tralac Daily News
Deputy trade, industry and economic development minister Fikile Majola this week encouraged South African businesses not to focus on serving the country’s population of 60 million but the continent’s 1.2 billion people. Majola was addressing a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum (PBF) on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He promised that the government would produce an AfCFTA implementation plan during the current financial year. “Each master plan will include an AfCFTA chapter, key sectors including auto, steel, poultry, sugar, agro-processing, clothing and manufacturing. Provinces and districts, using our district development model, will be assisted to identify both opportunities for firms in their areas and the local and provincial government contributions to realise their potential,” Majola said.
“We also aim to identify export champions that will support small, medium and micro enterprises and black industrialists to gear up for new markets,” he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa must forge a new economy in a new global reality. “We have to both recover the ground that we have lost due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and to gain new ground by placing our economy on a fundamentally different growth trajectory,” President Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
He said the country’s economic recovery plan is not about a return to what was, but about transformation to what is next. “One of the concrete ways that we can do this is by harnessing the job creating potential of the digital economy, whose growth has only been accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic,” President Ramaphosa said.
Namibia’s total merchandise trade in February declined to the level of N$13.9 billion, which is 18.4% less than its level of N$17.1 billion in January 2021 and lower by 1.1% from its February 2020 level of N$14.1 billion, the Namibia Statistics Agency’s monthly trade report released on Thursday states. Statistician General Alex Shimuafeni said during February, Namibia’s trade composition by partner illustrated that China continued as the largest export market while South Africa maintained its first position as Namibia’s largest source of imports. “The composition of the export basket mainly comprised of minerals such as copper, pearls and precious stones (diamonds), non-monetary gold and copper concentrates. Fish was the only non-mineral products among the top five exports. On the other hand, the import basket comprised mainly of copper, petroleum and petroleum products, motor vehicles, telecommunication equipment and medicinal and pharmaceutical products,” he added.
Imprints of COVID-19 thwart local ventures in Namibia (CGTN Africa)
Despite economic revival efforts in Namibia, some businesses operating in the country continue to struggle following disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It has been a struggle to sell locally, and much more difficult to export the products to neighbouring countries,” he said.
A survey of COVID-19 effects on selected businesses conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency in 2020 revealed that the manufacturing sector reported the highest number of businesses adversely affected by COVID-19, followed by the hotels and restaurants and construction. “In addition, reduction in international customer demand was highlighted as the second most current effects experienced by the businesses,” according to the report.
Opportunities to export protective clothing (Sunday Mail)
THE Southern African region has abundant mineral resources, making mining activities some of the largest economic drivers across the countries. Zambia, one of Zimbabwe’s key trading partners is big on copper and is the second largest copper producer in Africa after another SADC country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Evidence shows that local companies are still to unlock opportunities in production and supply of protective clothing to mining companies spread across the Southern African region. Apart from the mining sector, sectors such as agriculture, health and construction offer untapped opportunities for local companies to supply a wide range of protective clothing. Protective clothing falls under the broad category of personal protective equipment (PPEs), which now includes overalls, safety boots, gloves, helmets, and eye protection equipment such as safety goggles. Zimbabwean companies are already producing competitive and quality PPEs in the form of overalls, gloves, masks, aprons, dust coats and reflective clothing. By comparison to products coming from other countries, the quality of Zimbabwe-produced protective clothing is high and preferred by most companies.
Kenya on Sunday commissioned the construction of a one-stop border post to promote trade and security with neighboring Uganda. Sam Ojwang, a senior administrator in the north-western Kenyan county of Trans-Nzoia, presided over the groundbreaking ceremony of the project financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in 2018 held talks in the port city of Mombasa and agreed to have a one-stop border point to enhance trade and security in the region.
He said the project will enhance efficiency in the management of the border especially revenue collection and cross-border services. “The project brings immense benefits to manufacturers in Kenya and it is the commitment of the national government to promote the manufacturing sector in a bid to scale up the efforts to achieve the Big Four Agenda towards attaining Vision 2030,” said Ojwang.
