tralac Daily News
Launch of eTradeHubs to simplify trade processes for woman small business owners in AfCFTA (International Chamber of Commerce)
The Women Traders in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a partnership formed by ICC, TRALAC, UPS, and West Blue Consulting, launched the eTradeHubs portal today to mobilise women small business owners in the AfCFTA. The portal provides timely information, trade management tools and supply chain information related to the AfCFTA to business owners in the region. Using the eTradeHubs portal, small business owners can gain access to vital AfCFTA trade information, including documents, licenses, permits, certificates, fees to be paid and estimated processing times. The portal simplifies trade processes and significantly reduces the time and cost of doing business for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the AfCFTA.
Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director, Tralac said: “The AfCFTA holds unprecedented opportunities for women-led businesses to trade, invest and participate in cross-border value chains. The eTradeHub is a one-stop portal with all the information required to ensure trade regulatory compliance. Tralac is proud to partner with ICC, UPS and West Blue Consulting to launch the eTradeHub, contributing to trade facilitation and so boosting intra-Africa trade.”
Global supply chain delays affecting South Africa’s manufacturing sector (Engineering News)
Advisory multinational PwC estimates that about a quarter of under-utilisation in large manufacturing facilities in South Africa during the first quarter of the year was associated with material shortages. Data by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) shows that, in the first quarter, large manufacturing facilities were operating at 74% of capacity. Of the 26% of under-utilisation, some 3.7% was attributed to a shortage of raw materials. The Stats SA data also shows that, for five out of ten manufacturing subsectors, raw material shortages were a larger constraint on capacity utilisation in the first quarter of this year than during the lockdown-hit second quarter of 2020. Producers of consumer goods, like clothing, plastic products and furniture, were among those facing greater input pressures compared to last year. Manufacturers of heavy machinery and metal products have the highest underutilisation owing to raw material shortages.
Davies calls for a New Deal-style recovery strategy that eschews austerity (Engineering News)
Former Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies is urging the South African government, in which he served as a Cabinet Minister from 2009 to 2019, to implement a New Deal-style recovery programme to address the economic damage arising from both Covid-19 and more than a decade of economic drift. Speaking during a recent virtual launch of his new book, Davies cautioned that a retreat to austerity could result in a long and politically destabilising period of stagnation. The recovery effort, he said, had to be of a scale commensurate with the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic to avoid widening inequality and a deepening of poverty.
French President Emmanuel Macron will on Friday undertake his first State Visit to South Africa, at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Ramaphosa will host President Macron for the State Visit at the Union Buildings. The two Heads of State will also pay a visit to the Vaccine Production Support Initiative for Africa at the University of Pretoria. “The visit aims to deepen bilateral cooperation within the framework of the strategic partnership between South Africa and France and within the framework of existing bilateral agreements,” the Presidency said.
The Presidents will also talk about trade and investment, including technical skills training in South Africa in collaboration with the private sector. South Africa is France’s largest trading partner in Africa, while France is South Africa’s second-largest trading partner in the European Union (EU). France is a major investor in South Africa and a significant development partner, according to the Presidency. French companies pledged R20 billion of investment into the country during the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference.
‘Beitbridge project among top deals of the year’ (Zimbabwe Independent)
The Global Trade Review, the global trade finance magazine, has named the US$296 million project to rebuild Beitbridge Border Post among its top 11 worldwide deals of the year. According to the magazine, the winning deals “feature a mix of trade, commodity, supply chain and export finance, as well as fintech-led transactions”. Zimborders, a consortium of local businesses, is leading the project to build a new border post. The project includes, as part of the deal, building new public amenities in Beitbridge town. The lead contractor is JSE-listed construction firm Raubex. The deal comprises US$194 million of a senior debt facility, plus US$21,9 of equity.
Kenya eyes more debt relief in economic revival strategy (Business Daily)
Kenya is keen on applying for an extension of the debt repayment relief from rich countries to free up cash to support economic recovery and bolster dollar reserves, the Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge said on Thursday. The Treasury in January secured deals to suspend debt service with the Paris Club of countries and other creditors, including China, covering the six months through June 2021. “On the question about Kenya interest in extension of debt relief, the answer, of course, is yes,” Dr Njroge said. “[This is important because] it will free up resource for other purposes, and in particular supporting the economic recovery programme.”
