tralac Daily News
Consumers have been urged to rise against anti-competitive, unfair, and unreasonable practices by firms during the Covid-19 pandemic. This sentiment was echoed by panellists during an online stakeholders dialogue on the Pricing Regulations and Other Related Matters hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), in conjunction with the Competition Commission, National Consumer Commission, Consumer Goods and Services Ombud and Proudly South African.
“On one hand you are dealing with price gouging and other offences, and on the other, because of the extended period of the disaster, you also need to be very careful to allow demand to push prices slightly high in some areas to make sure that you get increased supply of the goods on the shelf. I think that is going to be a major challenge for most agencies as we go ahead. How you deal with very high prices is going to be complicated,” said Director at the Centre for Competition Law and Economics, Stellenbosch University, Professor Willem Boshoff
The Principal Analyst at the Competition Commission, Mr Sipho Mtombeni said there was an interesting time ahead as we are looking to recover the economy, all efforts need to align with the government’s efforts to recover the economy. “The pandemic has caused us to reprioritise and deal with the influx of complaints that increased because of the pandemic with the intention of protecting the citizens. During the pandemic, the Commission received over 2 000 complaints against retailers, suppliers and pharmacies who supply essential goods and services, and personal protective equipment,” added Mtombeni.
No paltry measures as poultry master plan aims to fix chicken industry challenges (Cape Business News)
The broiler business is beset with commercial challenges, including the rising cost of feed, disease control barriers to exports, as well as the influx of cheap imports from Brazil, the EU and the US, mainly of bone-in chicken portions. SA Poultry Association’s general manager Izaak Breytenbach revealed that the contribution to GDP by the poultry industry over the past year increased from R48bn to over R50bn – and is expected to reach R54bn by the end of 2022. Sapa, however, applied for another anti-dumping application earlier this year, this time on bone-in chicken from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain. “If the duties are imposed, they will be imposed on top of the duties already in place. In the case of Brazil, this means the anti-dumping duties would be added to the 62% duty already in place,” Donald Mackay, trading specialist at XA International Trade Advisory, said.
Widespread global shipping disruptions may jeopardise South Africa’s retail high season. The sector is recovering on the back of pent-up demand, after a -21.8% decline in imports last year caused by the temporary halt of global trade, Investec anticipates a GDP growth of 2.9% for 2021. There are rising headwinds regarding vessel capacity and container availability, port congestion, increasing freight rates and production delays. Consequently, importers and retailers are facing the risk of receiving stock too late for the sale season. This unusual situation arises from a combination of significant events such as disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Suez Canal blockage, on-going port congestion and vessel omissions which is having a crippling effect on supply chains. The result is a slew of reliability and capacity problems resulting in some cargo arriving between two to five weeks later than scheduled.
Kenya, Tanzania industrialists kick off meeting on market access (Big New Network)
Kenyan and Tanzanian manufacturers kicked off a three-day meeting on Wednesday to deliberate on trade promotion and market access between the two neighboring countries. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) said the meeting will address the upper band rate of the East African Community (EAC) common external tariff (EAC CET); harmonization of domestic taxes; harmonization of product standards; review of the EAC Rules of Origin; and activation of the dispute settlement mechanism.
KRA links to 23 clearance points at Mombasa port (Business Daily)
Cargo checkpoints at the Port of Mombasa have been linked to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in a move expected to reduce goods clearance time and enhance transparency. This is after the taxman commissioned a Sh2.6 billion Mombasa port metropolitan fibre optic network on Wednesday that will connect 23 clearing points to a centralised location in KRA’s Nairobi headquarters. The project is part of the Sh50 billion Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Programme (EARTTDFP) that connects Kenya and South Sudan through the laying of a fibre-optic cable and construction of a superhighway. The project entails harmonisation of Customs and other border, risk management and control procedures, designing of a one-stop border post (OSBP) at Nadapal/Nakodok, strengthening of the cross-border trade including enhancing KRA coordination with other border agencies and supporting the implementation of an integrated border management system.
