Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Rediff


SA’s removal from UK’s travel red list welcomed, but concerns remain (IOL)

While industry partners and stakeholders in the tourism sector across Cape Town and South Africa welcomed news that the country had been removed from the UK’s red list, some travel associations remain concerned regarding acceptance and proof of travellers’ vaccination status. Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier welcomed the news that travel would be able to resume with one of the Western Cape’s key source markets, after the baffling diplomatic shamble that risked the economic recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector in the province. “We now look forward to welcoming visitors from the UK back to the Western Cape with the first British Airways flight between London Heathrow and Cape Town International Airport scheduled to resume from November 1,” said Maynier. To take advantage of the opportunity and the pent-up demand to travel from the UK to South Africa, Maynier said they would invite UK tourism trade and media to experience some of the key attractions in the Western Cape so the destination was front-of-mind for their clients.

Namibian infrastructure ‘ready’ for intra-Africa trade (New Era)

Trade minister Lucia Iipumbu remains confident that Namibia will reap maximum benefits from intra-African trade. This, in turn, will significantly contribute to the recovery of the struggling domestic economy which is suffering from a recession and was subsequently ravaged by Covid-19. Highlighting some of the intra-African trade initiatives poised to improve regional and local growth, Iipumbu noted that Namibia and Zambia recently conducted bilateral discussions on the establishment of a one-stop border. This seeks to improve trade facilitation by ensuring the efficient and timely movement of people, goods and services at the common borders. ”All efforts made towards harmonising border operations clearly indicate how authorities are committed to facilitating corridor economic activities. As a partner institution, the trade ministry launched an online Import and Export system (IMEX) to streamline cross-border trading,” she explained while responding to questions in parliament from United Democratic Front (UDF) president Apius Auchab last week. Auchab earlier expressed concern over the structure of corridor institutions, particularly their operations and capacity to provide tangible solutions in dealing with corridor bottlenecks, non-tariff barriers and the overall performance of the corridors.

‘Import restrictions could save Namibia’s dairy sector’ (Farmer’s Weekly)

In order to save Namibia’s ailing dairy industry the industry would have to restrict the volume of imported dairy products. This was according to Namibia’s Minister of Agriculture Calle Schlettwein, who, during a parliamentary sitting said that the envisaged restrictions could be implemented by means of import legislation. According to recent media reports, Schlettwein indicated that Namibia had experienced a 50% drop in milk production during the past four years, and feed costs now accounted for between 70% and 85% of production costs. “[Import restrictions] would safeguard the local dairy industry, [by] increasing production support, value chain development, and downstream value-addition,” he said.

Schlettwein added that restrictions on imported dairy products could be implemented through the Import and Export Control Act administered by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade.

Namport sees 8 500 tonnes copper leave for US (The Namibian)

THE Namibian Ports Authority (Namport), last week saw 8 500 tonnes of copper being ship-loaded for the port of Panama in the United States. Namport executive for commercial services Elias Mwenyo called it a “significant milestone”, as this consignment was the second consignment of copper exported via the port of Walvis Bay in a breakbulk format as an alternative to containerised export.

“Due to the ongoing global shortage in containers, it has become a phenomenon for shippers to opt for their consignments to be carried by bulk vessels to ensure continuity of operations and less dependency on containers,” said Mwenyo.

“With Namibia’s ports strategically located along the west coast of Africa and supplemented by the country’s excellent road infrastructure, which is rated number one in Africa, the country continues to play a leading role in the facilitation of trade via our transport corridors serving hinterland markets within SADC.”

Kenya, U.S sign private sector trade agreement (The Standard)

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday witnessed the signing of a detailed private sector agreement that seeks to expand trade and investments between Kenya and the United States of America. The agreement, signed between Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), provides a framework for Kenyan and American businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to partner through information sharing, training, logistics, and financing.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in New York, on the first day of his two-day official visit to the US, the President said the Government backed pact was part of efforts to support the growth of Kenyan SME sector as a key enabler of wealth and employment creation. He noted that the agreement will create new opportunities for Kenyan SMEs saying the sector plays a key role of guaranteeing the country’s economic resilience especially in times of turbulence.

