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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National trade and trade-related news

Poultry sector still on high alert for avian flu (IOL)

The South African poultry and ostrich industries continued to remain under national high alert with strict biosecurity measures in place, the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) said on Friday. Sapa said this was despite there having been no new outbreaks of avian influenza reported since the previously confirmed cases. Sapa said that trade restrictions imposed by South Africa’s neighbours had since relaxed somewhat or remained the same, with Botswana reducing its national ban to the affected farms only, Namibia restricting imports from the one affected compartment on the East Rand and Lesotho restricting imports from Gauteng.

DP World Komatipoort handles its first direct imports from Maputo (Engineering News)

Trade solutions multinational DP World has completed the first transit import through the DP World Maputo port, in Mozambique, to DP World Komatipoort, in South Africa. This is a significant milestone as it demonstrates that the Maputo port can be seamlessly used as a gateway to South Africa, the company says. International container imports landed in the Maputo port and destined for the South African hinterland can be moved under bond to Komatipoort where full customs clearance can be provided and made ready for delivery across South Africa. Currently, in South Africa, 69% of maritime imports are transported through the Port of Durban.

Parliament rejects tax on wheat, maize brand (Independent)

Parliament on Monday declined to approve the External Trade (Amendment) Bill, 2021 under which government proposed to levy US Dollars 0.4 per kilogram of exported maize brand, wheat bran, cotton cake and different by-products of the milling industry. The tax proposal was rejected after the State Minister of Finance for Planning David Bahati and Parliament’s Finance Committee agreed that the levy would cause challenges in the East African Community- EAC and also lead to high prices of the products.

Kenya records highest drop in tourists from South Africa, China (The Standard)

China and South Africa were the largest tourism markets that Kenya lost last year as a result of Covid-19 pandemic. Arrivals from these two nations dropped by 80.6 per cent and 75.9 per cent respectively. As a result, Kenya witnessed an overall drop of 72 per cent in tourists’ numbers. This is contained in the latest report by the East African Business Council (EABC), which shows that only 567,948 tourists visited the country last year compared to 2.02 million in 2019 and 2.03 million in 2018.

Construction of Border Export Zones in Uganda at 85% (COMESA)

Construction of Border Export Zones in four sites in Uganda has reached 85%. The border markets under construction in the zones include Busia, Lwakhakha, Oraba and Katuna. According to a report from a technical mission conducted by the COMAid Unit (COMESA Aid for Trade) at the border markets from 8th to 19th April 2021, the works done at the Busia and Lwakhakha are at 85%, Oraba at 77% and Katuna at 45%. The lag at Katuna is because of adverse weather pattern in the area, which prompted the change of construction site. So far structural works have been completed while the floors and external works are the only ones remaining.

Ghana remains top investment destination, but challenges remain – Experts (GhanaWeb)

The country remains in the top-ten investment destinations on the continent, thanks to its political stability and investment policies; but it needs to address high energy costs, unstable supply of utilities, weak currency, land tenure issues which complicate acquisition and registration, local content requirements in certain sectors, and corruption. Prof. John Asafu-Adjaye, Senior Fellow at the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), and Charles Odoom, Head of Private Sector Development at the same institution, said this in a release titled ‘Ghana’s economic outlook: business, trade and economic transformation’ – and lauded efforts aimed at creating opportunities for both local and international businesses as commendable. They however added that, just like in most African countries, more needs to be done.

Time to heavily invest in SMEs to drive economic growth – Dominic Adu (GhanaWeb)

Chief Executive of the First National Bank (FNB) Ghana, Dominic Adu, has reiterated the need to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to drive the country’s economic growth agenda. SMEs in Ghana are still recovering from negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) – in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank – revealed that thousands of SMEs collapsed as a result of the pandemic. Speaking at the sixth edition of the B&FT-organised Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs Breakfast Series, Mr. Adu stated that there is need for financial institutions to develop specialised products which lift small businesses from the current challenges they face.

High cost of production killing manufacturing industry – GUTA (GhanaWeb)

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), Joseph Paddy has shared that it is quite expensive to run a manufacturing business in Ghana. According to him, this high cost of doing business makes it unattractive for Ghanaians to operate manufacturing industries and create jobs, but would rather import same goods at lower costs. Comparing imports to local production, Joseph noted that one can travel for long hours to other countries to import these products, pay duties, and still make profit. With the government providing incentives to manufacturing companies, many local and international businesses have joined in Ghana’s industrialisation and job creation drive.

