tralac Daily News
New research shows how food producers and consumers lost out under the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa due to a corporatised and divided food system. The study centred on the impact of COVID-19 on South Africa’s food system. The research found that the COVID-19 regulations affected different parts of the food system unevenly.
Although the supply and sale of food were declared an “essential service”, the reality was that vast sections of the informal sector were closed down under the new rules. Some of the recommendations to government included prioritising local and public food markets in towns and cities.
Airlink revealed that travellers using the pass can confirm pre-departure and know whether they meet the Covid-19 test requirements for travel with Airlink on flights between South Africa and Namibia.
Airlink chief executive and managing director Rodger Foster said the airline was proud to collaborate with Iata on the initiative. “The adoption of secure, digital health solutions, such as Iata Travel Pass for verifying Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates as well as pertinent entry requirements, is urgently required to eliminate the uncertainty that currently deters international air travel and by extension, business, trade, tourism, and the creation of desperately-needed jobs throughout Southern Africa,” he said.
Airlink will be the first airline in Southern Africa to test the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass. The contactless travel app allows passengers to create a “digital passport”, receive tests and vaccination certificates and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. The app will also help travellers manage travel documentation during their journey.
South Africa’s small poultry producers need greater industry representation (The Poultry Site)
Poultry producers are, the largest sector in South Africa’s agricultural industry, and poultry is a mainstay of the country’s food basket. It is the country’s most affordable protein as well as the pivot of the fast-food industry. The poultry sector, therefore, should be one aspect of South Africa’s economy that is transforming fast, creating jobs, empowering small farmers, and given agricultural ownership to emerging black farmers. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
“There is potential here for job opportunities and food security,” Kobedi Pilane, co-ordinator of the APP (African Poultry Producer) chapter in AFASA (African Farmer Association of South Africa) says. “And so in the Master Plan they talk about commercialization of emerging farmers. The target is 50 small farmers. And SAPA talks about the fact that they have commercialized 13 farmers so far. But we don’t know who these farmers are, or how they have been commercialized.
Okonjo-Iweala, WTO chief, headlines MAN’s 49th meeting (Businessamlive)
President Muhammad Buhari, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), are expected to be present at the 49th annual general meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) which commenced October 25 and will be on till October 27, 2021. The theme of this year’s lecture, “Overcoming binding constraints to competitive manufacturing for intra-Africa trade” is taking place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce (GNCCl) says trade associations need financial management, product standardisation, sales coaching, packaging, prospecting, and market research, as well as transportation to optimize operations. It said the main areas with limited or no service delivery were negotiations and signing of business contracts, transportation, commercial litigation, and direct intervention in checkpoints.
In a crowded Addis Ababa factory, Finoteselam Nigussie’s needle plunges in-and-out of the gauzy white cloth she deftly guides through a sewing machine. Like thousands of other Ethiopian women, stitching shawls for export to the United States pays the 40-year-old textile worker’s rent and her daughter’s school fees. Now though, Finoteselam’s job is in danger as the United States ponders suspending Ethiopia’s duty-free market status, citing abuses and a growing famine in the war-ravaged northern Tigray region. Suspension of benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) would threaten Ethiopia’s aspirations to become a light manufacturing hub and dent hard-won economic gains in a nation once a byword for hunger and poverty.
Although Ethiopia is not a large global supplier, suspension of its U.S. trade status would be yet another problem on the list for global fashion brands such as The Children’s Place, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein as COVID-19 disrupts manufacturing capacity, ports and supply chains.
US and World Bank announce ‘painful’ Sudan aid cuts (African Business)
The World Bank has paused its economic support to Sudan and “stopped processing any new operations” in the country, David Malpass, the Bank’s President announced on 27 October. The move came as military officers seized control of the government on 25 October, arresting key government officials and dissolving the government. The latest events could derail hard-won economic gains as painful reforms and multilateral loans bring the country back into the global financial system after decades of isolation under former dictator Omar al-Bashir. In June, the country concluded a 12 month IMF programme with a decision by the fund to provide comprehensive debt relief to the country that will be vital in returning stability to the country at a crucial moment in its democratic transition, experts say.