Maize exports to Kenya have run into problems again, this time being the shortage of aflatoxin testing kits. This comes at a time when East African Community (EAC) ministers are meeting in Arusha to deliberate on a number of trade issues, including the bloc’s negotiations with Europe. The maize problem is more pronounced at the Holili-Taveta border post where dozens of lorries from Tanzania are held up. In Namanga, the busiest post on the Tanzania-Kenya border, the flow of maize was not as much as anticipated, mainly due to falling demand in Kenya.
Farmers To Get Seedlings Worth Sh 12.75 Million (Kenya News Agency)
The Government has released a consignment of seeds, seedlings and other related inputs worth Sh12.75 million to be distributed to small scale farmers under Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Programme (SIVAP). This was a follow up to seeds and seedlings worth Sh7.8 million that were purchased and distributed to SIVAP counties during the March -May 2020 rains. “In order to address the need for food and nutrition security as well as income generation, the Ministry through the Project Coordinating Unit (PCU) has planned to set up demonstration plots for crops, livestock fodder production and kitchen gardens as a Covid- 19 response initiative,” Boga said.
The World Bank today approved three projects with a combined financing of $875 million from the International Development Association (IDA). “Approval of the three projects reflects the World Bank’s strong support to Tanzania,” said Hafez Ghanem, Regional Vice President for the World Bank. “The experiences of successfully transitioning economies have shown that strong human capital is fundamental for long-term growth and the development of an economically secure middle class,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director. “These projects prioritize such investments, which will enable households at all income levels in Tanzania to benefit from growth.”
‘Culture sector will gain from AfCFTA’ (The Southern Times)
Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will boost cultural and creative industries across visual arts, music, literature, cuisine, fashion and crafts. He also said: “Agenda 2063 builds upon past continental initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, which called for the mobilization of internal resources to fast-track the socio-economic development of Africa, the Abuja Treaty, which established the regional economic communities, and the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD. Therefore, the implementation of Agenda 2063 remains the main preoccupation for Africa. Shaping an Africa whose development is people-centred, harnessing the potential offered by African peoples, especially its women and youth, and caring for its children, to whom Africa’s future belongs, remains a priority above all priorities.”
Like other sectors of the economy, the Nigerian creative industry is gearing up for the opportunities that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers the member States. But one may ask, beyond the opportunities, are there inherent threats that lurk around the free trade regime? For one, it is believed that any member State that fails to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive within its country may lose rather than gain under the AfCFTA. In the Nigerian creative sector, for instance, the COVID-19 pandemic has, amongst other things, exposed the linear revenue streams of the entertainment space, forcing most of the talents to start thinking of new ways of generating incomes beyond the traditional offerings in the industry. The scalability of the Nigerian creative industry within the AfCFTA will depend on the existence of a robust framework that supports IP rights and provides digital security.
Africa’s large and fast-growing youth population is considered one of its greatest assets, with a central role to play in shaping the development of the continent. Yet, young Africans face numerous challenges that affect their livelihoods and make it difficult for them to thrive. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has what it takes to tackle these challenges by creating more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for young men and women. A new International Trade Centre (ITC) report, Opportunities for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Understanding the African Continental Free Trade Area, explores how youth stand to benefit from the creation of a single market and promotion of key sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture and services.
The AfCFTA Secretariat has established a Dispute Settlement Body. It will function as a full-court with the right mechanisms and structures in place to settle trade disputes. The dispute resolution forum is also expected to stir trust and boost confidence among member-states. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, has said his outfit has established a court that will serve as a dispute resolution forum. The move according to Wamkele Mene is hinged on inspiring confidence among traders, offer clarity and certainty of trade deals as they use the platform. “We know that there will be disputes, but the key thing is how to resolve those disputes. Right up until this agreement entered into force, when a trader wanted to access their legal rights the only forum, they had in Africa was the country where the issue took place. Otherwise, you had to go through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have that matter adjudicated and resolved.” He clarified, “We have now, for the first time, established a forum for resolution of trade investment, intellectual property rights through this protocol of dispute settlement. It will function like any other court of law. There is a dispute settlement body where a complainant will bring their dispute, and the body will consider the merits of the dispute and establish a panel that we call the court of first incidence.”