China Cocoa Export: Ghana Must Be More Aggressive At Value Addition (MyJoyOnline)

News about China exporting cocoa to Belgium has unsettled many in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa beans exporter. Concerns are that the Chinese, with capital and technology, will outcompete Africa’s cocoa producers whose economies depend massively on the commodity. But a cocoa farmer and cocoa value addition entrepreneur, Nana Aduna II, wants the public to shrug off the fears. “China’s entry is a very positive move. It should spur Ghana on to be more aggressive about cocoa value addition beyond chocolate and cocoa powder,” he opined, in a Daily Graphic interview.

5 months after bilateral talks: Nigerians’ shops remain shut in Ghana (Daily Trust)

When contacted on the position of the government on the plight of traders in Ghana, the spokesman for the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abdulrahman Balogun, said the ministerial committee set up is working closely with the traders. Balogun said that after the traders met the ministerial committee last December, the federal government promised to facilitate the return of those willing to come back to Nigeria. “It’s about four months now, but the traders are yet to take the offer,” he said.

Microsoft collaborates with the Nigerian government to accelerate digital transformation in the country (Microsoft)

In a joint announcement with the Government of Nigeria, Microsoft has detailed several projects aimed at intensifying the nation’s move to become a more digital economy. After extensive consultations with the government, Microsoft identified three key pillars that will help to build strong foundations for a digital economy in Nigeria: connectivity, skilling and digital transformation. “We believe in the future of Nigeria, and we are excited as a company to add to our investments,” says Brad Smith, Microsoft President. “Together, we have an enormous opportunity to put technology to work, create jobs, to foster the technology ecosystem across Nigeria, and to use technology to preserve the best of the past and take us into the future.”

Tunisia’s trade regains pre-pandemic levels (TAP)

Exports in volume showed a strong rebound of 16.8%, compared to February 2021, while imports were up by only 2.9%, according to data released by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). The increase in export volumes is mainly due to the strong rebound in the energy sector sales (+329.6%), as well as the noticeable increase in exports from the electrical industries sector (+19.5%). Only exports of the textile/clothing sector showed a slight decrease of 0.2%, compared to February. Imports in volume grew by 2.9% in March, mainly due to a rise by 12.6% in purchases of raw materials and semi-finished products.


African regional and continental trade

AfCFTA secretariat mulls protocol to promote gender, youth interests (The Standard)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat will develop a protocol to address issues of women and young people in the implementation of the continental free trade agreement, an official said on Monday. Emily Mburu-Ndoria, the director for Trade in Services and Intellectual Property at the AfCFTA Secretariat, said during the All-Africa High-Level Virtual Roundtable on AfCFTA Youth Inclusion that the heads of state and government of the continent had tasked the secretariat to formulate that protocol to ensure that women and youth have access and derive the intended benefits from the new trade arrangements. “At the core of the AfCFTA implementation, we have the roles of women and youth. The protocol will therefore ensure the full inclusion of women and youth,” said Mburu-Ndoria.

ABCHealth, ECA partner on AfCFTA implementation (UNECA)

The African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) and the United Nations Economic for Africa (ECA) have partnered to boost healthcare investments and trade. The two organisations are to execute the Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa (HEGA 2) report, and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)-anchored Pharma Initiative. ABCHealth Chairman, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said: “We are confident of the impact this partnership will bring to bear on the continent. It is our firm belief that with the public and private sectors working together, combining political will with business knowledge, Africa’s health sector can be built to the point where it will deliver affordable health to Africans in an equitable manner.”

Economic Diversification in Africa: How and Why It Matters (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

For decades, economic diversification has been a policy priority for low- and middle-income economies. In the words of former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, “We know that economic diversification is good for growth. Diversification is also tremendously important for resilience.” Unfortunately, this goal continues to elude many African countries. It is critical to recognize how various dimensions of diversification can have different implications for the menu of policy options. This paper focuses on a dimension that the economics literature pays scant attention to: fiscal diversification. This fiscal element involves expanding government revenue sources and public expenditure targets and can therefore play a central role in helping to catalyze broader economic transformation through the expansion of activity in specific industries and sectors.

How manufacturers can unleash their digital marketplace superpower (Bizcommunity)

Digital marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba, click and collect models, and food delivery ecosystems have rapidly changed consumer behaviour, and increased the demand for convenience and immediate gratification. Small, agile companies are enjoying great success in digital marketplaces. As digitally native businesses that can evolve on the fly, these brands are capitalising on the multitude of shoppers on these sites. However, a disruptive model like this requires manufacturers to transform from the top down in order to have the same agility to succeed. This is uncharted territory for manufacturers. They need new capabilities to manage business performance and brand experience at the product level, and across countless marketplaces.