President Kenyatta noted that both Kenyan and US economies are largely driven by SMEs saying that the agreement would help accelerate Kenya’s economic recovery efforts from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. “As we look into the future, the future where we are all focused on recovering, it will be this sector that once again will be the foundation of recovery that we all seek to see in the months and years ahead of us,” the President said.

A timely boost for SMEs (The Sun Nigeria)

The decision of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) to support the export business of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with N36 billion in 36 states is encouraging. Under the plan, the bank has earmarked a minimum of N1billion for every state. Although N1 billion is too meager to make appreciable impact in the export sector, it is good to start somewhere. However, we believe that close monitoring of the disbursement of the fund is of utmost importance in achieving the desired results. SMEs are businesses with less than N100 million in annual turnover and have less than 300 employees. According to the national survey by the Small Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), there are about 41.5 million SMEs in Nigeria. The number exceeds those in the United States, with 30.7 million SMEs. Therefore, the role of small businesses in Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasised. SMEs account for about 84 per cent of jobs in the country.

Morocco launches its national investment and export brand (Trade Arabia)

Morocco today (October 11) officially unveiled its investment and export brand, Morocco Now, on the sidelines of the Kingdom’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai. This initiative aims at promoting Morocco as a world class industrial and export platform to accelerate foreign investment, a statement said.

Additionally, the country’s automotive cluster, the fastest growing in the world, strongly contributes to the Moroccan industrial exports growth, increasing by more than $16 billion between 2010 and 2019. In the background, the global economy is facing rapid changes requiring economic stakeholders to adapt: Environmental emergency, consumer pressure and new regulations make it essential to adopt decarbonised production; and Covid crisis has led to a global value chains reorganization towards less global dependence and more regional integration. “In this context, Morocco Now is the future-proof industrial platform to capture the opportunities of a changing world. It builds on a successful track record of economic transformation making Morocco a reliable destination and a high investment and export potential,” the statement said.


Tariffs, rules of origin new hurdles to Africa’s trade area (The East African)

The implementation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which went live on January 1, is still bogged down by technicalities as key provisions of the agreement are yet to be concluded. The technical provisions that are proving to be a hurdle to trade are the rules of origin, the tariff offer and Customs Union. A meeting held at the AfCFTA headquarters in Accra, Ghana on September 18-19, to review the agreement nine months after its inception, found that without these provisions no trade can take place, at least not as easily as envisaged. East Africa’s private sector was represented in Accra by the East African Business Council’s (EABC) Chief Executive John Bosco Kalisa who emphasised the importance of establishing the Rules of Origin in the continent’s FTA. “So far no trading has taken place because we are still ironing out issues. Before anyone starts trading, there are a number of key components such as tariffs and Rules of Origin — the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product — which have to be agreed on. The rules of origin are basically the ‘passport for goods’ and if these rules are not yet agreed on and concluded, it is very difficult to trade. The third key component is the harmonisation of Customs Union procedures,” he said.

African Engineers commit to supporting African Continental Free Trade Area (GhanaaWeb)

The Federation of African Engineering Organization (FAEO) has pledged its support towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to help boost free trade across the continent.

Mrs Carlien Bou-Chedid, the President of FAEO, speaking at the end of the 7th Edition of the Africa Engineering Week and 5th Africa Engineering Conference held in Accra, said the meeting resolved to institutionalize its relationship with AfCFTA, Africa Union (AU) and the governments of all African countries “The first step is to establish a Memorandum of Understanding with AfCFTA, actively engage the AfCFTA Secretariat and Heads of Member States in the delivery of solutions to the infrastructure required to ensure free trade across Africa,’’ she said.

On Women in Engineering, Mrs Bou-Chedid said the participants resolved to encourage women to study and practice engineering by creating infrastructure, which would meet the needs of women.

