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The initial findings from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Science, Technology and Innovation for a Circular Economy (STI4CE) study shows that transitioning to a more circular economy has the potential to create value across all sectors of the economy. There are also opportunities to decouple development from resource consumption. “This will improve the local and global competitiveness of the South African manufacturing sector, improve food security through regenerative agriculture, create more sustainable, liveable cities, improve economic development through efficient mobility systems and decouple economic development from the demands placed on our energy and water systems, which are already under considerable strain in South Africa,” the CSIR reports.
40Kenya Airways, Kenya’s flag carrier, jointly signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with South African Airways (SAA) on November 25, concluding an important milestone to jointly launch a pan-African airline group by 2023. The partnership follows the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) that both companies signed 2 months ago in search of promoting the exchange of knowledge, expertise, innovation, digital technologies, and best practices between the 2 companies. The signing of this agreement will see both companies working together to expand passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, and overall trade, thereby leveraging the strengths of South Africa, Kenya, and Africa. The partnership is expected to improve the financial viability of both airlines. Customers will also benefit from more competitive pricing offers for the passenger and cargo segment.
Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph, while speaking at the signing ceremony, said: «This cooperation is in line with Kenya Airways’ primary objective of contributing to the sustainable development of Africa and is based on mutual benefits. It will increase connectivity by increasing passenger traffic and cargo opportunities while improving the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA). The geographical location of the two countries will make the Pan-African Airline Group attractive, creating the most formidable Airline Group that should leverage the strengths across South Africa, Kenya, and Africa.
Kenya Airways’ strategy for making African aviation sustainable (Quartz Africa)
Africa’s aviation industry is highly fragmented. The continent has hundreds of independent airlines, many of which are unprofitable and on the brink of collapse as they struggle to compete effectively with big global carriers. Further, the aviation business has been hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic. But airlines are trying to innovate and looking to consolidate to make the businesses sustainable. In September, Kenya Airways and South African Airways, two flag carrier airlines, entered an agreement to create a pan-African airline group. And earlier this year, Kenya Airways launched Fahari Aviation, a division to enhance innovation research, and development of unmanned aviation systems (UAS), including drones.
Allan Kilavuka, the CEO of Kenya Airways, said:
Right now there’s a problem because we have a backlog on the supply chain of goods and services particularly to and from Asia. You have heard of shortages of goods particularly electronic goods. There’s no capacity to move enough goods across the world. This is kind of a good problem for us because the problem is capacity.
The future of aviation, not just in Africa, globally, is when you consolidate. Because aviation is a very expensive venture, with very low margins. You need to create economies of scale, so that your unit costs, drop. But more importantly, you also want to make sure that you are creating a network that gives your customers or passengers many options. That way, then you attract a lot more people to the group. That’s what happens when you consolidate.
You look at your customers and you see, what kind of solutions can you provide to your customers, by giving them a variety of options, and also by accessing destinations that you’re not able to access if you did it alone.
Re-imagining the Kenyan economy in technicolour (Business Daily)
Kenya is, like the rest of the world, seeking to “build back better” in uncertain Covid-19 times. Yet, as is our wont, the transitional 2022 presidential election (because the other positions still don’t matter as much despite a new constitution) is now top of mind across business and the economy. On the one hand, you have putative and pronounced presidential candidates running around the country with financial goodies for the people. Finance — cash — is the operative word; the economy is a generality. The basic idea is that people don’t have cash because the economy is bad, and the economy is bad because people don’t have cash. That would be a great discussion to have with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). On the other hand, President Uhuru Kenyatta is doubling down on delivering his economic legacy. He will be happy that the Big Four Agenda is here to stay. There will be mixed views about his infrastructure efforts, ranging from design to cost to utility, but it is unarguable that stuff is visible to the naked eye.
