Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


South Africa says Zimbabwe ‘killing’ Africa trade over Beitbridge truck delays (ZimLive)

South Africa has accused Zimbabwe of “killing business” over border delays for haulage trucks at Beitbridge. Zimborders Consortium was granted a US$300 million contract to build new terminal buildings for trucks, buses and light motor vehicles without going to tender. The company has decided to do the construction in phases, with the freight terminal the first to be completed.

Motsoaledi said Zimbabwe was making a “mockery” of African trade. Beitbridge is a gateway to other regional markets including Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The congestion is being caused by the continued construction on the Zimbabwean side. It looks like their construction has now reached a difficult point without them making any arrangements for parking space, so they don’t allow lots of trucks from South Africa on their side because they have got no parking space where they will process their trucks,” Motsoaledi told eNCA on Tuesday.

EU in SA project provides support for local Green SMMEs to understand opportunities in the EU Green Deal (GreenCape)

Following on from a previous EU funded project that supported green SMME resilience during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, GreenCape partnered with Wesgro, TIPS, Tralac, Trade Advisory and the International Cleantech Network to pivot support to local green SMME so that they could continue to build international relationships to secure trade opportunities, despite the travel restrictions, supply chain disruptions and a hard lockdown. Insights from initial resilience research engagement with a database of green SMMEs led to the development of a set of designed interventions, including a deep dive into the opportunities presented by the European Green Deal for local green SMMEs who have been able to pivot their business models to “trade without travel.”

Eswatini new deal beacons bright energy future for SADC (ESI-Africa)

Following two and a half years of negotiations, the Government of Eswatini has signed a contract with renewable power producer Frazium Energy (FZM) for a 100MW solar park. The contract allows FZM to operate the large scale solar-storage IPP project in Eswatini for 40 years. In return, FZM will invest $116.5 million over the next five years for the first phase of the project.

The project, touted as the largest one of its kind in Africa, envisages the installation of the solar farm at the Edwaleni Hydropower Plant (HPP) in Matsapha, central Eswatini.

Frazium Energy director Robert Frazer said: “We are so grateful to the government of Eswatini for their support, confidence, and belief in our vision for this project, and we are so excited for the role we can play in Eswatini’s and Africa’s green energy future.” Frazer added. “Africa’s largest battery is coming, and it is coming to Eswatini. The future is not just bright; it is solar-powered.”

Expensive fuel widens trade deficit to Sh852bn (Business Daily)

Kenya’s goods trade deficit for the first eight months of the year widened by 35.31 percent, largely on increased expenditure on importation of fuel products and factory supplies, official data shows.The trade deficit – the gap between merchandise imports and exports – increased to Sh852.14 billion from Sh629.75 billion a year ago amid a recovery in global oil prices and persistent disruptions in supply chains which have increased the cost of shipping materials.

Expenditure on imports bumped 27.4 percent year-on-year to Sh1.34 trillion in the review period, higher than the 15.64 percent growth in earnings from exports to Sh489.55 billion, according to provisional trade data published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Kenyan traders protest over Uganda’s seizure of their fish (Daily Monitor)

Kenyan fish exporters at the weekend blocked the border point at Busia in protest after the Uganda Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) seized five of their trucks carrying fish worth KShs50m (about Shs1.5b). The trucks were intercepted at Mpondwe border in Kasese District about two weeks ago, with the fish destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo. This prompted the traders to close the Busia border at the weekend, paralysing the flow of trucks between Uganda and Kenya. “We have closed this border to demand for the unconditional release of our trucks that were intercepted by the Ugandan military at the Mpondwe border post in Kasese,” Mr Hassan Omari, one of the fish exporters, said.

