Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


Ebrahim Patel calls for the continuous sharpening of the country’s competition policy (IOL)

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel on Thursday reiterated the importance of continuous sharpening of South Africa’s competition policy to respond to changing economic dynamics. Patel said that as a result, the country’s competition policy was under constant review as the markets were rapidly changing, with new industries created and new entrants to the market. In May, the department published a competition policy statement spelling out how competition should enable job creation and industrialisation in response for greater clarity by business. Patel said the competition policy statement makes the point that South Africa’s competition regime blends traditional competition concerns with developmental outcomes procreated to the national context. “Our policy aims to address high levels of economic concentration and to provide effective competition that supports industrialisation, that builds dynamic firms, that protects and creates jobs, and promotes economic inclusion and transformation,” Patel said.

Fix these issues to make business in South Africa better (BusinessTech)

Improving South Africa’s trade barrier score will require correct policy choices and avoiding protectionism, says the Free Market Foundation. The group referred to the Property Rights Alliance’s latest Trade Barrier Index (TBI), published this week, which ranks South Africa 44th internationally based on the number of trade barriers it has in place. The ranking identifies the most direct and indirect trade barriers imposed by 90 countries affecting 84% of the world’s people and 95% of global GDP. The use of trade barriers reflects how ‘free’ a market is, with a high use pointing to a more closed marketplace. This includes things like high tariffs and other regulatory restrictions that stifle competition.

Agri SA urges urgent action to keep input costs under control (Engineering News)

Industry organisation Agri SA has expressed concern about rising input costs for the agricultural sector, echoing concerns raised by the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) earlier this week. Agri SA says the cost of direct materials, labour and other overheads are particularly worrying, while Agbiz mentioned how fuel costs are gnawing at agribusiness’ profitability.

South Africa seeks over $27 billion for shift from coal (CGTN Africa)

South Africa is seeking more than 400 billion rand (27.6 billion U.S. dollars) worth of electricity infrastructure as part of its plans to move away from heavily polluting coal, a senior presidency official said on Thursday. Through a funding facility backed by rich nations and development finance institutions, South Africa hopes to build more than 180 billion rand (12.4 billion U.S. dollars) of cleaner power generation, 120 billion rand of transmission equipment, as well as substations, transformers and distribution technology. More than 80% of the country’s electricity is currently generated by burning coal, making it the world’s 12th biggest carbon emitter. But last month the government adopted a more ambitious emissions reduction target ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate summit in November. “South Africa’s message: We are prepared to make a substantial carbon reduction, but this must be financed by developed countries on concessional terms,” presidency official Rudi Dicks said in a presentation.

Association supports resilient industry through master plan (Engineering News)

Despite the impact of Covid-19 and a weak economy, the local stainless steel sector has shown its resilience, as the South African Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) continues to support industry through initiatives such as the Steel Master Plan. “When the Steel Master Plan was first released last year, the stainless steel subsector received recognition for its work and the potential it offers the steel industry. Sassda’s role in the plan is aligned with its mandate, which is to promote the growth of the local conversion of stainless steel to the benefit of our members, industry and the country,” states Sassda acting executive director Michel Basson. Since October last year, Sassda has been consulting regularly with the relevant government entities, including the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC).

Minerals Council says collaboration is key to unlocking growth-supporting infrastructure (Engineering News)

There have been positive developments since the introduction of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan in October last year, and while implementation has been delayed, continued engagement between Minerals Council South Africa and government, as well as the current commodities price environment, has resulted in cautious optimism for the mining industry, says Minerals Council chief economist Henk Langenhoven. “Mining is doing well at the moment,” he comments. “There’s a very good feeling that’s developed between the companies and their employees, because of how the companies kept paying salaries and tried to keep miners safe during the height of the pandemic.”

