tralac Daily News
National trade and trade-related news
Food security fears allayed – Agbiz (IOL)
Improved agricultural conditions would not fully compensate for job losses due to the pandemic, but it might cushion households from severe food insecurity that the World Bank’s economists had feared the sub-Saharan Africa region would face from 2020, said the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). According to Agbiz, in mid-2020, the concern about trade restrictions had waned as the G20 discouraged global grain-exporting countries from banning exports. Domestic evaluation of supplies by exporting countries provided comfort for sufficient food supplies in the world market.
How will South Africa bounce back from bird flu? (The Poultry Site)
The recent Avian Influenza (AI) outbreak, that sent shock waves through the South African poultry industry, has resulted in a ban on exports from South Africa to 4 SADC nations (Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Lesotho). Hopefully the outbreak through various locations in the country will be contained, as a widespread epidemic can plunge the poultry industry – which supplies the main protein source to South Africa’s middle to low income consumers – into further economic turmoil.
Local furniture production under the spotlight (SAnews)
An online furniture portal which will showcase the sector’s capabilities, has been launched. The portal which is hosted on Proudly South African’s website www.proudlysa.co.za is a collaboration between the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) and Proudly South African. This, according to Proudly South African, is in response to the growing demand for locally manufactured furniture items and this is in order to make the sourcing of genuine local producers easier.
MPs want CS Maina summoned over ‘secret’ sugar importation deal (The Star)
Koyoo told a press conference at Parliament Buildings that both the Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Committee of Parliament were all kept in the dark about the Uganda deal. “While the Agriculture Committee investigating the circumstances under which 10 companies belonging to two individuals imported 47,000 metric tons without the prerequisite pre-shipment inspection from the Sugar Directorate, the same Trade ministry which has been mentioned as having overstepped mandate has gone ahead to sign a communiqué’, a clear affront to Parliament and its institutions.”
Operations test at new Lamu port starts next month (Business Daily)
Officials will start testing operations of the new Lamu port at the end of next month ahead of the June 15 commissioning. The first batch of equipment including low load trailers, extension cargo handlers and trailers to be used at the multibillion-shilling facility arrived at the port on Wednesday. The port is a key part of the wider Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, which is being implemented at a total cost of Sh2.5 trillion ($24 billion). Due to constrained budget, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is transferring some equipment and staff from Port of Mombasa to Lamu.
ZimTrade explores opportunities in Rwanda (The Herald)
The national trade development and promotional agency, ZimTrade, has embarked on a market survey in Kigali, Rwanda to identify products and services with potential for exports in the east-African country. Increasing trade with Rwanda is expected to enhance access to markets in the East African Community (EAC) and in turn increase Zimbabwe’s exports to the region with a combined GDP of more than US$177 billion. Rwanda is a hub for a rapidly integrating Africa and with its central location in the region, is part of the EAC Common Market and Customers Union, which has a market potential of over 132 million people.
Uganda passes national climate change bill to tackle greenhouse emissions (Xinhua)
Ugandan lawmakers have passed the national climate change bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the climate crisis, authorities said on Wednesday. The framework bill will provide for climate change response measures, participation in climate mechanisms, and measuring of emissions and financing for climate change actions, among others, Beatrice Atim Anywar, minister of state for environment, told Xinhua by phone. "It provides a framework strategy to guide the government in planning and budgeting for financing and monitoring of climate change programs and activities," she added.
Successful implementation of AfCFTA requires national coordination (GhanaWeb)
Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, says the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) requires national coordination between actors at all levels. He said it would also require the translation of the strong political will demonstrated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in support of the AfCFTA into concrete actions by officials at all levels. Mr Kyerematen said to harness the benefits of AfCFTA, the government complemented the ongoing Industrial Transformation Agenda by launching the National Export Development Strategy in 2020 to increase non-traditional export revenue to US$25.3 billion by 2029.
Ghana optimistic of becoming Africa’s automotive hub – Trade Minister (Myjoyonline.com)
Ghana is optimistic of becoming Africa’s automotive hub in the near future, with focus on industrial transformation. According to Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen, the entry of some key foreign manufacturing firms into the country has boosted Ghana’s policy drive towards the agenda. The Trade Minister believes the move will open up opportunities for many Ghanaians to be employed as part of the industrialization agenda. “With the coming in of the assembling and manufacturing giants into our market, we hope and sincerely believe that Ghana in the near future will be the automotive hub for the continent of Africa and not only West Africa.”
Maiden edition of Doing Business in Nigeria Conference records a huge success (Nairametrics)
At the just concluded Doing Business in Nigeria Conference hosted by Linda Uneze the Co-Founder of Maurice Xandra Solutions, insights on ensuring business survival in the midst of plentiful or lack was shared by diverse speakers who are business leaders in various fields. The conversation on Transforming Economic Threats into Business Success was led by the Keynote speaker, Valentine Ozigbo, Immediate Past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Group and Chairman Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation, who believes that Nigeria and businesses have to utilize every resource within its purview including maximizing the power of women and youth in order to gain the values this category of people can bring to any business.
