Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country focus

Government launches R1.2bn Tourism Equity Fund (SAnews)

Government on Tuesday launched the Tourism Equity Fund aimed at creating an inclusive and growing tourism sector by supporting entrepreneurship and investment on the supply side of the tourism sector. Speaking at the virtual launch of the Tourism Equity Fund (TEF), President Ramaphosa said many jobs in the tourism and associated sectors in the value chain have been shed. “The task before us now is to ensure that we do not simply return to business as usual, but that we accelerate the pace towards achieving our transformation goals,” President Ramaphosa said. According to President Ramaphosa, Tourism directly accounts for 2.9% of South Africa’s GDP and 8.6% indirectly. It supports about one-and-a-half million direct and indirect jobs. President Ramaphosa said South Africa’s tourism base is significant and that it is one of the world’s most popular long-haul destinations.

Parliament demands answers over poor management of SA’s borders (SowetanLive)

The National Assembly’s home affairs portfolio committee wants answers to what led to the congestion at two of the country’s busiest land border posts in December. MPs have argued that the congestion at the Beitbridge border on December 23 and 26 could have led to a humanitarian crisis. The committee visited three border posts – Beitbridge, Lebombo and Mbuzini – this month, where they saw first-hand the congestion and the numbers of undocumented foreigners illegally entering the country. MPs also witnessed poor adherence to Covid-19 regulations, they said.

Namibia’s customs administrations set to play pivotal role in AfCFTA (Xinhua)

Namibia’s customs administrations will be an integral part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as they unlock and leverage the competitiveness and enhance both continental and global trade logistics, Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi said Tuesday. Namibia is excited by the recent launch of the AfCFTA which is brimful of opportunities to strengthen intra-Africa trade, regional and continental value chains, Shiimi said in a statement delivered on his behalf during the World International Customs Day in Windhoek. “Customs administrations are expected to continuously adapt and display agility and dynamism,” he said, adding that Namibia is in the process of launching the Namibian Revenue Agency (NamRA) with a mandate to administer state revenue and the reform of customs and excise which will contribute to a more enabling business environment.

Statement delivered by Mr Marcel Ratsiu, Customs Specialist on behalf of SACU Executive Secretary Ms Paulina M. Elago

State to stop imports of used cars in five years (The Standard)

In the Draft 2021 Budget Policy Statement released yesterday, the Kenyan Treasury noted that second-hand car models make up more than 85 per cent of the imported fully built units (FBUs) in Kenya. “The government, through the Ministry of Industrialisation, drafted the National Automotive Policy to streamline the motor assembly industry with the ultimate goal of phasing out the importation of second-hand vehicles by 2026,” said the Treasury in the draft Budget paper. “The policy also aims at spurring growth in local car assembly as it prescribes clear measures to promote utilisation of locally manufactured products, local content, sub-contracting, innovation, research and development, capacity and skills development and training, and technology transfer.”

Kenyan manufacturers call for trade facilitation to exploit AfCFTA opportunities (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

Speaking during the session, KAM Chair, Mr Mucai Kunyiha, recognized the challenges and opportunities in AfCFTA. “AfCFTA shall open up borders, both in the continent and globally. However, the level of trade amongst African countries remains low. Whereas AfCFTA enables intra-Africa trade, we still source for raw materials, intermediate goods and finished products from more developed markets, including China, Europe and the United States. We need to look at the opportunities for trade amongst ourselves and take advantage of them in order to build our competitiveness and productivity,” said Kunyiha.

Kenya targets EAC export market with rail, Kisumu Port (The Star)

A properly working rail and lake transport system will be a boost to regional trade where Uganda remains Kenya’s leading trading partner. Over the Covid-19 pandemic period, trade between the two countries has slowed down on delays at the main Busia and Malaba borders, as both countries continue to implement measures to curb the spread of the virus. Kenya’s key imports from Uganda include milk and cream, tobacco, cane, electrical energy and plywood among others. Dominant exports from Kenya are mainly palm oil and its fractions, iron or non-alloy steel, petroleum oils and salt among other goods. Uganda accounts for 28.6 per cent of Kenya’s total exports to Africa.

