Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


Gas key as South Africa transitions to clean energy (Engineering News)

Gas will be needed to help meet energy demand in South Africa during the necessary transition to clean energy, speakers from the energy sector, academia, financial institutions and South African government departments said during a webinar on October 27. They noted, however, that South Africa has not yet put in place the required policies and regulations, trade agreements and infrastructure needed to ensure it is able to use natural gas.

Cross border trade challenges still prevalent (Graphic Online)

It appears that attempts to stamp out harassments, human rights violations, extortions and other challenges associated with cross border trading in West Africa are yielding less results than previously reported. It is in spite of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) which stipulates that traders can trade duty free and quota free across the borders within the sub-region without any harassment. Consequently, a preliminary assessment on challenges faced by small scale cross border traders commissioned by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) identified that due to lack of information traders were still subjected to human rights violations, sexual harassments and accusations of extortion by customs officials and other security agencies operating across borders in the sub-region.

Business urged to adopt modern tech (The Herald)

Local businesses should adapt to new technological trends to promote efficiency and quality of products in view of tougher market competition that is going to be brought by the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA). This was said by Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza while officially opening the CEO Roundtable annual meeting in Victoria Falls today. To be an effective competitor in AfCFTA, Zimbabwe industry needs to align itself to rapidly changing technological trends in the production of goods to claim its fair share of the Africa’s gross domestic product, which presently stands at US$3,4 trillion.

While addressing delegates at the convention Minister Nzenza said, “Let me emphasise the need to centre discussions on how businesses will adopt new technological environment and enhance efficiency and quality in view of stiffer market competition that is going to be brought by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) that is in force now,” said Minister Nzenza.

Zimbabwe Government committed to African Continental Free Trade Agreement (The Herald)

GOVERNMENT is fully committed to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the refurbishment and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post and the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge- Chirundu highway to ensure seamless movement of goods and people along the North-South corridor. Stanbic Bank and its parent company, Standard Bank Group, recently unveiled a US$21,6 million loan facility for sprucing up of the Beitbridge Border Post and its environs. The loan facility was availed to a concession holding company, Zimborders Mauritius (Zimborders), towards the rehabilitation and modernisation of Zimbabwe’s side of the Beitbridge Border Post as well as the development of associated infrastructure in and around the town. Work on the rehabilitation of the Border Post started in earnest early this year and is progressing steadily.

Inside the French push for stronger trade with Kenya (The Star)

Franck Riester, France Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, is leading a delegation to Kenya for a two-day visit starting today. The official visit will include bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as his counterparts, Trade and Industrialisation CS Betty Maina and Treasury CS Ukur Yatani.

Minister Riester, a special envoy of President Emmanuel Macron, will be in the country as a follow-up to Uhuru’s visit to Paris, where he attended the BPI France investment forum.During the forum, Uhuru presented the three main industries that offer real opportunities in Kenya for French entrepreneurs: technologies (particularly mobile technologies), infrastructure and manufacturing. On his part, Macron shared his wish to strengthen France’s relations with Kenya and encouraged French entrepreneurs to take advantage of the many business opportunities Kenya presents.

Ministry warns of lower maize production as rains disrupt harvesting (Business Daily)

The ongoing rains in the country’s breadbasket counties of Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu have hampered harvesting of mature maize and will have a negative impact on this year’s production target, the Ministry of Agriculture has warned. The October rains have coincided with harvesting in the two counties, with farmers now fearing that their produce will rot in farms. The rains have caught up with the harvest period due to late planting earlier this year following delayed rains, reflecting the problems faced by farmers due to erratic weather patterns. “Harvesting of maize has started in some areas and due to the prevailing wet conditions, rotting is expected to increase thereby increasing the post-harvest losses,” said the Ministry of Agriculture. Any loss of produce will come as a blow given that Kenya is already grappling with an annual deficit of maize.

Boost industrial manufacturing to accelerate economic growth and development in Nigeria, African Development Bank head says (AfDB)

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina has said low levels of industrial manufacturing are hampering economic growth and development in Nigeria and many other African countries.

