Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Bloomberg


CYRIL RAMAPHOSA: SA must seize opportunities in move to green economy (Eyewitness News)

It is no exaggeration to say that the world is facing a climate crisis of unprecedented proportions. The latest report from the world’s leading climate scientists has warned that the pace of global warming is rapidly increasing, and Sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing temperature increases well above the global average. Climate change presents serious health, environmental and economic risks for our country. These risks will have increasingly damaging effects on human health, water availability, food production, infrastructure and migration. Many South Africans are already feeling the effects of climate change through drought and flooding, which have an effect on their livelihoods. Several communities in the Mpumalanga, for example, are affected by high levels of pollution, which increases respiratory illness and other diseases. Those who are dependent on the ocean for a living have already seen depleted fish stocks amid changing weather patterns and changes in ocean temperature.

There are broader economic risks. As our trading partners pursue the goal of net-zero carbon emissions, they are likely to increase restrictions on the import of goods produced using carbon-intensive energy. Because so much of our industry depends on coal-generated electricity, we are likely to find that the products we export to various countries face trade barriers and, in addition, consumers in those countries may be less willing to buy our products.

The other economic risk is that investors will shy away from investing in fossil fuel-powered industries. Banks and financial institutions are already facing pressures from their shareholders not to finance enterprises that depend on fossil fuels to produce their products or services.

All these emerging trends mean that we need to act with urgency and ambition to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and undertake a transition to a low-carbon economy. Many of our peer countries have already started migrating to low-carbon economic dispensations.

Trade and services sector key for our business empowerment programme - Eskom (Politcsweb)

On 30 August 2021, Eskom launched its 2021 Business Investment Competition (BIC) and Business Connect, targeting 100%-black-owned small and medium businesses, including those in the trade and services industry sector. The BIC is a competition running until midnight on 31 October 2021 and is aimed at boosting growing businesses with financial support, whereas Business Connect aims at empowering BIC entrants with business skills, mentorships, and networking. It is also an opportunity for the BIC winners to market their products, services, and corporate brands.

According to the Small Enterprise Development Agency’s (SEDA’s) SMME Quarterly Update report (Q1, 2019), small, medium and micro enterprises have produced 10,8 million jobs, 41,3% of them in the trade and services industry. The South African economy is driven by the trade and services sector, which contributes over 22% to the gross domestic product (GDP), followed by general government services at 17%, and then the sector of wholesale, retail and motor trade, catering, and accommodation at 15% (Stats SA, 2017).

“We are mindful of the fact that, in South Africa, the vast majority of SMMEs operate in the trade and services sector. Our efforts are aimed at ensuring that these enterprises will develop and soon join the big players, and also that we contribute to their sustainability,” said Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive, Cecil Ramonotsi. “The tourism and accommodation industries have been among those hardest hit by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. The Business Investment Competition is but one avenue to help small businesses find their bearings,” added Ramonotsi.

Citrus growers frustrated by Transnet delays (IOL)

STATE-owned freight company Transnet is under fire from the Citrus Growers Association for shipping delays that are threatening fruit exports. According to the Durban-based association’s website, logistics development manager Mitchell Brooke flagged Transnet as the biggest threat to the fruit export industry. Brooke said in a letter dated September 27 that the poor state of Transnet’s operations is seriously compromising the South African agriculture and manufacturing industries and is a huge threat to the local economy. “Operations at the port authority and terminals division have declined so severely that we are now witnessing massive delays to ships calling across the South African ports. “Notwithstanding the disruptions from the Covid pandemic in 2020, the recent KZN looting and the cyber-attack on Transnet’s IT systems in July, the present issues go way beyond that. We now know that Transnet has been the subject of mass corruption as a result of state capture,” said Brooke.

He said businesses were losing millions of rand as manufacturing and production plants have had to stop due to the backlog in the supply of components - notwithstanding the losses the fruit export industry is facing as a result of the additional cost of logistics and quality compromised due to high dwell times.

