tralac Daily News
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has had a very real impact on the sector, both globally and locally, all signs are that additive manufacturing (AM) – popularly called 3D printing – is set to grow rapidly in the coming years, both in South Africa and around the world. That was a clear consensus at the recent annual conference of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (Rapdasa) – the representative body of the local AM sector – held in Pretoria at the International Conference Centre of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). “Globally, the short-term impact of Covid-19 on AM was a substantial deceleration of its growth rate, but no actual contraction occurred,” highlights Loughborough University (in the UK) computer-aided product design specialist and a Rapdasa conference keynote speaker, Professor Ian Campbell. “But AM showed itself to be a great responder to the critical needs created by Covid-19. This has likely given the technology a great boost.”
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has signed financing agreements with four Zimbabwean entities for a total of US$188,600,000. The deals, concluded during the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) currently taking place in Durban, were agreed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The trade fair opened on 15 November in Durban and runs until 21 November. On Wednesday, Afreximbank signed with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company (ZETDC) a US$110.4 million Syndicated Term Loan Facility. The funds will help ZETDC to improve revenue collection through smart meters and prepaid meters and thus pay off regional creditors’ accounts.
Coffee price rises by highest margin on world demand (Business Daily)
Coffee prices at the weekly Nairobi auction jumped by 13 percent, the highest margin this year, helped by higher prices at the world market.The latest data shows that Coffee prices at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) have increased to Sh40,419 for a 50 kilogramme bag from Sh34,818 in the previous sale. The price of the commodity in the world market hit a high of 226 cents per pound (cts/lb) this week when compared with 200cts l/lb previously. The price of coffee at NCE is normally benchmarked at the New York Exchange, where Kenya sells most of its produce.
High international prices have been occasioned by a shortage of the crop in the world market as Brazil which is one of the top world producers grapples with frost that destroyed most of the produce in that country.
NBK signs up to the UN Global Compact (Business Daily)
The National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has signed a pact to adhere to the United Nations Global Compact provisions, stamping its commitment to ethical and responsible business practices. With the signing, NBK has committed to upholding and protecting human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption principles in the course of its business dealings. As a signatory to the compact, NBK will be required to submit an annual Communication on Progress (COP) report, demonstrating the steps taken towards achieving the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.
Ethiopia’s once rapidly growing economy is taking another hit tied to its yearlong war, with global clothing manufacturer PVH Corp. saying it is closing its facility there because of the “speed and volatility of the escalating situation.” The company’s statement, emailed to The Associated Press, comes two weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced he would cut Ethiopia from a trade program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, because of “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” The sanction goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Rwanda’s economy expected to grow by 10.2% this year (The New Times)
Rwanda’s economy is expected to grow by 10.2 percent this year (2021) after its growth was revised upwards from the initial 5.1 percent, Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa has said. Rwangombwa made the disclosure on Thursday, November 18, 2021 while presenting the National Bank of Rwanda’s 202/021 activity report to Parliament’s both Chambers. In 2020, Rwanda’s economy fell by 3.4 percent, representing the first economic slump since 1994. The factors for such economic slump is the Covid-19 pandemic, including measures to control it, such as lockdowns that sharply reduced economic activities in 2020. “We continued having an accommodative monetary policy that supports economic recovery, and we are happy that the economy continued growing as indicated by the first and second quarter of this year,” Rwangombwa told legislators on Thursday.
The African Development Bank Group and the Government of Burundi on Tuesday signed a $29 million grant agreement to finance Phase 1 of the Access to Energy Project, which is part of the country’s infrastructure development program. The agreement was signed during an official meeting in Bujumbura between the African Development Bank Group’s Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo, and Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Domitien Ndihokubwayo. Nwabufo was in Burundi to reaffirm the Bank’s commitment to the Burundian government’s 2018-2027 National Development Plan.
