tralac Daily News
Patel: Several govt initiatives under way to focus more on local trade (Eyewitness News)
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said that government was doing its best to build and stimulate growth for local companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which had brought the global markets to their knees. The global outbreak has resulted in many companies, big and small, closing their doors due to the crippling economic impact. Patel said that several initiatives were under way to focus more on local trade. "We sat down with the business community and identified more than 40 major products that with retailers and others we're going to significantly localise from South African-based firms and government itself is revamping our own procurement to try to buy more locally."
Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) believes that visible progress on a select number of high-profile infrastructure projects in 2021 could serve as an “immune booster” for South Africa’s ailing economy and provide impetus for a much-needed recovery in investor confidence. Presenting CESA’s yearly presidential message on Wednesday, Sugen Pillay argued that breaking ground on some of the 50-plus Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) already announced and gazetted by government could also build public trust and boost service delivery.
“As we rebuild, we must consider the pace of change, which is currently too slow. There is a need for speed in the infrastructure development plan, although it must be done carefully, or it will fuel corruption.” He said he was encouraged by the progress being made, through the Sustainable Infrastructure Development System (SIDS) methodology, in securing investors for the projects and said project professionals stood ready to lend their support.
The department of public enterprises briefed parliament on Wednesday about the effects Covid-19 had on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) during 2020. Acting public enterprises director general Kgathatso Tlhakudi briefly touched on issues related to the pandemic, as he briefed MPs on SOEs’ performance. The department has set aside a budget of R1-million to implement Covid-19 protocols, including sanitisation and deep cleaning, in its own building. However, only 30% of this budget has been spent to date.
Following the volatile year for the global and domestic economies in 2020, financial services group Alexander Forbes expects 2021 to see an improvement, though uneven across economies. The group has identified key economic trends and investment themes for 2021 and beyond. Isaah Mhlanga, chief economist at Alexander Forbes, said: “South Africa’s economic recovery depends on several factors, some controllable and others uncontrollable, with the most important one being the logistics of Covid-19 vaccines.” Which factors will drive the economic recovery this year and beyond?
Illicit market booms during alcohol, cigarette sales bans (Engineering News)
To overcome the challenge of a seemingly booming illicit market for cigarettes and alcohol, and to stem the tide of such illicit products in the local economy, requires enforcement of existing laws and adoption of new ones, says South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) CEO Kurt Moore. He spoke during a February 3 webinar hosted by Business Leadership South Africa on illicit trade, especially within the cigarette and alcohol industry, particularly in light of bans on the legitimate sale of these products implemented over the past year.
Panellists participating in the webinar also suggested that some consumers may not return to legal avenues of buying both cigarettes and alcohol once such bans are lifted because the illicit market may offer cheaper prices. As such, Moore posited that the most efficient force against illicit trade was legal traders who sell genuine products.
Uganda coffee exports surge in 2020 due to good weather (CGTN Africa)
Uganda’s coffee exports grew by 972,962 bags in 2020, a 22 percent increase from 2019. The increase is the highest since 1991 according to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the country’s agency mandated to control and market the crop Uganda earned $515.94 million from the exports. In 2019, the East African country shipped 4,519,563 bags, fetching $436.54 million. This represents a 22 percent and 18 percent increase in quantity and value respectively. Europe is the main destination for Uganda’s coffees with a 63 percent import share. Uganda’s government has set itself an ambitious target to increase exports of the crop to 20 million bags by 2025. Coffee is the country’s main cash crop.
Botswana intensifying effort to attract non-diamond exploration (Mining Weekly)
Botswana has intensified efforts to digitise and make geoscience information readily available to local and international potential investors in an effort to encourage prospecting and mining for non-diamond minerals, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi told the virtual 2021 Investing in African Mining Indaba on Wednesday.
“Rare earth metals are necessary components for many products across a wide range of applications, especially high-technology consumer products such as cellular telephones and computer hard drives,” he told the conference covered by Mining Weekly. Mines and metals policy was being reviewed to guide expedited growth of the minerals sector. The policy would aim to maximise economic benefits and facilitate private sector involvement in minerals developments. It would also contribute to the legislative review that would put policy in line with international best practice and be attractive to potential investors.
