tralac Daily News
The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Fikile Majola says innovation has the capacity to contribute significantly in growing the South African economy and creating the much-needed jobs. Majola was speaking through a pre-recorded video on the second day of the South African Innovation Summit which is taking place in Cape Town and virtually. “Innovation plays a crucial role in socio-economic development, and is recognised as a new and potentially significant driver of improvements in service delivery and poverty alleviation. It also serves as a mechanism for deriving commercial benefits, economic growth and job creation,” said Majola.
“It is imperative to state that innovation is not the end; it is only a means for companies to increase competitiveness, productivity, profitability and growth. Simply put, innovation leads to higher productivity, meaning that the same input is now able to generate a greater output. As productivity rises, more goods and services are produced at lower costs, resulting in increased profitability and economic growth,” stressed Majola
Import duty relief for fertilizer firms (The Herald)
Zimbabwe intends to remove import duties on fertilizer raw materials and give selected producers access to contracts to supply State assisted farming programmes as part of broader measures to boost local production and cut imports. Local companies being targeted are Kwekwe based ammonium nitrate producer Sable Chemical and Chemplex Corporation, all partly owned by the Government.
There are growing concerns over the huge import bill of agriculture inputs especially in the tobacco sector where they constitute about 60 percent of production costs. “The availability of raw materials has been one of the major challenges affecting producers and an import duty relief leads to an improvement in the importation of raw materials,” said Carlos Tadya, a research analyst with a local economic think tank.
Zimbabwe Dry Port in Namibia a game changer (Chronicle)
THE Zimbabwe Dry Port in Namibia is a game changer as it provides a strategic and cheaper gateway to the Atlantic Ocean for local manufacturers and international businesses. Managed by the National Handling Services Pvt LTD under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development — Zimbabwe Dry port, based in Walvis Bay Namibia — NAMPORT, was inaugurated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 26, 2019. The Zimbabwe Dry Port presents a canvas of opportunities for Zimbabwe exporters and importers and the Sadc region at large.
The Dry Port has the potential to move the needle on international trade facilitation for Zimbabwe in-line with Vision 2030. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, but is now sea linked through the Zimbabwe Dry Port facility.
Kenya export earnings from Uganda up 57% on tax deal (Daily Monitor)
Kenya’s earnings from exports to Uganda jumped more than half after last April’s deal which cleared tax hurdles for goods such as pharmaceuticals, confectionery, juice and spirits. Trade data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show value of exports between April and July amounted to KShs 25.97 billion (about Shs829 billion), a 56.64 percent climb compared with average value for the same period in the previous three years.
Maize imports down 26pc on restricted Tanzania, Uganda shipments (Business Daily)
Maize imports to Kenya declined 26 percent in the seven months to July as restrictions on produce coming in from Tanzania and Uganda in the first quarter of the year impacted volumes. Ministry of Agriculture says the volume declined to 2.24 million bags in the review period from 3.04 million bags in the first seven months of last year. Kenya had in April banned imports of maize from Uganda and Tanzania on concerns of the high levels of aflatoxin, which the authorities said exceeded the required 10 parts per billion as required under the country’s jurisdiction. However, the Tanzanian stalemate was resolved in May when President Samia Suluhu visited Nairobi for a bilateral meeting.
The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) said there has been an increase in trade between Tanzania and the countries in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region since the sixth-phase government entered into power. TPSF Chairperson, Ms. Angelina Ngalula made the remarks when she met with the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula in Dar es Salaam yesterday. She said the trade and bilateral relations between Tanzania and neighbouring countries like Kenya, Uganda and Burundi has scaled up, thanks to the growth of economic diplomacy. “Trade between Tanzania and other countries in the region has registered remarkable growth in just a short period since the sixth-phase government came into power,” she said, adding this signifies how the government is actively involving the private sector in boosting business and attracting investments.
“The friendly environment created by the government with the private sector has contributed immensely in enhancing trade between Tanzania with the EAC and SADC countries.”
Rwanda seeks to increase private sector capacity to trade (The New Times)
Rwanda has set her eyes on putting in place instruments that remove barriers to trade and investment through increased collaborations with the private sector. Yves Bernard Ningabire, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, made the remarks on a panel discussing manufacturing and infrastructure development at the ongoing Concordia Summit.