Experts reflect on impact of Covid-19 pandemic on economies of Southern African countries (Malawi Nyasa Times)

“A first implication of Covid-19-related restrictions are disruptions in local staple markets which are likely to affect the cost of food consumed by the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population. The effects on food availability and prices as well as changes in incomes may lead to deterioration of nutrition status in the form of micronutrient deficiencies, especially for the most vulnerable populations. Price uncertainty and disruption on the supply side could also affect farmers’ incomes,” Dr inga Jacobs-Mata shared.

African Energy Downstream Committee to drive African competitiveness, jobs, local content, energy, and maritime security (Africa Newsroom)

The African Energy Chamber has created a Downstream Committee to engage more closely with Africa’s energy marketing, storage and trading developments and trends. “Our continent has been engaged in commodity trading for decades, and we need to ensure that we trade African commodities like crude oil and LNG in Africa for our own industrialization and growth. Trading houses and governments must start seeing Africa as a market, and not just as a farm to supply other continents,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

EAC Partner States urged to fast-track the formation of the proposed EAC Political Federation (EAC)

East African Community Partner States have been urged to expedite the formation of the proposed Political Confederation for the region. Uganda’s Acting Chief Justice Richard Butera said that East Africans had always lived together and would not wait for the Partner States to establish the confederation in order to continue with their interactions, adding that the citizens were well ahead of their national governments in as far as the integration process was concerned. “East Africans want to live together irrespective of national boundaries. The governments should therefore endeavour to catch up with them and actualise the Political Confederation as fast as possible,” said Justice Butera.

Tripartite Agreement Discussed as Ethiopia Ambassador Visits COMESA

The ratification of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and signing of the COMESA Social Charter were among issues discussed during a courtesy call by the Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Zambia and Zimbabwe H.E Addisu Abera and the Secretary General of COMESA Chileshe Kapwepwe today. The Secretary General urged the Ambassador to lobby his government to sign and ratify the Agreement to enable it to enter into force. So far, 10 countries in the COMESA, EAC and SADC regional blocs have ratified the TFTA with four more needed to attain the ratification threshold of 14 States. In February this year, the Tripartite Council of Ministers set a new deadline for countries that have not yet ratified the agreement to do so by June which will the sixth anniversary since the launch of the TFTA Agreement on 10 June 2015 in Egypt.

European Union, at ECA webinar, pledges stronger financial and political support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) (UNECA)

The European Union will continue to be a strong supporter of Africa’s economic integration agenda, particularly the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), said Birgitte Markussen, the EU’s ambassador to the African Union (AU). The ambassador said the EU welcomed the start of trading under the AfCFTA since 1 January this year and pledged EU’s political, financial, technical and policy support, including over 74 million euro that had been provided to support the continent from 2014 to date.

Africa can turn the negative impacts of illness into a chance to build and strengthen itself (The East African)

Covid has severely affected all socio-political spheres of African life, but several sectors have played a significant role in enabling the harmful effect the virus has had on Africa. These include the continent’s fiscal systems, the digital divide, healthcare systems, human capital, and urban infrastructure. Most of Africa, with its poor digital infrastructure, will experience the harshest outcomes of the crisis. However, the good news is that disruptive solutions are sure to emerge. Countries such as Kenya, which has embraced electronic payment systems using e-money, will have an advantage, and could even design new systems to buttress the economy and social protection money transfer programmes.

ECOWAS urged to invest in quality data production (GhanaWeb)

Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, the Commissioner of Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, ECOWAS, has encouraged member states to invest in accurate and quality data production to facilitate rapid socio-economic growth. He said the development of new and non-traditional data sources, including big data, would improve the provision of official statistics to leverage advances in new technologies that would make data production easier and more cost-effective in the region.

ECOWAS stresses regional integration for sustainable development (The New Dawn Liberia)

“For us at Ecowas, regional integration remains the most viable and appropriate tool for achieving and accelerating sustainable development of the West African countries,” Mr. Nathaniel B. Walker said. He continued that the initiative, when implemented successfully, will help support the country’s macroeconomic policy planning which are aligned with government national development roadmap, “Pro Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity or (PAPD).” He said the project is relevant as it supports the National Statistical System (NSS) as well as the Ecowas Regional Statistical System (RSS), saying “At this time when we are in the process of producing up-to-date, reliable and harmonized statistics covering many of the social and economic data and indicators.”

