Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


Cyril Ramaphosa | Let’s focus on the continent for renewed trade and investment opportunities (News24)

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, which coincided with our term as African Union (AU) chair, our focus has been on responding to the impact of the pandemic on human health, society and economies.

South Africa was, for example, instrumental in the establishment of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to enable countries to procure personal protective equipment and medical supplies, as well as the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which secured millions of vaccines for the continent.

As we continue to combat the virus, our focus is also on a sustainable economic recovery.As part of our economic diplomacy efforts, we are giving renewed attention to promoting trade and investment with countries on our continent.That is why this week I will be undertaking visits to four West African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.These are countries with which we have strategic partnerships and are markets in which a number of South African businesses operate. In addition to government ministers and officials, I will be accompanied by a delegation of business people representing sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction, consumer goods, renewable energy, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

At the beginning of this year, one of the most significant milestones in the quest for African economic integration was reached when trade officially commenced under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This presents immense opportunity for the export of South African goods and services into the continent.

In all these visits, we will be looking to build trade and investment relationships that benefit growth, development and employment in each country. For far too long, we African countries have trained our gaze on trade and investment opportunities in markets beyond the continent, such as Europe, Asia and North America. If the AfCFTA is to be a success, we have to both strengthen the existing trade relationships with countries closer to home and forge new ones.

Travel bans due to Omicron “hammer blow” to South Africa’s local economy recovery: official (Daily News Egypt)

Travel bans on South Africa due to the new Omicron coronavirus variant will be “devastating” for the provincial economy as the local government is seeking for a recovery on its key tourism sector from COVID-19 impact, Western Cape provincial official said in a press release on Sunday.

The economy of Western Cape, South Africa’s popular tourism destination that hosts the legislative capital Cape Town, relies on international visitors during the peak season, which starts from December when South Africa is in summer, said Alan Winde, Premier of Western Cape. “This has been a hammer blow to our major job-creating sector in the province precisely when we needed a recovery, to claw back jobs lost over the last 19 months,” said Winde.

Zim submits proposed AFCfTA tariff offer to AU Commission (The Herald)

Zimbabwe has submitted the draft of its proposed African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) tariff market access offer to the African Union Commission (AUC) for consideration. Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza made the revelation last week in her presentation at the Competition and Tariff Commission’s National Trade Tariff Day. “I urge the Competition and Tariff Commission to go beyond the national tariff day and arrange similar workshops with other sectors in 2022 to prepare our local industry for the implementation of the (ACfTA) agreement,” she said. “If there are significant comments and reviews from AUC, as will be advised through the Ministry Foreign Affairs and International Trade, my ministry will engage the commission to undertake further consultations and I’m sure the livestock sector will be part of the consultations,” she said.

‘No better time to invest in Zim than now’ (Sunday Mail Zimbabwe)

There is no better time to invest in Zimbabwe than now, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza said, as she implored investors to leverage on economic growth, consistent policy environment and global market opportunities. Speaking at the eighth edition of the Southern African-European Union CEO dialogue in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week, Dr Nzenza said the Government has prioritised the ease of doing business reforms to create an enabling business environment. “We have strived to create a policy framework which makes it easy and competitive for the pursuit of investment in Zimbabwe,” she said.

The “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra, she added, has seen several measures being put in place to improve the business environment. These include operationalisation of a one-stop shop investment and trade facilitation entity — the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) — and creation and streamlining of the National Quality Policy with a view of aligning it to regional and international practices. The Government is also pursuing Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) to smoothen trade.

Lobby calls for better Kenya, China trade relations (Business Daily)

Kenyan firms have been challenged to invest more in trading with China in a bid to foster a more robust trade relationship between these countries. The Vice President of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dr. Erick Rutto said the inter-trade relationship between Kenya and China is skewed in favour of the Asian giant despite a big potential for Kenyan firms in the Chinese market. Speaking during the Kenya International Industrial Expo 2021, Dr Rutto said the event is a platform aimed at opening investments opportunities for local investors to the huge Chinese market which has over 1.3 billion people. It also links Chinese manufacturers to Africa industries.