Nairobi, US trade deal faces fresh hurdle in Congress (Business Daily)
Negotiations for a free trade deal between Kenya and the United States face fresh hurdles after the expiry of a key legislative tool for getting faster Congress approval, dimming the prospects for its conclusion. President Joe Biden allowed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which delegates powers to the US head of state to fast track trade negotiations with the Congress, to expire on July 1. In the absence of a TPA, any deals reached would be subject to amendments by US legislators and would face difficulties getting ratified. This will affect trade deals already in the works like the negotiations with the United Kingdom and Kenya, which had hoped for a speedy conclusion of the talks that were official opened in July last year.
Kenya wanted to do a deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the United States without tariffs or quotas until 2025. The trade deal is seen as a pointer to how America will engage with Africa, especially in the face of China’s growing influence on the continent.
Some tea growers in Kenya are shifting to produce other crops as climate change threatens tea plantation in the country. Once a hub to perfect tea-growing conditions, the world’s largest black tea exporter is now seeing the effects of climate change. A May 2021 report by Charity Christian Aid says that by 2050 the changing climate will slash Kenya’s optimal tea production conditions by over a quarter. This would hurt farmers and workers alike. The report recommended cutting emissions to prevent climate change accelerating harm caused to tea-growing regions. But as experts mount warnings about the dangers of climate change, Kenya’s tea growers are already witnessing a drop in production. Kenya’s tea industry contributes about 4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Before 2014, Kenya’s aspiring drivers had to visit several government offices to be licensed to drive. Fragmented services and manual procedures created loopholes and opportunities for cartels that processed fake licenses and motor vehicle logbooks, contributing to a thriving underground economy that exposed banks and insurance firms to potential fraud and losses. To combat these issues, the Kenyan government established the semi-autonomous National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to harmonize the operations of key road transport departments and manage road safety. Services that used to take weeks or even months are now instant. These improvements have helped to facilitate regional trade and ease the cost of doing business in East Africa. To manage essential transport services, the NTSA launched the Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS) electronic data platform in 2016. TIMS is a sophisticated, yet easy to access digital platform that incorporates motor vehicle registration and transfers, licensing, and inspection in a secure public access online portal.
Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea announced that Egyptian exports to the Kenyan market will continue to be exempted from customs duties for a year, starting in early July. The ministry explained in a statement, Tuesday, that the exemption came within the framework of the exception granted by the East African Union to the states of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, which are members of the union, and the COMESA grouping to grant the rest of the COMESA member states a comprehensive customs exemption.
To fully benefit from the AfCFTA, Egypt needs to update its policy approach for economic transformation, says the country’s Production Transformation Policy Review (PTPR) released today. Egypt is among Africa’s economic heavyweights. Although Africa is a small industrial player, accounting for only 2% of world manufacturing, Egypt is the continent’s top manufacturing hub, accounting for 22% of its value added in this sector. The report says Egypt needs to continue implementing effective reforms for more economic progress. Although the agenda is vast, the report identifies three actions that could be game-changers in the current context: 1) Investing in making AfCFTA a real development driver; 2) Engaging the private sector in innovation; and 3) Getting policymaking ready for the future
Angola is working for the approval, this month, of the operationalisation process of the agreement for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the minister of Industry and Trade said Wednesday in Luanda. Victor Fernandes, who was speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Workshop on “Prospects for regional integration in the AfCFTA,” said that Angola was ready to start trading, and was only waiting for the statutorily required authorisations. “Angola has already ratified entry into the trade zone in 2020. At this moment, we are preparing its tariff offer and it is practically ready (...),” the Angolan minister said.
Ghana Lobbies Nigeria On Import Prohibitions (The Will)
The Ghanaian government has asked Nigeria to consider a review of the prohibition list banning the importation of specific goods and commodities from other countries. Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Suman Kingsford Bagbin, made the request while addressing members of the House of Representatives during Wednesday’s plenary. The Ghanaian Speaker, who decried the low level of trade between African countries, noted that “of about US$460 billion trade volume, only US$69 billion was transacted among African nations.” The Ghanaian Speaker disclosed that the Parliament was making efforts at resolving the concerns of the Nigerian traders in his country through a joint effort between the two nations.
