP Infrastructure Development Project.

Namibia Dry Port Container Volumes On Decline (Mmegi Online)

The Walvis Bay Dry Port said it is embarking on a number of initiatives to market the dry port on the back of dwindling traffic flow as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. BusinessMonitor has learnt that the dry port, the country’s much lauded seaport, has seen container volumes drop drastically while vehicle volumes gained momentum. From April to December last year, on average container volumes amounted to nine 24 equivalent units (TEU) monthly compared to 24 TEU’s recorded in 2019. Statistics has also revealed that between April and December last year, on average there were 215 vehicles per month compared to 70 recorded in 2019 on the corresponding period. Dry Port manager, Derrick Mokgatlhe told BusinessMonitor they have embarked on several initiatives geared at marketing the dry port. “Most of the marketing targeted entities that move volumes as well as clearing and forwarding agents across the globe,” Mokgatlhe said. “Regionally it was mostly done door to door and through holding information sessions/conferences, which has been affected due to COVID-19 restrictions. We have migrated to virtual platforms to speak to targeted groups.”

UN unveils strategy to move Gabon from brown to green economy (UNECA)

In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has kick-started a process to enable Gabon to reap unprecedented development gains from its rich rain forests and other natural resources, achieved through the sustainable transformation of, and a methodical audit of such endowments. Experts of ECA’s Office for Central Africa and advisors in the Gabonese Ministry of Water, Forests, the Sea and Environment, on Friday rounded-off a two day online meeting to fully explicate the stakes of a US$1million two-year project in this regard, funded by the Joint SDG Fund (JSDGF), to involved parties from several other ministries, the private sector, development organisations and conservation NGOs. It will support the Green Gabon pillar of the Strategic Plan for Gabon’s Emergence (PSGE 2009-2025). The project is titled “Gabon and the SDGs beyond Oil: Financing a rapid and sustainable transition from a Brown to a Green Economy”.

NAFDAC DG urges MSMEs to leverage on AFCFTA to expand market frontiers (Guardian Nigeria)

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says Nigeria’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) will usher in huge economic benefits, including a $2.5 trillion dollar Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Director-General, who reiterated the Agency’s resolve to continue to encourage the MSMEs in the country, to take advantage of the continental free trade zone, said it would catapult their businesses into the limelight of the global market. “In the extant regional ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) that happens to be one of the Regional Economy Community (REC) building blocks for AFCFTA, over 850 Nigerian companies, with more than 6,000 products, have been admitted into the scheme with a participation level of 50 per cent of the regional total. Currently, Nigeria ranks first with Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire ranking second and third, respectively, among ETLS beneficiaries,” she added.

Zimbabwe steps up fight against gold smuggling (CGTN Africa)

At least 60 kg of gold could be smuggled from Zimbabwe to Dubai, United Arab Emirates monthly, depriving the southern African country of crucial foreign-exchange revenues, Zimbabwe’s state media reported Monday. In an interview with Herald newspaper, Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi said an inter-agency comprising of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and law enforcement agents were working to prevent the smuggling of the precious metal. “We need to train investigators properly because there is also plenty of smuggling into South Africa and other countries,” he said.

Rwanda’s Kagame backs proposed global social protection fund (TimesLIVE)

Governments, which are spending trillions of dollars to help economies survive the coronavirus crisis, can start social universal protection funds with a fraction of the cash, said Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. “It will go to the G20 this year,” she said of the proposal, which also aims to help the world’s poorest nations start to bridge an $80 billion funding gap for social protections. Proponents of the global social protection fund, which is part of the United Nation’s sustainable aims, want it to be funded by a combination of existing aid assistance from rich nations, increased taxation of firms, and contributions from existing funds. That can be complemented by debt relief or cancellation.

Nigerian economy: Recovery, growth and sustainability – Part 2 (The Guardian Nigeria)

Full implementation of the – AfCFTA Agreement may take some time as countries still have to negotiate aspects of the Agreement such as dispute settlement processes, tariffs and intellectual property rights. The investment and trade opportunities from the AfCFTA will expose Nigeria to the following opportunities: 1. It will eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products thereby expanding market access for Nigeria’s exporters of goods and services which would serve as a catalyst for growth and boost job creation in the Nigerian economy; 2. It will provide a Dispute Settlement Mechanism for stopping the hostile and discriminatory treatment directed against Nigerian businesses in other African countries; 3. It will support the industrial policy of Nigeria through the negotiated and agreed “Exclusion and Sensitive category lists” to provide space for Nigeria’s infant industries; and 4. Provide a platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) integration into the regional economy accelerate women’s empowerment and thereby providing a connection to regional and continental value chains.