Dr Rutto called on Kenyan firms and Small Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) to use technology in order to improve exports to the Chinese market. Kenya exported goods worth $134.8 million to China and imported goods worth $3.29 billion, a disparity Dr. Rutto said would be solved through the formation of partnerships with businesses in China.

Import tax relief delay keeps feed prices high (Business Daily)

The Treasury is yet to waive duty on yellow maize a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive on emergency measures to lower the cost of animal feeds, exposing Kenyans to costly food as farmers pass on the cost to the consumer. The President issued his directive on October 20 to the Agriculture Ministry and the Treasury to come up with intervention measures within seven days from the date, to address the rising cost of feed that has now hit a historic high. The Agriculture ministry prepared the intervention measures, which included a duty waiver on the importation of yellow maize, but the Treasury is yet to approve the proposal. Stakeholders in the sector argue that the delay in approving the relief measures is having a negative impact on both the farmers and manufacturers, who are struggling to control costs.

Rise in Uganda coffee exports earns $657m (The East African)

Uganda’s coffee exports have continued to increase in both value and quantity, despite a ravaging pandemic, at the backdrop of adverse weather conditions and Covid-19 restrictions in the world’s biggest exporters like Brazil and supply disruptions around the world. Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) data shows that the country exported 6.55 million bags of coffee worth $657.23 million in the year to October 2021, compared with 5.41 million in the same period last year, earning $513.79 million.

The increase in exports is attributed to government efforts in 2012 which saw millions of seedlings distributed to farmers to grow new bushes across the 98 coffee growing districts. “Increasing exports were due to newly planted coffee which started yielding supported by favourable weather. This was also complimented by a positive trend in global coffee prices,” the report reads.

Uganda, Tanzania asked to relax trade laws as oil nears (Independent)

The private sector, specifically those in businesses relating to the oil and gas industry, want the governments of Uganda and Tanzania to lift some national laws that hinder companies from trading especially across the border. Focus has increasingly been put on projects that companies in Uganda may want to undertake in Tanzania and vice-versa for the Tanzanian investors. Currently, while the two countries have tried to introduce some harmonized policies regarding the industry, the private sector say there are still some areas where it is difficult for them to cross borders. Patrick Mweheire, the Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum on Sunday gave the example of Tanzania’s view of local companies, where for one to be considered, there must be a 25 percent local ownership. In Uganda, the Local Content Policy provides for companies started and registered in the names of Ugandans, and some products and services in the oil and gas industry have been ring-fenced for them. The other services are free to be competed for by any person.

Speaking at the Tanzania-Uganda Oil and Gas Symposium in Dar es Salaam, Mweheire asked that such barriers should be lifted for at least three years to help the private businesses in the two countries to take advantage of the available opportunities.

Covid-19: Angola shuts borders with 7 countries in southern Africa (The East African)

Angola government has Saturday shut its borders with seven southern African countries to curb the spread new Covid-19 variant. The countries which are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are South Africa, Botswana, eSwatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Angolan government’s move comes after South African scientists detected a new Covid-19 ‘super-variant’ with multiple mutations.

Nigeria’s current account deficit drops to $424 million in Q2 2021 (Nairametrics)

Nigeria recorded a current account deficit of $424 million in the second quarter of 2021, dropping to its lowest level in over two years. This is according to data on Nigeria’s balance of payment from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Although Nigeria’s balance of payment continues to trail in the negative region, it dropped significantly by 79.8% compared to a deficit of $2.1 billion recorded in the previous quarter. Also, it reduced by 87% compared to a deficit of $3.27 billion recorded in Q2 2020. The upward movement in the country’s balance of payment is attributed to the significant surge in crude oil export. Notably, crude oil export increased by 73% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 2021 from $6.48 billion to $11.22 billion. Compared to the corresponding period of 2020, crude oil export increased by 116.7% from $4.31 billion.

