tralac Daily News
An organisation representing local musicians, filmmakers, authors and artists has accused Parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee of trying to rush through deliberations on legislation they say will sell out SA’s creative output in favour of big Silicon Valley tech companies. The committee is sitting with two bills – the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill – that were sent back to the National Assembly by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June last year. At the time, he said they were open to constitutional challenge. The copyright bill proposes changing South Africa copyright regime to include the introduction of the “fair-use principle” which, in effect, allows for the free use of copyrighted content in certain circumstances, like for research and teaching. Fair use is championed by companies like Google.
South Africa and the UK are strategic partners with a broad and vibrant relationship, led by a commitment to liberal values, democracy and the rule of law. The trade and investment relationship between the UK and South Africa is valued at £8.0 billion per annum. Ministers discussed the opportunity the UK-Southern African Customs Union + Mozambique Economic Partnership Agreement holds to grow this and agreed on a set of actions to capitalise on the freedoms provided by the new bilateral free trade agreement. They welcomed the establishment of a new UK-South Africa Investment Taskforce that would support the expansion of existing investment and the entry of new UK investors into South Africa.
EU-banned pesticides are harming farmworkers in Sax (The Mail & Guardian)
The active ingredients in hazardous pesticides, developed and brought to market by German agrochemical firms Bayer and BASF, are damaging the health of farmworkers and farmers in South Africa. For Jan Urhahn, the programme director for food sovereignty at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the report, Double Standards and Hazardous Pesticides from Bayer and BASF, exposes the duplicity in the global trade in pesticides. “The issue at hand regards pesticide products and active ingredients that are either banned or not approved in the European Union due to health or environmental concerns but that are nevertheless exported out of the EU by agrochemical corporations and are then sold in other regions of the world,” he said.
Black gold: A fresh approach needed to tackle SA’s illegal abalone trade (Eyewitness News)
Western Cape authorities are calling for a rethink on how to tackle the illegal abalone trade, saying piecemeal busts alone will not break the back of criminal syndicates. The nation loses hundreds of millions of rands every year as a result of the illegal harvesting of and trade in abalone. “The problem is that wild stocks of abalone have been decimated along our coastline, which is now forcing poachers to become more aggressive and even enter into traditional marine reserves,” said committee chairperson Andricus van der Westhuizen. South Africa’s Environmental Fisheries and Forestry Department and law enforcement agencies agree that a collective approach achieves better results in trying to break the back of illegal abalone harvesting in the country.
Namibia’s merchandise trade increases to N$15.7 billion (Namibia Economist)
Despite warnings of a precipitous drop in global trade as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Namibia’s total merchandise trade increased to N$15.7 billion in March, the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) reported. According to the NSA, the country’s trade balance remained in a deficit amounting to N$2.6 billion although the gap narrowed from its February 2021 deficit of N$2.7 billion after recording a surplus to the tune of N$1.7 billion in March 2020. The value of exports in March 2021 increased by 6.3% to N$6.5 billion from its level of N$6.2 billion recorded in February 2021 while imports stood at N$9.2 billion, increasing by 3.1% and 23.8% compared to N$8.9 billion and N$7.4 billion recorded in February 2021 and March 2020, respectively.
Rethink export strategy: Shava (NewsDay)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Frederick Shava says Zimbabwe must expand its export markets to create fresh opportunities. Official data indicates that Zimbabwe’s exports have been averaging US$4 billion annually, against US$6 billion imports. “In terms of markets, our exports continue to be limited to a few traditional markets, mainly South Africa and a few Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries,” Shava said in a speech read on his behalf during a conference organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC). “Concerted efforts to diversify the export products and export markets for the country are needed. “Potential is there for Zimbabwe to generate foreign exchange through export of various services including tourism, education, and professional services, among other services. “Exports to Europe, China and the Americas remain well below potential. Zimbabwe is yet to fully tap its trade potential to spur economic growth and development.
The SA/Zim border may see shorter queues, as the Kazungula bridge opens Monday (Business Insider South Africa)
The opening of a bridge at Zambia’s Kazungula on Monday, 10 May, should have a significant impact on South Africa, relieving congestion at the infamous Beitbridge border crossing for freight truckers. Currently, truckers moving goods from South Africa to Lusaka must travel via Zimbabwe, crossing the notoriously congested Beitbridge at the border between Limpopo and its Northern neighbour. But with the new bridge at Kazungula, South Africans can travel via Botswana, bypassing the Beitbridge crossing – and Zimbabwe – altogether. The bridge has been five years in the making, and the Botswana department of transport and communications announced that it will be open for business as of Monday. For freight truckers making their way from South Africa to Zambia, ferrying goods from the Port of Durban upwards through southern Africa to reach regional markets to the North, the trip is a roughly 27 hour journey, whether via Zimbabwe or Botswana. But delays at Beitbridge could add on several hours depending on the severity of the congestion, or the time of year.