AfCFTA Boss Allays Fears Zim Will Be A Regional Dumping Market (New Zimbabwe)

THE Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has allayed fears Zimbabwe risks being transformed into a dumping market site by highly industrialised nations following the decision to ratify the continental trade agreement.

Trading under the new agreement commenced on January 1, 2021, and Zimbabwe has since ratified the agreement. However, local market watchers are skeptical that the agreement will not augur well for the embattled nation which is still struggling to revive industrial productivity amid fears that cheape

Rwanda-Zim conference a game-changer (Sunday Mail)

The recently held Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment conference is a game-changer set to transform the economies of the two countries if the enthusiasm displayed over the four-day meeting that ended last weekend is anything to go by. Trade between the two has been low over the past few years but activity has begun to pick up following the establishment of embassies in either country two years ago. This has given impetus to the drive to consolidate the economic ties between the two countries. Zimbabwe and Rwanda have so much to learn from each other as they seek to prop the economies.

Uganda invites Kenya team to dialogue on milk exports impasse (Daily Monitor)

Uganda has invited Kenya’s Agriculture and Trade ministerial teams to Kampala for dialogue in an overture to clear the trade tiff over Ugandan milk imports to Kenya. Two months ago, Kenya slapped a seven percent levy on milk imports from Uganda, further straining relations between the two EAC countries.

Ugandan High Commissioner to Kenya and the Seychelles Dr Hassan Wasswa Galiwango while extending the invite said; “Uganda is supposed to export milk to Kenya but there is a problem that will be resolved soon. We have invited the government of Kenya to send a delegation to inspect Uganda milk factories, to ascertain Uganda’s capacity to produce [exportable] excess.”

Small businesses urged to take advantage of EAC trade fair (The Star)

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from Kenya have been urged to take advantage of the coming EAC trade fair in Mwanza, Tanzania. Speaking during the East African Community (EAC) regional Steering Committee meeting in preparation for the 21st EAC MSMEs trade fair, the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) director general Henry Rithaa called on Kenyans to capitalise on the event to showcase their products.

MSEA is a state corporation established under the Micro and Small Enterprise Act No. 55 of 2012. It is tasked with formulating and coordinating policies that will facilitate the integration and harmonisation of various public and private sector initiatives, for the promotion, development and regulation of the Micro and Small Enterprises to become key Industries of tomorrow.

The regional trade fair has been used to promote cross border trade, the EAC simplified trade regime and dealing with Non-Tariff Barriers. It also focuses on products value addition, Standards, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing (SQMT),benefits and opportunities of the EAC Integration Process to SMEs, EAC Rules of Origin, and MSMES and MSE’s development and opportunities.

Importer loses compensation bid for Sh600m seized sugar (Business Daily)

A sugar importer’s bid to be compensated Sh609 million by the government for its brown sugar seized three years ago by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has been dismissed by the High Court. Landmark Freight Services Ltd wanted the court to compel Kebs to pay damages for confiscating 400,000 bags of the product that was imported from Brazil in 2018. Kebs flagged the consignment over high yeast content and sought its destruction, but Landmark argued that the seizure was done without explanation and hence was illegal. The government agency asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the firm lost a similar application two years ago but had cleverly brought back the same case instead of appealing against the decision of July 2019.

Incorporate business and human rights into national investment legal frameworks, government told (The Independent Uganda)

Uganda needs to incorporate guiding principles on business and human rights into the national investment regulatory frameworks to strike balance between the investor rights and the state, according to Jane Nalunga, the Executive Director at the Southern and Eastern African Trade Institute –SEATINI Uganda. Nalunga, who was speaking during a stakeholder engagement in Kampala under the theme; “Harnessing Uganda’s investment laws, policies and agreements to prevent business related human rights violations,” said there are rampant human rights violations and environmental degradation mainly perpetuated by foreign investors.