At the beginning of the year, we were optimistic that we would see economic recovery after being hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic last year. Currently, our economy is in a frail state–the spiraling debt, high cost of doing business, corruption, an inefficient transport and logistics system, policy unpredictability and instability as well as rolling back of measures put in place to cushion the economy from the effects of the pandemic, which continue to hinder our competitiveness and productivity.
The Manufacturing Priority Agenda (MPA) 2021 is an annual publication that guides the association’s advocacy efforts with government and its agencies. The 2021 MPA is themed “From surviving Covid-19 to thriving: Manufacturing sector rebound for sustained job and investment growth”. Five pillars to support recovery of the sector from the devastating effects of the pandemic guide this year’s MPA. They focus on enhancing competitiveness and level playing field for local manufacturers, enhancing market access for locally manufactured goods both in local and export markets, promoting pro-industry policy and institutional framework, promoting SME development and enhancing industrial sustainability and resilience.
Trucks stuck at Namanga as row over maize exports unresolved (The East African)
Kenyan authorities remain tight-lipped a month after banning Tanzanian and Ugandan maize imports into the country. This past week, sources at the Namanga border crossing say Tanzania has blocked all transit trucks from entering the country from the Kenyan side. A spot check at the crossing on Wednesday found stranded maize trucks on the Tanzanian side, while more than 20 trucks on the Kenyan side had not been cleared to cross into Tanzania.
This is despite a clarification two weeks ago by Kenya’s Agriculture Minister Peter Munya that the government had not banned the importation of maize from the two neighbours. Since Mr Munya made his remarks, no other Kenyan official has responded or offered an explanation on the matter. Maize is an emotive issue in Kenya, with farmers and the government at loggerheads over prices, and allowing imports that flood the market with cheap produce.
Equipping of Lamu Port has resumed and is at an advanced stage, authorities in the project have confirmed, with the facility expected to become operational in June. This is after delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic last year, which slowed down procurement processes for equipment. Both the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Authority and KPA are keen to have the country’s second major sea port, and a potential transshipment hub in the continent, become operational in the next two months.
Kenya’s fight against Covid-19 has suffered another setback after India put banned export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients after a record surge in infections sent demand surging. The move comes barely weeks after Delhi blocked exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine to balance surging domestic demand with international orders. The ban means poorer nations, including Kenya, will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots. Kenya could also fail to meet its vaccination target of 3.2 million jabs by June this year, as global and local supply shortage, registration confusion, and reluctance among some priority groups rock the campaign.
Tanzania, Kenya cement ties (Dailynews)
PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has assured her Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta of a bold and continued cooperation from Tanzania, as part of efforts to push forward development agenda between the two countries. She has also directed the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) of the two countries to convene a meeting that would work on different areas of the bilateral ties. The commission hasn’t met since 2016. The head of state made the assurance on Saturday after receiving a special delegation from the government of Kenya that was led by its Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Sports, Culture and Heritage, Amb Dr Amina Mohammed at the Dar es Salaam State House. President Samia to pay an official visit to Kenya for the sake of cementing further the existing diplomatic cooperation.
Long-awaited $15b EA oil pipeline deal signed in Kampala (The East African)
Fifteen years after discovering commercially-viable crude oil deposits, Uganda begins its final journey to production with the signing on Sunday of a landmark deal with Tanzania and French oil company Total. The deal, which is expected to unlock upwards of $15 billion in investments, was signed in Kampala. President Yoweri Museveni led the Uganda delegation while Total chairman and chief executive Patrick Pouyanne led the French company’s team, The EastAfrican has learnt. A key element of the project is the crude oil export pipeline to run from Uganda to the Indian Ocean at Tanga and Tanzania President Samia Suluhu travelled to Kampala in her first foreign trip as head of state to sign the tripartite agreement on behalf of her country.
A deal for the $3.5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) is a strategic win for Tanzania which will earn $12.7 off each barrel of oil transported through it.