Masisi said that Botswana’s over-dependence on diamonds had more than ever made it imperative for the country to urgently expand its revenue base to other minerals, notably base metals. “The development of the minerals industry in Botswana is in full steam, as evidenced by several ongoing exploration projects and the issuance of mining licences to private companies,” he said. “In this regard, Botswana has put in place strategies for mineral beneficiation, which include base metals refineries, encompassing the identification of suitable projects in copper, iron and nickel, as well as the creation of an enabling environment to drive these projects.
A recent surge in demand for migrant workers abroad moved Kenya’s government to license over 300 recruitment companies to secure jobs for its citizens. Although the government exceeded its 240 annual benchmarks for the registration of recruiting companies, the agencies were made to undergo screening based on the government’s new regulations on labour export. Kenya plays big in the Labour Export industry owing to its high rate of unemployment. This has led to a rise in recruitment agencies who help Kenyans secure employment opportunities abroad.
Kenya moves to ratify UK trade pact (Citizen TV)
The government has moved to ratify its recently concluded trade pact with the United Kingdom (UK) which will mark the final approval stage for the deal. In a public notice issued on Wednesday, National Assembly Clerk Micheal Sialai subjected the economic partnership agreement (EPA) to public participation ahead of its consideration by the House. The ratification of the deal which will further involve submissions by the departmental committee on trade and industry is expected to anchor the new trade pact into law. The new Kenya-UK deal was sealed in December last year charting a way forward to the pair’s trade relations after the end of UK’s transition period from the European Union (EU) on December 31.
Kenya and the US should conclude free trade talks (Business Daily)
The United States Chamber of Commerce has seized the initiative early to lobby the new Joe Biden administration for the conclusion of talks on a new trade pact between the US and Kenya.
While Biden’s administration is under no obligation to carry on with the negotiations for a new trade deal with Kenya, it would be proper if the talks were sustained to conclusion because the immense trade and investment opportunities that are likely to be realised. Kenya and the US are key trade and security allies and this relationship should be maintained. The present main trade and investment framework between the US and Kenya-- the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) will lapse in just a few years. The arrangement, which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas, expires by 2025. Clearly, the trade partnership between Kenya and the US is an important one and the two nations should strike a deal for furtherance.
Kenya is considering putting import duties on dairy and egg products in order to cushion local farmers from foreign competition, a senior government official said on Wednesday. Peter Munya, cabinet secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives told journalists in Nairobi that the import levies are contained in regulations that will soon be gazetted into law. “We need to take care of our farmers from products coming from outside the country,” Munya said during the Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCO) regulations forum.
Sugar from Comesa held by tax agency at Mombasa port (The East African)
Sugar imported under Comesa is being held at the port of Mombasa after Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) demanded full payment of taxes before goods are released. The move has left importers in a bind as it comes before the Comesa importation deadline of February 2021 expires. The importers said they had been cleared by all relevant departments, and the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) confirmed that they were within the quota. "Before we imported sugar, we met all the requirements, including obtaining sugar from qualified Comesa member states or EAC member countries. We even produced a letter issued by the factory producing the sugar to confirm that the sugar under inquiry was produced by themselves," said one of the importers. He added, "All the consignments were accompanied by valid Comesa Certificates of Origin."
Small-scale traders will from Monday start picking their consignments from the Kenya Railways customs shed after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) gazetted it for clearance of cargo inbound from the Port of Mombasa through the standard gauge railway. Cargo destined to the customs shed will be dropped at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi from where it will be ferried to the Nairobi Railway Station. “Establishment of the Boma Line is part of initiatives to bring services closer to taxpayers and facilitate them to conduct their business effectively and efficiently. For instance, going forward, traders from far areas such as Nanyuki and Sagana will no longer incur huge transport costs to ferry their goods from ICD as this shed will be easily accessible,” said KRA acting Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Pamela Ahago said in a statement. KRA hopes to ease congestion at the Customs office by hastening clearance of goods as verification will be done on single goods stripped from containers as opposed to the typical verification of a whole container.
According to the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics, the country’s exports to Africa has nearly increased by around 50 per cent over the last 5 years. Now, with the AfCFTA in place, the government has identified opportunities in several local products for exports that are expected to drive the country’s exports to the African continent from the current $1.6 billion to about $5 billion in 10 years. Diane Sayinzoga, Head of Special Economic Zone and Export Facilitation Department at the Rwanda Development Board joins CNBC Africa for more.
