tralac Daily News
While economists have welcomed the revenue windfall which has been used to fund many of the adjustments in the medium-term budget, growth and debt still remain the main concerns. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivered his Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Thursday, forecasting growth of 5.1% for this year.He announced a gross tax revenue of R120 billion more due to an uptick in commodity prices and revenue from mines.
Industry calls for railway rehab (The Herald)
Industry players have challenged government to prioritise resuscitation of the country’s dilapidated railway network — one of the key economic enablers — if the country is to realise meaningful industrialisation and export business. Despite being at the heart of the North-South corridor, a dilapidated railway network in the country has lately prompted transporters of merchandise to resort to move their goods by road, to the detriment of roads whose life span is being shortened due to heavy cargo. Good road and rail networks are vital for efficient transportation of manufactured goods, as the former is the cheapest mode of cargo transportation that enhances competiveness of local produce at the export markets.
Kenya’s mega-railway project leaves society more unequal than before (The Conversation)
In 2014, Kenya started to construct a new railway to connect the Mombasa Port with the interior and on to landlocked Uganda and Rwanda. Today the Standard Gauge Railway stops abruptly at Naivasha, 120km northwest of Nairobi. Ultimately it is planned to reach the border with Uganda at Malaba, helping to connect East Africa’s regional transport and trade. Costing US$3.8 billion, 90% of which has been provided by a bilateral loan from the Exim Bank of China to the Government of Kenya, this new passenger and freight railway is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of independent Kenya. Alongside other large projects such as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor, the Standard Gauge Railway is central to Kenya’s current national development policy, “Vision 2030”. The policy frames these mega-projects as key in attracting the sort of private sector interest needed to fuel economic growth, increase exports and alleviate poverty.
The reality, however, is far more complicated than such official narratives acknowledge.
Mining accounts for 12% of Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product. Among the wide range of minerals, gold stands out. Large miners produce up to one ton of gold per month, with smaller producers churning out 1.9 tons. To accelerate the recovery of the sector after the pandemic, authorities are seeking $8 billion to reopen closed mines.
Zim, Mozambique push for one-stop border posts (The Herald)
Zimbabwe and Mozambique are pushing for the implementation of agreed projects including the setting up of a pair of one-stop border posts at Forbes-Machipanda and Nyamapanda-Cuchamano and the construction of a second pipeline from Beira to Mutare and Harare. The 12th session of the Joint Permanent Commission on cooperation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique hosted by Zimbabwe yesterday is now seeking action to convert agreements into changes on the ground.
Mitumba imports up 80pc on weak shilling, end of ban (Business Daily)
The value of second-hand clothes imports grew 80 percent in the first half of the year as State lifted a ban in the second quarter.Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that the value of these clothes, popularly known as mitumba, went up to Sh9.2 billion in the review period from Sh5.1 billion in corresponding time last year.Kenya Bureau of Standards had in late March last year suspended the importation of used clothing after the country reported its first case of Covid-19.This precautionary measure was meant to safeguard handlers and users of used textiles and shoes from any risk of exposure to coronavirus as the world grappled with the fast-spreading pandemic.However, the standards body lifted the ban in August last year, giving hope to millions of Kenyans who rely on second-hand clothes.
Munya puts sugar cartels on notice in reforms push (Business Daily)
The government has vowed to eradicate cartels exploiting sugarcane farmers.Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya termed as unfortunate that unscrupulous businessmen are making huge profits at the expense of farmers who toil to produce the key raw material for the manufacturing of the sweetener.”We cannot allow the situation where a farmer who has used his energy and resources to farm and develop the cash crop ends up with nothing,” he said.Mr Munya pointed out they will continue to implement President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive and clean up the once-lucrative sector which has been riddled with a myriad of challenges.”The government will do everything in its capacity to restore the confidence of farmers who had abandoned the cash crop and restore the profitability of the sector,” he said.
US top diplomat Antony Blinken to visit Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal (The East African)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal next week, where he will discuss ending the Covid-19 pandemic and battling climate change, his spokesman said Thursday. Blinken will meet with the president of each country to “advance US-Africa collaboration on shared global priorities,” state department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. Other topics of conversation on the agenda for the Monday to Saturday trip include revitalizing democracies, advancing peace and security, and a more inclusive global economy, Price said.
Tanzania leads the other East African Community (EAC) partner states in attracting investments from the United States, the world’s largest economy.