Nalunga said their consultations and community engagements with casual laborers and community representatives in Kalangala, Kiryandongo, Mubende, and Buvuma where some of the large-scale investment schemes are based, unearthed numerous cases of human and environmental right violations in the communities perpetuated by corporations. She said though there are global, regional and national Investment policies including the investment code 2019, African Union large scale investment Treaty, UN Guiding principles on Business and human rights in relation to investments, violations have persisted because of the gaps. “These treaties which are best endeavors are not legally binding to the investors domestically hence leaving the human rights gap that is exploited by investors,” she added. This development comes at the time the Ugandan government is looking for all possible means including tax exemptions and no minimum wage to attract investors.

e-Naira To Increase Cross-border Trade, Tax Efficiency (Leadership Newspaper)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said the ability of the digital currency E-naira to enhance tax efficiency as well as improve cross-border trade amidst the implementation of African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) are other incentives aside increasing financial inclusion. Director, monetary policy department, Dr Hassan Mahmud, speaking on ‘Trends in the Nigerian system: regulating the fintech digital playing field’ said, part of the motivation to launch the digital currency is its ability to aid cross-border trade and boost tax efficiency, amongst others. According to him, “the CBN, 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.” The CBN digital currency, he said, will offer parity of value and will operate as a non-interest-bearing asset and that Nigeria’s digital currency will function under a tiered anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer (AML/KYC) structure with different transaction limits.

African Development Bank Group begins consultations for the new Country Strategy for Egypt (AfDB)

The African Development Bank Group and the Ministry of International Cooperation on Monday October, 4th launched consultations for the Bank’s new Country Strategy Paper for Egypt. As part of the consultations the Bank is ensuring its engagement with Egypt is fully aligned with national priorities and will consult with a wide group of stakeholders, including representatives of the private and public sectors and civil society who will be providing input over the coming weeks to guide Bank operations in the country for the next five years (2022-2026).

Guided by the priorities of the government’s National Development Plan “Egypt’s Vision 2030”, the Bank aims to focus its interventions on strengthening the country’s competitiveness for robust private sector-led growth and job creation; and building resilience through food and water security and energy efficiency for sustainable and green development.

“Our purpose in Egypt is to contribute to job creation and inclusive growth. At the same time, we also want to promote Egyptian companies in these sectors who we see as ‘African Champions’ and support their expansion within Africa as Egypt has a lot to offer,” said Malinne Blomberg, the Bank’s Deputy Director General for the North Africa region.


Africa Investment Forum roundtable event showcases agribusiness investment opportunities ahead of 2021 Market Days (AfDB)

The Africa Investment Forum held a roundtable event to preview two agribusiness deals worth nearly $400 million as part of the lead-in to its upcoming 2021 Market Days. The investment opportunities, drawn from the Africa Investment Forum’s pipeline, will be presented in full during the Market Days, to be held from December 1-3 in Abidjan. The virtual roundtable, organized by the Atlantic Council, took place on Thursday 7 October, 2021.

Agriculture and agri-business is one of five priority investment sectors under the Africa Investment Forum’s Unified Response to Covid-19 pillars, in addition to energy and climate change, health, ICT/Telecoms, and industrialization and trade.

Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu said, “Agriculture is one of the pillars of the African economy: it is the key employer, and is fundamental to transforming rural areas, reducing poverty, and facilitating economic growth. As a sector, agriculture has been under-supported by investment to date, and the Africa Investment Forum’s vision is to be a catalyst for significant investment to facilitate growth over the next decade, to improve productivity and incomes in an equitable and sustainable manner..”

Entrepreneurship and Free Trade: Volume II -- Towards a New Narrative of Building Resilience (AfDB)

An additional challenge across Africa is access to data and information to power innovation and entrepreneurship. Volume II operates on the premise that ongoing investment in physical infrastructure (e.g., electricity and power, transport, information and communications technologies (ICT)) will be necessary but not sufficient. Additional to this investment, support will be required for social infrastructure (e.g., education at differing levels), regional value chains, and to link research and development (R&D) and other information dissemination platforms with startups or existing businesses. Micro-level business support will also be needed

from accounting firms and specialized vendors precisely because the startups and businesses are very small and face challenges in forming effective management teams.

