tralac Daily News
The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is embarking on an initiative to try to drive uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine to 80% of the sector’s workers. The new ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Campaign Industry Framework Agreement’ will see employer and trade union groups work with the national government and the national health department to encourage industry leaders and workers to take the vaccine. The programme also aims to debunk myths about the Covid-19 vaccine; ensure there is no employment contract discrimination for workers who take the vaccine or decline to do so; and develop customised guidelines for all workplaces on how to facilitate the vaccine rollout. There will also be support initiatives to fast-track the sourcing, quality and quantity of vaccines.
Tobacco industry outraged as illicit cigarettes flood SA market (Eyewitness News)
There's outrage in the South African tobacco industry as illicit cigarettes are flooding the market. British America Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) said that an Ipsos study conducted in March showed that 74% of retail outlets in Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Free State were now openly selling illegal cigarettes. The sector believed that an 8% hike in tobacco taxes appeared to have triggered an all-out price war in key provinces.
Batsa said that the March Ipsos survey showed that over 7% more retailers had been selling illegal cigarettes compared to February. The cigarette manufacturer claimed that brands owned by the Zimbabwean Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation and manufacturers associated to Fita were competing in the illegal market.
SA’s mining production increased by 0.8% year-on-year in Feb – Stats SA (Eyewitness News)
South Africa’s mining production and mineral sales saw an increase in February. Stats SA has released its latest report on the mining industry on Tuesday, the first of several reports on key economic indicators due this week. Mining output had already been in decline for two years pre-COVID-19. It’s coming off a low base, but mining production increased by 0.8% year-on-year in February 2021. Leading the charge are iron ore miners, contributing over 65% followed by Manganese Ore contributing more than 21%. The report shows coal and gold, once the pillar of the nation’s economy, were significant negative contributors.
Due to their geographical proximity and the fact that they share a common border of 493km, the economic and human relations between Mozambique and South Africa date back a long way. Trade relations between the two countries, in the economic configurations in which they exist today, were established at the end of the 19th century and followed inconstant periods of rapprochement and distance. However, in 1994 two unprecedented events occurred that had a profound impact on societies in both countries: the multi-racial elections in South Africa and the first multi-party elections in Mozambique. Since then, the two countries have continued to maintain close commercial relationships. South Africa has invested significantly in the Mozambican economy, thanks largely to the fact that Mozambique is an attractive destination for foreign direct investments (FDI). Indeed, in 2011 FDI became the country’s main source of income.
In terms of trademarks, South African applicants own approximately 5,500 national trademarks in Mozambique. They rank second after applicants from the United States, which own approximately 5,850 national trademarks.
February’s export basket mainly consisted of minerals such as copper, pearls and precious stones (diamonds), non-monetary gold and copper concentrate. Namibia’s trading patterns seem to remain stagnant – especially with regards to exporting minerals to China and importing the basics from South Africa. According to the Namibia Statistics Agency’s trade statistics for February this year, there has been no change in trading partners, products or the local trade approach of extracting and shipping out. Statistician general Alex Shimuafeni says China continues to be Namibia’s largest export market, while South Africa maintains first position as Namibia’s largest source of imports.
In terms of imports, Namibia goes all over the world looking for copper, then exports it to China, the Netherlands and Australia, who seem to know how to best utilise this, since copper accounts for 62,4% of its total re-exports. These trade statistics come at a time when politicians are advocating economic transformation and diversification, which is yet to be reflected in trade statistics.
Govt assures Kenyans of adequate maize in the local markets (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
The Government says the recent stoppage of unsafe maize was necessitated by continuous surveillance on the safety of food imports to Kenya, where test results for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania revealed high levels of mycotoxins consistently beyond safety limits.
In a statement Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Peter Munya further averted fear over alleged shortage of maize in the country saying projections up to the end of May 2021 indicate a surplus of 11,807,681 90kg bags, with the price of maize expected to remain stable.
“The law enforcement agencies have so far, napped 39 lorries ferrying maize from Uganda. 25 lorries are being held at Busia police station while 14 are at Adungosi, as the Ministry, through its Agriculture and Food Authority heightens surveillance along all border points. A stern warning has been issued against culprits contravening the government directive, and traders found culpable will be arrested and charged in the Kenyan Court of Law.’ He added. He noted that the government has taken several measures to facilitate safe trade of maize and other related food commodities across the East African Community (EAC).