It is worth noting that the rally in the global crude oil market and the reopening of economies and relaxation of lockdown measures around the world are major contributing factors to the surge recorded in the value of Nigeria’s crude export. However, when compared to pre-pandemic levels, we are yet to earn as much from crude oil exports. This is due to the decline in crude oil production.

Oil export and household spending to drive Nigerian economic growth in 2022 – Fitch report (Nairametrics)

Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow by 2.8% in 2022 on the back of stronger household spending and an increase in crude oil export value. This is according to projections in the Nigeria Country Risk report, by Fitch Solutions. The projections were made following expected growth of 2.1% in 2021 from the 1.9% contraction recorded in the previous year, which was affected by the covid-19 lockdown measures. According to the report, government consumption is expected to rise in the coming year, based on the 2022 budget announcement by the Finance Minister. It also hinges the projections on increases in fixed investment and oil exports. However, the downside to the projection includes a sharper economic slowdown in China and the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains of the covid-19.

Nigeria’s Non-oil Revenue Now N1.15 Trillion – Minister of Finance (Investors King)

Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has said that Nigeria’s non-oil revenue is now N1.15 trillion, representing 15.7 percent above the country’s target. This, she claimed, was a result of the federal government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the event with the theme: “Creating the Future: Deepening the Corporate Governance Practice through Multi-Sectoral and Multi-Generational Collaborations,” was meant to discuss economic development.

Mrs Ahmed added that the recent development was in line with President’s commitment to further diversifying the Nigerian economy which is heavily dependent on oil. She observed that Nigeria was showing resilience in recovery from recession from coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which intensely affected global economies.

“Our non-oil revenues have grown to N1.15 trillion, representing 15.7 per cent above set target. We are working on the 2021 finance bill and it’s nearing completion. Also, the recent approval of the medium-term national development plan is an important milestone of Buhari’s commitment to delivering sustainable growth and we require strong support and monitoring during implementation,” she said.

Accra puts in place a new economic and financial resilience plan in wake of COVID-19 (UNECA)

Accra’s economy, like that of other African cities, was hard hit from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as per a study by the city, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Accra demonstrated notable capacity to bounce back swiftly and record growth by the end of 2020. According to the study, most of the economic stagnation was concentrated in the lockdown period from March to May in 2020, followed by substantial recovery in most sectors. The findings of the study were presented at a multi-stakeholder workshop in Accra on 25 November, which brought together city officials, including Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey and Mayor of Accra Elizabeth Sackey, along with delegates from UN agencies, businesses and civil society.

While many areas of strength were noted, the study points outs weakened resilience in the local business environment, labor market and financial system, stemming from low productive activities, weak financial intermediation and poor social protection systems, especially for those in the informal sector. In addition, Accra’s small and medium-sized businesses find it especially hard to access affordable finance.

In view of the findings, an Urban Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan has been drafted for the Accra Metropolitan Authority with technical assistance from ECA.

Full involvement in AfCFTA could increase national income by 6% by 2035 (Minister of Trade) (TAP)

“Tunisia’s national income should increase by 6% by 2035 under the condition of a full involvement in the African continental zone, through the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and the adoption of a trade facilitation approach,” Trade and Export Development Minister Fadhila Rabhi Ben Hamza said Friday in Tunis.

The minister, who was speaking at the opening of the international conference on African trade agreements, particularly in relation to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), added that “Tunisia would be one of the main beneficiaries of the advantages brought by this African free trade area,” noting that once the agreement on the creation of this area is implemented, “the share of Tunisian exports to Africa will increase by 91%, to reach 19% of total exports in 2035, compared to about 11% currently.

