tralac Daily News
South Africa’s business community should brace itself for several changes to the current guidelines and regulations in the customs and excise policy framework. It is expected that SA will see more ‘lobby-type’ anti-dumping and tariff investigations as government becomes more supportive of protecting the local economy, says Caroline Rheeder, associate director at Cova Advisory & Associates. She says there was a lot of attention on customs and excise during the February budget. Details of some of the proposals will only become clear once the draft taxation bills are published around July.
As governments around the world prioritise economic recovery following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on business, this year’s World Intellectual Property Day will shine a light on the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Activities will be held under the theme: “Intellectual property and SMEs: Taking your ideas to the market” to encourage the use of intellectual property (IP) by SMEs, and foster innovation with a view to generating revenue and contributing to economic development. South Africa’s World IP Day activities this year reaffirm the potential for small businesses to bring innovative ideas and designs as diverse as the country’s people to the marketplace.
Government has urged poultry farmers to treat any animal deaths as potential avian influenza cases as South Africa battles an outbreak of a highly infectious strain across various farms. This comes after commercial chicken farms in Ekurhuleni and Tshwane reported outbreaks while another farm in the JB Marks Local Municipality, in the North West, has also been placed under quarantine. The agriculture and rural development department said Namibia, Botswana, and Lesotho have banned poultry and related raw products from areas hit by the bird flu outbreaks.
Mr George Owusu-Ansah, the Managing Director of Unilever Ghana, has challenged Ghana to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to invest in palm oil production for manufacturing and export. He said oil palm served as raw material for industry and a good source of foreign exchange, and urged Ghana to use its comparative arable land to cultivate the country’s second most important tree crop, after cocoa. Mr Owusu-Ansah said Ghana was blessed to be part of the world where the oil palm tree thrived, what were needed, therefore, were a good land tenure system, sustainable cultivation and value addition.
Business associations in the country want government to as a matter of urgency re-strategise toward the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), if the nation is truly eager to ride on the back of it to accelerate economic growth. According to the three major business associations – Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) – government must come up with a strategy to better the fortunes of local businesses in the early days of the AfCFTA, or have to risk investing more to catch up in the future. They are calling for a deliberate push of investment into products and firms in which the nation has a competitive advantage on the continent.
Ghana joins African Countries to Sign on to AU Covid Passport Scheme (Capital FM Kenya)
Ghana has joined the fast-growing list of countries using the African Union COVID-19 digital verification system, being promoted by the Africa CDC, at points of entry and exit. The country’s health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, says the technology platform powered jointly by the Ghanaian Health Service and the PanaBios consortium covers all the authorised COVID-19 PCR testing laboratories in the country and will stop the circulation of fake test results. It is also expected that such solutions will discourage fake vaccine records and usher in a continental e-health solution based on AU standards.
This seminal report by Konfidants and funded by the BUSAC Fund, seeks to provide a broad understanding of Ghana’s trade competitiveness in the continental market, map out markets with the greatest potential within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Ghana’s key industries and products, and make recommendations for boosting the country’s performance in the AfCFTA.
Ghana is poised to become a priority destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the immediate term, a Ghanaian trade analyst told Xinhua in an interview. Francis Korankye-Sakyi, an international investment analyst with the Centre for African Trade and Investment Policies, said Ghana’s growing relevance in Africa and China’s international trade policy would lead to more Chinese FDI to the West African country.
NACCIMA calls for greater private sector involvement in foreign policy (The Nation Online)
The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called for greater involvement of the private sector in the articulation and implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy as calls for review of Nigeria’s foreign policy gains traction. Director General, NACCIMA, Amb Ayoola Olukanni averred that with the increasing role of the private sector in the Nigerian economy, the private sector should be regularly consulted in the articulation and implementation of the nation’s foreign policy.
