Government moves ahead with controversial ‘localisation’ plans for some products in South Africa (BusinessTech)
Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel says the government’s industrialisation and localisation policies aim to build and upgrade domestic production to supply domestic and foreign markets, support broader economic development and promote employment growth. Patel has faced criticism in some sectors after the government announced plans to designate more products under the 100% local content category to support SMMEs in the local manufacturing sector. It has also considered blocking some imported products that are not 100% local. Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A this week, Patel said that the localisation is not just a policy of his department but has ‘resounding support’ among South Africans who recognise the need to industrialise the local economy. “It is the policy of the administration and follows the commitment in the manifesto of the ruling party to stronger localisation as a pillar of its industrial policy. The commitment to localisation is included in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan of government,” he said.
“The approach on localisation has also been unanimously endorsed by the business, labour and community representatives at Nedlac. They represent a large number of firms and entrepreneurs, workers in different sectors of the economy and organisations made up of representatives of various community interests.”
SEZs remain attractive, but embracing broader scope as energy, technology change economy (Engineering News)
The 12 special economic zones (SEZs) in South Africa remain relatively attractive destinations owing to the financial and non-financial incentives and support services they offer to specific industrial segments. However, they are also developing additional services and offerings to meet demand from companies in new industrial segments, including renewable energy and advanced manufacturing.
Building South Africa’s informal trade to rebuild a nation (IOL)
SOUTH Africa has a large informal business sector, and within fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) specifically, it is made up of as many as 200 000 spaza shops, spazarettes, superettes, midi wholesalers, and hawkers. These informal traders have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently, riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. As a pillar of the township economy and job creation, the informal trade also provides unique opportunities for partnership and collaboration with FMCG manufacturers and service providers of the formal sector. Like most emerging markets, South Africa has a large informal business sector often referred to as the “hidden economy”. In terms of South African grocery retail, as much as 40 percent of total food bought by consumers each year is from informal traders such as hawkers, small and larger spaza shops and midi wholesale traders, who service 77 percent of the population. Although this channel is constantly confronted with challenges, it is a resilient one, whose value was estimated to be worth R157 billion in 2019. Millions of people rely on informal traders not only to provide them with basic essentials, but also to sustain the kasi (township) economy and job creation.
Opinion: Could South Africa’s logistics crisis derail the citrus sector’s stellar growth trajectory? (Engineering News)
A little-known, positive fact in a country that tends to focus on the negative is that South Africa is the second-biggest exporter of citrus in the world after Spain, the largest in the southern hemisphere and the global leader in long-distance exporting. Exports account for 95% of earnings from citrus, which overtook wine as South Africa‘s largest agricultural export in 2010. The citrus sector is our prime value earner in terms of exports and responsible for the employment of some 120 000 citizens, making it the biggest employer in the agricultural space.
The exceptional performance of the citrus industry saw production grow 25% between 2019 and 2020, making the sector one of the success stories in a dismal year for economic growth. With a few weeks of the 2021 export season left, output is expected to grow another 6% from 150-million cartons produced in 2020 to 159-million cartons this year. This is slightly down on the projected 163-million cartons, largely due to smaller fruit than anticipated, and the stronger rand will mean lower returns to the farms.
Zim growth outpaces regional peers: RBZ (The Herald)
ZIMBABWE’s economy is growing faster than all its peers in the region, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Dr John Mangudya says, driven by strong agricultural output in 2021, attractive global mineral prices and massive construction across the country. In fact, East Africa’s Djibouti, driven by recovery of port activities and perk up in global demand, might be the only African country to grow faster than Zimbabwe this year, according to an earlier forecast by pan-Africa lender, African Development Bank (AfDB). The sustained growth trajectory dovetails into Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube’s mid-term budget review projection that the economy would this year expand by 7,8 percent, 0,4 percentage points better than his initial forecast.