African Union endorses Togo’s vaccine passports, first in Africa (GhanaWeb)

The African Union (AU) has endorsed vaccine pass standard (Trusted Vaccines) and COVID-19 testing certificate standard (Trusted Travel) of the Republic of Togo. Togo is the “first country to offer a continental vaccine pass and testing certificate to its citizens”, a joint statement with the African Union on Thursday said while many African countries are deploying the trusted vaccines solution and several more have launched trusted travel in recent months, The statement added that this is expected to improve its citizens’ ability to benefit from the free movement provisions enshrined in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.


Organization of Women in International Trade call on women to tap into the African Continental Free Trade Area (ITC News)

The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) in Nairobi, in collaboration with OWIT Nigeria and OWIT Zimbabwe, are partnering to support African women entrepreneurs to participate in intra-regional trade. Speaking during the Africa Women Trade Conference organized by the two organizations on 25 and 26 November, Aissatou Diallo, ITC Senior Coordinator for the AfCFTA and Least Developed Countries, said that trade under the AfCFTA would drive larger gains in earning for businesswomen. Themed ‘Empowering Women in Intra-Africa Trade’, the conference encourages women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the AfCFTA’s enormous potential for trade within its regional and continental markets. It further focuses on Africa’s investment opportunities while creating an opportunity for women entrepreneurs and business leaders to meet with investors.

The AfCFTA will improve Africa’s ability to respond to future pandemics (Modern Ghana)

Global trade has suffered since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The continent has found itself in a difficult position due to its heavy reliance on trade with the rest of the world. In total, about 53 per cent of African imports come from countries where Covid-19 has had a significant impact.

The African Union Development Agency has estimated that the pandemic will cause more than $101 billion of export earning losses in Africa, with oil-producing countries losing an estimated $65 billion. This severe impact on the economy makes Africa’s oil producers the major losers. For example, crude oil sales account for more than 50% of government revenues and over 90% of foreign exchange in Nigeria. Crude oil makes up 90% of Angola’s earnings and 73% of South Sudan’s.

Faced with the devastating pandemic, countries and trading blocs have been forced to prioritise their citizens’ needs. Aid to Africa has also decreased as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19 and rising nationalism. African countries should work together to find answers for their current problems.

SADC Industrialisation Week well placed to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the Region’s GDP (SADC)

The fifth edition of the SADC Industrialisation Week (SIW) has fulfilled its purpose of providing a platform for sharing ideas on unpacking the regional industrialisation agenda, Honourable Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources for the Republic of Malawi, Ms Nancy Tembo, said. She said the Region has great potential to substantially increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with proper implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) to promote intra-regional trade.

In financing industrialisation, the cost of funding remains an issue for emerging and less experienced businesses and project owners. It is something that needs to be looked at to reduce the reliance on offshore capital investments;

For mining, it was observed that Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) are negatively impacting Africa’s development, particularly investment in the mining industry. More robust collaboration and cooperation between governments and the private sector is critical in ensuring that any research conducted on IFFs is verified and tested by all relevant state institutions and the private sector;

In the area of-processing; agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, value addition and agro-processing value chains are vital contributors to the development of agro-industries in the Region that are needed to enhance intra-regional and export trade, industrialise local economies, grow rural areas enterprises, create new job opportunities, and address rural poverty;

For trade and trade facilitation, it was noted that the SADC Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and Trade Facilitation Working Group will pave the way for a sustainable public-private dialogue on NTBs, which can improve the resolution of NTBs. This will align and harmonise regulatory tax policies in the SADC Region to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

In pharmaceuticals, the Support towards Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors in the SADC Region (SIPS) programme has successfully supported projects to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It has a high potential to scale into other areas (including COVID-19 treatment and ARVs) through upcoming calls for proposals. Harmonisation of medicine registration policies is a crucial enabler. The SADC Regulatory Forum should be supported to speed up registration and distribution of essential medicines and create a pathway for speedy registration of innovative medicines while respecting intellectual property rights. Member States could enhance technology transfer, joint ventures and licences by increasing the availability of trusted, experienced, and technically capable local partners.