Zimbabwe: Gvt, SMEs roll online capacity building programme (The Chronicle)
Bulawayo Chamber of SMEs Mr Energy Majazi told Business Chronicle yesterday that they have embarked on a training programme in partnership with their parent Ministry targeting to training120 entrepreneurs. “In collaboration with our parent ministry, we have embarked on a capacity building programme targeting to train 120 members to equip them with relevant knowledge on how to register, run and improve their business. In the past, the SMEs chamber has organised and coordinated courses for players in the SMEs sector covering aspects such as policy validation, procurement procedures and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) protocols.
USAID Trade hub to raise garment production in Ghana (Fibre2fashion.com)
The US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) will utilize Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) funds to establish a model factory with Ethical Apparel Africa and Maagrace Garment Industries in Ghana’s eastern region. This partnership will accelerate women’s economic empowerment in apparel manufacturing. The project will set high standards for fair wages and healthy working conditions for 800 new employees and place women in at least 70 per cent of new supervisory and factory jobs, according to a press release from USAID.
Ghana model apparel hub to push women's empowerment (just-style.com)
A model apparel manufacturing factory is to be set up in Ghana aimed at accelerating women's economic empowerment in the sector by setting high standards for fair wages and healthy working conditions. Established by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub), the facility will utilise Women's Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) funds. It will employ 800 new staff, placing women in at least 70% of new supervisory and factory jobs. Under the co-investment partnership with the Trade Hub, Ethical Apparel Africa, which works to enable market access for African production, will receive a US$1.35m grant underpinning an equity investment in garment manufacturer Maagrace's Koforidua factory.
"We see [Africa] as being the next frontier of manufacturing for garments," says Keren Pybus, co-founder, and CEO of Ethical Apparel Africa. "But our operating model is based on the fact that all manufacturing should be done ethically. And to us, 'ethical' is more than just doing the baseline compliance." As the $3 trillion global apparel industry looks for its next manufacturing hub, there is a major opportunity for Ghana to build industry, create jobs, and develop its export economy, the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub says. Low costs of living, fast shipping times, and highly competitive labour costs give Ghana a competitive advantage in the garment industry, it adds.
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has admonished ECOWAS members and other stakeholders to fully comply with trade laws and protocols. The clarion call comes after some member countries including Ghana and Nigeria have been involved in a trade impasse for months.
“It’s not that we are giving anybody unhindered access to Ghana. Now that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is open, let all Ghanaian youth who want to trade go to South Africa, if they are 1 million in number, let them all go. Are they going to be allowed to trade? No!” he lamented. “They have controls, and so these controls, rules and engagements in these protocols is what we have to follow and that is all that we are demanding as citizens,” Dr Obeng advised. President of the Nigerian Union of Traders in Ghana, Chukwuemeka Nnaji on his part says governments of the various ECOWAS states need to collaborate towards harmonizing rule and protocols that govern trade activities.
In 2021, starting this first quarter, Q1’21, all expectations are focused on reversal of the depressing macroeconomic figures which had pushed Nigeria into recession in Q3’20. This is despite the resurgence in the COVID-19 debacle, which was the main cause of the recession. Both the fiscal authorities led by the Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the monetary authorities led by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, assured the nation that Nigeria would be out of recession in the Q1’20, and none of them have yet come out to change that position at the backdrop of COVID-19 resurgence.
External sector stability has been in frequent upset throughout last year with exchange rate and external reserves in tailspin. Inflationary pressures have been persisting for 34 months consecutively, closing the year at 15.75 percent in December 2020. Balance of trade deficit has continued to rise as at year end. Six sectors (agriculture, trade, telecoms, manufacturing, crude oil and real estate) that account for 76% of Nigeria’s GDP were responsible for 68% of the 2.7% economic contraction in the first nine months of 2020. Other than the 6.5% growth in agriculture and telecoms sectors (36.7% of GDP combined), the economic contraction could have been worse.
During a telephone conversation on Sunday, January 31st, between King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project and a fertilizer project in Nigeria, in partnership with the Office Chérifien des Phosphates, were discussed. The pipeline project, 7,500 km long at an estimated cost of $20 billion, was discussed in 2016 during the visit of King Mohammed VI to Nigeria and in 2018 during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Morocco. The pipeline aims to supply West Africa, Morocco and European markets. For its part, ECOWAS seems to have made its choice between the two rival projects.
