tralac Daily News

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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National

Report shows tax shrunk the sugar industry, says association (Engineering News)

A report, commissioned by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) at the request of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, showed that, by 2019, the sugar tax had resulted in the sugar sector losing 9 154 jobs – almost 10% of its workforce. Further, the tax resulted in a R1.19-billion decline in the industry’s gross value-added contribution to the economy, industry body the South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) says. The ‘Economic Impact of the Health Promotion Levy on the Sugar Market Industry’ report shows that 16 621 jobs were lost overall owing to the Health Promotion Levy, or sugar tax, which came into effect on April 1, 2018. Further, the tax also led to a R653-million decline in investment in the industry and related economy.

As a result of these losses, the sugar industry’s total contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product declined by a cumulative R2.05-billion in 2019. Prior to the implementation of the sugar tax, sugarcane growers supported 94 621 direct, indirect and induced jobs in 2017, which accounted for 11.2% of all South African agricultural workers.

Construction of R8 Billion Tshwane Automotive SEZ Progressing Well – October (the dtic)

The Chairperson of the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Development (TASEZ) Board, Mr Lionel October, has expressed his satisfaction with progress made with the construction of the almost R8 billion project. He expressed his satisfaction during his visit to the construction site with a team of officials from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) and the Gauteng government. “Significant ground has been covered since the laying out of the bulk infrastructure and the official commencement of the factory spaces. This multi-billion rand infrastructure project, which is jointly funded by all three spheres of government, has made impressive progress despite the COVID-related lockdown since it was unveiled by the President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2019,” said October.

KRA Rolling Out eFuels Project (CIO East Africa)

The reliance on manual certificates, manual processing, and manual tasks is now being eradicated by eFuels project. “In order to enhance the system and operational efficiency, the authority intends to deploy a ‘transporter booking’ module in Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS). The module will enable all petroleum transporters book in advance their trucks for entry and loading at oil installations through RECTS,” read part of the notice to the transporters. Oil transporters will have to book in advance their trucks for entry and loading at oil installations as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) starts rolling out the eFuels Project under the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) this month.

Burundi, Kenya business lobbies sign deal for trade and investments (Business Daily)

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) has signed a deal with its Burundi counterparts that will increase trade and investments between the two countries. The deal will see Kenyan traders take part in the annual Burundi trade fair and spur investments in sectors including energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and logistics. KNCCI President Richard Ngatia said the agreement will ease access for traders, banking on the vast population that offer huge market opportunities. Exports to the landlocked nation marginally grew to Sh6.73 billion in 2019 from Sh6.59 billion in 2015, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

“The private sector is the key to driving the growth that will deliver jobs, transform labour markets and open up opportunity. Kenya has the companies that can invest in and trade with Burundi to do just this,” Mr Ngatia said. The deal will help the local private sector to increase and diversify their presence in Burundi – a nation that has not seen significant investments relative to Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.

Debt relief deal cuts costs by 35pc in three months (Business Daily)

Kenya’s expenditure on servicing external loans in the third quarter through March 2021 fell 34.62 percent on the back of a deal with rich creditor countries to defer loan payments initially for six months. The National Treasury data shows payment to foreign creditors for the quarter amounted to Sh42.18 billion compared with Sh64.51 billion in a similar period last year. The Sh22.33 billion drop helped free up cash for economic recovery at a time the Treasury was facing shortfalls in revenue largely due to reduced earnings by companies and households which also hit growth in consumption. The data shows bilateral debt costs dropped Sh32.75 billion, or 90.49 per cent, in the January-March 2021 period to Sh3.44 billion on the deal that the Treasury struck with bilateral creditors, including China, covering the six months through June 2021.

Milk import gulps N619.5bn yearly (Daily Trust)

Milk importation into Nigeria gulps N619.5 billion (about $1.5bn) years due to the country’s non self-sufficiency in milk production. Speaking during the a webinar on Nigerian Dairy Industry organised by the Policy Centre of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to mark the World Milk Day, 2021, a representative of the Action Aids Nigeria, Mr. Azubike Nwokoye, said the daily average milk yield of a cattle in Nigeria is one to two litres unlike in developed countries with almost 20 litres. Nwokoye called for the transformation of the livestock industry in Nigeria to address the current national security challenges.