Maize exports to Kenya from Tanzania have not restarted days after the two countries agreed to lift unnecessary barriers. Until yesterday there were no trucks loaded with the cereal heading to the border town for clearance into Kenya. “There are none at the border. The exporters have two weeks to resume business,” said Mr Lothi Lemeirut, a trader from Namanga on the phone. Maize exports to Kenya from Tanzania have not restarted days after the two countries agreed to lift unnecessary barriers. Until yesterday there were no trucks loaded with the cereal heading to the border town for clearance into Kenya. “There are none at the border. The exporters have two weeks to resume business”, said Mr Lothi Lemeirut, a trader from Namanga on the phone.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was established to accelerate trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy in global trade negotiations. Sam Jonah, a businessman has stated that Ghana fell short on almost all the competitive indicators used in the AfCFTA although its implementation in Ghana was successful. His statement he said was based on research conducted by “Konfidants”, a research and advisory firm. In his argument, Mr. Sam Jonah posited that Ghana, according to the reports of the research, has fallen short in terms of productivity capacity, credit and power, customs efficiency, trade logistics and dependency on foreign input. It is therefore important that there is restructuring in the Ghanaian economy to record future economic strides.
Rwandan private sector optimistic over new EAC Secretary-General (The New Times)
Rwanda’s private sector players are optimistic of increased intra-regional trade in the East African Community (EAC), following the change of leadership at the bloc’s Secretariat, which took office last month. Speaking during a roundtable dinner for CEOs, organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) on May 7 in Kigali, Rwandan businessman Dennis Karera outlined several issues that upset the smooth flow of trade in the region, and called for action towards addressing them. He mentioned the persistent non-tariff barriers, an uncoordinated approach in handling Covid-19 and unharmonized tax regimes as issues stifling intra-EAC trade which currently stands at about 15%. The private sector players are also urging the EAC Secretariat to champion the conclusion of the review of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET), aimed at facilitating industrialization and regional value chains in the East Africa Community.
Nigeria’s trade deficit rose from $1.69bn in December 2020 to $2.51bn as of the end of January 2021 despite the reopening of the borders, statistics made available by the Central Bank of Nigeria have shown.
“Data on aggregate external trade at $8.14bn showed a month-on-month increase of 3.2 per cent, from $7.89bn recorded in December 2020. “Aggregate exports declined by 9.2 per cent to $2.81bn in the review period, compared with $3.1bn in December 2020, due, largely, to decline in crude oil and gas export receipts. “Merchandise imports, however, increased to $5.33bn in January 2021, from $4.79bn in December 2020, as domestic demand improved in the review period. “A higher trade deficit of $2.51bn was recorded in January 2021, relative to $1.69bn in December 2020.”
Climate to ravage Kenya’s tea production (Eyewitness News)
Climate change is set to devastate Kenya’s tea production as the world’s largest exporter faces rising temperatures, erratic rainfall and insect infestations, according to analysis released on Monday. Tea is the world’s most consumed drink after water and disruption in supply from the east African nation is predicted to have a global impact. A report from the charity Christian Aid outlined the various threats Kenya faces to its key black tea crop, as well as the dangers that other countries are likely to encounter as the planet continues to warm. Citing a peer-reviewed study, the report said that the quadruple threat of rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, droughts and new insect infestations are forecast to destroy 26.2 percent of the country’s optimal tea growing areas by 2050
FG Reaffirms Support for Entrepreneurs (THISDAY Newspapers)
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has reaffirmed the commitment of the federal government towards sustainable development of Nigerian entrepreneurs. In a statement by the Assistant Director, Information, FMITI, Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, the minister, further urged the entrepreneurs to take advantage of its various laudable programmes on micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance their productivity. She expressed the ministry’s readiness to collaborate and support the associations in realising their mandate most, particularly in the area of youth and women empowerment.
Zimbabwe’s trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, has embarked on an aggressive outbound mission to explore more regional and international markets for local companies to improve exports earnings. This comes as Zimbabwe is building the export momentum after 2020 recorded a 2,7 percent increase from the 2019 export figure of US$2,2 billion. Speaking during the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce trade conference in Bulawayo last Friday, ZimTrade operations director, Mr Similo Nkala, said despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has plagued the world, his organisation was going ahead assigning teams to conduct more market surveys across the continent for Zimbabwean products.