According to EABC - an apex body of private sector associations in the region - total foreign direct investments from the US to Tanzania was $1.5 billion in 2019. Tanzania is followed by Kenya - which received $353 million in the same year - followed by Uganda $42 million, Rwanda ($11 million) and Burundi which managed to attract $1 million in the same year (2019).
The agreement, signed on Wednesday, outlines several areas of collaboration, including showcasing trade and investment opportunities in the EAC bloc. These include industrial exchange programmes and trade missions to the USA, joint exhibitions and conferences, training programmes and certifications.
Dar port impresses Ugandan traders (The Citizen)
Uganda transporters and traders have expressed their satisfaction with the services provided by Tanzania in transportation of cargoes via Dar es Salaam port. This was revealed recently when Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) director general Eric Hamissi led a delegation of officials from his office, the Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (Tasac), the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) and members of the private sector in a visit to Uganda. The visit, among other things, aimed at ensuring that goods destined for Uganda passing via the Dar es Salaam Port were handled and transported smoothly.
“This is good for development of trade in the East African Community (EAC) and the region in general,” said representative of the Roofings Group, Mr Stewart Mwesigwa.
The Association of Ghana Industries is warning of a possible collapse of local manufacturing industries if government does not review the 50% Benchmark Policy on imported products, the Vice President in charge of SMEs, Humphrey Anim-Dake has said. Ahead of the 2022 budget, the AGI has urged government to exempt sectors such as agribusiness, pharmaceutical and heavy industry from the policy. It has already sent the proposal to the Finance Ministry. “Instead of the universal application of the policy to all imports, AGI believes imports which come to compete with locally manufactured products be exempted from the policy. It is important for government to cushion local products for which there is local production capacity. Secondly, we urge government to maintain the benchmark policy for manufacturers that import raw materials to help grow the real economy”, Mr. Anim-Dake pointed out.
Nigeria’s digital currency: what the eNaira is for and why it’s not perfect (The Conversation)
Nigeria recently became the first African country to introduce a digital currency. It joins the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in being among the first jurisdictions in the world to roll out national digital currencies.
A digital currency is a means of payment or money that exists in a purely electronic form. Central bank digital currencies are issued and regulated by the nation’s monetary authority, or central bank, and backed by the government. They are different from existing electronic central bank money, which is provided by central banks but can only be used by banks and selected financial institutions. When financial institutions pay each other, they pay in reserves from accounts held with a central bank. Before central bank digital currencies, the only way consumers could use money that is a direct liability of a central bank was with physical cash. Existing digital retail payment from customer deposits accounts in banks are based on money that is the liability of the institution providing the account, not a central bank. A central bank digital currency is a direct liability on the central bank and is available to all households and businesses giving them access to electronic central bank money.
The Government of Liberia, with support from UNDP and UNWOMEN, will undertake a series of consultations with Liberian women entrepreneurs involved in cross-border trade to sensitize them about the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which became operational in January 2021. The consultations will highlight the opportunities presented by the continental free trade area as well as provide a forum for women traders to identify and find solutions to the challenges they encounter when trading across borders. “The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement presents an immense opportunity for Liberia’s growth and prosperity by making it easier for entrepreneurs and businesses to move seamlessly from one country to another to buy and sell their goods and services without unnecessary tariff and non-tariff barriers. However, to accomplish this goal, the operationalization of the agreement must be fair and inclusive by engaging and listening to women traders who account for about 70% of the trade that happens across African borders,” said Stephen Rodriques, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Liberia.
Ghana/Japan forge stronger economic ties - Graphic Online (Graphic Online)
In a bid to strengthen business exchanges between Ghana and Japan, the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) has officially opened its office in Ghana. The JETRO Office in Ghana is expected to focus on three main pillars of activities which include; trade and investment promotion, exhibitions and business delegation in Ghana and Japan; and research and policy proposals.
Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros, attended the business forum on investment in his country, held at the Business Centre at Expo 2020 Dubai.Several Emirati and international officials and investors also attended the event.In his speech, President Assoumani called on the audience to invest and forge partnerships in his country and engage in exchanging innovative ideas and expertise. He also encouraged them to cooperate with his country’s private sector to develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).The Comoros is still a country with unrealised potential, he added, noting there are numerous opportunities for investing in various sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, energy, transport, social services, renewable energy and the green economy.
The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) will see Durban host key figures from the world of trade, including entrepreneurs, financiers, governments and regulators, on one platform to deliberate on trade acceleration and investment throughout the African continent. Organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, IATF2021 is being held at Durban International Convention Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from 15 to 21 November 2021. IATF2021 is expected to attract over 10,000 attendees from across Africa with US$40 billion of trade and investment deals set to be concluded at the event, meaning the conference offers unrivalled business and commercial networking opportunities and will boost intra-African trade and investment.