He said Nigeria must accelerate its manufacturing sector through integration and a rapid progression up global and regional value chains where it has a comparative advantage. Adesina was speaking at a lecture titled Overcoming Binding Constraints to Competitive Manufacturing for Intra-Regional Trade, which he delivered at the inaugural edition of the Adeola Odutola Lecture Series on Tuesday in Abuja. The series is organized by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. The African Development Bank head said: “The continent has abundant natural resources, oil, gas, minerals, metals, agricultural and forest products, and the blue economy. But tragically and ironically, Africa’s massive natural resources have not translated into wealth.” He added: “The low level of industrial manufacturing is at the core of the slow structural transformation of African economies,” and represented a race to the bottom characterized by rising poverty, export of jobs, volatile commodity prices, and import dependency.”

Creating world-class national champions for food manufacturing in Nigeria (TheCable)

In 2018, Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, revealed an interesting fact about Nigerians that, in many ways, explains the state of the country’s food manufacturing industry. He said that Nigerians spend an average of 73% of their income on food and beverages products. However, he also noted that most Nigerians will instead go for food and beverages products made outside of the country when faced with a choice. Now, this is not in any way an indictment of the food manufacturing industry. Food and beverage processing alone make up the large majority of Nigeria’s manufacturing output. This reflects the might of the country’s agricultural sector. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations reports that agriculture contributed to 22.35% of Nigeria’s GDP between January and March 2021.

Boosting tax revenues: An imperative for economic recovery across Africa (TheCable)

On October 7th, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a record 16.39 trillion naira ($39.8 billion) budget for 2022, with government spending projected to rise by 12.5% compared to 2021. This is as Nigeria and the rest of the African continent struggle to come to grips with the economic and public health impact of COVID-19. Economists continue to express concern over outsized government expenditure and stunted growth in Africa’s largest economy, and for good reason: Nigeria’s economy contracted in 2020 because of the pandemic and is only expected to grow by just 3% this year, as a result of rising insecurity and exponential inflation in food prices. However, when responding to questions over the increase in government spending, Buhari insisted that “we do not have a debt sustainability problem, but a revenue challenge which we are determined to tackle to ensure our debts remain sustainable… this would be achieved by enhancing tax and excise revenues through reforms and administration measures.”

Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund gets $75m loan from AfDB (Graphic Online)

The African Development Bank (AfDB.org)’s Board of Directors has officially approved a $75 million commercial loan to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF). The African Development Bank’s loan will enable the Ghanaian state-owned GIIF to efficiently leverage its paid-in equity capital of $325 million to secure additional debt resources to finance several critical Ghanaian infrastructure projects and reduce the country’s estimated multi-billion dollar infrastructure finance deficit. “This loan is an important step to anchor the sustainability of a national infrastructure financing vehicle in Ghana, a model we’d like to promote to bridge the infrastructure financing gap over the continent,” said Amadou Oumarou, African Development Bank Director for Infrastructure & Urban Development.

IDIF, a potential game changer for Ghana, Africa – Angolan Ambassador (News Ghana)

Ambassador Joao Quiosa, Angola’s Ambassador to Ghana, has endorsed the government’s One District One Factory Policy initiative (1D1F) as the prime effort towards an industrial revolution within the country and the African continent as a whole.

He said the 1D1F rested on the philosophy of local based value addition to local produce, and which was the lifeline to the continental free trade effort. The Ambassador was addressing the business community in the Volta Region at a breakfast meeting in Ho on Monday, and which was on the theme “Boosting the Trade Between Volta Region and Angola for the African Continental Free Trade Area”. “It’s time we trade among ourselves, and that is what AFCTA means. Let keep Africa’s wealth within Africa and the first step is what I see here in Ghana and I am so proud that Ghana is leading Africa in this. “One District One Factory! Let’s start that first step. Let’s not think of Giant corporations but let’s start it. In every district we have a factory. It means that we are giving value added necessary steps to our produce.


COMESA has a new theme, as Summit date is set (COMESA)

COMESA has a new theme to rally action towards implementation of its regional integration programmes for the next one year. The theme: Deepening business integration to accelerate economic recovery from the negative effects of COVID-19”, will be unveiled during the 21st COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit on 23 November 2021 in Egypt. The theme was motivated by the emerging regional and global economic and trade dynamics which have impacted heavily on the COMESA regional integration agenda. The outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic has been the most impactful phenomenon, with devastating aftermath on lives and economies. Hence, this theme was developed as a rallying call to Members States on what to focus on.