Creating a Disruption-Proof Supply Chain in Africa (East African Business Week)

The impact of the pandemic on global supply chains has prompted governments around the world to look at ways to fix the broken links. Virusha Subban, Head of Indirect Tax at Baker McKenzie in South Africa, explains that there were massive breakages in key links in global supply chains during and after the pandemic, with issues including, among many other things, route congestion and blockages, manufacturing shutdowns, a deficit of skilled labour, a global shortage of key logistics components including shipping containers, a lack of space in warehouses, a spike in transportation costs and substantially increased demand for goods around the world, post-lockdown. As a result, countries have been looking at ways to relink broken chains.

Africa: Covid-19 Aid Falling Short (Human Rights Watch)

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for African governments to strengthen social protection systems and fulfill people’s rights to social security and an adequate standard of living, Human Rights Watch said today. Many African governments introduced measures like cash transfers and food assistance in response to the rising poverty and hunger occasioned by the pandemic, but most households received no support. The World Bank forecasts that the Covid-19 crisis will have pushed an additional 29 million Africans into extreme poverty by the end of 2021. “The Covid-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of millions of households across Africa, leaving families hungry and desperate for help,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Right Watch. “African governments should urgently invest in the social protection systems needed to ensure that Africans can endure the pandemic’s devastating economic impact with dignity.”

‘How regulations will tackle illicit financial flows in Africa’ (The Guardian Nigeria)

To check Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Nigeria and other African countries, experts have said that government needs to intensify efforts on regulatory frameworks to curb such criminal acts. The experts, who gathered at the inaugural conference of Global South Dialogue on Economic Crime (GSDEC), recommended that combating financial crimes required a contextual understanding; hence, it must be studied against ‘a deeply contested history of colonialism and post colonialism’. With the theme, ‘Financial Regulation: A global south perspective’, hosted by Aston University, Birmingham, the conference examined whether the current global financial regulatory framework is best suited to combat financial and economic crime in the Global South effectively.

Delivering his keynote speech, Viscount Bennett Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Olabisi Akinkugbe, emphasised the need for all African nations to identify the loopholes and implementation challenges with their regulatory frameworks, which can orchestrate IFFs.

Regulating African Fintech space: Promoting innovation or stifling growth (Daily Trust)

Over the past decade, technology innovation in finance “fintech” fueled by investments has been on the rise. Google recently announced that its Africa Investment Fund would invest up to $50 million in African growth-stage companies. Fintech has become a significant driving force in the African economy, with $180 billion projected to contribute to the continent’s GDP by 2025. The fintech innovations enabling African countries to transition from physical retail banking to online payments, remittances and other services pose new challenges for regulators. On one hand, while innovators are moving at the speed of light to develop new customer propositions; regulators are on the other hand are moving at a slow pace to issue guidelines to govern the space. When they do, the attitude is more similar to maintaining financial stability and encouraging entrepreneurship without stifling growth.

Fintech has enormous economic potential for Nigeria, with the usage of digital money expected to boost the country’s yearly GDP by $3.7 trillion by 2025. While the fintech industry in Nigeria is still nascent, industry analysts believe the continent’s most populous nation has reached a peak where regulatory bodies need to implement best practices to drive the industry to its full potential. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other major regulators have in recent times issued guidelines governing the fintech sector, particularly the payment and remittance subsector, the most active in the Nigerian Fintech industry which has long piqued the attention of investors and regulators alike. The rationale for this is not improbable as this subsector accounts for 43 per cent of the entire fintech sector.

Call to restart the regional customs programme (COMESA)

There is fresh attempt to revitalize the COMESA Customs Union agenda, which will result in the full realization of the Common Market. The COMESA economic integration timetable envisaged the attainment of the Customs Union by 2004, but this has since faced headwinds that has stalled the programme. As a result, COMESA Secretariat has called for interventions to address the implementation of the regional Customs Union agenda by including it in the Customs and Trade and Facilitation Work Programme for 2021-2023. Addressing the 7th Meeting of the Heads of Customs Sub-Committee on 6 October 2021, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA in charge of programmes, Dr Kipyego Cheluget said the attainment of this milestone has faced considerable challenges even though Member States and the Secretariat have worked hard to address the emerging challenges.

UN To Establish Industrial Compact Hub in Abuja (THISDAY)

The United Nations’ Deputy Secretary General for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ms. Amina Mohammed, has revealed that the United Nations would establish a global compact hub for business in Nigeria that would support the country’s effort on achieving industrialisation through SDGs.