Tanzania joins EAC One Area Network (Ecofin Agency)

Tanzania just joined the One Area Network adopted by the member countries of the East African Community to harmonize tariffs on voice calls within the region. In a letter addressed to the EAC Secretariat, Stephen Mbundi, the Permanent Secretary of the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed the sub-regional executive body that the United Republic of Tanzania has concluded the consultations and is now ready to begin implementation of the EAC Homelessness Framework. Tanzania’s letter comes while the country was in the focus of the EAC’s Transport, Communications and Meteorology (TCM) Sector Council. TCM had given Tanzania until March 31, 2021 to finalize its analysis on the implementation of the “One Area Network”. Once Tanzania’s implementation of the One Area Network is effective, the EAC expects a consolidation of sub-regional integration, pending Burundi’s decision to also join. The population will thus be able to communicate more at low cost. This will be a relief for traders, entrepreneurs, and businessmen in the sub-region.

AfCFTA: OPS Pledges to Collaborate with FG (THISDAY Newspapers)

Members of the organised private sector in Nigeria (OPSN) have pledged to work closely with the federal government on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. They made the pledge Monday, during the formal handing over of the leadership of the OPS from the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) to the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA). The OPSN is made up of the NACCIMA, the NECA, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Nigerian Association of Small Medium Enterprises (NASME) and the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists.

Libya to develop its coastal free zones with African states through its railway project and create partnerships with EU (Libya Herald)

Libya plans to develop several coastal free zones to link with neighbouring African states through its railway project and create partnerships with the EU. The revelation was made by the Tripoli government’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala yesterday during a virtual workshop. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Siala indicated that Libya considers COMESA to be one of the most successful and important economic blocs in the African continent. Through it, he added, Libya strives to achieve sustainable development that comes through implementing mega regional projects in several projects. These, he continued, aim to contribute to creating competitive national markets for the member states, help attract foreign investment and enter global markets.

Mauritania becomes second signatory state of the Establishment Agreement of Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) (Afreximbank)

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania has signed the Agreement for the Establishment of the Fund for Export-Development in Africa (FEDA), a development impact-oriented subsidiary of Afreximbank. Mauritania becomes the second signatory of the Establishment Agreement after Rwanda signed in November 2020. To complete the FEDA Legal Establishment, two Afreximbank member states are required to sign and ratify the Establishment Agreement. Mauritania’s signature helps move FEDA’s Legal Establishment process forward. The Establishment Agreement grants FEDA legal capacity to conduct business in its own name as an International Organization with Privileges and immunities accorded to other Multilateral Financial Institutions in Mauritania.

CEMAC: Cameroon proceeds to provisional acceptance of 150-km of roads linking the country to Congo (Business in Cameroon)

The Cameroonian Ministry of Public Works (Mintp) informs that today January 26, 2021, it will proceed to the provisional acceptance of 150 kilometers of road linking Cameroon to Congo-Brazzaville in the framework of the CEMAC integration projects. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is the main financial backer of this inter-capital road project, besides developing trade between the two countries, the roads will strengthen regional integration in Central Africa by allowing interconnection on roads linking Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Central Africa.

News from Africa and Africa’s international trade relations

World Economic Forum: Davos 2021 highlights

Connecting Countries and Cities for Regional Value Chain Integration (Deloitte South Africa)

Within the context of operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, as well as continuing to live with the COVID-19 outbreak, the members of the Regional Action Group for Africa identified five pathways as priorities for driving economic recovery and building resilience: new financing models for rapid recovery; unlocking manufacturing to mitigate global supply-chain risks; leveraging integration and regional value chains; revitalizing infrastructure and connectivity; and scaling digital transformation and inclusive innovation

This report is one in a series of reports investigating these pathways, and explores two priorities: first, unlocking manufacturing to mitigate global supply-chain risks; and second, leveraging integration and regional value chains. It also undertakes a review of the status quo of intra- African trade and current African efforts towards liberalizing trade in the continent, and seeks to identify avenues to be explored in order to deepen intra-African trade and unlock production capacity to meet local and global demands in strategic sectors, focusing on the automotive industry.

Virtual State of the World Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Dialogues (The Presidency)

Today, humanity is facing an unprecedented global health, social and economic crisis. The World Bank has reported that extreme poverty is expected to rise globally for the first time in over 20 years as the disruption caused by the pandemic exacerbates the effects of conflict, climate change and underdevelopment.

