tralac Daily News
Governments can build credibility over time through consistent commitment to implementing policies efficiently and effectively. South Africa hasn’t done well on this score. As a result of the poor record of policy implementation, investors and the general public have become sceptical of government policy pronouncements.
The factors that lie behind poor policy implementation are varied and complex. They range from conflicting ideologies, a lack of capacity within the state and its institutions, corruption, and poor governance at local municipalities. But the government seems to be waking up to the fact that the key to success is public policy implementation. Take the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan launched in October 2020. The plan is focused on energy security, infrastructure development, green economy, food security, and the tourism sector, among others.
Unlike the slow policy implementation observed over the past decade, government has followed through with reforms in the energy sector. It is worth highlighting that this is a sector that was already beset by crisis. Elsewhere, the departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and Trade, Industry and Competition have followed up with sectoral master plans. These include building local industrial capacity, for both domestic and export markets. The master plan for agriculture and agribusinesses, for example, has included government, farmer organisations, agribusiness, commodity organisations and labour representatives. This process too could suffer inertia if it only leans on grand ideas which are not implemented.
Following its tenure on the UN Security Council and as rotating chair of the AU, South Africa will have to continue to engage in the conduct of strategic geopolitical power diplomacy if it is to regain the “punching above its weight” momentum on the international scene it once enjoyed. The challenge here continues to be compounded by a global pandemic in the form of Covid-19 and South Africa’s weakened domestic economic predicament. If the country does not act decisively, it will find itself in a disadvantageous diplomatic position on the continent and internationally for years to come as the ground continues to shift beneath its feet.
This is because of the unfavourably aligned global balance of forces working against progressive internationalism and how this anti-progressive alignment is unfolding on the continent, including within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In an increasingly complex landscape, South Africa will have to adopt a geopolitical risk analysis approach to preparing for the unknown and planning for multiple scenarios in the region and beyond. This would allow the country to devise well balanced strategies and actions with available resources at a bilateral level as well as within continental bodies.
Major players in Namibia’s dairy industry last week warned of the imminent collapse of the entire sector, and requested government to consider mechanisms to save both jobs and businesses. Producers and farmers have expressed concern as the country’s milk production has already dropped by 50% during the last three to four years, while feed costs have risen to account for between 70% and 85% of production costs.
When asked how Namibia’s small producers can compete with larger international producers, Prinsloo replied that the dairy business is a value generator based on volumes. She explained that supporting local producers will not result in a price increase for Namibian consumers because “with more volumes, the producers can ask less for their product as the production cost will be less”.
Ban all maize exports, parliamentary committee tells government (Malawi Nyasa Times)
Despite the country registering a bumper maize harvest during last agricultural season there are fears that there could be a scarcity of the commodity in the near future and the parliamentary committee on agriculture has advised government to consider issuing a maize export ban.
Among others, the Committee cited the heightening rise of fertilizer prices as a factor that would affect the amount of maize produce in the next growing season.
According to Suleman, the ban would be in the best interest of all Malawians and that it would be reasonable to suspend exportation of maize now until the country was sure of a surplus. Grain Traders and Processors Association Chairperson, Grace Mijiga Mhango, advised government to purchase more produce through Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) and National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) before exporting.
“Government should not rely on maize in the hands of private sector players as some can informally export or hoard it at will,” Mijiga-Mhango warned. But trade minister, Sosten Gwengwe, said the food balance sheet informs that Malawi has achieved excess maize.
Kenya, Uganda locked in new sugar trade dispute (Daily Monitor)
Uganda has protested a 79 percent cut on its scheduled sugar exports to Kenya, reigniting trade disputes between the two East African Community states. Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze said Thursday Uganda was “not happy” with restrictions on its sugar exports to Kenya. “We need an honest conversation about these trade restrictions from your side,” he said in a tweet addressed to his Kenyan counterpart, Peter Munya.
Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and her Ugandan counterpart had in April this year agreed that Uganda would export 90,000 tonnes of sugar to Kenya as soon as the verification mission on the country of origin was completed. A deal between the two countries allowed Uganda to export surplus sugar into the country three years ago. But Nairobi delayed the implementation until late last year when the neighbouring state was allowed to ship in 20,000 tonnes of the 90,000 tonnes surplus that it had requested.