Looking at the growth of Rwanda’s manufacturing industry, Ningabire said, the sector’s contribution to GDP grew from 14.5 per cent in 2016 to 19 per cent in 2019. “The sector is a key contributor to achieving Rwanda’s 2050 targets,” he added.
The cross-border payments company Thunes has announced the launch of a new service corridor for users of M-Pesa Tanzania, enabling Tanzanians to efficiently move money from their M-Pesa mobile wallets directly to any bank account in Kenya and Rwanda. As a result of this new collaboration, businesses and individuals in Tanzania will now be able to send money across borders, directly to all banks in Kenya and Uganda.
The growth trajectory of economic and trade activity in East Africa remains very strong. Data from the World Bank shows that trade between Tanzania and its neighbouring countries, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, is worth approximately $896 million, with trade between Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda at $635 million. Tanzania’s economic growth continues to climb, with GDP reaching an all-time high of $62.41 billion in 2020.
Nigeria, Ghana sprint to join digital currency race (Business Daily)
Nigeria and Ghana are racing to adopt a central bank digital currency as they look to ride the wave of popularity of cryptocurrencies in West Africa’s two largest economies. Central banks in both countries have partnered with foreign financial tech companies to create digital versions of their currencies, joining the global train of countries exploring the initiative. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, will launch its eNaira digital currency on October 1, while Ghana will trial e-Cedi from this month. Nigeria has seen a boom of cryptocurrencies, despite a ban on banks making the transactions, as people look for ways to escape the weakening naira currency and offset high cost of living and unemployment in Africa’s most populous country.
While there is a general optimism around the promise of the newly in-force African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), like any other free trade agreement (FTA), it will inevitably create winners and losers. This unequal distributional impact is a function of many possible factors, including manufacturing capacity, domestic costs of doing business, firm productivity, infrastructural capability, AfCFTA awareness levels, and access to loans and financing. Whether due to firm-level inefficiencies, information frictions, or the suboptimal business environments, some firms—or even sectors—within a country may be unable to expand market opportunities as competition from other continental economies rises. The AfCFTA drops 90 percent of tariffs and includes policies aimed at eliminating nontariff barriers, such as customs delays, so the aggregate long-term benefits of AfCFTA are likely to be substantial and larger than potential losses; however, some countries and sectors will likely be impacted negatively in the short term.
As the trade agreement kicked off in the middle of a global pandemic coupled with a global recession, it is still unclear how the reduction in tariffs on goods and services will impact Nigeria’s households and businesses. However, a 2020 piece by Nassim Oulmane, Mustapha Sadni Jallab, and Patrice Rélouendé Zidouemba argues that the AfCFTA’s boost to intra-African trade might actually mitigate the rapid decline in GDP caused by COVID-19 and subsequent social-distancing policies and border closures.
Experts to Examine Role of AfCFTA on Brand Management Practice in Africa (THISDAY Newspapers)
The 2021 African Brand Congress would focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and best practice in brand building in Africa, the organisers have said. This year congress is designed to educate, engage and inspire brand managers and professionals in the pursuit of best practice in brand building and value creation. According to the organisers, the congress is an appropriate platform for all brand owners and industry players to discuss how brands in Africa can increase their global competitiveness while seeking to enhance professional development skills in the area that are most relevant to the business community today.
AfCFTA: SON to standardise products of 40m SMEs (The Sun Nigeria)
Director General of the Standards Organisation, (SON), Farouk A. Salim, has restated the commitment of his agency to support Nigeria’s estimated 40 million Small and Medium Enterprises to break into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, through effective standardisation of their products.
Salim who spoke at a breakfast meeting in Lagos yesterday, expressed concern about current status of the nation’s import export products, promising to collaborate with sister government agencies, including EFCC, NAFDAC and the Ministry of Justice to address the situation. He explained that it was against this backdrop that SON had initiated a partnership agreement with some SMEs to see how they can be supported to play actively in the novel African Continental Free Trade market which formally kicked off on January 1 2021. According to him, SON’s ability to enforce standards for Nigeria and other West African countries will help companies to create more jobs for the teeming youths of the country.
AfCFTA will enhance Africa’s agribusiness — Ighodalo (Daily Trust)
The Chairman of Sterling Bank, Mr Asue Ighodalo, has said the recent endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by African countries will impact positively on the agricultural sector and trade on the African continent.