This report takes a closer look at the role of incubators, accelerators, and broader legal, institutional and financial requirements to harness more “formalized” entrepreneurship on the continent. Combined with a description of initiatives underway and recommendations on how the Bank can play a constructive and pivotal role, it aims to provide a high-level road map on interventions the Bank can support from a policy and operational perspective so that African entrepreneurship grows and plays a constructive and influential role in the achievement of other economic and social goals on the continent. Attention is placed on important sectors and activities that

offer prospects for economic growth and wealth creation while also aligning with requirements for the “green economy” to account for necessary climate change action. In addition, Volume II addresses future requirements for the continent to adapt to the post-COVID 19 environment with an eye on boosting resilience and emergency preparedness on the health and food security front.

Trade Minister opens African Engineering Conference in Accra (Myjoyonline)

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, has opened the 7th edition of Africa Engineering Week and the 5th Africa Engineering Conference in Accra on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 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. 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.

EAC Partner States lost 92% Tourism revenues due to Covid-19 pandemic (EAC)

East African Community Partner States lost 92% revenues in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Making the disclosure, EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki said that tourist arrivals to the region fell from 6.98 million arrivals in before the pandemic to 2.25 million arrivals occasioning the losses, adding that the tourism sector was the worst hit by the pandemic. Noting that the region was now open again for business, Dr. Mathuki urged EAC Partner States governments and other stakeholders to work together to market the region’s tourist attractions and products as part of efforts to ensure speedy recovery for the sector. “Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years,” said Dr. Mathuki.

Pan-African Open Skies Agreement Struggles To Get Traction (Simple Flying)

In November 1999, a group of African aviation movers and shakers met in Côte d’Ivoire to thrash out an agreement on integrating commercial aviation across Africa. The outcome was the Yamoussoukro Decision, a document supporting the liberalization of commercial aviation in Africa.

Twenty-two years later, there remains a way to go. One of the more recent outcomes was the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), a harmonized regulatory framework providing a unified air transport market in Africa.

“The SAATM has the potential for remarkable transformation that will build prosperity while connecting the African continent,” said IATA’s Vice President for Africa, Raphael Kuuchi, three years ago. “Every open air service arrangement has boosted traffic, lifted economies, and created jobs. And we expect no less in Africa.” IATA’s man in Africa says that if just 12 key African countries opened their markets and increased connectivity, an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries.

Before COVID-19 struck, IATA also forecasted 5.95% annual growth in African aviation over the next two decades. Passenger numbers are expected to increase from 100 million to more than 300 million by 2026.

Value Chain Analysis for the Oil sector (AfDB)

Africa is endowed with significant oil resources which represents strong assets for the continent socio-economic development, that could help achieve AfDB High 5s objectives, namely Power and Light-up Africa, Feeding Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. However, the oil industry is structurally complex and involves an intricate number of actors whose goals and interest are often diverging. This presents a significant challenge for policy making, as they need to weigh a wide range of factors, as they look to maximise value from their resources.

Innovative financing needed to tackle climate change in Africa (Africa Renewal)

Mr. Adam said private sector financial flows can efficiently be channeled into African investments. “The support for African countries to issue green and blue bonds will be critical, including by de-risking such vehicles, recognizing that less than 1 per cent of global green bond issuances are from Africa.” The African Union Commission’s (AUC’s) head of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Management, Harsen Nyambe, cited the low implementation rate of existing policies and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change in Africa as a major challenge on the continent. “Countries must not only agree to draft policies but must also implement them to win the war against climate change,” said Mr. Nyambe.

WAMCO bounces back with US$50m export of cocoa products (The Business & Financial Times)

West Africa Mills Company Limited (WAMCO) has shipped about 20,000 metric tonnes (MT) of cocoa products out of the country, valued at US$50 million, since the re-activation begun in 2017.

The company has traditionally shipped cocoa products such as natural cocoa liquor, deodorised cocoa butter and expeller cake used as raw materials in chocolate confectionary to Europe, but has now expanded its market to Asia, the Middle East and North Africa over the past four years. Commenting on the turnaround during a visit by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Chief Executive Officer of WAMCO, Frank Bednar, explained the progress the company has made thus far.