Southern Africa to accelerate implementation of regional industrialization strategies & policies (UNECA)

Experts from Southern Africa convened in Livingstone to deliberate on accelerating the implementation of regional industrialization strategies and policies in Southern Africa through domestication. ECA Sub-Region Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) brought together 30 experts from regional stakeholders including representatives of government ministries and parastatals, the private sector, academia and Civil Society Organisations to review the study entitled, ‘‘Accelerating the Implementation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Industrial Policies and Strategies through domestication”. The workshop discussed the critical factors required to facilitate domestication and implementation of regional industrial policy and industrialization frameworks at the national level.

Regional Value Chains: COVID-19 has opened doors towards solid and sustainable growth, after the negative shock (UNECA)

The ECA Office for North Africa held on 24-25 November in Marrakech (Morocco) its 36th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for North Africa (ICSOE) on “Strengthening regional integration in North Africa,” and an Expert group meeting on “Unlocking the Potential of Regional Value Chains in North Africa: Focus on the Pharmaceutical and Digital Finance Sectors.”

Participants agreed that the ECA office for North Africa 2022 work programme should focus on employment creation and skills through economic diversification, structural transformation, as well as regional integration and global value chains. The office will also continue with its important project on economic impacts of migration, with a focus on building countries’ capacity to collect migration data and recognize migrants’ skills and qualifications.

This year’s meeting took place as North Africa is facing both major, multiple challenges and opportunities. Key current challenges include building forward better and greener from COVID-19 while turning the tide on persistently high youth unemployment. At the same time, the AfCFTA and accelerated digitalization are presenting the sub-region’s youth with new opportunities to enter higher-skilled and more productive, export-oriented sectors.

“To help our member countries put their economies on a high and sustainable growth path, we must look at the doors the pandemic has opened: COVID-19 has raised countries’ interest in productive opportunities closer to home. It has also given pharmaceutical industries a strategic dimension they didn’t have before and underscored Africa’s need to find alternative sources of financing for their development and health security needs. The pandemic has also accelerated several megatrends, including digitalization. African countries can build forward better, by investing in greener, more resilient sectors and inclusive economies”, said Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski, Director of the ECA Office for North Africa in an opening statement given on behalf of ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe.

Egypt makes 10 messages during inauguration of COMESA summit (Egypt Independent)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reviewed the COMESA summit’s medium-term strategic action plan for the period 2021-2025, which aims to deepen economic integration, regional integration and development among the countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This strategy is in harmony with the African Continental Free Trade Zone Agreement, he said, which guarantees preferential trade among the group’s countries, aiming to establish a free trade zone between member states to develop into a customs union and then a common market.

A region in debt as top banks record $125m in bad loans (The East African)

East Africa’s top retail banks booked more than $125 million of bad loans in the nine months to September this year, as borrowers struggled to repay their loans following the expiry of a 12-month loan repayment relief programme for customers adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes as regional banking regulators in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have raised concern over the rise of bad loans, which is now threatening the financial sector. Last week, Rwanda’s central bank reinstated regulatory requirements for commercial banks to increase provisions on loans that had been suspended due to the pandemic to allow banks to continue lending. The reinstatement could affect loans to the private sector. Meanwhile, Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has introduced measures to address non-performing loans, which include zeroing in on individual bank employees who are directly responsible for issuing the loans.

The latest unaudited financial statements for regional lenders KCB, Equity and Co-operative banks show that the volume of gross non-performing loans (NPLs) rose eight percent to $1.81 billion, from $1.68 billion in the same period last year. Co-operative bank was the highest with over $80.6 million worth of loans turning sour during the period under review, followed by Equity Bank at $39.46 million and KCB at $10.26 million.

Agribusiness Is Africa’s Solution To Poverty (Peace FM Online)

The 6th edition of the annual meeting of the Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO) was held in Accra, Ghana on Thursday, November 25, 2021. The conference was organized under the theme “Connecting African Special Economic zones To Global Value Chains At The Era Of The African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” and held in partnership with the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat (AfCFTA) with the contribution of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and African Development Bank (AfDB).Speaking to the Senior Special Adviser to the President on industrialization, Professor. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka was optimistic that agribusiness will help in eradicating poverty in Africa. According to him, agriculture has the potential to contribute to a nation’s economy, saying “if agriculture will play its role as it’s supposed to be we need to raise the game by raising productivity, raising the skills of farmers into ecosystems and these are some of the objectives from us at African bank is championing”.

