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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, says despite a Gauteng High Court judgment setting aside key parts of the Mining Charter relating to transformation last month, government “remains committed to the transformation” of the industry.
South Africa said it is committed to taking advantage of the recently approved inland fisheries policy to unlock the country’s inland fisheries resource potential in a drive to achieve food security, job creation, and economic development goals. South African Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said, in an opinion piece in News24, that the recent approval of South Africa’s National Freshwater (Inland) Wild-Capture Fisheries Policy transforms the nation’s small-scale fishing sector by addressing several hurdles that hampered growth, leaving many fishers impoverished despite fishing playing diverse roles in their livelihoods ranging “from fishing part-time for food to it being a full-time commercial occupation.” In September 2021, the South Africa Cabinet approved the policy “to support and guide the sustainable development and management of the inland fisheries sector,” using methods including legislative reform, to empower rural communities and increase equitable access to the sustainable resource.
It is no exaggeration to say that science has saved humanity on multiple occasions. The most recent has been through the development of vaccines for the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the indisputable value of science, it would seem foolish to obstruct its advancement. Yet impediments to advancements in some fields, such as biodiversity research, have been building over several years. This is true in South Africa, where the burden of red tape has increased over the last decade, obstructing even some of the most basic forms of data collection. In a recent commentary, authored by more than 30 of South Africa’s field and biodiversity researchers, we set out the scale of the problem.
But the implementation of the legislation in terms of legitimate research has become problematic because it is applied with a broad brushstroke approach. In essence, hunters, wildlife poachers and bona fide researchers are viewed through the same legislative lens. This inclusive approach supposedly reduces risks to natural resources. But it’s also stopping, or holding back, genuine research intended to benefit conservation.
For biological research, red tape comes mainly in the form of dramatically increased requirements for permits and clearances, causing biodiversity research to be heavily regulated. The result is that the critical need to collect data that relates to the future environmental sustainability and effective conservation of our environment is now overshadowed by a minefield of regulation.
The progress of science needs to be facilitated – not hindered. The government needs to adopt a more reasonable and fair interpretation of existing legislation so that scientific endeavour is facilitated and promoted, rather than impeded and blocked.
“COP26 is coming up - that is 26 years of talking, talking, talking,” Elizabeth Wahuti, climate activist and founder of the Kenyan NGO Green Generation Initiative, said at Thursday’s (October 7) EU summit on sustainable finance. Not enough has been done, and countries, especially in Africa, are running out of time. She implored wealthy countries to make good on their promise to invest at least €100bn annually to help poorer countries transition to a green economy. “I want to make it simple: our responsibility as adults is to make sure our childer are fed,” she told a panel of world leaders.
In a panel introduced by EU commissioner Valdis Dombrovkis, the question was asked how the EU’s sustainable taxonomy, and €1 trillion ‘green deal’ investment plan, might also become a model for Africa. Climate change ambassador and African Union (AU) commissioner for rural economy and agriculture Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko said while African nations supported the Green Deal, most African leaders “don’t have much knowledge of the plan and don’t understand what the advantage is for their country.”
Kenya joins the global Plastics Pact Network (Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
Launched today in Nairobi, the Kenya Plastics Pact (KPP) is led by the Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) with the support of WRAP and MAVA, and becomes the second Pact in Africa. KPP joins 11 other Pacts in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact Network, a unique platform spanning Africa, Europe, North and South America and the Pacific region, to exchange learnings and best practices across countries and regions to accelerate the transition to the circular economy for plastics.
KPP will work towards the common vision, shared by over 1000 organisations around the world as part of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and Plastics Pact Network.