Mohammed stated this during an event organised by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on “Industrialisation and Sustainable Development Goals,” to mark its 50th anniversary, that the United Nations is ready to support Nigeria in harnessing industry and making progress towards the goals.

She commended the MAN’s for its role in job creation and driving industrialisation in the country, and added that inclusive and sustainable industrial development were needed in achieving the SDGs.

She said: “Inclusive and sustainable industrial development plays a key role in achieving the SDGs; it lies at the heart of the economic growth and creating decent jobs in Nigeria. I applaud the essence of MAN in job creation, advocacy and result-oriented services it provides to its members who drive manufacturing in Nigeria.”

Facilitating trade and investment while mitigating risk in West Africa (African Review)

Hosted by BVI Finance and African Review, a panel of financial experts and business leaders joined moderator Anthony Osae-Brown, bureau chief at Bloomberg, to discuss how to minimise risk and maximise economic growth in West Africa

Passionately speaking about the unique opportunities posed by Africa, Akintoye Akindele, chairman & CEO of Atlantic International Refinery and Petrochemicals, said, “Africa is an opportunity in itself. There are 1.4 billion people in Africa in need of accommodation, food, shelter, phones, data, everything. From market point of view the case is strong as well. The market size has been opened up more by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), driven by a young population and it is scaling up globally. We have a lot of challenges but these gaps are also opportunities.”

“Over the last five years more information and data availability has meant that there is more exposure. This drives interest which, in turn, drives investment.

Olufunmi Adepoju, managing partner, PearlMutual Consulting, built on the affect AfCFTA will have. She said, “The whole world believes it will do so many wonderful things for Africa, but you have to bear in mind that there are so many countries on the continent, and they are not all on the same level. The benefits to each country on this programme will be very different. Having said that I believe there is possibility for ample gain for each country participating.

Commenting on the role of incubator funds to help develop African businesses, Adenike Sicard, managing partner of Sinclairs BVI, said, “An incubator fund is mainly used for investment managers as a low cost option to set up and also one to develop or ‘incubate’ a track record without having to comply with onerous regulations. Once a track record is developed through the use of an incubator fund they can then develop and transition into a bigger fund, get regulated and attract a higher network of investors.”

​Zanzibar President calls for coordinated approach by EAC Partner States to boost tourism recovery in the region (EAC)

The President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, H.E. Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, has called upon EAC Partner States to develop a coordinated approach that will be instrumental in overcoming the challenges facing the tourism sector occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19.

“It is immensely gratifying to know that the EAC Regional Tourism EXPO will play a vital role in engaging all the governments of member states of our Community and the private sector in setting the vision and direction for tourism development in the region,” said Dr. Mwinyi.

President Mwinyi told to exhibitors at the expo that an East African Legislative Assembly Report on tourists’ arrival in East Africa had proposed that Partner States’ governments should exert more in order to increase EAC’s global market share in the world tourism industry

“The report depicts that before the outbreak of COVID – 19, the EAC market share for tourist arrival In East Africa was only 8.6 percent of African Market share and 0.3 per cent of the global share,” added the president.

€100,000 worth of equipment to facilitate border trade fish trade commissioned in Zambia (COMESA)

COMESA has commissioned EUR 100,000 worth of equipment under its Green Pass (GP) Certification Scheme in Luangwa District of Zambia, to facilitate small-scale cross border trade in fish. The procurement of the equipment was funded under the 11 European Development Fund (EDF) Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI) Programme. The equipment was commissioned on Thursday, 7 October 2021 and will support fish trade at Luangwa, bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers.

SADC to Convene Virtual Meeting of the Energy Sector Sub Committees (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will from the 13th to the 15th of October 2021 convene a three-day virtual meeting of the Energy Sector Sub-committees comprising electricity, petroleum and gas to evaluate progress on the implementation of relevant decisions and directives of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, Council of Ministers and Sectoral Meetings of Ministers responsible for Energy and of Finance and Investment. Among the key issues to be discussed at the meeting include the draft Agreement Amending the Protocol on Energy, operationalisation of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), admission of Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) as regional Centre of Excellence and policy issues related to electrical energy, renewable energy, petroleum and gas sub-activities and cross-cutting issues on institutional capacity building which were approved at the 39th joint virtual meeting in October 2020 by Ministers responsible for Energy.