Comesa worry as NTBs boost low-value trade (The East African)

Increasing informal trade among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) states has resulted in 11 percent decline of the value of intra-Comesa total exports. A survey by the Comesa Secretariat led by consultant Dr Evarist Mugisa has concluded that the increasing non-trade barriers (NTBs) are to blame for the proliferation of informal trade and the decline in value of exports to $9.7 billion in 2020 from $10.9 billion in 2019. The 37th Meeting of the Comesa Trade and Customs Committee on October 15 heard that the low intra-regional trade was also a result of existing gaps in information on trading opportunities, regulatory requirements and factors that inform business decisions on production of goods and trade.

Jumia launches First Africa E-commerce Report (P.M. News)

Africa’s e-commerce platform, Jumia, has published its first Africa e-commerce report, Jumia Africa e-Commerce Index 2021 with a Nigerian section, which leveraged data from the company’s platform to illustrate the importance of shopping online in a pandemic context. The shift to everyday products during COVID-19, is part of a broader economic transformation led by the continent’s young, urban and tech savvy population.

Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi said: “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce has played an important role by supporting sellers, consumers and communities. Many businesses have joined Jumia to keep their business running and to grow. Consumers used Jumia for their daily needs and seeked convenience and competitive prices on the platform too.”

E-commerce played an important role during the pandemic by providing solutions for both businesses and the communities they serve. Jumia’s partnerships with various brands and organizations have enabled SMEs to connect with millions of consumers online.

Local drugs manufacturing: a multi-billion opportunity for pharma industry in Africa (How we made it in Africa)

Covid-19 laid bare Africa’s huge reliance on imported pharmaceuticals, with the continent importing as much as 90% of its drugs. A new determination to provide medicines locally – supported by government, local business and health activists – is providing the pharma industry with a multi-billion dollar investment opportunity.

Targeting a billion-plus consumer market, international pharmaceutical companies and local businesses are in a race to boost Africa’s healthcare manufacturing and wrestle the market from Asian drug companies which sell mainly cheap generic drugs on the continent.

Latest United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) receipts show Africa imports more than $16 billion worth of medical supplies annually. The continent’s pharma market is projected to reach a total of over $25 billion by 2022. That’s not pocket change for investors who are keen to cash in on the demand by building the continent’s local capacity to manufacture drugs. This comes amid biting Covid-19 vaccine shortfalls in Africa where just about 4.4% of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

How Can Africa Get Ready for the Latest Generation of Container Ships? (The Maritime Executive)

Over the past few years, a new generation of ultra-large container vessels has begun to sail the oceans. Container ships like the Madrid Maersk, COSCO Shipping Universe and OOCL Hong Kong can carry over 20,000 TEU of cargo. These giant vessels measure over 1,300 feet in length, with beams of between 160 and 190 feet and a draft of 52 feet. Over the past 50 years, the capacity of container vessels has increased by around 1,500 percent, doubling over the past decade alone. The exponential growth of container vessels can be attributed to shipping lines’ focus on economies of scale. The more containers they can load on a vessel, the greater the income generated by these vessels. Thus, larger vessels carrying more containers increase the profit per voyage for each vessel. The increase in capacity relates to significant changes in the length, depth, and beam of a ship.

African countries’ trade relies heavily on seaports and shipping, as most of their trade is sea-borne. In 2019, African ports represented close to seven percent of world maritime exports and about five percent of global maritime imports, according to UNCTAD. For many African countries , it has been challenging to develop ports of entry and connected transport infrastructure that keeps up with the growth trend of containerized vessels. Many of Africa’s ports are not deep or wide enough to handle such large vessels. And should the vessels be able to berth at African ports, the ports would still need the equipment to offload such large vessels.