Competition policy: Uganda’s missing legislation (Daily Monitor)
One of the key functions of a government is to create an enabling business environment that fosters enterprises and individuals to thrive. Such an enabling market environment can not exist in a vacuum. Markets must be organised, regulated, maintained, and or enforced. A vibrant marketplace requires an enabling legal and regulatory framework that protects market participants from the harmful competition and unfair business practices. These legal and regulatory institutions are vital in facilitating market exchange, competition, efficiency, and growth. However, unlike in other East African member states like Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, Uganda does not have an established regulatory and legal framework that provides for fair market competition, consumer protection and orderly functioning of the goods and services markets or “prevent the formation of monopolies and cartels in the markets”. Globally, markets are undergoing rapid changes which present new challenges and opportunities. The absence of competition and consumer protection policy in Uganda has created opportunities for some actors in the business community to engage in unfair business practices such as price-fixing.
Uganda targets $4 billion investments at Dubai Expo (The East African)
Uganda is banking on the ongoing Dubai expo in the United Arab Emirates to attract about $4 billion worth of investments in different sectors of its economy by next year, the country’s investment authority said. The 2020 Dubai Expo, a Universal Exhibition which started on October 1, 2021, has attracted about 200 countries and several potential investors.
Uganda is participating under the “Opportunity” theme where it is showcasing its exports and tourism attractions as well as emerging investment opportunities. According to Uganda Investment Authority, the country seeks to use this year’s expo to attract investments in infrastructure, mining, health, tourism, agriculture, real estate, energy, industrialisation, and oil and gas.
Zambia finds Sh220bn more debt on books, with China major creditor (Business Daily)
Zambia's newly elected government on Thursday said it owed $2 billion (Sh220 billion) more to foreign creditors than previously thought, with more than $6 billion (Sh660 billion) owed to China alone. The resource-rich but impoverished African nation said external debt stood at $14.48 billion (Sh1.59 trillion) at the middle of the year -- more than 60 percent of gross domestic product. Debt had ballooned under the government of Edgar Lungu, who was toppled in August elections by veteran opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Of the total debt, Zambia owes China $5.75 billion -- or $6.18 billion including unpaid interest, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane told parliament.
Nigeria Grants N992.9bn Import Waivers In Two Years (Economic Confidential)
Within a two-year period covering January 2019 and December 2020, the Federal Government through the Nigerian Customs Services granted the sum of N992.9bn as waivers on imported goods, findings have shown. The N992.9bn comprises N213.1bn recorded in 2019 and N779.7bn waived in 2020, data from the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper revealed. Import duty waivers, exemptions and concessions are used by governments in various parts of the world to protect local businesses and jobs but they have typically been abused in Nigeria and have become a major drain on the national economy.
A breakdown of the waivers granted in 2019 showed that exemptions on import charges stood at N127.7bn; surcharge, which consists of seven per cent import duty, was N8.6bn; and common external tariff levy, N4.6bn; Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, N2.6bn; while exemptions under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme was N4.8bn.
Eromosele Abiodun, James Emejo and Nume Ekeghe In the wake of the implementation of the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that another component and incentive of the E-naira, which is slated to launch soon, would be its ability to enhance tax efficiency as well as improve cross-border trade. The Director Monetary Policy Department, Dr Hassan Mahmud said this yesterday at the 31st seminar for finance correspondents and business editors in Enugu where stakeholders converge to discuss, “Trends in the Nigerian System: Regulating the Fintech Digital Playing field.” Presenting his paper titled Implications of trends in the digital financial ecosystem for monetary policy implementation virtually, Mahmud said that part of the motivation to launch the digital currency is the ability to aide Cross-border trade and boost tax efficiency amongst others. He said: “The Central Bank of Nigeria in partnership with Bitt Inc., an international fintech firm, is set to launch its digital currency, e-Naira and this would increase cross-border trade, accelerated financial inclusion, bring about cheaper and faster remittance inflows. It would help with easier targeted social interventions, improvements in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency and efficiency in tax collection.”