Despite the shadow insurgency has cast over the continent, Africa has every reason to celebrate following the strides it has made in empowering its people through the formation and the subsequent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This grand platform now allows Africans to trade within its borders, explore existing opportunities, review challenges and be able to fine-tune its own trading platform without outside interference. The secretary-general of the Accra-based AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, emphasised throughout these past 100 days – and before then – that effective implementation of the trade pact is the post-pandemic stimulus Africa needs. “There is not a single African country that can work alone to trade its way out of poverty,” he opined at an event in New York last month.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is committed to supporting member States to domesticate the regional industrial strategies and mainstream them coherently into national development plans and policies to create a platform for the development of regional value chains. This was said Thursday by the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa Acting Director, Sizo Mhlanga, in his welcoming remarks during a two-day Forum on the Promotion and Implementation of Regional and National Industrialization Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa held on Monday 27 and 28 May 2021. “As you are aware, economic growth in Southern Africa declined from 2.9 percent in 2017 to 1.9 per cent in 2018 and to only 1.4 per cent in 2019. Furthermore, the COVID-19-induced disruptions pushed the region into recession in 2020. The heavy regional dependence on primary commodities and the associated disruption in international supply chains has been the key structural weakness which undermined the growth process, exposing Southern Africa to the vagaries of the global commodity markets,” he said.
African countries strengthened their ability to recover funds held offshore, directly boosting national tax revenues, according to the latest Tax Transparency in Africa report released Wednesday. The trend signals continuing progress in the fight against illicit fund flows out of Africa, worth an estimated $50 billion each year. In spite of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 crisis, there have been advances in transparency. Mali joined the Global Forum, bringing to 32 the number of African members. Eswatini became a signatory to the Yaoundé Declaration on fighting illicit financial flows in Africa, joining 29 other African countries plus the African Union Commission. In 2020, African countries for the first time sent more exchange of information requests than they received. Fighting these illicit transactions is at the heart of the partnership between the African Development Bank and the Global Forum.
The flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Africa has shifted over the past decade, as new sources of investment have emerged and new sectors have expanded. While the COVID-19 crisis has clouded the outlook for future investment, capitalizing on the longer-term trends presents a compelling opportunity for African policy makers looking towards economic recovery. Low foreign investment has held back Africa’s participation in global value chains (GVCs). FDI is beneficial to the host countries because it helps to enhance firm productivity and integrate domestic firms into global markets, as illustrated by the rapid development of newly industrialized Asian economies in the last few decades. Unfortunately, both FDI inflows and GVC participation are low in the Africa region. Africa needs to attract more foreign investment, and ensure that it occurs in more employment-intensive, export-oriented or green sectors.
Inside Africa’s drive to boost medicines and vaccine manufacturing (World Health Organisation)
With COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Africa slowing down, the continent is working to boost its own manufacturing capacities for vaccines, medicines and vital health technologies. Mrs Biruk Abate Halallo, Health Attaché at Ethiopia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Offices in Geneva, is the driving force behind a resolution on the local manufacturing of medicines, medical technologies and vaccines that is being presented at the World Health Assembly, WHO’s leading decision-making body, this week.
An unexpected scene mid-pandemic: one of the world’s poorest countries burning scarce Covid vaccine that had expired. Malawi has destroyed almost 20,000 AstraZeneca doses. South Sudan is giving 72,000 back. The Democratic Republic of the Congo returned 1.3 million doses, worried it couldn’t use them before their June expiry. It’s made all the more worrying by the fact that Africa has administered the fewest Covid vaccines of any continent at 2.1 doses per 100 people, largely because there are so few shots available there. But a combination of short vaccine shelf life, lack of money and preparation, and vaccine hesitancy has left some African countries unable to get vaccines into arms before they expire.