Cut cost of digital payments to achieve cashless economy – expert (Daily Monitor)

Government and other stakeholders, including digital payment companies and innovators must make the cost of digital transactions affordable if Uganda is to achieve a cashless economy. Speaking during the Women in Fintech Summit in Kampala at the weekend, Ms Damali Ssali, a trade expert, founder and author of the Ideation Corner, said it was important that the cost of digital transactions are made affordable to encourage creation of more innovations that will deliver Uganda to a cashless economy. This, and the cost of internet, she said, remain way beyond what many Ugandans, especially women in micro, small and medium enterprises can afford. ”This explains why only just about 10 per cent of money is exchanged digitally in Uganda,” she said. Uganda remains largely a cash economy with more than 80 per cent of transactions completed through cash.

Low demand, supply chain disruptions affect MSMEs (Daily Monitor)

Due to rapid disruptions, the business community is looking for innovative ways of doing things differently to remain relevant despite the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns. Signs of recovery have strengthened, underpinned by improved business and trading conditions as Covid-19 restrictions ease. Despite demand slightly picking up, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are still reeling from the negative effects of the pandemic.

The economy is in a state of moderate recovery. Although demand is picking up in certain sectors of the economy, the performance of the private sector, particularly, MSMEs is still reeling from the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government needs to keep implementing a range of fiscal and monetary policy measures to cushion the economy and Micro Small and Medium s Enterprises (MSMEs) from the shocks of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made rich countries look inwards. Therefore, countries that previously imported a lot of things are starting to look at domesticating their supply chains, as a coping mechanism. This new state of affairs will disadvantage poor countries like Uganda that sought to grow their economies through export promotion. Furthermore, those rich countries that previously extended development aid to poorer countries will be at a less favourable position to do so. This will affect the ability of poor countries to raise the revenue that they need to support their economies to recover. Businesses at this time, are still struggling with low demand from consumers, cash flow and liquidity challenges and supply chain disruptions, among others.

What economic slowdown in China means to Tanzania (The Citizen)

China could be very far from Tanzania. But, if the Asian country’s current low economic growth rate persists, it could have far-reaching ramifications for the East African nation - and also for Africa as a whole, analysts say. China’s economic growth slowed by more than expected in the third quarter, official data showed yesterday. China, which is the world’s second largest economy after the US, bounced back swiftly from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, recovery is losing steam, with gross domestic product expanding 4.9 percent on-year, according to figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). NBS spokesman Fu Linghui told reporters yesterday that “current international environment uncertainties were mounting and the domestic economic recovery was still unstable and uneven.” The economy grew only 0.2 percent from the previous three months, the weakest since a historic contraction in the first quarter last year.

ECOWAS Parliament to fund 2022 budget wholly from community levy with Nigeria paying about 50% (Vanguard)

The 2022 financial estimates of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament will be financed almost solely from community levy. The Federal Government of Nigeria last year said it has paid over 1,177 billion dollars to ECOWAS as its Community Levy contribution in the last 16 years. Nigeria’s payment represents 40.42 per cent of the total payment of 2,913,088,908 dollars payment made by all the 15 member states and is higher than payments made by 12 other countries put together except Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. According to documents from a presentation by the ECOWAS Commission to Parliament at Plenary during its Virtual Second Extraordinary Session, Nigeria paid 853,310,564 UA (West Africa Unit of Account) for the period under review. The West African Unit of Account (WAUA) is the authorised currency used in ECOWAS.

Nigeria: African Development Bank Group, MTN sign $500,000 grant agreement to study women’s access to financial services (AfDB)

The African Development Bank has signed a grant agreement for $500,000 with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, to be used for a study into economic, religious, and social factors hampering access to finance for women in northern Nigeria. The research, which includes a feasibility study, women-focused design and testing, will focus on both agents and customers to provide insights into women’s use of mobile money services, will be funded through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). Despite being the continent’s largest economy, 55% of rural Nigerians still lack access to financial services. The rate of mobile money adoption currently stands at 4%, with an agent ratio of 228.8 agents per 1,000 adults. Political instability and conservative cultural norms in parts of Northern Nigeria are thought to present barriers to women’s access to finance. Additionally, 80% of agents in the region are men.