Raising foreign capital for sustainable business growth (The National)
Burkina Faso could drastically increase the use of renewable energy in its power mix by developing battery storage solutions through public private partnerships, according to a roadmap supported by IFC.The roadmap was produced by Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Energy and the national utility, Société Nationale d’Electricité du Burkina (SONABEL), with IFC’s support. It outlines how Burkina Faso could reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and energy imports by taking advantage of its fast-growing solar power sector.
Battery storage systems are helping countries worldwide better integrate renewable energy into their power systems by enabling energy from solar, wind, and other renewable sources to be stored until customers need power most. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), energy storage deployment in emerging markets is expected to increase by over 40 percent annually from 2020 until 2025.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, has opened the 7th edition of Africa Engineering Week and the 5th Africa Engineering Conference in Accra on Tuesday, with a call on engineers in African to position themselves to leverage the opportunities that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) present. Mr. Alan Kyerematen outlined three major strategic areas for the engineers to develop their capabilities in order to gain the benefits of the single African market. The areas include engineering services related to production and the installation of production infrastructure, trade related infrastructure and trade in services.
One of the key constraints to intra-African trade has been the ability to pay for goods in local currency. A trader in Ghana wanting to purchase leather from Burundi, or an artisan in Tunisia wanting to purchase cotton from Egypt would have to go through time consuming and often onerous procedures to pay his counterpart in US dollars or euros, with the local banks having to transact through corresponding banks.
This meant extra costs, longer lead times and unwieldy administrative processes. A problem which was compounded when international banks stopped offering correspondent banking services especially to smaller African countries post financial crisis of 2008-9. The Pan-African Payments and Settlements Platform which officially launched in late September is a first step in trying to overcome the cross-border and cross-currency payments quagmire.
A recent study by Caribou Data and the Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa found that 92% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya use social commerce to carry out their businesses.
Using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp, people buy, sell and promote products and services as well as directly communicate with their customers.
A 2019 GeoPoll survey found that Facebook and Instagram ranked ahead of many e-commerce marketplaces in a list of the most used online shopping platforms in the continent. The high adoption of social media in Africa, which is enabled by increasing internet connectivity, has led to the rise of this type of e-commerce in the continent, whereby content sharing, messaging and payment come together.
Africa is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the world. From 2014 to 2018, the number of online shoppers in the continent increased on average by 18% annually, against a global average of 12%, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. With its lockdowns and social restrictions, the Covid-19 pandemic is giving this growth a boost. A study by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and GSMA, an organization that represents mobile network operators worldwide, says social commerce accounts for the majority of e-commerce activity in markets such as Chad, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Central African Republic.
Mobile technology is a key driver of social commerce in Africa, as the mobile phone is the primary tool people in the region use to access the internet and people tend to use mobile money to pay for goods and services in social commerce transactions. But the lack of access to mobile internet for large swathes of the population presents potential challenges to the ability of social commerce services to scale, Angela Wamola, the head of sub-Saharan Africa at GSMA, tells Quartz.
Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele has called for private collaboration to unlock the country’s investment potential, particularly within the context of a stretched government budget and increasing infrastructure needs. Addressing the second Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa (SIDSSA21) on Thursday, the Minister said to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and infrastructure goals, over six trillion Rand between 2021 and 2040 would be needed. “We estimate that the finance gap that needs to be closed will be just over two trillion Rand. In this regard, we have operationalised the Infrastructure Fund, a blended finance platform that packages projects and ensures they can leverage private sector finance. “An initial project pipeline has been approved and will transform the way economic and social infrastructure projects are delivered in the country,” the Minister said.
Core to the post-Covid-19 recovery is vaccination, says former finance minister Trevor Manuel. Manuel was speaking in his capacity as chairperson of Old Mutual, during a virtual conference hosted by the international organisation Global Steering Group (GSG). GSG promotes investment that is beneficial for the environment and society. In his address, Manuel noted the economic impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor. “… [M]ost contributing economic sectors were devastated as the economy shut down. Mining ground to a halt a similar fate a way to trade and the massive demand slump. In so many countries, tourism receipts reduced to zero, and remittances dried up completely. Governments had virtually zero tax revenue,” he said.