Nigeria Outlook 2021: Seizing the New Reality (Proshare)

The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic and its adverse effects on the global economy are still very evident. The pandemic triggered an economic fallout leaving tens of millions of people at risk of falling into extreme poverty. Amid improved outlook for oil prices, Africa's largest economy continues to grapple with the reintroduction of partial lockdowns enforced in the economic nerve centers of the country. The domestic economy has slipped back into recession behind weakened economic fundamentals, subsequently leading to elevated inflation and exchange rate shocks. While we expect Nigeria to exit recession in 2021, a return to deliberate policy settings is crucial. Overall, we project a slow and gradual growth at 2.43%.

News from Africa and Africa’s international trade relations

Study Finds Five Ways To Boost Intra-African Trade and Build Resilience (World Economic Forum)

On 1 January 2021, the African Union launched the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s biggest free trade area and Africa’s most ambitious and recent effort to liberalize trade. The World Economic Forum’s Connecting Countries and Cities for Regional Value Chain Integration – Operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) report released today analyses the impact that COVID-19 has had on Africa’s supply chains. Developed by the WEF’s Regional Action Group for Africa in partnership with Deloitte, the report provides policy advice for accelerating the expansion of regional value chains in emerging manufacturing economies such as the automotive industry. The paper is part of a series investigating five ways to drive economic recovery and build resilience in the context of the AfCFTA Agreement

Africa’s make-or-break moment (Mail & Guardian)

On 1 January 2021 – just hours after the United Kingdom exited the European Union – trading officially began under the terms of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. In theory, at least. There are still several bureaucratic and administrative hurdles to overcome. Legislative alignment still needs to happen, and some domestic financial institutions need to change their mandates. Carlos Lopes expects that it will be another two to three years before countries and businesses start to see any real benefits. And then the continent will only have a couple of decades in which to really take advantage of the deal. “By that time we are going to be much more dependent on what kind of agreements we do on services and intellectual property than what we do on goods.”

Local content – A driving force for African oil and gas sector sustainability (Nairametrics)

With 2020 being a year of uncertainties in the oil and gas sector and some of the decisions, activities and market trends that took place last year, David R. Edet, an oil and gas expert, reflects on what some of the activities pre-COVID-19 and now means for the African energy sector. Following the reform of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO) Fund, he witnessed the equally newly reformed Africa Energy Investment Corporation (AEICORP). The AEICORP is to provide “a Solid Capital Base and Liquidity Profile, a Preferred Creditor Status, Developmental Impact, Strong Financial Performance Returns to Investor,” for investors to participate in a low-risk pan-African growth. With one of the objectives of APPO seeking to ensure member countries cooperate, I believe for African countries to reap the maximum benefits from oil and gas, investment in energy technology through institutions like AfDB and AEICORP will help to achieve this aim.

54 African countries committed to joining AFCFTA says GCCI CEO (The Point)

Mr. Alieu Secka made this disclosure recently while presiding the official opening of a one-day Information sharing forum, organised by the Network of Financial and Tax Reporters (NFTR) Gambia Chapter. The ETLS-ECOWAS mechanism was supposed to ensure the free movement of originating products without the payment of customs duties and taxes of equivalent effect on importation into ECOWAS member states. He disclosed that chambers of commerce are also responsible and guarantors of another great ECOWAS Protocol: on Inter-State Transit Trade, aimed at promoting the transport by road of produce of a given Member state to another Member state, of goods in suspension of duties and taxes under the cover of a single document. Mr. Secka indicated that the widespread use of discretion on customs policies is one of the biggest issues across the board.

How cities in Africa and Europe can fuel the recovery (WEF)

This year must be the time to reset the relationship between Africa and Europe. With the blow dealt by COVID-19 to both continents and the inequalities highlighted, forging a stronger partnership between Africa and Europe has never felt more critical. We need to find common solutions to global challenges, from pandemics and climate change to migration; new forms of cross-border cooperation are needed – and fast. Yet, while African and European states struggle to find common ground, cities on both continents are already working together to build back better.