Kenya Team to Verify Uganda’s Sugar Quality (East African Business Week)
A team of officials from the Kenya Ministry of Trade is in Uganda for a sugar quality verification mission. Their objective is to ascertain the origin and status of Uganda’s sugar in order to be considered for further increase of quota to 90,000 metric tons in export to Kenya. The verification Mission will also involve other Agricultural products from Uganda such as Maize and milk, which, are key exports from Uganda to Kenya. Addressing the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kampala, the Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade Industries and Cooperatives Grace Adong Choda, said: “the visiting of the Kenya verification mission is key towards promoting trade between Uganda and Kenya”. “Recently we had a bad relationship between Uganda Kenya especially on issues related to trade. Particularly on the export of Uganda agricultural products such as Maize Sugar, poultry products.
However, with the coming of the Kenyan delegation it will help both countries to iron out non-tariff barriers that hinder effective trade between the countries” she said.
Kenyan Delegation in Kampala to End Row With Uganda (Kenyans.co.ke)
The Kenyan government has sent a high-power delegation to Kampala to resolve a protracted trade row regarding export and import duty charges on frequently used commodities. The delegation will inspect Uganda’s sugar processing plants to verify the claims that President Yoweri Museveni’s country imports sugar from Brazil and repackages it to sell to Kenya. The delegation team, formed through the Ministry of Trade, seeks to erase the allegations and find ways to improve bilateral trade between the two countries.
For sugar to be exported to Kenya and Tanzania, it has to be wholly obtained and manufactured from Uganda. So Kenya has come to erase all those false allegations,” stated Uganda Ministry of Trade Industry & Cooperatives Senior Commercial Officer Dan Ssekamwa. Kenya had in 2020 banned a section of Ugandan products into the country over concerns that the goods were imported from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region. Uganda, however, demanded that Kenya allows it to import its excess sugar lest they ban Kenya’s exportation of duty free fruit juices and pharmaceuticals.
UK, Kenya travel restrictions to disrupt cargo transport, trade (The East African)
Cargo transportation between the UK and Kenya may be disrupted by up to a week from April 9 as the two countries seek an amicable solution on the admittance of crew on their respective soils. Last week, both countries suspended passenger flights to each other’s territories in tit-for-tat decisions over lack of uniform controls on Covid-19.
The UK was the first on April 2 when it banned travellers from Kenya, except UK nationals, effective April 9. London argued that Kenya’s Covid-19 certifications for travellers have been faulty, with nearly 30 per cent of weekly 550 arrivals testing positive a day after arriving. Most of them had the South African variant of Covid-19, UK argued. Kenya responded by banning flights and demanding that cargo flight crew must show vaccination certificates and a negative test result for admission. The problem is, neither side has an agreeable design of a vaccine certificate and what details it should contain.
Why new border stop is yet to enhance Kenya-Ethiopia trade (Business Daily)
When Kenya and Ethiopia launched the Moyale one-stop border post (OSBP)in December, it was hoped that the impact of the facility would be immediately felt. After decades of subdued bilateral trade, largely due to non-tariff barriers such as long bureaucratic procedures, bans and sanctions, the facility was expected to usher in an era of seamless trade between the two countries. The new border crossing is meant to consolidate clearances for travellers, and transporters, under one roof so that they do not have to undergo two processes for approval. But it appears they will have to wait longer to reap the dividends of the facility on lack of harmonised border operations.
Why Rwanda’s weekly coffee export revenues dropped (The New Times)
Rwanda’s weekly coffee export revenues dropped by 672 per cent in the week ending April 11, after prices on the world markets plunged. The performance, which reflects a more than six-fold drop, is also attributed to quality exports as well as reduced quantities. According to the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), last week Rwanda exported 115,200 kilogrammes of coffee which generated $198,720 (about Rwf192 million). In the previous week, statistics show, the country had exported 366,780 kilogrammes of coffee, fetching $1,336,935 (about Rwf1.3 billion).
The Chamber of Aquaculture Ghana is appealing for tax waivers from the government to enable the industry compete with other African countries participating in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
“We are now going to compete with other fish producing countries in Africa. As you know – Ghana – we don’t have waivers on the materials that we use to produce fish feed. And in Ghana, fish feed alone contributes close to 70% of the production cost so if we can get state agencies or the government to give ours some tax exemptions or waivers, this will go a long way to help the sector to be prepared and ready to compete with other countries outside Ghana,” he noted.