In contrast to other parts of the world, most countries in Africa lacked the social safety nets to support their populations, he said. The African economy effectively shrunk 3.3% during 2020, compared to growth of 3.8% in the prior year. According to the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook Report for 2021, the continent’s economy during 2020 suffered its worst recession in 50 years, Fin24 previously reported.
“We need to focus on the post Covid recovery. And essential part of this is vaccination rollout,” said Manuel. Manuel however highlighted that Covid-19 was not continent’s first exposure to epidemics, and therefore the health system had developed its own resilience after being hit by Ebola, TB, HIV and AIDS and various waterborne diseases. Manuel also lauded the innovations on the continent with regard to digital finance - in the form of M-Pesa in East Africa. “These have held up remarkably, but these are often the product of very small but successful and high impact investments,” he said. Manuel noted further opportunities for investment on the continent, given its youthful population - 60% under the age of 25 - as well as the African continental free trade agreement.
Africa is ripe for investment (IT-Online)
Ahead oft he German Africa Investment Conference taking place next week, the South African Department of Trade and Industry met with SEW-Eurodrive to discuss its R200-million investment into the country on site at the organisations new head quarters in Aeroton, Johannesburg. According to Deputy Minister Fikile Majola, a dynamic manufacturing base is critical for increasing the economic multiplier in an economy and helps to expand its technological base, creating jobs that foster inclusive growth. South Africa has implemented a number of policies and interventions aimed at growing its manufacturing base away from a mere provider of raw materials and unprocessed products to the rest of the world to becoming a manufacturing hub on the African continent. “This cutting edge SEW-Eurodrive expansion is a testament to the progress we have made and the opportunities present in this market.” Despite being considered a hopeless continent by The Economist a little more than two decades ago, today Africa is widely regarded as the world’s next growth market. Home to 17% of the global population in 2020, the continent is expected to account for 26% of the world’s population by 2050 and an estimated $16,2-trillion of combined consumer and business spending.
The reality is that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Africa in the last two decades have increasingly diversified away from extractive sectors into manufacturing, IT services, logistics, communications and renewable energy. In 2004 southern Africa – and South Africa in particular – received 70% of all FDI in the region. By 2018 this had reduced to 30% as a growing proportion of FDI was directed towards Nigeria and East Africa.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, had a significant impact on FDI flows into the continent. The World Investment Report estimates that in line with declining FDI figures globally, FDI to Africa reduced by 16% in 2020 to $40-billion from $47-billion in 2019.
Germany pledges US $116M for renewable energy in Africa (Pumps Africa)
Germany has pledged to contribute US $116M to the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to support private investments in renewable energy in Africa. The funds will be injected into the Fund for Sustainable Energy in Africa (SEFA) which aims to unlock private sector investments that contribute to universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services in Africa.
At a public event held on 7th October in Gaborone, the European Union and Germany (@Team Europe) have handed over a grant of EUR 100,000 (BWP 1,3 million ) to the company Cally Clothing & Corporate Gifts of Botswana.
Cally Clothing & Corporate Gifts is one of 12 companies in the SADC region that have received support from the SIPS programme (Support towards Industrialization of the Productive Sectors), a programme co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Germany and managed by the SADC Secretariat. Cally Clothing’s core business focuses on manufacturing branded clothing and other promotional material. With the EUR 100,000 received from the SIPS programme, the company will expand its core business to a new production line of personal protective equipment for health workers in the form of re-usable unisex scrubs and surgical gowns in response to the shortages of protective equipment and material in the Southern Africa market since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countries with abundant natural resources – gold, diamonds, crude oil– often fail to transform that advantage into favourable development outcomes. This is known as the natural resource curse. Countries like Nigeria, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are often cited as examples. Several explanations have been offered for the resource course. These include the lack of government accountability usually associated with large windfalls from natural resources relative to other sources of tax revenues. Others are an increase in the local currency against major currencies such as the US dollar, which makes it difficult for other sectors of the economy to compete globally.