Morocco backs AU efforts to promote inclusive business (The North Africa Post)
Morocco welcomed the creation by the African Union Commission (AUC) of the Africa Inclusive Markets Excellence Centre (AIMEC) which will have a key role to play to help African economies recover from the pandemic impact, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said. Inclusive business is conducive to post-Covid economic recovery, said Bourita on the sidelines of the 38th ordinary session of the AU Executive Council, held remotely.
Chad: 1st country in Covid era to ask for restructuring of its debt (The Africa Report)
Already one of the beneficiaries of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), Chad has just officially requested debt restructuring from its major public creditors as well as a support agreement with the IMF. Chad has requested that a “common framework” be set up between the Paris Club and the G20 for the treatment of debt. These donors will probably extend the moratorium enjoyed by some fifty countries, mostly African, until the end of 2021. This is the first initiative of its kind under the “common framework” set up in 2020 between the G20 – under Saudi chairmanship – and the Paris Club to address the insolvency risks of the countries that have been most affected by the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
The African Development Bank on Wednesday signed protocols to disburse a $14 million grant to the Government of South Sudan to boost agricultural markets in a project to be implemented by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Agricultural Markets, Value Addition and Trade Development (AMVAT) project aims to enhance agricultural productivity and boost the marketing and trade of agricultural products in South Sudan. The project will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in close liaison with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
“A diversified economy away from oil and long-term growth depends on promoting agribusiness development,” said Athian Ding Athian, South Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Planning at the signing ceremony, thanking the African Development Bank for its growing assistance. “With the support from our partners, we are building an improved marketing and trade environment for agribusinesses, increasing people’s incomes and creating new jobs, particularly for the youth.”
News from Africa and Africa’s international trade relations
At the 33rd Session of the Assembly, held in February 2020, the Heads of State and Government stressed the importance of Culture, Arts and Heritage in the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063 objectives, as well as those of its flagship projects. They declared that the African rich and diverse heritage is an essential asset to profile the continent in the global arena, while bringing about sustainable development, integration and peace in Africa.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission underlined that the implementation of the strategic priorities of Agenda 2063 has recorded two major achievements, namely the First Continental Report which examines and consolidates the state of implementation of the Agenda in the Member States and in the RECs and the effective transformation of NEPAD into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) , called to take charge of the coordination and execution of regional and continental projects, among others.
Mr. Mahamat listed a set of achievements related to regional integration such as the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched on January 1st this year. the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the adoption of the Protocol on Free Movement and the African Passport guidelines, the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Energy Infrastructure Plan and the response to climate change.
Some 16 African countries have shown interest in securing COVID-19 vaccines under an African Union (AU) initiative and the aim is to deliver allocations in the next three weeks, the head of a continental disease control body said on Thursday. John Nkengasong, Africa's Director of Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaks during a news conference at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File PhotoAs wealthier nations push ahead with mass immunisation, Africa is seeking to immunise 60% of its 1.3 billion people in the next three years. Only a handful of African nations have begun giving doses.
John Nkengasong, director of the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the 16 countries had so far placed requests for the vaccines under the bloc’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), which started operation in mid-January.
COVID-19: African countries scramble for vaccines (Africa Renewal)
Countries across the continent have significant experience conducting mass vaccination campaigns. Infrastructure developed over the years, including for polio, cholera and measles vaccination drives, and lessons learned during the Ebola epidemic stand them in good stead, former President Sirleaf pointed out. Still, having to keep COVID-19 vaccines in extreme low temperatures presents additional challenges.
The pursuit of GDP growth masked many gaps in African economies for decades, and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how woefully ill-prepared African countries are to meet the needs of their people. In South Africa for example, the pandemic has exposed many problems, including access to water, food, health services and procurement processes. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bombshell statement to the Davos summit on 26 January 2021 about vaccine hoarding by rich nations has been discussed and dissected from all angles in media houses around the world. Rich countries, with just 16% of the world’s population, have hoovered up 60% of the world’s vaccine supply, postponing inoculation programmes for the rest of the world by months, if not years. Yet, while we must condemn rich nations for hoarding vaccines and paying scant attention to global solidarity, we must also take a hard look at ourselves and ask why we always have to depend on others for everything.