If we want to solve the poverty problem in African the solution is Agribusiness. We can achieve this by bringing farmers into the modernized ecosystem and also by raising their living standards and ensuring they achieve a better quality of life...Poor farmers are our big target,” he added.

SADC Environment and Tourism Ministers approve Boundless Southern Africa feasibility study report and roadmap (SADC)

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism have approved the Boundless Southern Africa Feasibility Study Report and the Roadmap for hosting the programme within regional structures. This came out of the Ministers’ Extraordinary Session held through video-conferencing on 23rd November 2021 to review progress in implementing the decisions the Ministers took at their ordinary virtual meeting on 18th June 2021, namely to deliberate on the Boundless Southern Africa Programme, and to be appraised on developments regarding the implementation of Decisions of SADC Council of Ministers regarding the winding-up of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA).

The Boundless Southern Africa Feasibility Study addresses the role and sustainability of Boundless Southern Africa Programme to implement the SADC Tourism Programme 2020-2030. This is in order to adequately promote the development of tourism within the SADC Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) to strengthen the conservation of natural resources, and simultaneously contribute to regional economic development, including the livelihoods of local communities.

Hon. Tembo said the SADC Tourism Programme 2020-2030 provides a pathway for a quick economic recovery process following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said some of the preventive measures that countries took as one way of containing the pandemic led to closure and slowdown of tourism businesses and those businesses depending on tourism, which resulted in many job losses and livelihoods.

EAC bans dumping of electronic waste, calls for recycling (The East African)

A ban on the dumping of electronic waste in the region received a boost after the East African Community (EAC) prohibited the importation of cathode rays tubes (CRTs) and standalone used computer monitors with effect from July 1, 2022. The East African Community Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) held a meeting in Arusha on November 12, chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of Trade and Industrialisation Betty Maina, in which the partner states — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan — agreed unanimously to ban dumping of e-waste in the region. The decision follows concerns that firms in developed countries were exporting these items to developing countries, purportedly as refurbished and good for use, while instead were dumping them so that they don’t have to deal with the e-waste when they become obsolete. Many African countries have non-existent or unsafe recycling practices, which endanger both people’s health and the environment.

African Union rejects travel bans amid new Covid-19 variant (The East African)

The African Union on Saturday cautioned countries across the world against imposing quick travel bans on travellers from the continent, in the wake of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus said to be more infectious. Dr John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said the history of the pandemic had indicated travel bans served little purpose in managing the spread of the virus. Instead, the continental body was encouraging more surveillance and data sharing between countries, in addition to increased vaccination of the “high-risk” populations. “Africa CDC strongly discourages the imposition of travel ban for people originating from countries that have reported this variant. In fact, over the duration of this pandemic, we have observed that imposing bans on travellers from countries where a new variant is reported has not yielded a meaningful outcome,” Nkengasong said in a statement.

European Green Deal will leave Africa hungrier, poorer – experts warn (Nation)

Experts in the East African region have warned EAC states to go slow on the EGD proposal, that a mandated reduction in agricultural inputs by farmers could reduce global agricultural output up to 11 per cent, while the tightening of global supplies could increase food prices by as much as 89 per cent. Further, measures to reduce agricultural inputs could increase the number of food-insecure people in the world’s most vulnerable regions, majorly in Africa, by 22 million to 185 million.

“The EGD strategies are likely to erode an already small tool box for African farmers by between 50 per cent and 60 per cent due to increased farming costs, reduced crop yields thus a need to increase food production up to 56 per cent by 2050,” shared Stella Simiyu, director regulatory affairs and stakeholder relations CropLife Africa Middle East. The move will also make farmers like Mr Mwakame less competitive and tighten export windows due to stringent export standards.

