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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National

South Africa Parliament Calls for Comments on Fair Use (infojustice)

South Africa Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has invited a further round of public comments on the Copyright Amendment Bill provisions to introduce fair use and expand limitations and exceptions for libraries, education and other public interest uses. The Committee invites submissions with reference on the expansions on the Bill’s provisions fair use and for other purposes in Sections 12 and 19. It also invites comments on additional sections of the Bill that may implicate the “alignment” of the Bill with the provisions of several international treaties. All of these provisions were examined in a recent Joint Academic Opinion released to the public last month. That Joint Opinion concluded that the current Act lacks adequate limitations for purposes to free expression, access to information, education, and to further language and disability rights.

National Assembly approves Appropriation Bill (SAnews)

The National Assembly adopted the Special Appropriation Bill and Appropriation Bill during its hybrid plenary sitting on Friday. The Appropriation Bill officially allocates money from the National Revenue Fund (NRF) to provide for requirements of the state for the 2021/22 financial year, as required by Section 213 of the Constitution and section 26 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The national budget of R1.3 trillion for the 2021/22 financial year was tabled on 24 February 2021 by the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni together with the Bill and referred to the Standing Committee on Appropriation for consideration.

The busiest air travel routes in South Africa – before and after Covid (BusinessTech)

The latest 2020 Africa air transport report from the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) shows how air routes in South Africa and its neighbouring nations were decimated during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. While air travel is still largely restricted in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, travel – particularly for business – has slowly normalised. However, the damage caused by the pandemic has made its mark as recorded by the AFRAA. The domestic market in Southern Africa remained dominant, increasing from 66% of all traffic before the Covid outbreak, to 77% in the last quarter of 2020. On the other end, intra-African traffic reduced, as well as traffic outside the continent.

KAM insists 30pc tariff to drive manufacturers out of business (The East African)

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers is opposed to the government’s decision to back a proposal to have a maximum 30 percent common external tariff (CET) rate instead of 35 percent. KAM argues that the current tariff of 25 percent CET as well as the proposed 30 percent rate undermine the country’s industrialisation efforts by favouring foreign imports over locally manufactured goods. The lower CET rate, they argue, could result in the country importing goods that could otherwise be manufactured locally, defeating the purpose of the “Buy Kenya, Jenga Kenya” initiative.

Eswatini highlights considerable strides in renewable energy development (Engineering News)

Eswatini has added two more solar photovoltaic (PV) plants to its sustainable energy portfolio, as another of its projects – the Lavumisa 10 MW solar PV plant – nears completion. In a statement, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy acclaimed that eSwatini had made considerable strides in establishing itself as a leader in the roll-out of sustainable energy projects while becoming less dependent on neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa for electricity. Minister Peter Bhembe said the Lavumisa solar plant, which is at completion stage, is the first solar PV plant to be owned and operated by the Eswatini Electricity Company and the first utility-scale solar PV plant in the country.

Uganda’s Economy Recovering from COVID-19 Impact Amid Uncertainties (World Bank)

The Ugandan economy is emerging from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) health pandemic, but prospects for growth are undermined by increasing pressure on its natural resources, according to the latest World Bank economic analysis for the country. The 17th Uganda Economic Update (UEU), From Crisis to Green Resilient Growth: Investing in Sustainable Land Management and Climate-Smart Agriculture, says that the COVID-19 shock caused a sharp contraction of the economy to its slowest pace in three decades. Household incomes fell when firms closed and jobs were lost, particularly in the urban informal sector. The country’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by 1.1 percent in 2020, and is estimated to have recovered to 3.3 percent during the 2021 fiscal year.

What would it take for mining sector to adopt new technology? (The New Times)

According to Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) over 50 per cent of the minerals is lost due to poor mining techniques. This, according to Francis Gatare, the CEO of the Board, has an effect on mining productivity for both mining operators and the country’s economy. If not addressed, poor mining techniques could derail efforts to generate $1.5B in annual revenues from the mining sector by 2024. Gatare said that to boost the revenues and meet the set targets more investments in exploration and modern mining techniques.