China is Gabon’s leading trade partner for a decade (Africanews)
China is Gabon’s biggest trading partner, according to data published by the International Trade Center, a body that compiles trade statistics around the world. Based on mirror data (provided by partners) on foreign trade, Gabon has achieved a cumulative trade surplus of $16.3 billion between 2009 and 2020. This represents almost 30% of the country’s trade surplus over the period.
African regional and continental news
The African Continental Free Trade Area raises hopes that many trade barriers will gradually come down (D+C Development and Cooperation)
The untapped potential for intra-African trade thus remains great. Major scope for improvement lies in the removal of non-tariff barriers, which include uncoordinated bureaucratic procedures, long waiting times at borders and obstructive, time-consuming export regulations. Obstacles of this kind push up trading costs across the continent. The situation is made worse by inadequate transport and logistics infrastructure. As a result, Africa has been connecting faster with the rest of the world than within itself. Adequate infrastructure will be essential for AfCFTA success.
Agriculture will make or break Africa’s free trade (Africa Renewal)
The success of the world’s largest free trade area rests on governments and the private sector. Governments need to build buyer-supplier networks, connecting small and medium producers, including smallholder farmers, to buyers locally and regionally. Women and youth must be included in these efforts. The shift from subsistence-oriented production systems towards more market-oriented, efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable systems requires improvements in farm-level productivity, inputs, mechanization and post-harvest management driven by investments, technology, innovation and indigenous knowledge.
Special trade zones can help Africa’s energy transition (pv magazine International)
The special economic zones established across Africa can play a part in driving the green energy transition thanks to the policy and investment advantages they have over the wider communities they are based in, an online event has heard. With investors often put off by a lack of supportive policy for renewables on the continent, the exceptions made to attract money to its economic trade zones might also prove more friendly to clean power infrastructure spending.
Orange Foundation provides financial aid to help fight COVID-19 in Africa (SABC News)
The Orange Foundation is providing an additional €1.3 million in financial aid to the 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East to help fight the COVID-19 epidemic. The funds will be used to support national efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible and to help combat the health crisis and its effects.
Africa’s Roaring Twenties: A much-needed new approach to infrastructure (The Africa Report)
Never underestimate the capacity of humanity to rebound from its worst crises. How can Africa bounce back from its first recession in 25 years? By borrowing from the past and borrowing for its future to usher a new era of growth on the back of large investments in infrastructure. Likewise, we cannot underestimate the need to build a robust, trade-enabling policy infrastructure on which Africa’s next 25 years of growth will depend.
The African passport: The missing piece in the African jigsaw (The New Times)
Visa-free travel forms part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 which envisions an ‘integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance’ The African passport is the flagship project of this agenda and aims to remove restrictions on Africans ability to travel, work and live within their own continent. The initiative could transform Africa’s laws, which remain generally restrictive on the movement of people despite political commitments to bring down borders.
Securing intra-African trade for African growth (The Star)
Increased intra-African trade has the potential to shift the narrative from Africa being a net exporter of commodities and raw materials to a hub of innovation and value-adding products and activities. Rather than export raw materials to advanced economies for further processing, intra-African trade would incentivise the production of manufactured and processed goods internally, with our focus shifting to skills transfer opportunities and value addition.
SADC MPs demand action on vaccine intellectual property rights (Daily Maverick)
The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the need to address issues related to intellectual property and human rights, as well as for taking steps to benefit from trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights flexibilities to ensure access to medicines for all. Southern African Development Community (SADC) members of parliament are calling for all hands on board to build the region’s capacity to produce medicines and to ensure that citizens benefit from its vast medicinal plant resources.
Investment fund eyes Tanzanian women traders (The Citizen)
A regional investment fund is now planning to expand to Tanzania as it seeks to reach more female entrepreneurs in southern Africa. Enygma Ventures, which invests in women entrepreneurs, was established by two successful women entrepreneurs who now invest in women entrepreneurs in southern Africa. The fund which was born in October 2019, invested $3.5 million in 10 businesses in South Africa, Zambia and Eswatini, making them one of Africa’s most active investors for 2020. This year, it aims to invest in even more women with a target on key Sadc markets such as Malawi and Tanzania.
Trade with Africans first before looking elsewhere – Akufo-Addo to ECOWAS members (Modern Ghana)
The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has asked West Africans to trade more among themselves than other countries outside the sub-region. Nana Akufo-Addo says trading among West African countries will lead to the creation of more jobs and economic development. President Akufo-Addo insists Africa has men and women to do whatever business the continent wants. According to him, Africans trading among themselves first is the surest way of making the continent better.
ECO: Strengthening Naira more beneficial than West African regional currency – Diplomat (Vanguard)
As West African countries continue to dilly-dally on the adoption of a common currency, a former diplomat has advised the Nigerian government to strengthen the Naira and shun the Eco currency. “Increased strengthening of the value of the naira is more important for Nigeria than dissipating energy on floating the Eco for member-states of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS. “Expanding the Nigerian economy is more important and should be non-negotiable because it is in the best interest of the sub-region for Nigeria to be the dominant economy,’’ scholar, Dr. Nnamdi Onochie stated.
