Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


South Africa urges careful planning for end of coal (Engineering News)

South Africa’s energy department has said it will start preparing for the end of coal-for-power use in the country but cautioned that a retreat from the dirtiest fossil fuel must take account of the impact on the economy and the people who depend on it for a living. In a presentation to a small group of business, government and research representatives on November 15, the department said it plans to set up a Just Energy Transition unit to help deliver an outcome “which delivers social justice,” according to a copy of it seen by Bloomberg. While the department declined to immediately comment on the presentation, four people with knowledge of it confirmed its veracity.

Natural gas development crucial for Namibia (New Era)

Namibia considers its oil and natural gas resources to be crucial to its socio-economic development. This is according to deputy mines and energy minister, Kornelia Shilunga, who was speaking on Tuesday at the 23rd Africa Energy Forum in London, which commenced on Monday and concluded yesterday. However, Shilunga noted that despite recent exploration efforts thus far, the only commercially exploitable petroleum discovery is the Kudu Gas Field offshore Namibia. “Given that natural gas will play a major role as the world transit from carbon-based energy resources to renewable resources, the development of the indigenous natural gas is crucial to Namibia and the SADC region to secure affordable and reliable electricity while safeguarding our environment.”

IMF says will not provide financial support to Zimbabwe due to unsustainable debt (Ecofin)

Zimbabwe will not receive financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a November 16 statement, the institution said the decision is due to “an unsustainable debt and official external arrears”. Although the Fund welcomes the efforts made so far by the authorities to contain inflationary pressures, it points out that Harare’s debt problems are a major obstacle to its eligibility for an aid program. Zimbabwe has been trapped in a decade-long economic crisis that has coincided with a gradual increase in its debt, particularly the external debt. The country’s GDP rose from $12 billion to $16.7 billion between 2010 and 2020 (World Bank). However, its total external debt rose from $6.7 billion to $12.7 billion, or 76% of GDP, over the period.

Chinese, Kenyan traders launch chamber of commerce (The East African)

Chinese and Kenyan traders have launched a chamber of commerce in Nairobi, seeking to connect their scattered operations in the two countries into a lobbying machinery. And the Kenyan government says the move to create the Kenya-China Chamber of Commerce will be an arena for businesspeople to learn from one another and cut out suspicions. Trade Principal Secretary Johnson Weru said the Chamber, which will include registered Kenyan and Chinese firms, will be part of a long-term goal of improving contacts between the two sides, beyond government channels. “This institution will further promote the friendship and deepen exchanges and cooperation,” he said after the organisation was launched in Nairobi on Wednesday. “Together we have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win cooperation. Our cooperation has set a good example for building a new type of international relations.”

Kenya sends team to unlock EU mango ban (The East African)

Kenya has dispatched a delegation to Brussels to lobby for resumption of mango exports to the lucrative European Union market. The team, led by Directorate of Horticulture and Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service (Kephis) officials, is steering negotiations to have the country access the market after nearly a decade of having not exported the produce to the EU. Kenya imposed a ban on export of its mangoes to Europe in 2012 for fears that the produce would be blacklisted due to high level of fruit flies, which are quarantine pests in the EU. The government is using the creation of pest free areas as a basis for having the ban lifted. The pest-free zones have been established in Makueni and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

How Tanzania can benefit fully from continental free trade area (The Citizen)

Business stakeholders yesterday said for Tanzania to really benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), then some pending trade barriers need to be addressed. “If we are to improve, we need to address the question of human resource skills and attitude gap which is very huge,” said Prof Mkumbo. He also urged investors in the country to build a regional and international competitive culture that will help them to move out of their comfort zones and fight for more successes. “The signing and ratification of the AfCFTA reminds us that our businesses need to be competitive. “As a government we are ready to facilitate by coming up with friendly policies and legislations. Members of the private sector too need to play their part.”