There is urgent need for Africa to diversify economies — Adesina (The Guardian Nigeria)

President of the African Development Bank (AfFB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina has said there is an urgent need for Africa to rapidly diversify its economies, and add value to everything that it produces. Adesina said this at the Adeola Odutola Lecture, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Annual Meeting while making his presentation titled: “Overcoming Binding Constraints to Competitive Manufacturing for Intra-Regional Trade”. The AfDB president stressed that Africa exporting its raw materials had only led to vulnerabilities, adding that no nation or region had succeeded by simply exporting raw materials. “Africa’s development trajectory has been based on the export of raw materials and natural resources. The continent has abundant natural resources, oil, gas, minerals, metals, agricultural and forest products, and the blue economy.

Africa can’t depend on import of most vaccines, others, says Okonjo-Iweala (The Nation)

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said the experience with the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that it is not tenable for Africa to depend on import for 99 per cent of vaccine and 90 per cent of pharmaceuticals.

Okonjo-Iweala lamented that most of the continent’s population today remains unvaccinated, as less than five per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated compared to over 60 per cent in developed countries. She said with 80 per cent of exports from 10 countries in Europe, North America and Asia, the WTO spent a great deal of time working with manufacturers to invest in emerging markets and developing countries, including Africa.

Afreximbank establishes partnership with the African Technology and Policy Studies Network (ATPS), providing US$500,000 support (Afreximbank)

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is pleased to announce its partnership and support to the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), which will address gaps in operational costs as well as funding for ongoing activities over a three-year period concluding in 2023. Afreximbank’s US$500,000 financial support will facilitate the implementation of development programmes on the continent and cover the shortfall in ATPS’ resources. Think Tanks play a crucial role in Africa as catalysts for ideas, helping develop material solutions to some of the continent’s most complex and intractable challenges. As actors equipped to understand intensely local issues, secure buy-in from relevant players, and establish sustainable partnerships across sectors and interests, these institutions are vital to maintaining and improving governance mechanisms through evidence-based decision-making for Africa’s development.

Investment in agriculture is a direct investment in poverty eradication – Tony Elumelu (Nairametrics)

Billionaire businessman and Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Tony Elumelu, has said that investment in agriculture is a direct investment in poverty eradication and job creation in Africa. Elumelu disclosed this at the Oyo Agribusiness Summit and Exhibition hosted by Governor Seyi Makinde to transform the state’s agricultural landscape into the agribusiness hub of Nigeria. The business mogul noted that Oyo state should be to Africa, the beacon and leading entity in agriculture similar to what Silicon Valley is to North America in the area of Technology. He stressed that the agricultural sector is critical for Africa’s development as it is the continent’s largest employer of labour, adding also that what the sector generates is inclusive, broad-based, and effective in creating a multiplier effect that helps lift families and communities out of poverty.

Specific policy targeting women hampering Agric (Vanguard)

The lack of a policy specifically targeting women in Agriculture has been identified as a major concern for food security and nutrition in Africa. This was the position of the participants at the recently held celebration of the commemoration of the International Day of the Rural Women under the theme: “Strengthening Rural Women’s Contribution to Sustainable Food Systems through The Continental Free Trade Area’’ organised by the African Union.

“AUC and Development Partners set up innovative financing and that AU Member States to implement women’s right to access, control, ownership and benefit from financial resources, including access to public procurement processes in agribusiness, productive assets, including land, enabling basic infrastructure, education, information and skills development, innovative technologies and practices, to capacitate and develop women’s economic empowerment in agribusiness.

Climate change will displace, impoverish even more Africans (The East African)

Rapidly shrinking glaciers, extreme weather and increased climate events including floods and droughts, are among the foreboding events of a rapidly warming region that could soon find itself thrust out of the frying pan into the fire, on more fronts than one. A new report — The State of the Climate in Africa 2020 — paints a grim picture of what the environmental changes could do to the continent within the next decades. In due course, say the authors, up to 118 million extremely poor people on the continent will be exposed to drought, floods, extreme heat and other maladies, which will hinder progress towards poverty alleviation and growth, making it even harder to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The report warns that the impacts of climate change are piling woes on a continent reeling from multiple problems such as poor health, struggling agricultural production, unemployment, poverty, civil conflict and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Climate change, if not fixed, will fracture and strain African governments’ efforts to create economic opportunities for a burgeoning population expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion by 2050 from the current estimated 1.4 billion, the report released on Tuesday warns.

