tralac Daily News
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) and business advocacy organisation Business Unity South Africa (Busa) on July 9 announced the formation of the Sars Private Sector Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Stakeholder Group to improve border management. Over the next four years, the programme will expand to include all supply chain actors, a simplified programme for small, medium-sized and microenterprises, a single government AEO programme and a single Southern African Customs Union AEO programme with augmented benefits.
The trade agreement that could be the most significant development in U.S-Africa trade relations, since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed in Congress in 2000, faces another hurdle. This is attributable to the expiration of the key legislative tool (TPA) needed to accelerate Congress’s approval of the agreement. Consequently, the prospects for the deal to conclude becomes gloomy. The TPA (trade promotion authority), which allows the head of state to fast-track trade negotiations with congress expired on July 1 and without it, the eventual implementation of the bill would be subjected to amendments by U.S legislators. This would make ratification difficult. This turn of events will see trade deals already in the pipeline, among which are negotiations with Kenya, and the United Kingdom, affected.
Kenya tops growth in new connections of electricity (Business Daily)
Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing the population with no access to electricity, pointing to the impact of the State’s focus on rural areas for nearly a decade. The Energy Progress Report for 2021, a product of a partnership between the World Bank and bodies such as the International Energy Agency, says Kenya’s electrification pace is now ahead of population growth. Kenya’s annualised increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was at 5.6 percent – the largest among the top 20 countries in the world with the biggest electricity access gap.
Manufacturers call for expedited resolution of Non-tariff barriers (Capital Business)
Manufacturers from Kenya and Tanzania have called for the expedited resolution of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and the review of the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC CET). Kenya’s exports to Tanzania declined from USD 342.9 million in 2016 to USD 294.9 million in 2020 while its exports to the rest of the world grew from USD 5.7 billion in 2016 to 6.02 billion in 2020. On the other hand, Tanzania’s exports to Kenya grew from USD 126.2 million in 2016 to USD 258.2 million in 2020, while her exports to the world grew from USD 4.4 billion in 2016 to USD 5.2 billion in 2020.
New milestone as Mwanza-Port Bell route returns (Dailynews)
The government’s efforts to turn Mwanza into a transport and business hub has begun to pay off, with the shipping of petroleum products from the rock city to Port Bell, in Kampala resuming after almost 17 years of lull. Recently, when laying the foundation stone for construction of the Mwanza-Isaka section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), President Samia Suluhu Hassan affirmed Tanzania’s intent to implement all flagship projects, including transport infrastructures to ease transportation of goods and services within and to neighbouring countries. She stressed that her government’s will is to make Mwanza city as hub of trade and transport, thus relieving traders from neighbouring countries from travelling as far as to Dar es Salaam to get goods. Traders could take goods from Mwanza, the city has close links with neighbouring countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo, to their countries instead of travelling to Dar es Salaam.
TanTrade throws weight on spices industry (Dailynews)
Spice producers have all reasons to smile following the launch of Tanzania spices label, a significant step forward for marketability, quality assurance and sustainability. The purpose of the label is to improve the reputation, quality and output of the spices industry across Tanzania. All farmers who take on the label are supposed to adhere to set standards, namely the standards specifications of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), registration with ISO as well as production standards such as the use of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The spices label is created by Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) and the private sector represented by Tanzania Spices Association (TASPA) with the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC) within the framework of the European Union-funded East African Community (EAC) Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP). TanTrade Executive Director, Edwin Rutageruka, said Tanzanian spices have never been trademarked. As such, exported products are often repackaged and sold under another country’s label.
FG, stakeholders partner to curb fish importation (The Guardian Nigeria)
The Federal Government and other stakeholders have expressed concern over 2.5 million metric tonnes of fish imported into the country yearly. They said despite abundant aquatic resources in the country, Nigeria produces less than one million metric tonnes of fish from both aquatic and artisanal sources as against the 3.6 million tonnes yearly demand. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, while speaking during the National Dialogue on Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria, said there was a renewed drive by the Federal Government to increase domestic fish production to reduce importation of frozen fish.
