tralac Daily News
Eighty-two thousand jobs have been created in South Africa in the provision of business services to global companies – with a 22% annual growth in new jobs over the past three years, off the back of a strong partnership between Government and the private sector. This was said today to United Kingdom investors by Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.
“South Africa’s top ranking and growing Global Business Services (GBS) industry shows what can be done through effective partnerships,” he said. “Industry-figures indicate that about 40 000 South African workers have been employed just for the UK market. There is an opportunity to scale current services up significantly and to move up the value chain, by increasing the number of jobs that require more complex skills and problem-solving, in areas such as IT, finance, law and health-care so that the value to South Africa improves. This can be done in addition to the large process-driven business services that are currently provided by many of the operators,” Minister Patel said. Master Plans are action-orientated policies, geared towards boosting local jobs and developing local value chains. The dtic has thus far developed industry Master Plans in six sectors, including automotive; clothing, textile, footwear and leather; sugar; poultry; steel and metal fabrication; and furniture. Together these industries account for 6% of South Africa’s GDP, 25% of exports and employ nearly 700 000 workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only how we live, think and work but also how we acquire skills. This is particularly crucial for young people, large numbers of whom are excluded from labour market. South Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey showed joblessness for those aged between 15 and 34 at 46,3%. To address the challenges of skills provision and acquisition, policy makers and researchers have set their sights on the vocational education and training system. But the view that this alone is the answer to solve existing labour market crises is flawed for three reasons. The Quality Council on Trades and Occupations – established in 2010 to set standards for and quality assure qualifications linked to a trade or occupation – has recently reconfigured occupational qualifications. These include revisiting the formal requirement for workplace experience, which learners now simply cannot get (and most could not get before COVID-19).
“As government, one of our key objectives is to ensure that young people are well positioned to take advantage of opportunities presented by digital transformation. “For this reason, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is proactively seeking partnerships that will help us achieve this objective,” Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, said on Tuesday. “The youth of today is presented with opportunities brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and requires the youth to be fully equipped with the necessary digital skills. This will empower them to contribute to the digital economy, while addressing other pressing issues that are facing our country.
Mauritius can be the gateway for Indian businesses to access opportunities in the African continent taking advantage of the new African continental free trade agreement, Alan Ganoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius said on Tuesday. “There is growing interest among Indian businesses to access opportunities in the African continent. Ours is the first trade agreement signed by India with an African country. Indian manufacturers can move part of their manufacturing processes to Mauritius and produce for the African market… The African continental free trade agreement which came into force on the 1 January this year opens up trade and investment opportunities of a much larger market of 1.3 billion consumers. This is in addition to the duty-free access to the European Union, Chinese and US markets. Any investor located in Mauritius will be able to access these markets on preferential terms,” Ganoo said speaking at an event organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Goods, services import bill decreases (Dailynews)
The import of goods and services decreased to 9,302.8 million US dollars from 10,484.1 million US dollars in the corresponding period last year driven by a decline in import value of oil, transport equipment and building and construction materials. The value of goods imports declined to 8,109.3 million US dollars during the year under review compared to 8,754.0 million US dollars in the corresponding period last year with the larger decrease registered in oil, building and construction. The value of oil imports declined by 22.4 per cent to 1,353.3 million US dollars mainly driven by a fall in oil prices in the global market and accounted for 16.7 per cent of goods imports. Every month, however, the goods import bill increased to 818.3 million US dollars from 562.5 million US dollars recorded in April last year, explained by an increase in imports of oil. The services payment were 1,193.5 million US dollars in the year ending April, lower than 1,730.2 million US dollars recorded in the corresponding period last year largely attributed to a decrease in travel payments, related to containment measures by most countries to contain the spread of Covid-19.