The objective of the GP is to reduce overall trading costs for small scale traders, through simplifying and consolidation of sanitary measures and border verification procedures. It is anchored within the framework of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) and includes interventions such as governance structure (small border committees comprising key stakeholders under the joint border management committee) and provision of basic verification and testing equipment for the regulators.

Dubai’s bilateral trade with West Africa hits a sweet spot (Gulf News)

Despite being one of the world’s most economically vibrant and richly endowed regions with huge natural resources, economies in West Africa are challenged by poor infrastructure and weak institutions. In their efforts to strengthen the region economy collectively, two of the most important regional economic associations in the continent were formed: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), driving it towards closer regional integration.

The EU is the major trading partner of West Africa, with which many trade and investment agreements were concluded. The EU market is fully open to West African trade, as part of supporting the region sustainable development through building the trade capacity of the region. In addition, West African countries are able to produce goods for exports to Europe using materials sourced from other countries without losing the free access to the EU. Recently, economic cooperation between Dubai and West Africa has increased significantly, yet the business cooperation is below the protectional of both Dubai and West Africa.

West Africa is Africa's second largest trading region next to Northern Africa. In 2020, the region total trade reached $201 billion, second to Northern Africa with total trade value of $280.7 billion. Total exports of the region to rest of the world was valued at $86.7 billion in 2020, ranked as third exporting region in Africa after North Africa and Southern Africa. In 2020, the region’s total imports reached $114.4 billion, only second to Northern Africa.

Africa's untapped export potential at $9.7bn over next 5 years (Gulf News)

DP World, CDC Group create Africa investment platform (Trade Arabia)

DP World has created an investment platform in partnership with the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor CDC Group (CDC) to invest in ports and logistics across Africa.

The platform covers a long-term investment period. DP World is contributing its stakes in three existing ports initially and expects to invest a further $1 billion through the platform over the next several years. CDC is committing approximately $320 million initially and expects to invest up to a further $400 million over the next several years. The transaction is subject to certain final regulatory approvals.

The platform will invest in origin and destination ports, inland container depots, economic zones and other logistics across Africa to increase trade, create new job opportunities and broaden access to essential goods. It will initially be seeded with minority stakes in existing DP World assets with significant capacity expansion plans, including Dakar (Senegal), Sokhna (Egypt) and Berbera (Somaliland).

Trade enabled through the ongoing expansions is expected to create an additional 138,000 employment opportunities in the wider economy. By 2035, the ports are expected to support stable employment for around 5 million people indirectly.

COVID-19: China-Africa relations thrives, as investment hits $2.96 billion (Vanguard)

Despite the worrisome effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) which has crippled economic activities across the world, China and Africa relationship continue, as the People’s Republic investment in the continent surges to $2.96 billion. This was disclosed by Chu Maoming, China’s Consul General in Lagos at the launching ceremony of the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) African Products Online Promoting Season & “The World’s Specialty”

“While boosting the shift of Chinese and African economy and society to digitalization and the expansion of consumption in both China and Africa, e-commerce helps African products tap the Chinese market. Not only does this allow Chinese consumers to buy African goods at a better price and increases China’s imports from Africa, but is also conducive to pulling Africa through the current anti-pandemic difficulties and fulfilling the African people’s aspirations for a better life. “Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, China and Africa have supported one another with good faith, further enriching their brotherhood. In this way, China and Africa have shown the world how a bilateral relationship can continue to thrive despite a raging pandemic. “During difficult times, China and Africa are working hand in hand in accelerating economic recovery.