“I am greatly concerned by recent events and their negative impact on the country’s social and economic development,” Malpass said. The aid cuts, which include $2bn earmarked for Sudan’s recovery from the World Bank, are “painful,” says Patrick Heinisch, an economic researcher at German-based commercial bank Helaba. The US also froze $700m in emergency assistance on 25 October as news of the military takeover broke.
Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah has said the ongoing upgrade in infrastructure at our air, land, and sea ports will see Ghana become a preferred destination for maritime trade in the West African sub-region.
According to the Minister, government since assuming office in 2017 has embarked on major infrastructure expansion and service improvements in our maritime and inland waterways and aviation sector to make our ports competitive and highly patronized. Explaining this the Minister said “government has embarked on an aggressive pragramme to modernize the country’s sea ports to position them as the leading container hub and the beacon of international trade within West Africa. The Tema Port has seen major infrastructure upgrade in the last 4 years. “The new terminal is arguably one of the biggest and efficient in Wa and thus enhances our competitiveness in the maritime domain,” he added.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s environment minister said on Thursday the country intends to ban all log exports and implement other measures to lessen threats to its carbon-absorbing tropical rainforest, a major bulwark against climate change. Home to a majority of the world’s second-largest rainforest, Congo is under pressure to improve forest management and curb a high deforestation rate that has doubled in the last decade, according to U.N. figures. Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba announced the suspension of log exports to reporters in the capital Kinshasa, but did not say when it would come into effect.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$360 million Development Policy Financing (DPF) loan to support Egypt’s post-pandemic recovery and enhance the country’s prospects for sustainable and inclusive growth. To further support achievement of the operation’s development objectives, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is considering parallel financing for the operation of the same amount using the same package of policy reforms agreed with the World Bank.
Egypt’s first wave of macro-economic reforms stabilized the economy and allowed the country to enter the global COVID-19 crisis with greater resilience and improved fiscal and external accounts. The newly approved “Egypt Inclusive Growth for Sustainable Recovery” operation builds on this by supporting a second wave of structural reforms focused on creating jobs and providing an inclusive enabling environment for the private sector laying the basis for a sustainable recovery.
Egypt has remained one of the few countries that has maintained positive growth during the crisis. The reform program implemented since 2015, as well as the quick action on fiscal and monetary measures to ease the effect of the pandemic on firms and households have supported Egypt’s economy during the crisis. Significant steps have also been undertaken to address Egypt’s long-term structural challenges that are helping with the pandemic recovery. “Structural reform policies are integral to Egypt’s efforts to accomplish a sustainable and resilient economic recovery that enables the economy to weather future shocks,” said Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation. “This operation will support our efforts to maintain the reform momentum and achieve the milestones necessary for inclusive growth.” she added.
The program strategically addresses some of the long-term structural issues impacting growth through its focus on three thematic pillars: enhancing macro-fiscal sustainability, enabling private sector development, and fostering women’s economic inclusion.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Mark Badu Aboagye, has said that while the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a great initiative, Africans will not benefit from it if certain measures are not put in place. He shared that the initiative is to ensure that we make and keep wealth in Africa rather than make wealth for European countries. He observed that these European countries make a profit from trading with Africa because they add value to the raw materials they obtain from Africa and resell them to us.
Special Advisor and Head of Diaspora of the AfCFTA Joyce Williams Esq, says women face security issues when doing business across the borders. She said this in an interview with the media on day two of the Africa Globalized Investment Forum organized by AfCFTA Policy Network. According to her, APN is looking forward to creating partnerships that will make trading across the continent easy for women. She said the goal of the women in trade conference forum is to bring women together entrepreneur businesswomen from the continent and then give them the advantages of the AfCFTA.