Nigeria already exporting locally produced cars to Mali – NADDC (Blueprint Newspapers)

The Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu has confirmed that Innoson company, a car manufacturing company is already exporting made-in Nigeria vehicles to Mali. Jelani who confirmed this at the just concluded Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) Annual Conference in Abuja further added that the development is thereby adding value to Africa.He noted that the Council had gone a step further in leveraging on electric-powered vehicles noting that some car manufacturing companies have begun to produce gas-powered vehicles as part of measures to support the Federal Government’s National Gas Expansion Programme. A Communiqué was signed by CICAN Chairman, Frederick Idehai, with the theme, “The Role of Nigeria’s MSMEs, Export, Commodities, Trade and Investment in Stabilising the Post-Covid-19 Economy: Issues and Challenges,“ with the sub-themes as: “The Place of AfCFTA in Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Plan: Pros & Cons” and the “FG’s MSMEs Survival Fund: Successes, Lessons and Pitfalls,” at the end of the conference.

The communique recommended that the Federal and sub-national governments work to solve the challenges associated with the AfCFTA such as infrastructure dearth, intense competition from cheaper imports and weak regulation, it is pertinent that the private sector ramp up production, improve their packaging and expand distribution to beat the looming competition.

African Development Bank holds second virtual Business Opportunities Seminar for 2021, with a country special on Angola (AfDB)

The African Development Bank held its second virtual business opportunities (BOS) for 2021 from 12-14 October, to provide an overview of its policies, operations, procurement rules and country activities. The event took place over three days to accommodate participants in different time zones, and included a special session on business opportunities in Angola at the request of the Bank’s Angola country office. The BOS offers companies, civil contractors, manufacturers, consultants, and suppliers from the Bank Group’s regional and non-regional members a one-stop-shop of information on how to provide goods and services to Bank-funded projects, how to partner with the Bank Group and on financing opportunities available for private sector projects.


Regional Economic Outlook Sub-Saharan Africa: One Planet, Two Worlds, Three Stories (IMF)

Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is set to recover in 2021 – a marked improvement over the extraordinary contraction of 2020. This rebound is most welcome and primarily results from a favorable external environment, including a sharp improvement in trade and commodity prices. In addition, improved harvests have lifted agricultural production. Yet, the outlook remains highly uncertain as the recovery depends on the progress in the fight against COVID-19 and is vulnerable to disruptions in global activity and financial markets, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“As sub-Saharan Africa navigates through a persistent pandemic with repeated waves of infection, a return to normal will be far from easy,” stressed Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF’s African Department. “In the absence of vaccines, lockdowns and other containment measures have been the only option for containing the virus.

“Furthermore, increasing debt vulnerabilities remain a source of concern, and many governments will have to undertake fiscal consolidation. Overall, public debt is predicted to decline slightly in 2021 to 56.6 percent of GDP but remains high compared to a pre-pandemic level of 50.4 percent of GDP. Half of sub-Saharan Africa’s low-income countries are either in or at high risk of debt distress. And more countries may find themselves under future pressure as debt-service payments account for an increasing share of government resources.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Selassie pointed to a number of policy priorities. “The difficult policy environment that authorities faced before the crisis has been made more demanding by the crisis. Policymakers face three key fiscal challenges: 1) to tackle the region’s pressing development spending needs; 2) to contain public debt; and finally, 3) to mobilize tax revenues in circumstances where additional measures are generally unpopular. Meeting these goals has never been easy and entails a difficult balancing act. For most countries, urgent policy priorities include spending prioritization, revenue mobilization, enhanced credibility, and an improved business climate.