Malawi Ministry of trade and ATPC open workshops to review and validate its AfCFTA national strategy (UNECA)

The Ministry of Trade in collaboration with the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), a unit of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), commenced the review and validation of the country’s national implementation strategy of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) today in Blantyre. Speaking at the event, the Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division at the ECA, Stephen Karingi, appealed to the Malawian government to create a conducive environment for the private sector, as the body to implement the strategy, to thrive by investing heavily in execution and implementation of the strategy. Mr. Karingi, who was represented by Batanai Chikwene, Management Officer said: “The government will have to provide an environment in which exporters and importers can do business and set up firms that can compete globally. The importance of mutually reinforcing fiscal, monetary, industrial and trade and trade promotion policies cannot be overemphasized.”

Malawi tax measures to spur trade (The Southern Times)

Malawi has unveiled plans to roll out tax measures that will facilitate greater regional integration and boost trade and economic growth. Among these is a duty-free week for imports not exceeding US$3,000. In the 2021/2022 National Budget presentation in Parliament, Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said the duty-free week was designed to primarily support SMEs. Minister Mlusu said Malawi would also increase the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime threshold from US$2,000 to US$3,000, also to bolster small businesses. “This trade arrangement will allow cross border traders to enjoy duty-free status when they import goods originating from other member states in the COMESA region,” he said. The initiatives follow Malawi’s ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Treaty in January 2021.

Analysts Seek Measures to Boost Local Production, Exports (THISDAYLIVE)

Analysts yesterday called on the federal government to address structural factors, which have jacked up the cost of production of goods, thereby encouraging importation over local production. The advice came on the heels of the country’s N3.94 trillion trade deficit in goods in its external merchandise trade for the first quarter of the year, following higher level of imports over exports. However, total trade increased to N9.76 trillion during the review period, representing 6.99 per cent rise over the N9.12 trillion recorded in Q4 2020. The analysts in separate interviews with THISDAY urged the federal government to also narrow the trade imbalance by making exports more attractive than imports, adding that “though devaluation becomes a tool in achieving this.”

NEXIM Rolls Out N500bn For Non-Oil Export (Economic Confidential)

The Nigeria Import Export Bank (NEXIM) is implementing N500 billion Non-oil Export Stimulation Facility and N100 billion Export Development Fund at single digit interest rate to support the production and export of goods and services. Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, disclosed this in Kaduna at the weekend during the bank’s special day at the 42nd Kaduna International Trade Fair. Bello said the facility, which was being implemented in collaboration Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is aimed diversifying the economy from crude oil, which currently accounts for less than 10 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestics Product (GDP).

FG: AfCTFA to Boost Africa’s Exports by $560bn (THISDAY Newspapers)

When fully operational, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will boost exports in the continent by at least $560 billion, the federal government has said. Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on the Public Sector and Secretary, National Action Committee on (AfCFTA-NG), Mr Francis Anatogu, stated this during the first African Local Content Roundtable Conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. According to him, benefits of the AfCFTA include lifting 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty; boosting income of nearly 68 million others who live on less than $5.60 a day; boosting Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035, a gain of seven per cent and adding $76 billion to the income to the rest of the world. “In addition , the AfCFTA will see the increase in Africa’s exports by $560 billion, mostly in manufacturing, spur the larger wage gain for women to 10.5 per cent as opposed to men’s 9.9 per cent as well as boost wages for both skilled and unskilled workers,” the presidential aide said.

Nigeria: A Bridge To Infrastructure (Global Finance)

An infrastructure-investment deficit has become, perhaps, the most significant constraint to sustainable economic growth in Nigeria and long-term private capital remains in short supply. Power generation and distribution, roads, highways, rail lines, oil refineries, gas pipelines and other critical structures need urgent intervention. No one knows precisely how much money Nigeria needs to remediate its infrastructure. Moody’s Investors Service estimates that it would take approximately $3 trillion over the next 30 years, or a capital expenditure (capex) of $100 billion annually. Such a figure is more than 15 times the national government’s 2020 budget for capex.