Kenya’s president Kenyatta: Africa is at a crossroads (The Independent)
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday that Africa is at a crossroads, poised on one hand to reap the economic benefits of its youthful population and economic reforms but facing the spread of terrorism and insurgency on the other that are challenging almost all 54 nations on the continent. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo pointed to multiple threats to the territorial integrity of some African countries, many civilians facing serious threats, and instability in some nations complicated by the interests of different actors not only within conflict areas but also from outside the continent. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also cited “worrying trends” in Africa -- too many countries where the military has seized power and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has exacerbated “poverty, inequalities and all the drivers of conflict.” Their briefings to a virtual meeting of the U.N. Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union shone a spotlight on the challenges and conflicts facing the continent, where less than 5% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, says Africans must come together and seize the opportunity to create partnerships that will make the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) work. That, he said, was necessary because the COVID-19 pandemic had taught Africa that its economic prospects hinged on expanding regional value chains across the nascent manufacturing economies. This was in a speech read on his behalf in Accra at a three-day Africa Globalized Investment Forum organized by AfCFTA Policy Network. He said the setbacks suffered across local supply chains due to the pandemic necessitated the reshoring of industrialization and trade effort.
Free zones in age of trade for development (Daily Monitor)
The establishment and development of free zones in Africa, as in the rest of the world, is linked to the increasing acceptance of globalisation and neo-liberal economic polices in order for countries on the continent to become internationally competitive by moving towards export-led industrialisation and growth. Free zones, also known as export processing zones, are an economic tool for the transformation of the structure of industry to developmental competitiveness by focusing on export diversity, increasing a country’s share of global export trade, creating backward, forward and demand linkages, and increasing the depth of the economy.
Free zones are a signal of a country’s departure from the predominantly import substitution strategy towards an external strategy to attract investment, both domestic direct investment and foreign direct investment, to create an export-oriented economy; this is a suitable strategy to find Uganda’s niche in the global market.
Business in Africa has to deal with greater compliance demands (Engineering News)
African governments are demanding greater levels of compliance from businesses, which has resulted in a noticeable increase in red tape and bureaucracy owing to poor execution by officials, says consulting engineering and scientist firm SRK Consulting South Africa MD Vis Reddy.
Strong commodity prices have boosted activity in most regions, and workers have gradually returned to many sites after the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions, he says. “We value the opportunity to have an in-country presence wherever conditions allow so that we can engage local expertise and be closer to clients.” Reddy notes, however, that in many situations, the cost of compliance can undermine the viability of having an in-country presence.
COMESA rallies for private sector (Zambia Daily Mail)
COMMON Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) says the private sector is vital in assisting member states stimulate economic growth as the region grapples with the impact of coronavirus. COMESA assistant secretary general-programmes Kipyego Cheluget said the role of the private sector in terms of dialogue and partnership in stimulating economic development at national and regional level is paramount. Dr Cheluget said this on Wednesday during the 15th COMESA Business Council (CBC) forum 2021 virtual meeting under the theme ‘Build back better, for business – addressing industry constraints towards recovery’. “If regional integration is going to be realised, COMESA and Africa will need to focus on developing sustainable businesses and robust economies that can fully compete and take advantage of these regional markets,” he said.
The East Africa Economic Outlook 2021 report reveals the region’s economic growth is expected to recover to an average of 4.1 per cent in 2021 and further to 4.9 percent and 5.6 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively, from the 0.4 percent posted in 2020. Kenya has already rolled out a new stimulus plan to bolster economic recovery which is projected to grow by 6pc. Others are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The report attributes the slowdown in 2020 to COVID-19-containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews and reduced external demand for exports of raw materials and lower tourism inflows.
Export: Tackling ECOWAS non-tariff barriers (New Telegraph)
Recently, at the fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) in Lagos, key stakeholders in the Nigerian export sector converged to discuss the severity of the Non-Tariffs Barriers (NTBs) on trade in ECOWAS sub-region and proffered solutions.