U.N. chief urges world leaders to clinch WTO fisheries deal, document shows (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has written to world leaders calling on them to clinch a deal on curbing fisheries subsidies as negotiations near their final phase at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, a document showed. However, in a sign of the challenges, the head of the talks had to delay what was meant to be a series of daily meetings starting this week to finalise the wording of a draft agreement because of outstanding “macro” differences between members, a WTO spokesperson confirmed. In the letter dated Sept. 29, Guterres called on world leaders “to join me in pushing for agreement at WTO to end harmful fisheries subsidies before the end of this year” in a rare intervention of the U.N. chief in WTO matters. The WTO talks on ending harmful subsidies worth billions of dollars began 20 years ago and are now at the most advanced stage, with a deal seen as critical to confirming the relevance of the troubled body.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who began in March, is hoping to finalise a deal at a major ministerial conference at the Geneva headquarters beginning next month.

WTO issues new edition of “Trade Profiles” (WTO)

The profiles include a breakdown of exports and imports for each economy as well as its main trading partners. The cut-off point for the data included in the publication is 13 August 2021. For merchandise trade, major exports and imports are listed for both agricultural and non-agricultural products. For trade in services, a detailed breakdown is provided for transport, travel and other commercial services. Foreign affiliate statistics (FATS) and statistics on industrial property are also provided.

Raising the profile of trade in least developed countries (Trade for Development News)

Trade is key to sustainable development and growth. This knowledge can spur action from governments and businesses, but only if the word gets out.

Ministries of trade oversee and regulate trade and industry. They are responsible for the development and growth of trade within and outside a country. This is not a simple task, and one with a lot of bearing on the health of the national economy. For developing countries, especially least developed

LDC Group lobbies for trade facilities for 12 years post-graduation (The Business Standard)

The LDC Group, including Bangladesh, has requested the sub-committee on least developed countries, for presenting its proposal before the WTO’s General Council for continuation of all support measures, including unilateral trade preferences, for 12 years even after graduation.

In December 2020, the LDC group sent the same proposal to the WTO for a formal smooth transition procedure. Hafizur Rahman, additional secretary to the commerce ministry and director general of the WTO cell, told The Business Standard that the proposal was sent to the sub-committee on LDCs as per the decision made by the LDC Group. They have requested the sub-committee to recommend that the LDC Group’s proposals be implemented at the WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in December, he said.

“Given the critical importance of this topic and the need to achieve concrete deliverables at the conference, the LDC Group is proposing an interim arrangement on smooth transition by calling on developed and developing countries granting LDCs unilateral trade preferences, to establish procedures for extending and gradually phasing out their preferential market access scheme for graduated countries over a period of 12 years,” the letter read.

‘The time for action’ to support most fragile States: Guterres (UN News)

The pandemic has forced more than 100 million people into poverty and more than four billion have little or no social support, healthcare or income protection “when they so urgently need it”, he informed the annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank event. “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at a real risk of failure. Solidarity is missing in action and a sense of injustice is spreading – creating a breeding ground for violence and conflict”, the UN chief said in his keynote speech. “People living in fragile and conflict-affected States are suffering most of all. We must fulfil the commitments we have made to change course”, he added.

UNCTAD Conference Calls for New Approaches to Achieve Prosperity for All (IISD)

The 15th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 15) presented an opportunity to reframe solutions and build solidarity on trade-related issues and to respond to new global challenges that impact sustainable development such as COVID-19. Delegates called for “greater multilateralism” and regional integration to improve developing countries’ resilience and build back better.

The World Leaders Summit held three dialogues on today’s critical issues to promote “development in motion” by “connecting the dots” between challenges, aspirations, and actions. The first dialogue focused on the theme, ‘Global Vulnerabilities: Call from a Vulnerable Place,’ and explored the role of trade in addressing the current health and climate crises. The second dialogue was dedicated to the issue of inequality, and sought to answer the question, ‘Is the COVID-19 crisis really a game-changer?’ Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described efforts to end “vaccine nationalism” as “a crucial test for global commitments to end inequalities.”

The third dialogue explored options for building a more prosperous development path by “matching the scale of the moment.” Delegates highlighted the role of multilateralism and international cooperation in supporting more “holistic” development pathways.

Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD Secretary-General, said countries’ failure to act collectively had worsened intersecting and interacting inequalities and made development more difficult to achieve. “We need greater multilateralism and an increased capacity to work together,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “If it doesn’t work for all of us, it won’t work for any of us,” he added.