“Botswana entered the COVID-19 crisis with larger buffers and lower public debt than other countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), but significantly less than in the past. The country was contending with structural challenges, persistent negative external shocks and delays in adjustment that caused a weakening of international reserves and the fiscal position amid high unemployment. “The pandemic exacerbated Botswana’s economic challenges. While strict containment measures helped to limit the spread of the virus and save lives, the heavy economic reliance on diamonds and contact-intensive activities caused a sharp GDP contraction, one of the deepest in SSA. The current account deficit widened and foreign exchange reserves dropped further, though remaining above adequate levels. The government implemented a sizeable public wage increase agreed in 2019 and deployed an economic relief package to counter the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The relief package helped save people’s livelihoods.
“In this context and despite a second wave of COVID-19 infections, a recovery is underway, with GDP growth expected at 8.3 percent in 2021, driven by a strong rebound in mining activity, the easing of restrictions on mobility, and the recent public wage increase. The fiscal and external positions are expected to strengthen gradually along with favorable terms of trade. However, uncertainty is high, and risks are dominated by the evolution of the pandemic and vaccine rollout in Botswana and globally, and lower-than-expected diamond revenue. At the same time, a steadfast implementation of supply-side reforms could promote private sector activity and diversify the sources of growth.
The Head of Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee, has said that Nigeria was leading in the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the West Africa region. Aubee said this in his closing remarks at the cocktail event on `Reporting Back Achievements of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative’ activities in Nigeria for the years 2014-2020 and Award presentation, in Abuja. He said Nigeria’s efforts in organic agriculture were commendable and timely, as it was coming at a time when people paid attention to what they eat. “What Nigeria is doing will benefit not only Nigeria, as a country, but also the other 14 ECOWAS member states, and we hope member states will take a cue from your strides so far,” he said.
Nigeria in financial trouble; printed Ghs 849 million to share in March (Norvanreports.com)
Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo, says Nigeria is in huge financial trouble. Obaseki said the federal government printed N60 billion as part of federal allocation for March. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s total public debt stock as of the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020) rose by N6.01 trillion within a year. The agency’s report noted that Nigeria’s total public debt stock constituting of external and domestic debts stood at N32.22 trillion ($84.57 billion) as of September 30, 2020. Obaseki said the rising debt profile is worrisome as dependence on crude oil is no longer sustainable. “Nigeria has changed. The economy of Nigeria is not the same again whether we like it or not. Since the civil war, we have been managing, saying money is not our problem as long as we are pumping crude oil everyday,” he said.
Not less than 25 million Nigerians, whose communities are not linked to the national electricity grid are soon to have access to cheap and environmentally friendly renewable power. This was disclosed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), on Friday during the launch of the Solar Power Naija programme at Jangefe community in Roni council area of Jigawa State. The Solar Power Naija programme is one of the items under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), being overseen by the Vice President.
“Another challenge turned opportunity was Covid-19 and our response to the economic fallouts of the pandemic – the Economic Sustainability Plan. A fundamental rationale for the plan was to retain existing jobs and create new jobs. A mass solar programme seemed like a real chance to kill several birds with one stone; electrify the country and in the process, create thousands of jobs from solar assembly and manufacturing plants to installers, payment system operators, and maintenance of solar systems once installed.
Taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions to the state. Fines and penalties are designed to ensure compliance with tax laws. In spite of these enforcement mechanisms, the willingness of citizens to pay taxes plays an important role in tax administration. In Ghana, tax revenues have not matched rising public expenditures in recent years. From 2017 to 2018, government expenditures increased by 20%, while tax revenues grew by 17%
The most recent Afrobarometer survey in Ghana shows that most Ghanaians endorse taxation and are even willing to pay more in taxes to support the country’s development. But they also say it’s difficult to find out what taxes they owe and how tax revenues are used, and they see corruption in the GRA and tax evasion among their peers as widespread.