Nigerian Oil Sector Contracts by 10.73 Percent in Q3 2021 (Investors King)
The oil sector contracted by 10.73 percent year-on-year and contributed just 7.49 percent to the total real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter (Q3) of 2021 in spite of the amount invested in the sector since oil was discovered in Nigeria. Quarter-on-Quarter, the oil sector grew by 12.05 percent in Q3 2021. The Oil sector contributed 7.49 percent to total real GDP in Q3 2021, down from 8.73 percent recorded in the corresponding period of 2020 and up compared to the 7.42 percent filed in the preceding quarter. In the third quarter, Nigeria failed to up crude oil production despite oil prices trading at over $80 per barrel. Crude oil production was 1.57 million barrels per day (mbpd) on average, down from 1.67 mbpd achieved in the same quarter of 2020. Another indication that Nigeria is still struggling to up production due to its outdated oil infrastructure and high cost of production.
In the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the non-oil sector remains the powerhouse of the Nigerian economy, growing at 5.44 percent in real terms in the third quarter and contributing 92.51 percent to the nation’s economy.
The Nigerian economy is recovering from a historic downturn benefiting from government policy support, rising oil prices and international financial assistance. The authorities’ pro-active approach has contained the COVID-19 infection rates and fatalities. With the emergence of fuel subsidies and slow progress on revenue mobilization, the fiscal outlook faces significant risks. Continued reliance on administrative measures to address persistent foreign exchange shortages is negatively impacting confidence. Without urgent fiscal and exchange rate reforms, the medium-term outlook faces sub-par growth.
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged banks to explore synergies and partnerships to advance digital technological innovations. That, he explained, would redefine the banking sector to ultimately spur economic growth. Speaking at the opening of the 25th National Banking Conference in Accra yesterday, the Vice-President encouraged the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), Ghana to lead the charge in capacity-building for an innovation-driven banking industry. The conference was on the theme: “The digital economy of Ghana: The strategic role of the banking industry”.
Giving a background of the country’s digital agenda, the Vice-President said the transformative digital agenda started in 2018 when the government launched the agenda in a bid to digitalise all sectors of the economy. He said the introduction of the Ghana Card, the Ghana Post digital address system, the Ghana.Gov and the mobile money interoperability were a few of the significant milestones in Ghana’s journey to digitalisation.
Technological advancements in the African oil and gas industry and proceeds from operations will play significant roles in industrializing the continent and actualizing the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA), the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote has said. He spoke on Thursday in Lagos at the Real News Magazine 9th Anniversary Lecture, hinting that Africa’s industrialization agenda is at the heart of AFCFTA and oil and gas remains a key part of the energy mix required for industrializing the continent and revenues obtained from selling the resources constitute key drivers of the economies of the African oil and gas producing countries.
Entrepreneurs urged to establish AfCFTA desks (News Ghana)
Mr Wallace Akondor, former Commissioner of Customs, has called on entrepreneurs to establish African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) desks in their establishments. “Get Human Resource personnel sitting right at your Management and Board tables, briefing you on AfCFTA and helping you to determine your production, dreams and working moments and how you are factoring AfCFTA into the way you are doing your business.” He said entrepreneurs must be engaged actively into not just the discussion but formulation into their productions.
African finance resilient to Covid-19 challenge (Engineering News)
The European Investment Bank’s (EIB’s) ‘Finance in Africa 2021’ report has shown the resilience of Africa’s financial sector and enthusiastic engagement to embrace digitalisation. However, the report, which included input from 78 leading banks and financing institutions active across sub-Saharan Africa, also highlights future risks that could hinder financing for business growth, renewable energy and recovery from the pandemic, EIB VP Thomas Östros says.
Africa is known to be the only continent that does not consume what it produces, with a total of less than 16% intra-Africa trade flows, compared to the 60%, 40%, and 30% intra-regional trade achieved in Europe, North America, and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) respectively. This came to light at the 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair, 2021 being organised under the auspices of the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Major barriers to an efficient trade system within the continent have been identified to include the high cost of doing business, corruption, security concerns, and varied certification requirements. The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana together with other standards regulatory authorities are present at the ongoing fair with the purpose of interacting with the business community to provide regulatory support that will facilitate trade across the continent.
