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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National

SA on track to harvest record soya bean crop (Farmer’s Weekly)

The current spike in soya bean production is good news for South Africa since it will mean that significantly less of the commodity will need to be imported. Local processing facilities will also benefit from the growing production, as higher volumes would reduce processing cost per unit, agricultural economist Dr Johan Willemse told Farmer’s Weekly. He ascribed the increase in the number of hectares being planted to improved cultivars that made expansion in the western summer grain production areas possible. This trend was expected to continue over the next few years. “According to [the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy’s] 2020 baseline report, soya bean production is projected to exceed 2,2 million tons by 2029, supported by continued area expansion and an average yield growth of about 4% annually,” Ikageng Maluleke, Grain SA economist, said in a statement.

Millers close, offload staff as imports rise (The Standard)

Zimbabwe’s milling industry has hit turbulent times, amid revelations that some companies have suspended operations after a flood of cheap imported mealie-meal pushed them to the brink, it has been revealed. The glut of imports, mostly from South African suppliers, has continued even after government announced a ban on foreign shipments recently to protect domestic millers. Announcing the ban, government also said Zimbabwe had produced enough maize for the domestic market during the 2020/2021 agricultural season.

Bus operators seal massive deal (The Standard)

A consortium of local bus operators has partnered with car assemblers – AVM Africa and Quest Motors to start the assembling of local buses in a bid to solve the country’s transport woes. This is part of the government’s efforts to promote the consumption of local products and create employment. Speaking during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Amalgamated Bus Operators of Zimbabwe, bus assembler AVM Africa and Quest Motors, a vehicle manufacturing company based in the eastern city of Mutare, Transport deputy minister Mike Madiro said the move was aimed at supporting local industries by government and would boost the economy. “We, as government, should support local industries in our vehicle sourcing and also in bus manufacturing. We will see more of this happening over time,” Madiro said.

Rail road corridor provides window of opportunity (The New Dawn Liberia)

Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray, has described the rail corridor project with neighboring Guinea as a new window of opportunity for both sides. Minister Murray made those comments over the weekend at the closure of three days inter-ministerial conference held between Liberia and Guinea in Monrovia. The conference held under a win-win expectation focused on a US$20 billion railroad project that will allow ores from Guinea transported thru Liberia for exportation to bring economic benefits, including jobs, infrastructure, and collaboration. “This railroad system will witness a phenomenal growth in the sources of economics if the implementation agreement goes forth.”

Zim targets growing exports to Rwanda (The Herald)

Zimbabwe is keen on growing its exports to Rwanda with market survey results by the national export promotion agency, ZimTrade, indicating that locals could ride on this destination to generate more earnings. “The services sector is a big deal in Rwanda and the opportunities there are endless. There is tourism also, as well as the education sector because Rwanda is looking for many programmes with Zimbabwe to come into its education sector,” ZimTrade export promotion manager, Mrs Vuyiswa Mafu, told the participants. “Zimbabwean companies will develop strategies to penetrate the Rwandan market and establishing new export supply chains. “These strategies may include, but are not limited to, supply partnerships, investments opportunities, diversification opportunities, promotional events, establishing wholesaler/distributor agreements, exhibitions, trade fairs and trade missions.’’

Ghana, Kenya to facilitate inter-regional trade (GhanaWeb)

Mr. Charles Kilonzo, a Member of the National Assembly of Kenya says Ghana and Kenya can lead to the promotion of trade among African countries. He said both countries strongly backed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), shared development aspirations, and were the best set to take the drive towards regional integration. Mr Kilonzo said: “We are assessing challenges of the business communities, and committed to removing obstacles to change the fortunes of our people. He explained that there were unemployment and poverty in both countries despite so many resources and was easier for both countries to help improve intra continental trade, create employment for everyone on the continent, and called for a change of mindset, which must be advocated by leaders on the continent.

Kenyan mangoes face stiff Egypt competition (Business Daily)

Kenya’s mangoes to the Middle East is facing steep competition from the Egyptian produce because of the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar when compared with high cost that Kenyan exporters have to incur. Egypt’s proximity to middle-eastern countries, where Kenya is at the moment exporting the bulk of its mangoes, enjoys low cost of exporting the commodity with a kilo going at Sh32 by ship when compared with a Kenyan exporter who has to part with Sh108 for the same quantity. Egypt has the advantage of the sea, which makes the cost cheaper, when compared with Kenya which has to export by air for the fruits to arrive when they are still fresh. Exports of mangoes from Kenya to Mombasa by sea take at least eight days to arrive, making it difficult to ship through the Port of Mombasa because of the long duration. Almost 90 percent of the Kenyan fruits are exported by air, making them expensive in the middle-east.