To address the forex risk associated with domestic bond redemptions by offshore investors, the government plans to undertake bond exchanges and buyback auctions in close coordination with the Bank of Ghana. This, according to the Finance Ministry’s 2021–2024 Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy, will smoothen both the redemption profile and any associated forex risk from the repatriation of offshore flows. The country’s stock of domestic debt stood at GH¢149.83bn (US$26.2 billion) at end-December 2020, representing 39.1 percent of GDP and an increase of 42 percent from the 2019 position. Of this, the share held by offshore investors stood at 18.5 percent, equivalent to GH¢27.69bn.
Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority to introduce additional e-payment platform (GBC Ghana Online)
The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) is to introduce an additional e-payment system to enhance cargo clearing at the ports. Mrs. Esther Gyebi-Donkor, General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the GPHA, said the Port Authority had created an e-payment platform to allow clients to do transactions through mobile money, visa and Master cards. Mrs. Gyebi-Donkor noted that the move was part of efforts to increase automation at the Ports and make doing business faster, easy, secure and convenient.
Touching on cargo clearance processes, she said even though Ghana was a little late in fully implementing the Single Window System, it brought remarkable successes and made the country’s seaports efficient. She said the port automation, including the Paperless Port clearance process, and the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), had streamlined the activities of statutory agencies operating in the clearance chain and impacted positively on the cost of doing business at the ports.
Ghana ports record increase in transit traffic (GBC Ghana Online)
Ghana’s Sea Ports recorded an increase in transit traffic last year despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) recorded transit traffic of 1.5 million metric tons in 2020 compared to 1.3 million in 2019. Mrs Esther Gyebi-Donkor, General Manager in charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the GPHA, told the Ghana News Agency at the weekend that transshipment traffic in 2020 was 602,778 metric tons as compared to 90,158 metric tons in 2019.
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor said 229,650 metric tons of the transit traffic was from coastal countries, an indication of the strides Ghana’s ports had made towards becoming the preferred trade and logistics hub in the sub-region.
Ghana receives critical COVID-19 medical supplies (BusinessGhana)
The Government of Ghana has received medical supplies from the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) for the treatment and management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The medical items were funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the German Government (BMZ), the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and WAHO and procured by GIZ and UNDP. This is the second bulk of distribution of critical COVID-19 medical supplies to the 15-member countries of ECOWAS by WAHO.
Receiving the items, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, on behalf of the Minister for Health, expressed the government’s gratitude to WAHO and its partners for their support. He underlined the importance of the items which he said will enhance testing and treatment of the COVID-19 cases in the country. The Head of Logistics at the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control, Mr. Sampson Ayeni who led the team to donate the items, was hopeful that the supply would be efficiently used. He mentioned that more distributions and allocations will be done because additional items would be procured for member countries of which Ghana would be a beneficiary.
African regional and continental news
Lack of proper means of transporting goods to countries in the sub-region by sea is becoming a hindrance to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Industry players have expressed the need for government to provide reliable vessels that can aid in the transportation of goods to countries like Liberia, Gambia, Guinea, and many others. Goods transported by road to mostly the landlocked countries are also faced with challenges due to the refusal of some neighbouring countries to comply with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, ETLS. Chief Executive of B5 Plus, Mukesh Thakwani told GBC Business News that if these challenges are addressed, goods will be delivered on time and will boost trading and enhance the profit as well as the competitiveness of Ghanaian businesses in particular.
The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), a unit of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is preparing the first ever Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to guide on how environmental considerations can be effectively incorporated into the agreement.
The SEA will identify how to include environmental considerations into the implementation of the AfCFTA and into the so-called phase II negotiations on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights, and phase III negotiations on e-commerce due to start soon. The institutional capacities needed at continental, regional and national levels to address environmental issues will be determined under the assessment.
Agriculture has an enormous environmental footprint, playing a significant role in causing climate change, water scarcity, land degradation, deforestation and other processes; it is simultaneously causing environmental changes and being impacted by these changes. Developing sustainable food systems, contributes to the sustainability of the human population. For example, one of the best ways to mitigate climate change is to create sustainable food systems based on sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture provides a potential solution to enable agricultural systems to feed a growing population within the changing environmental conditions.
Africa has the ability to produce enough food to feed its population and beyond, and develop agribusiness that would offer decent employment to youth. There is a need to make sound investment to develop agro-processing so as to add value to farm produce and effectively linking primary producers to industries.