Clove exports soar as global prices increase (The Citizen)

The value of clove exports more than doubled to $40.6 million as prices of the produce increased in the world market. Clove is a key export cash crop in Zanzibar which also generates foreign earnings through tourism activities. Service receipts have been affected by the Covid-19 that has disrupted many economic activities around the world. According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), the value of exports of cloves increased to $40.6 million in the year ending September 2021, from $17.6 million recorded during a similar period in 2020.

Why Tanzania’s Sh1.3trillion IMF loan is now interest-free (The Citizen)

The Sh1.3 trillion loan given to Tanzania by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will draw no interest after the Washington-based international financial institution was satisfied with the government’s expenditure plans for the money. To help the Tanzanian economy recover from the adverse effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, IMF extended a total of $567 million as a loan, with $189 million of that being under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) programme, while $378 million was under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). In a statement released by the IMF on November 12, 2021, Tanzania will now obtain the funds fully on the concessional terms after RFI funds – which make up 66.7 percent of the quota - were repurchased and disbursement made from RCF resources.

UK trade envoy to invest £2.5bn in Uganda’s industrial parks (Monitor)

The UK trade envoy to Uganda, Lord Dolar Popat has committed to raise investment in Uganda’s industrial parks from £500m to £2.5bn in the next five years. Mr Popat made the revelation during a working visit to Uganda at Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve while checking on the progress of works. “I am pleased to say that we have £500m available to Uganda and we will raise it to £2.5bn to support Uganda achieve its target of setting up five industrial parks each year for the next five years. We will support Uganda through Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) as long as we complete this park (Namanve) to be a good role model for us. We are committed to investing in Uganda because it is my country of birth,” Mr Popat said. The development of infrastructure at Kampala Industrial Business Park commenced in July 2020 with Lagan Dott Namanve Limited as the engineering, procurement construction contractor.

Ken Ofori-Atta presents 2022 ‘Agyenkwa’ budget to parliament (GhanaWeb)

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ken Ofori-Atta characteristically arrayed in his trademark white Kaftan on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, presented the 2022 Budget Statement and Government’s Economic Policy in Parliament. He emphasized that the Budget Statement dubbed, ‘Agyenkwa’ Budget is aimed at strengthening the economy despite the Covid-19 menace and is focussed on jobs creation and skills training for the youth as well as entrepreneurship to address the growing unemployment in the country.

The right mix of training, mentoring, and online technologies can provide inclusive access to digital technologies in Ghana (World Bank)

Ghana has long served as a critical hub for telecoms cables linking Africa and Europe. But limited access and a lack of technical skills have put digital resources out of reach of many Ghanaians. The right mix of training, mentoring, and access to online technologies can help Ghanaians when it comes to health services, more opportunities for education, jobs, and entrepreneurship. The eTransform Ghana project, initiated by the Ghanaian government and supported by the World Bank, is tackling these challenges head-on. This $212 million project aims to provide inclusive access to digital technologies, strengthen institutional capacity, and accelerate the use of digital services.

Study: African Integration Beneficial for Moroccan Economy (Morocco World News)

Morocco’s current strategy has already set the country on track to being a regional and continental leader. A new study by the Moroccan Finance Ministry’s Studies and Financial Forecasts Department (DEPF) has established the positive effects of African integration on the Moroccan economy. “All the interventions highlighted the importance of the AfCFTA, which offers Africa an opportunity to harmonize its business environment and presents real hope for long-term development,” the Policy Center for the New South said in a press release.

Nigeria’s 2060 Net-zero Projection (This Day)

For Nigeria, it was revealed that the nation plans to zero out carbon emissions by 2060 through its Energy Transition Plan for achieving net-zero emissions. President Muhammadu Buhari made this pledge at the High-Level segment for Heads of State and Government. In his speech, Buhari, whose address was expected to highlight Nigeria’s key priorities and action to tackle climate change as well as progress on the country’s transition to low carbon economy, consistent with achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, said: “For Nigeria, climate change is not about the perils of tomorrow but about what is happening today. In our lifetime, nature has gone from a vast expanse of biodiversity to a shadow of itself. “We are investing in renewables, hydro-dams and solar projects. Nigeria is not looking to make the same mistakes that are being repeated for decades by others. We are looking for partners in innovation, technology and finance to make cleaner and more efficient use of all available resources to help make for a more stable transition in energy markets.