India imposes restrictions on Kenyan tea to protect its farmers (Business Daily)
India’s tea regulator has issued fresh rules to curb shipments of low-priced Kenyan tea into the Asian country to protect its farmers from loss of market, stoking fears of a trade spat between the two countries. The Tea Board of India (TBIA) issued circulars to tea stockists on reporting about the quantity and quality of imports from Kenya to rein in shipments. Indian farmers are complaining that cheaper Kenyan and Nepalese teas are being blended with local produce, and then sold on as tea of Indian origin to their disadvantage. The Indian tea regulator threatened to cancel licences of local importers if they are found flouting the new rules. “The board has taken the right decision to curb the entry of cheap teas to the country, which is being sold in the world markets as teas of Indian origin and thereby tarnishing the image of Indian tea,” Tea Board chairman P.K. Bezbaruah was quoted saying.
President Museveni heads to Tanzania for oil pipeline talks (The East African)
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is expected in Tanzania at the weekend to attend an oil and gas meeting, and later hold bilateral talks with his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan. President Museveni, according to aides, will give a keynote speech during the private sector organised symposium that is set to discuss opportunities presented by the 1,445km East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project. President Museveni’s deputy press secretary Farouk Kirunda said that the Ugandan leader will have a three-day working visit to Tanzania starting Saturday, where, together with President Suluhu, they will hold talks on the progress of the $3.5 billion EACOP project to be jointly constructed between the two countries, and which is expected to connect Uganda’s oil fields to Tanzania’s port of Tanga.
Kenyans will soon rely less on imported second-hand cars, with dealers in locally assembled vehicles promising to deliver new units for the same price as used imports. Simba Colt group managing director Naresh Leekha noted that since the beginning of this year, Kenyans have been excited about getting zero-mileage cars with a five-year warranty. “Kenyans have given us a good reception. We see a lot of uptake of locally assembled cars,” Mr Leekha told the Nation. “In the new-vehicle segment, we have got more than 35 per cent of the market and we are looking at growing to 65 per cent in this financial year. It was good that we had the blessings of President Uhuru Kenyatta during the official launch.”
AfDB pledges to support Kenya in raising finance for climate actions (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to support Kenya in raising finances to fight climate change that has led to drought, affecting 2.5 million people in 23 of its 47 counties. The country is already spending eight per cent of its GDP every five years on the impacts of drought alone.
Speaking during the 7th Annual Devolution Conference in Makueni, the AfDB’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, Dr Kevin Kariuki, said the bank will support Kenya in creating a favourable environment to mobilise climate finance for adaptation. “To support Kenya’s climate change adaptation, the bank will draw on its experience in implementing community resilience through projects such as the Small Town and Rural Water Supply Programme, implemented in Kitui, Siaya, Bondo, Othaya, Mukurueini and Maua, between 2011 and 2017, which have achieved great impact,” said Dr Kariuki.
Zambia fit for developing country status (Zambia Daily Mail)
FOR the first time, Zambia is eligible to graduate from the category of a least developed country (LDC) after meeting two key indicators that show the country’s capacity to deal with structural challenges and vulnerabilities.
According to the 2021 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report released yesterday, the country has met the criteria for graduating to the category of developing countries. Zambia was listed as a LDC on the United Nations (UN) classification index in 1991. The classification is reviewed by the Committee for Development every three years.
Ghanaian business mogul, Dr Kofi Amoah has averred that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will have dire consequences on young entrepreneurs. He said the decision of government to open Ghana’s market to a free trade agreement needs to be reviewed. According to Dr Kofi Amoah, this issue needs to be addressed urgently since it borders on the growth of the local economy.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the newly inaugurated members of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to help develop measures to increase domestic revenue mobilisation for development. President Akufo-Addo inaugurated the board at the Jubilee House in Accra on Tuesday evening and urged the members to “identify the ways and means to help enhance significantly the country’s capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation to realise her development potential and thereby create opportunities for the vibrant and dynamic youth and to improve the livelihoods of all Ghanaians.