He explained that AfCFTA would undoubtedly achieve the objective of fostering agricultural transformation and advancement in the African region as part of the effort to promote food security and competitiveness through the improvement of regional agricultural value chains He said, “It is unacceptable and an ironic paradox for Africa to lack home grown agricultural produce and have food insecurity in the midst of so much fertile and arable land across the continent.”
The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, urged the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to adapt an integration approach that is people-centred, market-driven and private sector-led, to ensure African citizens benefit from the continental agreement. Speaking in Accra, Ghana, during the 1st coordination meeting of Heads of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the implementation of the AfCFTA, Dr. Mathuki noted, AfCFTA, with a promising market of around 1.3 billion consumers and a GDP of 3.4 trillion US dollars, promises to unlock many opportunities beneficial to African’s citizens. “There is urgent need for citizen sensitization and regular capacity building activities at national and regional levels, to inform African citizens on issues around the continental agreement and how they can benefit from it,” he said
“The score card of the achievements of AfCFTA will be on increased trade and investment in the region. Africa should thus speak in one voice devoid of political interest, to deepen integration which will ultimately result in economic growth,” the EAC Secretary General noted.
African leaders on Wednesday lauded the African Legal Support Facility for helping governments avert billions of dollars in losses from business deals, and urged it to extend support to tackling illicit financial flows. At a high-level conference to review the Facility’s achievements over the last decade, speakers, including experts and business leaders, expressed confidence that the African Legal Support Facility was well-placed to advance Africa’s asset recovery and repatriation. “The African Legal Support Facility has already established its place as what might be called a front-line fighter to secure for Africa its resources,” said Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and current chair of the African Union’s high-level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa. “The Facility must assist African countries to negotiate fair and balanced contracts to eliminate opportunities for illicit receipt, use, or transfer of funds,” Mbeki said.
Reduce air transport charges, EAC bloc told (The Star, Kenya)
The East African Business Council (EABC) has called for the reduction of air-related fees and taxes to bring down the cost of air transport in the East Africa region. This, as regional carriers position themselves for post-covid recovery where the pandemic saw the African aviation industry lose up to $10.21 billion (Sh1.12 trillion) in potential passenger revenue –African Airlines Association. The average airport charges in Eastern Africa is at $579.78 (about Sh6,3816), which is said to be on the higher side. This is increasing air passenger ticket and cargo costs, making the EAC bloc uncompetitive, EABC chief executive John Kalisa notes.
Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, says the issue of rules of origin under the agreement will be concluded in the next couple of weeks. He stated that “We have made 80 percent progress. Out of almost 8,000 products, we’ve agreed on 86 percent of those rules. We have a little bit of work to do in automobiles, textiles and clothing and sugar. But I believe in the next few weeks when the ministers of trade converge in Accra, on the 10th of October, I think we will find a solution”.
AfCFTA could grow Africa’s GDP by $1 trillion – UN (Nairametrics)
The Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Vera Songwe has stated that the African Continental Free Trade Area has the potential to increase Africa’s Gross Domestic Product by $1 trillion. She made the remarks at the ECA’s Regional Business Forum, which was titled, “Empowering women youths to drive Africa’s transformation agenda,” according to Punch.
Songwe said, “In a crisis, the first thing we want to do is ensure we prevent good businesses from falling below and focus a lot on retention. “AfCFTA stands to grow Africa’s GDP by an additional one trillion dollars to deliver on what is needed: first unlocking our borders, building value chains and making sure the African women all work together to create the supply chain for textile, fashion, for agro-industry.”
Human capital surest way to economic growth, says Osinbajo (The Nation Newspaper)
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has asserted that well-developed and nurtured human capital is the surest way to Nigeria’s economic growth. To this end, the Vice President said Nigeria needs to focus on developing a knowledge-based economy, where human capital is developed to become a productive asset that can be sold for profit across the world.
Addressing the sixth Kaduna Investment Summit tagged Kadinvest 6.0 in Kaduna yesterday, Osinbajo said that rather than natural resources, well developed and nurtured human capital has become an invaluable asset anywhere in the world, as digital, ICT and technology are performing wonders and ruling the world. He, however, lamented that Nigeria was yet to take full advantage of its young talents.