“One of the major elements of the reactivation exercise was to find amicable solutions to labour-related issues for both active and retired staff. WAMCO is a unionised company. Together with our social partner Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU), a member of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), management agreed on the recall of workers, the conditions of service and on payment of exit packages to retired or deceased staff,” he said.

Addressing the perception premium for sustainable development in Africa (Brookings)

The pandemic downturn has heightened one of the gravest challenges facing Africa on its development path—the high costs of perception premiums—the overinflated risks perennially assigned to Africa, irrespective of its improving macroeconomic fundamentals, the global economic environment, and individual countries’ growth prospects. The global nature of the pandemic downturn offers an opportunity to scrutinize the extent to which perception premiums are shaping the distribution of sovereign risk across countries and regions; the disproportionately larger number of African nations affected by procyclical downgrades further supports the premium hypothesis.

Over 56 percent of African countries rated by at least one of the big three credit rating agencies (Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s) were downgraded at the height of the pandemic in 2020, while only 9.2 percent in Europe and 28 percent in Asia were—leading to a global average of 31.8 percent. The disproportionate downgrading occurred despite the fact that Africa showed greater growth resilience in the face of the pandemic-triggered synchronized global downturn, contracting by less than 2 percent, against a world average of 3.3 percent.

Still, African countries continue to face higher premiums, with long-lasting consequences. In the short term, these premiums heighten the risk of debt overhang and constrain fiscal space, undermining governments’ capacity to respond effectively to recurrent adverse global shocks—as the challenges associated with the management of the COVID-19 crisis have illustrated. While the significantly lower interest rates—negative in real terms—have enabled advanced economies to navigate the pandemic downturn effectively by extending large monetary and fiscal stimulus, the growth-crushing and default-driven borrowing rates on African assets have set the stage for a divergent recovery and are heightening the risk of debt overhang.

President Emmanuel Macron admits France owes Africa a ‘debt’ (The East African)

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country owes Africa, which it must now repay progressively. At the first-ever France-Africa Summit, that excluded politicians, the French leader said that Africa’s relations with France, one of its former colonial masters, has not always been beneficial for both sides, but said these are lessons to be taken to the future. “France owes Africa a debt, and we now must find ways of effectively paying that debt in a sustainable manner,” he said on Friday.

The future for Africa’s trade with Europe: Factors affecting the long-term relevance of the European market for African exports (ECDPM)

The European Union (EU) and its member states seek to use the attractiveness of the EU market to encourage developing country trade partners to adopt more socially and environmentally sustainable practices. However, such a strategy depends on the EU market continuing to be an important market for developing country exports. Recent developments and trends, both in the EU and globally, bring this into question. We have analysed developments and trends affecting Africa’s exports to the EU, focusing on African exports as a subset of developing country exports. We looked in particular at developments and trends in the EU market, increasing demand from emerging markets and African initiatives to boost intra-African trade. We find that the EU is likely to remain an important market for African exports, including for niche, higher-value products with potential for value addition and for promoting sustainability. Nonetheless, European measures to promote sustainability are a double-edged sword. While they promote sustainable outcomes, they also make exporting to the EU harder, especially for smaller firms. This provides a strong rationale for efforts to help small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries comply with European measures to promote sustainability.

We also find that while Africa’s trade with emerging markets is increasing, it does not provide significant opportunities to generate local value addition and promote sustainable outcomes, at least not yet. By contrast, boosting intra-African trade offers great potential for generating sustainable outcomes, particularly in terms of boosting local value addition and creating opportunities for Africa’s many small firms, and for its women.

First freight shipment to arrive on ‘Brexit buster’ Morocco to UK route (Fresh Fruit Portal)

The Port of Poole in Dorset is expecting its first delivery via a new direct shipping route from Tangier in Morocco, which was established by United Seaways. A shipment of 100 freights of organic seasonal fruit and vegetables is shortly scheduled northbound while the route will run once per week and largely comprise dry and refrigerated freight. The route cuts overall journey times on goods to and from the UK to fewer than three days, compared to more than six days via road. It will be used to encourage British importers to source fresh produce and other products directly from Africa, and export companies looking to enhance their southbound trade to Morocco and the surrounding region.