Kenya’s balance of trade grew 9% in Q4 2020 (The Star, Kenya)
The country’s balance of trade in goods and services recorded a nine per cent growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest CBK quarterly review. It improved from a deficit of $2.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 to a deficit of $2.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. The value of merchandise exports increased by three per cent to $1.47 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 reflecting increased earnings from horticulture, chemicals and manufactured goods. The value of merchandise imports also declined by 13 per cent to $3.79 million in the quarter from $4.3 million in a similar quarter in 2019, largely due to reduced imports of oil products as a result of relatively lower international oil prices.
Launched in 2007, Safaricom mobile money service M-PESA has catapulted the telco to the global map. M-PESA is crucial, especially in Kenya, as it is the primary platform for transacting for consumers and businesses. Besides Kenya, the mobile money platform is also available in six other African countries; Ghana, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Lesotho. The mobile money platform had 24.91 million active monthly users, according to Safaricom’s 2020 financial report (PDF), a 10 percent increase from the year prior. Ndegwa says the company serves 38 million customers via data or voice.
On politics of Uganda’s oil and gas industry (Daily Monitor)
On April 11, Uganda, Tanzania, Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (Cnooc) signed three agreements at State House Entebbe to develop Uganda’s oil and gas resources located in Bunyoro, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions. The agreements which were subject of protracted negotiations for almost 15 years are the first concrete steps in efforts by the two EAC partner states to construct the 1443km East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Hoima to the Tanzanian port of Tanga. When completed, at a cost of $3.8 billion, it will be the longest heated pipeline in the world.
Ethiopian Airlines Group has become the first African airline to conduct trial of IATA Travel Pass, a digital travel mobile app to enhance efficiency in testing or vaccine verifications. The trial will be conducted on flights out of Addis Ababa to Washington DC and Toronto as well as on flights out of London and Toronto to Addis Ababa, effective today, 25 April 2021. Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam said “Digital technology is vital to solve many of the problems that arise from the pandemic. We are glad that we are offering new digital opportunities to our passengers so as to fully and safely restart air travel.”
Tunisia is ready to fully participate in the COMESA Free Trade Area regime (FTA) one year after giving notification of participation in the trade regime in March, 2020. To prepare for this, the COMESA Secretariat through the Division of Trade conducted a three-day virtual sensitization workshop for Tunisia on 20th April 2021, covering not only the FTA but other trade facilitation instruments as well. Participants were drawn from the Tunisian government and the private sector. COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Amb. Kipyego Cheluget opened the event by welcoming Tunisia’s decision to join the FTA.
DRC has an appetite for Zim products (Sunday Mail)
The commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area presents opportunities for Zimbabwean companies to increase the visibility of their products across borders. President Mnangagwa has, since the launch of the National Export Strategy in 2019, been encouraging local businesses to utilise opportunities in African markets. “Due to the small size of the internal market, it is important for Zimbabwe to utilise the market access opportunities available in the SADC, COMESA and African Continental Free Trade Areas and beyond to increase exports,” the President said. What is now important is for local companies to target markets that already have a demand for Zimbabwean products.
‘Consider post Covid-19 strategy’ (Sunday Mail)
Dr Judith Kateera, an executive director and ambassador of the African Development Bank (AfDB) representing Zimbabwe on the board, celebrated Zimbabwe’s Independence Day on April 18. Below are highlights of her statement to Zimbabweans in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Zimbabwe’s delicate trade/industry balance (eBusiness Weekly)
Zimbabwe’s current imports management programme is tantamount to trade protectionism. Under the import management programme, there are a number of interim statutory measures aimed at restricting imports to enable local industry to recover after performance had been immensely affected by the influx of foreign products. Zimbabwe’s industrial firms have for a while now been bogged down by high cost of capital and a complex doing business environment, which makes their products expensive compared to those produced by their peers in the region.
Renewables a ‘win-win’ strategy to end Ethiopia dam dispute (Sustainability Times)
Researchers say adding regional solar and wind resources to Ethiopia’s hydropower is a solution that benefits Egypt and Sudan too. Renewable sources have the power when it comes to the energy future of East Africans, but they also may prove a solution to a complicated diplomatic and geopolitical problem. That’s according to scientists at Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel, who say that adding solar and wind energy sources to operate in concert with the new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would support the hydropower that Ethiopia is banking on, without disrupting the flow of the Nile River on which Egypt and Sudan depend.