US$1.1M USAID Grant for Smallholder Palm Farmers (Liberian Daily Observer)

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of J Palm Liberia, Mahmud Johnson says smallholder palm farmers in Liberia will now have attractive prices for their products, as a result of a US$1.1 million dollar grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support an alliance that gives smallholder farmers access to the growing organic palm market. The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) awarded the $1.1 million co-investment grant to 8 Degrees North, a Ghanaian palm oil processing company, to support smallholder farmers in West Africa to access the growing market for organic palm oil in the United States.

Play Economic Recovery across Africa with ‘AFK’ (ETF Trends)

As the global vaccine deployment continues, one place to get international exposure is the first ETF to focus on Africa, the VanEck Vectors Africa Index ETF (AFK).AFK seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the MVIS® GDP Africa Index. The fund normally invests at least 80% of its total assets in securities that comprise the fund’s benchmark index.


Global economy

Delving deep into trade priorities for least developed countries (Trade for Development News)

International trade can be a powerful tool for least developed countries (LDCs) to reduce poverty and spur economic growth. But it is not a blanket solution. A recently launched series of three briefs by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) is addressing these needs, looking into areas of special relevance for LDCs working to boost their presence in global trade. For over ten years EIF has been working with LDC governments to build strong trade institutions and policies and to support local trade sectors with promise; this new analysis builds on that experience and is part of its trade support.

Trade barriers ‘block global COVID-19 vaccine goals’ (SciDev.net)

Efforts to scale up manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure fair access globally are being stymied by major bottlenecks which must be resolved urgently to tackle the pandemic, say vaccine industry players. Almost 10 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines are needed to achieve worldwide herd immunity against the virus by March 2022, according to a World Bank Report on how to end the pandemic. Vaccine industry groups warn the target is only feasible if trade barriers and export restrictions on the global movement of vaccine components are removed immediately.

Farm talks chair calls for increased efforts to prepare for first draft negotiating text (WTO)

WTO members reviewed facilitators’ updates on the full range of agriculture negotiation topics, including domestic support, market access, export competition, export restrictions, cotton, public stockholding for food security purposes and the proposed special safeguard mechanism. The facilitator-led process is an informal approach for topic-by-topic technical discussions initiated by the chair last September.

Members discuss contours of potential MC12 deliverables (WTO)

Summing up members’ interventions at the end of the day, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said what she had heard matched what she had been told in her own consultations: “Views are coalescing around the most feasible priorities for delivery between now and MC12 – although of course there are gaps on how we get there and on the content of prospective results.” She said three concrete deliverables stood out: an agreement to curb harmful fisheries subsidies; outcomes on agriculture, with a focus on food security; and a framework that would better equip the WTO to support efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises.

India, South Africa to review IP waiver proposal at WTO as US, EU refuse to comply (BusinessLine)

At the TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) Council meeting on April 30, the WTO members agreed to continue consideration of the IP waiver and asked the Chair to report to the General Council on this decision at its next meeting on May 5-6, a Geneva-based trade official told BusinessLine. “The co-sponsors did not share the details of the kind of revision, its scope or nature, but they said that they will immediately start engaging with other members, including those opposing the waiver to advance discussions. They want to find a solution as soon as possible as it is vital that all impediments to the smooth flow of medicines and critical equipment are removed,” the official said.

Global E-Commerce Jumps to $26.7 Trillion, Covid-19 Boosts Online Retail Sales (UNCTAD)

The dramatic rise in e-commerce amid movement restrictions induced by COVID-19 increased online retail sales’ share of total retail sales from 16% to 19% in 2020, according to estimates in an UNCTAD report released on 3 May. UNCTAD released the report, “Estimates of global e-commerce 2019 and preliminary assessment of COVID-19 impact on online retail 2020”, as it hosted a two-day intergovernmental meeting on measuring e commerce and the digital economy.

Development aid: Emmanuel Macron calls for a new deal for Africa (Ecofin)

French President Emmanuel Macron calls on the international community to set a new deal for African countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Macron’s statement comes ahead of the Summit on Financing Sub-Saharan African Economies, to be held in Paris on May 18. “We must invent a New Deal for the financing of Africa on May 17 and 18,” said Emmanuel Macron, who also called on the international community to propose “profoundly innovative solutions” for the continent, and to forget “yesterday’s histories. Otherwise, we will leave the African continent in poverty [...] facing reduced economic opportunities, forced migration, and the expansion of terrorism, and that I do not want to accept,” he added.