The change of plans by Kenyan authorities have rubbed their Ugandan counterparts the wrong way amid threats of retaliatory action.
Importers raise concern on rising insecurity, heated politics (Business Daily)
Traders have expressed fears that increasing insecurity along Northern Corridor and rising political temperatures ahead of next year general election might heavily hurt Mombasa port business. Importers have asked the government and leaders to intervene in boosting security and lowering political temperatures to avoid a situation where traders will give Mombasa port a wide berth. “We are worried with the increasing insecurity along Uganda-South Sudan route and the ongoing political temperatures in Kenya. We have seen chaos before during elections and lost a lot of goods while in transit. We do not want to incur this as from next next year,” said Hedlam Kariuki, a Kenyan importer. Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive officer Gilbert Lagat echoed the traders’ fears saying there is need to reassure importers of their safety so that they continue using the port.
Kenyan horticulture companies target Italian market at fair (Business Daily)
Ten Kenyan horticulture companies are looking to gain a foothold in the Italian market through this year’s Macfrut Digital Trade Fair in Rimini, Italy. The three-day event, which will run from September 7 to 9, will see participants showcase their products as well as attend meetings with the world’s leading exporters, importers, technicians, experts and investors in value addition.
The fair is expected to give a shot in the arm for Kenyan exports to Italy, which dropped from Sh5.3 billion in 2015 to Sh3.5 billion in 2019. It will also help the horticulture sector firm up its good performance this year, where earnings for the first six months rose by 29.5 percent to hit Sh68.6 billion ($624 million).
KRA seizes 25 export containers, spared Sh75m tax loss (Business Daily)
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has seized 25 containers loaded with hides and skins worth millions of shillings at the Mombasa port that would have denied the taxman Sh75 million in revenue. The agency intercepted the consignment as the traders attempted to smuggle them out of the country by bribing KRA officers. The Commissioner, Investigation and Enforcement Edward Karanja said the containers were among 50 others with hides and skins set aside for verification. “We suspected that the containers were misdeclared as other goods to evade the payment of export duties,” he said. “The government would have lost approximately Sh75 million in export duty should the culprits have managed to sneak the cargo out of the port for export,” he said. KRA says unscrupulous traders stuff containers with hides and skins at local godowns in the absence of Customs officers. They then make false declarations of goods, local exporter, country of destination and weight.
Tanzania tips balance of trade in its favour under Samia leadership (The East African)
Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has, over the past week, embarked on a promotion drive to attract investors and visitors to the country in efforts to revive the economy, amid positive sentiment that has recently tipped the balance of trade in favour of Dar es Salaam.
The president’s diplomatic and trade charm offensive has already begun bearing fruit. Data from the region’s central banks shows that East Africa’s largest economy, Kenya, is losing ground to Tanzania, in a turn of tables by Dodoma, as political temperatures rise in Nairobi ahead of next year’s general election. The shift in trade flow within the East African Community signals Tanzania’s slow but sure growth after years of languishing in Kenya’s shadow. Observers say the tide may be irreversible, especially if Dodoma attracts the requisite funding for its big-ticket projects in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness and information and communication technology.
Tanzania’s changing fortunes are coming at a time when Kenya and Uganda are reporting lower figures in their bilateral trade over the past six months, with the credit going to President Samia’s efforts to address tariff and non-tariff barriers since assuming office in March.
According to the latest trade statistics, Kenya’s imports from Tanzania, comprising mainly cereals, wood and edible vegetables, grew by 70 percent to $159.48 million in the six months to June, compared with the corresponding period in 2020.
Nigeria’s Total Merchandise trade rose by 23.28% to N12.02 trillion in the second quarter of 2021. This was disclosed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) after its “Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics – Q2, 2021” was released over the weekend. The NBS added that the figure rose to N12.02 trillion from N9.75 trillion recorded in Q1, due to a sharp increase in export value during the quarter under review. They added that the export component of the trade was valued at N5.07 trillion or 42.2% while import was valued at N6.95 trillion or 57.78 %
The President of the Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote, has disclosed that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would offer his conglomerate a business opportunity that is estimated to be worth $12 billion per annum. Dangote made this disclosure during a “High-Level Roundtable Discussion on Industrialisation in Africa,” which was organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) as part of the activities to mark its 50th anniversary celebration.