Tourism, transportation summits on AfCFTA, boost for post COVID-19 recovery (Blueprint Newspapers)
The tourism and transportation industries worldwide have been most affected by the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic that has ravaged the world for close to two years now. The pandemic forced every country to shut her borders against visitors in a manner never seen before. Travel and tourism businesses shrunk by about 80 per cent leading to the collapse of tourism business and other ancillary services that depend on movement of people to survive. The loss suffered by the global tourism industry is put in the region of $4 trillion.
There is a unanimity, however, among African experts in the tourism and transportation industry that the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA), an initiative of the African Union (AU), will play a key role in the process. It is in the light of this that the 2021 edition of the National Tourism and Transport Summit (NTTS) holding in Abuja from the 15 to the 16th of November will focus on the theme: Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative.
Under the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program, ITFC, Afreximbank, BADEA and ARSO to Organize a High-level Roundtable on the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices in Africa (Afreximbank)
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), in partnership with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and the African Organization for Harmonization (ARSO) announce the organization of a roundtable on the sidelines of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) on 17th November 2021 at 10:30 – 12.30pm (South Africa Time). The hybrid event will serve as a platform to provide update on their common project called “Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices in Africa”. The initiative which was launched under the umbrella of the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program in 2020, aims at harmonising African standards for pharmaceuticals and medical devices thereby enhancing intra-African trade and investment, reducing substandard counterfeit products, and building resilient regional health systems.
Connecting Africa Through Sealink Project (Leadership)
There is presently an undue exploitation of African businesses by international shipping companies. From West zone through North to South and Easter Africa, the continent is being browbeaten in the crucial but relegated maritime transport business. Prior to outbreak of COVID-19 that has impacted Africa negatively, movement of goods through the waters has been very difficult; most times the delays lead to retention charges set by shipping lines. A review of Africa’s maritime transport by the UNCTAD estimates that the drop in Africa’s exports is at -35% and the drop in imports at -25%. The situation was worse in 2020. By late June 2020, the drop in the number of ships call in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at -9.7% while the drop in container ship calls stood at -12.7%, according to the review. The impact on bulk shipping was less pronounced. Port calls by dry bulk carriers declined by 7.7% while calls by wet bulk carriers was less affected, falling by 1.4 % only.
Chairperson of the Sealink implementation committee, Mr Dabney Shall-Holma said the Sealink project was conceived to ensure the integration of the west and central African sub region by trade which is trade integration but also to stretch it across the continent of Africa and ensure the improvement in the intra-African trade statistics. The aim is to remove the huge logistics challenges and non-tariff measures along the ECOWAS trade corridor
Freight forwarding and shipping is a multifarious area of activity. Marine and air transport systems are inherently international in nature and assume multi-stakeholder dimensions, compounding the situation even further. The nature of this sector according to UNCTAD and other experts, creates an analytical challenge in the sense that the sector plays an important role as an input production factor augmenting other economic sectors such as trade, tourism, energy and fishing. Despite the fact that a third of countries in Africa are landlocked, maritime transport is still the main gateway to the world marketplace. However, the contribution and integration of the continent in the global maritime trade and its participation in supply of shipping services has been relatively marginal.
Shipping connectivity of African countries is greatly influenced by their geolocations. Those countries located in the corners are the ones that are best connected, where international shipping routes connect to major ports and sub-regional load centers. These include Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Djibouti, Mauritius, Togo, respectively. With this inadequate shipping connectivity, Africa has to devise other means to better connect the continent to the global marketplace. What other better way to do this than using technology? Africa is now coming up with the right tech interventions for better shipping connectivity to the rest of the world.
Policy for recovery in Africa (Chatham House)
The Policy for Recovery in Africa Series is held in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and brings together expert speakers and decision-makers. They examine and exchange ideas on key challenges, potential solutions, and approaches for implementation as Africa
Since its outbreak in December 2019, the Covid 19 pandemic has spread quickly across the globe, threatening the existence of humanity, global economic integration, value chain supplies and human mobility in general.
The Covid-19 pandemic has proved to us that regional integration can play a critical role in meeting the supply and demand needs of goods and services in our region. The Secretariat has undertaken a study which has shown a huge export trade potential of US$ 101.1 billion using 2019 Trade Statistics. We need to promote sourcing of available products from within our region to promote regional trade and development.