AfCFTA success depends on technology (Business Daily)
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement became effective in January 1 this year, rekindling the feelings African countries had immediately after independence from colonial powers. These feelings also emanate from recent experiences in Asia that societies can create prosperity for their people by re-organising their economies. However, immediately after independence many leaders chose to centrally manage the economies.
The success of AfCFTA depends on how much we embrace the concept of digitalisation (the process of integrating digital technologies into everyday life) on virtually everything we do. The idea of digitalisation is driving the emerging fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Some of the key technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Big Data must be central to the monitoring and evaluation on the performance of intra-Africa trade.
President Uhuru Kenyatta at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri at a meeting with AfCFTA's Secretary General Wamkele Mene who paid him a courtesy call. February 3, 2021. [PSCU]President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will assist the continent overcome some of its pressing economic challenges. The President reaffirmed Kenya's commitment to AfCFTA and rallied other African states to work closely with the agency's Secretariat to ensure that continental trade arrangement succeeds. Beyond its economic importance, President Kenyatta pointed out that AfCFTA has the potential to accelerate continental integration efforts by promoting people-to-people interactions through trade.
Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have not been spared from the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Articulating a policy response to the impact of COVID-19 requires understanding how and which households have been impacted and if households may have been able to rely on or move into specific activities that may act as a buffer in crises. Governments of five SSA countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda), in collaboration with the World Bank, are implementing several rounds of COVID-19 high-frequency phone surveys (HFPS) to monitor the socioeconomic implications of the pandemic. Agriculture is one of the focus topics included in these surveys. The sample included in the HFPS were interviewed face-to-face in 2018/19 as part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Survey on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) project, making comparison possible. Given that HFPS data collection coincided with the 2020/21 pre-harvest season, this piece focuses primarily on pre-harvesting using data collected from April-August 2020.
Note on the evolution of the prices of the main commodities exported by the CEMAC countries in the 4th quarter of 2020 (Bank of Central African States)
Commodities price index grew by 3.3% in Q4 2020, a report the BEAC shows. This development is the result of the rise in the price of oil, Cemac's main export product, which rose from $42.7 per barrel in the third quarter to $43.6 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2020, after $30.3 per barrel in the second quarter.
As the private sector struggles to adjust business models to the growing challenges presented by Covid-19, it has become clear that digital transformation is integral to the survival of industries. Affordable digital transactions are needed more than ever and there is a need to harmonize facilitative policies in all COMESA Member States. Today’s financial inclusion agendas should consider the enablement of SMEs to leverage on retail digital solutions to access affordable, value-added digital financial services that also ensure appropriate safeguards for cross border transactions.
The African Energy Chamber has launched a new initiative together with investment research company Hawilti to promote gas as a transition fuel in Africa. The African Coalition for Trade and Investment in Natural Gas (ACTING) -- a non-profit initiative -- aims to encourage capital into the African gas value-chain and engage stakeholders and societies on the benefits of gas consumption. The work of the coalition will particularly focus on the collection of key market data and the distribution of information on opportunities, companies and projects expected to shape the future of African gas, they said.
Why Africa and Partners Must Go Up a Gear on Climate (Chatham House)
The pandemic took the spotlight off climate change in Africa, despite 2020 seeing warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and extreme, erratic weather events. 2020 saw time lost and meetings postponed. But the lead-up to the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November (COP26) brings the spotlight back to climate issues, and a packed international agenda offers an opportunity for Africa to reach Glasgow better prepared and better understood than ever before. Despite the heavy focus on COVID-19, climate issues in Africa certainly did not go away in 2020 – they continued to exacerbate security challenges, population displacement, and heighten the vulnerability of agriculture and food supply.
Impact of Mini and Off-grid Power Projects in Africa (News Ghana)
Renewable and self-sustaining mini- and off-grid solutions serve as alternatives to traditional grid connections to achieve energy-access goals for remote communities. These revolutionary solutions will be discussed and showcased at the upcoming 13th annual Africa Energy Indaba virtual event from the 1st – 5th March 2021 which will provide the latest insights, trends and applications to ultimately increase energy access across the continent.