Cameroon and Chad signs new memorandum governing optical fiber transmission networks’ interconnection (Business in Cameroon)

On November 12, 2021, in Yaoundé, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications (Minpostel) Minette Libom Li Likeng and her Chadian peer Idriss Saleh Bachar signed a memorandum of understanding relating to the interconnection of Cameroonian and Chadian optical fiber transmission networks. This memorandum is in fact a revised version of an agreement existing since 2011. “This memorandum, which is a considerable breakthrough in the subregional digital integration process, reflects the two Heads of State’s desire to provide their countries with a secure and interconnected fiber-optic network to increase digital access, boost regional integration and achieve harmonious and integrated development of economies in the sub-region. Technically, the memorandum defines the legal contours initiating the establishment of high-speed communications networks between Cameroon and Chad,” the Minpostel said.

Malawi $1billion trade and investment deal to boost economy (ESI Africa)

Malawi is open for business: The East African country is pursuing various investment and trade deals to help boost their economy and in line with this have signed a $1 billion deal with Egyptian multinational electrical company, Elsewedy Electric. Following negotiations between President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and President and CEO of Elsewedy Electric, Ahmed Elsewedy, the Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on behalf of the government in Durban, South Africa. Gwengwe said Elsewedy will bring flagship investments into Malawi in sectors like energy, manufacturing, tourism among others that will help to boost the country’s economy.

Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) updates

IATF a key platform in propelling continental economic transformation – African Heads of State (African Union)

The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) kicked off with spectacular fanfare on 15th November. Under the theme “Building Bridges for a successful AfCFTA”, the fair attracted thousands of visitors at the Durban International Convention Centre on its Opening Day.

H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, declared in his keynote address that South Africa is ready to work with other African countries to drive more balanced, equitable and fair-trade relations for the benefit of the continent. “This Trade Fair is about building bridges. It is about connecting countries. It is about connecting people as well. Now Africa is taking concrete steps to write its own economic success story and this Intra-African Trade Fair is part of that story. Africa is opening up new fields of opportunity” he asserted.

On behalf of the Africa Union Chairperson, H.E Moussa Faki, the AU commissioner Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, H.E. Amb. Albert M. Muchanga said: “In collaboration with African Export Import Bank, we have created the Intra Africa Trade Fair (IATF) an All-Africa Trade Fair that is leveraging trade information in boosting intra-African trade and consequently, attaining and sustaining accelerated development which is both inclusive and sustainable… we also have the African Trade Observatory developed with financial support from the European Union and technical assistance from the International Trade Centre.”

At IATF, multilateral financiers discuss trade initiatives after Covid-19 (AfDB)

Multilateral financial institutions on Tuesday discussed their role in promoting trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an ambitious plan to create the world’s largest free trade zone since the founding of the World Trade Organization. Solomon Quaynor, Vice President at the African Development Bank, said between 2020 and 2021 the Bank planned to invest about $2 billion in projects related to the free trade zone, and to mobilize a further $2 billion from partners. The projects include regional infrastructure and industrialization.

“One of the impacts (of the pandemic) is that we had less resources to support the capital-raising efforts of the African multilateral financial institutions that we are already equity investors in. However, this is the time to turn that around,” Quaynor told the audience in Durban, the South African port city hosting this year’s Intra-African Trade Fair.