Some of these obstacles could be overcome through enhancing our productive capacities, strengthening market information on availability of quality products within the region, establishing tailor-made production lines for products that are demanded by other COMESA Member States, reviving the COMESA Trade Fairs, enhancing dissemination of market information and developing a trade information system/catalogue of products produced within the region among others.
The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (SRO-WA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of The Gambia launched on Wednesday, in Banjul, in hybrid format, the 24th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for West Africa on the theme “Leveraging the Implementation of the AfCFTA to Build Resilient and Sustainable Economies in West Africa in the Covid-19 Era”.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia, Honourable Mambury Njie, said that “I want to challenge all participants in this very important meeting to critically discuss the specific policy issues with a view to coming up with sound policy recommendations for the sub-region.”
The Executive Secretary of ECA, Dr Vera Songwe said “One of the things that AfCFTA will be working on is to see that they provide more assistance to get the economy back on track”.
The NEPAD-Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) fifteen years’ anniversary report presents the achievements of the Special Fund during its first fifteen years of existence.
Africa: Egypt leads as most attractive investment market (The Africa Report)
Egypt has come out on top with Morocco and South Africa the second and third most robust markets for investment, according to the latest Rand Merchant Bank report titled ‘Where to Invest in Africa 2021’. Notably, smaller nations like Rwanda and Botswana moved up the rankings from position five and thirteen in 2020, to position four and five respectively in the latest index. The report highlights a trend amongst investors willing to bypass traditional markets in Africa in favour of smaller states with economic hygiene.
Nigeria and five African countries, yesterday, agreed to adopt the Yaoundé Code of Conduct (YCC) with a view to sustaining the low level of pirate attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea, GoG. The other countries are Ghana, Angola, Cameroon, Benin Republic, and Cote D’ Voire. The countries also agreed that relevant regional agencies must institutionalize a framework for regular dialogues that guarantee collaborative decision making and follow-ups from a response perspective so as to ensure that every part of the region is properly monitored and secured.
Lack of investment in data collection and use impeding development in Africa (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
African Union (AU) member states have been asked to invest in data collection, management, and governance to be able to effectively exploit resources for the good of the continent. The Project Manager for Fish Governance II at AUDA-NEPAD Dr. Clement Adjorlolo, says that the lack of the wherewithal to collect data and make it accessible for use by African countries is a major challenge.
“Organisations outside the continent are able to invest in data collection in Africa which is later stored in their countries,” he said and added, “Whenever such countries want to access the data there are restrictions. He noted that worse still, there is a lack of intra-Africa sharing of data, hence decision making on what can work on the continent is difficult.
Representatives of partners implementing the AUC-IOM-ILO-ECA Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP) met virtually on November 3 to assess progress and plan the next steps to expand the continental initiative. The multi-partner initiative was launched in June 2018 to strengthen the regulation of labour migration and mobility for inclusive economic growth and regional integration on the African Continent, with JLMP Priority - the first phase of the programme - funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for 9 million USD expected to come to an end this year.
COP 26 updates
Africa must have a comprehensive approach to climate resilience beyond adaptation financing, regardless of foreign contributions, experts said during a session titled “Adaptation Financing for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)”. The session, held on Monday on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow, was dedicated to the implementation of NDCs in East Africa.
In his opening remarks, Anthony Nyong, Africa Director of the Global Center on Adaptation, said finance was not the only requirement for implementing Nationally Determined Contributions in Africa. “It takes much more than just money to implement NDCs,” he said, noting that “we need a revolution in knowledge, proper planning and finances.” Nyong added that Africans cannot implement NDCs without recognizing it as a developmental challenge. “We abound with adaptation solutions; what we need is scale and speed. These solutions will largely be driven by the private sector and, armed with this knowledge, we will increase implementation of the NDCs through the private sector,” he stated.
In the opening days of this year’s COP26 international climate conference, a financing partnership was announced between South Africa and a consortium consisting of France, Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU). The partnership aims to support South Africa’s just transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and society. Essentially a just transition is one where no one is left behind. The partnership mobilises an initial R131 billion (US$8.5 billion) over the next three to five years. Some of this in the form of grants and some is concessional debt finance (cheaper than commercial debt).
AfDB launches climate change and green growth framework at COP26 (Engineering News)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has launched its Climate Change and Green Growth Framework – the first of its kind by any multilateral development bank – at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Speaking at the Africa Day celebrations at the Africa Pavilion earlier this week, AfDB climate and green growth division officer-in-charge and manager Al Hamndou Dorsouma said the framework strengthens the AfDB’s ambition and vision to address climate change and promote green growth, building on over a decade of targeted efforts and lessons learnt.
