tralac Daily News
Every national budget, in every nation across the globe, is a balancing act. But this year, with the ravages of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns eroding an already shaky economy, the Finance Minister and his team at Treasury have a particularly hard task.
SA Canegrowers welcomes maintained sugar tax rate (Engineering News)
South African Canegrowers (SA Canegrowers) has welcomed government’s decision to maintain the health promotion levy, or “sugar tax” at its current rate. The industry association says that, although it had called for a reduction in the sugar tax, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s 2021 Budget adds no additional obstacles to the “sticky path ahead” for the industry’s recovery and the one-million livelihoods that depend on the industry.
South Africa's women's minister seeks voice for women in AfCFTA (Africanews English)
South Africa’s Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, today called for women’s voices to be heard in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Ms Nkoana-Mashabane spoke during a virtual conference on leveraging the agreement to boost women’s economic empowerment jointly organized by the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), a unit of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), a private sector organization.
During the 25th public briefing on coronavirus in Namibia, President Hage Geingob announced that the current restriction measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 will be extended for a period of 36 days, from 25th February to 31st March 2021.
FG Announces Additional Economic Zones for Agric, Textile (Thisday Newspapers)
The federal government has approved the expansion of the existing Free Trade Zones (FTZs), as well as the activation of existing ones to respond to the demands of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uganda to Sue Kenya, Tanzania Over Exports Blockade (All Africa)
Uganda will this week seek to find solutions to the continued blockade of its exports, failure of which, it will seek intervention of the East African Court of Justice.
Egypt backs call to internationalize Ethiopia dam dispute (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Egypt said Wednesday it has endorsed a Sudanese proposal to internationalize arbitration in a years-long dispute with Ethiopia over a massive dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said Cairo backs the formation of an "international quartet" including the U.S., the European Union, and the U.N., along with the African Union to facilitate reaching a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam.
The Investment Committee of the African Energy Chamber (the Chamber) met for the second time since their appointment mid-last year, to set an agenda that will facilitate capital raising for energy projects in Africa. The committee acknowledged the increased difficulty of raising capital for energy projects in a post Covid era.
Inter-state power trading up 5% (The Southern Times)
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) says inter-state electricity trading was higher in January 2021 when compared to December 2020. Economic activities increased at the beginning of the year due to eased lockdowns in the region and the re-opening of economies. The latest figures from SAPP show that total traded volumes increased by five percent to 125GWh in January 2021, from the December 2020 volume of 119GWh.
The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has urged the region’s private sector, through the SADC Business Council, to enhance manufacturing capabilities through building a strong portfolio in pharmaceuticals and prioritising industrialisation.
Knowledge management and data capture stakeholders in the SADC region have called for harmonized system of data capturing management in the SADC countries. They said data harmonization helps to get all data required from different fields or sectors at a single window. Unfortunately many countries in the region have no single window, instead each Ministry, institutions and departments have their own system of data capturing depending on their needs.
EAC business leaders want DR Congo admission expedited (The New Times)
The private sector has urged East African Community (EAC) Heads of State to direct relevant government bodies to fast track the admission of the DR Congo into the regional bloc. This is one of the items on the wish list of the East African Business Council (EABC) — a grouping of regional private sector associations and corporates – ahead of the Head State Summit scheduled for Saturday, February 27.
East Africa trade balances improve despite pandemic (The East African)
Regional balance of trade improved in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with lower imports, as Kenya’s manufactured products and demand for Tanzanian minerals held up the economies. According to a report by the United Nations Economic for Africa (Uneca) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) released Wednesday, Kenya registered an increase in exports of manufactured products, especially non-food industrial supplies and machinery and other capital equipment while demand for Tanzanian gold increased by 33.6 per cent between January and November.
UK Trade Deal Delayed over EAC Integration Concerns (The Star, Kenya)
The long awaited Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed by the Governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom (UK) in December 2020, has been delayed for a period of three weeks by the UK House of Lords over concerns that the EPA may threaten East Africa Community (EAC) integration efforts.
Drop in goods trade less severe than predicted, WTO says (Global Trade Review)
The decline in global goods trade volumes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have been less drastic than predicted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2020, with export growth in Asia during the second half of the year matched by increased demand from other markets.
In its most recent goods trade barometer, the WTO says growth in trade volumes remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2020, after a stronger-than-anticipated rebound during Q3.
Reforming the World Trade Organization’s paralyzed dispute-resolution body will be a key priority for the institution, but the process won’t be easy, incoming Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. “There’s a very great desire to reform the dispute-settlement system with the appellate body,” she said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. “Will it be easy? The answer is no. Because if it were easy it would have been done, but I think we can put together an approach and a work program.”
Dozens of least developed countries have called for the United Nations Security Council to encourage governments to make climate finance targets a reality at the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26.Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, representing the least developed countries group, said the bloc had to “insist that concrete solutions be found for enhancing climate adaptation and resilience for the most vulnerable countries.”
On February 18, 2021, the European Commission unveiled its new trade strategy. The strategy aims to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus, climate change, and growing international tensions, while also reaffirming support for a rules-based multilateral trading system. The proposed measures range from WTO reform and digital trade initiatives, to tackling forced labor by developing enforcement mechanisms and requiring companies to monitor supply chains.
COVID-19 recovery efforts present an opportunity for governments and the international community to use new and emerging technologies to reduce the inequalities brought into sharper focus by the pandemic, says UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021, published on 25 February.
Blockchain is becoming key for global trade (Tech Wire Asia)
A monument of untapped potential was what the World Trade Organization (WTO) said about Blockchain technology in its 2018 report. Today, the technology is known to be a revolutionary one, especially in terms of product traceability across the global supply chain.