New portal aims to ease Nigerian business (ICLG.com)
A new registration system raises hopes of making business easier in Nigeria, but further reforms are required to capitalise on new opportunities. A new online portal for registering companies was launched in Nigeria earlier this year, in line with the government’s aim of improving the ease of doing business. The Company Registration Portal (CRP) was established by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 4 January, replacing a paper-based system, and incorporates features including electronic search, and pre- and post-incorporation filings.
Tinuade Awe, chief executive of NGX Regulation, which regulates the Nigerian Stock Exchange, describes the new portal as “timely”, making access to CAC services quicker, easier and more secure at a time of “rapid transition to digitisation across every industry”, adding that it should “allow for easier engagement between the commission and users” and it is “refreshing to see the CAC adapt with the times”.
France, on Tuesday, announced that its volume of trade with Nigeria in the year 2020 dropped to $2.3 billion, from $4.5 billion in 2019, as a result of COVID-19. The French Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Frank Riester, disclosed this at a meeting he held with Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), in Abuja, as part of his two-day official visit to Nigeria. “We are optimistic of the future, when the crisis will be ending, because we have many companies that have settled here. We want a win-win partnership between our two countries. He said that as the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine room of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France.
Fifty years, five problems - and how Nigeria can work with China in future (The Conversation Africa)
Since establishing diplomatic relations on 10 February 1971, Nigeria’s relationship with China has developed into one of the most important bilateral relationships maintained by either country. Apart from the exchange of high level visits, Chinese companies and money have found their way into Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. They are involved in a variety of major projects in Nigeria. As at 31 March 2020, Chinese loans to Nigeria stood at US$3.121 billion, which is 11.28% of the country’s external debt of US$27.67 billion. The growing trade and presence of Chinese finance in Nigeria has also led to changing narratives about increased migration on both sides. Over the years, Nigeria’s relationship with China has broadened and deepened with China’s growing power and interest in securing its regional interests (particularly within the South China Sea), and taking its place as a major global actor.
The governments of both Nigeria and China often describe their relationship as a “win win” partnership – a term China often uses to describe its relationships with other African countries.
Trade Picks Up on Cameroon-Nigeria Border, Despite Boko Haram (Voice of America)
Officials in Cameroon and Nigeria say economic activity has gradually resumed along their border, despite the continued presence of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Markets have re-opened and border merchants say traveling near the border is safer thanks to a heavy presence of troops.
DHL partners with Angola’s Unicargas to boost trade (The Africa Logistics)
DHL Global Forwarding (DHL) is teaming up with Angolan cargo carrier, Unicargas to promote the export of locally-produced goods to Europe and the US. Egidio Monteiro, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding Southern Africa, says: “Partnerships like this play a vital role in promoting economic growth, which are largely fueled by a vibrant pool of local enterprises ready to extend their reach. At DHL, we remain committed to enable the continent’s development by empowering African businesses to enter new markets. Our partnership with Unicargas is the perfect example of our approach to think globally and act locally, where strategic relationships with the best partners on the ground are key.” As part of a five-year partnership agreement, Unicargas will take care of the domestic transport of products within the country whilst the leading international provider of air, ocean and road freight services will assist in exporting Angolan-made products to international markets, specifically Europe and North America which collectively makes up about 20% of total exports from the country.
African regional and continental news
Sustainable, inclusive manufacturing needed in Africa (Engineering News)
Africa needs sustainable and inclusive manufacturing to bolster economic growth and create jobs and now is an opportune time for this to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and capitalise on opportunities afforded by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This was indicated by speakers during a ‘Manufacturing in Africa for Africa’ roundtable, held on April 13.
Private sector plays a vital role in implementation of AfCFTA- SACU Secretariat (Namibia Economist)
With an enormous market presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is incumbent upon the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) private sector to seize and capitalise on the opportunities to grow their business through regional value chains and cross-border trade, SACU Executive Chair, Paulina Elago said. Elago said this when SACU Member States, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa came together for the first time since launch of the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021, to discuss issues related to the implementation of the trade bloc.