Climate Change Could Further Impact Africa’s Recovery, Pushing 86 Million Africans to Migrate Within Their Own Countries by 2050 (World Bank)

The World Bank’s new Groundswell Africa reports, released today ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26), find that the continent will be hit the hardest by climate change, with up to 86 million Africans migrating within their own countries by 2050. The data on countries in West Africa and the Lake Victoria Basin show that climate migration hot spots could emerge as early as 2030, and highlight that without concrete climate and development action, West Africa could see as many as 32 million people forced to move within their own countries by 2050. In Lake Victoria Basin countries, the number could reach a high of 38.5 million.

The authors highlight that people’s mobility will be influenced by how slow onset of climate impacts will interact with population dynamics and the socio-economic contexts within countries. However, efforts to support green, inclusive, and resilient development, could reduce the scale of climate migration by 30% in the Lake Victoria region and as much as 60% in West Africa.

Deliver financing for adaptation and resilience in Africa, global leaders urge ahead of COP26 (AfDB)

Ahead of key climate talks at COP26 in Glasgow, African leaders and development partners have called for greater funding towards climate adaptation. The calls were made at the launch of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) report on adaptation trends in Africa. The report was launched on Tuesday in Nairobi on the inaugural Adaptation Acceleration Day. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta warned in his remarks at the launch that Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) risks contracting by up to 30 percent by the year 2050, in the absence of urgent climate change adaptation action. “While it is relatively more difficult to design and implement adaptation projects and while fewer resources are currently available for adaptation, we should not lose sight of the fact that adaptation is, without doubt, smart economics,” President Kenyatta added. Leaders said developed countries had provided well below the threshold for Africa’s adaptation needs.

Chinese Investment in Africa Rises as Project Values and Bilateral Trade Decline (IISD)

China has created 25 economic and trade cooperation zones in 16 African countries and has continued to invest heavily across the continent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a government report about Chinese–African economic and trade ties. The zones, registered with China’s Ministry of Commerce, had attracted 623 businesses with a total investment of USD 735 billion at the end of 2020, according to the China-Africa Economic and Trade Relationship Annual Report (2021).

While COVID-19 has shaken the global economy and spooked many investors due to uncertainties about how long the crisis will last, Chinese investment in Africa has been climbing, the report says. China invested USD 2.96 billion in Africa last year, up 9.5% from 2019. Almost all of that—USD 2.66 billion—was non-financial direct investment. The trend is continuing in 2021, according to the 108-page report. Direct investment in Africa amounted to USD 2.07 billion in the first seven months, outperforming the pre-pandemic level in the same period of 2019. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 years, even though bilateral trade declined 10.5% to USD 187 billion in 2019. It is also the fourth-biggest investor in the continent. In particular, China is investing heavily in the African services sector. Investment in subsectors such as scientific research and technology services, transport, warehousing, and postal services more than doubled in 2020, the report says. However, services trade between the two partners fell 20% last year to USD 8.66 billion, it says.

EU says No to patent-free vaccines for Africa (EUobserver)

EU countries blocked mention of waiving vaccine patents to help fight the pandemic at a meeting in Africa, overshadowed by the Sudan coup. There was a “need to conclude discussions on how the World Trade Organisation (WTO) can support the ramping up of manufacturing, the equitable distribution of Covid-19 related health products and the transfer of technologies”, 68 EU and African foreign ministers said in a joint communiqué on Wednesday (27 October) after a two-day meeting in Kigali.

“We agreed on the importance of ... equitable access to vaccines, medical treatments and health technologies,” EU foreign-affairs chief Josep Borrell also told press. But for its part, the African Union (AU) had wanted a much higher level of ambition. It had called for EU backing for “a targeted and time-limited Trips Waiver” at an upcoming WTO meeting in November in earlier drafts of the communiqué, seen by EUobserver.