Coupled with strong output from agriculture, manufacturing and mineral exports, Zimbabwe’s economy has responded positively and is poised to record its first major growth following two years of successive decline, first due to drought and cyclones and the negative impact of Covid-19
EPZs domestic sales hit Sh12bn on Covid waiver (Business Daily)
Local sales of goods manufactured in the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) hit Sh11.99billion last year after the Treasury temporarily waived restrictions that compelled firms to sell only 20 percent of the annual production in the local market, the Economic Survey 2021 shows. The value of domestic sales contracted from Sh8.6 billion in 2019 to Sh6.7 billion in 2020, while imports decreased to Sh36.8 billion during the same period. Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani last year allowed firms in the preferential zones to sell all their products in the local market in a bid to cushion the industry from losses inflicted by coronavirus. The EPZ firms are traditionally only allowed to sell only 20 percent of the annual production in the local market. Major export markets for EPZ-made products, including the US and large parts of Europe, last year shut down airports and sealed off their borders in efforts to curb the spread of the virus, effectively cutting off EPZs’ exports.
Coffee production drops 18 percent on lower yield (Business Daily)
Kenya’s coffee output dipped 18 percent last year on lower crop yields, the Economic Survey 2021 shows. The output was recorded at 36,900 tonnes in the 2019/20 season, down from 45,000 tonnes the previous year. During the period, coffee production by cooperatives decreased by 16.2 percent while that of estates likewise decreased by 22 percent in 2020.
Farmers have an option of selling their coffee directly to international buyers, or contracting marketing agents to sell through the weekly auctions at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. Sales through both channels, however, remain susceptible to price volatility due to fundamentals in the global markets—leaving farmers deeply exposed, especially in instances where commodity prices fall sharply.
While Kenya exports most of its coffee as cleaned beans, only five percent is shipped out as roasted. Statistics from the Coffee Directorate showed that Kenya exported 98 percent of coffee in the period 2019/20 as green coffee. Therefore, the country is missing out on the value addition derived from selling roasted and packaged coffee.
Kenya Airways leases 2 planes to Congo carrier (Business Daily)
Kenya Airways is leasing two idle planes to Congo carrier in a deal will see the cash-strapped airline save over 100 million annually on maintenance cost and earn additional revenue from hiring the crafts. KQ on Monday signed a wet aircraft lease agreement with the Congo Airways, which will see the airline rent the two aircraft and crew for an initial two years.The national carrier is leasing two Embraer jets that remained parked at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after KQ cut routes and frequencies on the back of low numbers for passengers.”… this is an important step in enhancing cooperation to increase air connectivity and offer greater passenger and cargo options between the two countries. The timing of this agreement is correct, considering the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, as it will increase the utilisation of our aircraft,” said KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka.
Export goods that remained resistant to Covid-19 impact (The Citizen)
Some local products remained resistant to the shockwaves of the Covid-19 after increasing their sales outside Tanzania amid decreasing exports.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), the value of exports of gold, manufactured goods and horticultural products increased during the year ending July 2021 which was affected by the pandemic that has disrupted economic activities across the world.
During the year, exports of goods and services amounted to $8.98 billion compared with $9.38 billion in the corresponding period in 2020. Much of the decline was observed in travel receipts, reflecting impact of the pandemic which had hit hard on the tourism industry. However, exports of gold which is considered a safe haven amid volatility in the financial markets, increased by $261.9 million to $2.99 billion and accounted for 53.8 percent of export of non-traditional exports. “This was largely boosted by high price in the world market,” said the central bank in its monthly economic review for August.
Export of manufactured goods increased by 36 percent to $1.12 billion, while horticultural products increased to $332 million from $194.6 million.
TPA to boost Dar port capacity to handle larger marine vessels (IPP Media)
Dar es Salaam port is the main gateways to any country’s economy because it facilitates international trade for exports as well as imports. The port remains one important gateway in Africa as it serves landlocked countries—Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. The port is strategically placed to serve as a convenient freight linkage not only to and from East and Central Africa countries, but also to middle and Far East, Europe, Australia and America. That’s why the government works hard to strengthen its infrastructures to continue to deliver competitive services to its customers within and outside the country. TPA Director General, Eric Hamissi said recently in Dar es Salaam that the authority has been deploying a number of measures to ensure it handles at least 50 percent of goods destined to landlocked within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in the next few years up from the 25 percent currently being handled Hamissi said: “The modern facility at the port has continued paying off after it had recorded yet another milestone when it received a ship christened MV Serene Theodore”.