The future billionaires of Africa will not be coming from the oil and gas sector, but from the agriculture because food is critical and that is what Africa has a comparative advantage in. Youth as key drivers to sustainable food security just because if we don’t have enough food in Africa, we will be having a big problem therefore Africa calls for efforts to ensure food security on the continent. We need an education system that ensures that we have young people who are agriculture professionals because we are heading to technology-led agriculture.
Illicit trade and the fight for East Africa’s future (The New Times)
East Africa is being picked apart by extremist groups, organised crime syndicates and urban gangs, all of whom are routinely assisted by some corrupt members of the region’s political, civil and business classes. East Africa represents rich pickings as both a source of and destination for illicit products, not to mention as a transport hub for illicit freight both arriving to and departing from the continent. Contraband agricultural and manufactured products, such as sugar and tobacco, are also smuggled into East Africa in mass quantities by extremist groups such as Al Shabaab.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has estimated that 40% of consumer products that reach the market are illicit. As many as seven in every ten Ugandan alcoholic beverages are contraband. East Africans are exposed to well over a billion illegal cigarettes every year. The region is awash with illegal arms, making life everywhere more dangerous. The harms caused by illicit trade are numerous and self-reinforcing.
Together with his colleagues, researcher Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters of Wageningen Economic Research examined the resilience of food systems in West Africa. The knowledge they gained and consultations with the World Bank have resulted in a programme to further increase this resilience. However, greater knowledge is required. What can we learn from his findings? To a certain extent it can be done from the Netherlands, but inevitably you will come across obstacles. In the study, we mainly looked at what is already known about food systems and their resilience. But there are still a lot of unknowns, and you cannot speak for people in a region if you have not consulted them.
Africa must take steps to safeguard food security (Chinadaily)
Globally, most countries are still grappling with food insecurity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 690 million people did not have enough to eat in 2019. By December 2020, more than 250 million people in Africa were faced with severe food insecurity. In Africa, the situation is exacerbated by extreme weather, ranging from floods and drought, that has disrupted agricultural patterns. Further, the onset of an invasion by desert locusts in 2020 left a trail of destruction. The locust invasion has yet to be contained in most parts of the affected countries in the Horn of Africa. Other drivers escalating food insufficiency in Africa include prolonged conflicts, which put pressure on constrained economies and disrupt livelihoods. Furthermore, forced displacements and the burden of refugees offset the food systems of affected regions or host countries.
There is a pressing need for the continent's governments to initiate measures to safeguard food security and speed up the recovery of the agricultural sector. This calls for concerted efforts among key stakeholders in the public and private sectors as well as development agencies.
To safeguard Africa's food systems during the pandemic, governments instituted immediate and short-term measures to cushion the most vulnerable populations. These included food packs for targeted low-income households, economic stimulus packages, cash transfers for urban and rural poor, tax
The COMESA Seed Programme through the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) has developed over four million physical seed labels that are ready for use by seed companies in the region. The labels will enable companies engage in regional seed trade for large seed consignments crossing the borders and in-country seed trade in smaller packages.
The COMESA Seed Labels are meant to provide an easy passage at the border and they are now available at the COMESA Secretariat at $0.035/label in order to facilitate regional seed trade within the 21 COMESA Member States,” Dr Mukuka said in a statement issued in Lusaka on Friday 9 April
The unequal global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines could spur the trade in fake doses in Africa - a hotspot for counterfeit medicines, analysts warned on Friday, citing the seizure of falsified vaccination shots in South Africa. With poorer countries grappling to procure enough vaccine doses for their people, criminals will likely see an opportunity to profit, especially in Africa where imports account for more than 80% of pharmaceutical needs, they said. “Already Africa has a problem with counterfeit medicines. The lack of local production and weak enforcement have for years allowed products to enter countries, such as fake medication for malaria in West Africa,” said Richard Chelin, senior researcher at the ENACT programme at the Institute for Security Studies. “Now with rich nations hoarding vaccines, this is likely to get worse. The consequence of this vaccine grabbing is that it creates opportunity for criminal networks. Everyone wants the vaccine and people will panic and buy whatever is out there.”
