Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Simon Dawson | Bloomberg


SA’s trade surplus narrows to R19.78bn in October (Moneyweb)

South Africa’s trade surplus narrowed to R19.78 billion ($1.23 billion) in October from a revised surplus of R22.15 billion in September, data from the revenue service showed on Tuesday. Exports fell 5.7% on a month-on-month basis to R147.92 billion, while imports were down 4.9% to R128.14 billion, the South African Revenue Service said.

SA, Nigeria elevate bilateral and trade relations (SAnews)

Two of Africa’s largest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, are today expected to strengthen their longstanding bilateral ties and trade relations during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s two-day state visit in Nigeria.

President Ramaphosa and President Muhammadu Buhari are expected to sign a number of Memoranda of Understanding and agreements across political, diplomatic and economic and trade relations. The visit to Nigeria coincides with the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC)

Kenya, South Africa fast track plans for a pan-African airline (The East African)

Kenya Airways (KQ) and its South African counterpart SAA are fast-tracking the launch of an African airline alliance to support their recovery from deep losses and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The two cash-strapped and loss-making carriers this week advanced a cooperation agreement they entered into two months ago into a strategic partnership framework to jointly launch a pan African airline group by 2023. Signed under the gaze of Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Cyril Ramaphosa during a three-day State visit to South Africa by the Kenyan leader, the new partnership is expected help both airlines improve their financial viability by leveraging their strategic strengths through deeper coordination of passenger and cargo operations and pricing. “The signing of the strategic partnership framework by the two African airlines will see both airlines work together to increase passenger traffic, cargo opportunities and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya and Africa,” the airlines said in a joint statement.

Validation Workshop of Namibia’s Strategy on the Implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement and Media Sensitization and Capacity Building (UNECA)

The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) and Sub regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) is organising a Validation Hybrid Workshop of Namibia’s Strategy on the Implementation of AfCFTA on 2 and 3 December 2021 at Safari Hotel, Windhoek, Namibia, preceded by a media sensitization workshop on December 1, 2021 at the same venue. The workshop will review the draft national AfCFTA strategy and implementation plan in terms of the content, the objectives, proposed actions and the implementation framework to address any gaps, correct any misrepresentations and align any inconsistencies to improve the national strategy and implementation framework. The workshop will also review the proposed Terms of Reference for the National AfCFTA Committee to ensure the terms provide a solid foundation for the required leadership in the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement in Namibia.

KRA to auction overstayed goods at port (Business Daily)

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will auction assorted goods which have overstayed and whose owners have failed to pay the required tax. The exercise to auction 243 lots, according to the gazette notice issued by the authority, will also help the taxman to meet its revenue target before the end of 2021. The taxman in the notice has invited interested bidders to view the goods with full details being listed in a public notice published in a gazette notice dated 29th October this year. In the notice, the taxman intends to auction different types of goods ranging from electronic, cars, household items among others imported goods which have overstayed in different customs warehouses in the port city. Goods imported for domestic use and transit cargo to Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda are among those gazetted for auctioning today.

Farmers fight duty-free sugar imports above Comesa quota (Business Daily)

Farmers have challenged in court a decision to allow the importation of duty-free sugar from Uganda above the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) quota. A group of farmers through the Kongaren Multipurpose Cooperative Society argues that it was wrong for Kenya and Uganda, being Comesa member states, to engage in separate bilateral trade agreements outside the bloc’s treaty. In a petition at the Mombasa High Court, the cooperative society says sometime in March 2019, the two countries entered into a special arrangement in which Kenya granted Uganda sugar-free access to its market of up to 90,000 metric tonnes above the quota allocated by Comesa to it (Kenya) in 2016.

Through lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini, the petitioner argues that based on the arrangement, Uganda has been exporting sugar to Kenya on zero percent import duty despite the fact that it should incur 20 percent import tax. “There is a real threat of huge quantities of sugar flooding the Kenyan market, which are to be cleared for home use in the country from Uganda on a zero customs and excise duty basis,” states part of the petition. The cooperative society further argues that flooding of Ugandan sugar means that the farmers’ produce will be costlier in the market and not attract buyers.

Uhuru picks economy amid new Covid threat (Business Daily)

President Uhuru Kenyatta has signalled that his administration has no immediate plans to lock down the country again despite the new Covid-19 variant scare that is sweeping across the world, in a major relief to the economy ahead of the festive spending. The President is betting on an accelerated vaccination plan in the coming months to preclude the need for further drastic Covid containment measures such as lockdowns and a night curfew that slowed down the economy last year.