Salami: With Debt Service-to-Revenue at 98%, Nigeria’s Borrowing Unsustainable (THISDAY Newspapers)
Nigeria’s current public debt stock is unsustainable even though the country’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at 35 per cent seems comfortable, Chairman of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Dr. Doyin Salami, has said. Salami also lamented that with debt service-to-revenue ratio at 97.7 per cent (January to May 2021), the country’s public debt profile was unmaintainable.
According to Salami, the country’s debt stock is estimated to hit about N54 trillion when Ways and Means as well as the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) liabilities and projected fiscal deficit for 2021 are put into consideration. To improve revenue, therefore, the economist said the government must block leakages, unlock opportunities at state level, improve tax efficiency and coverage, and sell-off dead assets, which are estimated at $900 billion.
Salami, in a presentation on “The State of the Economy,” pointed out that the federal government’s expenditure had been on the increase, and at a faster pace than its revenue. He added that public debt had continued to expand on the back of growing fiscal deficit.
MSME policy to anchor new entrepreneurship age (BusinessGhana)
The novel MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy is to anchor a new age of entrepreneurship within the micro small and medium enterprise MSME sector. The policy will also help stimulate the growth of MSMEs to produce world-class products and services capable of competing locally and internationally. It is being implemented by the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA) and will provide the administrative, regulatory, institutional and legal framework for the growth and development of the sector.
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, at the Chamber SME Business Forum in Accra, observed that the GEA will lead in the implementation of the policy and also help with the formalisation of businesses. She said this will help MSMEs to have access to the government’s key interventions such as the COVID-19 Response Grant for SMEs. According to her, the policy provides clear policy direction and opportunities for all actors within the MSME space that will enable them contribute meaningfully to Ghana’s economic development.
Mrs Asiamah-Adjei noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides a lot of opportunities particularly to MSMEs as they have access to the entire African market. She said the ministry will continue to support business operators to take advantage of the numerous opportunities under the AfCFTA. To achieve this, she said a comprehensive National Action Plan for harnessing the benefits of AfCFTA has been developed under which an Enterprise Support Programme has also been initiated.
Ghana must not falter in fight against illegal tobacco trade (Africa Times)
Ghana is set to complete its ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, an international treaty under the aegis of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The move is a landmark step for a country where one in five cigarettes are sold illegally and an encouraging one, given the deleterious effects that the black tobacco market has on public health, government revenues and organized crime. However, Ghana must take care not to allow Big Tobacco – which, despite its public condemnation of illegal trade, has been repeatedly proven to facilitate it – in through the back door. Industry experts and major health organizations agree that a robust track and trace system is the optimal way to clamp down on smuggling and diminish the industry’s influence in a single stroke, but the adoption of inefficient, ineffective and potentially compromised technology could undermine those efforts. As such, Ghana must tread a careful path to ensure it complies with both the spirit and the letter of the FCTC and its associated protocols, serving as an example to other developing nations in the process.
The negative impact of the parallel tobacco market is well-documented. By accessing larger supplies and circumventing taxation laws, vendors can sell their products more widely and at lower cost, prompting an uptick in smoking rates – and a corresponding increase in related illnesses and fatalities. This is especially pertinent in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) like Ghana, which are expected to comprise the lion’s share of Big Tobacco’s target market going forwards—one expert predicts that as many as 80% of tobacco-related deaths will occur in LMICs by 2030.