The planning retreat held from the 16-18 September 2021 was in collaboration with Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS); West Africa Association for Cross Border Trade , in Afro-Forestry-Pastoral and Fisheries Products and Food (WACTAF) and Africa Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA NEPAD) The overall objective of the planning retreat is to build, among partners, a greater understanding of their collaboration; consider how best to pull and allocate resources; formulate a well-integrated work plan; and develop a sustainable program of an interplay between ECO-ICBT and TLS in the informal cross border trade data collection space.
In her remarks, Ms. Kisa Nkhoma reiterated AUDA NEPAD’S objective and commitment to the development of trade and efficiency of borders. She expressed optimism of a win-win relation between the ECO-ICBT and MoveAfrica/TLS program through the collaboration. Ms Nkhoma added that the success of the collaboration with ECOWAS has been instrumental in developing Category 5 of the TLS which will assess Informal Cross-Border Trade Processes at border posts. She concluded by saying this collaboration will Small scale cross border operators in region which will help realize the benefits of the AfCFTA.
The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki, has called for concerted efforts towards equitable global access to vaccines and support in investment to enable production of vaccines in developing nations. Speaking on the sidelines of High-Level debates at the 76th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA, Dr. Mathuki supported the call by EAC leaders to waive intellectual property rights to allow more countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to produce COVID-19 vaccines. “Intellectual property rights and export restrictions need to be lifted to allow vaccine production within the African continent. A region that is not vaccinated is a source of propagating new variants of the Covid-19 virus,” said Dr. Mathuki.
EABC URGES FOR DIGITALIZATION OF TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS VALUE CHAINS TO BOOST THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE EAC BLOC (East African Business Council)
The East African Business Council (EABC) Chairman Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt has urged the EAC Partner States to fast track digitalization of transport & logistics value chains to enhance efficiency and export competitiveness of the EAC bloc in light of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking during the East African Maritime Leaders Round Table organized by EABC in partnership with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in Mombasa, Kenya, Chairman Nesbitt, elaborated that “Articles 93-94 of the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community calls for co-operation among port authorities and harmonization of tariffs and regulations in the region.”
He said that the adoption of digital technologies to automate the EAC shipping, transport & logistic industry will reduce the cost of doing business, improve export competitiveness and ease the movement of cargo from the ports to trucks to clients.
AfCFTA TO DOUBLE EASTERN AFRICA TEXTILE & CLOTHING EXPORTS TO REST OF AFRICA (East African Business Council)
The East African Business Council Vice Chairman Mr. Denis Karera has urged the EAC Partner States to finalize and submit tariff offers under the AfCFTA to enable the EAC bloc to tap into the 1.3 billion continental market with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 3 trillion. The AfCFTA is set to boost Eastern Africa manufactured exports to the rest of Africa, in particular, textiles & clothing exports will increase by 100%, heavy manufacturing by 63%, light manufacturing by 61%, Processed food by 54% while livestock & meat products by 39%. “Political will to duly implement the agreed commitments of the AfCFTA is a cornerstone to actualize the benefits of the continental agreement,” said Mr. Karera, EABC Vice- Chairman during the Webinar on the African Continental Free Trade Area – Opportunities for the Private Sector, organized by EABC in partnership with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Sub- Regional Office for Eastern Africa.
Small cross border trade between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo is set to flourish after the two countries begun the process towards implementation of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR). This will be done under the soon to be launched Great Lakes Trade Facilitation and Regional Integration Project, (GLTFIP) which covers the two States and COMESA Secretariat. The project is aimed at facilitating trade and increasing the competitiveness of certain value chains for traders, especially small-scale traders and women traders, in targeted locations in the border areas of the Great Lakes Region, focusing on Burundi and DR Congo. Among the planned activities include improving connectivity to markets across the borders through policy and procedural reforms, commercial infrastructure improvements and capacity building of both border agencies and traders Under the GLTFIP, COMESA Secretariat will implement specific activities related to trade facilitation, policy harmonization and collaboration between Burundi and DR Congo and use its convening power to support the participating countries to fully implement the STR.
Sokokuu eTrade Platform launched (COMESA)
The COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) in collaboration with the African E-Trade Group (Ae-Trade) has launched the online Platform Sokokuu to traders in the COMESA region to conduct cross border trade using ICT as a tool to minimize physical barriers. Sokokuu is a Swahili word meaning big market.
Sokokuu is expected to complement existing platforms such as the womenconnect which is used by women entrepreneurs in the Member States to exchange information on availability of essential products within the region. The platform enables manufacturers and suppliers in different Member States to share information on the e-platform, on their products and their potential to produce and supply.