Statistics have shown that bilateral trade among African countries is only seven per cent. However, African leaders have been concerned about the low volume of trade in the continent. Sadly, many countries in Africa even prefer to trade with Europe, U.S, China and other Eastern European countries for them to improve their volume of trade. No doubt, there are lots of lacunas that have been acting as impediments to the growth of African GDP (Gross Domestic Product). However, those in export and import of goods in the continent have identified proliferation of Non-Tariffs Barriers as a major challenge threatening increase in volume of trade in the continent.
In a bid to arrest the appalling situation posed by Non-Tariffs Barriers on trade facilitation in the ECOWAS sub-region, MANEG members involved in export alluded to the fact that NTBs policy was already threatening Nigeria’s $47.3 billion market share in the regional trade.
The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the purpose of advancing cooperation in the provision of finance and investment to private sector in their common Member States in Eastern and Southern Africa. The agreement establishes a framework for both institutions to collaborate with the aim of financing eligible transactions in targeted countries sponsored by the private sector or non-sovereign backed projects. Possible financing solutions to be considered include syndication and co-financing opportunities, risk sharing, bilateral financing and/or medium term liquidity lines of credit, corporate and project finance and public-private partnerships. Furthermore, the MoU provides for collaboration in developing capital markets through sukuk (trust certificates) structuring and advisory services, as well as for further exploration of possible equity investment opportunities in the capital stock of TDB.
Natural gas in the African energy landscape (IPPMedia)
The importance of Natural Gas within the African energy mix and recommendations for further consideration by Member States, Regional Economic Communities and other African Institutions. The policy brief on NG is the first of a series of policy briefs to be produced by AFREC this year to shed light on the energy situation in Africa, present Findings and Facts on African energy sector.
In her keynote address, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Her Excellency Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, who launched the Policy brief to the member state smentioned that Seventeen (17) African countries in Africa are producers of natural gas, seven are net exporters while seven are net importers. Additionally, 40% of global new natural gas discoveries in the last ten years are in Africa, mainly Senegal, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania, and other countries. However, over 45% of natural gas production in Africa is exported and the contribution of natural gas in the continental energy balance is minimal. ‘‘Low access to affordable clean energy in Africa remains one of the biggest challenges facing our continent. Hence, Africa’s Agenda 2063 highlight the need to enhance regional and continental efforts, for accelerated and integrated infrastructure development in Africa, through high-level policy development and engagement, consensus building, promotion of regional integration to support the development of energy resources in Africa’’ She stressed.
Excerpt from the First GMES and Africa Forum (Space in Africa)
The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Support Programme is one of the African Union Commission (AUC) flagship programmes funded by the European Commission. The programme is the crystallisation of the longstanding cooperation between Africa and Europe in space science & technology, which is one of the key priorities of the long-term EU-Africa Joint Strategy.
The GMES and Africa Support Programme was tasked with organising two continental forums and two continental workshops during its implementation. The first GMES & Africa Support Programme forum was co-organized by the African Union Commission and the Government of Gabon through the Agence Gabonaise d’Études et d’Observation Spatiale (AGEOS) from 19th to 23rd November 2018 in Libreville, Gabon. The first GMES and Africa Forum themed “Unlocking the potential of Earth Observation as a key driver of Africa’s sustainable development” was an important platform that encouraged and promoted the exchange of views among Earth Observation (EO) service providers and end-users in Africa.
During the parallel session on data, the participants discussed the importance of raising awareness about the actors that work in the data provision sector so that users know who owns the data and who is responsible for the production and dissemination of the data. They also discussed the need for harmonising the geographic referencing system as a best practice in data sharing policy and accessibility.