Kenya Airways and Airlink have announced an interline agreement that will widen both airlines’ reach to multiple destinations in the African continent even as countries begin reopening their borders for travelers. Kenya Airways’ agreement with Airlink will provide its customers enhanced connectivity via its gateways Johannesburg and Cape Town to more than forty cities across Africa with this unique connection enabled by the new partnership providing customers onward travel options not offered by other airlines.
“As global economies continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic, such strategic partnerships are critical. These new routes will positively impact the flow of trade and tourism across the region by offering our customers convenient travel around the continent,” said Julius Thairu, Kenya Airways Chief Commercial Officer.
Treasury woos shipping lines to new Lamu port with lower fees (Business Daily)
The new Lamu Port will offer incentives to shipping lines docking at the facility ahead of its commissioning in the coming weeks. The port will receive its first ship on May 20 at berth one with the Treasury saying it will be gazetting the incentives on the tariffs in coming days. “Incentives relating to fees and charges for using and clearing goods at the port as requested by stakeholders will be gazetted for at least a period of one year, in the next few days, to promote usage of the port by the business and logistics sectors,” said Treasury in a statement.
Payments for SGR loans to more than double to Sh97bn (Business Daily)
Kenya’s repayments towards Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line-related loans will more than double in the financial year starting July on the back of increased payment of principal sums to Chinese lender for the mega infrastructure project. The Treasury projects debt repayments to Exim Bank of China will shoot to Sh96.70 billion in the next financial year, a 126.61 per cent surge from revised Sh42.67 billion budgeted for this year. The jump in debt obligations to the lender is partly due to Sh30.48 billion downward revision in the initial budget that had been approved in June 2020. Kenya obtained debt relief from a number of bilateral lenders, including China, to cushion against revenue shocks emanating from Covid-19 knocks.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan will invigorate trade (The Standard)
During her two-day State visit to Kenya, President Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania assured businesses in the region of a conducive operating environment in her country. Among the assurances include the elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), irregular taxation and stringent work permit requirements. In her speech to the regional business community in Nairobi on Wednesday, President Suluhu emphasised the need to support the private sector to realize not just enhanced trade ties but also improve economies and livelihoods in the region. President Suluhu said that her government was undertaking a review of the regulatory environment, including reforms targeted at government agencies anchoring trade.
Exporters should take advantage of trade agreements (Sunday Mail)
Trade agreements are designed to stimulate and encourage trade between countries or a group of countries that are signatories to the agreement, by giving one another preferential treatment in the reduction or elimination of customs duties as well as removal or relaxation of quantitative restrictions. For example, duty and import-related taxes often constitute a large percentage of the final price of a product secured through a cross border transaction. As a result, a reduction or elimination of the duty can give the exporter a substantial advantage in terms of cost over competitors from countries that do not have similar trade agreements. It is important therefore for businesses to note that, as part of the economic diplomacy drive being steered by President Mnangagwa, Government is pursuing approaches to simplify the landing of Zimbabwean products in export markets and at competitive prices.
Supporting the mining sector to recover from Covid-19 related slowdown is expected to preserve jobs and create new ones, according to Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU). “As government helps the sector to recover from Covid-19 effects, there is hope that the number of jobs in the mining and extraction sector could increase to 100,000 jobs in 2021. Following the lesson learnt from the pandemic effects, we urge workers to embrace the saving culture,” said Andre Mutsindashyaka, the Secretary-General of Rwanda extractive industry workers Union. While jobs in the mining and extraction sector are expected to increase this year, the union urges mining companies to embrace modern mining technologies to maximize productivity and improve workers’ wellbeing
Manufacturing sector employs 7m Nigerians – FG (The Sun Nigeria)
The Federal Government has disclosed that the manufacturing sector has demonstrated over the years that it is the backbone of the country’s employment sector, as it currently employs over seven million Nigerians. “There are many aspects of manufacturing sector that crave for recognition, especially in the scale of growth, it has achieved increased total output by over $40 billion in the last 20 years in addition to closely employing seven million, among several landmark achievements,” Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo said. “We have seen amazing example like in the cement sector which has witnessed incredible growth rate fully dedication to local demands and has attained the capacity to export cement to the neighbouring countries.”