“The major policy thrust of the ACCI-Policy brief on the dairy sub-sector are as follows: Continuation and expansion of the backward integration currently being supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Private-sector-driven implementation of the National livestock transformation plan, Creation of the private sector driven ranching system, Establishment of a National Dairy Board, Training and capacity building of pastoralists and Deployment of modern technology to every segment of the dairy business.”

Morocco Seeks New Investment to Bolster Pan-Africanism (Morocco World News)

A report by Morocco’s Agency for Development of Investment and Export (AMDIE) and Mazars has estimated Morocco’s investments in Africa at around $4 billion. The report, titled “Analysis of investment in Africa in 2020,” was released on the African commemoration day last Tuesday and highlighted Morocco’s stellar performance as a leading investor in the continent. With nearly $4 billion invested in the last four years in over 30 African countries, Morocco has enriched its portfolio and demonstrated its interest in the prospects of development in Africa.

South Sudan highly food insecure despite 2020 increase in cereal production (CGTN Africa)

Cereal production in South Sudan in 2020 rose by seven percent over 2019 levels because of favourable rains, however cereals remained far below average production levels, a new United Nations report on food security finds. A high cereal deficit expected for 2021 due to the impact of prolonged conflict and floods is leaving millions of South Sudanese extremely food insecure, according to the Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The marginal growth will cover the needs of only a third of the population, leaving most people reliant on humanitarian food assistance and imports of essential grains, at prices beyond the reach of ordinary South Sudanese. The alarmingly high deficit in 2021 cereal production, estimated at 465,600 tons, keeps food insecurity at an all-time high. South Sudan needs 1.3 million metric tons of cereal a year to feed its 12.2 million people.

Egypt will be economic gateway to MEA region: Thai Ambassador (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt, with its capabilities provided by the Suez Canal as well as its capabilities in providing reliable logistical services, will eventually become a gateway to the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. The country’s strategic location connecting Africa to Europe and the Middle East, and its plan to further expand transportation to neighbouring countries, makes it internationally important, according to Puttaporn Ewtoksan, Thailand’s Ambassador to Egypt. Ewtoksan added that Egypt’s free trade agreements with many countries and its membership of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and COMESA, among others, has drawn interest from the international community, including Thailand, to engage more with Egypt.

Tunisia foreign trade volumes down in April 2021 (INS) (TAP)

Tunisia’s foreign trade volumes saw a decline in April. Exports and imports in volume have dropped by 4.2% and 2.5%, respectively, after posting sharp increases in March, according to the latest note of the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on “Foreign Trade at constant prices base 2015 - April 2021”, published Wednesday. As a result, and with a sharper decline in export volume than in import, the coverage rate loses a point and a half, to settle at 80.9% in April. Prices continue to rise, with a slightly more sustained pace for imports (+2.9%) than for exports (+2.5%).


Africa

AfCFTA: Nigeria, others to discuss $400bn income (New Telegraph)

Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State General Meeting (CHOGM) Business forum in Rwanda this month, African countries, including Nigeria, are expected to chart the way forward on the challenges posing risk to the continent’s $400 billion real income in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The CHOGM Business Forum is necessary as it will provide the platform and avenue for member-state in AfCFTA to assess the bottlenecks that could hinder the realisation of $400 billion income that is expected from the continent’s trade pact in the coming years. The renowned lawyer explained that AfCFTA, which started in 2015 and concluded in 2019, had seen in 2020 about 36 countries signed, ratified and key into the agreement and only one non-committal country.

Role of preferential trade agreements in women’s economic empowerment (The Herald)

Looking at women economic empowerment, it is always important to acknowledge that women are not a homogeneous group within societies and they play different roles within a given economy. Trade policies tend to have varying impacts on women due to the fact that women are not a homogeneous group, and the economy is not gender neutral. Preferential trade agreements are now drawn through a gender lens to ensure that vulnerable groups such as women and MSMEs can leverage on the provisions of PTAs. The realisation of the impact on international trade on economic growth processes and gender equality has demanded gender specific – assessments of the said impact before the operalisation of the trade agreements.