China’s BRI continues to remain popular amongst Africans despite intense backlash (Observer Research Foundation)

China’s role in African development is often contested and tends to evoke mixed feelings. Its role can be located anywhere between a provider of regional public goods, a vital trading partner—albeit enjoying an asymmetrical relationship—to a purveyor of so-called ‘debt traps’ and the largest financier of African infrastructure. China’s narrative of ‘South-South Cooperation’, which emphasises on solidarity with the ‘Global South’ and provides an opportunity for low- and middle-income countries to pursue an alternative model of development, has understandably been attractive to African nations.

This inherent need for African countries to develop their transportation networks and improve connectivity aligns with the stated objectives of the BRI. Consequently, many African countries have benefitted from China’s financing of “big-ticket” loans for large-scale infrastructure projects, albeit with collateralisation mechanisms amongst Chinese state-owned enterprises in many instances, which the Chinese have used strategically and selectively. According to AidData, a research centre at the College of William and Mary, “African countries received 42 percent of all Chinese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) between 2000 and 2017.” This is consistent with Beijing’s official position that most of its foreign aid budget is earmarked for Africa. Ethiopia, the Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zambia, Kenya, Cameroon, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire have been the biggest African recipients of Chinese ODA.

African leaders continue to lavish praise upon Beijing for addressing unmet infrastructural needs. However, although there is growing appreciation of the fact that, while Chinese infrastructure projects often generate short-term economic benefits, their long-term viability and risks need to be managed. Infrastructure projects under BRI may turn out to be ‘white elephant’ projects, which are deemed unnecessary or economically unviable. Rather, the money could have been judiciously invested in projects that are likely to generate revenues, create local jobs, and unlock economic transformation.

Africa-Turkey Forum to Promote Investment and Trade Under AfCFTA (Modern Diplomacy)

Amid an attempt to drive a post-coronavirus economic rebound, a number of countries in the Gulf have introduced new immigration measures to help attract skilled foreign workers. One of the major players on this front has been the UAE, which is the process of launching 50 new projects and initiatives to boost diversification efforts. The first tranche of 13 initiatives were announced in early September. Alongside measures that will expand the UAE’s tech sector – for example, the launch of a Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, and plans to train new coders – these included two new visas.

African nations, food and culture spotlighted at Expo 2020 Dubai this week (ZAWYA)

With four African countries celebrating their National Days at Expo 2020, along with the much-anticipated Global Business Forum Africa, a host of cultural performances and the opening of ground-breaking African dining hall Alkebulan, the eyes of the world will be on Africa in Dubai this week.

This week, Morocco will also be presenting its new identity, ‘Morocco Now’, and its Vision 2025, positioning itself as a business and financial hub to Africa, while highlighting investment opportunities throughout the country. Senegal’s Investments and Business Opportunities forum on 14 October at DEC will connect CEOs and investors with African government officials to gain deeper insight into their countries’ economic development strategies, while showcasing the vision of the Emerging Senegal Plan 2035, and honing in on the country’s tourism potential.

Afreximbank and Government of Barbados Enter Milestone Understanding for Africa Diaspora Trade Ties (Afreximbank)

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Government of Barbados have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand trade and investment links between Africa and the Caribbean island state. Under the MoU, the two parties will explore opportunities for joint investment and trade finance aimed at expanding economic ties between Africa and Barbados. The agreement will also facilitate knowledge sharing between Afeximbank and the Government of Barbados, providing businesses and investors on either side of the Atlantic with higher quality information with which to pursue trade and investment opportunities.

This knowledge sharing will include collaborative use of electronic platforms for customer due diligence, payments, trade exchanges, trade information, and regulatory details. Afreximbank will also consider putting in place a financial facility in an amount of US$250 million to support trade and investment exchange.