Mining companies awarded blocks in Egypt’s Eastern Desert are set to start exploring for gold under a legislative overhaul that seeks to eventually unlock vast untapped mineral resources. Despite plentiful reserves and a rich mining history that gave rise to elaborate Pharaonic gold jewellery, Egypt has just one commercial gold mine in operation. Foreign investment in oil and gas has grown, but mining has languished. Now, the country is banking on high gold prices and amended mining laws that scrap red tape and a profit-sharing rule, unpopular in the industry, to lure interest.
Ugandan government proposes more tax on fuel (The East African)
The Ugandan government intends to increase the tax per litre of petrol and diesel by Ush100 in order to increase revenue in the next financial year, junior Finance minister David Bahati has said. “The increase is not expected to cause significant increase on the pump prices. We estimate that an increase of Ush10, per litre in excise duty will increase pump prices by only Ush100, assuming the entire increase is passed on to the consumer and the exchange rate and international fuel prices remain constant,” he said.
Cameroon will be better able to address the COVID-19 pandemic with a $100 million Development Policy Operation (DPO) approved on April 19 to support the Government of Cameroon to advance reforms for fiscal consolidation and competitiveness. “As Cameroon is embarking in an ambitious program of reforms, this operation will support policy action to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic by, supporting public sector management, improving competition and protecting the poor and most vulnerable,” says Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon.
Botswana is in talks with the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for possible funding of its economic recovery strategy. Wilfred Madlebe, the permanent secretary in Botswana’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, made this announcement Saturday at a consultative meeting held with community leaders in Francistown, Botswana’s second largest city. “Pursuant to the Chapter 5 of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) and the 2020 budget speech pronouncements, discussions with the World Bank and African Development Bank have been opened,” said Madlebe.
African regional and continental news
African Countries Should Focus on Intellectual Property to Drive Growth (Morocco World News)
Today marks World Intellectual Property Day whose theme is “Intellectual Property and Small Medium Enterprises: Taking Your Ideas to Market.” By registering and exploiting IP brands, the African music sub-sector is leading the way in illustrating how copyright recognition and enforcement is creating a viable industry and empowering thousands.
However, for intellectual property to truly benefit the majority, awareness and adoption by entrepreneurs is key. Small businesses should put IP at the core of their strategy. To aid in this, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has developed an online tool for assessing business competitiveness through IP assets, thus helping stakeholders identify and create value. This comes in handy especially for those looking to expand internationally.
When the member states of the African Union undertook the project of establishing a continent-wide preferential free trade area with the ultimate aim of creating a single African market, it was obvious that they would need to entrench this arrangement through a transparent and predictable rules-based system. Central to such a system is the amicable resolution of trade disputes over a range of different areas including market access, investment, intellectual property rights and implementation of the free trade agreement. For this reason, a central plank of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a protocol on Dispute Settlement.
For the AfCFTA to have the intended impact, it will require businesses to know about it and be able to use it. That means improving the information available to the private sector, which goes beyond the high-level presentations seen in most webinars to include details on the agreed rules of origin and tariff offers relevant to their markets. There are opportunities for business associations and service providers with the technical expertise to develop tools for firms to understand better the implications and new market opportunities. International partners must also seek to support these efforts at the national, regional and continental levels.
Four factors that block making medicines in Africa (Daily Maverick)
As Covid-19 began to spread around the globe in March 2020, drug supplies – ironically – shrank, because of the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains. Chinese factories, which produce about 70% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that Indian drug manufacturers use, were shuttered during China’s severe lockdown in early 2020. The Chinese and Indian supply and export contractions exposed sub-Saharan Africa’s vulnerability to variation in the supply of medical products because of these countries’ dependence on imports (which make up 70% to 90% of their medicines). The severe repercussions of pharmaceutical supply shocks reach beyond what is needed to combat Covid-19.