IFC today welcomed Absa Bank Ltd. to its Global Trade Liquidity Program (GTLP) to boost access to trade finance in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in low income and fragile countries, supporting a vital driver of growth that has been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through a combined investment of $250 million, IFC and Absa Bank, one of Africa’s largest financial institutions, will channel credit to a portfolio of trade transactions that is expected to facilitate up to $1.6 billion in trade over the next three years. The financing will support Absa’s commitment to increase the accessibility of trade finance, with around 80 percent of financing expected to go to low income and fragile countries.
African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) has committed US$250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of an African Sub Sovereign Governments Network. Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank made the announcement yesterday during an inaugural conference of the Sub Sovereign Governments at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, on the sidelines of the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021). The Sub Sovereign Governments Network, is yet another ingenious strategic initiative by the Bank, aimed at firmly establishing an intra-continental trade investment development frontier.
Resetting Africa includes bridging the infrastructural gaps (Ventures Africa)
Infrastructure development is a key driver of progress in a nation’s pursuit of outright economic prosperity vis-a-vis quality existence for its citizenries. This is because Infrastructure development enables wider productivity which engenders sustainable economic growth.
As democracy in Africa strengthens, the infrastructure development level on the continent is also gaining traction, which is positive in terms of aligning the productivity rate across the continent with the standards obtained in the developed parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, halted the inspiring pivot to infrastructure development on the African continent. Funds previously voted for infrastructure projects were hurriedly redeployed to cater to pending national needs to avert deep public health and humanitarian crisis. The brief, unplanned fiscal interruption left huge gaps in the socioeconomic growth agenda of the major economies in Africa. The thriving youth demography is hailed as the ‘sweetener’ in the continent’s attractive market proposition. Foreign direct investment appeal had their dreams of increased access to efficient IT infrastructure, lasting electricity supply, faster transport system and supportive municipals placed on hold as the governments hurried to feed an inactive population, source for vaccines to maintain a robust active segment amid a historic decline in the revenues derived from the commodity markets which provide a larger chunk of the funds that power the economy.
Over thirty Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) participated in the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF), which took place in Durban, South Africa, on 15-16 November. A majority of the SMEs - sponsored by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) and in collaboration with UN Women - were women led (24) and youth entrepreneurs (17) aged between 21 and 35 years old. The businesses were mainly from the East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa regions.
Stephen Karingi, ECA’s Director of Regional Integration and Trade, said the selected SMEs are beneficiary of ECA’s previous capacity building programmes on trade, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and/or gender and trade. “These are SMEs producing goods and/or services with high potential for intra-African trade,” said Mr Karingi, adding that their economic activities cross all agriculture, agro-processing, and other manufacturing sectors such as coffee, poultry and associated products, leather products, and textiles, as well as services like transport and logistics.
What African countries got out of COP26 (The Conversation Africa)
According to the African Group of Negotiators, the main African agenda items can be summarised as follows. Climate responsibility: Developed nations have to take their responsibilities and lead the way to reaching zero net emissions by 2050. Climate finance and adaptation: Developed nations have to mobilise enough funds to finance adaptation in developing countries that are adversely affected by climate change. Finance architecture and transparency mechanisms should be put in place. Transfer of technologies and capacity building: Developed nations must transfer sound environmental technologies to African countries for effective climate adaptation, mitigation and transition. Long-term climate financing: Developed nations have to meet their pre-2020 commitment of US$100 billion per year and agree on long-term climate financing.
‘Young people of Africa, step up to feed the continent!’ (Food for Mzansi)
Young people of Africa, you need to engage and grow a vibrant agricultural sector – for the sake of sustainable food security on our continent. A strong call to action came from South African agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza today. She was joined by Grace Obeda, principal youth employment officer at the African Development Bank, in opening Food For Mzansi’s Pan-African Summit on Youth in Sustainable Agriculture.