He said: “You know that long before the AfCFTA, we have always designed and planned to be an export-based company. We (Dangote Group) are interested in the AfCFTA because we are going to be its major beneficiaries. Number one, if you look at it today, we have the largest fertilizer plant in Africa so we will supply fertilizer all over the continent. We are building the largest petrochemicals on the continent. Dangote also said that manufacturing in Africa would become globally competitive when industries in the continent begin to produce very high-quality products at the cheapest possible cost.
Egypt’s Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said that boosting cooperation and trade exchange with African countries is at the top of the state’s priorities in a meeting on Sunday with the Egyptian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) and representatives from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). She said that the MSMEDA is coordinating with all bodies concerned to benefit from the promising African market by opening new vistas for exporting the products of small businesses. The meeting also tackled means of providing services for the 50 Million African Women Speak Platform (50MAWSP) — which is the first platform to group 50 million women in the trade and industrial domains in 38 African countries.
The President of Seychelles His Excellency Wavel Ramkalawan has affirmed his government’s commitment to COMESA and called for deepening of regional integration through increased intra-regional trade among the 21 Member States. President Ramkalawan says the COMESA region needs to move from mere discussions and signing of agreements to implementing decisions that will produce tangible progressive results which will have a positive impact on the lives of its citizens. He was speaking at State House in Victoria on Mahe island in Seychelles on 31st August 2021 when he met COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe who was on a four-day official visit to that country. “My government is committed to COMESA and expect our full support. As an organization, we need to move to making positive impact on the ground. We need programmes that our people will directly benefit from. Decisions made at the various meetings need to be implemented,” said President Ramkalawan.
Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor, chairman of Ghana.com and regarded as the “father of the internet” in Ghana, has proposed that the continent incorporate emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies and block chain in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) digitisation drive. According to him, Africa loses billions from intra-regional trading in foreign currency, and he believes adopting an African Union coin to fund Africa’s Agenda 2063 will revolutionise the continent’s trading activities. Speaking virtually at the Africa Digital Forum (ADF), Accra edition, on the theme “The Digital Challenge, Africa’s Opportunity under AfCFTA”, he said “one forward-looking proposal is to take advantage of advances in cryptocurrencies and block chain and issue [the] African Union coin to fund Africa’s Agenda 2063, and we will trade only in African Union coin among ourselves.”
The Africa World Trade Network (AWTN) has signed a partnership agreement with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to accelerate intra-regional trade and investment through exhibitions, meetings, and events. The partnership seeks to mobilise private sector actors across Africa to drive the attainment of strategic objectives that underpin the AfCFTA agreement. It is also to work towards three common objectives that support continental trade and investment promotions across Africa and promote the overall objectives of the AfCFTA agreement.
The objectives include co-organising and hosting forums that support continental trade and investment promotions in Africa and promote the overall objectives of the AfCFTA agreement; supporting the growth and development of Africa’s commercial community and collaborating on matters of common interest in the pursuance of enhancing intra-trade on the continent.
Mr. Otwasuom Osae Nyampong VI, Board Chair of AWTN in a statement, said “Intra-regional trade promises a real win for Africa, and the AfCFTA Secretariat is at the forefront of this significant progress in the continent’s history.”
EAC promotes women’s participation in AfCFTA MI (Tanzania Dailynews)
Traders in Africa, especially women, youths and SMEs face significant challenges when attempting to benefit from multilateral and regional trade agreements as many trade agreements do not include their specific needs and concerns. This was said recently during a two-day East African Community (EAC) workshop aimed at enhancing the participation of women in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Mr Bazivamo, who represented the EAC Secretary General, said that the goal of the EAC was to ensure that women in the region were fully equipped and capable of accessing and exploiting the numerous opportunities and benefits that accrue from the AfCFTA initiative, adding that the continental free trade area provides significant business opportunities for the region.