Business leaders bet on improved EAC relations (The Standard)

Business leaders are optimistic of good returns in the next one year following improving relations in the East African Community (EAC), a new report by the Central Bank of Kenya shows. The May survey conducted among Chief Executive Officers of 230 private sector firms comprising members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and Kenya Private Sector Association (KEPSA) anticipate an increase in exports following improved relations in the East African countries. In May, Kenya and Tanzania turned over a new page when the two neighbours committed to enhancing bilateral ties, signaling an end to a turbulent chapter marked with trade barriers and strife at the borders.

EAC calls for increased regional coordination in ecosystem conservation and management (EAC)

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo has called on Partner States to increase regional coordination in response to the increasing problems of the Ecosystems. “We are all aware of the challenges the region is facing including those related to the management of natural resources and the environment” He disclosed that in response to the increasing challenges to the management of ecosystems, Article 114 of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community, the EAC Partner States have amongst other things, agreed to adopt common policies and exchange of information on the development, conservation and management of natural resources.

Regional Ministers Urge Member States to Scale Up Infrastructure Programmes (COMESA)

Ministers of infrastructure have called on regional States to scale up programmes to upgrade and maintain infrastructure and facilities, adopt and implement COMESA transit instruments to improve transport corridors’ efficiency. In their 12th joint meeting conducted virtually, today, June 2, 2021, the ministers responsible for transport, energy and Information, Communication Technology (ICT) acknowledged the huge infrastructure efficiency gap across the region as a pressing policy priority. Estimates by the African Development Bank, (2018) places the annual infrastructure funding gap at between $68 billion and $108 billion across the continent.

In their communique, the Ministers invited Member States to take up the financing, technical assistance, and capacity building opportunities available under the Regional Infrastructure Finance Facility (RIFF) of the World Bank and other development partners to help address the gap. The RIIF is one of the latest major infrastructure financing facility signed in August last year aimed at expanding long-term finance to private firms in selected infrastructure sectors in Eastern and Southern Africa. It has two components: US$ 10 million grant to COMESA to provide technical assistance and capacity building to member states, with special focus on private sector. The second is US$415 million credit to Trade and Development Bank for infrastructure projects covering renewable energy, ICT and transport and technical assistance facility.

AFRAA publishes 2020 Africa air transport report (Logistics Update)

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has released the 2020 Africa air transport report which gives an in-depth analysis of Africa’s air transport industry performance for 2020 covering: financial performance, passenger and cargo traffic evolution, airport ranking, intra Africa connectivity and openness. Intra Africa connectivity and openness: Among the 54 countries in the African continent, 13 have direct flights to more than 20 African countries. Ethiopia and Kenya lead with 30 direct flights and more to other countries within Africa. However, intra-African connectivity remains low. African airlines should take the opportunity to develop their Intra-African Network, especially in this period where the EU has limited travels to Europe.

Airlines reveal strategies to push recovery (The East African)

Aviation industry players want African states to adopt what they term a co-ordinated approach to a sustainable recovery of the industry. At the 9th Aviation Stakeholders’ Convention held in Ethiopia, participants asked airlines to re-examine their operations with a view to winning and retaining support from financial institutions. In a joint statement, the African Airlines Association, International Air Transport Association, and Airport Council International Africa urged stakeholders to look into high taxes, fees and charges that impact sustainability of air travel, support implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and the Single African Air Transport Market to drive business growth in Africa. “African States are encouraged to consider steps towards lifting prohibitive travel restrictions in the form of quarantine measures for fully vaccinated and negatively tested travellers. In the short term, quarantines may be applicable only to passengers coming from those areas with a very high incidence of the virus, to be regularly reviewed in co-ordination with health authorities,” read part of the statement.

Africa must answer its own ‘Kissinger question’, say EU diplomats (EURACTIV)

Africa’s version of the ‘Kissinger question’, which originally referred to who should be the United States’ first contact in Europe, is one of the issues that remain open as the EU and African leaders seek to develop a so called ‘strategic partnership’. “African leaders need to work out what they want from Europe,” Portugal’s EU ambassador, Jose Fernando Costa Perreira, said at a recent event organised by EURACTIV on EU-Africa relations. “We would like to consider that the African Union is the mirror image of the EU, but the reality is that it is not,” Costa Perreira said. The Addis Ababa–based African Union, he added, “has not been able to reach its zenith” and this “raises the problem of who should be our interlocutors.”