EU carbon border tax won’t squeeze existing SA exports just yet (Fin24)

South Africa is one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world – and the most among G20 countries. South African exporters, including small businesses, will have to make adjustments to comply with new legislation from the EU as the continent aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

How South Africa plans to secure backing for its ‘Just Transition Financing Facility’ at COP26 (Engineering News)

South Africa aims to meet with other governments and multilateral finance institutions on the sidelines of the upcoming COP26 gathering to progress talks on raising concessional funding, in phases, for a Cabinet-endorsed ‘Just Transition Financing Facility’ to fund green projects in the electricity, automotive and hydrogen sectors. As part of the first phase, South Africa is proposing a multitranche, multiyear facility, funded by a multilender syndicate, to fund decarbonisation and green projects.

South Africa keen to increase trade to $2b (The Express Tribune)

South Africa considers Pakistan as an important country for trade cooperation and is keen to enhance bilateral trade by tapping its true potential, said South Africa High Commissioner Methuthuzeli Madikiza. Visiting the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Thursday, he emphasised the need for strengthening business linkages between private sectors and chambers of commerce of the two sides. He highlighted that the current bilateral trade between the two countries stood below $1 billion, which could be increased to $2 billion in the next few years. He was of the view that joint ventures could be established in different sectors including mining, construction, tourism, agriculture, pharmaceutical and services. South Africa’s High Commission would facilitate the business community of Pakistan in forging linkages with their counterparts to promote collaboration in areas of mutual interest, he said.

Big potential for Namibia’s auto industry (Namibian)

NAMIBIA’S automotive industry is still developing but the country’s geographical location makes it an attractive destination for vehicle manufacturers. These are the research findings presented by Labour Resource and Research Institute Namibia executive director Michael Akuupa at a virtual presentation on Wednesday. The presentation also marked the launch of the report ‘New Investment in the Automotive Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa’, where labour educator Herbert Jauch was the moderator. “The Namibia automotive industry is still underdeveloped with active market players only in retail and aftermarket services such as panel beating and motor repair services,” said Akuupa. He added that the set-up of the industry allows for informal businesses providing motor mechanic services, although there are no records detailing how many informal automotive businesses are in operation in the country.

Transport charges fall 20 percent on low activity at port (Business Daily)

Cargo transport charges have dropped by up to 20 percent on the low activity at the Mombasa Port due to a snub by importers put off by high international freight cost, transporters said. The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) said cargo trucking charges from Mombasa to Kampala have, for instance, dropped to an average of Sh222,020 ($2,000) from Sh277,525 ($2,500) on low demand-- leaving many trucks idle. “For the last couple of months we have been experiencing a decline in cargo at the port of Mombasa. This has seen our charges decline to a low of $2,000 (Sh222,020) at the moment,” the lobby’s chief executive officer, Dennis Ombok said adding that the situation had triggered price wars among truckers.

Freight rates, especially from China to East Africa have gone up from the initial $4,000 per 40ft container to over $6,000 at the moment.

Ms Vanessa Evans, the managing director of Rongai Transport said the low cargo load had significantly hit their businesses as most of their trucks had been parked. “We are no longer making profits at the moment. The shortage of cargo at Mombasa port means that some of our trucks have to stay idle,” she said.

Awakening Of Africa: Kenya’s Ecommerce On The Rise (Africa.com)

In a recent IT News Africa article, Visa reported that the top market contributors for ecommerce in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the last three years were South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya with Ghana also showing growth having replaced Kenya in the top three contributors in 2020. “The three leading markets in SSA are starting to mature, providing the region with an established foundation and when twinned with the growing penetration of ecommerce, offers players in the payment space an opportunity to capitalize while helping accelerate the expansion of ecommerce in the region,” said Lineshree Moodley, Head of Visa Consulting and Analytics, SSA.

As many as 264 ecommerce start-ups were operating across Africa in 2017 and while ecommerce is on the rise, familiar challenges exist around ICT, logistical infrastructure, customer reluctance due to cyber-crime, low Internet penetration and problems with digital literacy. Furthermore, ecommerce legislation in Africa has failed to meet digital advances as currently only 33 of 54 nations have regulations for electronic transactions and only 25 have online consumer protection laws. That said, Kenya’s ecommerce ecosystem is seen by the experts as a region where its own model will be developed based on the country’s unique characteristics and as market demand dictates.