“Ghana’s tax-to-GDP ratio of 14.3 per cent compares unfavourably with our peers in ECOWAS and the world over. Ghana as the second largest economy in ECOWAS should not have one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the community,” he said. “The average tax-to-GDP ratio in West Africa stands at 18 per cent and indeed, the recommended ratio for ECOWAS member states is a minimum of 20 per cent,” the President added. “The average for OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries is 34 per cent. It is thus no surprise that the developed nations of the OECD can readily find the means to fund their own development, particularly, their infrastructure development, whereas we are constantly struggling to do the same. The NDPC should have this issue as a special focus,” President Akufo-Addo said.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the meeting was chaired on the Ghana side by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and on the EU side by the Head of its Delegation to Ghana, Mr Irchad Razaaly. It said as Ghana’s largest multilateral development and trade partner, the EU and its Member States currently financed about half of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) received by the Ghanaian Government. The statement noted that formalised cooperation between Ghana and the EU started after the first Lome Convention in 1975 and that the two parties had enjoyed fruitful economic and political exchanges, which had improved over the years.
Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr. Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, has called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to build sustainable businesses at the local level to enable them to participate fully in the single continental market. “If you establish a process and it doesn’t resonate with the districts it can never be implemented. AfCFTA is important because it brings together several national programs, and we’ll need to develop a process where we can situate all of these national initiatives at the district levels to enhance implementation and leverage that to take advantage of the single market,” he said in an interview with Single African Market.
To be able to achieve this, he said there must be a conscious effort to build a sustainable rural economy that is underpinned by the productivity of small and medium enterprises and the growth of the rural private sector.
The Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to unbundle its E-call up System ( ETo), to help reduce extortion in Nigeria’s ports. This was disclosed by the outgoing President of the association, Mr Thompson Olaleye, on Thursday during the maiden edition of the 2021 Delegate Convention of COMTUA, in Lagos, themed “Resolving the Challenges of Cargoes and Haulage Movements in Nigeria for Effective Domestication of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Promoting the Ease of Doing Business in the Continent.”
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Olaleye said that the high cases of extortion should be a catalyst for the unbundling of the system.
As the global transition towards renewable energy and carbon neutrality spurs demand for electric vehicles to replace fossil fuel engines, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has embarked on a project to build a cathode precursor plant. This will enable the country to harness its mineral resource wealth to sustainably commence low-emissions-production of battery precursors an input of lithium-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles, as explained by Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA): “The DRC is at the heart of the battery value chain, as it is home to about 70% of world’s cobalt reserves. The country’s mining sector currently accounts for 98% of exports, 18% of GDP, and 11% of jobs. If the DRC captures 20% of the market share for battery production, it will add around US$54 billion to its income and raise its GDP tremendously.”
Tunisia has lion’s share of intra-regional pharmaceutical exports (African Manager)
Tunisia has the lion’s share, 44% of intra-regional exports of pharmaceuticals in North Africa, according to a study on “the potential for promoting regional value chains: a mapping exercise on the pharmaceutical sector”, presented Thursday in Marrakech, Morocco. Morocco ranks second with 40% of these intra-regional exports, Egypt 13% and Algeria 2.3%.
The study was presented by adviser to the Economic Commission for Africa-North Africa, Patricia AUGIER, at the expert meeting on “Unlocking the Potential of Regional Value Chains in North Africa: Focus on the Pharmaceutical and Digital Finance Sectors” held on November 24 and 25 by the ECA Subregional Office in North Africa.
Intra-Regional Trade Potential a Key Focus in New Report (Investors King)
A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the African Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), shines a spotlight on the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is poised to become a key driver of broader economic growth as regional integration increases. Titled “Economic Zones in Africa – Focus Report”, the report was launched at the AEZO’s 6th Annual Meeting II, which took place on November 25 at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat office in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely. The meeting was held under the banner “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains at the era of the AfCFTA” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, from their potential to boost trade to the impact of
Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains. The focus report examines the wealth of benefits that the AfCFTA is expected to deliver to both Africa’s economic zones and the businesses located in them, which range from greater market access to a reduction in trade barriers and lower production costs.
One of the pillars of Agenda 2063 is the free movement of natural persons on the continent, which is partly predicated on an African passport. However, for many Africans, free movement remains a dream. Dlamini-Zuma made the remarks at the recently concluded Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 in Durban, where a common observation was the lack of ease of travel for Africans on their own continent.