AfCFTA yet to take off fully, negotiations 87% completed – FG (International Center for Investigative Reporting)

The Nigerian government on Wednesday said the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is yet to fully take off despite officially coming into force on January 1, 2021. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Adeniyi Adebayo who disclosed this at the ongoing intra-African Trade Fair in Durban, South Africa, confirmed that the negotiations on the rules of origin which is stalling the take-off of the trade deal are 87 per cent completed. The rule of origin is a criterion where participating countries must source their products locally. There is also a provision to guide against trans-shipment of products outside the African market. Also, the rule of origin is enforced to ensure no country dumps goods in another country, thereby violating the objective of the trade deal which seeks to promote African products in African markets.

President Obasanjo Advocates for Made-In-Africa Brand to Instill Pride in African products - African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)

The third day of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) ended with a clarion call by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for the creation of an emblematic Made-in-Africa brand that will promote intra-African trade and boost the international export of African products. He said that the AfCFTA was working to remove the divisions that were brought about by colonialism, where Africa had been divided into regions based on the languages of the colonisers. According to him, the shared vision of IATF2021 participants and the traders at the Trade Fair is what will bring the AfCFTA to life.

In his contribution, Ebenezer Tafili, Deputy Director, Capacity Building, at the World Customs Organisation, said that the kind of operating environment needed to allow Africa’s ideas to flourish and leverage the free trade agreement was one where the political will of each country matched its potential to grow its manufacturing sector. “The AfCFTA needs political will to support its success, which requires collaborative private-public partnerships to ensure viability,” he said. “Without a strategy to change policy and allow for more manufacturing and industrialisation, the notion that Africans are merely consumers and not producers will continue to exist.”

Afreximbank signs US$1.04 Billion deal with NNPC at IATF2021 (Afreximbank)

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has signed a $US1.04 billion facility with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to finance the exploration of petroleum. The transaction comprises a Pre-Export/Shipment Finance Facility underpinned by a Forward Sale Agreement (FSA) and Offtake Contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation acting as the Borrower and Seller. Prof. Oramah added that Africa is more of a victim than a perpetrator in the emission of destructive greenhouse gases, contributing only a meagre 4%, while a majority of the Continent, ironically having been left behind development wise, still has to depend on fossil fuel for survival, and should thus not bear the brunt of the punishment for the mistakes of others. “Stopping development for parts of Africa today to achieve a clean environment for the whole world tomorrow is utterly foolhardy,” quipped Prof. Oramah.

Brand Africa to rank “Best Places in Africa” (BusinessGhana)

Brand Africa today launched “Brand Africa | Africa’s Best Places,” the pan-African initiative to recognize and rank the best places for tourism, investment and citizen mobilisation in Africa. The goal of the initiative is to inspire pride, raise the standards and grow the competitiveness of African places – countries, cities and destinations. The inaugural awards and rankings of the “Brand Africa | Africa’s Best Places” will be celebrated and published on 1 September 2022. The initiative builds on the inaugural Brand Africa Forum in 2010 which convened African and global place branding decision makers and thought leaders to reflect on how African nations individually and the continent collectively can develop a supranational competitive advantage.

Investment opportunities in Africa in full display at IATF’s Investor Forum (Africa Renewal)

A full day of deliberations focusing specifically on the automotive sector and the pharmaceuticals industry to help grow domestic manufacturing is also taking place. The investor day will focus on investment opportunities on the continent and unlocking cross-border investment by African national champions, focusing on some key sectors and learning from investors and companies who are committed and invested in the African continent.


AfCFTA could boost maritime trade in Africa (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2021 published on 18 November points to positive trends in maritime trade that might sustain economic growth in Africa, notably the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the potential of technology to facilitate the continent’s trade and transport. The continental free trade area has significant implications for maritime transport and services trade. “The AfCFTA is expected to increase demand for different modes of transport, including maritime transport, which in turn will increase investment requirements for infrastructure and equipment – ports

SSA economy on a steady recovery path (African Review)

After 2020 regional downturn, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) economy grew at 3.7% in 2021 led by expansion in industry and services but still experienced weaker growth in gross fixed investment. The 2021 recovery masks noticeable diversity across country groups. Growth projections for oil-exporters are (2.2%) due to lower forecast for Angola; non-oil resource-intensive countries (4.7%), reflecting elevated metal prices; and non-resource-intensive countries (4.1%) mainly due to anaemic growth in Ethiopia. While for tourism-dependent countries (Cabo Verde, Comoros, The Gambia, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles) – where travel/tourism constitute 18% of GDP on average – growth is expected at 4.5% or higher.

