tralac Daily News
SA’s trade partners embroiled in nasty spat over alleged abuse of UN resources (Independent Online)
South Africa’s trade partners, the UK and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are in a nasty entanglement, with the UK accused of abusing the UN’s scarce resources in secret probe. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK is fingered in abusing UN resources in a clandestine investigation they are running against Kazakhstan giant mining house ENRC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Star is informed that some SFO officials sneaked into the DRC in April 2021, claiming to be employed by the UN and attempted to collect information and intelligence on ENRC, but their attempts came to naught when it became apparent that they were not UN officials.
Local tyre manufacturers driving more sustainable practices (Engineering News)
The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) and its members Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Sumitomo Rubber SA are leading the way in improving the industry’s impact on the environment, SATMC highlights. It notes in a statement that the industry is currently focussing on four main areas of improvement – the proper mutilation and disposal of waste tyres, a reduction of materials used in manufacturing tyres, the sustainable sourcing of materials and a reduction in carbon emissions.
Kenya trade deficit widens on machinery imports rise (Business Daily)
Kenya’s trade deficit for the first four months of the year widened by 29.7 percent to Sh420 billion on the back of an increase in imports of commercial goods, data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows. The import bill grew by 22.5 percent to a record Sh669.4 billion for the period driven largely by commercial goods, which accounted for 97 percent of expenditure on imports. Total export receipts, on the other hand, grew at a relatively slower pace of 12.2 percent to Sh248 billion, compared to the Sh221.9 billion earned over a similar period last year. Last year’s shutdowns of mass production and supply chain disruptions due to the rare, Covid-led twin supply-demand shock had helped Kenya narrow the trade deficit on the back of lower imports. This is, however, unwinding now as countries reopen their economies after the beginning of the global vaccination programme, which has resulted in a jump in international trade.
Truckers hit as cargo volumes decline at Mombasa port (Business Daily)
A decline in cargo at the port of Mombasa has hit freighters who have seen 40 percent of the trucks parked due to lack of business. The slowing demand for ferrying cargo has also affected freight charges with the cost of transport to Kampala dropping by 17 percent, according to the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA). KTA chief executive officer Dennis Ombok said they are now charging as low as $2,000 down from $2,400 with the decline attributed to sluggish demand. “The volumes of cargo at the port have gone down and now most trucks have been parked due to lack of business,” Mr Ombok said in an interview with the Business Daily. Kenya Ports Authority acting managing director Rashid Salim said the fall in cargo has been occasioned by the effects of the Covid-19 and a shortage of containers that have affected the shipping industry across the world.
S. Sudan firm sues over termination of its operations at Mombasa port (The East African)
A South Sudanese clearing company is seeking to challenge termination of its operations at the Port of Mombasa by two South Sudan government agencies. AA Global Logistics Ltd wants to have a unilateral decision by the Director General South Sudan Customs Service and South Sudan Embassy in Kenya contained in their letters dated April 29 and May 7, whose effect is to terminate its operations at the Port of Mombasa, quashed. According to the company, which has also named Kenya Ports Authority as an interested party, the decision by the respondents to terminate its operations at the Port of Mombasa is high handed and capricious. “To terminate the applicants’ operations is flawed in law for lack of any legal basis to warrant the termination,” argued AA Global Logistics Ltd in its application seeking leave (permission of the court) to institute judicial review proceedings against the two South Sudan agencies.
Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2021, signaling a partial recovery from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic which caused growth to stall last year. According to the 23rd edition of the Kenya Economic Update, Rising Above the Waves, private consumption is expected to strengthen, supported by a recovery in wages and household incomes, and strong remittances. A slower deployment of vaccines due to supply challenges, logistical impediments to domestic distribution, and vaccine hesitancy, could weaken the recovery. Furthermore, external factors such as setbacks to the global economy due to a resurgence in infection rates could adversely impact the projected recovery in Kenya’s goods exports, tourism, and capital inflows. In an adverse scenario, near term average growth would be lower, at 3.7 percent. On the upside, the pandemic’s economic impacts could fade faster than anticipated, including due to accelerated vaccination, leading to a faster recovery in economic activity.
Economy now stable despite blips – Mthuli (The Herald)
The Government has assured economic stability despite flash blips witnessed recently and the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic that has left many scars on global economies. Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said this in an interview with The Herald, giving assurance that measures put in place to insulate the local currency were sustainable and being fortified. “There is a predictable environment, the exchange rate and also a downward environment for inflation. You want inflation to come down and it is on the way down overall. He said the current situation is that there is still macro-economic stability and there is determination to maintain macro-economic stability and supporting sustainable economic growth, on the macro front, as well as providing cover for the micro-economy.