US Secretary of State Virtual Travel to Africa, April 27, 2021
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken embarked, April 27, on his first virtual trip to Africa, where he visited Kenya and Nigeria and engaged with young people from across the continent.
During this visit, Secretary Blinken met with President Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary Omamo in Kenya, as well as with President Buhari and Foreign Minister Onyeama in Nigeria. In addition, the Secretary engaged with renewable energy companies, tour a U.S.-donated Mobile Field Hospital, visit clean energy companies, and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Young African Leaders Initiative – also known as YALI – during an alumni roundtable discussion.
U.S. Chamber Releases In-Depth Analysis of Potential U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement (US Chamber of Commerce)
This report is an in-depth study regarding a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Kenya, whose negotiations were launched on July 8, 2020. The report draws on insights from dozens of interviews with business executives and experts, to explore perspectives regarding FTA obligations on products and services traded between the two countries.
Kenya trade deal on course, says US Secretary of State (Business Daily)
The trade deal, which was put on hold following a change in the US administration in January, is seen as a pointer to how America will engage with Africa, especially in the face of China’s growing influence in the continent. There had been fears that the deal would be abandoned if the democrats won the election. Mr Blinken said the new US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who was recently confirmed to the position, had to hit the ground running, “and she is running very fast.”
Uhuru–Blinken talks breath of life to US trade deal (The Star)
“Good convo(conversation) with President Kenyatta on the importance of the US-Kenya strategic partnership and opportunities to address global challenges and regional crises. Together, we can promote economic prosperity, security, human rights, and democracy in Kenya and globally,” US’s Bureau of African Affairs tweeted yesterday. The latest development has cemented the trade talks, which had slowly started to pick up early this month when trade CS Betty Maina and US Trade representative Katherine Tai held talks.
US only damages Africa’s interests by seeking exclusivity on the continent: FM (Global Times)
The US should take practical actions to help African countries that are facing COVID-19 challenges and refrain from seeking exclusivity and competition with China on the continent, which would only sabotage the interests of African countries, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. “If the US seeks to force African countries to choose one out of two in exclusive terms, it would damage Africa’s interest. African countries and their people would not allow it,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the ministry, told a press conference in Beijing.
Global economy news
Historic opportunities for global action to eradicate poverty, end hunger and reduce inequalities (FAO)
Addressing the 166th Session of the FAO Council, Director-General QU Dongyu pointed to adverse trends such as increasing food prices, the suspension of school meals in many parts of the world, restrictions on selling food in public urban places, jobs at risk in the processing and distribution sectors, and negative impacts in incomes, especially for rural households in mostly agricultural areas.
A Clear Agenda To Save The WTO – Analysis (Eurasia Review)
The fate of the World Trade Organization (WTO) hangs in the balance after four years of assault by the Trump administration. But things are not as dismal as they appear. Turning the corner in 2021, the WTO has an opportunity to usher in a new era of trade cooperation. To ensure the WTO remains fit for purpose, members should pursue changes in three areas: dispute settlement, negotiations and the WTO’s monitoring function. Rules are only as good as they are enforceable.
Zambia backs WTO call for waiving patent rights for vaccines, medicines (china.org)
The Zambian government said Wednesday that it was in support of views by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that patent rights for vaccines and medicines should be waived. Minister of Health Jonas Chanda said this was important as it will allow countries to start manufacturing vaccines and medicines to make them affordable and readily available. “Vaccines are not manufactured in Africa although the disease burden is in Africa whether you talk about COVID-19, infectious diseases, we have malaria which has been with us for many years,” he added.
Survey on the perception of Customs integrity conducted in 7 more countries (World Customs Organization)
Following successful implementation in 10 countries in 2020, between January and February this year, 7 more countries undertook a Customs and Integrity Perception Survey under the WCO Anti-Corruption and Integrity Promotion (A-CIP) Programme for Customs, namely: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Lebanon, Malawi, Niger, and Palestine. The survey aims at assessing the perception of Customs integrity by Customs officers as well as private sector stakeholders.
Don’t let the digital divide become ‘the new face of inequality’: UN deputy chief (UN News)
Although technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are opening new frontiers of productivity and providing opportunities to people and societies, they pose numerous risks, she said, including exclusion. “Almost half the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline,” Ms Mohammed told ambassadors, tech experts and representatives from civil society groups. “Collectively, our task is to help design digital environments that can connect everyone with a positive future.”
Tanzania remains the place to be for cheap data, internet access in EA (The East African)
For the second year running, Tanzania is the country in East Africa where you will pay lowest to access the internet on your smartphone, according to data released recently by British technology research firm Cable. The report, Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021, reveals that Somalia is no longer offering the most affordable mobile internet in Africa, moving to third, as Sudan and Algeria take the first and second places respectively.