  • Nigeria’s economy (Africa’s largest) will grow by 2.6% in 2021, led by recovery in non-oil sectors and higher oil prices, even though crude production still remains below pre-Covid-19 levels. The IMF expects growth at under 3% level over the medium term, allowing GDP per capita to stabilise at current levels, notwithstanding deep-rooted structural problems and elevated uncertainties.

  • South Africa is expected to grow by 5% in 2021, reflecting faster first-half recovery and strong base effects from 2020 to its national accounts. Economic activity faltered in second-half due to June lockdown for four weeks, plus social unrest in some provinces, causing an estimated R50bn losses. Pace of structural reforms to labour and product markets likely to remain sluggish – with real GDP growth slowing to 2.2% in 2022.

Ten reasons to consider African trade and investment opportunities in 2022 (BusinessGhana)

1. Visible Green Shoots – Rising Commodity Prices

The pandemic closed borders and stopped trade, other than for essentials, across the continent and was the principal reason for a decline in investment in 2020. A lack of available capital and acquisition finance, as well as difficulties pricing deals in an uncertain market, also affected investment. Other reasons for declining investment, included that the levels of economic activity have slowed in the major African economies, such as Nigeria and South Africa. However, green shoots are visible and market fundamentals are signalling a region with underlying resilience. Commodity prices are rising and landmark deals are returning to the continent.

2. The Launch of AfCFTA

3. Shifting Patterns and Alternative Financing

4. Global Interest

5. Post-Pandemic Sector Potential

6. Digitization

7. Leapfrogging Traditional Energy Systems

8. Mending Chains

9. Competition Law And Enforcement

10. Environmental Social And Governance

Africa’s development banks: the urgent need for scale (LSE Business Review)

Developing countries in general, and African countries in particular, confront an enormous financing challenge to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), featuring prominently at the 2021 United Nations climate change conference (COP26). Yet, even prior to COVID-19 the prospects of mobilising the annual $2.5 trillion needed to meet the SDGs by 2030 was rapidly receding despite a global savings and liquidity glut. The bulk of SDG funding is needed to close gaps in electricity, transport and water infrastructure in ways that place the continent on a decisive trajectory towards net zero emissions. Concurrently, substantial funding is required for agricultural modernisation and greener industrialisation.

The moral case for international provision of large-scale concessional funding to Africa is overwhelming. African countries are projected to feel the impacts of climate change the most, despite accounting for a minuscule share of cumulative global C02 emissions. Climate funding from multilateral development banks (MDBs) has been growing, but it comes nowhere near the estimated annual African SDG financing gap of $200bn.

Enhancing Free Movement of Persons & Mobility of Labour will spur Africa’s Development (African Union)

The promotion of free movement of persons and mobility of labour are critical in spurring development in Africa. This was the rallying call at a meeting of representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa, the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and partners held from 9th to 12th November in Djibouti City.

The African Union recognizes regional integration and especially the free movement of workers as critical for development and migrant workers as crucial in the flow of goods, finance, and knowledge between countries of origin and destination and in building networks beneficial to communities of origin. “We commend all the RECs for the steps they have made in enhancing the integration agenda and labour migration governance across the continent, and the sustained interest for continued collaboration. IOM stands ready to support this agenda and to support the RECs at national and regional levels on the priorities that will be identified during this workshop,” Stéphanie Daviot, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Djibouti said.