She said the SACU Council of Ministers has agreed to prioritise industrialisation through the development of Regional Value Chains, Export and Investment promotion. “To that end, the region is currently undertaking technical work to outline a systematic approach and practical steps to scale up the region’s industrial base and to strategically positioning itself to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA,” Elago said. She highlighted the importance of the Trade Facilitation component, expaling that SACU has, through its Customs Modernisation Programme, laid the groundwork that will enhance efficiency in Customs operations. SACU Member States Customs IT Management Systems are now linked to automatically exchange information. A full presentation on the SACU Customs Modernisation Programme will be given at a later stage. In addition, SACU Member States are participating in the in online Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) mechanism for speedy reporting and resolution of NTBs which the AfCFTA has been put in place.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Secretariat and COMESA will establish a partnership framework to support the implementation of the continental trade regime. Technical teams from the two organizations are expected to start working immediately on the framework by establishing committees to deal with specific aspects of the partnership. This was resolved during the first visit by the Secretary General of the AfCTA Secretariat Mr. Wamkele Mene to the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia today. Mr Mene was received by his COMESA counterpart Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe and senior members of staff.
“The priority now is how to work together to push back the frontiers of poverty in our continent,” he said adding that industrial development and deepening intra-Africa trade was among the key areas of focus.
This paper analyses digital trade provisions in existing South–South (S–S) trade agreements, with the aim of helping negotiators and policymakers from Africa better understand the practical policy implications behind typically existing and upcoming digital trade-related provisions. This can help guide the design of an effective E-commerce Protocol in the AfCFTA that facilitates inclusive development in Africa. Digital trade involves products ordered digitally but delivered physically through online marketplaces (e.g. ordering a book from Amazon) as well as products that are wholly electronically delivered (e.g. buying an e-book) – that is, electronically transmitted or ET products. Digital trade provisions, for the purposes of this report, involve the rights and obligations in trade agreements that affect e-commerce. The African market is an important destination for the ET exports of African countries. South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius emerge as the top 5 African countries driving intra-African exports of potentially digitable products i.e. potential ET products, with South Africa accounting for 46% of total intra-African exports and 31% of intra-African ET imports. Some countries are highly dependent on intra-African trade for ET products; 70% of exports of digitable products by Rwanda, Mauritius, Namibia, Burundi, Togo, Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Eswatini are intra-African.
The Acting Director in Charge of the Western Corridor, at the Ghana Standards Authority, Jessica Nkansah has revealed that standards have been harmonized across the African continent in the wake of the implementation of AfCFTA in order to facilitate trade among party states. Jessica Nkansah, who is also the Head of the Competent Authority for Fish and Fishery Products at the Ghana Standards Authority said this during an interaction with the general public on the Eye on Port program. She revealed that some product lines that hitherto did not have existing standards in party states before the coming into operation of the free trade agreement, had to adopt international standards which would be accepted and harmonized at the African regional level as well as the sub-regional level.
A continental digital address platform has been unveiled to purposely ease the location problems associated with the least developed countries. Known as the Africa Digital Address System, ADAS, the platform developed by a Ugandan based tech startup seeks to combat the challenges of providing services to people without proper formal addresses, according to the developers. With it, anyone can create, personalize and possess simple and unique addresses. Yusuf Kayiwa, the lead developer of the app says African communities have similarities in the way their settlements are structured and face the same issues related to traceability or finding locations.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with ECOWAS, has commenced a three-day capacity building programme to equip women with knowledge and skills to grab opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The participants were selected from across ECOWAS Member-States and expected to after the training, build the capacities of other stakeholders in their respective countries to enable a significant number of enterprises, including women owned businesses to take advantage of AfCFTA. “Women are Africa’s traders…If you look at any market, and in fact any border of this continent. The majority of traders will be women, however, women remain at the lower rung of the value-chains in the agricultural sector, when trading in goods, women often sell primary and perishable agricultural produce,” Mr Frederick Mugisha, an Economic Advisor, UNDP, said. “Similarly, in services, women are often found in lower rungs of the ladder in the hospitality industry. In essence, the AfCFTA must account for and address the challenges that women face,” he said.