Second Edition of the APSS opens with clarion call to accelerate AfCFTA implementation (UNECA)

The Africa Private Sector Summit (APSS) Series 2 opened in the Ghanaian capital, Accra today with a call on African policymakers, private sector and academia to take bold steps to fast-track the free flow of business and trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in an atmosphere of cooperation and partnership. The President of the Republic of Malawi, H.E. Mr. Lazarus Chakwera, urged participants to treat the AfCFTA as an opportunity and not a success in itself in a pre-recorded message played to an international audience across the world, including about 100 physically present. “AfCFTA is the runway from which our economies should take off,” the President asserted. President Chakwera stressed that AfCFTA is complemented by other continental initiatives, including the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). “One area that I call on all countries is to revisit their policies that regulate the movement of African nationals and goods across African borders and through ports of entry,” the President stated.

Queries over Google’s planned billion-dollar investment in Africa (DW)

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced a $1billion (€858 million) investment in Africa. The massive investment will run for over five years and cover a range of initiatives. Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana, will be the primary beneficiaries of the tech giant. It will prioritize improvement in connectivity and supporting innovative start-ups. The announcement comes when foreign direct investment (FDI) has been falling globally. However, for development economist Shuiabu Idris, the news means Africa is now being taken seriously by multinational companies. “A global giant like Google thinking about Africa and wanting to invest in Africa is something that is gratifying to know,” Idris told DW. But not all share Idris’s enthusiasm. Maximus Ametorgoh, a Ghanaian IT specialist, called for a critical evaluation of Google’s Africa venture. “We have to measure the advantages and disadvantages,” Amertogoh told DW. ”Some of these tech giants come, invest in small businesses, and end up acquiring those businesses.” He also warned that the tech giants “kill” the small businesses by owning all the codes after paying off the innovators. “Africa then comes back to the same farmland,” Amertogoh said.

The Ghanaian tech expert pointed out that Google’s proposals are not the problem, but instead, there was a need to assess the lasting impact of the investment.

Digital skills required to overcome Covid-19 trade impasse (Engineering News)

In addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of many entrepreneurs, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition export promotion director Luke Govender said digital skills need to be bolstered. He spoke during an October 20 webinar, hosted by Trade Forward Southern Africa, on UK export market opportunities and compliance.

East Africa adopts due diligence platform for cross border trade (The New Times)

As the African Continental Free Trade Area comes into effect, regional trade stakeholders have launched a source of data required to conduct due diligence on African entities; Financial Institutions, Corporates and SMEs, dubbed Mansa. The MANSA digital platform provides a single primary source of Know-Your-Customer (KYC) data required to conduct customer diligence checks on counterparties in Africa with a special focus on African Corporates, SMEs and financial institutions. This consequently reduces the risks to intra-African trade such as increased financial crime and reduces the high-cost acquisition data. This will among other things increase access to financing for SMEs after the identification of business opportunities in regional markets.

Due diligence in regional and cross border trade involves accessing and identifying existing or potential compliance issues with respect to international trade and commerce, including export controls, sanctions, and customs laws and regulations. The platform championed by Afreximbank and East Africa Business council among other entities is aimed at unlocking and activating trading under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

Strategy for quality health infrastructure in Africa 2021-2030 (AfDB)

This Strategy for Quality Health Infrastructure in Africa 2021-2030 (SQHIA) follows a request from Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB or Bank) to define its role in addressing Africa’s health infrastructure deficits, drawing on its core expertise in infrastructure development. The request recognises the centrality of health to improving quality of life for Africans and enabling them to achieve their potential. The strategy also responds to growing demand from regional member countries (RMCs) for the Bank’s support in overcoming gaps in national health infrastructure, which have been exposed by COVID-19 and other health crises.

How to make Nigeria leader in maize production, by PwC (The Nation Newspaper)

With total production of 11 million metric tonnes (MMT), Nigeria is arguably, Africa’s second largest producer of maize after South Africa. Ethiopia occupied the third-place position. The three countries accounted for about 39 per cent of the continent’s total maize output in 2019.