African experts discuss food safety on the continent (Food Safety News)

Speakers at a roundtable discussion stressed the need to build capacity, engage policymakers, and use technology to improve food safety in Africa. Ade Freeman, regional program leader for Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers potential including the opportunity to develop regional value chains. “We know the challenges in Africa with close to a billion people not having access to affordable diets. There are new opportunities created by the AfCFTA and corresponding activities to reduce the risks in trade but also give greater access to market that would make food more affordable for the African population. It is a game-changer and if implemented well I think it will create huge market opportunities,” Freeman said.

AEF 2021: Africa could lead the way in renewables (African Review)

In the wake of COP26, at the Africa Energy Forum (AEF) 2021, heavy focus was placed on the role of renewables in the ongoing quest to end energy poverty on the continent

Wale Shonibare, director of Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation at AfDB, Côte d’Ivoire, on behalf of Kevin Kariuki, vice-president for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth at AfDB, said that the developed world has a duty to support Africa in achieving a successful and fair energy transition but that the continent must not follow in these countries footsteps. “Africa is growing at an accelerated pace and so is the energy demand but the world cannot allow Africa to follow the same development pathway as already developed countries. We are at the turning point and future generations will hold us accountable for our actions.”

EAC member states divided on common external tariff (The New

The East African Business Council (EABC), the top regional body of private sector associations and corporates, is proposing that partner states should adopt a 35 per cent maximum Common External Tariff (CET) rate, The New Times has learned. The development comes after drawn-out negotiations, involving stakeholders from the six-member bloc, highlighting divergent positions regarding a maximum CET rate of 30 per cent or 35 per cent.

John Bosco Kalisa, CEO of the East African Business Council (EABC), told The New Times that the EABC view is, clearly, that 35 per cent is appropriate to spur industrialisation and boost intra-regional trade. “It had been a challenge and the council of ministers needs to make a firm decision and agree on a middle ground to enable trade to take place,” Kalisa said. Ministers in charge of EAC affairs are scheduled to meet from November 26 to 27.

The EABC recommends, among others, that partner states should adopt 35 per cent as the maximum EAC CET rate to provide adequate tariff differential required to incentivize industrial development in the region; and that a maximum CET rate will safeguard goods that are sufficiently available or produced in the region against import surges from countries adopting unfair trade practices.

Why Nigeria, other West African countries must battle illegal fishing (Premium Times)

The 2019 Africa Blue Economy Strategy lists fisheries and aquaculture as one of seven crucial areas for creating sustainable blue economies. Fishing is seen as a relatively untapped sector for Africa’s development and prosperity. It is unlikely to bear fruit though, unless the exploitation of marine resources is curbed. Given the current crisis, urgent measures are needed in vulnerable coastal communities, particularly in West Africa where piracy, armed robbery and kidnapping are rampant. Illegal fishing in West Africa is a challenge on three levels. First, it jeopardises the management of fish stock by disrupting regulatory processes. To achieve a sustainable fishing sector, countries must manage the growth and depletion of fish stocks, enforce safety and operational rules, and delineate areas for fishing and conservation. The second challenge is the damage to food security in coastal communities, where fish provides a significant source of sustenance and, for some, their only income. And third, illegal fishing erodes community trust in law enforcement, creating a sense of lawlessness and neglect. This is an environment in which organised crime thrives, and together with a loss of livelihoods, can fuel local-level violence and other criminality.

First MTP working group activity to cooperate with West African Members on improving Rules of Origin capacity building (WCO)

The WCO held the working Group Activity one (WG1) on Rules of Origin (RoO) under the Master Trainer Programme for West Africa virtually from 8-12 November 2021.  This activity is the first of the Master Trainer Programme on Rules of Origin launched to support West African Customs administrations in developing a “Regional Experts Pool” for more sustainable capacity building in the region and cooperate for smooth and effective implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in entire Africa.