IMF, World Bank’s loans to Kenya ease costly debt burden (Business Daily)

Access to International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank loans has helped Kenya reduce its exposure to commercial debt, easing repayment pressure at a time Covid-19 has hit the country’s coffers and exposed debt vulnerabilities. A debt review by the IMF shows that Kenya’s multilateral lender loans increased from $10.2 billion in 2019 to $13.7 billion in 2020, growing their share of Kenyan external debt from 33.4 percent to 39.7 percent within the period. On the other hand, the proportion of commercial debt has reduced from 33.1 percent ($10.2 billion) to 25.9 percent ($8.9 billion). “On debt, the authorities are pursuing a financing strategy that balances domestic and external financing and utilises concessional financing where available. They are also taking steps to extend the maturity of domestic debt,” IMF Executive Director, Ita Mary Mannathoko said.

Kenyan airports join carbon emissions plan (Business Daily)

Jomo Kenyatta, Moi, Kisumu, Eldoret international airports have joined the Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme, committing the facilities to reduce their carbon emissions into the environment. The facilities managed by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) become the first airports in East and Central Africa to join the programme, achieving Level One “Mapping” accreditation. “Reducing the effects of our operations on the environment is an important goal for us. It is our responsibility to future generations to engage in efforts that counter climate change,” said KAA acting managing director Alex Gitari in a statement yesterday. “This accreditation is an important step in the right direction for our main airports, as the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme provides a framework to optimize and, eventually, minimize emissions.”

Sugar export earnings edge up by 39% – BoU report (Daily Monitor)

Uganda’s sugar exports recovered to levels it was two years ago, after suffering near rejection from all the neighbouring countries due to trade wars. Bank of Uganda’s latest monthly statistics show that in April, the country exported sugar worth $12.94million (Shs45.9b), up from $7.89million (Shs28b) earned in March. This performance indicated a 39 per cent increase and the highest since September 2018 when the country recorded $12.05m (Shs42b). The BoU report shows that Uganda exported a total of 23,185 metric tonnes up from 13,719 tonnes exported in March. This was higher than 6,585 metric tonnes – the lowest the country exported in November 2020. Much as there was an increase in the exports, it still insufficient compared to the stockpile.

Mwanza should be trade hub: Samia (The Citizen)

President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday outlined the government’s major plans to make Mwanza a trade hub within the Great Lake Regions. The move will come after completing implementation of infrastructure development including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), construction of an airport terminal in the city as well as strengthened marine transport in Lake Victoria.

E-navigation support for Ghana’s maritime sector (Developing Telecoms)

As part of what is described as an ambitious plan to strengthen Ghana as a maritime forerunner in West Africa, the Ghana Maritime Authority and Danish commercial satellite operator Sternula have announced a new partnership involving e-navigation connectivity. The agreement is part of a strategic sector cooperation between Danish and Ghanaian maritime authorities and is aimed at strengthening the maritime sector in Ghana and West Africa. As one of Africa’s leading seafaring nations, Ghana is attracting more and more merchant traffic in and around the country’s largest ports (Sternula points out that almost 90 percent of West Africa’s trade is handled at sea). Therefore, it has become relevant for government to integrate new technology to improve the safety – as well as the efficiency – of maritime trade and transport along the Ghanaian coast.

ECA supports DRC to organize workshop to validate its national AfCFTA implementation strategy (UNECA)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Foreign Trade, with the financial support of the European Union (EU), will be hosting a workshop from 17 June to 18 June to validate the country’s national African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) implementation strategy. The DRC, which shares borders with nine countries, offers the prospect of generating higher value-added processing opportunities for its more than 85 million people from its vast resources. Although it signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA in March 2018, DRC has not yet deposited its instruments of ratification with the African Union (AU).

Egypt sees 25.2% decrease in trade deficit in March 2021: CAPMAS (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt’s trade deficit recorded $2.69bn during March 2021, compared to $3.59bn for the same month of the previous year, a decrease of 25.2%. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) issued, on Sunday, its monthly bulletin of foreign trade data for March 2021. According to CAPMAS, the value of exports increased by 43.5%, reaching $3.41bn during March 2021, compared to $2.38bn in the previous year. This was driven by the increase in the value of exports of some commodities, the most important of which are: medicines and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased by 54.2%; ready-made clothes, which increased by 49.3%; pasta and miscellaneous food preparations, which increased by 18.4%; and potatoes, which increased by 1.1%.