KRA seizes Sh4 billion illicit goods in half year (Business Daily)
The Kenya Revenue Authority seized goods worth more than Sh4 billion in six months as the multi-agency team set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta stepped up raids, arrests, and destruction of illicit goods. Most of the goods impounded include assorted goods (28.47 percent), aircraft parts (18.12 percent), agricultural products (16.56 percent), motorcycles, and motor vehicle parts (7.20 percent), and metallic products (4.58 percent).The KRA said it has prosecuted 74 offenders and destroyed goods worth Sh13.4 million which were being smuggled from the northern borders of the country.
The raids led to the seizure of sugar, edible oils, and fertiliser which underwent verification and testing. They have since accumulated over the years while some have been released to their owners following legal disputes and settlement for alternative use of the goods, including conversion to ethanol and soap. Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said that some importers requested to be allowed to use edible oils that had expired as raw materials for such products as soap.
Tanzania stays the course on rail, power; terms debt ‘sustainable’ (The East African)
Tanzania passed a Tsh36.36 trillion ($15.61 billion) budget for 2021/22 with just 37 percent of the total budget (Tsh13.33 trillion or $5.75 billion) going towards development expenditure. An estimated 8.1 percent of the new budget (Tsh2.96 trillion or $1.27 billion) will be covered by grants and concessional loans from development partners through either direct project financing or Basket Fund financing, and another Tsh7.34 trillion ($3.16 billion) will be borrowed from domestic and external sources on commercial terms. Citing a recent debt sustainability analysis that concluded that Tanzania’s debt was still sustainable, Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said that the 2021/22 budget would again lean heavily towards external funding while also prioritising internal sourcing.
Uptick in Q1 2021 Merchandise Trade (Proshare Nigeria)
The latest report from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its series on foreign trade in goods, drawn primarily from the Nigeria Custom Service, shows the total value of trade as NGN9.76trn in Q1 ‘21, +7% q/q and +14% y/y. Compared with Q4 ‘20, the total export value decreased 9% to NGN2.9trn while import value rose 16% to NGN6.85trn - more than double that of exports. The net result was a deficit of NGN3.94trn (vs NGN2.7trn in the previous quarter) and represents the sixth consecutive trade deficit figure. The value of imported agricultural and manufactured goods as well as oil-related products rose by 18-19% q/q. As usual, crude oil accounted for the largest share (66%) of total exports in Q1. However, the value of crude oil exports declined by 23% q/q and 34% y/y.
While the government took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession, it would be essential to set policy foundations for a strong recovery, according to the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU). The NDU, titled “Resilience through Reforms”, notes that in 2020 the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8% than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2%). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households. The report acknowledges notable government’s policy reforms aimed at mitigating the impact of the crisis and supporting the recovery. In addition, the report highlights that both the Federal and State governments cut nonessential spending and redirected resources towards the COVID-19 response. At the same time, public-sector transparency has improved, in particular around the operations of the oil and gas sector.
Ghana to Boost Private Investment to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals (World Economic Forum)
The World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, is launching the first Country Financing Roadmap (CFR) for SDGs initiative in Africa. The CFR is a country-led initiative – in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership, a joint initiative between the World Economic Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – with concrete solutions to drive greater private sector participation in financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ghana, one of Africa’s leading and most stable economies, faces a number of barriers to meet its SDGs, a situation exacerbated by the extended COVID-19 crisis. The total costs required to achieve the SDGs in Ghana is estimated at $522.3 billion by the end of 2030, averaging around $52.2 billion a year. The current SDG financing gap for the next 10 years is $431.6 billion, with $43 billion just for 2021.
ITFC inks key trade deal with the Gambia’s government (Global Trade Review)
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has penned a US$250mn framework agreement with the Gambia’s government, as it works to bolster support for key export and imports and help the West African nation overcome the negative economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Funding is expected to back imports of essential agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, or, in other instances, facilitate pre-export financing for cash crops such as groundnuts and cashew nuts, which the ITFC says in a release are the “main agricultural produce in a sector that is a major employer of the country’s workforce”.