Several impact assessment studies on the EGD conclude that there are significant impacts, trade-offs and blind spots regarding the Green Deal that urgently need to be considered by policymakers in the EU and Africa. The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) study predicts that the expected decrease of between 40 and 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from European agriculture stemming from the implementation of farm to fork targets will lead to outsourcing European agricultural production, including its emissions to third world countries. The Kiel University study projects that Europe could become a net food importer, in direct contradiction with the open strategic autonomy promoted by the European Commission during the COVID crisis.

We need to be on the table to be able to say what is good, workable and sustainable for us. We may need to have our own Green Deal, but who is going to fund Africa’s Green Deal? Do we have the capacity as governments to fund our own Green Deal?” Mr Ojepat posed.

The secret to a prosperous China-Africa relationship (ecns)

China and Africa have stood together through times of adversity and success, setting a strong example for the building of a global community with a shared future. The 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will convene despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, showing the great significance that Africa and China attach to furthering their ties, as well as a deep mutual trust that will create more opportunities for the two traditional partners to collaborate.

The secret to fruitful China-Africa cooperation has been revealed by a white paper, titled “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals,” released by China’s State Council Information Office on Friday.

Economy-wise, statistics show China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the 12 years since 2009. China-Africa trade accounted for more than 21 percent of Africa’s total external trade in 2020. China has increased its imports of non-resource products, and offered zero-tariff treatment to 97

A new US policy on Africa: Genuine reset or same old rhetoric? (Observer Research Foundation)

Last week, United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during his three nation—Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal—sojourn to sub-Saharan Africa unveiled a new United States (US) policy towards the continent. If Blinken’s speech in Nigeria is anything to go by, there’s now a noticeable and discernible shift from the previous Trump administration in how the US views and frames its engagement with Africa. Blinken made a conscious effort to downplay China in Washington’s new policy approach. He insisted on facilitating Africa’s choices and partnerships that are mutually beneficial, rather than engaging in a zero-sum policy of competing with China in Africa.

Under the new policy, the US is expected to tailor its engagement around five key areas: Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing trade, promoting and revitalising democracy, combatting climate change, and ensuring peace and stability with a focus on equal partnerships. This could not have come at a more appropriate time, since trade between China and Africa increased by 40.5 percent in the first seven months of 2021, valued at US $139.1 billion. In 2020, Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa reached US $4.2 billion, despite apprehensions over a possible reduction in ‘big-ticket’ investments due to the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. China has consistently proven that it is the most consequential player in Africa. Now that the US is also determined to revamp and rebuild its engagement with the continent, it is amply clear that Africa cannot be ignored.


OECD, WTO issue joint study on economic benefits of new services domestic regulation deal (WTO)

Entitled “Services domestic regulation in the WTO: Cutting red tape, slashing trade costs, and facilitating services trade”, the study looks at how improved regulatory systems for licensing and authorizing services suppliers would lead to savings. The 67 WTO members taking part in this initiative represent 90 per cent of world services trade. They are aiming for a successful outcome to be announced at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), which begins on 30 November. The final deal will be applied on a “most-favoured nation” basis, meaning that it will benefit all WTO members.

The study finds that implementing the outcome will: improve the business climate; lower trade costs and lead to other trade benefits; facilitate services trade; and generate widespread gains beyond the participants

Members conclude milestone review of Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO)

“Completing the review is an important milestone for the Trade Facilitation Committee. Members have worked intensely over the past six months to look back at the significant progress made over the past four years, while also recognizing the implementation challenges faced by members, particularly least-developed countries (LDCs),” the Committee Chair, Mr Christopher O’Toole (Canada), said. “Importantly, the Committee also looked to the future, identifying a number of means by which it can strengthen its work to support full implementation of the TFA. As a result, the Committee has identified a good basis for a future work programme,” he said.