Togo inaugurates its first integrated industrial platform (Togo First)

On Sunday, June 6th, Faure Gnassingbé, the Togolese President, inaugurated the country’s first industrial platform, PIA. The ceremony took place less than a year after construction work started. Developed over nearly 400 hectares, in Adetikopé (15 km north of Lomé), the platform materializes a new development vision: “to produce more locally, and be more competitive in international markets.” The project comes as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is in the pipeline; it was carried out by Arise IIP (under a partnership based on Gabon’s Nkok model). According to its promoters, the PIA aims to create high added value chains (especially in the textile sector), supply raw materials, manufacture on-site, and export finished products. The site includes an industrial zone, a park that can accommodate 12,500 containers, a storage platform for cotton and other agricultural commodities, a truck terminal, and an area of 200,000 m2 dedicated to other logistics activities.

Akufo-Addo launches Ghana’s first national security strategy document (Modern Ghana)

President Nana Akufo-Addo has launched Ghana’s first National Security Strategy Document and commissioned the new National Security Ministry building in Accra. Speaking at the ceremony, Nana Akufo-Addo said the document will serve as the overarching guide for Ghana’s security agencies and their operations. “A prerequisite for the sustainable development of the nation is a secure environment that guarantees the safety of the people, and the preservation of its territorial integrity. It is only when these things are assured that citizens can live peacefully and strive to improve constantly the quality of their lives,” the President said.


Africa

East African Customs administrations confirmed their advancement together under the WCO/JICA Joint Project (World Customs Organization)

Five (5) Customs administrations in East Africa, namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, organized its Regional Joint Coordinating Committee (RJCC) meeting of the “Project on Capacity Development for Trade Facilitation and Border Control in East Africa (TF & BC Project)” virtually on 26 May 2021. This Project is implemented by the five Customs administrations with the support jointly extended by the WCO and JICA. With the aims at improving efficiency of border procedures and enhancing border control, the five Customs administrations have made continuous collaborative efforts over the last 3.5 years under the Project on (1) effective One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) operation, and (2) Customs capacity building on three areas, namely (i) risk management (RM), (ii) post clearance audit (PCA), and (iii) Program Global Shield (PGS). The RJCC meeting was organized to confirm the achievement made through the Project particularly on Customs capacity building component, which is to be completed in June 2021.

Congolese welcomed aboard underfunded EAC with packed tray (The East African)

The much-awaited entry of the Democratic Republic Congo into the East African Community features among items that will require additional funding yet allocation has not been adequately provided for in the 2021/22 budget. The East African Legislative Assembly is now worried that the EAC 2021/22 financial year budget tabled in the House is far below what is needed to accomplish the Community’s agenda. “The Financial Administration Committee which is a sub-committee to the Council has really reduced the budget from $97m to $90m, which is a big challenge to the community,” said Namara. “Remember we are bringing DR Congo and there is a budget for fast-tracking entry. We are creating new institutions and yet we are reducing the budget. It cannot work,” said Mr Namara.

Why EAC needs to embrace tech to curb revenue slump (The Citizen)

With only less than a week before Finance ministers across member states of the East African Community (EAC) present their countries’ budgets for the financial year 2021/22, pundits will be looking up to how they seek to advance the use of technology to effectively collect public revenues. This is because the budget comes against a backdrop of shortfalls in revenue collections, precipitated primarily by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Aviation Sector Urged to Develop Post-Covid Recovery Plans (COMESA)

Said the Ministers: “Aviation has immense potential to contribute to economic growth and development through opening markets, facilitating trade and enabling African firms to link into global supply chains.” Ministers responsible for transport, energy and Information, Communication Technology (ICT) have called for post COVID-19 recovery plans to ensure the survival of the aviation industry. The recovery plan is meant to deal with the aviation sector’s post pandemic challenges based on the African and international initiatives. During their 12th meeting on June 2, 2021, the Ministers specifically called for collaborations among African airlines and strategic partnerships with global counterparts. Further, they urged Member States to maintain a united front against the pandemic, notably on the potential imposition of travel certificates by some parties in line with African common position, as well as harmonizing the cost of COVID 19 tests and mutual recognition of certificates.