Cities matter: by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Cities offer opportunities and benefits, such as access to services and infrastructure; and jobs for individuals and their families, leading to more choice and higher wages. It is, therefore, not surprising that 20% of migrants already live in the world’s major cities. The pandemic has highlighted the essential contribution of these migrants in sustaining the cities in which they live as key workers, from healthcare and sanitation workers to supermarket cashiers, truck drivers and more.

EU and UNDP launch two-year project to address urgent adaptation financing gaps in Africa (ReliefWeb)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), European Union (EU) and partners of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) joined governments, companies, scientists, NGOs and young people worldwide today at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 to launch a two-year €1 million grant supporting the Africa Adaptation Initiative. The EU-funded project implemented by UNDP addresses adaptation financing gaps in Africa to build more effective locally led climate actions across the continent. The project also expands the capacity to utilize climate risk information, assess and implement risk transfer mechanisms, and strengthen the knowledge and capacity to develop effective climate change adaptation actions.

Covid-19 vaccines in Africa: Mo Ibrahim and others lament sorry state of access (The Africa Report)

Sudanese billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim voiced “shock and sadness” at the spectacle of the Global South being excluded from the mass Covid-19 vaccination drive taking place in richer countries. Ibrahim expressed this view while delivering the keynote address on Wednesday 20 January during Deloitte Africa’s Outlook Conference, which took place virtually. The disparities in vaccine access and distribution were a central theme during the conference. Hippolyte Fofack, the chief economist at Afreximbank, and Martyn Davies, the managing director of emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte Africa, both sounded the alarm about the economic consequences of the region’s delayed access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Namibia to launch the AU – SADC National Committee (Namibia Economist)

The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation will host the launch of the African Union (AU) – Southern African Development Community (SADC) National Committee on Wednesday, 27 January in Windhoek. The launching ceremony will be followed by a Multi-Stakeholder Sensitization Workshop on the same day, the ministry announced Monday. The AU-SADC National Committee was established by a decision of the cabinet of Namibia on 17 November 2020 in line with a decision of the AU, and the SADC Treaty of 1992. The National Committee would ensure and enhance the implementation of AU and SADC decisions and programmes at the national level, thereby deriving maximum benefits from Namibia’s membership of the AU and SADC respectively.

ECOWAS Leaders hail reopening of Nigerian land borders (Journalducameroun.com)

The Authority of ECOWAS has congratulated the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the reopening of its land borders with its neighbours and called on Member States to continue their efforts in the effective implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment. The Authority took note of the ongoing institutional reforms in Community institutions, in particular the development of Vision 2050, formulation of a Monitoring and Evaluation Policy, and the Human Capital Development Programme, as well as the staff skills audit and the revision of the Staff Regulations, which are currently being finalized and directed the President of the Commission to continue the efforts of reduction of the operating costs of ECOWAS Institutions.

February date set for next EAC Heads of State summit (The East African)

The much anticipated East African Community Heads of State meeting has been scheduled for February 27. In a letter addressed to all permanent secretaries and ministers for EAC Affairs from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko advised that the Council of Ministers will hold their 40th Ordinary Meeting on February 25 in Arusha, Tanzania. The regional bloc has also prioritised recovery plans for the region’s economy that has been battered by Covid-19 measures and regulations. “The EAC partner states are looking into ways on how to deal with the effects of the virus on the region’s economy,” said Nshuti Manasseh, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the EAC and the chairperson of the Council of Ministers. “There are things we need to work on together, especially the free movement of goods and people. We are going to look at the entire economy. We need to see that the movement of goods is going on uninterrupted and that the Customs Union is operating.”

Community integration tax: CEMAC estimates arrears at over XAF80 bln (Business in Cameroon)

The volume of unpaid community integration tax owed by members of the CEMAC community was estimated at XAF80 billion at end-2020. This was revealed on January 23 by Daniel Ona Ondo (photo), President of the CEMAC Commission, during his opening speech for the preparatory works at the 36th meeting of the Ministers of Economy and Finance of the member States of this subregion (announced for January 27, 2021). The meeting will focus on the examination and adoption of the community’s 2021 budget. Instituted in 2012, the community integration tax was aimed at financing the regional integration process. It is a 1% levy on the taxable value of products imported from outside the community space. Each member country was to collect the tax and pay it to the commission but public treasuries do not do it systematically. Hence, the accumulation of the tax arrears, which is supposed to be the main source of finance for the community’s budget.