NACCIMA harps on full implementation of free trade agreement (The Guardian Nigeria)
The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has tasked the Federal Government with the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) so that the country could tap from the huge benefits presented by the trade agreement. “This is a giant leap towards increasing intra-African trade and creating collective wealth. It is also a bold step to take Africans out of poverty.” The senior special assistant to the President on public sector matters and secretary of the National Action Committee on AFCFTA, Francis Anatogu, while presenting the keynote speech, observed that for Nigeria to trade under AfCFTA, it must have a stable environment that would support businesses to flourish. “We must realize that we have to be involved in things that will reduce our import bills. We have to build on other infrastructure and manage our borders properly. We can’t trade under AfCFTA with an unprotected border and circulation of fake products”.
Zim removes Sadc visa requirement (The Herald)
Zimbabwe has become the first country to exempt all SADC Member States from visa requirements, taking the lead in the region as part of accelerated efforts to operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). African countries are relaxing visa rules for each other to boost trade and tourism facilitated by the historic free trade agreement, AfCFTA, ratified by African Union (AU) member states. In a statement last night, the outgoing chair of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava gave some details of the journey travelled by the organ under Zimbabwe’s chairmanship. “Regarding the implementation of the visa exemption among SADC Member States and the facilitation of free movement of SADC citizens within the region, I wish to highlight that Zimbabwe is the first and only country that has exempted all SADC Member States from visa requirements, other SADC Member States are undertaking internal processes to ensure that SADC citizens can travel freely in the region.”
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will create a platform for an adjusted Pan-African payment system, via instant transactions, thus reducing the costs of currency conversion. According to the secretary-general of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, who was speaking on Wednesday at the workshop on ‘The prospects of regional integration in the African Continental Free Trade Area’. “Africa has about 42 types of currencies and we know that the cost of currency conversion is quite high. If we want to make a transaction from Angola to Kenya, first we have to convert the kwanza (Angolan currency) to the US dollar and then to Kenyan currency,” he said. He noted that this process contributed to market inefficiency and to the cost of the product.
Rwanda selected to host continental e-trade platform (The New Times)
The African Union, through its department of Economic Development, Trade and Mining, on Wednesday chose Rwanda as the continental headquarters for the African e-trade Group. The development, announced during the annual Africa Integration Day, will, among others, facilitate the group’s ambition of supporting 600,000 SMEs in Africa over the next five years. The African e-Trade Group is a social entrepreneurship initiative with the primary aim of providing a comprehensive e-commerce platform to enhance the role of Africa’s SMEs in inter and intra-African trade. The continental data centre will facilitate Small and Medium Enterprises towards lowering hosting data prices, Ingabire highlighted. “AeTrade Group will also create specific programmes to support Rwandan SMEs that will grow towards the increase of export of Made in Rwanda products to other African countries,” she asserted.
Use AfCFTA to boost agriculture – Dr Yakubu (BusinessGhana)
A former Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu, has called on Africans to use the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to boost agriculture. He said the African continent was typically agrarian, with most of its economies driven by agricultural activities. He said AfCFTA, therefore, presented a platform to lift the sector to the next level. “Agriculture, which is where we are more efficient at generating products, will be the best way to capitalise on AfCFTA. That is what we know how to do best and if AfCFTA has come, it is an opportunity for us to take advantage of a bigger market so that our farmers and agribusiness actors can benefit,” he stated.
Togo’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Local Consumption, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is organizing a series of workshops for women traders and entrepreneurs to develop their capacity to participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In his message to the opening session, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Local Consumption, Claude Talime said: “The proper application of the provisions of this agreement requires from you a perfect understanding and mastery of the procedures and conditions that goods must meet to benefit from the continental preference.” The ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Togo, Joaquín Tasso Vilallonga, in his own speech, said: “It is essential to ensure now that the AfCFTA is implemented from a gender perspective and that the women involved, those who are in cross-border trade as well as those who produce goods or services to be traded across borders, are well informed of this opportunity.”