Are we on track to meet the SDG9 industry-related targets by 2030? (UNIDO)

A new report published by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Statistical Indicators of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization, looks at the progress made towards achieving the industry-related targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report is primarily based on the SDG9 indicators related to inclusive and sustainable industrialization, for which UNIDO is designated as a custodian agency, showing the patterns of the recent changes in different country groups. Six years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs, there has been increasing demand for information on whether the SDG targets could be reached, and what actions should governments take to accelerate progress. The UNIDO report introduces two new tools developed by UNIDO to help countries measuring performance and progress towards SDG9 industry-related targets: the SDG9 Industry Index and SDG9 progress and outlook indicators. The SDG9 Industry Index benchmarks countries’ performance on SDG-9 targets over 2000-2018 for 131 economies.

The SDG-9 Industry Index, consisting of five dimensions, covers three targets and five indicators and assigns a final score to countries. In 2018, the top ten consisted of exclusively industrialized economies, with Taiwan, Province of China, Ireland, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea and Germany making up the top five. In general, industrialized economies perform best in all dimensions of the Index.

Low-Income Country Debt Rises to Record $860 Billion in 2020 (World Bank)

Governments around the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with massive fiscal, monetary, and financial stimulus packages. While these measures were aimed at addressing the health emergency, cushioning the impact of the pandemic on the poor and vulnerable and putting countries on a path to recovery, the resulting debt burden of the world’s low-income countries rose 12% to a record $860 billion in 2020, according to a new World Bank report. Even prior to the pandemic, many low- and middle-income countries were in a vulnerable position, with slowing economic growth and public and external debt at elevated levels. External debt stocks of low- and middle-income countries combined rose 5.3% in 2020 to $8.7 trillion. According to the new International Debt Statistics 2022 report, an encompassing approach to managing debt is needed to help low- and middle-income countries assess and curtail risks and achieve sustainable debt levels. “We need a comprehensive approach to the debt problem, including debt reduction, swifter restructuring and improved transparency,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Sustainable debt levels are vital for economic recovery and poverty reduction.”

Trade can play a pivotal role in addressing climate change, says UN report (UN News)

Around 16 million new jobs could be created in clean energy, energy efficiency, engineering, manufacturing and construction industries in the Asia-Pacific region, more than compensating for the estimated loss of five million jobs by downscaling industries. The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2021 was jointly launched on Monday by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Climate-smart policies have a significant cost, particularly for carbon-intensive sectors and economies, but the cost of inaction is far greater. Some estimates are as high as $792 trillion by 2100, if the Paris Agreement targets are not met.

Sixth Ministerial Meeting of The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (World Bank)

The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action met today as part of the 2021 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund under Co-Chair H.E. Annika Saarikko, Minister of Finance of Finland, and Co-Chair H.E. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia. Finance Ministers emphasized the key role of Ministries of Finance in helping tackle climate change, highlighting the critical need to mainstream climate considerations into economic and financial policies and how to make progress on this challenging agenda. Finance Ministers also discussed reforms that support a just and affordable transition to low-carbon economic growth, including carbon pricing and green budgeting.

Coalition Members and Institutional Partners also contributed public video statements as inputs into the meeting’s proceedings. “It is essential to recognize that a systemic change caused by climate change is taking place. We, Finance Ministers, must be able to understand the economic consequences of climate change and design our economic and financial policies accordingly,” said Annika Saarikko, Finance Minister of Finland and Co-Chair of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action.

“Mainstreaming climate considerations into fiscal policy is a crucial yet challenging exercise. Finance Ministers have an important role to play since we have instruments at our disposal to combat climate change and facilitate the green transition in the most affordable and just way,” said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Finance Minister of Indonesia and Co-Chair of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action.

Is Climate Finance the Antidote to the Trust Deficit Looming Over COP26? (The Wire Science)

World leaders descended on New York this week for the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The meeting is set amidst a backdrop of deep security concerns in Afghanistan, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global health, brewing tensions between economic and military behemoths US and China and, of course, the rapidly compounding climate crises.