It is clear that the world is at a crossroads. We are facing a common threat and must therefore act together. These challenges – from poverty to the destruction of our environment, from conflict to inequality, from illiteracy to famine – are all the result of our actions and, too often, our inaction. Our task is therefore not to restore the world to where it was when this pandemic struck, but to forge a new path towards a world that is just, peaceful, cohesive, resilient and sustainable.

Working together with business, labour and civil society, we have developed an Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

This Plan aims to boost confidence, restart the economy and drive urgent reforms to promote faster, more inclusive growth and employment.

The plan has four immediate priority interventions: Firstly, a massive infrastructure build programme; Secondly, we are rapidly expanding energy generation capacity; Thirdly, we have begun to create additional jobs and support livelihoods through an employment stimulus. Fourthly, we will be intensifying our drive for export-oriented industrial development.

We aim to significantly grow local manufacturing and production, and make South African exports much more competitive. These interventions will enable South Africa to better realise the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which became operational on 1 January 2021. The free trade area will foster integration, increase trade and accelerate the build-up of productive capabilities and infrastructure in Africa to meet growing demand.

South Africa will benefit from greater exports to the continent, and domestic sectors such as steel, automotive production, mining and manufactured products are set to benefit, materially boosting economic growth.

We are pursuing each of these interventions with an urgency and resolve that matches the proportions of the challenge.

Global competition over vaccines may prolong crisis, Cyril Ramaphosa tells WEF

President Ramaphosa asks rich countries not to hoard COVID-19 vaccines

Africa can have an inclusive, cohesive and sustainable recovery from Covid (Mail & Guardian)

The Covid-19 pandemic is driving Sub-Saharan Africa into its first recession in 25 years, putting economic progress at risk. Recovery will depend on how effective governments and private sector partners are at addressing four key priorities: Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); Addressing macroeconomic vulnerabilities; Harnessing the digital transformation; and A just transition to zero emissions.

The World Economic Forum’s Regional Action Group for Africa, in collaboration with Deloitte, recently published a report that addresses how governments and the private sector can leverage this opportunity by building effective regional value chains. Implementing the AfCFTA, which will require the cooperation and coordination of public and private stakeholders, will help usher in the kinds of reforms necessary to enhance long-term growth, reduce poverty and broaden economic inclusion.

Richard Kyereh: AfCFTA will be ineffective without a Single African Air Transport Market (Myjoyonline)

After decades of thoughts and years of postponement, finally, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is up and running, affording all African countries, except Eritrea, to trade under a single market. As citizens of Africa, we share in the joy for such a trade framework, however, the mission of the AfCFTA which seeks to accelerate intra-Africa trade and strengthen Africa’s voice in the global market space will be meaningless unless the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) framework is fully implemented.

Why it’s more expensive to fly within than out of Africa (Business Daily)

Flying out of the African continent is way cheaper than flying within it thanks to high taxes, fees and charges slapped on airlines and passengers. Latest African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Taxes, Fees and Charges in Africa report says an affordable air transport will develop Africa’s tourism and trade sectors that are the backbone of the continent’s economies. Intra-Africa trade is extremely low at 15.2 per cent (2015-2017) in comparison to European’s (50 per cent) and Asia’s (64 per cent). “Air transport will be vital in the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to develop trade among African States,” the report adds.

Covid-19 worsens turbulence facing East Africa’s airlines (The East African)

It is back to the drawing board for airlines in East Africa as a resurgence of Covid-19 further disrupts global travel amid the need to save jobs while turning cash positive. In its first briefing for the year on January 12, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that while the transition from cash-burn to cash-generation was in sight, the next six months would be difficult for airlines. While cargo has been a lifeline for many, IATA reports that African airlines saw demand shrink by 1.7 percent year-on-year in November, reversing three months of positive year-on-year growth. The drop was primarily driven by soft performance on the Asia-Africa route, which was down 4.5 percent year-on-year.

African banks sign deal to upgrade trade chokepoint at Zimbabwe border (Global Trade Review)

A group of African banks has signed a US$194mn senior debt facility to rehabilitate the Beitbridge border post, a crossing that connects Zimbabwe and South Africa. Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) acted as co-ordinating bank and sponsors’ advisor and, along with Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank, was a mandated lead arranger (MLA). The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Emerging Africa infrastructure Fund (EAIF) were senior lenders, with the latter also acting as a mezzanine lender. The senior debt facility makes up the majority of the US$297mn project cost; the outstanding balance was obtained via a mezzanine debt of US$21mn and through equity.