The United States’ Africa policy needs to be “reset,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday at an event where he outlined his vision for the U.S.-Africa relationship. “My goal is to reset the United States’ relationship with Africa by focusing on shared challenges, expanding people-to-people relationships and exchanges, developing partnerships to increase youth participation in the digital workforce, and championing a more robust presence across the continent,” Meeks said. Why it matters: Meeks just took charge of the committee, and many development advocates weren’t sure what his priorities would be. He made it clear that he chose to focus his first public event on Africa for a reason — it will be a top priority for the committee.
In early January, China unveiled a new white paper on international development cooperation in which Beijing has articulated a vision to engender more inclusive, quality and sustainable development in the world. China's foreign aid will now be administered by the China International Development Cooperation Agency, which was established in 2018. It is clear from the document that Africa ranks high on China's international development cooperation agenda. Between 2013 and 2018, the continent received 44.65 percent of China's total foreign aid budget. Africa also received about 45 percent of human resource development assistance from Beijing during the same period.
Are African Countries Preventing Corruption and prosecuting related crimes? (Transparency International)
When the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC) was adopted by the African Union Assembly in 2003, it was a huge step towards resolving the continent’s serious corruption challenges. Designed as a shared roadmap for member states to implement governance and anti-corruption measures, the convention aims to eradicate corruption in government and business. But many governments are falling behind on their commitments under the African Union’s anti-corruption convention. A new report by Transparency International explores this, looking at three important areas: money laundering, illicit enrichment and political party funding, as well as the role civil society and media play in fighting corruption.
WCO and ICAO join forces to support the cross-border movement of COVID-19 vaccines (World Customs Organization)
The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya and the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Fang Liu issued on 2 February 2021 a joint statement calling for efforts to ensure safe, secure and efficient transport of COVID-19 vaccines and associated equipment across borders.
“Through digitalization and flexibility of the export, transit and import processes in air cargo operations, including robust risk management mechanisms, our two organizations seek to significantly increase the speed at which vaccines can be delivered to the end user, whilst minimizing the risk of distribution of unsafe and counterfeited medical products”, the two leaders indicated in the joint statement.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand for air cargo decreased by 10.6% in 2020, compared to 2019. This was the largest drop in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990, outpacing the 6% fall in global trade in goods.
African airlines saw demand grow by 1.0% in 2020 compared to 2019 (1.9% for international operations) and a fall in capacity of 17.3% (-15.8% for international operations). African airlines posted the strongest international growth of all regions in 2020 as well as in December. International demand in the month grew by 6.3% year-on-year. African airlines now have the same share of the global international cargo market as carriers from Latin America (2.4%). International capacity decreased by 21.6% in December, a steepening of the 18.6% fall in November.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviewed on January 14, 2021 the IMF Debt sustainability Framework for Market Access Countries (MAC DSA). The review revealed scope to improve the MAC DSA framework’s ability to identify risk of sovereign stress and better align it with the IMF’s lending framework, to be achieved by replacing the current approach with a new methodology. The MAC DSA plays a key role in the Fund’s core functions of surveillance and lending. In surveillance, the framework helps identify a member’s vulnerability to sovereign stress to steer the member away from such stress. In Fund-supported programs, which often take place after the stress has already developed, the DSA helps determine if sovereign stress can be resolved via a combination of IMF financing and economic reforms, or if measures such as debt restructuring are needed to deliver medium-term debt sustainability. The framework is also used in developing IMF conditionality and informing the need for debt relief in debt restructuring operations undertaken in the context of Fund-supported programs.
The UK begins its approach to the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TIPAT) (SmallCapNews.co.uk)
The United Kingdom has officially initiated the process to be part of one of the largest free trade zones in the world, with the aim of establishing itself at the center of emerging economies in the Pacific. And the promotion of employment throughout its territory. This is its accession to a trade agreement between 11 countries that covers 500 million people and accounts for 13 percent of global GDP in 2019. As UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss reported, on 1 February 2021, she spoke with ministers in Japan and New Zealand to request the UK’s future accession to the Trans-Pacific Inclusive and Progressive Association (TIPAT). It will be the first official step toward accession before negotiations begin this year.