How Africa’s women traders are poised to drive regional integration (The New Dawn Liberia)
African women represent more than 70 per cent of workers in the informal sector. However, many women continue to face barriers to trade opportunities, such as access to raw materials, increased economies of scale, integration into regional and global value chains, technological challenges, and access to finance to name a few. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is delivering a series of 3-day capacity building workshops in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire for women traders and producers in the ECOWAS region with the aim of guiding them on market entry and operations under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The first workshop kicked off Monday April 12 in Accra, Ghana – the headquarters of the AfCFTA Secretariat and convenes 20 women traders from the 5 English-speaking member states of the ECOWAS region (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia). They represent the agricultural, agroprocessing, textiles, and arts and crafts sectors, as well as trade development agencies.
Women and youth, two groups with the potential to drive the transformation of Africa’s economies, must be mainstreamed into national and continental frameworks in order to guarantee and fully harness the benefits of the AfCFTA. “Women must lead the way for economic independence in Africa,” emphasized Silver Ojakol, Chief of Staff at the AfCFTA Secretariat. “40% of intra-African trade is dominated by micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). These businesses are mostly managed by women and youth and form a significant segment of the export portfolio within Africa.”
Inclusive economic development remains one of the core elements of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In furtherance of this, article 3(e) of the AfCFTA main Agreement and article 27(2)(d) of the Protocol on Trade in Services specifically mandate State parties to promote gender equality and “improve the export capacity of both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium-sized; women and youth service suppliers.” With over 60 percent of its population being under the age of 25, Africa is regarded as the youngest continent in the world. This presents both challenges and opportunities for the continent.
The young population when properly harnessed will heighten productivity and provide affordable labour which in turn may lead to increase in investment. Nigerian youths just like their counterparts in other African States are known to be very innovative and enterprising. With the right policy and the enabling infrastructures, this energic population can drive the AfCFTA agenda.
Boost for African airlines as cargo demand jumps 44pc (Business Daily)
African airlines’ cargo demand in February increased by 44.2 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2019, marking a strongest growth of all the regions, according to International Air Travel Association (IATA).The news comes as a boost to airlines that have been struggling for the last one year after passenger numbers declines following imposition of Covid-19 restrictions. According to IATA, a strong expansion on the Asia-Africa trade route contributed to the strong growth with February international capacity growing by 9.8 per cent compared to February 2019.
Locally, both Kenya Airways and Astral Aviation have increased their freight capacity to capitalise on cargo demand following a dip in passenger numbers, having been contracted by United Nations to transport the vaccines. “Air cargo traffic is back to pre-crisis levels and that is some much needed good news for the global economy. But while there is a strong demand to ship goods, our ability is capped by the shortage of belly capacity normally provided by passenger aircraft,” IATA said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director-General and chief executive.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Permanent Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability has convened virtually to conduct an assessment on the formulation of a Gender Parity Model Law. The Committee was also briefed on the status of the African Model Law on Disability adopted by the PAP Plenary in October 2019.
In March 2020, African Parliamentarians held a workshop on ’Achieving Women’s Empowerment through a Gender Parity Model Law: A Parliamentary Solution for Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth by 2023’. The general objective of the consultations was to provide the foundation for drafting a Gender Parity Model Law. The meeting also sensitized Parliamentarians on the Maputo Protocol and the extent of implementation, while igniting sharing of experiences on legislation aimed at promoting gender equality and the rights of women.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the African Union Commission have today announced the signing of an memorandum of understanding, which aims to strengthen ties between the organisations and the Africa CDC—a specialised institution of the African Union responsible for the prevention and control of diseases in Africa—to enhance vaccine R&D and manufacturing in Africa. This collaboration forms a major part of CEPI’s longer term epidemic and pandemic strategy, announced in March, 2021. As part of this strategy, CEPI aims to work with low-income and middle income countries to develop the infrastructure and expertise to undertake the epidemiological and clinical studies needed to advance vaccine development, support technology transfer, and develop national and regional manufacturing capacity that will enable these countries to take full ownership of their national health security.
African leaders, healthcare experts, biotech companies and pharmaceutical multinationals on Tuesday met for the second day of a virtual conference on ramping up the local manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines. The initiative will give impetus to the continent’s challenging quest of securing adequate supplies and provide a template for other treatments in the future.