Green technology boost for African mining (Engineering News)

The key to unlocking value of Kabanga Nickel and enabling the full beneficiation of new era metals in Tanzania is an environment-friendly hydrometallurgy process that eliminates smelting and thus slashes the need for electricity. The Kabanga Nickel Hydromet process – which takes ore to refined metals at lower capital and operating costs cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 80% and eliminating sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission altogether – is seen as a game changer for Tanzania, by providing the maximum in-country value-add to the East African nation.

ECO/AfCFTA: ECOWAS sets new guidelines on single currency and market (Ecofin Agency)

On Sunday, January 23, 2021, the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States held their 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. This virtual meeting saw the establishment of new guidelines regarding the community’s single currency and market. Concerning the single currency (ECO), the ECOWAS communiqué stressed that the deadline for this project, which has already been postponed several times, will be postponed again, particularly following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the macroeconomic performance of West African countries. A new macroeconomic convergence and stability deal between member countries is expected to be implemented by 1 January 2022. According to Alpha Barry, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, this new process should lead to a new roadmap for the single currency by 2025.

New African Development Bank-GCA initiative will galvanize $25 billion to scale up African climate adaptation (AfDB)

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina announced the launch on Monday of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) to mobilize $25 billion to scale up and accelerate climate change adaptation actions across Africa. The AAAP, a joint initiative between the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation, is expected to scale up innovative and transformative actions on climate adaptation across Africa, Adesina said during the inaugural Ministerial Dialogue on Adaptation Action, held as part of the summit. “Our ambition is bold: to galvanize climate resilience actions; support countries to accelerate and scale up climate adaptation and resilience; and mobilize financing at scale for climate adaptation in Africa,” the Bank chief said.

Climate data presents a $2 billion opportunity in Africa. Here’s why (WEF)

Data is a currency of its own in the modern world, so if only a few people can extract, refine and store it, then it will end up widening existing inequality gaps. This is why “data democratisation” has become essential, especially in emerging economies. While the space sector has always leveraged open data, its value has not been tapped by most economies or societies. In this context, the role of satellite imagery could become increasingly important to find innovative solutions to current problems such as pandemics, famines, or climate change. Digital Earth Africa, a unique program launched in February 2019 uses the Open Data Cube and Amazon Web Services to make global satellite imagery more accessible and proves how data can bridge key social and economic inequalities in the twenty-first century.

Afreximbank Earmarks $2bn to Finance COVID-19 Vaccines’ Purchase (THISDAY Newspapers)

The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Okey Oramah has disclosed that the bank is putting in place a financing facility of $2 billion to assist African countries in the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, which would be available in the continent in March. He also called on Africans and businesses hoping to reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to exercise patience with the teething problems that would accompany the implementation of the continental free trade area’s agreement.

ECOWAS launches revolving fund to secure 240mln doses of Covid-19 vaccine (Ecofin Agency)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced it will set up an undisclosed revolving fund to secure a total of 240 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. In addition to the fund, ECOWAS authorities announced the establishment of a tariff for covid tests in the region. This measure aligns with ECOWAS harmonized protocol on the cross-border movement of persons and goods during the pandemic. This protocol aims to regulate the movement of people from one country to another within the community space, while harmonizing the new regulations of countries on the fight against the coronavirus. Member countries have until June 2021 to start vaccinations.

$37 million investment for SMEs in Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali (Sierra Leone Telegraph)

The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has announced its first co-investment project with Stichting Cordaid (Cordaid), managed by Cordaid Investment Management B.V. (CIM), to increase access to finance by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Sierra Leone. This two-way trade in the fragile Sahel region of West Africa aims to combat high rates of poverty, unemployment, conflict, and desertification through private sector investments, targeting both women and youth.