In Africa and across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of manufacturing supply chains. On 28th October 2020, a closed-door webinar brought together African manufacturers in health-related industries with engaged academics in India and Africa, and other professionals working on regulation, distribution and industrial support in African countries. The aims were to capture the immediate experience of manufacturing under Covid-19 conditions in Africa and India, and to also draw lessons for policy. This webinar report summarises the key findings from that event, with the central argument being that broad-based industrial development is critical for both global and local health security in Africa, and will be the post-Covid-19 medium-term challenge.
COVID-19 has created a trade crisis in Southern Africa, with a dramatic slowdown in cross-border trade. The crisis, which exposed weaknesses and deficiencies in the trade facilitation regimes, presents an opportunity for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to address and contribute to greater levels of trade within Africa. This working paper looks at the impact of the border closures in response to the pandemic, and its impact on trade and the movement of goods in and out of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The border closures in relation to trade facilitation in Southern Africa and the position of the SADC cluster of ministers of trade and transport are also considered.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Friday it has disbursed 90 percent of the approved US$4,1 billion under its Covid-19 response facility in one year that the continent has been battling with the pandemic. “These are extraordinary times and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa,” AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said when the bank announced the Covid-19 response facility. “We are in a race to save lives and we will leave no country behind.”
Sounding a note of optimism at the European Union-Africa Green Investment Forum on Friday, African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina reminded global audiences of the continent’s vast opportunities for green growth. “Africa is a huge market offering incredible opportunities. The recovery pathway offers enormous opportunities. Recovery must be green and build climate resilience. Recovery must boost green investments,” Adesina said in a keynote address. He identified energy, agriculture and infrastructure as key areas of investment potential for a post-Covid-19 recovery in Africa.
East African Community Partner States shall largely retain their national sovereignty under the proposed EAC Political Confederation, this is according to Justice Benjamin Odoki, the Chairperson of the Committee of Experts tasked with drafting a model constitution for the confederation. “Only the first two stages of the integration have been implemented. There was a feeling that we need to move slowly towards the Political Federation so that the countries can walk together. The important thing that we need to bear in mind is that the confederation is a transitional stage to the federation,” he said.
Speeding up integration EAC chief’s top priority (IPP Media)
At an evening reception organized here by the private sector at the weekend, Dr Mathuki said he will focus on achieving ease of doing business in line with the common market protocol. “Strengthening mechanisms to resolve persistent non-tariff barriers that hamper intra EAC trade, deepening implementation of the Common Market protocol and restructuring the EAC Secretariat to achieve the mandate envisaged in the treaty are some of my top priorities,” the new head of the EAC Secretariat underlined. “I will seek out economic recovery response mechanisms, digitalisation and a coordinated approach on COVID-19 response measures which include locating testing facilities at all EAC border posts. This is instrumental in mitigating trade disruptions and losses brought forth by this pandemic,” he stated.
Structural change in global production patterns and some policy drivers influence China’s infrastructure financing in Africa. Chinese infrastructure financing in Africa could shrink and become more selective in the short to medium term due to the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s funding to Africa could shift towards solving immediate social infrastructure needs as a response to COVID-19.
India-Africa relations: Partnership, COVID-19 setback and the way forward (Observer Research Foundation)
The values that steer India’s development cooperation – demand driven, conditionality free and based on the principle of partnership among equals – are appreciated in Africa. But India’s model of development cooperation in Africa lacks a clear strategy.
Global economy news
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made history after becoming the first African and woman director-general of the World Trade Organization, a crucial international body that helps set the rules of trade between many countries – her term began on March 1. She is the seventh person to hold the post and her four-year term is renewable in 2025. She’s also recently published a book called ”Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons.” Okonjo-Iweala spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman about why vaccines aren’t reaching less wealthy nations and what can be done to scale up production.