“People who do not have their own freedom for vaccine manufacturing, diagnostics and therapeutics do not guarantee their own health security,” said Dr John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”I think we have learnt that over and over in the last couple of months,” said Nkengasong, talking about the challenges in vaccinating the continent’s 1.3 billion people against the coronavirus. Almost all the vaccines used on the African continent are imported, with only 1% of vaccines actually manufactured in African countries, representing some 12 million doses, according to conference slides from Africa CDC and the African Union bloc. “The production of vaccine and access to vaccine is an absolute necessity for our continent,” said African Union head Moussa Faki Mahamat, outlining the need for a “new world health order”.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) stands ready to cooperate and provide technical support to member States so they can meet their national aspirations as well as continental and global goals such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 agenda for the sustainable development. This was said Monday by the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa Acting Director, Sizo Mhlanga, in his welcoming remarks during a Government of the Republic of Namibia stakeholder validation workshop on the country’s efforts to create an integrated performance management framework that would contribute to the effective and efficient delivery of services to its citizens. The two-day virtual national validation workshop, convened by the Office of the Prime Minister, the ECA and the European Union, is being held under the theme: “Enhancing the Performance Management System of the Government of the Republic of Namibia: Towards an Integrated Performance Management System.”
The renewal: US-Africa relationship (Mail & Guardian)
In his first allocution to African leaders at the virtual African Union Summit in February, recently elected United States President, Joe Biden, reiterated his administration’s commitment to rebuilding partnerships with Africa and re-engaging with international institutions such as the African Union.
With the new US administration putting a strong emphasis on renewed partnerships with the African continent, the “less aid, more trade” adage will be a key motivator in ensuring bilateral trade and commercial relations.
On one hand, successful implementation of the AfCTFA will participate in the continent’s sustainable development and prosperity, while also propelling Africa on the global stage as a viable trade partner. On the other hand, the AfCFTA presents an opportunity for a single point of entry from the US into Africa. The agreement will shape harmonised policy and regulatory framework, reducing costs of transaction, and increasing commercial transaction.
Furthermore, with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) set to expire in 2025, the need for the US and the African Union (AU) to maintain trade and investment ties beyond that date is essential to deepen the cooperation between the two. The AfCTFA offers an opportunity for the US and the AU to work together towards their common goal of increasing trade and investment, both inside and outside the continent. The new US administration’s change of tone indicates an interest for the US to regain its influence in Africa, and strengthening trade ties will plan a key role in achieving this.
Global economy news
The Director-General met bilaterally with United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The meeting focused on scaling up the global COVID-19 response and addressing gaps in the global production and distribution of vaccines, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies and the broader WTO reform agenda.
“In all of my discussions in Washington, D.C. it was clearer than ever that a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic means rapid, equitable access to vaccines, especially in developing and least developed countries. Continued vaccine scarcity and the related threat of dangerous new viral variants are the top risks to the rebound in global economic activity and trade: nobody will be safe until everyone is safe.
The 46-member grouping of the Least Developed Countries has said it supports a request made by India and South Africa to the WTO to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights for the COVID-19 vaccines to increase their access in these countries. India, which has been at the forefront of the global fight against COVID-19, told the UN General Assembly last month that vaccine inequity will defeat the collective global resolve to contain the coronavirus as the disparity in the accessibility of vaccines will affect the poorest nations the most. India and South Africa have called for the World Trade Organisation to suspend intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 for a limited period of time, to ensure rapid scaling-up of manufacturing of vaccines and ensuring accessibility and affordability of vaccines for all.
Malawi President and Chairperson of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera stressed that the LDCs “supports a request made by India and South Africa to the WTO to temporarily suspend the application of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), in order to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines in our countries.”
“I call on all members, and in particular all Heads of Delegation, to prioritize the fisheries subsidies negotiations over the coming months, and to remain flexible and available as and when needed,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said, underlining that progress this week in exchanges among members at this high level is especially critical to reaching an outcome by the middle of the year. “Please keep the date of July in mind as when we need to finally close these negotiations,” she added.
“Concluding these negotiations is a top priority for this organization, not only for the fisheries, but also for the WTO system. We simply cannot afford to fail here,” she said. “We have reached a considerable degree of maturity in the negotiations and we should do what it takes to close it.” Read the full text of her statement here.
The chair of the negotiating group, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, is convening a cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings on 12-16 April at the level of heads of delegation with an aim to unlock key issues in the negotiations. Small group meetings will be held on the issues of subsistence/artisanal/small-scale fishing; due process requirements for determinations of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and the approach for identifying and prohibiting subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.