Angola: Changes in oil and gas sector accelerate economic diversification (International Financial Law Review)
Angola is among the resource-richest countries in the world, but its economy seems to be forever moving at a crawl. The reason is well-known: over the past decades, it has become so dependent on petroleum that it has neglected every other key sector. In fact, hydrocarbon production still represents over 90% of the country’s exports. Once famed for being a major global producer and exporter of iron ore, gold and copper, the industries in Angola have largely slowed. Likewise, production of coffee, sugarcane and cotton, timber and paper-pulp, and processed fishing have also diminished, and Angola’s exports of these products today represent close to a hand full of nothing. The pandemic has hit Angola hard. A stimulus plan including social assistance and health spending measures was cleared, a supplementary budget (using a conservative oil reference price) was approved, and a set of tax and monetary measures aimed at supporting the economy and controlling inflation were passed.
The Executive Boards of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have determined that Sudan has taken the necessary steps to begin receiving debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Debt relief will support Sudan in implementing essential reforms to improve the lives of its people by allowing the freeing up of resources to tackle poverty and improve social conditions. Sudan’s external public debt will be irrevocably reduced – through HIPC debt relief and other debt relief initiatives anchored to the HIPC initiative – by more than US$50 billion in net present value terms, representing over 90 percent of Sudan’s total external debt – if it reaches the HIPC Completion Point in about three years’ time.
Morocco stands out as a country that has seized the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to launch an ambitious program of transformative reforms. After its initial efforts to mitigate the immediate effects of the pandemic on households and firms, the authorities have launched various policies to correct long-standing inequities and overcome some of the structural bottlenecks that have constrained the performance of the Moroccan economy in the recent past. This reform program has the following pillars: (i) the creation of a Strategic Investment Fund (the Mohammed VI Fund) to support the private sector; (ii) the overhaul of the social protection framework to boost human capital; (iii) the restructuring of Morocco’s large network of State Owned Enterprises. In addition, the government has recently unveiled the terms of a new development model that places significant emphasis on human development and gender equity, and on the need to reinvigorate recent efforts to incentivize private entrepreneurship and boost competitiveness. If successfully implemented, these reforms could lead to a stronger and more equitable growth path.
Morocco asks Egypt to abide by fair trade rules (The North Africa Post)
Moroccan Trade Minister has asked Egyptian peer to abide by fair trade principles in line with the Agadir Free Trade deal after Egyptian authorities blocked on purpose a cargo of Dacia cars made in Morocco. Trade Minister Moulay Hafid Alamy told MPs he complained to his Egyptian peer about the unjustified delays and waved the card of reciprocity. He said that cars made by the same company at Somaca factory in Casablanca were allowed in while a cargo of 630 Dacia cars was blocked, adding that delays in Egyptian ports may reach up to 3 months.
Speaking on L’Expert Tunisian tv, Libya’s Minister of Industry Ahmed Abuhisa said it has become a given and a necessity for Libya and Tunisia to have much closer trade linkages and interconnections as they complement each other. Abuhisa was speaking on the margins of the ‘Financing Investment and Trade in Africa 2021’ conference that was held between 24-26 June at the Laico Hotel, Tunis and organized by the Tunisian African Business Council (TABC). The event had dedicated a day to Libya during which transit trade with sub-Saharan Africa was discussed in a workshop entitled: “Reviving the transit route and transit trade and making Tunisia and Libya the gateway to sub-Saharan Africa”. Localizing industry and manufacturing Abuhisa said Tunisia is well ahead and the model for Libya to follow in industry/manufacturing. It is our first model to learn from, he insisted.
A senior official of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA/SRO-CA) has urged the Government and private stakeholders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to fully appropriate the African Mining Vision of 2009 in order to sustainably exploit and beneficiate the country’s strategic mineral deposits, link the mining sector to other sectors of the economy and create lasting jobs and wealth for Congolese and other Africans. Jean Luc Mastaki, who heads the Economic Diversification and Policy Reform Section of ECA/SRO-CA, was speaking at the weekend at the Protestant University of Congo during a panel discussion to announce and emphasise the importance of a forthcoming DRC-Africa Business Forum meant to prompt the development of a robust battery, electric vehicle (BEV) and renewable energy value chain and market in Africa. Such a value chain should be capable of helping Africa to capture a larger share of this expanding BEV industry projected to be worth US$8.8 trillion by 2025.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will create the largest free trade area (since the formation of the World Trade Organisation), in the world measured by the number of countries participating. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. It will make African countries more competitive. Successful implementation will be key, including careful monitoring of impacts on all workers – women and men, skilled and unskilled – across all countries and sectors, ensuring the agreement’s full benefit. Under AfCFTA, extreme poverty would decline across the African continent – with the biggest improvements will be in countries with currently high poverty rates.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) will continue to support the LAPSSET Corridor Infrastructure Project linking the East African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan with the potential of increasing trade, peace, security and women’s development, its Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said on Monday. In a speech at a ministerial meeting to inspect projects under the corridor in Addis Ababa, Ms Songwe said the ECA was supporting the project, which connects the three countries by roads, rail and ports, not just as an infrastructure project but as a gender project that would see women traders benefit from lower costs of doing business that the facilities would engender.