It is estimated that between 50%-90% of Africa’s trade in tropical timber and products is illegal which has a significant negative impact on any national economy. It is well-documented that economic activities operating outside the law impact the economy, exacerbate poverty and worsen the quality of forest management. It is in this context that the African Development Bank (AfDB) believes that Africa requires financial resources to address the problem, some of which can be raised by plugging the holes in the illicit trade of natural resources, especially timber. The international criminal police organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimate that natural resources valued in the range of $91-$258 billion are being stolen by criminals every year, depriving countries of revenues and critical development opportunities. Illicit activities include the harvesting, transportation, purchase, and sale of natural resources in violation of national laws. The natural resources considered in this paper are forest products with an emphasis on timber.
The latest barometer index reading of 102.5 is above the global services trade activity index and above the baseline value of 100, suggesting that the volume of services trade in the second and third quarters — for which official statistics are not yet available — will continue to recover. However, the fact that the indicator has recently turned downwards suggests that the expansion may proceed along a new, lower trajectory if the COVID-19 pandemic turns out to have a persistent impact on services trade. In the first quarter of 2021, world services trade was down 13.9% year-on-year according to the global services activity index, which provides an approximate measure of the volume of world services trade, taking changes in exchange rates and inflation into account. Services trade fell sharply in the early stages of the pandemic but, in contrast to goods trade, it has only staged a partial recovery since then. The recent performance of services trade differs from the financial crisis of 2008-09, when services trade was more resilient than goods trade. The difference is largely due to the fact that the pandemic continues to weigh on travel and tourism. Year-on-year growth of services trade should turn strongly positive in the second quarter, mostly due to a lower base in the previous year.
UNGA: African leaders call for additional IMF SDRs for pandemic recovery (African Business Magazine)
African leaders descended on New York this week, calling on UN member states to mobilise billions of dollars through the IMF issuance of additional Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – Fund reserve assets made up of a basket of currencies. Countries across the continent hit by a combination of Covid-19 and low commodity prices are facing an unprecedented liquidity crisis as governments scramble to shore up crumbling economies. The president of DR Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, said that an uneven recovery risks deepening the gap between Africa and the rest of the world. Speaking in his capacity as chair of the African Union (AU) he said: “The African Union supports all initiatives to finance the African economies affected by Covid 19, particularly… a fresh allocation of 650bn special drawing rights by the international monetary fund to meet the financing needs of countries facing difficulties due to the pandemic.”
How Countries Can Diversify Their Exports (IMF Blog)
As the world’s biggest copper producer, Chile’s shipments of the metal meet around one-third of global demand and represent about half its goods exports. But beyond mining’s dominance, Chile’s trade flows are more varied and complex than they may appear, with significant exports of vehicles, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. And according to a recent IMF staff paper, the Andean economy is among those that shine as a role model for diversification policies. By looking beyond commodities, the research shows that economy-wide policies such as governance and education help foster diverse exports more than narrowly targeted industrial policies, a finding that can better guide nations aiming to expand their international trade.
The head of the World Trade Organization on Thursday said she sees “some potential” to reach an agreement on fisheries at a ministerial meeting in late November but added there were still significant differences to overcome among members. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters in Washington she saw more momentum on the issue than ever before after a positive meeting in July but said she also didn’t want to be overly optimistic. “We see some potential for us to conclude. Does that mean it’s easy? The answer is no,” she said. “There are still significant differences among members on different issues. So it will take quite a bit of work to overcome.”
“To rebuild successfully requires a worldwide response in confidence and investment to enable production and consumption to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels,” he said in a pre-recorded message. “The surest way to building that confidence is by making vaccines available to the world, in an equitable and accessible manner.” However, he said the current “asymmetry” in vaccine supply “reflects a multilateral system that is in urgent need of repair.” Therefore, building back better must see the international community making concerted, structural changes to enable a “quantum increase” in investment and technology transfers.
Despite what will likely be the fastest economic growth in the aftermath of any recession in the last 80 years, 52 countries are expected to reduce per capita government spending below pre-COVID levels over the next five years. Based on a new World Bank paper released today, this will leave them unable to finance their share of a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, invest in better preparedness to protect themselves from future crises and make progress toward Universal Health Coverage. According to “From Double Shock to Double Recovery: Widening Rifts,” governments will have to make bold choices to avoid falls in government health spending. In a group of 126 countries, per capita government spending is projected to exceed pre-COVID levels by 2026. In 52 countries, by that time, overall government spending will however remain below 2019 levels. A return to pre-COVID-19 growth rates in per capita government health spending in the poorest of these countries would require the share of spending assigned to health to almost double, from 10 percent to 20 percent.