Slight increase in aid only a drop in the ocean to combat the Covid-19 crisis (Oxfam International)
Figures published today by the OECD show that development aid has slightly increased in 2020. While this rise provides a lifeline for millions of people living in poverty around the world, it’s simply not enough. With extreme poverty skyrocketing for the first time in over twenty years and increasing economic and gender inequality exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, rich countries are facing and failing the biggest test the aid system has seen since its creation 50 years ago, said Oxfam.
Reacting to the news, Oxfam’s global aid policy expert, Julie Seghers, said: “In 2020, rich countries spent 0.32 percent of their gross national income on aid, up from 0.30 percent in 2019. This increase is welcome, but is partly due to declining national incomes, and still fails to fulfil 50-year-old promises of 0.7 percent of GNI. If rich countries had kept their promise, aid budgets would have been boosted by an additional $190 billion in 2020 alone – more than enough for low- and lower-middle income countries to vaccinate their entire population and guarantee basic education for all.
Communiqué from the Small States Forum April 2021 (World Bank)
Members of the Small States Forum met virtually on April 10, 2021.
As we noted when we last met in October 2020, small economies have responded to the crisis with all the resources, capacities, and international support available to them. Yet the pandemic has significantly diverted resources towards immediate health and economic relief, away from meeting our countries’ daunting longer-term development challenges. It has also exposed and exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities. We are committed to get back on track, rebuild fiscal buffers, and strengthen resilience, and therefore call for a continued inflow of external financing at high levels and on affordable terms. Recovery to pre-pandemic levels and getting on track to sustained green resilient and inclusive growth should involve international support for responding to escalating longer-term risks and vulnerabilities from natural disasters as well as ocean pollution in small islands.
Debt vulnerabilities in many small economies continue to grow, severely constraining the capacity to invest in recovery and in urgently-needed climate action. The relief provided under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) has helped many small states by freeing up resources to increase social, health, and economic spending in response to the crisis. We appreciate the G-20’s call on private creditors to participate in the DSSI on terms comparable to those offered by official creditors as well as ongoing efforts to implement the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI, and we encourage the Bank and the IMF to work with all small states to help them to address debt vulnerabilities on a case-by-case basis. In addition, we underscore the need for consideration of other debt relief measures such as nature for debt swaps.
Gender and the SDGs in the decade of action (Observer Research Foundation)
2020 was a monumental year inciting a jarring shift away from what was considered normal prior to it. Among the healthcare, mortality, economic and social exigencies that COVID-19 has exacerbated, it is unfortunate—yet not surprising—that it also brought to light the unwavering reality of a ‘shecession’. Data from developing countries, where similar trend-lines are expected to be staggering, remain largely incremental. Even more telling are the stories of missing numbers related to women: In legislation; in governance; in paid work; in healthcare systems; in displaced communities; in rights to resources and ownership; in the impact of COVID-19 in developing and least-developed countries at large.
Already before the pandemic hit, global data suggested the following slow toll of progress vis-à-vis women’s equality: One in three women experience physical or sexual violence; less than 24 percent of national parliamentarians are women; women account for three times more unpaid care and domestic work as men; women are 25 per cent more likely to live in abject poverty as compared to men; at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities exist in over 150 countries. That progress against these rampant inequalities have been further diluted, derailed or curtailed in various instances is telling of the underlying social norms and systemic constructs that have marginalised women for several generations— 47 million more women and girls are expected to fall into poverty as a result of the pandemic. The SDGs have encapsulated several targets that aim to enhance economic and political empowerment of women to emerge as equal.
UNCTAD and the Family Business Network (FBN) have joined forces to mobilize and support family firms to embrace sustainability in their business strategies. The joint Family Business for Sustainable Development (FBSD) initiative is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the UN and the global family business community. Two-thirds of businesses worldwide are owned or managed by families, employing 60% of the world’s workforce and contributing over 70% of global GDP. “Family firms can make a huge difference in global efforts towards sustainable development,” said James Zhan, UNCTAD’s director of investment and enterprise. He said family businesses need to be empowered to maximize their potential and seize the untapped opportunities associated with embracing the sustainability agenda. To deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, an ambitious global effort is required over the next decade to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s economic, environmental, social and governance challenges.