Signed in March 2018, trading under the agreement officially began on January 1, and efforts are now focused on rolling out the plan effectively. CNN’s Eleni Giokos spoke with Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA secretariat, earlier this year. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
EG: Some people don’t believe the continental free trade area will be implemented, because we failed in regional bodies before. What is the message that you’re giving to investors and executives out there? WM: I believe with all my being that this agreement will be implemented. We have never had this level of political will and legal commitment before. I think we have to be patient. I think we have to be realistic about the challenges, and I think we have to look at the experiences of other regions around the world who have embarked on this journey of market integration, and how difficult this process is. However, we also know that the benefits certainly make the challenge worth pursuing.
The Economic Governance and Public Finance Section (EGPFS), MGD has organized an African Regional Kick-off Workshop for 11 pilot countries to launch the statistical measurement of IFFs on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 June 2021. The phenomenon of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Africa raises serious problems for financing sustainable and inclusive development by draining capital and tax revenues from African economies and diverting scarce resources from social spending and productive investment. Following the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on IFFs, the ECA jointly with UNCTAD and DESA launched projects to support African countries in curbing these flows, primarily through identification, capacity-building and strengthening surveillance capabilities at national levels. In 2018, UNECA, together with UNCTAD, and with the cooperation of UNODC, inaugurated a new Development Account Project called “Defining, estimating and disseminating statistics on illicit financial flows in Africa”.
African economies are at a pivotal juncture. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic activity to a standstill. Africa’s hard-won economic gains of the last two decades, critical in improving living standards, could be reversed. High public debt levels and the uncertain outlook for international aid limit the scope for growth through large public investment programs. The private sector will have to play more of a role in economic development if countries are to enjoy a strong recovery and avoid economic stagnation. Heads of state from Africa made this one of their resounding messages during the recent summit on “Financing African Economies” held in Paris in May.
Rethinking Regulations for Emerging Agricultural Enterprises in Africa (International Policy Digest)
Regulations for growing sectors, more so in agriculture, are not a bad idea. Experiences from all over the world show that, when done right, regulations can deliver several benefits to emerging and growing sectors. Some of these benefits include preventing counterfeit goods and products from thriving, ensuring goods and services are of the highest standards, and creating an enabling environment to facilitate trade in the targeted sectors. Given such benefits, one wonders why the public overwhelmingly rejects some of these regulations. The answer to this question lies is in our approach to regulating growing agricultural sectors in Africa. Currently, most regulations appear more interested in controlling and not growing the sectors. So, how can policymakers dispel these fears and ensure that regulations serve to boost the targeted sectors?
First, policymakers should prioritize creating an enabling environment, as opposed to merely regulating the emerging sectors. Secondly, policymakers should always strive to ensure public participation when drafting regulations.
‘Brand Africa’ to help realise continent’s tourism potential (Trade Arabia)
To better realise tourism’s potential to drive recovery, UNWTO and its Members will also work with the African Union and the private sector to promote the continent to new global audiences through positive, people-centred storytelling and effective branding. With tourism recognised as an essential pillar of sustainable and inclusive development for the continent, UNWTO welcomed high-level delegates to the first Regional Conference on Strengthening Brand Africa. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed the common determination to rethink as well as restart tourism. “African destinations must take the lead in celebrating and promoting the continent’s vibrant culture, youthful energy and entrepreneur spirit, and its rich gastronomy,” he said.
EAC urged to exploit lucrative raw cotton market (Dailynews)
The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been encouraged to exploit the huge potential of exporting raw cotton to the global market. Dr Desai noted that EAC exports to the world market currently stands at only eight per cent, adding that to increase the volume of exports, value chains such as textiles need to be promoted to boost exports. “We need to harness science, technology and innovation to boost exports by investing in greater capacity to produce leather and textiles and turn a crop like pyrethrum into aerosols,” said the Principal Secretary at EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Dr Desai was of the view that increased investment in the leather and textile sectors would cater for the growing demand in the region for locally manufactured high quality clothes and leather products.