The 2021 African Integration Forum will attract participants drawn from African Union Member States, AUC, AU Specialized Institutions, RECs, Institutions from the UN System and other Development Cooperating Partners, African Financial Institutions, the Private Sector, Academics, Professionals, Youth, Women, Civil Society, the Diaspora, Research Institutions and Think Tanks, among others. In order to emphasise and celebrate the importance of all stakeholders’ participation in building regional integration in Africa, the various categories of stakeholders (AU Institutions including the AfCFTA Secretariat; Regional Economic Communities; Private Sector, Civil Society, Research Institutions; the African Diaspora) will be given the opportunity to lead certain activities of the programme, under the coordination of the AU Commission.
A Better Normal for Africa by Vera Songwe (Project Syndicate)
Despite incurring high costs in terms of lost and foregone social and economic progress during the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa has so far avoided the kind of health and economic calamity that some anticipated when the crisis began. Like any crisis, the pandemic could represent an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a better future. But it won’t be easy. First and foremost, the continent must get COVID-19 under control, which requires ensuring equitable access to vaccines. As it stands, some advanced economies are on track to achieve widespread vaccination within months. Yet Africa is struggling to secure the 90 million doses it needs to inoculate the highest-priority 3% of its population, including health-care workers and the most vulnerable groups. This is clearly a humanitarian disaster in the making: every day those most at risk are denied access to COVID-19 vaccines is a day when more people die needlessly. But it is also an economic disaster: according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, if the advanced economies continue to hoard vaccine doses, the global economy would suffer losses of more than $9 trillion in 2021.
The 3rd ordinary session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental, and Interregional Infrastructures, and Energy (STC-TTIIE) took place online from 28th to 30th June 2021, under the theme ‘The Role of Infrastructure & Energy in the Post COVID-19 AFRICA; Towards Sustainable Economic Recovery, Resilience, Jobs, Industrialization & Trade’.
“The post COVID-19 era requires more agile decision-making and coordination of efforts by all stakeholders. We must be able to make use of the challenges to our own benefit shifting to digitalised and decarbonised pathways with value addition and new business models at the centre for more inclusive, resilient and sustainable societies,” added Commissioner Abou-Zeid. Addressing the ministerial session, African Union’s High Representative on Infrastructure Development in Africa H.E. Raila Odinga said infrastructure is crucial to unlocking socio-economic growth in Africa by boosting industrialization and trade in the continent, adding, “the ambitious continental framework for trade within the continent under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would only be realized through sound infrastructure in transport and energy sectors.”
Access to financial services remains one of the most acute constraints for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in West Africa. Due to their smaller size, limited experience, and undocumented performance, SMEs can be very risky to lenders – especially when they operate in fragile markets or more challenging environments. The International Financial Corporation’s (IFC) Small Loan Guarantee Program is an innovative mechanism to boost lending to SMEs. The IDA Private Sector Window provides support to the program, in the form of a pooled first-loss guarantee of up to $120 million, allowing IFC to scale up its support in underserved and fragile markets to unbanked SMEs – especially female-owned SMEs or SMEs working in priority sectors like climate or agriculture.
West Africa has significant energy resources. The region accounts for about one-third of African gas and oil reserves and over 23,000 Megawatt (MW) of technically exploitable hydropower capacity. However, a key challenge has been distribution: the major sources of electricity supply are located far away from the main centers of consumption. The West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) program was conceived to help address this problem. Doing so is a critical part of improving access to energy in a region where much of the population has relied on firewood and charcoal to meet their energy needs. The first phase of the IDA-supported International Transmission Hub Project aimed to increase Ghana’s electricity export capacity, on the one hand, and reduce the cost of electricity supply to Burkina Faso, on the other. This was achieved through the development of a transmission line between Bolgatanga in Ghana and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
Africa may not meet target on energy – study (Africa Renewal)
The report deplores the fact that Africa relies mainly on fossil fuels and biomes instead of diversifying its primary energy supply, given its plethora of resources (renewable and non-renewable). “Households use 86% of biofuel and waste energy for cooking, while the transport sector consumes 78% of oil. Natural gas is mainly used in industrial sector.” In his presentation, Anthony Monganeli Mehlwana, an ECA Economic Affairs Officer, highlighted the “urgent need to invest in electricity infrastructure, diversify electricity supply and embrace modern renewables.”