EU-African Union ministerial meeting, 26 October 2021 (EU News)

Foreign affairs ministers of the European Union and the African Union met for the second time in this configuration since January 2019 to take stock of progress made since the fifth EU-AU Summit (Abidjan, 29-30 November). Ministers also exchanged views on the EU-AU partnership and how to strengthen cooperation.

From “trade gateway” to risk guarantees: what Russian businesses are offered in Africa (TASS)

Africa today is one of the most attractive markets and promising regions for long-term investment. The continent shows the world’s highest consumption growth rates. Russia has recently joined business activities in the region. The first-ever Russia-Africa summit, held in Sochi in 2019, was a powerful impetus for this. The second one is due in 2022. Both sides expect a considerable increase in the number of contracts that will be concluded. Oramah said trade between African countries and Russia saw considerable progress lately.

Oramah believes that Russian companies have a number of advantages over their competitors in Africa in a number of fields, such as the construction of railways. “Africa because of the AfCFTA is building its railway network. Sometimes it is difficult to understand why the Russians are not taking advantage of it? Because today you have the Chinese, you have the Americans, you have the Germans who are in all these projects…That is a very, very promising area,” Oramah said.

“The era of commodities is disappearing. Everywhere you go engineering services are required, Africa is building its infrastructure. It is very much behind and it’s trying to catch up,” Oramah said.


Trade data for 2020 confirm growing importance of digital technologies during COVID-19 (UNCTAD)

COVID-19 has provided a strong impetus for businesses and individuals to adopt digital tools, helping to drive a 6% increase in worldwide exports of ICT services, according to an UNCTAD technical note on the pandemic’s impact on trade in the digital economy, published on 21 October.

The value of ICT services’ exports worldwide reached $676 billion in 2020 as the usage of communications services, computer services and software were boosted by the lockdown restrictions implemented in many economies. This took digitally deliverable services to nearly 64% of total services exports, as they contracted relatively little against the backdrop of an unprecedented decline in total services trade.

“Low levels of digitalization and eTrade readiness are hampering the ability of LDCs to engage in digital trade at a moment when it has suddenly become even more important,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD director of technology and logistics. “It underscores the need to boost the capabilities of those trailing in digital readiness to catch up in the digital economy.”

Members welcome increased notification activity on national customs legislation (WTO)

Since the Committee’s meeting at this time last year, ten members — Afghanistan, Benin, Colombia, El Salvador, Iceland, Mongolia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam — have notified new or amended customs legislation. In addition, the WTO Secretariat is currently assisting several other members seeking assistance in finalizing their notifications to the Committee.

Currently, there are 34 national legislations under review before the Committee, with exchanges consisting primarily of written questions and replies. Questions were received from Canada, China, the European Union and the United States, and replies to questions on their legislation were submitted by the following eight members: The Gambia, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Niger, Rwanda and Viet Nam.

“Trade plays an important role in climate change adaptation and mitigation” — DDG Ellard (WTO)

climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time, must be tackled to save the planet. Scientists tell us that it is still possible to get global warming under control, but only if unprecedented action is taken now. The international community must make every effort to agree on the course of action to avoid a climate disaster. The WTO is not the place to establish global climate policy and how goals will be reached. However, the WTO plays an important role because its rules govern taxes, tariffs, subsides, regulatory measures, and other instruments that are relevant for implementing climate policies.

When speaking about trade, it is tempting to think only that trade contributes to climate change through emissions caused by the production and transportation of goods. But this view is incomplete because trade is also a central part of the solution, enhancing both adaptation and mitigation efforts. To transition to a low-carbon economy, countries need affordable access to advanced technologies. And open trade plays a critical role in providing such access. Lowering barriers to trade in environmental goods and services helps facilitate transfer and deployment of climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies.

DDG Anabel González: Slash services trade red tape. At the WTO (WTO Blogs)

From Nigeria to Costa Rica, to the United States, Turkey, China and beyond, 65 economies are getting ready to adopt a set of good regulatory practices to streamline domestic regulations and facilitate commerce in services. They account for over 90 percent of global services trade. They are ready to cut red tape. They aim to reduce trade costs. Their joint endeavor goes under the rather unexciting name of ‘Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation’. It is happening under the umbrella of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Initial discussions under an innovative format were launched in December 2017 at the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference. While the talks on services domestic regulation (SDR) are open to all 164 WTO members, negotiations took place among those wanting to engage on the topic. Alongside investment facilitation and e-commerce, they are one of the plurilateral negotiations paving the way for more flexible approaches to advance trade cooperation. Not all WTO members think this is a good idea, but many do, including the US and China. They see the WTO could become a ‘club of clubs’: everyone is a member, but only those interested in soccer, tennis or yoga would join the respective group.