Experts: Technology Adoption Will Enhance Development, Growth of AfCFTA (THISDAY Newspapers)
Technology experts have stressed the need for collaboration among government, policy makers, the banks and Financial Technology (FinTech) players, in order to adopt the right technology that will enhance faster market development and growth of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The experts who spoke at the Techgrind Africa virtual event organised by Summitech Computing Limited in Lagos recently, said such collaboration would help AfCFTA to contribute to the strengthening of African currencies, through the use of different technology solutions to navigate procurement, payment, logistics and communication, during trade transactions.
According to the experts, the success of AfCFTA would largely depend on technology to achieve its goals. They were of the view that the involvement of major technology industry players would facilitate Pan-African competition, as industry players would incorporate the opportunities that the agreement brings, into immediate plans and also take advantage of them to expand trade.
Digitisation in Africa Could Lift 30 Million People Out of Poverty and Boost Economic Development (The Fintech Times)
Building a comprehensive digital infrastructure is imperative to realising Africa’s enormous economic potential, according to a senior advisor from the International Trade Centre – the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations. “Making eCommerce a success on the African continent is challenging. Approximately, only 11% of platforms in Africa take electronic payments, and others deal in cash,” James Howe, Senior Advisor at the International Trade Centre, explained at the inaugural Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (Egypt-ICF) in Cairo, launched by the country’s Ministry of International Cooperation. Howe added that through trust, the continent’s digital development will be accelerated. “The single biggest challenge is trust – a commodity in short supply. It is important to develop trust to address issues on the continent, and this will help facilitate an environment for eCommerce in Africa,” he elaborated at a workshop entitled ‘Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Prospects and Challenges of Digital Trade for the Private Sector’ at the start of the second day of the Egypt-ICF.
African Union slams vaccine manufacturers for restricting access (EURACTIV)
The African Union on Tuesday (14 September) accused manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines of denying African countries a fair chance to buy them, and urged manufacturing countries – in particular India – to lift export restrictions on vaccines and their components.
“Those manufacturers know very well that they never gave us proper access,” Strive Masiyiwa, AU Special Envoy for COVID-19, told a World Health Organization briefing from Geneva. “We could have handled this very differently.”
Masiyiwa stressed that, in aiming to vaccinate 60% of its population, the African Union and its partners had expected to buy half the doses needed, while half were expected to come as donations through the COVAX programme, backed by the WHO and the GAVI global vaccine alliance. “We want access to purchase,” he said.
He urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to begin working on a standby pandemic readiness fund to help poorer nations buy vaccines in future, instead of having to rely on a sharing facility like COVAX – which has so far managed to provide only 260 million doses. “Vaccine sharing is good – but we shouldn’t have to be relying on vaccine sharing, particularly when we can come to the table with structures in place and say we also want to buy,” he said.
Efforts to develop an African base for COVID-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna’s shot, but a lack of progress in talks with the US company mean the project will take time, Martin Friede, WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research coordinator, told Reuters. COVAX is set to fall nearly 30% short of its previous goal of 2 billion shots this year.
Central Africa should unite against Covid, says IMF chief (ICLG.com)
The head of the IMF said a unified response to the economic problems caused by the pandemic would help bring a quicker and more lasting recovery to the region. International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has encouraged Central African countries to work together on the economic response to Covid-19, saying that a combined response would bring greater stability and strength. In a statement after she addressed a virtual summit of the heads of state of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Georgieva said “closely coordinated macroeconomic policies among all six countries and regional institutions are necessary to bolster CEMAC’s external and internal stability in the short term, and help the region emerge stronger from the crisis in the period ahead”.
She added that wider regional reform was needed to provide jobs for Central Africa’s growing work force, through economic diversification and less reliance on the commodities market. “Enhancing transparency in public finances and in the oil and gas sector, strengthening revenue mobilisation, supporting strong governance, and implementing business-friendly reforms will be particularly important,” Georgieva concluded.