The negative societal effects of climate change, such as loss of life and livelihoods, are already and will continue to be tragic and severe, and are a key concern to governments and individuals. More frequent and severe weather events, as well as a delayed transition to a low-carbon economy and the increasingly material financial losses these directly and indirectly cause are also impacting the financial system, with potential systemic consequences for financial stability. The threat posed to the global financial system by climate-related risks is recognised by the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s 2021 report on climate-related financial risk and the Network for Greening the Financial System’s (NGFS) October 2021 progress report on global supervisory and central bank climate scenario exercises. Extreme weather events could lead to damage of physical assets, including real estate, productive capital, and infrastructure, consequent property and casualty insurance losses, damage to
The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 analyses and ranks to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of climate-related extreme weather events (storms, floods, heatwaves, etc.). The most recent data available for 2019 and from 2000 to 2019 were taken into account. The three countries most affected in 2019 were Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as the Bahamas. The Climate Risk Index (CRI) indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events, which countries should understand as warnings in order to be prepared for more frequent and more severe events in the future. Impacts from extreme-weather events hit the poorest countries hardest as these are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard, have a lower coping capacity and may need more time to rebuild and recover.
Africa was high on the agenda as world leaders met in Glasgow on 1 and 2 November for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The World Leaders Summit, hosted by Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, resulted in global and historic commitments concerning deforestation, reducing methane emissions and signing up for a clean technology breakthrough agenda, among others. For African leaders, led by Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and current Chairperson of the African Union, the focus remained on securing climate finance for responding to climate change in Africa — specifically the $100-billion targeted annually for climate finance to underdeveloped countries, which has not yet been delivered.
Several rich countries have decoupled GDP growth from emissions (The Economist)
EVERY YEAR, carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into the atmosphere from dirty combustion and power plants. Over the past two centuries, more than 1trn tonnes of greenhouse gases have caused the Earth’s temperature to rise. Dramatic reductions in emissions are needed to limit global warming. It looks at last as though this might be happening. A recent report from the Global Carbon Project, a research organisation, found that over the past decade global CO2 emissions have started to reach a plateau.
Urgent steps must be taken to change the “toxic” tone of negotiations relating to the irreversible impacts of climate change, science and civil society leaders have told political leaders at COP26. Delegates say wealthy countries have been digging in their heels against calls from climate-impacted countries for financial support to both avoid and address loss and damage. Non-government climate leaders have said that climate finance, particularly for loss and damage, is among the most important issues for developing countries to be discussed at the climate summit. But some say that the space to thrash out the problem has been restricted, with loss and damage talks being pushed to the sidelines.
Today, at the mandated UN High-Level Event for Global Climate Action - “Racing to a Better World”- the High-Level Climate Champions, Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, formally reported to Parties on the progress made by non-state actors, and set-out the five-year plan -- Improved Marrakech Partnership for Enhancing Ambition -- to accelerate delivery during this decisive decade.
With significant new commitments from real economy actors on mitigation, adaptation, and mobilization of finance, focus turns now to driving implementation. At the event, the High-Level Climate Champions alongside the Marrakech Partnership (a global alliance of more than 320 major initiatives, coalitions, and NGOs), presented their five year plan, which has also been summarised today in the Yearbook of Global Climate Action.
Advocates for renewable energy and addressing climate change are applauding a new renewable energy alliance between a trio of philanthropic mega-donors — Bezos Earth Fund, IKEA Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation — and financial institutions, saying it could be instrumental in speeding up the development of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But the ambitious initiative also could face challenges as it gears up for quick action and works to implement accountability measures.
The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet was launched last week during COP 26. According to a press release, the initiative is launching with $10 billion but wants to “unlock $100 billion in public and private capital” to address three areas: reaching 1 billion people with renewable energy, averting 4 billion tons of carbon emissions, and creating or improving 150 million jobs. It is focused on the global south.
This year’s Trade Policy Day focused on the theme of the EU’s trade policy in a changing world. The WTO-based multilateral trading system and regional and bilateral agreements feature as an integral part of the EU’s new Trade Policy launched last February. At a panel discussion on EU trade policy in a time of economic transformation and geopolitical instability, Committee members and stakeholders expressed a strong interest in the upcoming Ministerial Conference (MC12), which they view as a key opportunity for the WTO to highlight its role as a multilateral leader and to achieve substantial outcomes.