Nigeria Customs Generates N1trn In 6 Months (Leadership)
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it generated N1,003,752,951,735 in the first six months of 2021. The N1,003,752,951,735 is higher than the N713,548,395,834 generated within the same period of 2020 by N290,204,555,900. “By the end of this extended period, the Service will not hesitate to invoke appropriate sanctions as contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 LFN 2004 as amended, against any private aircraft owner that fails to take advantage of this period to verify his or her aircraft. “This feat is as a result of the resolute pursuit of what is right and willingness to adapt to changes brought about by global health challenges occasioned by COVID-19,” Mr Attah stated.
The Federal Government approved the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in November 2020 and deposited the instrument of ratification on Dec/ 15, 2020, thus becoming the 34th State Party to ratify the treaty. The AfCFTA agreement is expected to, among others; motivate Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to expand their businesses to other African countries, foster business growth and increase profit. It will also contribute substantially to the development of the manufacturing sector, and increase job opportunities and the demand for labour that will ultimately lead to a reduction in unemployment and create opportunity for Nigerian professionals to seek employment in other African countries.
The First Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana (BoG), Maxwell Opoku-Afari has said the central bank is in the advanced stages of piloting a digital currency to move the economy towards a cash-lite environment. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, he noted that the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will be piloted from September this year. “The piloting phase is expected to start by September and the success rate will determine the step.” Without giving the timelines for the launch of the digital currency, Mr Opoku-Afari indicated that the central bank’s digital currency is fiat money. “It is cash on its own.” He continued, “Digital Currency is part of the central bank acknowledging the need for digital payment and digital delivery of financial services, this is formally to get into that space and be able to provide a platform on which we can add more value to digital transactions.
Striking iEPA deal amid young AfCFTA premature – trade expert (The Business & Financial Times)
Even though the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) is not necessarily a bad move, striking such a deal at a time when the African continent is in the midst of creating its own market and local industries are still struggling is premature, international trade law expert Maame Awinador-Kanyirige has said. Her comments come after news broke last week that the iEPA, which will see Ghana progressively reduce its tariffs to zero for 78 percent of its imports from the EU by 2029, has finally become operational after years of back and forth which halted the deal. “The idea of going into the AfCFTA was to strengthen the capacity of our local industries so that we can compete effectively within Africa, and also on the continental scale. And before the EU interim agreement came into force, we had also signed this UK trade partnership which also opens our market to the UK. Trade partnerships of this nature are called reciprocal trade agreements. What it means is that you are saying you and the developed economy are at par, forgetting we are the weaker economy because those economies have already strengthened themselves through trade with the EU.
Ghana, EU to collaborate for sustainable cocoa production (Business24 Ghana)
Ghana is committed to collaborating with the European Union (EU) and other stakeholders to attain a sustainable cocoa production that promotes good forest cover, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has said. Currently, Ghana exports 80 percent of its cocoa to the EU, and early this year, the union said it will contribute £25m pounds to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon – who are the first-, second-, and fifth-biggest cocoa producers in the world, respectively. Diana Acconcia, the EU Ambassador to Ghana applauded the launch of the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Cocoa by the European Commission, which seeks to deliver concrete recommendations to promote sustainability across the cocoa supply chain through collective actions and partnerships.
Mid-year budget must be conservative to avoid fiscal slippages– economist cautions gov’t (The Business and Financial Times)
Government must be conservative in its expenditure approach for the next six months as the finance minister prepares to present a mid-year budget to parliament to avert Ghana’s debt stock from reaching unsustainable levels, that is an advice from economist Dr. Lord Mensah. According to him, borrowing from the international market may attract high interest rates due to the ravaging effects of COVID-19 on global economies. This, he warned could push the economy into a highly debt distress position if government does not manage its appetite for borrowing but go ahead to accept loans with high interest rates. Already, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that Ghana’s debt stock may reach 81.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Data released by the Bank of Ghana shows that Ghana’s total public debt stock reached an all-time high of GH¢304.59 billion in May 2021, representing 70.2% of GDP.