A related problem, but one that has received less attention, is the fiscal resource curse. It refers to the inability of a country well endowed with natural resources to generate domestic revenue from other sectors of the economy. For example, between 2000 and 2010, resource revenues in Angola stayed above 20% of GDP compared to a non-resource tax level of about 7% on average.
China has been offered bilateral infrastructure investment deals to resource rich countries. For instance, China “pays” for some of the commodities by investing in the supplier country’s infrastructure. This has been a common approach in several African countries, including Angola, Sudan, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Our study investigated whether natural resource revenues displace non-resource tax revenues in developing countries. Its novel contribution is that it explores the impact of China. This is specifically about China’s extensive involvement (as a buyer) in the natural resource trade since joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001.
Covid-19 effects in sub-Saharan Africa increase modestly (Prensa Latina)
Afrexim, Gateway establish business fund for Africa (The Herald)
AFREXIMBANK through its development impact-oriented subsidiary, Fund for Export Development in Africa has entered into a partnership with Gateways Partners in co-establishing a fund that offers financing solutions to business across the continent. Gateway Partners is a leading emerging markets-focused alternative investment manager with offices in Dubai and Singapore. In a statement, AfreximBank said the fund, which is called the Africa Credit Opportunities Fund (ACOF) is intended to widen the bank’s support for the continent beyond traditional trade finance products.
“This partnership, a first of its kind between an African Development Finance Institution and an alternative investment manager, is intended to broaden and strengthen AfreximBank’s support for the continent, by enhancing the bank’s scope of intervention beyond its traditional trade finance products,” it said.
ACOF is a unique platform that brings together the institutional expertise and relationships of AfreximBank and Gateway to provide much needed financing solutions to businesses across Africa.
Tourism players are upbeat of the sector’s recovery in the region, with the upcoming 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO already attracting over 2,000 visitors from across the globe and 100 exhibitors confirming their participation at the TGT grounds in Arusha, Tanzania. The expo set for 9th to 11th October 2021, aims at creating awareness on tourism investment opportunities amid the pandemic and promote EAC as a single tourism destination. Currently, EAC Partner States’ Ministers of Tourism and Government officials from Botswana, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo have confirmed their participation.
“In respect to the tourism sector, these sub-themes will revolve around aspects such as tourism resilience and crisis management, digital tourism marketing, development of multi-destination tourism packages and tourism investment opportunities and incentives. On the other hand, wildlife-related sub-themes will include Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade and economic value of wildlife in the region,” said Hon. Mathuki.
Africa Is Changing—and U.S. Strategy Is Not Keeping Up (Foreign Affairs Magazine)
Africa has never been a top priority for the United States. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all launched impactful initiatives there—helping advance trade, health, and energy, among other things—but their administrations devoted only limited, episodic attention to the continent. President Donald Trump gave it even less thought: he was the first U.S. president since Ronald Reagan not to travel to Africa, and his Africa policy, to the extent it could be discerned, focused on the narrow goals of competing with China, reducing the U.S. military footprint, and expanding private-sector engagement. President Joe Biden’s administration has been similarly slow out of the blocks on Africa. Aside from its focused diplomatic response to the horrific civil war in Ethiopia and a few hints about other areas of emphasis, such as trade and investment, Biden has not articulated a strategy for the continent. Yet powerful demographic, economic, and political changes are sweeping across Africa, expanding the opportunities for positive U.S. engagement there and underscoring the need to elevate Africa on the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities. In the coming months, the Biden administration should set out a bold strategy that reframes American thinking about Africa from a focus on the sub-Saharan region to a wider look at the continent as a whole and from an overemphasis on U.S.-Chinese competition to a broader engagement with Africans themselves. Doing so will require lengthening the time frame for U.S. objectives, especially those concerning democracy and human rights, and focusing more on bolstering institutions than on preserving relationships with individual African leaders.
President Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Nigeria’s Trade and Investment minister, Adeniyi Adebayo and the His Excellency Sheikh Tahnoon Al Nahyan have all confirmed attendance for the FIN Africa-UAE Trade and Investment Forum and the Forbes Best of Africa Energy Award sessions that will hold on November 21st, 2021 at the prestigious 7-star Burj AL Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The event is a two-pronged package. The theme of the International Energy Forum is “The future of oil and gas in Africa” while the theme of the Trade and Investment Forum is “The road to a prosperous Africa”. The FIN Africa-UAE Trade and Investment Forum and the Forbes Best of Africa Energy Award sessions will hold on November 21st, 2021 at the prestigious 7-star Burj AL Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The second part which is the conference and the exhibition will hold on November 22nd – 23rd, 2021 at Shangaria Hotel, Dubai. The Trade and Investment Forum will aim at stimulating of wider inclusiveness between countries to speed up actualization of prosperous Africa; act as an advocacy machinery for the development of job creation incubation system for African youths at the grassroots and impact on the participants improved know-how on available opportunities for trade, investment and tourism.
According to Olayinka Fayomi, Chief Executive, Foreign Investment Network (FIN), “it is estimated that the impact of COVID-19 would drag African economies into a fall of about 1.4% in GDP, with smaller economies facing contraction of up to 7.8%. So, it is time to turn to trade and investments help to build better bilateral trade and investment platforms and boost the economy as well as increasing productivity and export capacity.”
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Development Cooperation between Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) and the AUC. Mahamat visited TİKA and had a meeting with Serkan Kayalar, TİKA’s President. In the meeting, Kayalar stated that Turkey has deep-rooted relations with Africa and that the improvement in these bilateral and multilateral relations gained momentum in every field with Turkey’s declaration of 2005 as the “Year of Africa”. Kayalar said, “As the strategic partner of the African Union, Turkey ensures sustainable cooperation in every field based on mutual trust.” He added that the number of Turkish Embassies in Africa, which was 12 in 2002, reached 43 in 2021. Kayalar noted that African countries were not indifferent to Turkey’s interest in the continent and that the number of the embassies of African countries in Turkey, which was 10 in 2008, reached 37. He added, “Today, Turkey is a major trade partner of many African countries. All our institutions are carrying out important activities in Africa as a result of the improving diplomatic relations under the strong leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the national leader who made the highest number of official visits to Africa. As TİKA, we opened our Ethiopia Office, our first office on the continent, in 2005. Now, we have 22 offices in Africa.”
The Atlantic Council’s Africa Center will host the inaugural Africa Creative Industries Summit on Friday, October 15, 2021. The summit will feature senior government officials, cultural icons, and business leaders advancing innovative solutions to unlock the extraordinary potential of the African creative industries, including visual arts, design, and fashion; film, television, and radio; music and performing arts; and literature and publishing. Speakers will appear from locations across Africa and from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC.
According to UNESCO, the creative economy generates $2.25 trillion in global revenue, employing nearly 30 million people. Yet, Africa accounts for less than 3 percent of total revenue and 8 percent of creative industries jobs, leaving room for significant growth. Nigeria has served as a case study for the continent’s potential, as it is now home to the fastest growing music and entertainment industries in the world. PWC estimates the creative industries market in Nigeria has risen to US$6.4billion (up from US$3.6billion in 2016).
“Work towards a possible MC12 outcome document is a member-led process,” the chair declared. “As always, it is the members that decide what goes into any agreed outcome document.” Ambassador Castillo has been assisting WTO members in his capacity as General Council chair with work on the first part of the outcome document, which would cover: (i) the context in which MC12 takes place; (ii) broader political messages; and (iii) guidance from ministers on additional elements members may agree on. Work has taken place in a small group format broadly representative of the membership and comprising all group coordinators and several other delegations, he noted. Transparency is being ensured through group coordinators who keep their members up to date on the ongoing discussions and feed their views and suggestions back into the process, as well as through the chair’s regular reports at informal General Council meetings.