Beyond The Crisis: Leveraging Airline Consolidation For Air Transport Industry Sustainability (Peace FM Online)
Air transport plays a fundamental role in Africa’s socio-economic development. The sector is a catalyst for promoting tourism and fostering trade and regional development. However, Africa represents less than 3% of global air traffic and over the past 15 years, the continent has had the lowest level of market consolidation compared to the other regions in the globe. The African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Lufthansa Consulting and Kenya Airways staged a high level workshop on 14th September 2021 on African airlines consolidation to discuss the reasons for few partnerships and limited airline consolidation, the challenges and benefits of consolidation and measures for action by industry stakeholders to address the situation.
Mr Abdérahmane Berthé – AFRAA Secretary General, in his remarks stated: “The aviation sector is reeling from the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic. We need to devise new approaches of doing business in the face of increasing concerns on the sustainability of African Airlines. A crucial element in the success of the African airlines is consolidation and collaboration. The engagement of States, airlines and all the relevant stakeholders is necessary to effectively achieve the required outcomes on airline consolidation in Africa.”
The forum articulated the following recommendations for action by the industry:
Leveraging Regional Gas Networks for Sustained Economic Growth (Energy Capital & Power)
With the discovery of significant natural gas resources across the African continent in recent years, and the global recognition of gas as an ideal transitionary resource in the shift to clean energy fuels, African stakeholders are aggressively pursuing gas-directed investment and development. With gas-rich countries across the continent turning their attention to resource exploitation, opportunities have emerged for the monetization and utilization both domestically and on a regional basis. Notably, through the establishment of regional natural gas networks through associated infrastructure developments, Africa can accelerate energy sector growth while ensuring the cross-border uptake of resources.
The west African region, specifically, has seen notable success in this area with the development of the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP) – a 681km gas pipeline linking Nigeria’s gas-rich Niger Delta region to regional countries Benin, Togo and Ghana. The WAGP, operated by the West African Gas Pipeline Company – a consortium comprising Chevron West African Gas Pipeline (36.9%), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (24.9%), Shell Overseas Holdings Limited (17.9%), Takoradi Power Company Limited (16.3%), Societe Togolaise de Gaz (2%) and Societe BenGaz S.A. (2%) – is the regions first natural gas transmission system. Providing a viable regional gas network, the WAGP enables regional countries to utilize Nigeria’s impressive 200 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, boosting energy access and socio-economic development.
African Leaders Discuss Ways to Minimize Impact of Climate Change (Voice of America)
High-level African officials met virtually this week to discuss the challenges Africa faces in trying to manage a growing population amid climate change. The conference was aimed at identifying ways African governments can manage these pressures to minimize or avoid conflict. Africa generates about 3% percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the lowest of any continent. But it’s more vulnerable than any other region in the world, since Africans depend so heavily on their natural environment for food, water and medicine. Speaking at a virtual conference Tuesday on climate, conflict and demographics in Africa, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said African governments need to keep the climate in mind as they try to boost their economies.
Ghana environment minister Kwaku Afriyie explains how climate change has impacted agricultural lands in the country. “The harsh and deteriorating climate conditions in northern Ghana undoubtedly energized region-growing food insecurity and seasonal north-to-south migration. And besides, increasing of floods and protracted drought lead to displacement of people. Statistics show that over the last few years, there has been a new internal displacement which has occurred in Ghana due to climate-induced disasters and even beyond our borders,” he said.
Cattle farmers face production, market hurdles (The East African)
Poor production methods and limited market access continue to hold back small African cattle farmers from developing, according to studies in Kenya and South Africa. A comparative study exploring the challenges farmers face in two cattle-farming provinces in South Africa and Kenya found that broker controlled markets — prevalent in Kenya — should be avoided in South Africa as market access for farmers is improved. It further identified the Meat Naturally Initiative (MNI), a sustainable livestock farming and land use initiative in the Eastern Cape, as a successful case study that could be replicated in both countries to tackle these challenges and increase the access and participation of small-scale farmers in beef markets. “In cattle farming, in particular, poor grazing practises and a lack of vaccination produce poor quality animals,” said director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University, and lead researcher in the study, Cyril Nhlanhla Mbatha, adding, “Limited information, poor infrastructure and cultural issues are some of the factors leading to low participation levels of these farmers in livestock markets.”