AfDB sets up $10bn to help nations service their debt (Eyewitness News)

The African Development Bank has set up a $10 billion fund to ensure nations on the continent can service their debt and focus on a post-pandemic recovery. The bank’s vice president briefed the media on Monday on the upcoming annual meetings, all of which will focus on getting back on track in a post-COVID world. Khaled Sherif said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 43 of Africa’s 54 countries saw a decline in revenues. Those dependent on oil revenue were especially badly hit. He said the African Development Bank set up a crisis relief fund to help countries cope: “$10 billion and $5.2 billion was disbursed for budget support, to ensure we prevent credit downgrades.”

Energy investment can help Africa boom post-pandemic (EconoTimes)

The case for investing in the Africa is stronger than ever, and not just in spite of the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, but because of it. Due to its increasing regional integration, improving relative regional risk profiles, and strong economic fundamentals, Africa will remain a competitive investment destination for decades to come. Specifically, the energy sector will be crucial for the continent’s post-pandemic economic recovery and will be one of the most attractive investment sectors in 2021 and years to come. Stakeholders ranging from the African Development Bank to large-scale private funds recognize the need for cost-efficient industrial energy access as well as universal household electricity. To expand the impact of their investments in the energy sector, development finance institutions (DFIs) and private investors should pay more attention to empowering African-led indigenous energy firms by adjusting their risk analyses and to closing gaps for off-grid solar project financing.

Members of parliament call for sensitisation on free movement (The Guardian Nigeria)

The delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Guinea has recommended to Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the need to sensitise citizens of the community on their rights and duties in the area of free movement. Presenting the report during the plenary sitting of the Community Parliament, Alpha Souleymane Bah, Leader of Delegation, on behalf of five other members, told the West African Legislative Assembly that: “One of the factors hindering free movement is that citizens of the Community are ignorant of their rights and duties in the area of free movement. Added to this is the non-harmonisation of administrative and travel documents,” he said. Hon. Bah was speaking on the implementation of the ECOWAS Texts, item number 2, “Protocol on the Free Movement of People and Goods.”

SADC grain prices likely to fall (The Southern Times)

The start of the harvest season in the SADC region is likely to result in a drop of grain prices as most countries expect average to above average yields this year. This is contained in an analysis released this week by the Famine Early Warning System Network. Most countries received normal to above normal rains in the 2020-2021 summer cropping season which increased prospects for good harvests, especially maize, which is a staple to the majority in the region. According to FEWSNET, household access to cash income is expected to improve between May and August as households across most parts of the region where production improved, improved engagement in harvesting labour.

SADC to support medical value chains (The Herald)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has moved in to scale up private sector participation in the regional pharmaceutical and medical value chains through enhancement of the Support to Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors (SIPS) joint action. The SIPS is a SADC initiative to facilitate expansion of regional value chains and promoting dialogue between the private and public sectors. It is implemented in all SADC member States, targeting the private sector, and in particular but not limited to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), non-state actors or intermediary organisations and clusters involved in the selected value chains.

Vaccine manufacturing ecosystems (The New Times)

In the discussion on Africa’s need and capacity to manufacture vaccines, it is imperative to look at the broader requirements needed to build and sustain such an important undertaking. Expanding vaccine manufacturing in Africa is a complex undertaking, requiring several factors to align. Critically, the nascent industry needs widescale collaboration among a broad range of stakeholders, including pan-African leadership organisations, regional economic governments, national governments, private-sector players, and global-health actors.

An ecological approach to designing economic sectors is based on ecosystems. An ecosystem is defined as a dynamically stable network of interconnected firms and institutions within bounded geographical space. By taking such a systems approach means that focus is given on both the individual components of the system as well as on the sum of the parts and this is in fact believed to yield maximum results when building economic sectors and visions.

Finally, the general business and market environment needs to be supportive of the ecosystem. Tax systems that are simple and attractive together with investment support schemes are fundamental building blocks. General infrastructure which is sector-supportive, such as electricity, water purification, telecommunications, data centres or air connectivity, will also be important. Access to international markets aided by double taxation agreements is seen as having an important role in developing a sustainable and attractive ecosystem.

Monetary Meld: A currency union encompassing all of West Africa promises benefits but faces a multitude of obstacles (IMF F&D)

During the COVID-19 pandemic advanced economies have tapped their central banks for extensive liquidity support to their economies and to stave off an even deeper global economic crisis. African countries called for a $100 billion stimulus to respond to the pandemic but lacked the tools to finance such an injection of capital. Would strong regional central banks or even a continental central bank have helped? The regional experience of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gives a glimpse of what is needed to accomplish monetary integration. But it also highlights the limits of such an approach, the difficulties the continent faces, and some fundamental issues that must be resolved to promote resilience in the region and foster alternative avenues to regional integration.