Uganda revitalizes water transport to boost regional trade (China.org.cn)
Uganda has reopened the Central Corridor to transport cargoes across Lake Victoria from the Tanzanian town of Mwanza to the Ugandan capital Kampala, its transport authorities said Wednesday. “The revitalization of the Central Corridor after many years of inactivity is a clear testimony of Uganda’s commitment to strengthen our economy,” Fred Byamukama, Uganda’s state minister for transport, said while receiving the first consignment of bulky goods from Mwanza on Wednesday. The minister said the rehabilitation of the Meter Gauge Railway from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza has increased efficiency and reduced transit time. Dar es Salaam is the Tanzanian seaport linked to Mwanza by railway and to Kampala by water. The route used to transport up to 95 percent of Uganda’s inbound cargoes.
Egypt’s Trade Minister leads largest trade mission to West, Central Africa (Daily News Egypt)
Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea has arrived in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, at the helm of the largest Egyptian trade mission to Central and West Africa. Gamea was received at the Presidential Palace in Dakar by Senegal’s President Macky Sall. During her trip to Senegal, the minister will deliver a message from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to Sall, affirming Egypt’s keenness to develop joint cooperation with Senegal. This comes with the aim of achieving the well-being and prosperity of peoples of two countries. The message also confirmed the depth of the historical and strategic relations between the two countries, and Egypt’s keenness to develop various frameworks of joint cooperation, especially in the economic, commercial, and industrial aspects.
Foreign trade continued its fall for the second consecutive month in May 2021, with exports and imports dropping in volume by 10.4% and 2%, respectively, according to the latest statistics on “foreign trade at constant prices (CVS-CEC), May 2021,” released by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). This drop, which was sharper for export than for import, entailed a considerable drop in the coverage rate by 6.8 points to 72.5% in May. After falling by 4.2% in April, the volume of exports dropped further in May by 10.4%.
AfCFTA Holds 2nd Quarterly Press Briefing 2021 (Proshare Nigeria)
The AfCFTA Secretariat on Friday, July 9, held its 2nd quarterly press briefing. At the event, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA who doubled as the host, Mr. Wamkele Mene, addressed journalists across Africa highlighting the major strides recorded by the body since the first press briefing. The Secretary-General disclosed that the secretariat has in the intervening period worked towards the operationalization of the dispute settlement mechanism covering all major trade areas such as trade in goods, investment, and intellectual property.
Speaking further, the Secretary-General mentioned that as of today, 40 nations had ratified the agreement while expressing optimism that Seychelles, DRC, and Burundi would submit their ratification by September. Meanwhile, efforts are being made also to enlist Tanzania which is regarded as a strategic nation, given that it is a large east African country. Concerning the need for sensitization, the Secretary mentioned that the body has been engaging with the private sector in different parts of the continent to encourage them to spare head the sensitization program since they stand to benefit the most from the agreement.
In a document that was made public this Tuesday, July 6, 2021, it was confirmed that Burundi officially ratified the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area on June 17, 2021. The document signed by President Evariste Ndayishimiye states that after analyzing the agreements signed by the African Union head of states signed in 2018 in Nouakchott, the government of Burundi accepts all dispositions of the agreement and therefore the agreements are accepted, ratified, and confirmed by Burundi.
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) hosted a productive strategic coordination meeting on 14 June 2021 between the Bank’s President Prof Benedict Oramah and the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene. During this forum, collaboration and co-operation between the institutions were deliberated upon, to support and advance the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The two parties discussed a range of joint activities to support the implementation of the AfCFTA and boost intra-African trade, notably the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System, the Intra-African Trade Fair, and ongoing technical cooperation and assistance. Furthermore, the meeting discussed the AfCFTA Adjustment Facility where Afreximbank will work with the Secretariat and other partners to advance the establishment of the AfCFTA Adjustment Facility. This follows the recommendations of the African Union Summit to support countries adjust in an orderly manner to the liberalised trade regime created by the AfCFTA.