A group of 15 small-scale farmers, comprising 11 women and four men, in the Baca-Baca community in Mafuane, Namaacha district of Mozambique, has benefited from the Climate Smart Technologies agriculture project launched in December 2020 by the Centre for Coordination of Agriculture Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) in collaboration with SADC Secretariat with support from the European Union under the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme. The Mozambique project is one the four projects launched by CCADESA, with technical support from Bembani Group, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security using Climate Smart Technologies. The other three are in Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe. CCARDESA was founded by SADC Member States to harmonize the implementation of agricultural research and development in the SADC Region The projects are an extension of the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme which seeks to strengthen the capacity of SADC Member States to undertake regional and national adaptation and mitigation actions in response to the challenges caused by the effects of climate change.
The EU has contributed €8 million to the GCCA+ project to increase the capabilities of SADC Member States to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and to have their voices better heard in the international climate change negotiations.
A two-day ‘Haryana-Africa Conclave’, began on Thursday with an aim to boost bilateral trade and connectivity between two regions by strengthening diplomatic connections and bilateral relations. Ambassadors and senior embassy officials from 12 African nations and ministers and bureaucrats attended the Conclave titled ‘Transforming Haryana through a Go Global Approach’ organised by Foreign Cooperation Department, Haryana. An official spokesperson said the first Haryana Africa Conclave aims to boost economic and cultural ties, as not only will this create a framework and opportunities to collaborate but will also increase people-to-people engagement between the two regions.
Cooperation between the UN and the African Union is vital to achieving a safer, greener, healthier, more open and more resilient continent. I would like to make four key points in this respect. Firstly, Mr President, I want to underline the importance of collaboration to promote and consolidate democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law.
The UK is supporting African responses to these challenges. We are one of the leading donors to COVAX, which has helped 44 AMC African countries to access around 110 million vaccine doses. We will continue supporting this vital work.
We are also working with the AU to support its Green Recovery Action Plan, and to showcase African climate action at COP26 in Glasgow. We are providing technical assistance for the African Continental Free Trade Area. The UK was the first non-African country to sign a partnership agreement. It offers huge opportunities –and when fully implemented could lead to a 33% increase in intra-African trade. And we are supporting empowerment of African women and girls, including through education. Educating and empowering girls is essential if countries are to realise their full potential.
“Trade has been central to combating the pandemic – a lifeline for access to medical supplies and food,” the Director-General said. “The multilateral trading system has played an instrumental role in encouraging restraint in the use of trade restrictions. This is paying dividends now, with trade emerging as an important driver of the post-pandemic economic recovery. To secure the recovery and extend it to include all countries, we must ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. For this, we need smoothly functioning supply chains for these products, unimpeded by trade restrictions and other bottlenecks.” She urged G20 economies to unwind the pandemic-related trade restricting-measures still in place.
THE IDEA that global trade is waning has become widely accepted. On the surface, it seems plausible amid a pandemic and talk of decoupling among the leading economies. And the sense of slippage has undeniably been helped by the World Trade Organisation’s struggles to reach multilateral agreements, as a bevy of bilateral and regional deals proliferate to compensate for the gridlock in Geneva.
Yet the perception is far from reality. Fears of de-globalisation are not matched by evidence of companies abandoning foreign suppliers for domestic ones, or less trade in intermediate goods. On the contrary, global trade for merchandise is at a record high. And the overwhelming majority is conducted on the basic tariff terms that governments extend on a non-discriminatory basis to all WTO members, in line with the organisation’s “most-favoured nation” principle.
Trade must be reformed to build a sustainable global recovery (The Asahi Shimbun)
The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened inequalities in and across countries. Recent record heat waves remind us that we must address the climate crisis before it’s too late. And digitalization is providing new ways of delivering goods and services while raising new questions around its risks and regulation. In this context, it is critical that we re-evaluate where trade and investment have helped--and where they have hindered. We need to go back to the basics: what is trade for? And how can it provide better outcomes for people and the planet? Trade relations have always been a means to an end. But that end has shifted over the past century as global attitudes toward trade and what it must deliver have evolved.
Today, the trading system must adapt again to address additional concerns of global resiliency, sustainability and inclusivity. The G-20 Leaders Declaration has outlined key aspects of the COVID-19 recovery: namely, economic growth and job creation, health, digitalization, sustainability and inclusion. Trade has an important role to play in delivering each of these dimensions.