Towards a West Africa Seed Trade Association (News Ghana)

Major seed businesses in West Africa have met to explore the possibility of setting up a West Africa Seed Trade Association (WASTA) to help tackle some of the intractable challenges facing the seed industry in the region. “There is a window for the private sector to play a role in unleashing the agriculture sector in West Africa,” said Prof. Abdulai Jalloh, CORAF’s Director of Research and Innovation, at the opening ceremony of the online event. Experts agree that without quality seeds, the agriculture system would struggle. Many actors are involved in the sector, including private businesses. Many argue that few actors have the financial resources, such as private seed businesses, to produce and market seeds. “Providing quality seeds to farmers and producers in West Africa is so big a challenge that cannot be left in the hands of governments alone. The private sector must be involved,” argued the CORAF senior official.

Wood processing and trade of wood products in Africa (AfDB)

Although many African countries harbour very valuable forest resources, the continent still imports huge volumes of timber products amounting to around US$ 4 billion annually. One of the explanations to this is the low capacity of the wood processing industry on the continent. Raw logs can be processed into primary, secondary and tertiary wood products for home consumption and export. This provides prospects for upgrading the exports of the primary wood raw materials to the export of secondary and tertiary processed products. Adding value to wood products in this way can lead to jobs and wealth creation in Africa.


Global economy

Updates on the proposed TRIPS Waiver

WTO receives updated petition calling for universally accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccines (WTO)

A petition signed by over 2.7 million people from around the world calling for universal access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines was received by the WTO on 7 June. It was delivered by Avaaz, an online activist network, and the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organizations. The petition brings together the work of more than 40 organizations worldwide, including the Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN), Public Citizen, Frontline AIDS, Amnesty International, Oxfam, SumOfUs and the European Citizens’ Initiative for No Profit on Pandemic.

We are a long way from vaccinating the world. Could a patent waiver help? (Brookings)

While the United States has made great strides in vaccinating its population, many low- and middle-income countries are far behind and lack the supply of COVID-19 vaccines they need. Matthew M. Kavanagh joins David Dollar in this episode to explain what could be done to increase the global production of vaccines, including a proposal to waive the World Trade Organization rules protecting the intellectual property for vaccine technology.

APEC members back calls for Covid-19 vaccine IP waiver (Politico)

The U.S., China and the 19 other members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed on Saturday to engage in “text-based discussions” at the World Trade Organization aimed at waiving intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines. The group includes Japan and Taiwan, which in the past have expressed reservations about India and South Africa’s IP waiver request. In their joint statement, the APEC trade ministers said “the WTO must demonstrate that global trade rules can help address the human catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate the recovery.” The 21 economies also issued a stand-alone statement on Covid-19 vaccine supply chains, which outlines the group’s approach to ensuring the trading environment supports the safe and efficient distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and related goods.

Europe Union’s new move may hit India, South Africa’s patent waiver plan (Times of India)

European Union has drawn up a counter proposal which could “undermine” India and South Africa ‘s proposed submission at the World Trade Organization seeking a waiver on intellectual property (IP) on Covid-19 drugs and vaccines.

Presentation to the Joint DTIC and DIRCO Portfolio Committee on the TRIPS Waiver - 1 June 2021


International news

“Give the WTO a chance”: Trade organization’s new boss opens up on her new job (Axios)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to become director-general of the World Trade Organization, forged her strength through traumas few political leaders could imagine – let alone endure. In a remarkable interview with “Axios on HBO” – her first extended, in-person TV interview since taking the job in March – the MIT-trained economist and development expert opened up about her nearly “impossible job” and the experiences that shaped her, including her mother’s kidnapping. Why it matters: You’ll hear a lot more about Ngozi in the years ahead. As she admits, she’s taken on “almost an impossible job” of reviving the WTO. The institution, which governs the rules of international trade, is badly broken. On whether intellectual property waivers would be enough to solve the global vaccine distribution crisis: “No, no, no, no. I’ve been very clear… I’ve said it’s not enough.”