Medical equipment company GE Healthcare and financial services company NSIA Banque Côte d’Ivoire have partnered with development finance institution the International Finance Corporation's (IFC’s) Africa Medical Equipment Facility to support healthcare providers in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda in accessing essential medical equipment. Through a multi-stakeholder approach, the IFC is partnering with medical equipment manufacturers and local financial institutions to support healthcare providers across East and West Africa to strengthen the healthcare industry
Fishers want Uhuru to lobby EAC for unrestricted fishing (The Star, Kenya)
A network of fishermen on Lake Victoria has asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to lobby for access to Ugandan and Tanzanian fishing territories. They told Uhuru to use his East African Community chairmanship to ask the neighbours that share the lake and allow for fishing everywhere as fish have no restricted movement. Lake Victoria Beach Management Unit Network national chair Tom Guda said border insecurity, harassment and arrests of Kenyan fishers should also be addressed. “With harmonised fisheries laws, there should not be any restrictions to East African fishers on any part of the lake,” he said.
Agenda achiever (Chinadaily)
Intra-African trade reaching a level of 50 percent and hopefully above that, depends on Africa’s capacity to accelerate regional value chains and the manner and pace in which Africa implements the agreement. This also resonates with bringing to fruition the “Made in Africa” initiative. Such enhanced trade could add at least 4.5 percent to the continent’s GDP. Furthermore, by stimulating manufacturing and industrial capacity to enable trade in goods and products produced in Africa, local industries have the potential to double their production to $1 trillion in a decade with much of that coming from import-substitution manufacturing in order to meet increasing local demand.
The Goods Barometer is a composite leading indicator for world trade, providing real-time information on the trajectory of merchandise trade relative to recent trends. The barometer’s current reading of 109.7 is nearly 10 points above the baseline value of 100 for the index and up 21.6 points year-on-year, reflecting both the strength of the current recovery and the depth of the COVID-19 shock last year. In the latest month, all of the barometer’s component indices were above trend and rising, highlighting the broad-based nature of the recovery and signalling an accelerating pace of trade expansion.
Eight months ago, South Africa and India proposed a trade-related waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. Calling for a temporary suspension of intellectual property protections on COVID-19 products and technologies, it was a bold move to address global inequality of access. “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable price to meet global demand,” said the proposal, submitted to the World Trade Organization Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). As of 17 May, 62 countries had signed on as co-sponsors, including the 35 members of the WTO’s Least Developed Countries Group.
The WCO Secretariat Note on the cross-border movement of vaccines enhanced with further guidance and good practices (World Customs Organisation)
The World Customs Organization (WCO) published the 2nd edition of the Secretariat Note on the Role of Customs in facilitating and securing the cross-border movement of situationally critical medicines and vaccines that enhances the inaugural version launched on 25 February 2021. WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya stated, “How to achieve equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is critical, and Customs administrations around the world should support global efforts by not only facilitating the cross-border movement of the vaccines themselves, but also by speeding up and facilitating the Customs clearance of the raw materials and components used in the vaccine manufacturing process.” He added that “This will greatly contribute to the efforts to scale up vaccine manufacturing and the 2nd edition of the Secretariat Note highlights the critical role Customs”.
Prashant Yadav, an expert on healthcare supply chains, says the world is too dependent on India for vaccines. The country, which stopped exporting COVID-19 vaccines in April as it deals with a devastating second wave of the virus, cannot meet the needs of its own vaccination program, let alone its global commitments, Yadav wrote in a recent piece. “Dependency on global structures alone for manufacturing and purchasing is useful but not always sufficient and we need, perhaps, multiple lanes in how we run the supply chains for health products,” Yadav said in a session on the future of technology in low- and middle-income countries.
India’s proposal for exempting low-income fishers from subsidy cuts at WTO gaining weight (The Hindu BuisnessLine)
India’s proposal of exempting low-income fishers from developing countries operating in territorial waters from a subsidy ban is gaining weight with several WTO members supporting its inclusion in the draft agreement floated by the chair of the negotiating committee.” What is, however, worrying for India is the indication that the exemption may come with a timeline and may be withdrawn after the initial years,” an official source told BusinessLine. As per the draft text on curbing fisheries subsidies circulated by the chair of the negotiations Santiago Will, the prohibition on fisheries subsidies shall not apply to subsidies granted or maintained by developing country members, including least-developed countries, for low income, resource-poor or livelihood fishing or fishing related activities within 12 nautical miles measured from the baselines for a period of about 2 years from the date of entry into force of this instrument.