As keynote speaker, Obeda said that agriculture remains the backbone of Africa’s economic development. “The best way to transform it, is through raising productivity.” She talked about the need for Africa to up its game in creating job opportunities for young people. Africa’s most valuable asset and sustainable competitive advantage is not its oil, gas and minerals, she said, but its demographically dominant youth. “70% of Africans are under 35. This is according to statistics, in 2019, of the African Development Bank. They are projected to reach 850 million by 2050 and will constitute half of the 2 billion working-age population by 2063.” said Obeda.
The Maritime Security Architecture can only function fully if there is an interconnection between the national and regional levels.” This is what emerged from the 7th edition of the Steering Committee (SC) of the MASE regional agreements, held this Wednesday, November 17, 2021, by video conference. Organised by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) through the Regional Maritime Security Programme (MASE) funded by the European Union, this session brought together more than thirty participants representing the seven signatory States (Comoros, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles), the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC), the Regional Operations Coordination Centre (RCOC) and the European Union (EU) Delegation in Mauritius. This annual meeting is part of the operationalization of the Western Indian Ocean Maritime Security Architecture, implemented by the IOC and which relies on regional centres (RMIFC and RCOC) and national centres of signatory States.
African marine rules favour big industry, leaving small-scale fishers in the lurch (The Conversation Africa)
The African marine fisheries sector is huge. It’s valued at more than US$24 billion per year. The sector is comprised of two main players. One is the continent’s artisanal or small-scale fishers, a form of fishing conducted on small fishing boats by coastal communities. The other is industrial fisheries, including trawlers and distant water fishing fleets. These vessels are sometimes owned by African nationals but mostly overseen by international fishing companies or as part of a joint venture. Fishing by non-African fleets is done through access agreements or licences issued by African states.
But all is not well in Africa’s oceans. Distant water fleets are over-exploiting fish stocks through overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This is because there’s limited domestic or regional capacity to monitor the activities of these trawlers and enforce existing laws. The marine fisheries sector is under threat due to these unsustainable rates of fishing, and also because of weak fisheries governance.
Our findings demonstrate two things. First, fisheries governance mechanisms in Africa are largely constraining small-scale fishers, while failing to contain the industrial fisheries sector. Second, despite a higher incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in industrial fisheries than in small-scale fisheries, efforts to develop and regulate fisheries continue to advance the industrial sector. African states have continued to enter new agreements and issue new licences to distant water fleets. They also fail to institute stringent measures to curb their illegal activities.
Why SAATM is key to reviving Uganda’s aviation sector (Independent)
This week marked exactly 32 years since the signing of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD). For those with interest in the African aviation industry, the Ivorian city of Yamoussoukro represents a significant milestone in the history of the continent. On the 14 and 15th of November 2009, African ministers and government representatives in charge of civil aviation under the auspices of the AU (then OAU), signed up to an agreement that bound their respective states to a decision that would see the full liberalization of air transport services on the continent.
SAATM is designed to lift restrictions on market access in Africa and to remove restrictive bilateral air service agreements (BASAs) between state pairs. It provides for the granting of 1st up to 5th freedom rights for designated airlines among SAATM states. 5th freedom rights essentially give an airline the right to carry revenue passengers from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country onward to a third country. A recent study in collaboration between IATA and Intervistas on the potential benefits of liberalization in Africa reviewed 607 Bilateral Air Service agreements and found that 61% of them are not compliant to the YD. The countries with the least compliant BASAs in Africa were found to be Uganda, Burundi, Libya, Seychelles and Morocco Across Africa, 35 countries have signed the solemn commitment to SAATM but only 17 have gone ahead to sign the memorandum of implementation. Uganda belongs to nether of the 2 groups.