The African Development Bank and Climate Investment Funds have launched the Gender Technical Assessment of Opportunities to improve Implementation of Plastics and Waste Management in a Ugandan Municipality study, which examines gender challenges in waste management and plastic recycling. In Uganda, plastic waste poses a significant environmental challenge in the form of clogged drains and 80% of the waste pickers are women. The economic model for a waste recycling industry relies on a demand for the recycled material and a market price sufficient to make it attractive to householders to cover the costs of collection, according to the report’s findings.
East African region should green its leather and textile sectors in order to boost exports, says a report released on Wednesday by the International Trade Center (ITC), a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. According to the report, these sectors are among the most polluting and have a negative effect on the local environmental quality, especially water resources. “The international and textile value chains are making concerted efforts towards going green and reducing their ecological footprint,” says the report that was jointly produced by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). “For East African businesses, being unable to comply with these standards creates a risk of being left out of global supply chains and represents a high cost in missed export market opportunities,” the report says.
The pandemic may have a long-lasting impact on CEMAC’s growth potential, which is already curtailed by structural, governance, and transparency issues. The policy response from national and regional authorities in 2020 helped mitigate the economic fallout. CEMAC, however, experienced a severe recession in 2020, fiscal and external deficits increased, and public debt rose with some countries having debt sustainability issues. The region is facing an increasing dilemma between internal and external stability, as external reserves fell sharply between mid-2020 and March 2021. A moderate recovery in economic growth is expected from 2021. This outlook is highly uncertain and contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and the vaccination program. Other significant risks include delayed implementation of the ongoing or possible new Fund-supported programs, uncertainties in filling large external financing needs, oil prices, and a possible deterioration in the security situation.
A new report by the Malabo Montpellier Panel is calling on policymakers to rethink and reorient African food systems. The report argues that the next level of policy-making will require a more holistic and nuanced approach – one that operates within the interlinkages of policy domains that have been historically dealt with separately, such as agriculture, health, education, and the environment. Drawing upon the experience of four countries – Ghana, Malawi, Morocco and Rwanda – the report Connecting the Dots: Policy Innovations for Food Systems Transformation in Africa presents five recommendations to elevate policymaking and institutional change to the next level in order to resume momentum towards reducing hunger and malnutrition.
As the continent logistics and warehousing market is projected to reach US$80 billion in the next two years, such companies are disrupting old trucking business models by basically using digital tools to match needs with availability, and demand with offers in the best possible ways. The businesses are modelled on an Uber-like approach where registered truckers and drivers are permanently connected and matched up with demand. Yet, as disruptive as the model is, innovative logistics companies have only started scratching the surface. They need to grow and stay sustainable in the long run. For this to happen, a massive ingestion of cash is needed. International investors have been showing interest. E-logistics startups are key in growing Africa’s internet economy, which could be worth an additional $180 billion between 2023 and 2025, according to the Google-IFC report. However, the report noted, the infrastructure investment remains short by $67 billion to $107 billion annually.
EU-Africa: No partnership in sight (The Parliament Magazine)
In the spring of 2020, the European Commission published its new EU-Africa Strategy. The document pointed out the necessity of cooperation between the EU and the African Union through five partnership pillars. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the strategy in need of urgent reform. As a result of the pandemic, the African continent is facing a crisis that is barely manageable, making European support in the short-, medium- and long-term indispensable. Against this background, it is difficult to understand why the EU-Africa summit, where the partnerships envisaged with the African Union should be discussed, has been repeatedly postponed. It would have been an important opportunity to discuss the urgent health and trade issues. However, the cooperative tone of the EU-Africa Strategy, which is continued in the COVID-19 recovery plan with regard to global vaccine production opportunities, is not reflected in practice.
How rich countries can help Africa respond to the third wave of COVID-19 (Atlantic Council)
Nearly five hundred days after the first COVID-19 lockdowns, which were quickly followed by rich countries flooding the zone with vast spending programs, Africa still awaits comprehensive support from the international community to help offset the pandemic’s economic blows. When the Group of Twenty (G20) finance ministers and central bank governors meet July 9 and 10 in Venice, Italy, they have an opportunity to respond in a meaningful way. The international community needs to ensure that Africa receives assistance commensurate with the nearly $20 trillion in monetary and fiscal expansion that rich countries had committed, as of November, to their own economies during the pandemic. Without fresh financing, the economic divergence between advanced economies that are experiencing a return to growth and struggling low-income countries will only continue to widen. A fresh start will require a commitment to plug financing gaps across all fronts.