How Aid for Trade can Complement Climate Finance (Trade for Development News)
With climate change on everyone’s mind ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), what are the key issues on the table for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs)? LDCs pump out insignificant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, yet their populations stand to be hit the hardest as a result of climate change. LDC economies heavily rely on agriculture, which is highly vulnerable in the face of higher temperatures, more frequent floods and rising sea levels.
Kenya upset over stalled talks on jab IP rights (The East African)
As countries prepare for the November 30 to December 3, 2021 World Trade Organisation ministerial conference, Kenya has joined other members in expressing disappointment over stalled discussions to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and drugs. The waiver was first proposed in October 2020 by India and South Africa, and is expected to cover several aspects of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The latest WTO meeting of the Council for TRIPS on October 13 and 14 failed to unlock the impasse, and a second one is expected to be held on November 22 and 23 before the ministerial conference. Kenya, Eswatini, and Tanzania are among countries co-sponsoring the WTO IP waiver, supported by more than 100 countries, including the US, saying it will save lives by allowing developing countries to produce Covid vaccines. Only a handful of WTO members including the EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland are still opposed to the waiver.
This discussion takes place in the context of a number of worrying trends across the continent. COVID-19 has created additional socioeconomic burdens on countries’ efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
across Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty, inequalities and all the drivers of conflict. It has undercut the provision of public services, disrupted supply chains, slowed economic activity, and hampered peace agreements and conflict resolution. Despite these worrisome developments, the people of Africa are determined to work relentlessly for a more prosperous, sustainable and peaceful continent. One based on shared values and the universal principles of human rights.
While our partnership with the African Union and subregional organizations is a necessary condition for peace, security, humanitarian, development, and justice in Africa, we also recognize that all Member States need to support these efforts.
In the Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda, he underlined the need to re-embrace global solidarity to find new ways to work together for the common good of all people in every country, grounded in human rights and through a stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system.
Despite the pandemic, African countries have shown remarkable resilience. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates, economic growth will expand at 3.4 per cent in 2021, but African countries are in urgent need of liquidity and debt relief to create jobs, expand social protection and reverse poverty trends. Recovery must be grounded in advancing just transitions in key areas such as energy, food systems, digital connectivity and infrastructure. Urgent action is needed to speed up the re-channelling of special drawing rights (SDRs) and increase fiscal space. Spurring these transitions and implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area — a major achievement for the region — will facilitate trade, help reduce emissions, support those who are shifting from the brown economy and create new jobs geared to the economy of tomorrow for Africa’s burgeoning youth population. It could also boost the region’s combined GDP by $44 billion and create millions of jobs. In addition, digital transformation offers the potential to considerably accelerate trade, job creation and access to services.
And as we look to a sustainable and green recovery out of COVID-19 and to meet the promises of the 2030 Agenda, we should redouble our commitment to strengthening our institutions to respond to the needs of all people — especially women, youth, and minorities. One powerful litmus test will be ensuring the full representation of women as countries make the journey to peace and stability.
For leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) nations, this weekend’s summit in Rome presents an opportunity for post-pandemic celebration: Their response to the COVID-19 crisis showcased policymakers’ capacity to transcend politically expedient “beggar thy neighbor” reflexes and instead pursue a cooperative, multilateral approach.
The G20, which accounts for around 80 percent of global GDP, must enhance the impact of SDRs where they are most needed, such as in low-income countries (LICs). That would set the world on a path toward synchronized recovery in the short-term and global income convergence in the medium- and long-term.
Across the developing world, the newly issued SDRs will reduce countries’ exposure to exchange-rate volatility and mitigate liquidity constraints associated with elevated balance of payment pressures. This will be especially impactful in Africa, where the allocation could help countries confront myriad challenges, including weathering currency gyrations, replenishing dwindling foreign-exchange reserves (which declined by 27 percent in 2020), and financing essential imports, such as COVID-19 vaccines.