This tech company helped Nigeria Customs generate ₦1.5 trillion in 2020, its highest ever. (Tech Cabal)

Container ship loading and unloading in deep sea port at sunset, Aerial view of business logistic import and export freight transportation by container ship in open sea. When the pandemic struck, the Nigerian government slashed the revenue expectations of different government departments. For the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the target was slashed from an initial target of ₦1.2 trillion ($3,145,478) to ₦900 billion ($2,359,108.71). But contrary to expectations, at the end of last year, the NCS generated ₦1.5 ($3,931,847.85) trillion; its highest revenue generated in a single year.

Mauritius and Morocco join African Development Bank (IPPMedia)

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. At the launch, the indices included Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Botswana and Namibia joined in October 2015, and Ghana and Zambia in April 2017. Effective 1 January 2021, Mauritius and Morocco have become members of the ABABI, the Bank said. “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% of the outstanding amount of African sovereign local currency bonds,” said Stefan Nalletamby, Director of the Bank’s Financial Sector Development Department.

Final Communique of the 6th PIDA Week | AUDA-NEPAD

We, Ministers and delegates to the Sixth PIDA Week and the organizing and partner institutions,

Reaffirm the crucial role of PIDA in the achievement of the main goals of the AU Agenda 2063 for continental integration, prosperity and peace and Reiterate our commitment to regional integration and the development of integrated and efficient infrastructure through the application of sound policy and development strategies which will enhance efficiency, sustainability and affordability of transport, energy, ICT and Water services;

Take note of the critical role that soft and hard infrastructure plays towards the realization of the AfCFTA and the opportunity for PIDA PAP 2 projects to emphasize appropriately designed continental infrastructure that will contribute towards building resilience against pandemics and shocks that disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized;

Underscore the importance of creating the enabling environment and undertaking capacity building required to build a bankable project pipeline, and Urge AUDA-NEPAD to work with partner institutions to provide early-stage project preparation support for PIDA PAP 2 projects through the PIDA Service Delivery Mechanism (SDM);

Call upon the Private Sector, and Development Partners to continue supporting the PIDA programme through modalities and instruments such as SDM, the 5% Agenda and the Continental Business Network (CBN) that support the accelerated implementation of projects;

Acknowledge that COVID-19 has necessitated a rapid move to digitalisation and the use of online technologies, which was measured during the Africa’s Development Dynamics 2021 report launch, and welcome AUDA-NEPAD’s work in promoting cyber-resilience through cybersecurity assessments based on the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection.

Acknowledge that pandemics and similar shocks put short and long term pressures on socio-economic systems and Welcome AUDA-NEPAD’s Call for Proposal on Economic Recovery through Infrastructure Services, which will provide COVID-19 mitigation supports to African Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Her Excellency Fatoumata CM Jallow Tambajang and her commitment to serve the people of Africa (Africanews)

The gathering of the leaders of the African Union (AU) member nations will take place early next month in February 2021 to elect a new Commission, the body’s secretariat, to run the affairs of the AU for the next four years. From taking on the task of fighting the global pandemic within the African context to reengineering the African debate to The Africa We Want, Her Excellency Fatoumata CM Jallow Tambajang has outlined her four priority actions to achieve her mandate, if elected to the position of the Deputy Chairperson: Enhance administration and financial effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness of the AUC; Strengthen the overall operational efficiency of the AUC; Effective and timely responses to the development challenges of Africa; The promotion of partnerships for development.

Global economy

Readying regional trade agreements for future crises and pandemics (UNCTAD)

Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have heavily disrupted trade and supply chains, with many countries putting in place ad hoc trade-restrictive measures, seemingly without any concern about their effect on trading partners – at least during the early stages of the crisis. While such reactions to an unexpected global pandemic are understandable, they are certainly not optimal. They have highlighted the limitations of existing trade agreements, including over 184 regional trade agreements signed by economies in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the multilateral trade rules, in providing guidance on how to respond to emergency or crisis situations in a least trade-restrictive fashion.

Against this backdrop, in an effort to accelerate recovery from this crisis and better prepare for the future, UNCTAD together with The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the World Trade Organization (WTO), other UN regional commissions, as well as CUTS and other partners, launched a global initiative on model provisions for trade in times of crisis and pandemic in regional and other trade agreements in May 2020. While the initiative is still on-going, a key deliverable in 2020 was the organization of a fully online global policy hackathon.