Egypt’s chemical, fertilisers exports surge by 30% in 4 months (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt’s Chemical and Fertilizers Export Council has reported that the sector’s exports during the first four months (4M) of 2021, covering the period from January to April, amounted to $1,95bn. This reflected a growth rate of 30% compared to the same period in 2020, which saw growth amounting to $1,496bn. Khaled Abu Al-Makarem, Chairperson of the Chemical and Fertilizers Export Council, said that there was a growth in exports performance of most commodity items in the sector during 4M of 2021. Exports of plastics and plastic products achieved an 80% growth rate compared to the same period in 2020. Additionally, organic chemical products achieved growth of 62% during 4M of 2021, compared to the same period of 2020.

Egypt’s PM meets with tourism investors in Sharm El-Sheikh ahead of IPAs Africa Forum (EgyptToday)

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli met on Thursday with tourism investors in Sharm El-Sheikh city, ahead of the first forum of the heads of African investment promotion agencies (IPAs) scheduled for June 11-14. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Enani. The forum comes under the slogan “Integration for Growth.” It is organized by the General Agency for Investment (GAFI) under the auspices of the Cabinet. Chairman of GAFI Mohamed Abdel Wahab stated that a number of MoUs will be signed between the authority and a number of its African counterparts on the sidelines. The Egyptian official added that GAFI is ready to provide technical support, experience, and information to fellow African investment authorities empowering them to face the repercussions of COVID-19 pandemic on investment inflow.


Africa

The African Continental Free Trade Area: what’s the role for IP? (Inventa International)

IP rights feature prominently in the treaty establishing AfCFTA. First, in article 4 of the agreement, it is established that one of the specific objectives of the agreement will be to make the member states cooperate, among other areas, in the field of IP. IP features seven more times throughout the text, which underlines the importance of establishing a set of IP rules which are clear, transparent, predictable, and mutually advantageous to the member states. There remains, however, some uncertainty as to how the integration of IP rights will be achieved in practice. As we know, IP rights, despite being ubiquitous, immaterial goods are, to a large extent, subject to the principle of territoriality. This means that it remains up to the states to decide whether or not to grant protection, which would not necessarily apply beyond the borders of the state in question. However, we have already seen the development of regional agreements that complement or supplant the power of states in these matters, granting IP rights that have legal effects in several territories.

AU banks on Tanger Med Port to achieve CFTA objectives (The North Africa Post)

The African Union, AU, is counting on the Moroccan Tanger Med Port to achieve the logistics integration of the continent, a key objective of African Continental Free Trade Area agreement CFTA. Tanger Med Port is awash with opportunities for the continent, said Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the CFTA Secretariat. Speaking during a recent online conference organized by Tanger Med Special Agency (TMSA) and the Moroccan Exporters’ Association (ASMEX) under the topic “New logistics ambitions for Moroccan exports”, Wamkele Mene said the Moroccan global logistics hub will contribute to the improvement of Moroccan competitiveness and African logistics integration. “Logistics and distribution services are really the key to boosting intra-African trade,” Mene insisted. “Goods could be transported by sea, reducing the cost of trade on the continent,” he added.

Transformational investing a challenge for developing nations – investment panel (Engineering News)

Africa presents a unique case for the type of transformational investing that is required for sustainability, to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to panellists participating in a Sanlam Investments Forum on June 14. Harvard Business School representative Euvin Naidoo, speaking in his personal capacity, said that the world appeared to be behind on its ambitions to reach and meet some of the SDGs and that tough changes would need to be made. Changing people’s behaviour is what is fundamentally required on both a national and individual basis to ensure current and future investments go into the type of projects that will advance the SDGs and environment, social and governance upliftment, he added.

African experts call for innovative financing to boost green transition (Xinhua)

Sub-Saharan African countries should explore innovative financing models to promote climate resilience for communities and their natural habitats, experts said Monday ahead of Africa Climate Week that starts Tuesday. The climate experts and policymakers who spoke at a virtual forum said that Africa’s green aspirations can be realized, subject to robust financing, friendly regulations and technology transfer. Fatima Denton, director of the Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa with United Nations University (UNU-IRNA), said the continent required smart investments and revamped policies to hasten green recovery. “Africa should leverage new financing and policy tools to strengthen adaptation to climate change and hasten green and inclusive recovery from COVID-19 pandemic,” said Denton.