Fresh China Covid-19 curbs spark trade disruption fears (Business Daily)

A fresh Covid-19 outbreak in China is curbing activity at some of the country’s biggest airports, stoking fears among Kenyan traders that further disruption to international flights risks upending trade between the two countries and pushing up the price of Chinese exports. Authorities in China have this week canceled hundreds of flights, closed schools, and ramped up mass testing to try and stamp out a new Covid-19 outbreak linked to a group of tourists. Beijing has maintained a relentless zero-Covid approach with strict border closures and targeted lockdowns, even as other countries including Kenya tentatively try to ease restrictions. Disruptions in Chinese ports have negatively impacted traders in Kenya this year, with consumers bearing the brunt of costlier goods. The situation has forced many traders in the global supply chain to source goods from alternative costlier markets.

Just two months ago congestion at Chinese ports due to a two-week partial closure of the world’s third-largest container port triggered anxiety among Kenyan traders over fresh increases in the cost of goods imported into Kenya. The impact of the closure of the gateway worsened logjams in the global supply chains amid a resurgence of consumer spending and a shortage of container vessels.

Digital service tax guarantee more revenues – Legislator (Dailynews)

A LAWMAKER has allayed fears over Digital Service Tax, saying it will guarantee the government more revenues. The Member of Parliament for Special Seats (CCM) through Tanzania Mainland Civil Society Organizations (NGOs), Neema Lugangira said digital economy had high prospects of presenting the government a new tax base.

“This is where most governments get tax from for the sector to thrive,” offered the legislator. According to the policymaker, renowned multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology such as Amazon, Uber, Alibaba and Google had already joined the services. “We are talking about the existing revenues that are generated by the multinationals, thus the country stands to reap big from such an taxes,” she insisted.

Businesses should venture beyond borders boldly (The New Times)

The value of Rwanda’s exports to the African continent is expected to triple in 10 years, up from Rwf1.6 billion, thanks in part to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). One of the world’s largest free trade zones, AfCFTA started the trading phase in January, effectively setting the stage for the continent to benefit from its $4 trillion worth of market.

For decades, African economies remained fragmented with small, largely unsustainable and undeveloped markets, a situation that largely benefited former colonisers and other industrialised countries. Yet, AfCFTA might largely remain on paper if the private sector does not fully embrace it and start taking advantage of it. This is in part due to structural barriers to cross-border trade. However, African political and business leaders have so far demonstrated readiness to address these challenges and create the necessary business friendly environments with a view to facilitate traders and investors seeking to exploit AfCFTA. One of the latest initiatives in that regard is the launch this week in East Africa of MANSA, a digital platform that provides a single primary source of data that allows for requisite due diligence involving financial institutions, businesses, among others.

Take advantage of AfCFTA to access foreign markets, boost your businesses – NEPC tells SMEs (Vanguard)

The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Chief Olusegun Awolowo has urged Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, SMEs, to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, to access foreign markets and boost their businesses. He said for the SMEs to fully benefit from the AfCFTA it was also important for them to have a better understanding of the market entry criteria in the regional markets if Nigeria will reap the benefits of participating in it.

Represented by the Trade Advisor/Head NEPC Makurdi Export Assistance Office, Mr. Ben Anani, the Executive Director said, “over the last decade, key market access conditions like tariffs, non-tariff barriers and utilization of preferences have increasingly been affected by bilateral trade agreements in most developing nations and Nigeria is no exemption. “However, with the trade opportunities offered by AfCFTA, it is extremely important for SMEs to have a better understanding of market entry criteria in the regional markets if Nigeria must reap the benefits of our participation in the agreement.”


Finding value in connections (ICLG)

Hogan Lovells’ annual Africa Forum emphasised the importance of connection and the scope for greater trade within Africa, as the continent emerges from the pandemic. Increased connectivity and industrialisation are the key to improving trade within Africa, as the African Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) finds its feet, according to speakers at the annual Africa Forum, hosted yesterday (20 October) in London and online by international law firm Hogan Lovells. Andrew Skipper, head of the firm’s Africa practice and co-chair of the United Kingdom’s African Investors Group, introduced the forum calling for investors to “have a broad and not a narrow approach, a respectful and not dictatorial approach” towards Africa.