Despite several recent false starts on attempts to deepen political and economic relations between the two continents, “this time we are convinced that there is real commitment,” said Tebatso Belasang, deputy head of Botswana’s EU mission in Brussels. “Africa needs Europe and Europe needs Africa,” she said, adding that that “partnership is more important to us today because of the debilitating effects of COVID”.

Biden administration aims to ramp up climate change funding for Africa (pv magazine)

A senior adviser to the U.S. government’s Power Africa program has told a webinar the Biden administration hopes to win the backing of Congress to double the volume of finance awarded annually to developing countries. Michael Jordan, senior adviser to the Power Africa initiative run by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said the president intends to triple its climate change-related adaptation finance by 2024. Jordan was speaking as a panelist during a webinar held by London-based continental business group Invest Africa to debate donor financing to the African energy sector. The event was held on Africa Day – May 25 – which marks the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. The Power Africa scheme is supporting African utilities in developing new business models, particularly in the low-margin markets of sub-Saharan Africa, Jordan told the webinar, and is also exploring the productive use of solar power in agriculture and other sectors. Agrivoltaics is a good example of how innovation can drive down African power costs, the USAID adviser said.

Can legal cannabis save Africa’s struggling farm sector? (Fortune)

So it’s not surprising that Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, has been urging his nation’s farmers to abandon tobacco in favor of other crops. What’s more surprising is one of Chewkra’s leading alternatives: cannabis. “Clearly, we need to diversify and grow other crops like cannabis, which was legalized last year for industrial and medicinal use,” he said in a speech last month. Malawi has also recently altered its laws to allow for investment in cannabis cultivation, and has issued licenses to 35 companies allowing them to grow the plant.


Global

Holding Up a Mirror to the World Trade Organization: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic (Observer Research Foundation)

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has thrown several aspects of global governance under challenge. The World Health Organization (WHO), as the nodal organisation mandated to deal with public health issues, has understandably attracted the greatest attention in the context of the pandemic, and has come under fire for a multitude of sins of both omission and commission. But what of other cognate international institutions that govern the global political economy and thereby facilitate or hamper access to lifesaving medical equipment and drugs, provide a system of enforceable rules to encourage vaccine development and distribution, or ensure that populations already beleaguered by a potentially lethal contagion do not become casualties of new scarcities of essential goods and services?

Getting life-changing technologies to the poor (UNCTAD)

“The downside of technological revolutions is that the deployment phase tends to be uneven,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “Not everyone gets immediate access to the benefits of progress, such as access to electricity, life-saving vaccines or clean water.” UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021 warns that uneven access can hamper technology’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and worsen global inequalities, fuelling public discontent. And with the advent of frontier technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, biotechnology and nanotechnology, such risks have increased, according to the report.

Robots and Export Quality (World Bank)

Robots are rapidly becoming a key part of manufacturing in developed and emerging economies. This paper examines a new channel for how automation can affect international trade: quality upgrading. Automation can reduce production errors, particularly of repetitive processes, leading to higher quality products. The effects of robot use on export quality are estimated, by combining cross-country and cross-industry data on industrial robots with detailed Harmonized System 10-digit trade data. Robot diffusion in (preexisting) foreign customers is used as an instrumental variable to predict robot adoption in the home country-industry. The findings show that robot diffusion leads to increases in the quality of exported products.

Towards a “blue” recovery: what does the blue economy offer to emerging markets? (Oxford Business Group)

Around the world, emerging nations with significant maritime resources are advancing plans to develop their respective blue economies, with a view to boosting short-term recoveries from the coronavirus pandemic as well as longer-term economic diversification. While the concept of the blue economy has been around for some time, it has attracted increasing attention in recent months. In essence, the blue economy concerns the sustainable management of ocean resources. A blanket term, it encompasses fields ranging from fisheries, to waste management and pollution, as well as maritime transport, tourism and renewable energy. As well as the potential for economic recovery, blue economy principles are driving an exciting range of innovative projects across a number of fields.