Global economic recovery remains precarious, rebound of 4.7% to barely offset 2020 losses (United Nations)

The United Nations today warned that the devastating socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come unless smart investments in economic, societal and climate resilience ensure a robust and sustainable recovery of the global economy. In 2020, the world economy shrank by 4.3 per cent, over two and half times more than during the global financial crisis of 2009. The modest recovery of 4.7 per cent expected in 2021 would barely offset the losses of 2020, says the latest World Economic Situation and Prospects. The report underscores that sustained recovery from the pandemic will depend not only on the size of the stimulus measures, and the quick rollout of vaccines, but also on the quality and efficacy of these measures to build resilience against future shocks.

World Economic Outlook Update, January 2021: Policy Support and Vaccines Expected to Lift Activity (IMF)

Although recent vaccine approvals have raised hopes of a turnaround in the pandemic later this year, renewed waves and new variants of the virus pose concerns for the outlook. Amid exceptional uncertainty, the global economy is projected to grow 5.5 percent in 2021 and 4.2 percent in 2022. The 2021 forecast is revised up 0.3 percentage point relative to the previous forecast, reflecting expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of activity later in the year and additional policy support in a few large economies.

The strength of the recovery is projected to vary significantly across countries, depending on access to medical interventions, effectiveness of policy support, exposure to cross-country spillovers, and structural characteristics entering the crisis. Policy actions should ensure effective support until the recovery is firmly underway, with an emphasis on advancing key imperatives of raising potential output, ensuring participatory growth that benefits all, and accelerating the transition to lower carbon dependence.

World Customs Organization dedicates 2021 to bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain (WCO)

Today, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, announced that this year’s International Customs Day (ICD), which is marked annually on 26 January, will be celebrated under the slogan: “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”. As we all move resolutely towards a post-pandemic future in 2021, the Customs community, in collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, will be focusing on building Resilience and seeking ways to drive the Recovery process through enhanced collaboration and embracing the digital transformation, along with other advanced technologies, to enable Renewal. This will all be achieved by putting “people” at the centre of change for a Resilient and sustainable supply chain.

Services trade recovery not yet in sight (WTO)

Preliminary data further suggest that, in November, services trade was still 16% below 2019 levels. Prospects for recovery remain poor since a second wave of COVID-19 infections necessitated new, stricter lockdown measures in many countries, with tightened restrictions on travel and related services extending into the first quarter of 2021. The latest statistics confirm earlier expectations that services trade would be harder hit by the pandemic than goods trade, which was only down 5% year-on-year in the third quarter.

World could lose $9.2 trillion through Covid-19 vaccine nationalism (The New Times)

The global economy stands to lose up to $9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure developing economies access Covid-19 vaccines, a new study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Research Foundation has found. This means the situation could cost up to over 10 per cent of the $88 trillion global economy. Titled “The Economic Case for Global Vaccinations”, the study published on January 25 shows that even advanced economies stand to lose trillions of USD through Covid-19 vaccine nationalism.

COVAX Announces new agreement, plans for first deliveries (WHO)

COVAX, the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level, today announced the signing of an advance purchase agreement with Pfizer for up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate, which has already received WHO emergency use listing. Rollout will commence with the successful negotiation and execution of supply agreements. “The urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines is not just a moral imperative, it’s also a health security, strategic and economic imperative,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Building on the work of the past months supporting country readiness efforts, a “Country Readiness Portal” will be launched by WHO this month, which will allow AMC participants to submit final national deployment and vaccination plans (NDVPs). This is a vital step before allocations can be made, to ensure that delivered doses are able to be effectively deployed and to identify where, if necessary, further support is needed.

New global commission headed by Danish Prime Minister will focus on putting people at the heart of energy transitions (IEA)

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark will head a new high-level global commission – Our Inclusive Energy Future: The Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions – that will examine ways to ensure people are at the centre of clean energy transitions around the world. As countries seek to advance their shifts to clean energy technologies, the success of these efforts will rest on enabling citizens to benefit from the opportunities and navigate the disruptions. This includes social and economic impacts on individuals and communities, as well as issues of affordability and fairness. The new commission will explore these questions in depth, taking into account the need to see people as active participants in clean energy transitions – in collective decision-making and through individual actions and behaviours. Equity and inclusion issues will also be examined, including gender equality.


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