The disciplines on SDR address the practical challenges that affect the ability of businesses and suppliers to provide a service. They aim at ensuring that licensing requirements and procedures, qualification requirements and procedures, and technical standards to not constitute unnecessary barriers to services trade. The disciplines are focused on three areas. First, transparency to promote prompt publication and availability of information relevant to services suppliers and their engagement in regulatory decision-making processes. Second, legal certainty and predictability to ensure that competent authorities follow regulatory and procedural guarantees when dealing with applications for authorization to supply services, such as processing applications in a timely manner. And third, regulatory quality and facilitation with measures aimed at disseminating good regulatory practices to facilitate services suppliers’ ability to trade, such as requiring applicants to approach only one competent authority to obtain authorization. In a first of its kind for a WTO negotiated outcome, the SDR text contains a provision to ensure that authorization measures for service suppliers do not discriminate between women and men.

The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021: Managing Assets for the Future (World Bank)

It is now clear that a narrow focus on the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) is insufficient to achieve humanity’s aspirations for sustainable prosperity. Wellfunctioning ecosystems and educated populations are requisites for sustainable wellbeing. These and other too-often-neglected ingredients of national wealth must be addressed if the development path is to be sustainable. The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021: Managing Assets for the Future provides the most comprehensive accounting of the wealth of nations, an in-depth analysis of the evolution of wealth, and pathways to build wealth for the future. This report—and the accompanying global database—firmly establishes comprehensive wealth as a measure of sustainability and a key component of country analytics. It expands the coverage of wealth accounts and improves our understanding of the quality of all assets, notably, natural capital. Wealth—the stock of produced, natural, and human capital—is measured as the sum of assets that yield a stream of benefits over time. Changes in the wealth of nations matter because they reflect the change in countries’ assets that underpin future income. Countries regularly track GDP as an indicator of their economic progress, but not wealth, and national wealth has a more direct and long-term impact on people’s lives. This report provides a new set of tools and analysis to help policy makers navigate risks and to guide collective action. Wealth accounts can be applied in macroeconomic analysis to areas of major policy concern such as climate change and natural resource management. This report can be used to look beyond GDP, to gauge nations’ economic well-being, and to promote sustainable prosperity.

Sustainable Development Outlook 2021: From anguish to determination (UN-DESA)

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the global awareness that we are all in this together. The pandemic has set back progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but it has also made it possible for the international community to see the pursuit of sustainable development in a new light, and to learn from both successes and challenges of the pandemic to reinvigorate efforts towards achieving the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Outlook 2021 charts a way forward for the world community to achieve the SDGs, despite the setback caused by COVID-19. In doing so, it focuses on SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 2 (hunger), SDG 3 (health and well-being), SDG 8 (growth and employment), SDG 10 (inequality), and their interlinkages. In each case, Sustainable Development Outlook 2021 presents in-depth analyses, based on country case studies and the relevant literature, and uses the findings to present plausible future scenarios under different assumptions.

Top economists call for ‘radical redirection’ focusing on healthcare (UN News)

Released on Tuesday, the WHO Economic Council’s new brief, Financing Health for All, points to three main actions: create fiscal space, direct investments, and the administration of public and private finance. On public spending, the experts say that easing constraints imposed by outdated economic assumptions and reversing reforms that lead to big health care cuts, would allow spending to increase significantly. According to the brief, investments to ensure equal access to healthcare for everyone, should become the central purpose of economic activity. Public leadership should work to create positive regulatory, taxation, and industrial policies, and boost investment in the field. Finally, public and private finance should be governed by greater regulation of private health markets through measures that improve outcomes globally and on an equitable basis.