Igad projects to be completed by 2024 - Raila (The Star, Kenya)
Most projects under IGAD will be completed by 2024, African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga has said. He made the announcement on Tuesday when he opened the Development Partners Roundtable on IGAD Regional Infrastructure in Nairobi.
It aims to secure support for regional infrastructure to promote economic and integration as it offers unrivalled opportunities for the development partners to exchange views and network among governments and other stakeholders. “The IGAD Infrastructure Master plan has highlighted well the Short-Term priority projects. There are 61 projects in transport, nine projects in Energy, 14 projects in ICT, and five projects in trans-boundary waterways,” Raila said.
The East African Community (EAC) has today launched the EAC Regional and Domestic Tourism Media Campaign set to publicize national and regional tourism products and services, in a move aiming at stimulating intra-regional travel. The campaign dubbed, ‘Tembea Nyumbani’, seeks to entice East Africans to travel in their specific countries and around the region, in an effort to revive domestic and regional tourism across the region, amid the pandemic.
Tourism contributes significantly to the economies of EAC Partner States and pre-pandemic, contributed 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 17% export earnings and 7% in jobs creation. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the sector affected negatively with international tourism arrivals in East Africa dropping by about 67.7%, to an estimated 2.25 million arrivals in 2020 compared to 6.98 million in 2019.
To make them more sustainable, the transformation of agrifood systems across Africa needs a “cross-sectoral, holistic, coherent and coordinated policy environment,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today at a high-level African Union (AU) event. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Partnership Platform (CADP PP) is the AU’s main platform for agricultural policy dialogue, lessons-sharing and accountability. This year’s CAADP PP meeting, taking place over three days under the theme ‘Ending hunger in Africa by 2025 through resilient food systems’, brought together representatives from the African Union Commission, Ministers from the 55 AU Member States, and partners.
During his participation at the High Level Partners Panel event on Friday, the FAO Director-General noted that this is an “exciting time for Africa”. The discussion focused on how to strengthen institutions and increase investments to accelerate agriculture transformation and streamline efforts towards building resilient food systems aimed at ending to hunger on the continent.
Qu emphasized three key ways of accelerating change for agricultural transformation in Africa: increasing agricultural productivity; building resilience by addressing water and climate related challenges in agriculture; and increasing the use of data and digitalisation.
ECOWAS Commission presents 2022 budget to AFC (P. M. News)
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission on Thursday presented its 2022 budget before the Administration and Finance Commissioner. Mrs Finda Koroma, the Vice President of ECOWAS, made the presentation during the 30th Ordinary Session of its Administration. According to Koroma, the Community has also come very close to adopting a common vision, namely the ECOWAS Vision 2050, that will guide our growth in the next 30 years.
Koroma explained that the development of Vision 2050 had been inclusive and participatory, adding, she could not but express her sincere appreciation to all AFC members for their support to the process.
China and the fixed party between CFA Franc and the Euro are key elements to attract private investors for infrastructure projects in the CEMAC region. The analysis is presented by U.S. rating agency Moody’s in a recent document. “CEMAC member countries belong to the Franc zone that applies a fixed parity between the CFAF and the euro. This helps them reduce external vulnerabilities and absorb the shocks created by their high exposure to extractive industries by keeping inflation below 3 per cent. The stability of the currency is also likely to reduce investor concerns. In the energy sector, strong power purchase agreements (PPAs) in a stable currency can help secure financing,” the analysis reads. As far as China is concerned, the document explains that it is a major investor in infrastructure projects in Central Africa.
Chinese products enjoy popularity boom in Africa as Black Friday nears (China Economic Net)
Chinese products have seen increasing popularity on e-commerce platforms in Africa during this year’s Black Friday shopping season that started early November. Jumia is a major African e-commerce platform with operations in 11 African countries and some 7 million active users as of November. Jason Cheng, general manager of Jumia Global, said that more than 2,000 active Chinese vendors have joined the platform, which is now home to more than 14 million Chinese products. “Chinese products, especially mobile phone devices, clothing items and household appliances, are gaining more popularity among African buyers,” Cheng said.