‘Plant Variety Protection Bill Will Improve Food Security’ (THISDAY Newspapers)
The Director-General, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Ojo, has stated that the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill will provide intellectual property protection to breeders and improve food security in Nigeria. Ojo, disclosed this during a virtual meeting organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with the theme: ‘Expert review of the Plant Variety Protection Bill: Significance and Constraints.’
During the panel session, Trade Expert, Trade Law Centre (TRALAC), Western Cape region of South Africa, Dr. Olumuyiwa Bamidele Alaba, posited that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) does not have specific laws around PVP. He charged countries to interact and sign negotiating treaties among each other, “and that there are international laws that espouse Protection of breeders’ right and that of locals and the investors.”
“Mauritius has been successful in containing the Covid-19 pandemic so far thanks to strict health measures. Mauritius has had very few cases of domestic transmission of Covid-19 following a strict nationwide lockdown during March-May 2020 and closure of the border until early October. Building on the country’s strong public health system, the authorities were able to rapidly contain outbreaks by implementing extensive testing, robust contact tracing, and strict isolation of all suspected and confirmed cases, and maintaining mask requirements in all public places. As border restrictions were eased, comprehensive testing of arrivals and strict quarantine requirements were put in place. “Despite the country’s success in containing the pandemic so far, the pandemic has seriously impacted the economy due to the sharp decline in tourism and contributed to a contraction of real GDP by nearly 15 percent in 2020.”
Egypt holds international meetings to boost exports, tourism, FDIs (Daily News Egypt)
The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) has held a series of intensive international meetings to develop commodity exports and open new markets for Egyptian products. The meetings also sought to develop tourism relations with countries that have begun to allow travel to Egypt. The remarks were made by Ibrahim El-Araby, President of the FEDCOC and Head of the Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Professions (UACCIAP). The meetings also aim to attract new foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the Egyptian market.
Ghana to create more jobs for the youth: finance minister (China.org.cn)
The Ghanaian government will speed up the implementation of its proposed Jobs and Skills Program to promote skill development and offer job opportunities to the youth, Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said here Sunday. The upcoming 200-million-U.S.-dollar program will strengthen the capacity of the private sector as well as small and medium enterprises to create jobs for the youth, he said at a press briefing. “This is a program we have been discussing with the World Bank over the past three years and it aims at addressing the structural inequities in the economy to facilitate economic transformation and increase private sector jobs,” he said.
“In 2009, only 9% of Ethiopian citizens understood the local budgeting process, but the FTA initiative has changed that,” said Yoseph Abdissa, World Bank Senior Social Protection Specialist. “Today, more than 69% of citizens have gained local budget knowledge, and in the spirit of transparency, nearly all districts publicly display budget and expenditure information and about half disclose audit findings and corrective actions, as well as procurement information.”
In 2020, Ethiopia joined the International Budget Partnership, an organization that works with multiple actors, including governments, to empower citizens to participate in open, inclusive budgeting processes to shape policies and practices that promote equity and justice sustainably. Research by IBP shows that countries with higher levels of budget transparency also tend to achieve more positive development outcomes, realize the economic and social rights of their citizens more fully, and are more democratic.
African regional and continental news
The Assembly of Heads of State at the African Union has given a directive to trade negotiators and ministers to conclude all outstanding negotiations, regarding the African Continental Free Trade Agreement by the end of June this year. This includes the protocols on rules of origin which seeks to deal with the issue of third party exports into the free zone area. Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene told a media interaction that members are working assiduously to meet the timeline, especially on the rules of origin which is about 90% completed. “There has been a lot of work ongoing by the ministers on outstanding negotiations and especially on rules of origin which is about 86% to 90% concluded because this will deal with issues of transshipment and third party exports”. “The ministers also recalled the directive by the heads of States to ensure that all negotiations are concluded by the end of June this year, so there will be more frequent meetings to ensure that this target is achieved” he noted.
How women in mining sector could benefit from AfCFTA (Africa Renewal)
Given the speed with which the early stages of the AfCFTA are being rolled out and the expected elimination of tariffs on 90 per cent of goods produced by countries in the first five years, it is necessary to consider, even at this stage, the free trade’s potential impact on women in the mining sector – whether positive or negative. A focus on such impact would help determine the achievement of the aspirations of the AU’s Africa Mining Vision (AMV) that was adopted in 2009, and seeks “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development…” and notably mentions gender inclusion as one of its key tenets, though the mechanics of that have yet to be worked out.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat is hopeful of rolling out agricultural value chains in various countries to boost agro-processing across the continent. This was made known by the Secretary-General of the Secretariat, Wamkele Mene. The continent-wide agreement, which seeks to bridge all gaps in the various sectors among African countries, seeks to strengthen the agric sector which has a massive social and economic footprint on the continent. Mr. Mene during a virtual press briefing held on Tuesday noted that the Secretariat wants “to make sure through this agreement that we establish agricultural value chains that will transcend across the African continent”. “So, we want to replicate the success of some regions in rolling out agricultural value chains across the African continent. Agro-processing is a big contributor to Africa’s industrialization strategy. And so we are looking at it holistically from an industrial development point of view and from the food security point of view.”