The African Union’s digital Covid-19 passport for travelers (Africa Feeds)
The African Union has developed a common continental Covid-19 digital passport for travelers and airlines. It is an initiative by African Union’s lead health agency, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The technology is known as Trusted Travel, a platform that will enable passengers across Africa to securely and easily verify compliance with Covid-19 test or vaccine travel requirements issued by their destinations of choice. The platform has been made available to airlines since March 2021 as the continent continues to battle the pandemic. The technology provided at no cost to users has seen delays and long queues at airports drastically reduce for passengers boarding Airlines.
The European Union through the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) has reaffirmed its support to COMESA to enable the Regional Economic Community have an effective and coordinated management of migration and mobility in the framework of a health crisis. The organization will also help COMESA and its Member States to better communicate with stakeholders at border points during such a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic situation is one such health crisis that the ICMPD would like to work with COMESA as a practical way of intervening in the migration and health sector.
To kick start the activities, the two teams discussed how the series of online meetings with the Secretariat and Member States will be conducted to assess the training and information needs regarding the management of migration/mobility at the borders during this health crisis of COVID-19.
East Africa’s business community is angling itself for major trade and investment deals during this year’s Germany Hannover trade fair, which kicks off next week Monday.Also known as ‘Hannover Messe’, the week-long event is one of the world’s largest trade fairs for promoting industrial technologies, usually held annually in Hannover City, Germany.
On Friday, the East African Business Council (EABC) in partnership with GIZ- Business Scouts for Development Program, funded by the German Ministry for economic cooperation, BMZ held a virtual forum to explore challenges and risks inhibiting industrial transformation in the region.
“Industries in East Africa have been able to repurpose and transform amid the pandemic. Strategic partnerships between Europe and East Africa should build the capacity of industries to tap into the opportunities of the EAC Common Market and African Continental Free Trade Area of 1.3 billion consumers,” Mathuki said.
Smooth logistic routes between China and Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic have helped African countries fight the pandemic, promoted two-way exchanges of products and ensured that the continent's economic recovery is on the right track. Vaccines have been the fastest growing and one of the most important items in logistics and transportation between China and Africa.
Apart from vaccines and other epidemic prevention materials, the channels and products seen in China-Africa trade are becoming more diversified. Official data showed that China has been Africa's largest trading partner for more than a decade. Over the past three years, China's agricultural imports from Africa have grown at an average annual rate of 14 percent, making China the second-largest agricultural importer in Africa.
Growing trade ties bind India to Africa’s future (MENAFN.COM)
India has stepped up its global ambitions and foreign policy re-engagement with African countries in recent years. Trade increased from $7.2 billion in 2001 to $63 billion in 2017/18. India is now the third largest export destination and the fifth largest investor on the continent. While it plays catch-up with China’s commanding presence in Africa, India has signed many new bilateral agreements. It has also strengthened its diplomatic presence and is actively furthering trade, infrastructure and private sector investments.
India’s push for South-South cooperation relies on three broad elements. The first is a shared identity as part of the ‘Third World’. Second is expertise in cost-effective development technologies. Third is a recurrent articulation of the principles of mutual respect and solidarity.
ACCI Advocates Qatari-African Chamber of Commerce to Boost Trade (THISDAY Newspapers)
The President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar has called for the establishment of the Qatari- African Chamber of Commerce to facilitate and establish strong trade groups covering several industrial and trade sectors. He gave the assurance that ACCI was ready to spearhead the formation and hosting of the proposed Chamber of Commerce. While calling for more international businesses to explore the vast opportunities in Africa, Al-Mujtaba stated that the continent has the youngest world population, with strong digital orientation.
“A continent booming with several landmarks’ infrastructural projects, Africa is home to new ports. Airports, trans-continental railways and Trans-African highways.