The new order of trade (The Economist)
For over 200 years, economists have largely accepted such arguments, although some politicians have displayed an atavistic fondness for protection. But after 1945, most leaders around the world converged on support for freer trade. Taken by the idea that more open markets promote innovation, competition and growth, they pursued them, first in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), founded in 1948, and then after the GATT was transformed into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995. The WTO was an extraordinary achievement. For the first time—and almost uniquely for international institutions—the system included binding dispute settlement, so that victims of rule-breaking could win redress. No longer could big countries throw their weight around and assume that any injury to others was consequence-free. Such was the faith placed in the new institution that, when China belatedly joined it in 2001, many in the West hoped that it would lead to economic and political convergence with rich democracies.
Between 1990 and 2017 the trade-weighted average global tariff applied under WTO rules fell by 4.2 percentage points. The drop was greatest in poorer countries
This system supported an explosion of global trade as a share of gross output, from around 30% in the early 1970s to 60% in the early 2010s. Over the same period complex global supply chains grew from around 37% to 50% of total trade. The stunning collapse in transport costs boosted international commerce.
Evolving freight situation continues to disrupt Asia-to-West Africa rice trade (Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide)
Rising freight rates and the shift away from container shipments have continued to make waves in the Asia-to-West Africa rice trade in recent weeks.
A Singapore-based trader for the region said: “Container shipments are not workable so we have all switched to breakbulk shipment.” “[shipping in containers] makes no sense,” a Europe-based trader said, who historically shipped almost exclusively in containers.
However, shipping in breakbulk is not without its own set of issues, which traders are finding out as more and more breakbulk ships loaded with rice arrive in West Africa. Delays are increasingly commonplace amid clogged ports. Additionally, current Asia-to-West Africa freight rates of between $130-$150/mt are significantly higher than the cost of delivering the rice which is arriving in destination markets now.
A year has passed since India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 products. But despite the support of over 100 countries, including the United States, the proposal has yet to be adopted. COVID-19 has caused 3.5 million deaths since the waiver was put forward at the WTO. We wondered: What might have happened if the proposal had been quickly approved?
The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to undermine global and regional supply chains – and the world’s economy – unless vaccine access is boosted in developing countries given that production systems are interconnected. This was the message from various speakers at UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial conference (UNCTAD15) on 6 October, during the second ministerial round-table discussion on reshaping global and regional value chains. They said care needs to be taken to ensure the substantial COVID-19 recovery programmes adopted by many governments and the resilience strategies of the private sector generate sustainable and inclusive growth that benefits all countries, particularly the most vulnerable.
International Chamber of Commerce’s secretary-general, John Denton, warned that the global economy stood to lose as much as $9.2 trillion, with developed countries shouldering half the cost, if governments failed to ensure developing countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines. On the fragility of value chains, Mr. Denton sounded a positive note, lauding the agility and robustness of businesses in the wake of the pandemic. He warned that nationalism and protectionism were counterproductive to the efficient functioning of international production networks. “Reshoring is impractical and doesn’t make business sense,” he said.
Even before the pandemic, debt levels were dangerously unsustainable, especially for developing countries and the world’s poorest nations. COVID-19 has accelerated this challenge exponentially. Reform is the only way forward, world leaders and a Nobel laureate said at the first ministerial round-table discussion of UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial conference (UNCTAD15). Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley gave her “report from the frontlines” as a nation at the intersection of debt and climate vulnerability. She said the international economic system faces its biggest task since the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions “because the front line of trade dependency crosses the front line of the climate crisis.” The rise in developing country total debt – public, private, domestic and external – is at its highest level on record, at 193% of combined developing country GDP in 2018. “We are either going to find ourselves servicing debt or servicing people. We have to make the choice,” she said, adding her nation could not do both.