China and Africa have seen economic and trade cooperation expanding rapidly in scale and extent. The 10 major cooperation plans and the eight major initiatives adopted at the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit raised China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the 12 years since 2009. The proportion of Africa’s trade with China in the continent’s total external trade has continued to rise. In 2020, the figure exceeded 21 percent. The structure of China-Africa trade is improving. There has been a marked increase in technology in China’s exports to Africa, with the export of mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products now accounting for more than 50 percent of the total. China has increased its imports of non-resource products from Africa, and offered zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of taxable items exported to China by the 33 least-developed countries in Africa, with the goal of helping more African agricultural and manufactured goods gain access to the Chinese market. China’s imports in services from Africa have been growing at an average annual rate of 20 percent since 2017, creating close to 400,000 jobs for the continent every year. In recent years, China’s imports of agricultural products from Africa have also risen, and China has emerged as the second largest destination for Africa’s agricultural exports. China and Africa have seen booming trade in new business models including cross-border e-commerce. Cooperation under the Silk Road E-commerce initiative has advanced. China has built a mechanism for e-commerce cooperation with Rwanda, and Chinese businesses have been active in investing in overseas order fulfillment centers. High-quality and special products from Africa are now directly available to the Chinese market via e-commerce platforms. The China-Mauritius free trade agreement (FTA), which became effective on January 1 2021, was the first FTA between China and an African country. It has injected new vitality into China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
Is sovereign debt impeding Africa’s COVID-19 recovery? (Chatham House)
Africans realized early on in the pandemic there was a tough period ahead – repeating the long pattern of Africa feeling the worst impacts of global dynamics.
Although Africa is the least indebted region when judged against GDP or per capita, it is the most affected by sovereign debt pressure, it also contributes the least greenhouse emissions but is the most affected by climate change. So, the sad paradox of Africa being the least infected by COVID-19 but most damaged by its impact is no surprise. The pandemic accelerated the unequal treatment of Africa, driven by the rules and systems of global economic governance. It exposed the practical implications of inequality – notably differences in state capacity to limit the socio-economic impact of lockdowns – uncovered the hyper-dependence of critical value chains, particularly to China, and revealed both the vulnerabilities of the international financing system and the limits on its coordination.
African countries find it difficult to access concessional finance despite the repeated promises of support to the MDGs, SDGs, and now climate transition because punitive commercial terms drive them to look for alternatives which avoid the iron rules of the credit rating agencies – and China has been by far the most sizable source.
COVID-19 has reduced fiscal space and made debt servicing more difficult, and needs are rising against public revenues constrained by low growth – the IMF predicts only 3.7 per cent growth for sub-Saharan Africa and that per capita incomes will remain 5.5 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
Germany’s new Africa policy holds few surprises (Deutsche Welle)
The word “Africa” only appears four times in the coalition deal unveiled this week by the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the business-focused Free Democrats (FDP), which will form Germany’s next government. That’s considerably less than 15 times “Africa” appeared in the coalition treaty between the previous government of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the SPD, a combination known as the ‘grand coalition’ in Germany. “Africa policy is a marginal topic compared to the grand coalition’s agreement,” German-Africa expert Robert Kappel told DW.
That doesn’t mean that German-supported projects in Africa will come to a standstill, FDP development politician Christoph Hoffmann told DW. The incoming government also wants to ensure that other financing, particularly for climate change, boosts development and directly benefits the poor, Hoffmann said.
However, the new coalition agreement doesn’t specify the levels of funding that would be available for such measures. “The incoming government wants to envisage health in a more networked way. They also want to focus on strengthening basic education, something that Germany has relatively neglected in the past,” said Stephan Exo-Kreischer, director of the development policy organization One.