With the crucial 26th session of the UN climate conference (COP26) around the corner, the undercurrents of this trust deficit are threatening to widen the schism between developed and developing nation blocs. While the developed world expects increased ambition from developing economies, especially large ones like India, the developing world has pointed to the chronic inadequacy of action taken so far by developed nations of the Global North. According to emerging economies, effective mitigation and climate action will require enormous amounts of capital and technology from the developed world, a promise that has seen historical obfuscation by richer nations. The shoddy rollout of the global vaccine programme in response to COVID-19 pandemic has only further fostered a sense of discrimination and created deep apprehensions regarding other inter-governmental negotiations, particularly around climate, in the Global South.

Thus far, such apprehensions seem justified. Climate finance by developed nations to the developing world have so far been grossly insufficient compared to their commitments, and remains knotted in a tangle of complicated capital flows.

Digital gender gap: Unequal access to the internet has cost low-income countries $1 trillion (WION)

As per a new research, a failure to ensure that women have equal access to the internet has cost low-income countries $1 trillion over the past decade. Also, this could mean an additional loss of $500 billion by 2025 if governments continue to not take an action. In 2020, governments in 32 countries, including India, Egypt and Nigeria, lost an estimated $126 billion in gross domestic product because women were unable to contribute to the digital economy. This highlights the digital gender gap, which is, the difference between the number of women and men who can access the internet. The report revealed that the digital gender gap cost $24 billion in lost tax revenues in 2020 This could have been invested in health, education and housing. The study, conducted by the World Wide Web Foundation and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), analysed 32 low and lower-middle-income countries, where the gender gap is often greatest.

LDCs demand more from developed countries at the COP26 (Kuensel)

The Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group will call for increased funds and urgent action from developed countries at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) that will be held in Glasgow next month. The group adopted the Thimphu Call for Ambition and Action on Climate Change during the ministerial meeting held yesterday in the capital that points to key priorities for the LDC group.

Chief of LDC Group at the ministerial level and National Environment Commission, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that the pandemic has hit everyone around the globe but the one billion people living in the 46 LDCs are the worst hit, facing the quadruple crises of climate change, poverty, health, and economic challenges that are outpacing the disease itself. He said: “Climate change, by contrast, has no vaccine and poses a threat that is exponentially larger and far less reversible, and ultimately existential, if we do not act now.”

The call for action and ambition states: “[LDC would] call upon parties, and in particular to the G20 countries to further enhance their NDCs in line with 1.5 degrees Celsius pathways and consistent with their responsibilities and capabilities to undertake climate action, in order to reduce the emissions gap to 1.5°C.”

Transport transformation critical to address climate change: UN Report (Lokmat)

New and emerging technologies, from electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, as well as the policy innovations, are critical for combating climate change, but to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest, a new UN multi-agency report launched on Tuesday said. According to the report, there is urgent need for transformative action that will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport globally. Transport solutions exist that can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Agreement, although the report cautions that without the right policies and investments, they will not bring change to where it is needed most, particularly to people in developing countries.

“Innovations, driven by new technologies, evolving consumer preferences and supportive policy making, are changing the transport landscape,” says Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in the report’s forward.

“While they hold tremendous potential for hastening the transformation to sustainability, they also come with the risk that they could further entrench inequalities, impose constraints on countries in special situations, or present additional challenges for the environment.”

‘Deepening links’ Brexit superwoman Liz Truss lining up more trade and security deals (Express)

Ms Truss is expected to focus her diplomatic efforts on regions with the biggest influence on Britain’s security and commercial interests, Foreign and Commonwealth Office insiders familiar with the plans told The Financial Times. Key aspects relate to building stronger relations with smaller states.

An official at the FCO said: “Liz believes the way to challenge our adversaries and boost Britain’s global influence is to build deeper economic ties with other countries… She’s focused on deepening trade links, forging new tech partnerships, and working with allies to increase infrastructure into developing countries. “Speaking of the model in which Ms Truss is expected to follow, the official went on to say: “Her plan is to create this strategic framework based around deeper economic, development and security ties, and set a positive, energetic tone for the department’s work.”


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