EABC: Harmonize tax laws to ease integration (IPP Media)

The EAC private sector apex body engaged a number of chief executive officers at the weekend in Dar es Salaam to a round table with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Liberata Mulamula where taxation was identified as an impediment to regional business integration. The EABC in collaboration with the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) and the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) organized the meeting to present a documentation of challenges to EAC business integration, on the basis of a thorough study. The study set out to propose what should be done by the member state governments for easier business interaction among the member states, thus expecting to accumulate strength and guaranteeing ability to compete on the African and global commercial fronts, EAC Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki stated.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Supply Chains in Africa (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

At a time when substantial progress is being made in grasping the dynamics of COVID-19 and in managing the pandemic’s adverse impacts, we can easily become complacent and underestimate the increasing barriers to global trade and economic growth. In 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasted a 3.3 per cent contraction in Sub-Saharan Africa, the first recession in 25 years. COVID-19 shed light on the weak status of African supply and value chains.

Truly sustainable supply chains embrace socially responsible business practices as they continue to be the most important levers for business to create a positive impact in the world. By working together, buyers and suppliers in supply chains and networks can promote human rights including labour rights, climate resilience, environmental conservation, inclusive economic growth and ethical business conduct.

Intra-Africa trade: Rwandan minister roots for standards harmonisation (The New Times)

Mandatory national regulations on health, safety, and the environment, as well as market-driven standards might undermine free movement of goods and services on the continent, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry has warned. Béata Habyarimana was speaking in Kigali during the opening of a two-day meeting of the Council for the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) on Monday, June 14, The meeting is part of a four-day series of physical and hybrid ARSO General Assembly events, running under theme, “The Beginning of Trade Among the African Countries under the AfCFTA Agreement: Boosting Intra-African Trade Within the African Single Market through ‘One Standard – One Test – One Certificate – Accepted Everywhere.”

“Africa stands in a unique position to reap the benefits of economic growth as a dynamic, diversified and competitive economic zone, a new economic frontier, and an important growth pole,” she noted. The trade minister added: “This requires transformation of African countries into locations of competitive

Bank drives Africa auto sector (The Southern Times)

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) says it will work with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) to boost the continent’s nascent automotive sector. Harmonised standards are to be adopted by individual African countries. “There are 1,432 international automotive standards worldwide largely developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation and the American Society for Testing and Materials. To initiate the process of developing African Automotive standards, ARSO prioritised what are referred to as ‘Whole Vehicle Standards’ encompassing motor vehicle components, accessories, and replacement parts. “It is anticipated that some 250 standards will need to be harmonised based on the basic components, accessories and replacement parts which are necessary to keep a vehicle safe and operational.”

Debt servicing to cost East Africans Sh46.4 trillion (The Citizen)

The major member countries of the East African Community (EAC) will feel the pinch of their growing debt burdens during the coming financial year which starts on July 1, 2021. Analysis of budget figures shows that Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda could have to cough up a total of Sh47 trillion in debt financing during the 2021/22 financial year. While Tanzania has been somewhat conservative in its approach to borrowing, reports show that the situation could be getting out of hand for Kenya, while Uganda’s debt is approaching the set threshold of 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

What would it take to produce vaccines in Africa? (The New Times)

Currently, Africa’s existing vaccine market is estimated at $1.3 billion and is expected to exceed the $2 billion mark by 2030 on the back of population growth, expanded vaccination and new products being developed in response to new viruses. However, Vaccine development and manufacturing on the continent remains at infancy with the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI) estimating that the continent currently produce less than 1 per cent of its vaccine needs. The outbreak of COVID-19 and the demand for vaccines has highlighted the fragility of the African health system, not only from a manufacturing perspective but also in relation to procurement. The report noted that currently, there is very limited manufacturing capacity of vaccines in Africa with only seven countries having small vaccine production, notably focused on filling and finishing lines.