Recovery from the pandemic and the increased digitalisation of the continent were also on the agenda this year, all of which brought Skipper back to the event’s key theme: “The importance of human connectivity has never been greater,” but warned that “nationalism or at least individualism, has never been greater”, albeit that Africa is trying to buck that trend with the launch of AfCFTA.

Innovation fundamental for business, Adrian Gore emphasises (Engineering News)

Innovation is fundamental for a business and needs to be a continuous process, Discovery Group CEO and founder Adrian Gore has said. Speaking on day one of the Africa Strategy Conference, on October 21, he noted that he has observed six key learnings from innovation implemented at Discovery.

Africa needs $285 billion to boost access to finance (The New Times)

Africa will need at least $285 billion by 2025 in order to increase the ability of its population to access finance and deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Aissa Touré Sarr, Country Manager of African Development Bank (AfDB) in Rwanda, who was speaking at the microfinance summit, said that it could cost nearly twice as much to get countries get back to pre-pandemic growth trajectories.

“Our population needs to access financial services in a simple and more efficient manner. Digital finance alone could benefit billions of people by spurring inclusive growth that adds $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies within a decade,” she said.

African entrepreneurs get support (ICLG)

The International Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa have launched a centre dedicated to supporting African entrepreneurs. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)’s ICC-ECA Centre of Entrepreneurship is designed to provide support to Africa’s next generation of businesspeople. Launched earlier this month, the centre’s initial hubs have been announced for Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria, with the purpose of driving innovation and enhancing the business environment for African small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It will form strategic partnerships with stakeholders including companies, chambers of commerce, academic institutions, and intergovernmental and governmental agencies, to help local entrepreneurs network easily with global markets and improve regulatory conditions for SMEs.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt problem: Mapping the pandemic’s effect and the way forward (Brookings)

The COVID-19 pandemic has, thus far, spared Africa from the high number of cases and deaths seen in other regions in the world (Figure 1). As of April 2021, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for just 3 percent of the world’s cases and 4 percent of its deaths. Some experts attribute the relatively low case counts in sub-Saharan Africa to the region’s extremely young population or, importantly, the swift and preemptive lockdowns that many countries implemented in March 2020. While these lockdowns have likely saved lives, they have also left significant scars on the fiscal position of sub-Saharan Africa and the market conditions it faces. Dwindling revenues following the fall in global trade met a wave of unemployment among a population that lacks widespread access to safety nets and health infrastructure.

Debt was an increasing problem across all income groups of African countries prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. In fact, African countries had been borrowing heavily in the global financial markets in recent years—a trend that has created both new opportunities and new challenges. Rising debt levels have corresponded with rising debt service cost, but countries have not necessarily improved their ability to finance such obligations. Indeed, failure to meet debt service obligations will have devastating impacts, including downgrading of credit ratings (and, hence, future higher costs), heightened pressure on foreign exchange reserves and domestic currency depreciation, and the real possibility of being rationed out of the market—and negative reputational consequences.

sub-Saharan Africa experienced a 4.5 percent increase in “pandemic debt”—the debt taken on above and beyond projections due to the COVID-19 crisis. HIPC countries in particular saw large increases in pandemic debt, with levels 8.5 percent higher than projected. Non-HIPC countries took on mostly planned debt and borrowed from both private and official (that is, bilateral or multilateral) credit markets alike. HIPC countries, on the other hand, were largely shut out of private credit markets and instead relied on official credit to fund increases in (largely unplanned) debt.

Go Forth and Shape Africa’s Destiny – President Akufo-Addo Challenges Africa’s Youth (The Presidency of Ghana)

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has challenged Africa’s youth to take mental, physical and economic lead roles in positioning Africa as the giant of the future. In a speech read on his behalf by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the YouthConnekt Africa Summit taking place in Accra, President Akufo-Addo maintained that the African could be as successful as any other, and urged the youth, who make up a very large proportion of Africa’s population, to take their rightful place in shaping the continent’s destiny. “There is an abundance of dynamic, entrepreneurial talent on our continent struggling to express itself and take advantage of such conditions. We have to encourage this expression with full force, and ensure that we can stand on our own feet, and make it impossible for the systematic looting and plundering of our human and material resources, that have characterized much of our modern history, to continue. This is the significance of the concept of Ghana Beyond Aid, indeed, of Africa Beyond Aid.”