Shipping container crunch shows signs of easing, index shows (Engineering News)

A global shortage of shipping containers that’s sent ocean freight rates skyrocketing shows signs of easing, according to an index that tracks the steel boxes used to transport 90% of the global trade in goods. The Container Availability Index developed by Hamburg, Germany-based Container xChange should stay around 0.35 to 0.38 through Chinese Lunar New Year in mid-February, the online platform said in a statement on Monday. A reading of 0.5 reflects a balanced market, with anything below that mark indicating demand is outstripping supply. The levels had reached lows ranging from 0.06 to 0.13 in December depending on the size of container tracked.

Engineering News Growing solar in Africa (Engineering News)

The 13th annual Africa Energy Indaba will assemble representatives from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs and other solar stakeholders to engage in comprehensive dialogues to solve Africa’s solar energy challenges in an endeavour to see projects realised. The virtual conference is sure to enlighten attendees on what African leaders and businesses are doing to enable the supply of reliable and sustainable energy for the continent. “Addressing Africa’s large and persistent power deficit is key to achieving economic and social targets. There is significant potential for solar power, both at the utility and off-grid scale, to assist in reducing this shortfall, says the Africa Energy Indaba MD, Liz Hart.

Kenya-US trade deal up in the air as Biden lays down the marker in DC (The Standard)

As US President Joseph Biden’s new team settles in in Washington, Kenya’s bilateral trade pact with the Western superpower hangs in the balance. This with only months to the lapse of the free trade regulatory deadline. “We appreciate what has been achieved through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), but it is time we moved to trade agreements that are more mutually beneficial,” said Uhuru. “We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA.” Despite the optimism, several trade lobbies from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania have written to the Kenyan government, voicing their opposition to the proposed trade deal.

What Biden tenure means for Africa (Business Daily)

The Biden administration will be the one to handle the negotiations of a new trade deal with Africa, with Agoa expiring in 2025. The Trump administration had started this process by opening a free trade deal negotiation with Kenya, which it intended to use as the prototype for securing trade deals with other African countries. Now, there has been a lot of reservations about the US-Kenya free trade deal, which I believe come from either limited understanding about trade agreements or folks who just didn’t trust the Trump administration to have sincere intentions.

To start with, a free trade deal with US is a good policy Kenya should continue pushing for. It provides trade access to the high value US market and Kenya can attract investments within the various supply chains. Where the contention should be is on the finer details of the trade deal. How fair is it to Kenya, for instance? As the Joe Biden administration settles in for its four-year term at the White House, many people in Africa will be interested in understanding what the new administration means for the continent. It is given that US-Africa relations will change.

Global economy

World leaders embrace climate adaptation action (Climate Adaptation Summit 2021)

More than 30 world leaders expressed their firm support for climate adaptation action at the international online Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021, hosted by the Netherlands. During the two days of the CAS, partners worldwide will share more initiatives, programs and best practices. Their contributions will add up to the Adaptation Action Agenda. Launched at the summit, this broad agenda will provide a framework for accelerating climate adaptation action in the coming make-or-break decade – promoting, guiding, exchanging and monitoring climate resilience building together. This transformative decade will generate more action, integration, partnership, innovation, finance and equity.

Scale up funding for climate adaptation programmes, Guterres urges (UN News)

“Adaptation cannot be the neglected half of the climate equation,” Secretary-General António Guterres said at the Climate Adaptation Summit. The need is all the more pressing in developing countries, which require an estimated $70 billion to meet their adaptation plans. But the figure could reach up to $300 billion in 2030, and $500 billion in 2050, according to the latest edition of UN’s Adaptation Gap report, released earlier this month. Mr. Guterres called for 50 per cent of the total share of climate finance provided by all developed countries and multilateral development banks to be allocated to adaptation and resilience. The Secretary-General also called for making budget allocations and investment decisions, climate resilient.