The United Republic of Tanzania has launched its Trade information Portal which is expected to boost intra-regional trade in East Africa as well as the region’s share of international trade. The Trade Information Portals (TIPS) map out all Imports, Exports and Transit Procedures, fees and time. The next step after mapping is to simply remove unnecessary and redundant bottlenecks. Trade Information Portals are now operational in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Burundi TIP is still under development and is expected to be launched on 23rd July, 2021. The South Sudan Trade Information portal will be developed later.
The historic launch of the SADC Free Trade Area in 2008 brought a phased programme of tariff reductions and resulted in more than 85 percent of intra-regional trade among Member States attaining zero duty status. This has been complemented by efforts to open borders to citizens of fellow Member States in the spirit of promoting the free movement of goods and services, and facilitation of movement of persons within the region. In 2019, the Region adopted the Simplified Trade Regime Framework which has contributed to trade facilitation.
The approval of the Implementation Plan for the SADC Financial Inclusion Strategy and Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SME) Access to Finance in 2018 has expanded financial inclusion in the Region. Ten Member States have developed strategies or a national roadmap on financial inclusion aimed at empowering SMEs, youth and women to participate in economic activity, and there has been an improvement in financial inclusion among adults in the region, to 68 percent.
The SADC Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) multi-currency platform went live in October 2018 to facilitate faster and more efficient payment transactions in the Region. All Member States, except Comoros, are participating in the SADC-RTGS and a total of 85 banks (central banks and commercial banks) are also participating in the system. The SADC-RTGS has enabled Member States to settle payments among themselves in real-time, when previously it took several days to process cross-border transactions.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has, since its establishment in 1980, created vibrant institutions which have strengthened regional mechanisms to facilitate deeper regional integration. These institutions include the River Basin Organisations (RBOs), Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), SADC Climate Services Centre, SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), Centres of Excellence, Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme (RVAA), SADC Accreditation Services (SADCAS), Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF).
The private sector is a key player in job creation and development of the region and should therefore take centre stage in the regional integration agenda, John Bosco Kalisa, the new CEO of the East African Business Council (EABC), has said. Kalisa who recently took over at the regional private sector body noted this Wednesday, July 7, after paying a courtesy call on his predecessor, the current East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General, Peter Mathuki, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The two officials agree on private sector development and resolution of trade barriers being top priorities for the EAC, so as to increase Intra-EAC trade and promote the region as an investment destination. Among others, Kalisa seeks to re-energize the EAC-EABC Private Sector Technical Working Groups so as to create a platform to deliberate on sustainable solutions to issues hampering regional trade.
A recently published African Development Bank scoping study on implementing NDCs in Africa recommends that development financial institutions and other investors focus on high-impact, high-growth potential start-ups that can drive climate-related innovation. The study, NDC implementation in Africa through green investments by private sector - A Scoping Study, was produced in partnership with the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance and launched during a virtual African Development Bank webinar held on 1 July 2021.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) team up to empower African small businesses, women and young entrepreneurs to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and expand cross-continental business opportunities. This joint UN initiative comes as the continent contends with the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to drive recovery as well as build resilience for African businesses across the continent. By signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today in a joint online ceremony, both organizations commit to boosting the economic empowerment of women, increasing economic and employment opportunities for youth, broadening access to trade and market intelligence for small businesses and promoting e-commerce to enhance intra-African trade. Small businesses, women and young entrepreneurs will be equipped to take advantage of the AfCFTA and more effectively cater to the African market, which is expected to total 1.3 billion consumers by 2050.