COMESA, Tanzania Signs €2.7 million sub-delegation Agreement to upgrade Tunduma Border Post (COMESA)

The COMESA Secretariat and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania have jointly signed an agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities and construction of a border market at the Tunduma Tanzania-Zambia Border Post. The European Union allocated a total of EUR 2.7 million to this initiative under the COMESA Small-Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI) and Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), respectively. Upgrading the Tunduma border post feeds into the framework of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Agreement, whose main objective is the creation of a single economic area.

The progressive removal of trade barriers will facilitate trade and increase formal small scale trade flows between the two countries. Through the sub-delegation agreement, the United Republic of Tanzania will also receive support in the development of improved and harmonized regulatory frameworks and procedures at its border crossing with Zambia. In concrete terms, activities will focus on upgrading priority cross-border infrastructure and the procurement of equipment, which is needed to improve cross-border trade and transport facilitation at the Tunduma border post. The project will also support capacity building of border agencies and national stakeholders on coordinated border management, customs valuation, harmonized system classification, setting up and management of Joint Border Committees, risk management and “One Stop Border Post” procedures.

ECA and CREG co-organize the 2nd Edition of the NTA-Africa Conference (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its sub-regional office for West Africa, co-organizes with the Regional Centre of Excellence in Generational Economics (CREG) the second edition of the NTA (National Transfer Accounts) - AFRICA Conference with the collaboration of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as partner universities and development partners. Scheduled for October 27 to 29 in Mbour, Senegal, the central theme of this conference is: “Generational economy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for the achievements of the SDGs in Africa”. The choice of this theme is motivated by the desire to support the actors and development partners of Africa through research on the central place of population issues as a means of reversing the unfavourable trends of economic indicators. The challenge is to contribute, in the context of the global health crisis, to the decade of bold action to achieving the goals by 2030 in Africa.

China-Africa trade bouncing back from Covid-19 impact, figures suggest (South China Morning Post)

China’s trade with Africa could return to pre-pandemic levels as economies heal from its devastating impact if recent momentum is maintained. In the first eight months of the year, total two-way trade between China and African countries grew by 40 per cent year on year to US$162.7 billion, according to Chinese customs data. In 2020, the figure for 12 months dropped 11 per cent year on year to US$187 billion, after growing 2 per cent to US$208.7 billion in 2019, before the coronavirus emerged.

Roundup: Upcoming FOCAC meeting imperative in boosting China-Africa ties – experts (China.org)

Experts and policymakers at a China-Africa cooperation-themed high-level seminar said Wednesday that the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting will offer opportunities to boost China-Africa ties across a range of sectors.

The high-level seminar, held virtually with the theme of “Look Into the Future: The New Era of China-Africa Cooperation,” underscored the need to tap into the potential of the upcoming FOCAC meeting, slated to be held in Senegal later this year, to further boost China-Africa relations. Liu Yuxi, head of the Chinese Mission to the African Union (AU), said the eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC will discuss the new developments, imperatives and opportunities in upgrading China-Africa cooperation.

According to Liu, China-Africa anti-pandemic cooperation has proved successful, in which China has urgently provided various kinds of assistance including materials, vaccines and expert teams to 53 African countries and the AU, in response to African needs. “China-Africa economic and trade cooperation and our solidarity provide strong support to economic reopening and recovery in Africa,” he said.

Minister Ganoo shares Mauritius’ concerns on AGOA during Ministerial Forum (Government of Mauritius)

The first session of the Virtual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial meeting took place online on 20 and 21 October 2021 under the theme ‘Building Back a Better US - Africa Trade and Investment Relationship’. The annual Ministerial Meet aims at strengthening trade and investment between the US and Africa.