Engineering market entrant eyes Africa’s energy, water, telecoms (ESI Africa)

A newly established engineering firm, Osmotic Engineering Group (OEG), aims to collaborate with funders and financial, legal and environmental experts and others who prepare projects to financial close in the energy, water and telecommunications market. Projects will typically include large-scale infrastructure ventures that are developed by means of public-private partnerships (PPPs) or other forms of project finance. The AfDB highlights that total investment in PPP infrastructure increased nearly sixfold from $1.2 billion in 2004 to $6.9 billion in 2019, while the number of PPP projects doubled from 16 to 30. Furthermore, the AfDB estimates that Africa will require infrastructure funding of up to $170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated shortfall of around $100 billion a year. This is against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the continent’s GDP contract by 2.1% in 2020, its first recession in half a century. Dr Frank Igboamalu, CEO of the newly established OEG, said: “Dealing with this problem is a complex issue that requires a combination of engineering excellence and readily available funding.”

African countries content with cooperation with China; accusations against China-Africa relations ridiculous: Rwanda Ambassador (Global Times)

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Rwanda and the two countries have witnessed close cooperation over the past years. Rwanda is now also actively participating in China’s e-commerce industry helping local people improve their livelihood. Global Times reporter, Xie Wenting (GT), asked James Kimonyo (Kimonyo), Rwanda’s ambassador to China, about his opinions on bilateral relations, China-Africa cooperation as well as his views on the malicious attacks against China-African relations, in an exclusive interview.

Our cooperation is hinged on mutual trust which ensures that our people work together to improve their livelihoods. China, in that sense, has contributed significantly in numerous sectors, starting from infrastructure to health, education, trade, agriculture, development and many more. Rwanda has continuously supported China in the international forum. Every time when there is a global challenge to be addressed, Rwanda is on the side of China. I should say this is a time when we should be able to tell the story of how successful our diplomatic relations with China have been.


COVID-19 recovery must change the investment game, says UNCTAD chief (UNCTAD)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world must invest in preparing for a “new normal” of larger and more frequent shocks. This was the resounding message from world leaders as the international investment community convened virtually for UNCTAD’s 7th World Investment Forum from 18 to 21 October. But the current investment status quo “is not fit for building resilience”, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said on the forum’s opening day. Despite a May call from the International Monetary Fund for $50 billion to help reduce the COVID-19 vaccine “equity gap”, money has not poured in where it should, leaving a major investment gap and more than 97% of people in the poorest countries without a vaccine.

“Clearly, the problem is not that we do not have enough money,” Ms. Grynspan said, highlighting that the S&P 500, a United States stock market index, had more than quadrupled over the past decade. “But incentives are misaligned. Resources are misallocated. And risks are mispriced. We need to change the rules of the game.”

The WTO has weathered recent global crises — DDG Paugam (WTO)

The international trading system has demonstrated its usefulness and its resilience, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam declared in an address to the European Economic and Social Committee on 20 October. “While we witnessed a proliferation of restrictive measures at the beginning of the pandemic, States quickly chose the path of cooperation and trade facilitation.” Rejecting the scenarios of “the WTO’s rebirth, disintegration or decline”, he considers that the challenge for the 12th Ministerial Conference will be “rebuilding trust, as no negotiations can be conducted without it”. His full speech is provided below.

Pharmaceutical companies and rich nations delivering just one in seven of the doses promised for developing countries (Oxfam International)

Developing countries have been hit with an endless tide of inadequate gestures and broken promises from rich countries and pharmaceutical companies, who are failing to deliver billions of doses they promised while blocking the real solutions to vaccine inequality, according to a new report published today by the People’s Vaccine Alliance. The report, “A Dose of Reality”, found that of the 1.8 billion COVID vaccine donations promised by rich nations only 261 million doses ―14 percent― have been delivered to date, while western pharmaceutical companies have delivered only 12 percent of the doses they allocated to COVAX, the initiative designed to help low- and middle-income countries get fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. At the same time, the EU and other rich nations have refused to support the proposal of over 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID-19 related technologies while leading pharmaceutical companies have failed to openly share their technology with the World Health Organisation to enable developing countries to make their own vaccines and save lives.