Facing Climate Financing Realities: How to think about coming pledges at COP 26 (IISD)

With the first part of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China now in the rearview mirror and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow just days away, we must consider how we’ll be able to meet the increasing need for financial resources to address the acute climate and biodiversity crises we face.

There is little doubt that new financial pledges will be made in Glasgow, which will send important political signals in their own right. However, these pledges must be placed in the context of prior commitments and actions so that we can learn from the past and improve our approach for the future. A crucial aspect of this work is that we must acknowledge that public and private actors have different roles and interests in tackling climate financing challenges. We also need to learn why both groups have yet to meet the expectations outlined in prior pledges so that we can target our efforts accordingly.

From Climate Pledges to Action: New Principles Provide Roadmap for Net-Zero Buildings (WEF)

Collective action must be taken to accelerate the decarbonization of buildings, which contribute 38% of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. A new action plan released today by the World Economic Forum offers a set of principles to help companies deliver net-zero carbon buildings and meet key climate commitments. The Green Building Principles: The Action Plan for Net Zero Carbon provides a clear sequence of steps to deliver net-zero carbon buildings.

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. It will affect every aspect of our lives and threatens the entire global economy and we must rapidly deploy the solutions we already have in hand to avert its most catastrophic impacts,” said Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States (1993-2001), Chairman and Co-Founder, Generation Investment Management. “Buildings are a large and often overlooked contributor to this crisis, but with investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, we can begin solving the climate crisis, create tens of millions of jobs, and build a better future.”

Scaling up climate adaptation finance must be on the table at UN COP26 (UNCTAD)

The second part of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2021 published on 28 October outlines reforms of the international financial system to get more climate adaptation funds flowing to developing countries. Released ahead of the upcoming UN COP26 climate summit, the report calls for a transformative approach to climate adaptation, with advanced economies ensuring that multilateral institutions can support developing countries to manage the pressures from a changing climate without compromising their development goals. Estimates indicate that annual climate adaptation costs in developing countries could reach $300 billion in 2030 and, if mitigation targets are breached, as much as $500 billion by 2050. But current funding is less than a quarter of the 2030 figure and the report warns that relying on private finance will not deliver on scale or to the countries most in need.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: “Fulfilling the $100bn a year pledge for the Green Climate Fund is a must at Glasgow. But aligning ambition and action will require a concerted reform effort at the multilateral level to ensure adequate funding for developing countries to adapt to the worsening impacts of ever-increasing climate change. Climate change has no borders, so our strategy to adapt to it must be globally coordinated.”

Green industrial policies key for developing countries to adapt to climate change (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2021 calls for a transformative approach to climate adaptation, with large-scale public investment programmes to adapt to future as well as current threats, and green industrial policies to drive growth and job creation. Activities related to renewable energy production and the circular economy can, the report suggests, operate at a low scale, opening business opportunities for small firms and rural areas, help to diversify economic production structures and reduce many countries’ dependence on the production of a narrow range of primary commodities.

Smaller nations face road blocks in attending COP26 (The Guam Daily Post)

Some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries have been forced to scale back their attendance at the COP26 climate summit due to COVID-19 travel curbs and costs, blunting their negotiating power, according to Fiji’s U.N. ambassador. Border closures, quarantine rules and high travel costs will see small island states and poorer nations sending smaller delegations, with some leaders unable to travel to the key United Nations’ climate talks that start in Scotland on Sunday. “The stakes could not be higher, but it’s a very difficult situation,” Prasad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York, where he is based.

EU exports boosted thanks to stronger implementation and enforcement of trade deals and global rules (European Commission)

EU exports boosted thanks to stronger implementation and enforcement of trade deals and global rules Effective implementation and enforcement of EU trade agreements and international trade rules have added €5.4 billion to EU exports in 2020. This confirms that European Commission efforts are paying off. Tangible results range from the elimination of trade barriers to addressing unfair trade practices and taking action on trade and sustainable development. Over the past year, the Commission has also developed further legal instruments to strengthen the EU’s capacity to defend its key interests and protect its open strategic autonomy.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “An assertive trade policy is about ensuring our partners honour their international commitments and, in the process, directly support European businesses and jobs.


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