European Investment Bank Strengthens Engagement in Africa (Investors King)
On his first official visit to Africa since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer and Vice President Thomas Östros today formally opened the EIB’s new Nairobi Hub with Kenyan Finance Minister, Cabinet Secretary Ukur Kanacho Yatani. Ahead of the launch of the EIB’s strengthened presence in Africa President Hoyer joined the CEO’s of Co-Operative Bank, Trade and Development Bank and International Housing Solutions to announce EUR 400 million of transformational new financing to help the Kenyan private sector recover from COVID, strengthen investment in fragile regions across East Africa and construct affordable and energy efficient housing. “At the European Investment Bank we are committed to enhancing the impact of our sustainable investment around the world in close cooperation with our global partners and through an increased local presence of our technical, environmental and financing experts. The EIB’s new Nairobi Hub opened today marks a milestone in the EU Bank’s engagement in Kenya and builds on our 56 years of operations in Africa. In the coming weeks the EIB will launch a dedicated development branch that will further intensify the EIB’s contribution to addressing global and local investment challenges,” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood Thursday said the incumbent government was giving foremost priority to promote and expand business and trade with the African countries. He was addressing the Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference in Lahogs, Nigeria, according to a message received here on Thursday. The conference was very well attended by businessmen and officials from ECOWAS member states specially Nigeria. Abdul Razak Dawood declared that Africa was “a promising continent and land of opportunities”. He also called for closer economic ties with Africa to harness mutual benefits in trading activities with Pakistan.
With little time left for the World Trade Organisation’s 12th ministerial conference (MC12), the contours of what could happen at the four-day meeting are becoming clearer by the hour. “Ministers will hold the future of international trade in their hands when they meet in Geneva next week,” thundered Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Union trade commissioner, in a signed article published in Financial Times on Thursday. He says the “WTO’s rulebook is badly out of date” and “its ability to referee trade disputes is paralyzed and it is out of touch with current imperatives such as action on climate change and the expansion of digital trade”. Dombrovskis argues “intellectual property has to be part of the global response” for concluding a targeted waiver on compulsory licenses. He warns that “failure” to bring about reform and other fundamental changes in the WTO’s rulebook “would represent an unconscionable dereliction of duty to our citizens, our workers, and to hopes of a truly sustainable global recovery”.
For the first time in four years, trade ministers from 164 member economies of the World Trade Organization (WTO), representing 98% of global trade, will meet for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial (MC12) in Geneva
The pressure is on for governments to agree on outcomes. Trade and investment are strong drivers of economic growth and development and have important roles in the global recovery. Merchandise trade has now stabilised at pre-pandemic levels and services trade continues to recover, though global supply chains are logjammed. Trade also played an important role during the pandemic, supporting development, production and distribution of personal protective equipment, vaccines and therapeutics.
Yet governments are divided on how to update trade rules to ensure they are relevant to current challenges, from COVID-19 and digital commerce to climate change, food security and fair competition. These differences play out in negotiations happening in different tracks. Some are “multilateral”, meaning all members are involved, and others are “plurilateral”, meaning some countries move forward based on common interests.
“The current draft reflects an honest attempt to find a balance in members’ positions and I think it is the most likely way we can build consensus, without undermining our sustainability objective, and successfully conclude more than 20 years of negotiations,” the chair said. “We are already one year overdue on the deadline to conclude WTO negotiations as contained in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 14.6. By now, members’ different positions and interests have been thoroughly examined and debated. Moreover, the threat that harmful fishing subsidies pose to our oceans loom even larger every passing year, at the risk also to people’s livelihood and food security,” he said.
The TRIPS Agreement and Public Health: Understanding the Reform Agenda (Observer Research Foundation)
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is one of the main annexes to the Marrakesh Agreement that established the World Trade Organization (WTO). Issues related to TRIPS enforcement began manifesting almost as soon as the agreement entered into force and reemerged amid health emergencies.
The COVID-19 pandemic renewed discussions on the agreement, even as the WTO is going through a crisis of legitimacy. The sheer scale and impact of COVID-19 have prompted governments to proactively seek the liberalisation of public health-related goods and services—albeit in the short term. Pandemic-induced lockdowns led to severe delays and supply chain congestion. This led to a disruption in the supply of medicines and other essential goods and services. Mode 2 services trade, consisting of services consumed abroad (as defined by the General Agreement on Trade in Services), was stopped altogether. Global solutions are thus being sought to ease any barriers to trade that interrupt the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The TRIPS Agreement and its barriers in bureaucratic notification rules are just one policy under discussion. Others include the reduction of tariffs on medical goods.