Countries involved in the COVAX Facility, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, now know how many doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccines to expect in the coming months. A country-by-country forecast was released Wednesday by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization; and UNICEF. Countries will receive doses in proportion to their population size. For example, Afghanistan will receive 3 million doses, while Namibia receives about 127,000. These doses are expected to reach about 3.3% of the total population of the 145 facility participants during this time frame. Vaccines are expected to go to the most vulnerable populations, including health care workers.
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The great wealth tax debate: How to fund a constitutional state (Daily Maverick)
Have high-income earners been taxed more and more over the years and has a limit now been reached? The editor of Business Maverick, Tim Cohen, repeats this common view in a recent opinion piece. But is he right? It would be both unfair and counterproductive to introduce “a wealth tax,” he said. He quotes Judge Dennis Davis saying “while a wealth tax would add to the legitimacy of the tax system in a country with such vast inequality, it would require significant institutional capacity that can’t just be switched on like a light”.
Addressing Financial Challenges Of Sustainable Shipping (Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide)
Work to address the financial challenges of shipping’s transition to a more sustainable future has continued this week with a meeting of the FIN-SMART Roundtable Workstream 1. The Roundtable provides a platform for regular dialogue among key maritime stakeholders to support accelerating financial flows, particularly in developing countries, for the decarbonization of the maritime sector. This is carried out in line with country priorities and the goals of the IMO Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships.
New targets to protect biodiversity must include farmers and agriculture (The Conversation Africa)
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is a treaty that aims to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of a country’s natural resources, or biological diversity. This is a general strategy that all countries must then adopt at the local level. The Convention – a legally-binding international treaty – is currently negotiating new targets for the next 30 years. Decisions are made by parties to the convention, made up of 196 countries, supported by a range of observers including NGOs, researchers and academics.
Agriculture dominates sub-Saharan African economies. It contributes on average 15% of total GDP, covers vast tracts of land and is often the main source of livelihoods in rural areas. We argue that the new framework must recognise the importance of agriculture for conservation. And that the best way to protect Africa’s biodiversity is to integrate conservation measures on working lands. This will also create jobs and income opportunities for farming communities.
The World Logistics Passport (WLP), a major policy initiative established to increase trading opportunities between emerging markets, announced on Wednesday the joining of India, Indonesia and South Africa as members. The WLP creates opportunities for business across Africa, Asia, Central and South America to improve existing trading routes, and develop new ones, through the world’s first logistics loyalty program for freight forwarders and traders. It overcomes non-tariff trade barriers by fast-tracking cargo movement, reducing administrative costs, advancing cargo information and facilitating movement between ports and air.
The Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce has signed a framework agreement with the WLP and bilateral negotiations with the government continue. Joining the WLP will be a key enabler of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, opening up new market potential among countries in the region. South Africa has joined the WLP at a time where the country, and broader region, seek to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19. The WLP will help to achieve the goals in the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, boosting job creation and supporting export-led growth.
Risk Management Key to Strengthening Global Value Chains Resiliency (Modern Dipplmacy)
APEC economies have developed a strong foundation to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, but more needs to be done to enhance their resiliency in global value chains, according to a recent policy brief by the APEC Policy Support Unit. “Building and strengthening resiliency is the top priority for firms involved in global value chains,” said Dr Akhmad Bayhaqi, a senior analyst with the APEC Policy Support Unit, who co-authored the study. “The economy-wide and global implications brought on by disruptions to supply chains resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic suggest that governments need to support firms in managing such risks.” The policy brief, titled Managing Risks in Global Value Chains, analyzes the ability of the APEC region and its peer international groupings to respond to disruptions and to quickly return to normal operations. Using a value chain strength index, the policy brief measures the strength of economies and groupings against the following risks: 1) logistics and infrastructure risk; 2) natural disaster risk; 3) market risk; 4) political risk; and 5) regulatory and policy risk.
Caught in a tangled web of vaccine nationalism (The Sund Daily)
As known Covid-19 infections exceed 100 million internationally, with more than two million lives lost, rich countries are now quarrelling publicly over access to limited vaccine supplies. With “vaccine nationalism” widespread, multilateral arrangements have not been able to address current challenges well. Vaccine nationalism has meant that the rich and powerful come first, not only in societies, but also in the world, making a mockery of the “No one left behind” slogan embraced by the international community. Many developing countries and most of their people will have to wait for access to vaccines while the powerful and better off secure prior access regardless of need or urgency.