The World Bank and the African Union’s Covid-19 Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) agree to work together to deploy vaccines for 400 million Africans (UNECA)

The President of the World Bank, Mr David Malpass, and his senior management team comprised of Dr Axel van Trotsenburg and Dr Makhtar Diop met with the African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) to discuss modalities for a partnership that will accelerate vaccine deployment to Africa. In a historic COVID-19 vaccine procurement agreement signed on 28 March 2021, the AVATT had previously successfully secured up to 400 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine with the support of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). “In providing a US$2billion guarantee on behalf of the African Union member states, we were able to help put Africa in a strong negotiating position with producers as we negotiated vaccine procurement. It was obvious to us at AVATT that no deal will have been possible without a strong financial backing” the President of Afreximbank, Prof Benedict Oramah said.

With over 41 countries at different stages of finalising their orders for purchasing the vaccine and with vaccination momentum growing, it is essential that countries feel they can get sufficient doses quickly and in an affordable way.

Republic of Burundi signs the Treaty for the establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) (African Union)

The Republic of Burundi becomes the twentieth (20th) African Union (AU) Member State to sign the Treaty for the establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) on 11 June 2021, at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Mme Cisse Mariam Mohamed, the Director, Health, Humanitarian Affairs & Social Development (HHS), received the delegation from the Republic of Burundi. She underscored that AMA shall be instrumental in ensuring the continent has not only a strong medicines regulatory agency but also it shall promote local manufacturing of pharmaceutical products on the continent. “As evidenced by the challenges Africa is facing in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine, it is the high time that we come together as a continent to fast track the ratification of AMA in order to have an African Pharmaceutical Industry that provides safe and affordable medicines,” she said.

Eight COMESA Countries have Signed the Air Transport Market Agreement (COMESA)

Eight COMESA countries have so far signed the Solemn Commitment for the establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). These are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This initiative is led by the African Union through the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC). In their 12th joint meeting on June 2, 2021, the Ministers called on member States to harmonize and domesticate regional transport policies. They urged for adoption and application of regional transport transit facilitation instruments and the economic regulations and consumer protection guidelines developed by the AUC through AFCAC.

Air transport liberalization, with respect to improved air transport services and lower fares brought forth immense economic and financial benefits, noted the Ministers. A study by the International Air Transport Association in 2014 on 12 sample African countries identified fare savings, greater connectivity, time savings, greater convenience, and the positive impact on other sectors of the economy once the liberalization programme is implemented.

56% of CEOs In Africa Are Extremely Concerned About Tax Policy Uncertainty (Proshare Nigeria)

CEOs in Africa are more confident in their own company’s revenue prospects and the strength of the global economy than they were in 2020. However, they have concerns about government policy, cybersecurity, technology, and people. These are some of the insights shared at the virtual media launch of the 8th edition of PwC’s Africa Business Agenda 2021 report. “In the light of the concerns that Africa’s CEOs have on policy uncertainty, tax policy uncertainty, cyber threats, and over-regulation, this is an opportunity for African business leaders to reimagine every aspect of their operating model. Further, companies and countries in West Africa should take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which came into force on 1 January 2021, to drive growth and bolster their economies through increased continental trade.”

World Bank Group Steps Up Support to Deepen Regional Integration in Africa (World Bank)

The World Bank Group has updated its approach to help strengthen regional integration in Africa. This reinforces the institution’s support to help the continent recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and realize its economic transformation through 2021-2023. Titled “Supporting Africa’s Recovery and Economic Transformation”, the updated Regional Integration and Cooperation Assistance Strategy (RICAS 2021-2023) will support greater regional connectivity in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It will also promote trade and market integration through trade facilitation in regional economic corridors, technical assistance for roll out of the AfCFTA, support to regional value chains and integration of financial markets.

Opinion: Don’t repeat Trump’s mistake on trade with African nations (Devex)

U.S. President Joe Biden has been right about much of his evolving policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. He has rescinded travel restrictions implemented under his predecessor, reengaged with the World Health Organization, rejoined the Paris Agreement, and directed his diplomats to focus on the conflict in Ethiopia, among other measures. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is at risk of getting it wrong on trade and investment with the region. Like former U.S. President Donald Trump, Biden’s administration appears resistant to the idea of a sectoral focus for the Prosper Africa initiative, which aims to significantly increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and African nations.

To truly unlock trade and investment with Africa, U.S. commercial policy should target specific sectors. The Biden administration can then showcase where the most attractive opportunities reside and signal the importance of African markets. If Prosper Africa were to adopt a sectoral focus, it could inject excitement about potential investments through industry-specific communications and outreach.