LAPSSET in good shape to materialize regional integration (Ethiopian Press Agency)
The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Project, which aims to connect Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan via road, rail, air and petroleum pipeline said to demonstrate substantial infrastructural progress and it is in a good shape to enhance connectivity among the three countries. Addressing the meeting, Ethiopia’s Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said that the main section of Ethiopian side of the project is near to completion as the 92 km express road is completed, the Moyale one stop center inaugurated and preparation of necessary legislations are completed.
The year 2020 witnessed the full effect of the Covid-19 global pandemic that met a world unprepared to deal with the disruptions it brought on, drastically changing and impacting the lives of people all over the world and generations to come. In Africa, like elsewhere, communities and nations banded together to adapt to the new Covid-19 reality. However, as has been witnessed in the past, vulnerable groups were still left with a greater burden to bear as a result of the economic and social impact of Covid-19 lockdowns coupled with inadequate access to healthcare facilities. Africa’s women and girls constitute one of the most vulnerable groups impacted by Covid-19 and the lockdowns.
Gender mainstreaming is a priority for the African Union in its approach towards responding to the pandemic. The African Union is working on a report that will consist of necessary approaches that will aid in assessing the impact of COVID-19 responses on gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as raise awareness and sensitise African citizens by demonstrating the need for gender mainstreaming in tackling the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. The report will provide recommendations to member states on concrete interventions which can be enacted in policy and practice across sectors such as the economy, health and education, to ensure gender-responsive COVID-19 responses.
The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University formed a trilateral partnership to help in the development of African countries. The arrangement will be focusing on the improvement of food security, clean energy and education through innovation of already existing science and technology elements. The AfCFTA in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD has identified priorities that are centred on increasing investments in human development. Such increases in welfare come with effective and capable institutions such as the public, private, and academic sectors, as well as non-governmental, inter-governmental, regional, and continental institutions.
5G can add value in Africa, help address mobile broadband inefficiencies (Engineering News)
Fifth-generation (5G) mobile telecommunications technologies can add value and solve several consumer and business challenges in Africa. Previous generation mobile broadband technologies have limitations regarding network capacity, spectral efficiency and latency, but 5G is well-positioned to ameliorate concerns around the inefficiencies of previous mobile broadband generations, says information and communication technology market research multinational IDC West Africa senior research analyst Oluwole Babatope
According to the latest Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, Africans face some of the highest food costs when compared to other regions of a similar level of development. Nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and animal proteins, are relatively expensive when compared to staples such as cereals and starchy roots, and, the report argues, some of the reasons for this are systemic. Overall progress in meeting global nutrition targets remains unacceptably slow in Africa, according to the report. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where the number of stunted children continues to rise. Although the prevalence of stunting is declining, it is falling only very slowly and despite progress, nearly a third of the children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted.
The findings highlight the importance of prioritizing the transformation of agri-food systems to ensure access to affordable and healthy diets for all, produced in a sustainable manner. Smart policies and interventions throughout agri-food systems are needed to raise yields, lower costs, promote nutritious foods, and reduce health and environmental costs.
While significant efforts have been made in recent years to facilitate transport along West Africa’s corridors, building transport infrastructure remains a huge challenge. “As a woman, it’s not always easy spending long hours on the road. Our corridors do not have enough rest areas with proper bathrooms and facilities, and I often have to wash up behind my truck,” Maman Africa says. Insecurity creates additional logistical challenges, as violence along corridors has intensified in recent years. “We need a clear security plan because security and document controls often overlap. We want a safe corridor with less red tape and smoother processes that will make our ports and businesses more competitive.”
Innovation at the heart of new Swiss plan for Africa (Business Daily)
The first Swiss strategy for sub-Saharan Africa was only recently adopted by the Swiss government. The document – only the second regional strategy in Swiss Foreign Policy – reflects the fact that Africa is of increasing importance on the world stage and of growing economic relevance. It focuses not only on challenges, but emphasizes the opportunities and, importantly, it no longer argues in terms of aid, but promotes economic cooperation, beneficial to both parties.
Africa’s economic development, in particular, has a direct impact on Europe, both positive and negative. On the one hand, the growing middle classes in many African countries render the continent increasingly attractive for investments and exports; on the other hand, the migration flows of young Africans to Europe – on the rise again just in the last few weeks – remain a cause of concern. A country like Switzerland clearly benefits when Africa prospers. The emphasis of the Swiss government will therefore increasingly shift from development to economic cooperation.