The Deputy Secretary General disclosed that the EAC had initiated a number of steps towards implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement. “We have now almost finalised the submission of our tariff offers, which conform to the agreed modalities in addition to the schedules of liberalisation of trade in services. We have also prepared a draft strategy for implementation of the Agreement, which takes into account the need for capacity building. It is presently under consideration by the Partner States,” said Hon Bazivamo. “Further, we are also fully involved in negotiations on the outstanding areas such as Rules of Origin, Trade in services as well as the phase II issues on investment, competition, intellectual property rights and e-commerce,” he added.
This Investment & Financing Framework is an initiative by the African private sector in partnership with the African Union, and led by AfroChampions, to create the first phase of an investment framework within which the private sector can take advantage of the AfCFTA to not only trade, but also invest in infrastructure, set up industries, add value to goods and services, increase intra-Africa trade and eventually transform the continent.
For AfCFTA to succeed, a set of preconditions must be created These include Cross-border transportation networks for the movement of goods and people. Regular and stable supply of power to industries at competitive tariff and the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade
Unlike other parts of the world, where free trade blocs were created at a time cross-border infrastructure and industries already existed, these basic requirements will now need to be created in Africa. The infrastructure shortfall alone is estimated by the AfDB at almost two trillion dollars ($2 trillion) over a ten-year period. The AfCFTA is therefore not just a trade treaty but a program that opens the door to one of the biggest opportunities for the private sector to transform the continent by investing in infrastructure and industries to increase intra-Africa trade and create wealth. AfCFTA holds the key to trigger an infrastructure and economic transformation of Africa.
“UNIDO is a key partner in the preparation of the many strategic documents that will be considered by the Committee before their submissions to the Heads of State and Government during the African Union (AU) Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification, which will take place in November 2021”, said Li. “UNIDO is proud to co-organize the Summit, and to foster inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Africa”. The DG also highlighted an ongoing collaboration on Regional Value Chains-development, affirming that “under the leadership of the AUC, UNIDO and other partners have initiated a collaborative study on the mapping of regional value chains. We hope that the findings from this study will contribute to the development of a robust evidence-based pan-African regional value chain strategy”. The study will result in the formulation of an Action Plan for implementation of Regional Value Chain Upgrading programmes that take advantage of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA. The study is expected to support the establishment of a new industrialization framework for the continent that would take into account Africa’s changing socio-economic and political landscape, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Africa has about 12% of the world’s oil reserves, 42% of its gold, 80%–90% of chromium and platinum group metals, and 60% of arable land in addition to vast timber resources. Africa experienced a commodity boom during the early 2000s translating into the continent’s unprecedented growth that was only disturbed by the onset of the global financial crisis of 2008. Whilst the Continent was able to recover from this global shock by 2010, and rebounded with a strong growth rate of 4.6% on average, this boom did not translate in to consummate economic diversification that would have led to faster social-economic development for Africans. In addition most African economies still rely heavily on commodity production and exports, with minimal value addition and even fewer forward and backward linkages to other sectors of the economy.
However, in recent years and prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many African economies had been pursuing reforms aimed at integrating into the world economy and were as a result, experiencing substantial economic growth. This growth has primarily been supported by commodity exports. Transforming Africa from a raw materials exporter to a producer of market-competitive value added products will require the continent to integrate into regional and global value chains and promote horizontal and vertical diversification anchored in value addition, innovative approaches and local content development.
The vision for a well-structured and properly managed African mining sector is encapsulated in the African Union’s African Mining Vision (AMV) which calls for the “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socioeconomic development”.
The AMV envisages an African mining sector that is: Knowledge-driven and contributes to growth & development which is fully integrated into a single African market; Sustainable and well-governed and effectively garners and deploys resource rents, is safe, healthy, gender & ethnically inclusive, environmentally friendly, socially responsible and appreciated by surrounding communities; A key component of a diversified, vibrant and globally competitive industrialising African economy Helping to establish a competitive African infrastructure platform, through the maximisation of its propulsive local & regional economic linkages; Optimising Africa’s finite mineral resource endowments and that is diversified, incorporating both high value metals and lower value industrial minerals at both commercial and small-scale levels; Harnessing the potential of artisanal and small-scale mining to stimulate local/national entrepreneurship, improve livelihoods and advance integrated rural social and economic development; A major player in a vibrant and competitive national, continental and international capital and commodity markets.