On the African Statistics Day, 18th November 2021, the African Union Commission in collaboration with Member States, Regional Economic Communities, ILO, IOM and Statistics Sweden has launched the 3rd edition of the labour migration statistics report in Africa, under the Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Integration in Africa (JLMP). The key highlights of the report include bridging some of the data gaps from the previous edition by availing data from additional data sources, improved chapter on social protection, remittance, and other additional characteristics of migrant workers.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Labour, Employment and Migration Division at the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union Commission informed the delegates that the production of these report series has greatly improved the availability of labour migration statistics in the continent. He emphasized that with available evidence from the report, intra-regional migratory movements take prevalence in the continent as compared to outside the continent. Mr. Mbokazi further noted that with this increased migratory movements, labour migration is a priority thematic area that requires high quality, and up to date labour migration data for evidence-based policy making. He also pointed out that harmonisation of key definitions, concepts, methodologies and tools is another key priority area of concern for the Africa Union Commission.
EAC sets out strategy for horticulture trade (IPPMedia)
EAC Deputy Secretary-General Christophe Bazivamo said that the fruits and vegetables value chain intra-trade strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2031 is projected to reach $25m in value with global exports attaining $1.3bn. The plan was unveiled at the EAC public-private dialogue on fruits and vegetables, where he said the EAC Secretariat worked on the trade of fruits and vegetables intra-trade issue as commerce at present stands at $9.9m. More investments are needed in nutritional and medicinal indigenous fruits and vegetable plants sub- sector, so as to improve production capacity, strengthen research and development, innovation, packaging, market access and trade facilitation.
The President of the ECOWAS Bank, Dr George Agyekum Donkor, has underscored the importance of focusing on agribusiness, ICT and tourism as driving forces for job creation. Delivering a keynote address as the guest of honour at the official opening of the 5th Volta Trade Fair in Ho last Wednesday, on the theme, “Promoting Sustainable Trade and Investment”, Dr Donkor said the Volta Region had many tourist attractions which could easily become the backbone of the region’s economy, while its agriculture sector employed approximately 74 per cent of the active population. He said there was, however, the need to successfully transition from farming to take advantage of the entire agribusiness value chain in order to bring increased value to players in the industry.
Ghana, three others to strengthen cooperation on border management (Ghana Business News)
Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo have committed to strengthen cooperation on border management under the coordination of ECOWAS and the support of the European Union (EU). The four countries have committed to a common declaration for the benefit and security of citizens in the sub region of the Economic Community of West African States. This followed SBS Ghana project regional conference held in Accra with high-level representatives and technical experts of governments of the four countries to discuss issues related to security and cross-border cooperation.
The European Union, ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions are meeting in Accra to strengthen strategic partnership between the EU and sub region on economy, trade, security, amongst others. The two days meeting is expected to identify developmental actions under the six priority areas including inclusive and sustainable growth, the promotion of descent jobs, leveraging digital transformation and good governance. It marks the launch of the UEMOA – ECOWAS – EU tripartite consultation mechanism for the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which aims to strengthen the strategic partnership between the EU and West Africa, and to ensure the coherence of the programming of development actions, which provides for actions at national, regional and continental levels.
Some four million people across West Africa stand to benefit from a new multi-phase regional program that will complement and enhance ongoing efforts to reduce food insecurity and improve the resilience of food systems. The new Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP) was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today for a total amount of $570 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing.
The first phase of the program which amounts to $330 million brings together four countries —Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Togo— and three regional organizations
to implement a broad program that will simultaneously increase agricultural productivity through climate-smart agriculture, promote intraregional value chains and trade, and build regional capacity to manage agricultural risk.”By investing across these three areas and targeting priority landscapes and value chains of regional relevance, the program takes a system approach to stimulate virtuous cycles of growth that can break the perpetual pattern of shock-recovery-shock,” explains Chakib Jenane, World Bank’s Practice Manager, Agriculture and Food Global Practice for Western and Central Africa.