Global

Green goals should be decoupled from trade, says Goyal (BusinessLine)

Trade policies and green goals need to be decoupled and developed countries should not use the interplay of trade and climate change to create hindrances in the path to prosperity for poor and lesser developed countries, Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said at the ‘UN Trade Forum 2021’ on Monday. WTO Director General Ngozi Okonja-Iweala agreed with Goyal that positive support to environmental goods and services should not be used as a barrier to trade but said that tariffs needed to be brought into sync with what is happening in the environment today.

Instead of trade measures, the UN and other multilateral agencies like UNFCC should focus on bringing the world together to fulfil their commitments towards climate change. “So I do believe we have to decouple trade policies and our green goals. Let trade policy look for more inclusive growth all over the world. Let us all work towards climate justice and sustainable lifestyle,” he added.

G7 Development Finance Institutions and multilateral partners to invest over $80 billion into African businesses over the next five years (AfDB)

The G7 DFIs, the IFC, the private sector arm of the African Development Bank, EBRD and the European Investment Bank today announced that they were committed to investing $80 billion in the private sector over the next five years to support sustainable economic recovery and growth in Africa. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a severe global economic and health crisis. The announcement is a welcome boost to support the long-term development objectives of African economies that have been negatively impacted by the crisis. It is the first time the G7 DFIs have come together to make a collective partnership commitment to the African continent.

G7 infrastructure plan can hardly rival BRI (Global Times)

With eyes fixated on China, the just concluded G7 summit in the UK announced an infrastructure plan, aiming to rival the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) adopted and implemented by China. Though it was entitled as a “Build Back Better World” (B3W) initiative, experts pointed out that it is naïve for anyone to believe that the G7 plan would ever come into existence. Without any detail revealed about how the plan will work, the B3W initiative was said to “provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035,” the Reuters reported, citing the White House.

“Taking the African countries as an example, they have been facing an annual infrastructure investment shortfall of $108 billion. The shortfall has long become a major barrier for the development of the continent, and why didn’t the G7 realize the demand earlier?” asked Song Wei, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. The $40 trillion offer to “narrow the need by developing nations” by 2035 in the proposal has sparked sarcasm among netizens. It is simply hard to believe that the G7 countries could offer such an amount of money which is more than the combined GDP of the seven countries in 2020, they said.

The crippling impasse over external debt relief (BusinessLine)

When the pandemic first swept across the globe and destroyed economies in its wake, there were at least some expressions of international solidarity among leaders of the rich countries. External debt problems were widely recognised to be inevitable in the new crisis context; to address them, G20 governments declared a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) from May 2020, designed to reduce some of the immediate debt repayment burden of the poorest and most vulnerable economies. Yet this – and the subsequent “Common Framework for Debt Treatments” of November 2020 – barely scratched the surface of the problem, and are unlikely to fend off future likely defaults.

How can the “data revolution” work for developing economies? (Trade for Development News)

The creation, use, misuse and control of data is the subject of intense debate today, as it should be. Individuals still ponder how best to manage and protect their personal data, and governments, private businesses and international bodies may have informed data management policies, or none at all. But decisions need to be made in this complicated landscape. And this is especially true for developing countries, which are largely left out of global data discussions but where the right data policies could bring a lot of benefits.

Participants in services regulation talks outline steps taken to implement new disciplines (WTO)

A group of 63 WTO members are currently engaged in negotiations on disciplines which seek to ensure that domestic regulation measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services. With the disciplines, participants seek to promote clear, predictable and transparent procedures for trade in services, while guaranteeing flexibilities to help governments implement the measures domestically and regulate according to their national policy objectives.

The coordinator of the negotiations, Jaime Coghi Arias of Costa Rica, issued a revised “close-to-final” version of the negotiating text in December 2020. He welcomed the participants’ continued “positive engagement and commitment” as they remain committed to achieving an outcome by the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to take place from 30 November to 3 December in Geneva.

A New Era of Digital Money (IMF Finance & Development)

Digital money has the potential to transform the financial sector. Emerging markets and lower-income countries stand to gain the most from this dramatic shift. Broad and inexpensive access to digital money and phone-based transactions could open the door to financial services for 1.7 billion people without traditional bank accounts. And countries may grow increasingly connected, facilitating trade and market integration. The real-world impact is significant. But with any opportunity comes risk. The passage to this new world could exclude those on the other side of the digital divide. It also opens the door to fragmentation, currency substitution, and loss of policy effectiveness. The transition must be well managed, coordinated, and soundly regulated.