EABC asked to help improve trading climate in the region (Tanzania Dailynews)
MEMBERS of the business community in Zanzibar have appealed to the East African Business Council (EABC) to help push for a conducive environment in the region so as to improve trade amid Covid-19 pandemic. The call was made here yesterday at the ‘EABC-CEO Breakfast Roundtable engagement on EAC Regional Integration’. The meeting was organized by the EABC in collaboration with the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) under the theme ‘Enhancing a private led integration and emerging opportunities’. Non-Tariff barriers (NTBs), unnecessary multiple levies within Zanzibar, high costs in air transportation and reluctance to accept or recognize goods bearing ‘Zanzibar Bureau of Standards (ZBS)’ mark in East African market, are some of the issues raised during the roundtable.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Trade Related Facility (SADC TRF) has to date disbursed 81% (€18.5 million) of the grant funding earmarked for 12 SADC Member States.
After 90 months of operation, the SADC TRF is scheduled to conclude its work in March 2022. Sustainability of the TRF outputs and outcomes will be ensured by close collaboration with successor programmes such as the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) and the Support to Industry and the Productive Sectors (SIPS).
The outputs have also covered trade facilitation under which there has been adoption of online systems for reporting and resolving Non-Tariff Barriers, upgrading of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) and National Single Window clearance systems and training of customs officials, and accreditation of clearing and forwarding agents to build their capacity to lodge correct customs clearance documentation across the SADC Region. ASYCUDA is an integrated customs management system for international trade and transport operations in a modern automated environment.
The outputs realised by the TRF in capacitating Member States to domesticate the provisions and benefit from the SADC Trade Protocol and SADC- EPA include enhancing customs cooperation resulting in the development of one stop border instruments and coordinated border management systems.
The inaugural Steering Committee (PSC) meeting for the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP) is expected to be held virtually on Tuesday 7 September 2021. The PSC meeting will provide an opportunity to review the progress made towards implementation of the RECAMP activities that commenced in January 2020 as well as review some of the key challenges encountered so far. According to a statement issued from the COMESA Secretariat, this meeting will enable stakeholders to come up with key recommendations and overall policy and strategic guidance, necessary for the smooth implementation and coordination of the programme. The RECAMP is funded under the 11th European Development Fund to the tune of Euro 8.8 million. Through this support, RECAMP is expected to galvanize the deepening of regional economic integration in the COMESA region by increasing and strengthening private sector participation in regional and global value chains. The main focus will be on three priority value chains namely, Agro-processing, Horticulture and Leather and Leather Products.
EAC says industrial parks key to increasing regional trade (Capital FM Kenya)
The East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General, Peter Mathuki says that investments in industrial parks and infrastructure is key to boosting the region’s competitiveness and subsequently increase Intra-EAC trade. Mathuki, who spoke in Dar es Salaam during the opening session of the East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week, urged EAC partner states governments to focus on strengthening institutional frameworks and policies that will accelerate economic growth in the region. “Currently, manufacturing contributes to GDP a meagre 8.9%. To achieve the set target of 25% in 2032, there is a need for diversification of the manufacturing base and raising local value-added content resource-based exports,” he said. He said enhanced industrial productivity could be achieved through an agricultural development-led industrialization strategy and strengthening of research and technology.
“Instead of competing, EAC Partner States need to complement each other. Harnessing our comparative advantage by collectively improving infrastructure connectivity will fast-track regional development,” Mathuki added.
Steering the right course for Africa’s prosperity (BusinessAMLive)
THE PROSPECTS OF A PROSPEROUS AFRICA should be the preoccupation of all African leaders now. But that is not likely to happen based on many factors. Let us be clear, things don’t just happen in policy space or diplomatic relationships. Events are products of deliberate actions or inactions. Beginning with trade, Africa still remains the least relevant in global trade, contributing to less than five per cent of global trade. The continent-wide contributions have remained mostly in commodities in their raw, unprocessed forms. So, in terms of value, Africa’s revenues from the commodities are infinitesimally low. A continent-wide strategy therefore has to be built around the subject of Africa within the context of global value chains (GVC). But this may continue to remain problematic based on governance issues.