In his remarks to Ambassador Tai, Minister Ganoo asked what were the possibilities or alternatives that the US Administration could envisage for these countries which might face sudden trade disruption as a result of being graduated out of AGOA on the basis of per capita GNI. According to Mr Ganoo, the World Bank GNI criterion should not be used to determine the competitiveness of a country, the more so that the countries that might reach this threshold are small vulnerable nations like Mauritius.

The trade policy outlook of the US towards Sub-Saharan Africa, in light of the remaining years of AGOA, and the future orientation of the US- African partnership were also mentioned by the Minister.

USAID Delivers on Prosper Africa Goals with Africa Trade and Investment Program (USAID)

Administrator Samantha Power announced the launch of USAID’s new Africa Trade and Investment program at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial. The continent-wide program is USAID’s flagship effort under the Prosper Africa initiative and will expand and accelerate two-way trade and investment between African nations and the United States. The program helps to fulfill the promise of the global Build Back Better World Partnership with the G7 and earlier commitments to increase two-way trade and investment. Since June 2019, USAID has supported African and U.S. businesses and investors in closing more than $2.8 billion in new exports and investments, and built a deal pipeline of more than $10 billion. The new program is expected to generate thousands of African and American jobs and deliver billions in exports and investments by 2026.

More African firms cement Dubai ties as trade soars to $50bn despite pandemic (Arabian Business)

The number of African companies registered with Dubai Chamber has increased by 15.5 percent since 2019 to reach 24,800 today, according to president and CEO Hamad Buamim. “Judging by economic indicators, it’s safe to say that our efforts in Africa are bearing fruit. Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa reached $50 billion in 2020 despite the pandemic challenges, marking the highest level in the last decade,” he told the 6th Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai. Sultan bin Sulayem tells Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai that partnerships can create benefits for UAE and African businesses

Buamim added: “We believe that Dubai holds the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential, as one of the world’s fastest growing city economies that can offer valuable expertise in key sectors such as logistics, infrastructure, retail, tourism and finance, in addition to the right level of investment needed to support African countries scaling up their economies.”

African Union commissioner sees ‘huge potential’ for trade with Turkey (Yeni Şafak)

The African Union’s commissioner for economic development, trade, industry, and mining has praised the ‘huge potential’ for developing relations with Turkey and Africa. “All we need now is to expand the relations,” Albert Muchanga said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the 3rd Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum in Istanbul. “With business-to-business (B2B) meetings, businesspeople will explore ways of gathering to expand the trade, he added. We live in an interdependent world, (with) no countries and islands on their own. So is very, very important that Africa develops relationships with all countries of the world,” he said when asked about the increasing interest in the African continent. Likewise, he said, all countries are very welcome to develop ties with Africa.

Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum releases joint declaration (Yeni Şafak)


Vaccine waiver battle rumbles into EU–African Union summit (EURACTIV)

EU and African officials are still at loggerheads over whether to waive intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines ahead of a meeting between EU and African Union foreign ministers meet in Rwanda next week. Officials say they have been in “intense talks” on how to increase the availability of vaccines to developing countries. The EU and the United States and a group of developing countries, led by India and South Africa, have spent the past year lobbying for intellectual property (IP) rights on COVID vaccines to be waived. Lifting patent protection, even for a limited period of time, would allow countries to produce their own versions of the vaccine. However, civil society organisations say the EU’s latest proposal falls far short of allowing the conditions for vaccine production.

India questions legal status of ongoing plurilateral negotiations at WTO (Mint)

India, Namibia, and South Africa have questioned the legality of the so-called plurilateral agreements on e-commerce, domestic services regulations, and investment facilitation by member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO). They said such negotiations cannot be termed plurilateral as they do not have the sanction of WTO and must not lead to modifications to its rule book. Joint statement initiatives (JSIs) are broadly defined as a plurilateral negotiating tool initiated by a group of WTO members on certain issues without adhering to the rules on consensus decision-making of the multilateral body. Members negotiating such initiatives aim to conclude the process before the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in late November at Geneva. India and other developing nations are concerned over the introduction of new trade rules to the WTO framework surreptitiously through the JSI agreements despite not having consent of all member nations.