This year’s event is the first occasion since the United Nations General Assembly decision on 30 August, to officially recognize 7 October as World Cotton Day as proposed by Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. The UN resolution acknowledges cotton’s economic and social impact around the world. DG Okonjo-Iweala stressed the far-reaching impact of the UN resolution. “First and foremost, the UN’s official recognition of an international day for cotton is a recognition of all the women and men who derive their livelihoods from cotton production, processing, transformation, and commercialization,” she said. The DG also underscored the relationship between the cotton sector and sustainable development. “Today, the sector faces new challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of climate change, and changing consumer preferences. In this context, the cotton sector has a crucial role to play in making a concrete contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” she noted.
Here’s Why Cotton Stands Out in a World of Change (Sourcing Journal)
It’s World Cotton Day 2021. And while that sounds like a great reason to break out the hoodies and denim jeans, the celebration plans go so much further. The theme for this year’s event is “Cotton for Good,” and the focus will include sustainability, women in cotton, and brand and retailer partnerships. Begun two years ago by the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Cotton Day (WCD) recognizes the importance of cotton as a global commodity. When it hosted the first celebration, the WTO’s aim was to give exposure to farmers, processors, researchers and businesses, and their contributions to the cotton value chain.
Today, as then, events will be held around the globe and the general public is invited to tune in to see cotton’s enduring, positive impact. The regions that will be represented include North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Activities will include in-person field visits, parades through communities, webinars, and research discussions. This year, cotton’s sustainability comes to the forefront as climate change threatens not just the plant itself, but the communities and industries that surround its farming, milling, and textile and food production.
Worldwide 26 million (metric) tonnes — the equivalent of 28.66 million U.S. tons — of cotton are produced every year, according to the Bremen Cotton Exchange. The organization estimates 150 million people are involved in its production and further processing.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that planned increases in charges by airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) will stall recovery in air travel and damage international connectivity. Confirmed airport and ANSP charges increases have already reached $2.3 billion. Further increases could be ten fold this number if proposals already tabled by airports and ANSPs are granted.
“A $2.3 billion charges increase during this crisis is outrageous. We all want to put COVID-19 behind us. But placing the financial burden of a crisis of apocalyptic proportions on the backs of your customers, just because you can, is a commercial strategy that only a monopoly could dream up. At an absolute minimum, cost reduction—not charges increases—must be top of the agenda for every airport and ANSP. It is for their customer airlines,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
This edition of the World Bank MENA Economic Update estimates that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s economies, which contracted by 3.8% in 2020, will grow by 2.8% in 2021. Overall, the output cost of COVID-19 so far in MENA is almost $200 billion, a number estimated by comparing the region’s forecast GDP level with a scenario where there was not any COVID.
The report predicts that the economic recovery will be both tenuous and uneven, with per capita GDP, which is a more accurate measure of people’s standard of living, increasing by only 1.1% in 2021 after declining an estimated 5.4% in 2020. The report estimates that 13 of 16 countries covered in the macroeconomic forecasts will have lower standards of living than prior to COVID. The region’s recovery will also depend on a rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines, while for some countries additional growth risks are posed by ongoing political uncertainty.
Chambers of Congress from over 100 countries are expected to participate in the 12th edition of the World Chambers Congress next month. The Congress, which takes place in Dubai from 23-25 November is a headline event in the chamber calendar and is set to look at the evolving role of chambers in the digital age. As over 1,000 delegates from around the world prepare for the biennial event, here are four things they can expect from the largest chamber connection of the year.
1. A pioneering programme to drive a forward-leading action plan
2. A top-notch lineup of speakers and visionaries
3. Access to the much-anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai
4. Participation from over 100 countries, including least developed countries (LDC)