Agriculture is an extremely polluting and extractive industry, using up significant amounts of groundwater water in the United States and emitting greenhouse gases by picking, packaging, and then shipping food around the world. How agriculture is funded is part of the problem. The United Nations described how the current subsidies system contributes to pollution in a recent report. It was published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in the days leading up to the UN food systems summit. What they found was that agricultural subsidies are hurting the planet—but that cold hard cash can be repurposed into more sustainable crops and other ways to make the industry more sustainable. Almost 90 percent of the $540 billion of annual global government support to agricultural producers includes measures that distort prices and hurt human health and the environment, the report found. So many polluting aspects of agriculture like milk and beef tend to receive the most subsidies unlike vegetables.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today committed to take a leadership role in ensuring the success of ambitious and urgent efforts designed to make the world’s agri-food systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable. FAO Director-General QU Dongyu made the pledge at the closing segment of the UN Food Systems Summit, “Carrying forward the vision and momentum for 2030,” where he delivered the Summit’s closing statement. The landmark event adopted, for the first time, a comprehensive approach towards agri-food systems transformation, in order to fight poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities and preserve the environment.
On implementing the UN Food Systems Summit outcomes, the FAO Director-General stressed that it “will have a strong focus on strengthening the science-policy interface.” He also highlighted the need for “more and better targeted and sustained investments.” FAO estimates that as much as $40 to $50 billion in annual investments on targeted interventions are needed to end hunger by 2030. There are plenty of low-cost, high-impact projects that can help hundreds of millions of people get rid of hunger.
The stark findings of a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that COVID-19 has set back progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) enshrined in the UN’s Agenda 2030, undermining decades of development efforts. “It’s an alarming picture, in which progress on many SDG targets has been reversed, with a significant impact on all aspects of sustainable development and making the achievement of the 2030 Agenda even more challenging,” said FAO Chief Statistician, Pietro Gennari. The analysis, “Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2021” focuses on eight of the SDGs (1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 14 and 15), which were adopted at a UN Summit in New York in 2015. It’s FAO’s third assessment of its kind, based on the latest data and estimates available.
Today’s food systems generate $12 trillion in hidden social, economic, and environmental costs. It prioritizes volume over nutritional value, fails to pay a living wage while creating sizeable profits for a concentrated set of players, and treats the natural environment as an infinite resource – resulting in massive waste and undermining the stability of the entire food system and global economy. The UN Food Systems Summit has brought people together to develop the solutions we need. The Summit’s “Finance Lever”, comprised of the World Bank, IFPRI and the Food and Land Use Coalition, has developed the Food Finance Architecture, a policy brief that lays out the building blocks for how banks, investors, development institutions, companies, farmers, and governments can shift capital out of high-carbon, unequal, extractive food assets and into inclusive, climate-smart, circular business models that benefit the people and planet. The Food Finance Architecture focuses on five imperatives needed to optimize public spending and mobilize private capital for a global food system transformation:
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the world’s fragilities, including the weaknesses of our food systems which exacerbate hunger, obesity, poverty, political instabilities and economic crises. To overcome common and regional challenges, the five UN regional commissions have been working jointly on devising harmonized pathways and proposing game changers that can transform food systems, reverse their current performance and improve their outcomes. This collaboration resulted in the launch of a joint policy brief entitled “Transforming Food Systems” for the Food Systems Summit, held on 23 September in New York. The Brief highlights the need to enhance regional engagement in sharing lessons learned for a sustainable food systems transformation, leading to inclusive and resilient food systems that participate in ensuring equitable livelihoods for all, and a healthy and sustainable planet. This is being done within the context of Agenda 2063, CAADP Malabo declaration, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and other continental frameworks that have the consensus of AU Member States.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has reached a critical point in its relatively short life. The organisation was set up in in 1995 to continue the work of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which had been established to prevent a repeat of the political and economic crises that contributed to the Second World War. As we cautiously emerge from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, this article explores why the case for supporting and engaging with the WTO’s aims and objectives remain as compelling as ever.