Africa seeks EU help on global vaccine-waiver (EUobserver)

African countries are seeking EU help on waiving vaccine patents to combat the pandemic at an upcoming meeting in Rwanda. “The AU reiterated its support for the Trips Waiver and urged the EU to engage constructively towards conclusion of a targeted and time-limited Trips Waiver which is critical to a WTO [World Health Organisation] response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the African Union (AU) is keen to say in a joint communiqué after European and African foreign ministers meet in Kigali on 25 October, according to a draft, dated 13 October, seen by EUobserver.

A WTO ministerial meeting in November is to decide whether to waive these for vaccines, tests, and other Covid-related medical devices so long as the pandemic lasts. “Even though France, Greece, Italy, and Spain have already come out in support of the waiver, another handful of governments in the EU with strong ties to pharmaceutical corporations is choosing to put shareholder interests over the lives of people across the globe,” Médecins sans frontières (MSF) said this week.

Platform for Collaboration on Tax Strengthened Support to Countries During the COVID-19 Pandemic (IMF)

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) – a joint initiative of the IMF, OECD, UN and the World Bank – enhanced its support to countries in the area of domestic resource mobilization during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the PCT Progress Report 2021. The report highlights that the PCT Partners are committed to deepening their tax collaboration further with a revamped work program to help countries develop resilient tax systems and better fiscal policies in response to the crisis.

Kenya asks UN security council to tackle illegal trade of natural resources (The Standard)

Kenya has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to move swiftly and address illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources within countries in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. In a high-level ministerial debate led by Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, Kenya said the UN must put mechanisms in place to improve and reinforce the security around mining regions, seek rapprochement between mining communities, local authorities and security actors to resolve conflicts and promote the rights of persons belonging to communities around mining regions. The CS said Kenya in its Presidency at the UNSC had further asked the council to identify and encourage all stakeholders to guarantee transparent and responsible mineral sourcing supply chain due diligence, support the strengthening of national border control and sustainable regulatory and customs frameworks and the adoption of government revenue targets to finance development.

How machine learning could help make government spending greener (UNCTAD)

The global community is facing a trio of urgent and interlinked planetary crises: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Fiscal policies implemented in this crucial decade for action on climate and biodiversity will play a vital role in solving these crises and transitioning to an inclusive green economy – if designed and targeted well. That’s because fiscal policies and public finance are the most direct and impactful levers for supporting socioeconomic activities and trajectories. As calls for green recoveries from COVID-19 grow, there is mounting evidence that some of the most rewarding policies with regard to impact on key social and economic indicators are the very same policies that will lead us towards deep decarbonization and improvements in pollution and nature loss.

However, there are two major, interlinked challenges to green government spending: Public finance is finite. And during the COVID-19 crisis, government spending priorities have been stretched thin by rescue and recovery stimulus efforts. Many countries lack data and causal analysis on the environmental impacts of spending policies. This makes it difficult for policymakers and decision-makers to design and advocate for green spending.

An exploratory research venture between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNCTAD showcases how machine learning can provide a data-driven approach to designing green government spending plans.

E-waste becomes global menace in Covid-19 era (Business Daily)

This year’s worldwide electronic waste will be a mountain of an estimated 57.4 million tonnes, a report by Global E-waste Monitor released on World E-Waste Day indicates. The waste, which is said to be heavier than the Great Wall of China, earth’s heaviest artificial object, has seen rapid accumulation over the Covid-19 pandemic period as people dumped obsolete devices and purchased new ones as the new normal pushed them to work from home. Global E-waste Monitor’s data shows that an estimated 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste were generated in 2019, a 21 per cent jump in the five years since 2014. What now concerns e-waste experts is the prediction that global e-waste will hit 74 million metric tonnes by 2030 as technological obsolescence coerces people to fill up landfills with waste. An emerging viewpoint of the e-waste issue is the ever-rising world demand for data and digital services.