The 46 least developed countries (LDCs) are among the most vulnerable developing economies. Given the already high pressure for these countries to grow sustainably, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods for their people, they cannot afford to strand their assets. Stranded assets are those whose value has fallen so steeply they must be written off. The growing risk of stranded assets has implications on countries’ right to development or right to promote sustainable development, raising important questions of equity.
Many developing countries, particularly LDCs with significant fossil fuel resources, stand to lose the most from asset stranding and the adoption of renewables in the coming decades. According to 2015 research, Africa, where most of the LDCs are located, will have to leave 26%, 34% and 90% of gas, oil and coal reserves untouched, implying huge potential losses for these countries. The Carbon Tracker Initiative estimated that by 2030, new wind and solar energy will be cheaper than 96% of existing coal power, and that 42% of global coal capacity is currently unprofitable. A shrinking market for oil, natural gas, and coal would drain critical revenues that governments could spend on investments in health, education and infrastructure.
Whether these countries can diversify will depend on how long it takes and how much it costs to diversify away from high-risk carbon components into modern and complementary energy sectors, such as renewable energies, as well as other economic activities, while developing strong, resource-led value chains. This includes action to support the entry of LDCs into higher-value added manufacturing sectors, and technology-based services, among other industries, to reduce their dependence on one or a few natural resource-based sectors.
Amid pledges to phase out the use of coal and reduce methane emissions, world leaders at the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow also agreed to reform global carbon markets and improve rules about carbon trading, seen as key tools in the transition towards decarbonisation. Carbon trading is a system whereby a government sets a limit on the amount of carbon that can be emitted, and then divides this amount into units. These units are allocated to different groups, industries and businesses, and can then be traded like any commodity. Proponents say that carbon trading will ultimately increase investment in environmentally friendly solutions, as the price placed on carbon makes fossil-fuel projects less competitive, while at the same time incentivising low-carbon energy sources such as wind and solar.
While a number of countries already have their own domestic emissions trading schemes in place – and have previously engaged in cross-border emissions trading – COP26 saw participants agree on a set of transparent, uniform rules for international emissions trading. This means that countries struggling to reduce emissions can partially meet their climate targets by purchasing offset credits from other countries which have successfully reduced their own emissions.
The SheTrades Hub offers a platform for women-owned businesses to benefit from a wide range of opportunities to expand their business and participate in trade through networking, learning opportunities, trade fairs and other business events. The launch reception, hosted by the United Kingdom High Commission in The Gambia, provided a platform to bring together different partners, including SheTrades entrepreneurs in fashion and agribusiness, value-chain enablers, market partners, the Gender Champions, government stakeholders and development partners. The reception and networking event also provided an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to showcase their products.
Speaking about the importance of the SheTrades Hub, H.E. Isatou Touray, Vice President of The Gambia stressed the government’s continued commitment in support of women economic empowerment: “Women-owned businesses need support to build their productive capacities and improve the quality of their products in other to connect to the markets. The SheTrades Gambia Hub is a critical initiative to tap the opportunities and activate the potential for women in business.”
Positioning apparel supply chains for success in the new Brexit era (just-style.com)
The thematic report titled ‘The Impact of Brexit on Apparel’ outlines the effects of the UK agreeing the terms of its departure from the EU bloc in December 2020, on the apparel sector. It says there has been a colossal impact on apparel supply chains, with UK-based retailers that have multi-country supply chains being more affected by Brexit than ones with “simpler UK-specific supply chains.” Challenges include trade tariffs, the movement of goods, changes in the labour market and general repercussions relating to consumer attitudes and buying behaviour across the region. Despite this, there are opportunities to be had for retailers in the UK, the report says, and areas such as M&A and potential new trade agreements should be explored.