The Master Trainer Programme or MTP is a programme conducted under the WCO/JICA(Japan International Cooperation Agency) Joint Project to develop sustainable and self-contained training capacity by 1) developing a pool of well-experienced trainers and 2) regionally featured training materials and programme to be used by these trainers.


Members agree on workplan for standards and regulations committee for next three years (WTO)

Discussions on pandemic preparedness, climate change and plastics pollution are included in the workplan agreed by WTO members at a meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) on 10-12 November. The workplan is part of the Triennial Review of the TBT Agreement. Members also reviewed 89 specific trade concerns, 25 of which were raised for the first time, covering issues related to labelling, testing and safety of products.

WTO Finished Without TRIPS Waiver (Inter Press Service)

Quickly enabling greater and more affordable production of and access to COVID-19 medical needs is urgently needed in the South. Such progress will also foster much needed goodwill for international cooperation, multilateralism and sustainable development.

Supply shortages have disrupted vaccine supplies. IP monopolies block competition, making it hard to quickly increase supplies.

TRIPS provides 20-year monopolies for patents. These have often been ‘evergreened’, i.e., extended, sometimes indefinitely, ostensibly to reward additional innovation. Thus, most developing countries have been prevented from meeting their health needs more affordably. The temporary waiver would allow companies everywhere to produce the required items and use patented technologies without infringing IP. Supplies would increase and prices fall. Currently, access to COVID-19 needs is very inequitable, deepening the yawning gap between HICs and LICs.

Global Value Chain Campaign Seeks to Help Poorest Nations (Duke Today)

A few dozen economic and global development academics have launched a campaign to revamp global supply chains to help the world’s poorest countries compete more fairly. While clogged supply chains hinder the availability of products ranging from new cars to research equipment in the United States, the multilateral trading system needs changing to help the poorest countries and their 880 million people overcome structural challenges and eradicate poverty, among other goals. That’s according to a letter to the World Trade Organization (WTO) from Gary Gereffi, professor emeritus and founding director of the Global Value Chains Center at Duke, and signed by dozens of colleagues around the world.

Attempt to divide LDCs, developing nations: India (Times of India)

India has warned that there is an attempt to drive a wedge between developing and least developing countries (LDCs) on public stockholding and sought a permanent solution to provide comfort on an issue that is critical for procurement by agencies such as Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Ahead of the crucial ministerial meeting in Geneva from November 30, it is still a divided house. Some members, such as the US, are seeking a work programme after the meeting, while the EU and Canada, which shared the view during a meeting in Geneva on Monday, suggested they can support an expansion of public stockholding issue to LDCs.

At the meeting, India warned about the danger of differentiating LDCs from developing members for the sake of reaching a solution and cautioned other members against “falling into the trap”, sources said. There are also disagreements over expansion to new products.

Least developed countries at 50: Mid-life crisis or resilient maturity? (UNCTAD)

The category of the least developed countries (LDCs) was created 50 years ago by UN General Assembly Resolution 2768 (XXVI) of 18 November 1971. It followed the research and policy work done by UNCTAD since its inception, later complemented by the efforts of the Committee for Development Planning. At present these countries find themselves at a crossroads between remaining trapped in the traditional symptoms of underdevelopment or forging ahead and building resilience to intensifying shocks. In this context, the issue of the present suitability and efficiency of the measures put in place over the last 50 years to support these countries needs to be asked.

Remittance Flows Register Robust 7.3 Percent Growth in 2021 (World Bank)

Remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to have grown a strong 7.3 percent to reach $589 billion in 2021. This return to growth is more robust than earlier estimates and follows the resilience of flows in 2020 when remittances declined by only 1.7 percent despite a severe global recession due to COVID-19, according to estimates from the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released today. For a second consecutive year, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (excluding China) are expected to surpass the sum of foreign direct investment (FDI) and overseas development assistance (ODA). This underscores the importance of remittances in providing a critical lifeline by supporting household spending on essential items such as food, health, and education during periods of economic hardship in migrants’ countries of origin.


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