While currently, China is Ghana’s biggest trading partner and source of foreign investment, the African countries are keen on deepening economic ties with India due to the cultural commonalities. The African nation also features among the first 10 countries with high Chinese debt “India must try and work out a mechanism with the AfCFTA to ensure it has access to the continent. This makes more sense rather than going individually country by country,” Mehta added. “We will work with you to realize your vision of a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth, empowered citizens and sustainable development; an integrated and culturally vibrant Africa; and, a peaceful and secure Africa, which has its rightful global place and is a strong partner for the world,” he said in his address. Touted as the biggest trade deals in the world since the World Trade Organisation, the AfCFTA signed between 55 countries, of which 54 are members of the African Union, aims to create a single market comprising 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of about $3.4 trillion. India is now Africa’s third largest trading partner. The Observer Research Foundation said that it is critical for India to view Africa not just as a destination for short-term returns but as a partner for medium and long-term economic growth.
International trade is vital to ensure global food security, DG Okonjo-Iweala told participants at the meeting, explaining that trade is necessary to move food from the parts of our planet that have a food surplus to the parts that have a food deficit. DG Okonjo-Iweala pointed to the wider links between trade and food security. Trade has helped create jobs and raise incomes, enhancing people’s ability to purchase food, she noted. The Director-General pointed to governments’ general restraint in the use of trade restrictions during acute phases of the COVID-19 crisis last year. Maintaining the free flow of essential food products meant that WTO members prevented the health crisis from becoming a food crisis. Trade has been one of the solutions, and not one of the obstacles, to global food security in the midst of the pandemic, she argued.
G-20 Warns of Risk to Global Recovery From Virus Variants (Voice of America)
The global economic recovery is at risk from the rise of new coronavirus variants and poor access to vaccines in developing countries, finance ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies warned on Saturday. The G-20 gathering in the Italian city of Venice also endorsed a move to stop multinational firms from shifting profits to low-tax havens. A final communique said the global economic outlook had improved since G-20 talks in April thanks to the rollout of vaccines and economic support packages, but acknowledged its fragility in the face of variants like the fast-spreading delta. “The recovery is characterized by great divergences across and within countries and remains exposed to downside risks, in particular the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus and different paces of vaccination,” it read.
The communique, while stressing support for “equitable global sharing” of vaccines, did not propose concrete measures, merely acknowledging a recommendation for $50 billion in new vaccine financing by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization. Brandon Locke, of the public health non-profit group The ONE Campaign, decried what he described as the G20’s inaction, calling it “a lose-lose situation for everyone.”
“We welcome the G20 themes of People, Planet Prosperity – and looking ahead to the G20 summit, we call on PM Mario Draghi, Finance Minister Daniele Franco and the other G20 leaders and finance ministers to: firstly, make the IMF’s promised new issue of Special Drawing Rights available as soon as possible and define a clear path forward for their maximal re-allocation and on-lending. Secondly develop a wider green clean recoveries investment partnership package which is properly financed, co-developing with emerging and developing countries innovative, fair and equitable financial solutions that can ensure their integration into the global financial infrastructure, address debt vulnerabilities and unlock far more financing for green investments. Lastly, we urgently need to address the rising global vaccine inequity and support efforts to establish regional vaccine manufacturing hubs. As the developed world is steadily reaching its vaccination goals, Africa braces for a third COVID-19 wave, as short-term vaccine supplies dry up leaving many countries unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups.”
“I am very encouraged by the substantial progress made by the G20 at this meeting on a number of crucial issues. In particular, I want to recognize the G20’s support for the historic agreement on a minimum corporate tax rate. This will help countries preserve their corporate tax base and mobilize revenue by ensuring that highly profitable companies pay their fair share everywhere. The G20 recognized the urgent need to be better prepared for future health threats and welcomed the Report of the High Level Independent Panel on Financing Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, committing to work with international financial institutions and relevant partners to develop proposals for sustainable financing to strengthen future pandemic preparedness and response.”
Grassroots organisations at the forefront of the fight for gender justice have consistently been the most heavily hit by funding cuts during the pandemic, despite increasing donor commitments toward gender equality. This comes at a time when gender rights issues including violence against women and girls, are increasingly being reported as emerging concerns due to the pandemic.