Dependence on natural resources explains this tardiness in part. It shapes the local politics of countries and their foreign relations and diplomatic leanings. Countries that depend mostly on export of raw natural resources for their national revenues will be reluctant to allow certain changes. While many countries of the world are actively promoting renewable energy and pushing the use of mineral oil to the background, Nigerian government is still actively exploring new oilfields.
The first continental review Conference of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Africa concluded today (1/09) with a call for greater collaboration among countries in Africa to implement this global framework and reap the benefits of migration for all.
“Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the globe and ravaged our communities, with particular impacts for the most vulnerable, including migrants and people on the move,” said António Vitorino, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted trade and travel on, to and from the continent, leading to a spike in unemployment. This threatens to undo much of the progress that has been achieved in recent years with increasing numbers of migrants facing food insecurity and compromised access to health-care services. “The GCM continental review for Africa is a prime opportunity for governments and stakeholders to work together and learn from each other to address migration in all its dimensions,” Vitorino concluded.
“As we discuss the progress made towards the implementation of the GCM in Africa, we need to take into account the significant linkages this will have with the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which marks a significant milestone towards the realization of the free movement of people, goods, and capital on the continent, and progress towards enhanced availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration” said Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of the ECA Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division in a speech read on behalf of ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe.
Kagame: Donations insufficient, Africa needs to manufacture vaccines (The East African)
Covid-19 vaccine donations will not cut it for Africa, and the continent needs to be serious about setting up vaccine manufacturing plants so as to end reliance on the West, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said. His remarks come a week after BioNTech, a German biotechnology company producing the Pfizer vaccine, announced that it was looking to build vaccine manufacturing sites in Rwanda and Senegal. “It takes a long time for African countries to get Covid-19 vaccines, and when the vaccines get here, many people are already in critical health conditions. That is why it is important for Africa to find a way to manufacture vaccines,” Kagame said in a televised interview on Rwanda Broadcasting Agency on Sunday.He said that vaccine plants in Africa, such as the one his country is planning to construct, would help to end the monopoly of the West and save many lives on the continent.
As COVID-19 continues to rage across Africa, and as developed nations persistently withhold vaccines from low income countries, India resorts to health diplomacy as a way to tighten its grip on the African continent and cement its position as a global power. Over a year into the world’s most devastating health crisis, and as developed nations advance vaccine nationalism at the expense of hundreds of low income countries (the majority of which are in Africa), India, recognised as the world’s pharmacy, is changing tact by dedicating its medical supplies to the African continent either as gifts or at subsidised rates. Beyond the gesture, analysts predict that this health diplomacy is a strategy used by India to grow its toehold on the continent, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has given it a perfect opportunity to do so.
Indo-Africa relations date back to the colonial era when the two regions were fighting against their oppression by colonial rulers. “India knows that it has a strategic standpoint in its relations with Africa. Unlike the Western nations that have the burden of colonialism and China that has been accused of advancing debt trap diplomacy, [India] has had cordial relations with the continent,” said Gerald Makau, an International relations expert. “Health diplomacy therefore gives [India] a perfect chance to advance its agenda in Africa.”
Cooperation on trade is critical to global efforts to tackle plastic pollution, one of today’s most evident and persistent environmental problems. That was the message from several speakers at a high-level event organized by UNCTAD, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs and Ecuador on 2 September. The event highlighted where and how trade and trade policies are relevant to plastic pollution, and the need for stronger international efforts and cooperation to tackle plastic pollution, including through a proposed new global treaty under the UN Environment Assembly. “Plastic is everywhere. It’s a multi-faceted, big business,” said UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant. “Global plastics trade is worth at least $1 trillion, and virtually every country is involved.”