The study looked at how some of the common challenges in cattle production and market access have been overcome in both countries.
Africa beckons the Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers)
LAST week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in addressing the first Africa-Caricom Summit of Leaders thanked Africa for sending Covid-19 vaccines to Caricom. After the developed countries grabbed the lion’s share of the vaccines made available in 2021, countries that signed up for the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) facility, Covax, were subject to delays in receiving their vaccine orders. Dr Rowley, as the then chairman of Caricom had expressed concerns about what he described as vaccine apartheid for smaller countries.
The supply from the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) helped bolster the vaccines on offer in many islands, supplementing donations from India, the UK, Canada and the US as well as the Covax allotment.
The African Initiative, as it was called, was another vision of former prime minister Patrick Manning. “Given this country’s technological achievements in the energy sector, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has taken a decision to make our expertise in the sector available free of charge to a number of West African countries,” Manning had said at the eighth annual meeting of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Republic of Ethiopia.
“We see Ghana as a gateway into...Africa, not just entry to Ghana but its surrounding neighbours. The Caribbean, being one of the most desirable leisure areas in the world, utilised by people from the North and the East, we hope that Africans coming through Ghana, once we establish a mutual agreement and a direct service between the Caribbean and Africa, we believe that there’s tremendous potential for economic growth there,” Rowley said.
Faster trade from inland China to Africa via Port of Guangzhou (Global Times)
Port of Guangzhou, the world’s fifth-largest port, has opened a trade route carrying food from Central China to Africa, utilizing the multi-mode transportation of rail and sea freight, the port’s operator said on Wednesday. A train carrying the first batch of rice, part of Chinese aid to South Sudan and Kenya, left Zhuzhou, Central China’s Hunan Province on Wednesday.
Hunan is a vital player in China-Africa cooperation and the opening of the trade corridor allows inland provinces to send goods to Africa in a faster and lower-cost way, facilitating trade in Belt and Road markets. The new method using trains cuts costs by 60 percent compared with truck freight and the entire journey is also cut by about 10 days.
As rich-poor divide widens between nations, UN urges reform (Al Jazeera English)
A new report from the United Nations on Wednesday highlights divergent economic recoveries between nations and throws fresh urgency behind warnings that richer nations are not doing enough to help poorer countries from falling further behind as the world recovers from COVID-19 disruptions. “It’s really frustrating to see how responses to the pandemic have panned out rather disjointedly,” said Inu Manak, an expert in international political economy at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank based in Washington, DC in the United States. “During the financial crisis, there was a statement of all advanced countries shunning protectionism, but during the pandemic, we saw a doubling down of borders and a turn inwards and a push toward self-reliance rhetoric,” she told Al Jazeera.
The report found that developing countries (excluding China) will, by 2025, be as much as $8 trillion poorer as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.
The economic fallout of the pandemic left many developing countries with fewer fiscal resources and higher debt burdens. And for countries on the front line of climate change, this cocktail has the potential of shutting them out of growth and investment for years to come. “The danger of a lost decade ahead remains a very real one,” Richard Kozul-Wright, UNCTAD’s director of globalisation and development strategies, told Al Jazeera. “And so far, the discussion of reform of the multilateral system, along the lines that followed the financial crisis, has not happened, even though the system has clearly fallen short.” The Group of 20 (G20) nations’ Debt Service Suspension Initiative, which has extended about $13bn to eligible developing countries, is “nowhere near to what is needed,” he added.
Investment facilitation talks address S&DT, technical assistance and sustainable investment (WTO)
During the two-day plenary negotiating meeting, the first one after the summer break, the coordinator of the negotiations, Ambassador Mathias Francke of Chile, introduced the revised, cleaned-up version of the “Easter Text” — the negotiating document serving as the basis for the negotiations — which incorporates the progress achieved by participants since April 2021. The revised version further streamlines Section II on “Transparency of investment measures”, Section III on “Streamlining and speeding up administrative procedures”, Section IV on “Focal points, domestic regulatory coherence and cross-border cooperation”, and Section VI on “Sustainable investment”. Participants also discussed texts prepared by the coordinator, among others, regarding the preamble, the overall scope and cross-border cooperation of the “Easter Text”, making useful headway on these texts.