Global economy news
Anyone who needs to ship something big – or a great deal of something small – rents an ISO container for the purpose. But that’s not an easy task at the moment – there simply aren't enough transport boxes available. And buying a container isn't easy either. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently reported that there are only two companies in the world that build and sell shipping containers – both are based in China.
But for almost a year, it’s been difficult to maintain the timetable according to which ships travel between continents. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, global trade has gone off the rails. Even though there won’t be more containers in the short term, the problem with the transport boxes is not entirely their supposedly insufficient number. Containers are almost never used for one-time transport; they are subject to a global cycle.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented health, economic, and social crisis. It is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions, increasing poverty and inequality, and reversing development gains. To move toward a global recovery will require sustained, differentiated, and targeted financial and technical support to governments and the private sector. These were key messages from the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum that represents 189 member countries of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, in a communiqué issued at the institutions’ Spring Meetings. The committee encouraged the Bank Group and the IMF to continue working closely together and with other partners in assisting developing countries’ COVID response.
Both the committee and Malpass welcomed progress on debt sustainability for the world’s poorest countries; this is helping free up fiscal space for key investments in human capital that are critical to long-term economic recovery. Prior to the meetings, the G20 extended the Debt Service Suspension Initiative through the end of 2021. As Malpass noted in his speech and at the meetings’ opening press conference, the Bank Group and IMF are also working closely together on implementation of the G20’s Common Framework to deal with cases of unsustainable debt. In remarks to the G20, Malpass observed that the poorest countries will also need more support through grants and highly concessional resources from IDA; he welcomed G20 support for moving up the next IDA replenishment by one year.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, many small island developing states (SIDS) were already showing signs of increased debt distress – where debt servicing burdens, current account deficits and elevated levels of public debt viciously feed off each other. The economic fallout from the pandemic is expected to aggravate these hardships, and a wave of sovereign defaults is now looming.
Clear plans are needed to resolve the debt crisis in the short term and debt sustainability over the longer term – so SIDS reduce their vulnerability to climate change and other shocks.
An agenda for a bold set of actions to jointly tackle the debt and climate crises in vulnerable islands is needed ahead of COP26. This fits with the commitment set by the Paris Agreement for developed countries to provide financial resources to assist developing countries in meeting their climate goals. To date, this assistance has focused principally on climate finance. Given the impending debt crisis in some of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, this assistance should also focus on debt relief and debt sustainability.
The United Nations called this week for expanded debt relief to all developing countries that request it and faster, more equitable COVID-19 vaccinations to tackle “unprecedented” fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “To avoid a development crisis, the world must avoid a debt crisis,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said on behalf of the United Nations in statements to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Development Committee and to the International Monetary and Financial Committee Board of Governors, gathered virtually for their yearly Spring Meetings. “This is no time for austerity.” Speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, Steiner also noted that that 84 percent of COVID-19 vaccines administered so far have gone to wealthier countries and urged swift measures to close major gaps in vaccine funding and production for poor countries. While the world’s largest economies have mobilized an historic US$18 trillion in fiscal support, keeping people and economies afloat amid surging poverty, joblessness, and hunger, many developing countries cannot invest in recovery and resilience because of financing constraints, Steiner said.
Although more than 700 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, richer countries have received more than 87 per cent, and low-income countries just 0.2 per cent. “There remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines”, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanonom Ghebreyesus, speaking during the agency’s regular briefing from Geneva. “On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people has received a vaccine. In low-income countries, it’s one in more than 500. Let me repeat that: one in four versus one in 500.”
European Union plans to impose taxes on carbon at its border are “discriminatory” and unfair to developing nations, ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China have warned. EURACTIV’s media partner Climate Home News reports. In a joint statement, the four nations, known as the BASIC countries, “expressed grave concern regarding the proposal for introducing trade barriers such as unilateral carbon border adjustment”. The EU has proposed to impose a levy on carbon-intensive products imported into the union from countries which do not have a price on carbon. Its supporters argue it is necessary to avoid carbon leakage, where producers of energy-intensive products like steel, cement and aluminum move out of the EU to countries with weaker environmental regulations.