The digital transformation of the construction sector involves the integration of the physical and virtual processes and workflows, and will provide between 12% and 16% cost savings over the lifespan of a project, as well as potentially doubling the margins companies are able to achieve. The construction industry has various technologies and processes, but, while they are digital technologies, they do not represent the digital transformation of the industry, University of the Witwatersrand School of Business chair of digital business Professor Brian Armstrong explained during a July 7 webinar.
Transnational governance of natural resources for the 21st century (Brookings Institution)
Natural resources – whether they are water, land, underground, or in the air – should be seen as common goods, meant to be shared by all. The race for natural resources to power the simultaneous energy and digital transitions the world is experiencing rages among the major powers. But the transitions also mean that historically valuable natural resources and their associated investments – prominently oil and other fossil fuels – will eventually become stranded, with severe consequences for countries almost totally reliant on those assets, especially those with weak state capacity.
Developing countries have had difficulties managing their natural resources – so much so that the term “resource curse” was coined describing the paradox of countries rich in natural resources performing worse than countries that are resource poor. Volatility, loss of competitiveness, excessive indebtedness, and internal and external conflicts are behind the poorer performance of resource-rich countries. Research has shown that good institutions, unsurprisingly, moderate that curse.
Averting the looming debt distress (Daily Sun)
With the national debt put at over N33 trillion and N1.02 trillion spent on debt servicing in the first Quarter of 2021, the Federal Government should heed the advice by experts on how it can avert another debt crisis. Two eminent Nigerians, the Director-General of the WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Finance Minister, President of the AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Tarek Amer, had expressed concern over the increasing national debts in most African countries, especially in Nigeria, where the experts fear the debt burden could reach an all-time high of N40 trillion by the year end, with a high risk of Nigeria falling into another debt trap. As the World Bank recently said in its report on Nigeria, rising debt and food prices pushed about seven million Nigerians into poverty in 2020. Currently, Nigerian’s debt portfolio, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), has exceeded N33trillion. The debt expenses for the period represent about 30.7 per cent of the total N3.5 trillion budgeted for debt service for the year.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata), which is the global representative body of the airline industry, is seeing some encouraging signs of recovery in the industry. “There is some optimism about the airline industry, but [also] reasons to be cautious,” Iata senior economist Ezgi Gulbas told reporters participating in the virtual Iata Global Media Days 2021 on Wednesday afternoon. Growth in the air cargo sector has been strong. Global demand in May this year was 9.4% higher than in May 2019 (the last month of May before the Covid-19 pandemic). “This provides some relief to the industry,” she noted, which was still struggling with a slow recovery in air passenger traffic.
Integration into the global economy through WTO membership can provide a pathway to economic development, peace and prosperity, Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang said on 6 July. DDG Zhang spoke at the launch of the Research and Knowledge Hub of the Trade for Peace Programme, a new platform that will act as a central coordinating unit to gather, share and disseminate knowledge, information and research on the trade-peace nexus. “Trade can help to break the vicious cycles of fragility, conflict and poverty. Trade can raise people’s incomes and build interdependence between communities and countries, contributing to shared prosperity and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The chair of the Sub-Committee for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Ambassador Monique T.G. Van Daalen of the Netherlands, urged WTO members at a 2 July meeting to continue efforts aimed at improving the use of trade preferences granted to LDCs. The chair urged all members that grant preferential treatment to LDCs to examine how they can further facilitate market access for LDC exports. She said the aim should be to produce some concrete outcomes on LDC priorities at the WTO’s upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). The WTO Secretariat reported on the annual review undertaken by the Committee on Rules of Origin on efforts by preference-granting members to ensure that preferential rules of origin for imports from LDCs are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access. The Secretariat also reported on LDC trade statistics and LDC preference utilization in the first half of 2021, highlighting a webinar on preference utilization and the factors that drive trade preferences that took place on 19 May 2021.