A project initiated over 20 year ago to create a telecommunications company for the COMESA region has been dropped. The decision was made by the ministers of infrastructure during their latest meeting on June 2, 2021. Instead, the Ministers directed COMESA Secretariat to undertake a new study to assess the links between Member States and determine if there are any missing links. The COMESA Telecommunication Company (COMTEL) project was started in the late 90s to bridge the gap in access to essential communication and information services in the region. This was expected to unlock the potential of the digital economy for the COMESA region. Its implementation however failed to take off mainly due to lack of potential financiers and lack of interest from key stakeholders.
The Republic of Sierra Leone becomes the eighth (8th) Member State to deposit the instrument of ratification of the African Medicines Agency (AMA). The ratification and deposit of the instrument follows a high-level engagement between H.E. President Julius Maada Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Honourable Michel Sidibé the African Union Special Envoy for the AMA on May 10, 2021 in Free Town, Sierra Leone. AMA will be the second specialized continental health agency after the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) that will enhance capacity of State Parties and AU recognized Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to regulate medical products in order to improve access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products on the continent.
A new chapter in the EU’s relationship with the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries began in April of this year with the signing of a new EU-OACPS Partnership Agreement (sometimes called Cotonou 2.0 or the post-Cotonou agreement). The announcement has renewed debate around the nature of the EU’s partnership with Africa – particularly around climate change, the environment, and sustainable development, which are a new area of cooperation prioritized by the agreement.
Across Europe, discussions have kicked off on how Africa can benefit from the European Green New Deal by accessing much-needed investment for its sustainable energy transition. These discussions should also touch on how to learn from past development failures, as European nations support African nations’ Green New Deals. Yet, across Africa, there is growing concern that the post-Cotonou agreement fails to recognize the intra-Africa Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as the framework within which the African Union articulates its policies to promote economic growth and sustainable development. In not recognizing AfCFTA, it may be the EU that ends up losing out on an opportunity.
Breakthrough in vaccine patent row as talks progress on WTO rules (Global Trade Review)
Efforts to suspend patent rules for the production of Covid-19 vaccines have taken a significant step forward as the World Trade Organization (WTO) nears negotiations on a potential waiver text. The WTO issued a statement last week saying that its members “moved closer to a text-based process” following a formal meeting of its Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). If successful, the negotiations would result in a temporary relaxation of WTO rules on intellectual property, allowing companies around the world to manufacture their own versions of existing Covid-19 vaccines, rather than rely on the output of major producers such as Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.
Can WTO talks revive global FDI? (East Asia Forum)
Advancing global talks on investment facilitation has long been a goal of many governments in the Asia Pacific. During its G20 presidency in 2016, China gave the matter renewed priority. Since the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, diplomats in Geneva have been negotiating a multilateral framework for investment facilitation. These talks have advanced far enough that an ‘Easter text’ was circulated among negotiators this year. But even if a large enough fraction of the WTO membership signed this deal, would it make a difference? To answer this question, we must consider what’s not included in the proposed multilateral framework text and the current state of global foreign direct investment (FDI) dynamics.
Innovation is needed across the entire spectrum of value chains in the world’s agri-food systems in order to respond to the two big challenges of climate change and hunger, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said at a high level round table. “We have to produce more with less – more quantity, more quality and more diversity. We need to move from biodiversity to food diversity,” the Director-General said at the event, held at the end of the first day of the 42nd Session of the FAO Conference on Monday.
2020 could have been a gamechanger. Economies worldwide were ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Primary energy demand fell by 4%. But even with this historic decline, G20 countries, the planet’s biggest polluters, barely met or even missed their unambitious renewable energy targets. But the benefits of renewables in terms of health, climate and job creation are indisputable. REN21’s Renewables 2021 Global Status Report published today shows that we are nowhere near the necessary paradigm shift towards a clean, healthier and more equitable energy future.