Wings of change: Regional medical tourism to take flight in Africa (The Star, Kenya)
One unintended consequence of COVID-19?A rush of investments into research and medical facilities across the continent will see overseas-bound medical tourists staying local as regional centres of excellence abound, according to a report.F ewer trips to India and other “medical tourism” destinations by Africa’s middle class is one anticipated result of a surge of investment into medical facilities, says a just-released report, which also highlights the opportunity for these facilities to mint money treating lifestyle diseases as Africa’s middle class rapidly expands. The number of Africa’s own regional medical tourism destinations is also seen rising beyond South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia - which currently have the most advanced medical facilities on the continent - according to Research and Market’s Medical tourism 2022: Africa potential. According to the report, ‘winds of change are sweeping across African medical tourism,’ 11 countries top a list of those looking to take in more patients from other jurisdictions within Africa - as well as outside the continent - in the coming year. “Once seen as just a source for other medical tourism destinations, some African countries have taken stock and have or will seek to increase inbound medical tourism and reduce outbound medical tourism,” says Research and Market’s “Medical tourism 2022: Africa potential” report.
The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms. Vera Songwe opened the fourth biennial session of the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender today with a strong call for coordinated action on building a resilient Africa in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the ongoing global health emergency, the theme of the session is ‘building forward better towards an inclusive and resilient future in the context of COVID-19’. The committee’s participants will explore strategies that can shift the post-pandemic recovery of Africa onto an inclusive and resilient path, while determining how those can be prioritized in the policy mandates of ECA. In her welcome remarks, Ms. Vera Songwe said: “COVID-19 is not only a severe health emergency but equally a grave economic and social crisis. The pandemic pushed an additional 55 million into poverty thereby reversing the gains made towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But with its challenges, COVID-19 has offered unprecedented opportunities to build back better for a future more resilient to shocks, including those related to climate change.”
Africa’s creative industries becoming a more attractive investment proposition (How we made it in Africa)
In Africa, the plight of the artist can be particularly harsh. A lack of investment in the arts, scant public sector involvement, fragmented markets, distribution difficulties, and the bane of copyright pirates conspire to thwart the dreams of even the most determined musician, writer, designer, or movie maker. And yet, Africa’s potential as a creative powerhouse is huge. The continent already boasts the planet’s youngest and fastest-growing population (it is largely the young who fuel the creative sector) and by 2035 sub-Saharan Africa will have more working age people than the rest of the world combined.
An exhaustive UNESCO study of the global cultural landscape estimated that 2.4 million people were employed in the creative industries in Africa and the Middle East in 2015 and that the sector achieved $58 billion in revenues.
The United States and Africa: Building a 21st Century Partnership (United States Department of State)
The “Giant of Africa” is an apt nickname for Nigeria, because this country looms large. Your strengths are undeniable – a dynamic democracy, a robust economy, and a very powerful civil society. The challenges you face are undeniable as well – including the disruption and insecurity caused by terrorism and armed groups.
The United States knows that, on most of the urgent challenges and opportunities we face, Africa will make the difference. We can’t achieve our goals around the world – whether that’s ending the COVID-19 pandemic, building a strong and inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis, or revitalizing democracy and defending human rights – without the leadership of African governments, institutions, and citizens.
The United States firmly believes that it’s time to stop treating Africa as a subject of geopolitics – and start treating it as the major geopolitical player it has become. The facts speak for themselves. This is a continent of young people – energized, innovative, hungry for jobs and opportunity. By 2025, more than half the population of Africa will be under age 25. By the year 2050, one in four people on Earth will be African. And Nigeria will surpass the United States as the third most populous country in the world. Africa is poised to become one of the world’s most important economic regions. When the 54-country African Continental Free Trade Area is fully implemented, it will comprise the fifth-largest economic bloc in the world, representing a huge source of jobs, consumers, innovation, and power to shape the global economy. As we work to end the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen global health security, we must work closely with the countries of Africa to build public health systems here that can prevent, detect, and respond to future emergencies – because as these past two years have taught us, none of us are completely protected unless all of us are protected.
As the urgency of the climate crisis grows, our focus will increasingly be on Africa – to solve an emergency that threatens our collective security, our economies, and our health. Here, where the potential for renewable energy is greater than anywhere else on the planet, we see not only the stakes of this crisis but also – also its solutions.