“Going back to plurilateral agreements would, therefore, be a step in the wrong direction and would be contrary to the determination and resolve as enshrined in the Preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement,” the three countries had argued earlier this month.

U.S. urges all WTO members to support intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

The White House on Thursday called on all World Trade Organization members to support an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. “We ... need every WTO member to step up as well and support an intellectual property waiver, and every company must act ambitiously and urgently to expand manufacturing now,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. A year after South Africa and India introduced a proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies at the WTO, negotiations have failed to make any progress. More than 100 countries backing the waiver say it will help save lives by allowing developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines, but the European Union and several countries, including Switzerland, remain opposed.

UK calls on G7 to help build stronger and greener supply chains (GOV.UK)

The International Trade Secretary will today (Friday 22 October) call on the world’s leading democracies to work together to build global resilience in critical supply chains as she welcomes the G7 Trade Ministers to London. Anne-Marie Trevelyan will lead talks at London’s Mansion House, the first time G7 Trade ministers have gathered in person for this year’s Trade Track. Covid-19 has sent shockwaves through global production and transport, shutting the world’s third-busiest container port in China, leaving shipping containers stranded in Africa and South America, and causing long queues of goods ships unable to dock in the US. Shipping costs have increased fivefold since the start of the year, while air cargo has seen prices rise and capacity reduce. The Secretary of State will argue against protectionism and advocate measures such as better monitoring and cooperation to quickly identify and address bottlenecks where they arise.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: Global challenges require global solutions. We have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic how fragile our global supply chains can be. The UK will work with our G7 and trade partners to build stronger, greener supply chains and a more resilient economy. We will also send a clear message that digital trade should be open and free, with proper safeguards to protect workers, consumers and businesses, so it can raise living standards and support jobs as we build back better from the pandemic.

Commodity Markets Outlook October 2021 (World Bank)

Energy prices soared in the third quarter of 2021 and are expected to remain elevated in 2022, adding to global inflationary pressures and potentially shifting economic growth to energy-exporting countries from energy-importing ones. The World Bank’s latest Commodity Markets Outlook forecasts that energy prices—expected to average more than 80 percent higher in 2021 compared to last year—will remain at high levels in 2022 but will start to decline in the second half of the year as supply constraints ease. Non-energy prices, including agriculture and metals, are projected to decrease in 2022, following strong gains this year. “The surge in energy prices poses significant near-term risks to global inflation and, if sustained, could also weigh on growth in energy-importing countries,” said Ayhan Kose, Chief Economist and Director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group, which produces the Outlook report. “The sharp rebound in commodity prices is turning out to be more pronounced than previously projected. Recent volatility in prices may complicate policy choices as countries recover from last year’s global recession.”

Renewable energy jobs grew globally in 2020 despite COVID crisis (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

The number of jobs in renewable energy worldwide increased in 2020, despite the huge economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the growing industry holding up better than fossil fuels, international agencies said on Thursday. In an annual report on clean energy employment, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) said there were 12 million jobs in renewable energy and its supply chains last year, a third of them in solar power. That was a rise from 11.5 million jobs in 2019.

The COVID-19 crisis, together with the challenges of global warming, “reinforce the need for a just and inclusive transition toward a clean, reliable energy supply and sustainable, healthy, climate-friendly jobs”, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera added.

U.S. delays global plan to deliver $100B in climate finance (E&E News)

The United States is holding up a process for determining how the world’s richest nations will deliver billions of dollars to poorer countries for combating global warming, according to sources close to the discussions. One major sticking point is whether the U.S. and other nations would have to make up shortfalls if they fail to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries. The U.S. has raised concerns about a proposal by other rich nations to commit to $500 billion over the next five years.

Funding for climate projects in vulnerable countries will be a key issue in global climate talks next month. The U.S. and other rich nations promised in 2009 to give developing countries $100 billion a year starting in 2020, but that hasn’t happened.

They fell $20 billion short in 2019, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It’s not clear how much funding was provided last year, but the goal was likely missed if trends that show climate finance decelerating hold up. The shortfall compounds each year the goal isn’t met.


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