High-income countries that have drawn on effective advance purchase agreements and hoarded vaccines have also received nearly 60 percent of SDRs (or 65 percent when including China). This is despite the fact that they do not genuinely need SDRs, since most enjoy the exorbitant privilege of issuing a reserve currency. Conversely, LICs that do not enjoy the same privileges have been wildly disadvantaged: Only 0.5 percent of vaccines worldwide have been administered in LICs, compared to 77 percent in high- and upper-middle-income countries. But there is a problem: The global distribution of this financial shot in the arm is just as skewed as the supply of inoculations against COVID-19.
An international financial transactions tax is needed to curb damaging short-term capital flows and fund the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Besides acting on climate policy and its financing, the G20 Rome Summit on Saturday and Sunday should also support the long-pending agenda of an international financial transactions tax. The G20 Leaders, at their 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, agreed to consider the case for such a tax in view of its potential to curb the volatility caused by short-term capital flows and to raise resources for poorer countries in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. However, the 2011 Cannes Summit failed to endorse the proposal for an international financial transactions tax, despite strong support from France, which held the G20 presidency at that time, and other European countries. The failure to act on the tax proposal has cost the world dearly. The quantitative easing in the Western world following the global financial crisis led to a deluge of short-term capital flows to emerging markets, chasing good returns, which resulted in booming stock-market valuations and exchange rate appreciations. However, the boom was followed by a sharp correction in valuations following the tapering of the quantitative easing in 2013. The once booming emerging markets soon became the “fragile five”.
MENA countries are on the cusp of important regional integration initiatives that will provide much needed efficiency gains, diversification, trust building and green growth. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a region of abundant human and natural resources, shared culture and languages and a well-established heritage of skill in trade. With a total population close to that of the European Union, the MENA region is, however, the least economically integrated in the world. As they strive to create more jobs, attract more investment, boost growth and recover from the pandemic, countries of the MENA region today have a strong economic incentive to accelerate their efforts at regional integration.
The MENA region has been at the crossroads of regional trade throughout history. Countries have previously established a host of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements, with limited tangible outcomes. The benefits of regional integration include growth spillovers, larger markets, and production scale economies. These are well recognised by MENA economists, traders and farmers alike. What is lacking is not a rationale or capacity to integrate, but rather a sense of urgency to prioritise and move forward with integration. Opportunities for regional integration include energy and water and certain geographic regions within MENA. These would benefit from advanced dialogue, foundational technical work, and the promise of strong and near-immediate positive economic impact.
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta to convene climate talks at UN conference (The East African)
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead talks on Africa’s crucial role in tackling the climate crisis at the United Nations climate conference (COP26) starting in Glasgow, Scotland, next week.
Representatives from nearly 200 countries meet in Glasgow, from October 31 to November 12 to flesh out the rules of a new global climate pact. Mr Kenyatta is a member of the Giants Club alongside the presidents of Botswana, Gabon, Uganda, Mozambique and Rwanda. Lord Lebedev, a shareholder of The Independent, is the Giants Club’s patron. The forum brings together political and private sector leaders to support nature conservation in Africa. Next week’s COP26 event will feature contributions from the heads of state, or their senior representatives, from all the Giants Club countries. “COP26 must focus on an African solution to our global climate problem,” Mr Lebedev said in a statement. “We need to preserve Africa’s carbon sinks if we are to stand a chance of saving our planet. Together, African governments, the private sector and the global community can help to sustain Africa’s natural habitat – and combat climate change.”
Vulnerable countries are stepping up amidst a slow response from some of the biggest emitters on the climate crisis. A new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ahead of the upcoming COP26 climate negotiations reveals that while 93% of Least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) had submitted enhanced national climate pledges, or plan to do so, the G20 has been dragging its feet on adhering to the core principles of the Paris Agreement to “ratchet up” their climate ambition.