The TFA seeks to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area. Under the Agreement, members committed to review the operation and implementation of the TFA four years from its entry into force, which was on 22 February 2017, and periodically thereafter.

The TFA is the first WTO agreement in which developing and LDC members can determine their own implementation schedules, with progress in implementation explicitly linked to technical and financial capacity. Developed members were required to implement all provisions of the TFA from its entry into force.

General Council decides to postpone MC12 indefinitely (WTO)

The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) was due to start on 30 November and run until 3 December, but the announcement of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Switzerland and many other European countries led General Council Chair Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) to call an emergency meeting of all WTO members to inform them of the situation. “Given these unfortunate developments and the uncertainty that they cause, we see no alternative but to propose to postpone the Ministerial Conference and reconvene it as soon as possible when conditions allow,” Amb. Castillo told the General Council. “I trust that you will fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation.”

Vaccine squabble tests global trade ties as WTO meeting postponed (POLITICO)

Failure to reach an agreement on vaccine patents or other longstanding disputes would raise more doubt about the purpose of the WTO as countries increasingly make two-way or regional deals. It would also raise questions about whether the former Nigerian finance minister, after just nine months on the job, is the right person to lead the organization out of its morass.

At stake “is the future of multilateral trading system, whether it’s going to increase its service to the world’s economy,” former WTO Deputy Director General Alan Wolff said this month. “If they don’t have an agreement, it’s just another black mark.”

Since taking over as head of WTO in February, Okonjo-Iweala has focused much of her energy on resolving the patent dispute. The fight pits a group of more than 100 developing countries led by South Africa and India, which favor the broadest possible waiver, against the EU, the U.K. and Switzerland, which argue that logistical bottlenecks rather than patent protections are the biggest impediments to boosting vaccine availability.

Okonjo-Iweala said she planned to go ahead with a series of previously scheduled meetings this weekend. Those will involve ambassadors to the WTO stationed in Geneva and visiting negotiators who had arrived early.

Developing countries need more support to cope with new global sustainability reporting standards (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) has called for more technical assistance to developing countries to enable them to cope with new global sustainability reporting standards. The experts made the call at ISAR’s 38th meeting held from 9 to 12 November, saying more technical assistance would empower countries with weaker accounting and reporting infrastructure to enable companies to better report their contributions towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Sustainability reporting is a basis for sustainable investment,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. “It is fundamental to allow financiers to make sound investment decisions.”

UNCTAD’s director of investment and enterprise, James Zhan, said the organization’s work on sustainability reporting was progressing so rapidly, hence ISAR’s strategic focus would gradually shift from “indicator-development work” towards “dissemination”. He said this would involve “supporting developing economies and countries with weaker accounting and reporting infrastructure to cope with global developments.”

Better roads increase domestic trade and improve regional economies (VOX, CEPR Policy Portal)

High transport costs can cause spatial disparities in economic activity by impeding market access in isolated regions, both in terms of firms’ ability to sell goods and in terms of their ability to buy the required inputs. Investment in transport infrastructure can impact regional inequality and improve growth prospects by facilitating trade. But how large are these gains, especially when there are various types or stages of investments that are possible? The question is harder to answer than one might expect. Infrastructure projects tend to be expensive and long lasting, so governments may prioritise investments in regions already poised for growth. This tends to generate a positive association between infrastructure and income levels, not because the former causes the latter, but because of strategic selection.

High transport costs can cause spatial disparities in economic activity by impeding market access in isolated regions, both in terms of firms’ ability to sell goods and in terms of their ability to buy the required inputs. Investment in transport infrastructure can impact regional inequality and improve growth prospects by facilitating trade. But how large are these gains, especially when there are various types or stages of investments that are possible? The question is harder to answer than one might expect. Infrastructure projects tend to be expensive and long lasting, so governments may prioritise investments in regions already poised for growth. This tends to generate a positive association between infrastructure and income levels, not because the former causes the latter, but because of strategic selection.


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