Ms. Durant said cooperation on trade can play a big role in tackling the plastic pollution menace because “trade occurs at every step in the plastics lifecycle; from its fossil fuel inputs, to intermediate products, final goods and even waste.” She outlined how trade and development policies and negotiations can be essential vehicles for change in the fight against plastic pollution. “Multilateral trade rules should ensure that national regulations, bans, taxes and other mechanisms meant to tackle plastic pollution are set in a fair, non-discriminatory and transparent manner,” she said.
UAE to grow Asia, Africa trade, seeks US$150b investment (The Business Times)
THE United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deepening its trade ties in fast-growing economies in Asia and Africa, and plans to draw US$150 billion in foreign investment from mainly older partners to reposition itself as a global hub for business and finance. Only one of the countries in Sunday’s announcement is from the region, suggesting a growing shift towards markets further afield. They include South Korea, Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Turkey, where ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have warmed dramatically in recent months after years of tensions over regional politics.
Head of the the Caribbean Export and Development Agency (Caribbean Export) Deodat Maharaj has called on Caribbean countries to deepen ties and leverage greater partnerships with Africa. “The opportunities to partner with Africa and a market of an estimated 1.4 billion people are immense. As we seek to advance an agenda for a resilient Caribbean, it is not only important to shore up existing trade partnerships but to also look to new relationships on the trade and investment front. The world is changing and so must we,” the executive director said in a recent statement where he also encouraged regional businesses, private sectors, chambers of commerce and manufacturers associations to establish relationships with their counterparts on the continent. The Caribbean Export head said that while the entire world was reeling from the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic with most countries and regions, including the Caribbean, showing economic contraction, recent studies done by the African Development Bank noted that real gross domestic product (GDP) for that continent is expected to grow by 3.4 per cent .
The European Union (EU), the world’s single largest consumer of cocoa, is causing havoc in global markets, worrying several of the poorest countries in Africa and Latin America. The EU contends that it is trying to limit child labor, deforestation and exposure to cadmium. Peru and others allege disguised protectionism. It’s the chocolate wars, and it’s a wake-up call for U.S. agricultural exporters. Europe has also opened up another front in the chocolate wars, this one backed up by non-governmental organizations like Fairtrade, and companies like Nestle. Talking about Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, in particular, the group says there is a “cocoa poverty trap” that needs to be solved by getting Europe to incentivize “sustainable” production.” As the EU’s ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire explains, “[t]he European consumer wants to eat chocolate without having to think about child labor, deforestation or the poverty of those who grow cocoa.”
Despite hopes that by now the pandemic would be under control, the head of the UN’s health agency told the G20 leading industrialized nations Health Ministers Meeting in Rome on Sunday that ”the opposite is true”. Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that “many countries continue to face steep increases in cases and deaths” – despite that more than five billion vaccines have been administered globally.
“But almost 75 per cent of those doses have been administered in just 10 countries”, he explained, adding that at 2 per cent, Africa has the lowest vaccination coverage. “This is unacceptable”.
Innovative Financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (International Banker)
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have increasingly transformed how the private sector operates to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Corporations are beginning to realign their priorities with the SDGs in the face of increasing pressure from consumers, investors and employees. Innovative business models such as social enterprises and inclusive businesses are emerging, which purposefully aim to address social and environmental challenges as well as provide products and services to those at the base of the economic pyramid.
In order to scale up their impact, these enterprises need additional investment. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region would need an additional annual investment of $1.5 trillion to achieve the SDGs by 2030. In a post-pandemic world, this figure is likely to be significantly higher, and private-sector investors are key to bridging this gap. If even a fraction of the $50 trillion in assets managed by the financial sector in the Asia-Pacific region were channelled towards enterprises that contribute to the SDGs, their achievement by 2030 would be within reach.
Adopt new support policy for LDCs (The Daily Sun)
Bangladesh has urged the global community for a new support policy for the LDCs and the graduating LDCs as the pandemic affected the economies, especially of the developing nations, enormously. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen made the call at the high-level opening session of the four-day Asia-Pacific Regional Review Meeting, which began at the UN Headquarters in Geneva on Monday.
During the meeting with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, Momen yesterday emphasised WHO’s effective role to ensure the availability, affordability and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines for the developing countries.