WTO agriculture negotiators must step up engagement for MC12, says Chair (WTO)

The Chair of the WTO agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Gloria Abraham Peralta (Costa Rica), has told trade officials that the consultations she has held with small groups of members have been constructive but that negotiators must step up their engagement with one another ahead of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) at the end of November. “I have been encouraged by the level of engagement by members,” she said at a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session on 14-15 October.

The broken $100-billion promise of climate finance — and how to fix it (Nature)

Twelve years ago, at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, rich nations made a significant pledge. They promised to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. That promise was broken.

“By the time we get to Glasgow, if they haven’t given us another $100 billion [for 2021], then they are completely unable to meet their obligations,” says Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka.

Compared with the investment required to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, the $100-billion pledge is minuscule. Trillions of dollars will be needed each year to meet the 2015 Paris agreement goal of restricting global warming to “well below” 2 °C, if not 1.5 °C, above pre-industrial temperatures. And developing nations (as they are termed in the Copenhagen pledge) will need hundreds of billions of dollars annually to adapt to the warming that is already inevitable. “But the $100 billion is iconic in terms of the good faith of the countries that promised it,” Huq says.

Exposed: How big farm lobbies undermine EU’s green agriculture plan (DW)

It is a long way from the farms and fields of Sezze in central Italy to the halls of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. But the decisions made at the European assembly this week can directly impact the lives of farmers like Valentina Pallavicino.

“What they ask for we already do,” she says when presented with some of the key elements of a new “green” strategy for the future of European farming, known as “Farm to Fork,” which aims to slash pesticide and antimicrobial use, set a threshold on food waste, and rely on renewable energy to create a sustainable food system. “We don’t use antibiotics, preservatives, or chemicals,” she added.

The battle over who represents the true voice and interests of farmers like Pallavicino and Lis, and the millions of Europeans they feed, reaches a climax this week as the European Parliament prepares for a vote on a radical new direction for farming in the EU. Any changes the legislative body introduces require approval from EU member states before taking effect.

Farmers will receive support from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget, the EU’s huge farming subsidy program that has paid out more than €50 billion ($58 billion) every year since 2005. Of the funding, 80% goes to 20% of the biggest farms in the EU.

How would an economic slowdown in China affect emerging markets? (Oxford Business Group)

A major driver of global trade, China’s economy has recently experienced a slowing of growth, giving rise to concerns about possible negative impacts on emerging markets. China’s economy grew by 4.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on October 18, significantly below both the 7.9% y-o-y recorded in the second quarter and the expected full-year expansion of 8%, as forecast by the IMF. A key factor behind this disappointing performance was a series of power shortages, which had an impact on industrial output across the country: many factories were forced to stop production in late September as a surge in the price of coal led some power producers to reduce output.

Given that China is the world’s second-largest economy and deeply embedded within the global economic system, any slowdown could have significant effects for emerging markets around the world. Those markets whose exports to China account for a significant proportion of GDP stand to be the most affected.

The effects of any prolonged Chinese slowdown would be felt far beyond South-east Asia. In recent years China has developed strong trading relationships with a number of African countries, many of which export large amounts of natural resources necessary for China’s industrial expansion, such as minerals, metals and oil. Angola is the continent’s largest exporter to China, shipping around $23bn worth of goods in 2019, principally mineral fuels and oils. However, a slowdown in China’s economy, and in particular its industrial sector, could affect countries such as the Republic of the Congo, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which derive between 15-20% of their GDP from exports to China.

Although China is an important trading partner for many emerging markets, a number of countries have successfully developed diversified export economies in recent times. The need for a diversification was brought sharply into focus by the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted a large number of the world’s supply chains, many of which were closely linked to China.


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