Based on recent members’ submissions, participants had a rich discussion on S&DT as well as technical assistance and capacity building for developing and LDC members, investment facilitation needs assessments, and proposals aimed at fostering sustainable investment. Participants emphasized the importance of S&DT and technical assistance, viewing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as a good starting point in this regard. In their discussions, they achieved good convergence on the “General Principles” guiding the two topics. Delegates also discussed a recently submitted proposal on the inclusion of a new provision on “home state obligations” aimed at recognizing the role of “home states” in facilitating outward investments.
E-commerce talks: two “foundational” articles cleaned; development issues discussed (WTO)
The online consumer protection article requires members to adopt or maintain measures that proscribe misleading, fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities that cause harm, or potential harm, to consumers engaged in electronic commerce. Members are required to endeavour to adopt or maintain measures that aim to ensure suppliers deal fairly and honestly with consumers and provide complete and accurate information on goods and services and to ensure the safety of goods and, where applicable, services during normal or reasonably foreseeable use. The article also requires members to promote consumer redress or recourse mechanisms.
Ambassador George Mina of Australia said the two articles were “foundational” for the initiative. He said the high-quality text achieved in both cases reflected the perspectives of a diverse range of developed and developing countries, and thanked New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong, China for leading the negotiating groups on these issues.
Jobs and Development Conference 2021: Good Jobs Transitions for Post-Pandemic Development (World Bank)
With a special focus on “good jobs transitions for post-pandemic development,” the fifth Jobs and Development Conference featured a wide range of latest research on jobs and development, including the differential impacts of COVID-19 on workers, migration and remittances, and gender gaps in the labor market. The three-day virtual conference, held in early September, was hosted by the World Bank, IZA, the Network on Jobs and Development, and UNU-WIDER. It showcased over 50 papers from economists, policymakers, and development experts, spanning 22 countries, and attracted more than 1,600 online participants. This year’s conference sent a strong message that - as the world emerges from the pandemic - policymakers will have to focus on creating better, more resilient jobs and managing jobs transitions in the context of global challenges, including climate change, gender inequality, and extreme poverty.
In his keynote address, Dani Rodrik of the Harvard Kennedy School explained why the ‘traditional’ model of development – with informal agricultural workers moving into formal, organized manufacturing jobs – is no longer creating enough good-quality, productive jobs for low-skilled workers in many lower- and middle-income countries.
He argued that globally, technological innovation has lowered the cost of capital-intensive technologies. This, in turn, has undercut the potential competitiveness of labor-intensive manufacturing in low-income countries – especially in formal firms that compete in global markets. The result is “premature de-industrialization: workers transition from manufacturing to services jobs much sooner and at much lower levels of income, compared to early industrializers.”
Rich nations head to South Africa seeking coal exit deal (Engineering News)
Four of the world’s richest nations will send a delegation to South Africa as soon as next week to seek a deal to begin closing the country’s coal-fired plants, according to people familiar with the matter. Officials from the US, UK, France and Germany are looking for an agreement with Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which generates almost all of South Africa’s power from a fleet of 15 coal plants. Any deal struck could be announced during the United Nations climate talks known as COP26, set to start in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31, one of the people said.
Govts battle priciest food since the 1970s (News24)
Whether for bread, rice or tortillas, governments across the world know that rising food costs can come with a political price. The dilemma is whether they can do enough to prevent having to pay it. Global food prices were up 33% in August from a year earlier with vegetable oil, grains and meat on the rise, data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization show. And it’s not likely to get better as extreme weather, soaring freight and fertiliser costs, shipping bottlenecks and labor shortages compound the problem. Dwindling foreign currency reserves are also hampering the ability of some nations to import food.