The head of the World Trade Organization urged rich nations to export more Covid-19 vaccines, singling out the U.K. and the U.S. as she reiterated the need to ensure poor countries aren’t left behind if the world wants to get through the pandemic. “Vaccine nationalism and inequity doesn’t work,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said at a virtual trade policy event Monday hosted by the European Commission. “I would urge those countries that are not sharing, or exporting, to do so as quickly as possible,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
International agencies are closely monitoring the production of vaccines for other diseases, as the majority of these manufacturers are also involved in developing coronavirus vaccines. “We absolutely don’t want to be in a position where vaccines for other life-threatening diseases are compromised in terms of their supply, and we simply are replacing one outbreak with another outbreak,” said Kate O’Brien, director at World Health Organization’s department of immunization, vaccines, and biologicals, during a media roundtable on Thursday hosted by the U.N. Foundation. There is “pressure building” on the manufacturing capacity for these vaccines, but O’Brien said, “it is not at a point where we are expecting that there will be vaccine shortages or vaccine stock outs at this point.”
Regional workshops held to raise awareness of counterfeit COVID-19-related goods (World Customs Organisation)
On 8 April 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully launched its first series of regional workshops aimed at improving Customs administrations’ awareness of counterfeit COVID-19-related goods. This workshop brought together around 105 Customs officials from 26 countries in the WCO Asia/Pacific (A/P), Europe and North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) regions
In its opening remarks, the WCO Secretariat emphasized that Customs is the first line of defence at Members’ borders. Mr. Hidetoshi Aramaki, Director for International Technical Cooperation in the Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Finance, mentioned in his remarks that the stable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to play a key role in efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when many countries around the world are rolling out large-scale COVID-19 vaccination programmes, it is critical that Customs administrations be able to facilitate the cross-border movement of genuine vaccines, while looking out for fake vaccines and fake medical supplies.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can power a stronger recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, due to their innovative and opportunity-seeking nature, but they need more support. Participants at the 7th edition of the Empretec Global Summit held online on 20 April heard that policymakers need to adapt policies and institutions to support MSMEs. Such support should be aligned with the priorities of the post-COVID-19 social and economic recovery, said UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant. “Short-term support measures such as relieving tax burdens on MSMEs, extending debt finance and employment support are certainly needed and should be continued,” Ms. Durant said. “Yet at the same time, it’s important to invest in long-term structural policies, such as digital and financial inclusion, as well as entrepreneurial skills capacity development,” she added.
The world’s smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world’s food, according to detailed new research by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Five of every six farms in the world consist of less than two hectares, operate only around 12 percent of all agricultural land, and produce roughly 35 percent of the world’s food, according to a study published in World Development.
Ending hunger and malnutrition are key to building life-long prosperity for all, which requires close collaborations between the private sector, national governments, local communities and organizations like WFP focused on sustainable development. Representing 45 million companies across the world, ICC will leverage its broad network for knowledge-sharing and facilitate strategic partnerships with private sector companies at the global, regional and local levels. Working closely with governments and local communities in 88 countries, WFP will channel private sector expertise to build dynamic partnerships that can create systemic change together.
The combined exports of textiles and clothing from the major African economies such as Lesotho, Mauritius and Kenya are expected to surge in 2022 due to current efforts of the governments of these countries and other stakeholders of the industry. However, exports are likely to slightly decline this year due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
There are roughly 60 SIDS worldwide. Although their combined population of 65 million is slightly less than one per cent of the world’s population, the UN recognizes the unique social, economic, and environmental challenges they face. While the pandemic has inflicted serious hardship and damage globally, Mr. Akram said it has particularly affected SIDS, impacting every aspect of life in these countries. “For the SIDs, this has been a perfect storm – financial, natural, and social,” he said. “Their revenues have virtually evaporated with the end of tourism, due to lockdowns, trade impediments, the fall in commodity prices, and supply chain disruptions. High debt overhangs, internally high risk, and short-term maturity debts are creating impossible financial problems for their ability to recover from the crisis.”
Commonwealth benchmarks to help countries fight corruption (The Commonwealth)
A landmark set of measures to support international efforts in tackling corruption has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are designed to help governments and public sector organisations: assess laws, procedures and actions against international good practice; and make improvements if needed.