WTO issues papers on vaccine inputs tariffs and bottlenecks on critical COVID-19 products (WTO)

The first one is a new study that focuses on COVID-19 vaccines production and tariffs on vaccine inputs. Based on the Joint Indicative List of Critical COVID-19 Vaccine Inputs for Consultation (Version 1.0), this new report explores the most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs and imports of these products by the 27 top vaccine manufacturing economies in order to identify possible “sensitive” or choke points. Any product group with an average tariff of at least 5% was deemed a possible “choke point”.

The second paper updates the “Indicative list of trade-related bottlenecks and trade-facilitating measures on critical products to combat COVID-19” that was previously published on 20 July 2021. This revised version is based on issues identified and suggestions made by stakeholders at various events and consultations convened by the WTO, as well as with vaccine manufacturers in the context of meetings organized by the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19, which was established by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the WTO.

The Trade and Climate Change Nexus: The Urgency and Opportunities for Developing Countries (World Bank)

While trade exacerbates climate change, it is also a central part of the solution because it has the potential to enhance mitigation and adaptation. This timely report explores the different ways in which trade and climate change intersect. Trade contributes to the emissions that cause global warming and is itself also affected by climate change through changing comparative advantages. The report also confronts several myths concerning trade and climate change. The report focuses on the impacts of, and adjustments to, climate change in developing countries and on how future trade opportunities will be affected by both the changing climate and the policy responses to address it. The report discusses how trade can provide the goods and services that drive mitigation and adaptation. It also addresses how climate change creates immense challenges for developing countries, but also new opportunities to promote trade diversification in the transition to a low-carbon world. Suitable trade and environmental policies can offer effective economic incentives to attain both sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

A second chance for global development (UNCTAD)

The COVID-19 crisis has generated global political momentum to alter the balance of power between the state and the market in macroeconomic management. Hopes of building back better now hinge on the emergence of a new policy paradigm to help guide a just transition to a decarbonized world. Second chances are not common in this world, but one is arriving now. The scope and scale of government support for businesses and workers during the COVID-19 crisis of the last 18 months have swept aside entrenched policy dogmas. This has generated political momentum across advanced and developing economies to change the balance of power between the state and the market, and thereby foster a new consensus for achieving more equitable and sustainable growth. By building on this impetus, we can avoid repeating the policy mistakes of recent decades.

A global economic recovery began in the second half of 2020, as countries found less draconian ways to manage the pandemic’s health risks and launched vaccination programs. Global growth is expected to reach 5.3% this year, the highest rate in almost a half-century. But the outlook beyond 2021 is uncertain, given disparities in countries’ financial resources, the prospect of new coronavirus variants, and highly uneven vaccination rates.

COVID-19: Global vaccine plan aims to end ‘two-track pandemic’ (UN News)

The Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy aims to inoculate 40 percent of people in all countries by the end of the year, and 70 percent by the middle of 2022. WHO had previously pressed governments to vaccinate 10 per cent of the world’s people by the end of last month. However, more than 55 countries, mainly in Africa and the Middle East, missed the target.

In remarks to the virtual launch, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who has been strongly advocating for a global plan, urged nations to unite and make it a success. “Without a coordinated, equitable approach, a reduction of cases in any one country will not be sustained over time. For everyone’s sake, we must urgently bring all countries to a high level of vaccination coverage,” he said, speaking from New York.

UN/DESA Policy Brief #113: Digitally enabled new forms of work and policy implications for labour regulation frameworks and social protection systems (United Nations)

‘Standard employment’—understood as regular, full-time, and subject to labour law—remains the prevailing form of employment in high-income countries, however, new forms of employment have been rapidly gaining ground since the early 2000s. While new forms of work enabled by digital technologies have rapidly been expanding in more advanced economies, they are also spreading to emerging economies, where the effects on the labour markets are likely to be different. For instance, studies show that platform work, one of the new forms of work, has the potential to increase employment opportunities, promote formalization, and reduce gender gaps in emerging economies. Despite the lack of harmonized concepts and definitions, digitally enabled new forms of work are flourishing and the number of people engaged in them is increasing rapidly. Advanced economies are at the forefront of this wave. A mapping by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions identified nine new forms of employment—namely, ICT-based mobile work, platform work, collaborative employment, casual work, job sharing, interim management, employee-sharing, portfolio work, and voucher-based work—and documented their increasing prevalence in European labour markets.