Since the inception of the TRIPS Agreement, LDCs have benefitted from an extended transition period to apply provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, in recognition of their special requirements, their economic, financial and administrative constraints, and their need for flexibility in order to create a viable technological base. The transition period for LDC members under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement had been extended twice before (in 2005 and 2013). The decision adopted was the result of intensive consultations over several months. Members were broadly in agreement on the principle of the extension but were unable to reach a decision due to their differences on the additional request that members graduating from LDC status should be accorded additional flexibilities under the TRIPS Agreement after their graduation.
Highlighting the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the least developed countries, Nepal has stressed on the need to give due priority to such nations in vaccine cooperation as well as on post-pandemic recovery. Nepal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel said this at a key ministerial conference of Asia Pacific countries held virtually by China on Wednesday to discuss the Beijing-backed Belt and Road Cooperation. More than 30 parties, including foreign ministers or economic ministers of relevant countries in Asia-Pacific and representatives of the UN and other international organisations attended the conference themed “Promoting Cooperation on Combating the Pandemic for Sustainable Recovery”. Highlighting the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the LDCs and poorer segment of society, he stressed on the need to give due priority to those countries in vaccine cooperation as well as on post-pandemic recovery, the statement said.
Transport and logistics account for a considerable part of GHG emissions globally, with shipping alone accounting for 2-3%. We, the corporate leaders, must make decisions with long-term perspectives and accelerate the transition now. At the same time, the global community and international regulatory authorities need to move faster on the climate agenda than has been the case so far. At its MEPC76 meeting on June 10-17, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted already-agreed short-term efficiency measures and agreed to start discussing market-based measures. Market-based measures consisting of a greenhouse gas price should be introduced to close the competition gap between new, green fuels and fossil fuels. That way, switching to green fuels will make economic sense for the industry. We support such a CO2 price, and it must be substantial enough to achieve true price parity.
On prioritizing digital communications infrastructure, for digital nomads and new economic promise (Trade for Development News)
Tourism has traditionally been an important tool for many of these countries to develop their economies and bring in foreign revenue. But, as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have discovered, dependence on tourism can be a double-edged sword, and many of their economies have been seriously affected during the pandemic. LDCs and recent graduates can learn from some SIDS attempts to tap into the growing opportunity from the number of persons seeking to work remotely. Island nations including Dominica have paved the way for emerging economies by launching a variety of schemes to attract remote workers, including new visa categories and targeted marketing efforts. This has been a vital step in recovering some of the income lost due to the dearth of holidaymakers. To both attract this new form of visitor and encourage local workers to take up new opportunities, communications infrastructure is more important than ever. Given that the new remote worker economy usually requires a strong and stable internet connection, it can present a particular barrier for SIDS and LDCs to benefit from this new growth opportunity.
The latest Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows a growing commitment around the world to tackle and reduce cybersecurity threats. “In these challenging times, the unprecedented reliance on ICTs to drive society, economy and industry, makes it more important than ever before to secure cyberspace and build confidence among users,” affirmed ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao. “Governments and industry need to work together to make ICTs consistently safe and trustworthy for all. Some 64 per cent of countries had adopted a national cybersecurity strategy (NCS) by year-end, while more than 70 per cent conducted cybersecurity awareness campaigns in 2020, compared to 58 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively, in 2018.
Climate finance committed by major multilateral development banks (MDBs) rose to a total of $66 billion last year from $61.6 billion in 2019, according to the 2020 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance, published today. Of this, 58 per cent – or $38 billion – was committed to low- and middle-income economies. The total climate co-finance committed during 2020 alongside MDB resources was $85 billion. Together, MDB climate finance and climate co-finance totalled more than $151 billion. The amount of private direct mobilisation stood at $5.9 billion.
The crash in international tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic could cause a loss of more than $4 trillion to the global GDP for the years 2020 and 2021, according to an UNCTAD report published on 30 June. The estimated loss has been caused by the pandemic’s direct impact on tourism and its ripple effect on other sectors closely linked to it. The report, jointly presented with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), says international tourism and its closely linked sectors suffered an estimated loss of $2.4 trillion in 2020 due to direct and indirect impacts of a steep drop in international tourist arrivals.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has reiterated South Africa’s support for international efforts to tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister said the country regards “access to affordable vaccines for all” as one of the immediate priorities. Pandor was speaking at meetings of the Group of 20 (G20) taking place in Matera, Italy, on Tuesday. “Every effort must be made to support the rollout of vaccines to all. Defeating the virus is our common interest, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today launched the RIVA value chain analyzer, a new online platform to support policymakers, analysts and researchers who want to understand how well integrated countries are in global value chains. Through RIVA, the Regional Integration and Value Chain Analyzer, policy analysts from more than 72 economies can now easily generate insightful graphs and statistics about their contribution to, or dependence on, imports or exports of partner countries across 38 sectors. The tool automates time-consuming data analysis tasks that could previously only be performed by experts with specialized trade and data management skills.