Speaking alongside EU Director-General for Trade Sabine Weyand and former South African Minister of Trade Rob Davies, DDG Paugam also underscored the importance of MC12 and the need to demonstrate that the WTO can deliver.
Facilitators of small group discussions reported on the work completed in recent weeks to find common ground in the areas of e-invoicing, cybersecurity, customs duties on electronic transmissions, open internet access and paperless trading. They reported that convergence is within reach for the latter two areas.
Members revisited the text proposals on non-discriminatory treatment of digital products. These proposals were most recently discussed at a meeting in February 2020. Members also discussed a recently submitted proposal on implementation periods for developing and least-developed countries for the future agreement on e-commerce.
The constraints faced by WTO economies due to recent spikes in shipping costs was the focus of intensive discussions on 10 November between WTO delegates, academics and representatives from the private sector.
Experts call for Improved Protection of African Fisheries (Inter Press Service)
With subsidies of global fisheries back on the World Trade Organisation’s agenda, experts are calling for African governments to upscale the protection of the sector long plagued by activities that continue to threaten the continent’s blue economy.
The chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, earlier in November 2021 presented a revised draft text on fisheries subsidies. This will be used for discussions aimed at resolving remaining differences ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference from November 20 to December 3. The Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called the subsidies “harmful” when the ministers met on July 15. She said she was cautiously optimistic that there could be an agreement on how to cap subsidies that contribute to overfishing.
By the end of 2021, the global food import bill should extend beyond $1.75 trillion, marking a 14 per cent increase from the previous year, and 12 per cent higher than the previous forecast. According to FAO’s new Food Outlook, trade in foodstuffs has shown “remarkable resilience” to disruptions throughout the pandemic, but rapidly rising prices, pose significant challenges for poorer countries and consumers.
European Commission President von der Leyen and United States President Biden agreed today to start discussions on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium. This marks a new milestone in the transatlantic relationship, and in EU-US efforts to achieve the decarbonisation of the global steel and aluminium industries in the fight against climate change. The two Presidents also agreed to pause the bilateral World Trade Organization disputes on steel and aluminium. This builds on our recent successes in rebooting the transatlantic trade relationship, such as the launch of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council and the suspension of tariffs in the Boeing-Airbus disputes. Steel and aluminium manufacturing is one of the highest carbon emission sources globally. For steel and aluminium production and trade to be sustainable, we must address the carbon intensity of the industry, together with problems related to overcapacity. The Global Arrangement will seek to ensure the long-term viability of our industries, encourage low-carbon intensity steel and aluminium production and trade, and restore market-oriented conditions. The arrangement will be open to all like-minded partners to join.
The US and EU have “grounded and addressed the two biggest trade irritants” lingering from the Trump administration and are now focused on strengthening the multilateral trading system, the EU’s trade chief said. In October, the US and EU agreed to pause tariffs on more than $10bn (€8.7bn) worth of transatlantic goods as “part of a broader reset” following four tumultuous years under former President Donald Trump, EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview yesterday at a Financial Times conference. A major component of the truce allows the EU to export 3.3 million tonnes of steel to the US without a 25pc Trump-era tariff, but any exports above that quota will be charged the duty.
Are the EU and UK heading for a trade war? (Gulf News)
If there is one thing that is predictable with the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson it is the lack of clarity on Brexit. It may be a matter of time before the Johnson government pulls the plug on the Brexit deal it negotiated with the European Union, saying that the Northern Ireland “protocol” isn’t working. There are several sure signs this is about to happen.
The world’s historic pivot toward curbing carbon emissions is likely to spur unprecedented demand for some of the most crucial metals used to generate and store renewable energy in a net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario. A resulting surge in prices for materials such as cobalt and nickel would bring boom times to some economies that are the biggest exporters—but soaring costs could last through the end of this decade and could derail or delay the energy transition itself.
The extent of damage left by the illegal tobacco trade (Daily Maverick)
Illicit tobacco trade is an intricate problem. There is more to it than meets the eye, as it’s often linked to much larger criminal syndicates such as corruption, organized crime, tax evasion, and money laundering. Altogether, the illegal tobacco trade has become the third-largest ‘supplier’ of tobacco in the world, and the estimated loss of tax revenues around the globe is approximately USD 40 billion. This means that for every 1% we can ‘take back’ from the criminals, governments may effectively increase their revenue by USD 400 million. This loss of revenue has the domino effect of affecting the viability of otherwise law-abiding players in the tobacco industry.