Digital technologies are creating new jobs and income generating opportunities, including among social groups usually disadvantaged in the labour market such as youth, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, as well as people living in remote areas. While some new forms of employment offer many workers a low-barrier entry into employment, the opportunity for skills development, and the possibility to better balance work and family life, other workers find themselves in an unwanted precarious situation due to the unpredictability of their working hours and income. Such precarious forms of employment are characterized by alternative working patterns, temporary forms of contractual relationships, alternative places of work, and irregular working hours.

UN World Data Forum closes with global agreement to improve data quality, new financing tools for data collection (United Nations)

The 2021 UN World Data Forum concluded on Wednesday with the announcement of the Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a clear call for action and commitment to invest in data capacities and data partnerships to leave no one behind, build trust and fill data gaps to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Forum, held from 3 to 6 October, brought together over 700 in-person participants and more than 7,000 people joining virtually from over 100 countries around the world, including representatives from national statistical systems, international organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector. “The UN World Data Forum is a critical space for bringing data communities together, showcasing solutions, and nurturing partnerships to make ‘data for all’ a reality. Timely, open, quality data are more essential than ever,” stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his remarks to open the Forum.

Noting the crucial role of data to help the world recover from the devastation of COVID‑19, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said in his closing remarks to the Forum that “the need to harness the power of data is more urgent than ever.”

UNCTAD15: Policies are critical to harnessing frontier technologies for good (UNCTAD)

Without key enabling and supportive government policies, the real benefits of new and frontier technology will remain locked away. This was the message from science, technology and innovation (STI) ministers and experts who spoke at UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial conference (UNCTAD15) on why policy is crucial to ensuring new technologies and data are harnessed in ways that boost economic recovery, reduce inequality and foster sustainable development. Panellists of the conference’s fourth ministerial round-table discussion held on 7 October outlined actions that governments, development partners and civil society actors can take to harness the true potential of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, drones and gene editing, while minimizing their potential harms. “The impact of technology on the quality of economic, social and environmental outcomes is not deterministic,” said UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant, who opened the discussion.

Goyal to meet trade ministers from UK, US, Brazil, Australia, S Africa, South Korea on G-20 sidelines (BusinessLine)

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from countries such as Australia, the UK, Brazil, the US, the EU, South Africa and South Korea on the sidelines of the on-going G 20 Ministerial Summit in Italy. This is part of the government’s efforts to achieve $400-billion export target this financial year and increase it further the next, the official added.

Goyal is likely to discuss the on-going talks on Free Trade Agreements with partners such as the UK and the EU as well as other deals and partnerships with his counterparts. Other areas to be highlighted by the Minister in his meetings are likely to include building of robust supply chains, the on-going ‘Make in India’ initiative in the country and India as an attractive foreign investment destination, the official said.

Pesticide residues: The safe trade challenge (Trade for Development News)

Pesticides are a hot topic when it comes to the intersection of agriculture, trade and food security. Pesticides often cause trade issues for developing country agri-food exports, including tropical fruits and vegetables. The first problem is that very few Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) exist for these “minor-use” crops that are so important for small-scale farmers and developing countries. The second problem is that even when MRLs exist, they often differ from international food safety standards set by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, or Codex. When importing countries set their own lower limits, it greatly increases the costs and complexity of trade.

World Green Economy Summit 2021 concludes with 7th Dubai Declaration (AP News)

Under the theme ‘Galvanising Action for a Sustainable Recovery,’ Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the World Green Economy Organization organised 7th World Green Economy Summit (WGES). It brought together prominent speakers and officials and was centred around four themes: Youth; Innovation and Smart Technologies; Green Economy and Policies; and Green Finance. WGES concluded with HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, MD&CEO of DEWA, and Chairman of WGES, announcing Dubai Declaration 2021.


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