55 states to take part in FOCAC (The Herald)
The eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Dakar, Senegal, at the end of November, with 55 member countries expected to participate, China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday. “We will work together on setting new measures in accordance with our development strategies. The new measures should be in line with China’s vision of 2035 and the adaptation of ‘dual-cycle development.’ For Africa, the measures should also align with the African Union’s 2063 agenda,” said China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming.
In the first nine months of this year, the bilateral trade volume reached a record of US$185,2 billion, up by 38,2 percent year on year. China’s direct investment to Africa across all sectors was US$2.59 billion, mirroring an increase of 9,9 percent. “China’s exports of construction machinery and daily necessities have met both the production and living needs of those in Africa. To China, Africa is an important source of many mineral resources, an important element in maintaining the stability of our industrial chain,” said Qian.
At a formal meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 18 November, WTO members agreed to keep actively engaging up until the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in order to find a common intellectual property (IP) response to COVID-19. The chair of the Council, Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli of Norway, said he will make sure no stone is left unturned to explore all available options towards a consensus-based outcome at the Ministerial Conference taking place from 30 November to 3 December. Members adopted the oral status report that will be submitted by the chair of the TRIPS Council to the General Council scheduled for 22-23 November. The text provides a factual overview of discussions held at the TRIPS Council since October 2020, both on the proposal by India and South Africa.
More than trade: Why India resists an investment facilitation agreement in WTO (Financial Express)
The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the WTO is scheduled from November 30 to December 3 in Geneva. A group of over 100 WTO member countries are deliberating on a proposal to have a plurilateral agreement on investment facilitation to be finalised at this ministerial conference. India has taken a firm stand against this initiative.
The agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development being negotiated by a group of over 100 WTO members under a plurilateral mode has been evolving and the visible result of the progress of such discussions are the three texts prepared in his own responsibility and without prejudice, by the Group coordinator, Ambassador Mathias Francke of Chile.
India’s reservations against the investment facilitation discussions on the sidelines of the WTO are twofold: (a) Investment doesn’t belong to the WTO: To the extent investment is related to trade it is already included in the TRIMs agreement and under mode 3 related to FDI in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Rules on football (trade) can’t, for example, be applied to tennis (investment); (b) Plurilateral route of negotiations under which investment facilitation is being discussed has no legitimacy in the WTO. India has naturally not participated in the discussions and has not formally commented on the successive texts.
The second session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP2) to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (the Protocol) held virtually, started on 15 November 2021. This event brought together delegates of almost all the Parties to the Protocol, and State non-Parties to the Protocol (Parties to the FCTC), including representatives of Customs and other law enforcement authorities, as well as Observers to the MOP, and representatives of the WHO and the WHO FCTC Secretariat.
After the opening remarks by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, and before the address by Dr. Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, highlighted in his keynote speech, that the excellent cooperation that existed between the WHO and the WCO had enabled his Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic to identify in the Harmonized System a list of relevant medicines, medical goods and vaccines. This helped Customs in ensuring the smooth movement of goods and safeguarding the supply chain of medicines, medical goods and vaccines, while protecting citizens’ health and safety from the threat posed by illicit trade during period. Over the past two years, the WCO had organized global operations to detect and intercept fake and/or counterfeit medicines, medical goods and vaccines, resulting in the seizure of millions of illicit products.
Trade has historically been a powerful driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Asia, though the momentum of lowering trade barriers has slowed in recent years.
While tariff barriers to trade in Asia are low overall, a new measure of nontariff barriers suggests those remain high in many Asian emerging markets and developing economies. Unlike tariffs, these barriers include policies that introduce frictions such as licensing requirements or restrictions on trade, payments, or exchanging foreign currencies.
According to recent research, which was detailed in the IMF’s Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook, easing nontariff barriers can boost gross domestic product by about 1.6 percent, potentially healing about a quarter of expected pandemic scarring. The findings take on added significance given that IMF forecasts suggest GDP in 2024 will be 6 percent below the pre-crisis trend in Asian emerging and developing economies, equal to losses of about $1 trillion annually.