Trade and food security: When a trade agreement delayed becomes a human right denied (UNCTAD)

Access to food should never be a luxury. It is a fundamental human right. Yet in 2020, 155 million people faced severe food insecurity. And the situation could deteriorate further. Food prices are perilously climbing to heights like those that have sparked food crises and riots in many parts of the world during the last two decades. Making sure this situation does not worsen – and in fact improves – depends on many factors. One has to do with the capacity of a country to produce food at home and import it from abroad. This is where trade comes in, and its role is not minor. The value of food imports has tripled since the beginning of the century, and today about 80% of the world’s population is fed in part by imports.

Climate change impacts on seaports, threat to development (PreventionWeb)

Seaports are essential for global trade-led development, and for the ‘Blue Economy’. They provide access to global markets and supply-chains for all countries, and are integral to maritime transport, as well as fisheries, offshore energy development, and many economic activities in coastal zones. With over 80 % of world trade volume carried by sea - from port to port -, they are crucial infrastructure nodes that underpin global supply chains and are key to future trade and development prospects, particularly of developing States which currently account for around 60 % of goods loaded and unloaded globally. At the same time, ports are particularly exposed to various natural hazards, due to their locations along open coasts or in low-lying estuaries and deltas; their setting makes them susceptible to impacts of climatic hazards such as rising sea levels, storm surges, waves and winds, riverine and pluvial flooding, as well as tectonic events (e.g. tsunamis).

Ending Harmful Subsidies Could Increase Amount of Fish in the Ocean, Research Shows (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

Some fisheries subsidies – payments that governments make to the fishing industry – are a key driver of this overfishing, and new research has found that eliminating all of these harmful subsidies could help fish populations recover. Specifically, ending all destructive subsidies would result in an increase of 12.5% in global fish biomass by 2050, which translates into nearly 35 million metric tons of fish – almost three times the entire continent of Africa’s fish consumption in a single year. Right now, governments around the world spend $22 billion each year in harmful payments to their fishing sectors. This money allows fleets to continue fishing even when market and operating conditions, such as dwindling catch, indicate they shouldn’t.

Bridging the global digital divide: A platform to advance digital development in low- and middle-income countries (Brookings)

The world is in the midst of a fast-moving, Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as 4IR or Industry 4.0), driven by digital innovation in the use of data, information, and technology. This revolution is affecting everything from how we communicate, to where and how we work, to education and health, to politics and governance. COVID-19 has accelerated this transformation as individuals, companies, communities, and governments move to virtual engagement. We are still discovering the advantages and disadvantages of a digital world.

As life increasingly revolves around digital technologies and innovation, countries are in a race to digitalize at a speed that threatens to leave behind the less advantaged—countries and underserved groups. Data in this paper documents the scope of the digital divide.

Plan to build UK trade ship will break WTO agreement, warn experts (Financial Times)

Boris Johnson’s plan to build a new yacht in the UK is set to fall foul of a World Trade Organization agreement struck by his own government last year, experts have warned. The prime minister last month announced that he hoped a domestic shipbuilder would create the £200m vessel, a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, to promote British trade and industry around the world. But while Number 10 has announced its “intention” to build the as yet unnamed ship in the UK, this would breach an agreement that Britain signed up to only eight months ago. The government has set up a national flagship taskforce, hosted in the defence ministry, to oversee the creation of the trade yacht, which will be manned with Royal Navy personnel. However, its purpose is entirely for business rather than security.

Pulse 3 – recover, reform, restructure: China’s outward investment appetite and implications for developing countries (ODI)

This is the third report in ODI’s Economic Pulse series. Pulse 3 explores China’s international economic response as it recovers, reforms, and restructures its economy amidst an uncertain global recovery. This is as China moves on from more reactive policy measures to contain the pandemic and rescue the economy towards risk management and proactive long-term planning. Among its highlights, the report takes a closer look at trade developments between China and the BRI 140, services trade, Chinese companies’ public–private partnerships, debt negotiations and decision-making structures, digital infrastructure, and China’s role in the rare earth elements value chain.