World needs $5 tln in annual climate finance by 2030 to act fast (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Climate finance needs to rise sharply to $5 trillion a year globally by 2030 to fund measures to fight climate change, researchers said on Thursday, warning that transformation across economies is too slow to meet international temperature goals. From transport to agriculture and electricity, progress is lagging in all sectors on reducing planet-heating emissions at the pace required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid its worst effects, a study by five green groups found.
"Although there are some encouraging signs of progress in a few sectors, overall global climate mitigation efforts are still falling woefully short," said Sophie Boehm, one of the authors.
"We're going to need world leaders at COP26 and beyond to ramp up that (climate) ambition and action immediately," Boehm told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Two U.N. reports warned this week that the world is "way off track" to cap rising temperatures, with current national pledges set to result in an average 2.7C temperature increase this century.
Climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries for climate action in developing countries looks likely to reach USD 100 billion in 2023, according to new OECD analysis. The annual goal for developed countries to provide and mobilise USD 100 billion of climate finance per year for climate action in developing countries was due to have been met in 2020 and to be sustained to 2025. The last OECD assessment of progress, released in September, showed that climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries totalled USD 79.6 billion in 2019, up only 2% from 2018. The USD 100 billion mark is unlikely to have been met in 2020, although the necessary verified data needed to finalise this determination officially will not be available before 2022.
The new OECD analysis released today – Forward-looking scenarios of climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries in 2021-2025 – sets out two scenarios for future climate finance. These are based on detailed OECD analysis of forward-looking public climate finance commitments received from developed countries and projections of climate finance from Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), communicated in the context of the donors’ Delivery Plan.
Almost half of all energy-related CO2 emissions in G20 economies are now covered by a carbon price, as several countries introduced or extended carbon taxes or emissions trading systems in the last few years. More needs to be done using the full range of policy tools, if countries are to match their long-term climate ambitions with outcomes, according to a new OECD report. Carbon Pricing in Times of COVID-19: What has changed in G20 economies? finds that G20 economies priced 49% of CO2 emissions from energy use in 2021, up from 37% in 2018.
“G20 economies are lifting their ambition and efforts, including through the explicit and implicit pricing of carbon emissions. However, progress remains uneven across countries and sectors and is not well enough coordinated globally. We need a globally more coherent approach which enables countries to lift their ambition and effort to the level required to meet global net zero by 2050, with every country carrying an appropriate and fair share of the burden while avoiding carbon leakage and trade distortions,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said. “Carbon prices and equivalent measures need to become significantly more stringent, and globally better coordinated, to properly reflect the cost of emissions to the planet and put us on the path to genuinely meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.”
Three UN Agencies Announce New Financing Mechanism to Boost the International Response to Climate Change (Alliance for Hydromet Development)
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are to announce at COP26 a new United Nations Coalition Fund to significantly improve the collection of essential weather and climate data and boost the international response to climate change. The Systematic Observations Finance Facility (the SOFF) will plug the data gaps that undermine our understanding of past and current climate, as well as our capacity to predict and project future climate scenarios. This, in turn, weakens international efforts to prepare for and respond to extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes and drought.
Over the next ten years, the SOFF will build capacity in 75 Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries to enable them to generate and exchange essential weather and climate data, in compliance with internationally agreed standards of GBON.
Migration flows to OECD countries declined significantly, with much of the progress in migrant integration achieved over the past decade wiped out in just one year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the key findings of the latest OECD International Migration Outlook 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has also wiped out much of the progress in migrant integration achieved across OECD countries over the past decade. According to the OECD, governments should urgently pursue comprehensive and co-ordinated action to avoid the pandemic leading to a lasting setback on migrant integration, which would have major negative economic consequences and threaten overall social cohesion.
“The economic recovery is a key opportunity to ensure the right migration and integration policy settings are in place. The vigorous pursuit of policy best practice on migrant integration will help us optimise the strength and the quality of this recovery and boost overall social cohesion,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said launching the report with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.