Kerry: US will make up for 4 years of lost action on climate (The Associated Press)

The world must take decisive action to build resilience to the devastating effects of climate change, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told a global virtual summit Monday, pledging that President Joe Biden’s new administration would play its role. In a video message to the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Dutch government, Kerry said, “We’re proud to be back (in the Paris climate accord). We come back, I want you to know, with humility, for the absence of the last four years, and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it.” Biden, in his first hours in office last week, signed an executive order returning the United States to the historic 2015 Paris climate accord, reversing its withdrawal by Donald Trump, who ridiculed the science of human-caused climate change. Kerry said the Biden administration is working to announce its own more ambitious target for cutting emissions soon.

Climate change is melting ice in every continent, new study shows (Engineering News)

Melting on the ice sheets has accelerated so much over the past three decades that it’s now in line with the worst-case climate warming scenarios outlined by scientists. A total of 28 trillion metric tons of ice was lost between 1994 and 2017, according to a research paper published in The Cryosphere on Monday. The research team led by the University of Leeds in the UK was the first to carry out a

New UN Global Compact strategy aims to accelerate business action to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and more ambitious climate targets (UN Global Compact)

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, Chair of the Board of the UN Global Compact, today announced a new three-year strategic plan to increase and accelerate corporate sustainability and principled business. “The United Nations Global Compact is uniquely positioned to support companies on their journey to align their practices to a sustainable and inclusive future. The Ten Principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption offer a blueprint for businesses seeking to be part of the collective effort to build back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Now is the time to scale up the global business community’s contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. That is the overarching goal of the Global Compact’s strategic plan for 2021 through 2023.”

WTO members resume work on fisheries subsidies negotiations using latest revised text

On 22 January, at a meeting of the Negotiating Group on Rules, heads of WTO delegations said they were committed to keeping up the momentum in the fisheries subsidies negotiations and they welcomed the second revision of the draft consolidated document circulated on 18 December by the chair, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia.

BRI contributes global post-pandemic recovery by laying foundation for cooperation and stabilizing global supply chains (Global Times)

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will contribute to the global economic rebound by stabilizing supply chains among countries along the BRI route, while laying the foundation for further global cooperation, experts said ahead of opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, which will discuss a series of topics surrounding how to restore economic growth in 2021 after a coronavirus-triggered recession across the globe last year. “While promoting infrastructure connect that helped the shipping of medical supplies, daily necessities and COVID-19 vaccines, the initiative also contributed to stable industrial and value chains among countries along the BRI and stabilize global economic rebound expectation,” Wang Yiwei, director of the institute of international affairs at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

ILO: Uncertain and uneven recovery expected following unprecedented labour market crisis

New annual estimates in the seventh edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work confirm the massive impact that labour markets suffered in 2020. The latest figures show that 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost for the whole of last year (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019), equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This is approximately four times greater than the number lost during the 2009 global financial crisis. These lost working hours are accounted for either by reduced working hours for those in employment or “unprecedented” levels of employment loss, hitting 114 million people.

Rich countries’ ‘me first’ vaccine hoarding is leaving behind low-income nations (The Washington Post)

The world’s wealthiest countries, including the United States; their regulatory agencies; and the major vaccine developers and manufacturers have grabbed vaccine supply in what Dr. Tedros called a “me first” approach. The doses have been locked in through bilateral deals made between countries and manufacturers, often on secretive terms, creating a hypercompetitive market in which poorer countries cannot easily compete. By necessity, they too are jumping into the fray; the African Union just completed a set of deals for 270 million doses, according to Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center. Dr. Tedros said 44 bilateral deals were signed last year, and at least 12 so far this year. Moreover, he said, manufacturers have sought regulatory approval first in rich countries where the profits are highest. The possible consequences are “hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response, and continued social and economic disruption,” he warned.

Out Of Africa Into The World: Palm Oil Trade Under Global Value Chain And Sustainable Initiatives (Seeking Alpha)

Palm oil has come to be the most consumed, produced and trade type of vegetable around the world. It is regarded as an inexpensive value choice for vegetable oil food use and has wide applications to various downstream industries such as cosmetics products production. Today, Southeast Asia countries, predominantly Indonesia and Malaysia, are the largest supplying region; while the consuming markets are widespread around the world by all major economies, both developing and developed countries. With trade data, we may track the global view of where and how much palm oil is flowing in and out, even down to specific locations and understand the traffic volume. Palm oil usually could be transported via container or bulk carriers – which means carriers in both markets shall have the catchment of this commodity cargo.