Smart Borders concept a possibility through collaboration (Engineering News)
The resolution of border control challenges and the implementation of smart borders can be accomplished through cooperation, collaboration and trust-building between the public and private sectors. As technology evolves, so does the concept of borders; however, stakeholders need to ensure that border-specific technologies continue to break new ground and simplify and speed up increasingly complex customs and trade-related procedures. The Covid-19 pandemic suspended many ambitious plans, with borders closing, countries locked down, reduced trade, congested borders and businesses closing, and had halted decades of work towards an integrated world and the free movement of people and goods.
Logistics expert Dr Juanita Maree, who is also Savino Del Bene South Africa executive director, explained that the sudden closure of borders and the restrictions on trade and business has shown, more than ever, how important trade is to a country and the global economy. The closures on an unprecedented scale highlighted how integrated the supply chain has become and how reliant countries are on each other.
Alongside India, we have submitted a proposal to the WTO for a temporary waiver of certain aspects of TRIPS to facilitate wider access to technologies needed to produce vaccines and medicines. The idea is to rapidly scale up local production to ensure wider access to affordable and effective vaccines. The waiver proposal currently enjoys the support of more than 100 countries. Last week the US government announced its support for the proposal, which will give the current negotiations added momentum. The enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to research and development and innovation in the quest for human progress. But our position as South Africa is that such a waiver is necessary at this time. It is temporary and is in direct response to an emergency. This is an unprecedented situation. It requires that all intellectual property, knowledge, technology and data related to COVID-19 health technologies be put at the disposal of all.
West Africa: The Mining Tax That Upsets the Global Market (Bloomberg Tax)
Mining has been quickly getting back to business during the Covid-19 pandemic with a global market that has managed to grow from $1,641 billion in 2020 to $1,845 billion in 2021. The market may reach $2,427 billion, pushed by a functional and global scaled production, export, and transformation chain for minerals and metals. The second year of Covid-19 has seen international mining companies such as BHP Billiton Ltd., Glencore plc., Vale S.A., Rio Tinto Group and CRH plc growing their business, based on rearranging their operations. If the mining sector has been so good in recovering, it is due to long years of governance improvement, agile management and a safety-first culture that has enabled firms to find short-term solutions and long-term scenarios. The “new normal” is already set to be operative for the mining industry.
The East African Community Secretary General, Hon (Dr.) Peter Mathuki has pledged to work closely with the private sector in the region, adding that they were the key drivers for deeper integration. “I want to assure you that I shall do all that is within my powers to ensure that the private sector plays its rightful role in the integration process,” said Dr. Mathuki. Speaking at the Private Sector Dinner Roundtable held in Kigali, Rwanda, the Secretary General informed the CEO’s that it was the vision of the EAC Founding Fathers that the private sector would work together with the Community to promote the integration process by creating wealth and employment for the people of East Africa.
Tanzania, with a population of 58.8 million people, has a huge natural resource base and GDP of $63 billion. And with President Samia – who took over after John Pombe Magufuli’s death in March – now fully in charge of the political and economic transformation (she has taken over the chair of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi) the region’s giant has been stirred from its sleep. And the EAC Secretariat is promising to lay the ground for better investment prospects for the region. “Kenya and Tanzania are among the founding members of the EAC and are therefore bound by history and geographical proximity. Tanzania is a huge market and an important player in the region,” said Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary-General, adding, “President Samia is keen to see increased intra-EAC trade and clearly demonstrates political commitment to see Tanzania become a key player in the regional integration process.”
The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 5th May, 2021 held discussions with the Director General of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Annual Investment Meeting (AIM), Mr. Walid Farghal, on promoting and expanding investment opportunities in the SADC region, ahead of the inaugural AIM Africa Chapter to be held in June, 2021.
Mr Farghal said the AIM Africa Chapter in June, 2021 will primarily focus on attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa and promoting Africa’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are two of the six pillars anchoring the work of AIM. Other pillars include; Start-ups, Foreign Portfolio Investment, Future Cities and One Belt, One Road. The AIM Africa Chapter will see prominent African stakeholders engage in dialogue with focus on key strategic directives related to Africa’s economic outlook.
SADC Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, Fisheries and Aquaculture met through video-conferencing on 7 May 2021, to review progress in the implementation of the SADC relevant sectoral programmes, projects and related strategies under the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), in line with the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) (2020-2030).
Ministers noted with concern, the high numbers of food and nutritionally insecure people in the region (50.8 million) and urged Member States to continue implementing and domesticating the SADC Food and Nutrition Security Strategy (FNSS) in National Food and Nutrition Strategies in order to improve food and nutrition security. They urged Member States to strengthen and expand coverage of social protection and safety-nets programmes to cater for increasing numbers of food insecure population and to promote value addition through agro processing value chains so as to increase period of consumption, reduce malnutrition, reduce post-harvest losses and create employment
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday that to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with African countries is always China’s resolute strategic choice. In a telephone conversation with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi, Xi said China supports the DRC playing its role as the rotating chair of the African Union, and stands ready to work with the DRC to cement communication and coordination and make a success of the next meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Noting that the DRC is an important cooperation partner of China in Africa, Xi said the two countries have enjoyed a good tradition of mutual support and mutual trust.
TRIPS patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines: Is it legally necessary? (The Daily Star)
The present COVID-stricken world has been experiencing the devastating impact of this pandemic on human lives, livelihood, and economies with no confirmed end in sight. Quest for its curative vaccine has been developed in record speed. But their distribution has been lopsided creating the ‘vaccine divide’ and ‘vaccine nationalism or hoarding’ which is now at the forefront of the global public health debates. In October 2020, several developing countries led by India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the WTO for a temporary waiver of some provisions of the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) relating to the COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and diagnostic and medical technologies (COVID-19 pharmaceuticals). If such waiver is granted, WTO members can decline to enforce patents or other intellectual property rights (IPRs) relating to COVID-19 pharmaceuticals. The proposal argued that for an effective response to the pandemic and rapid access to COVID-19 vaccines at an affordable price, this TRIPS-waiver is essential.
Explore new export markets, including Africa: experts (The Daily Star)
Bangladesh needs to pay attention to explore new export destinations, including untapped markets in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Latin America and African regions, according to speakers at a webinar yesterday. “We are searching for new destinations, particularly in Africa, to increase garment and other exports through our missions abroad,” said Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin at the event. The commerce ministry is working with the private sector to diversify Bangladesh’s export basket and exploit unexplored markets such as Africa, he added.
MSMEs are key drivers of innovation, economic growth, and new employment generation, making them a key demographic constituent to measure the economic health of countries globally. And with the Globalization of industries happening at a fast pace, it will be critical for the growth of MSMEs to look into aspects of accessing the market potential offered by the global integration. Prof Dev Nathan said that a lot of trade is nowadays organized in the form of global value chains, and it’s important to know one’s role, and potential to upgrade within the global value chains. It is a critical issue for developing countries as they move from being Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to become Moderately Developed Countries (MDCs) further moving along the middle-income trajectory.
The Ship that Launched 1,000 Memes and Nearly Destroyed 12 percent of World Trade (Center for International Maritime Security)
The grounding of MV Ever Given from March 23 to March 29, 2021 captured the world’s attention. Many people asked, how could such a modern and large vessel find itself with its bow rammed into Asia, its stern aground on Africa, and its midship astride one of the major maritime chokepoints in the world? Regardless of the cause, the closing of the canal marked an important event not just in the world economy but the shipment and protection of trade. While the event was over quickly, a long-term closure, such as what happened during the Suez Crisis or the Six Days War, would have global ramifications. The vulnerability of the chokepoint to an accident, and now the efforts by the Egyptians to extract $916 million from Evergreen for the event, may cause companies and nations to reconsider their use of the canal.
CHOGM 2021 to be postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic (The Commonwealth)
His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, are today announcing the postponement of CHOGM 2021 as a result of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments including with the World Health Organization (WHO) and their risk assessment tool, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the decision has been made to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time. Speaking on the postponement, President Kagame said: “The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly. The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time.”
The UK brought together foreign and development ministers from G7 countries, as well as guests from the Indo-Pacific region and Africa, this week for decisive co-ordinated action on shared global challenges and threats. At the meetings, which took place in London, G7 countries agreed to: Tackle the biggest geopolitical threats; Safeguard democracy; Support a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and help those hardest hit by crises.