Brexit: No such thing as tariff-free trade deal despite Boris Johnson’s claims, peers told (The Independent)

There is no such thing as a tariff-free trade agreement and in some areas Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal grants the UK more restricted access to the EU than Canada, peers have been told. Alessandro Marongiu, international trade policy manager at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said avoiding a no-deal exit was a huge relief for the car industry, which has avoided the immediate threat of tariffs on all exports to the EU. However, he told the House of Lords EU Goods Sub-Committee that, while the agreement provided the opportunity for tariff-free access, there was no such thing as a tariff-free deal. “Rather, tariffs apply unless you comply, and can demonstrate you comply, with rules-of-origin requirements. The threat of tariffs is there although agreement allows us to trade tariff-free and quota-free,” he said.

Biden signs ‘Buy American’ order, pledges to renew US manufacturing (Engineering News)

President Joe Biden vowed on Monday to leverage the purchasing power of the US government, the world’s biggest single buyer of goods and services, to strengthen domestic manufacturing and create markets for new technologies. The Democratic president signed an executive order aimed at closing loopholes in existing “Buy American” provisions, which apply to about a third of the $600-billion in goods and services the federal government buys each year. The order will make any waivers more transparent and create a senior White House role to oversee the process.

Under Biden, China faces renewed trade pressure (Associated Press)

The U.S.-Chinese trade war isn’t going away under President Joe Biden. Biden won’t confront Beijing right away, economists say, because he wants to focus on the coronavirus and the economy. However, Biden looks set to renew pressure over trade and technology grievances that prompted President Donald Trump to hike tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017. Negotiators might tone down Trump’s focus on narrowing China’s multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States and push harder to open its state-dominated economy, which matters more in the long run, economists say. But no abrupt tariff cuts or other big changes are expected.

New Developmental Financial Institutions Needed To Funnel The Development Of The Industry: EXIM Bank’s David Rasquinha (BW Businessworld)

Export led growth is vital for Indian economy. Post liberalization, India’s growth story based on domestic consumption is over. Having said that we have to do a lot catching -up with neighbors in scaling up in global trade market. For example, India’s share in the global trade export in merchandise is just about 1.7% and 3.5% in services. China contributes 17% in global trade and so we cannot avoid comparison. India contributes 2.6% and need to scale up at least 8-10% to become a 5 trillion economy by 2025. It is the principal financial institution in India for foreign and international trade.

Risk of Instability, Tension Growing, amid Glaring Inequalities in Global COVID-19 Recovery, Top United Nations Officials Warn Security Council (ReliefWeb)

The sweeping and devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to grow, and so too are the risks of instability and tension amidst glaring inequalities in the global recovery, senior United Nations officials warned today during a Security Council videoconference on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on international peace and security. As rich countries get vaccinated, the developing world – including countries already trapped in conflict and instability – risks being left behind, dealing a severe blow to peace and security.

The speaker for Kenya, underscoring the impact of COVID-19 on the most fragile countries, said that a lack of vaccines in wide parts of the world for extended periods of time could lead to mutations of the virus that would endanger everybody. Warning against vaccine nationalism, he urged Council members, including those with above-average resources and industrial capacities, to show global leadership by ensuring vaccine availability and affordability for the most fragile countries and regions. With the world on the brink of a rapid unravelling of global order, vaccine access for all would be “a shot in the arm” that would make billions of people feel that the United Nations and its Member States can reach out to them, regardless of wealth or race, he said.

The representative of Niger underscored the imperative of ensuring fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, warning countries against using these medicines as a way to advance their hegemonistic ambitions or expand their influence. Fighting the pandemic requires international and regional cooperation. Noting that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is implementing measures to guarantee the distribution of vaccines to low-income countries through the COVAX Facility, he said the pandemic has “added a new layer” of development challenges in the Sahel, an area that is already dealing with the impact of climate change. He called for the lifting of unilateral sanctions, which undermine the delivery of humanitarian aid.


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