The President’s State of the Nation Address on Tuesday came against the backdrop of fears he might consider imposing new restrictions in response to reports of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, which was first detected in South Africa.

But unlike in many of his recent pandemic-era speeches in which he made a strong case for public health protocols to save lives, the President on Tuesday underlined a focus on revitalising and shielding the recovering economy from Covid shocks. “During the second quarter of 2021, real GDP recorded a phenomenal 10.1 percent growth. This is the highest growth ever recorded in one quarter in Kenya’s history. It is also the first time Kenya has hit double-digit growth. The last time Kenya’s economy got close to this kind of performance was in 2010 during the Grand Coalition Government when the economy hit an 8.4 percent growth rate,” said Mr Kenyatta.

We cannot put investors ahead of workers’ rights – trade expert (Daily Monitor)

From the various consultations and community engagements with casual labourers and community representatives in Kalangala, Kiryandongo, Mubende, and Buvuma where some of the large-scale investment schemes are based, it is evident that cases of human and environmental rights violations are widespread. Uganda is a signatory to a number of protocols that demand protection of the environment and observance of rights. However, in an interview Jane Seruwagi Nalunga, a trade expert told Ismail Musa Ladu, why there is need for a middle ground between investor rights and the investment laws.

Does Uganda’s investment agenda pay attention to issues such as human and business rights violations? Uganda like many other African countries, has put in place policies and regulations to try to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to provide employment and support economy growth. However, some of these policies look at attracting investors at the expense of Ugandans. Secondly, there is a drive from multinational companies. Many of them are pushing for policy framework that protect their multi-billion investments. So, if you look at the combination of FDI and the influence of multinationals, it is a no brainer that many of our policies are inclined against citizens.

Uganda Economy to Rebound but Could Take Longer to Become a Lower-Middle-Income Country (World Bank)

Uganda’s growth is expected to be between 3.5% and 4.0% in Fiscal Year (FY) 22 and about 5.5% in FY23; both projections are about one percentage lower than the June 2021 forecast, according to the latest edition of the Uganda Economic Update (UEU). The economic recovery in FY21 tapered off in early FY22 mainly due to the more severe second COVID-19 wave in mid-2021 and the related lockdown measures. The 18th UEU: Putting Women at the Center of Uganda’s Economic Revival says that although growth rebounded since the start of the COVID-19 crisis – driven by a pick-up in private consumption and investment, and a recovery in exports – the country is still likely to face a stop-start recovery until there is wider coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine.” To ensure an inclusive economic recovery, faster deployment and widespread coverage of the vaccine is critical,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda. “It is encouraging to note that in January 2022, schools will be opened; and support to micro, small and medium enterprises has been prioritized to stimulate job creation. Staying the course will require sustained prudent and transparent fiscal and debt management.”

Tz domesticates Malabo declaration in agriculture investment plans (Dailynews)

TANZANIA is among the African countries that have domesticated the famous Malabo declaration, especially on implementation of all the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) which are under the declaration. The Ministry of Agriculture said this during the Malabo Policy Learning Event (MAPLE) which kicked off on Monday this week via video conference that was followed directly by different stakeholders from across the continent.

According to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) focal point in the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania, Ms Adella Ng’atigwa, the implementation framework for the programme was based on the country’s special agricultural programme dubbed Agricultural Sector Development Programme II (ASDP II), despite the policy and strategic statements which include among others the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP/MKUKUTA) and the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (ZSGRP/MKUZA)

The new development came during the stakeholders meeting in the agriculture sector, who among other issues called for a coordinated approach in implementation of the Malabo Declaration in efforts to end hunger and increase food security in the African continent.

Nigeria/Africa’s disturbing trade deficit (The Sun Nigeria)

The recent report that Nigeria and the rest of Africa account for only two per cent of global trade is disturbing. It is a reflection of the consumption nature of African economy and our seeming inability to expand our export trade. Specifically for Nigeria, the report is even more depressing because of her infrastructure deficit estimated at $100 billion annually. This represents 189.77 per cent more than the current 2021 budget, and it may take three decades to close the gap. Meaningful development and sustainable trade growth will be hard to achieve until Nigeria and other African countries shift from import-dependence to manufacturing of goods for export.

The recent report that Nigeria and the rest of Africa account for only two per cent of global trade is disturbing. It is a reflection of the consumption nature of African economy and our seeming inability to expand our export trade. Specifically for Nigeria, the report is even more depressing because of her infrastructure deficit estimated at $100 billion annually. This represents 189.77 per cent more than the current 2021 budget, and it may take three decades to close the gap. Meaningful development and sustainable trade growth will be hard to achieve until Nigeria and other African countries shift from import-dependence to manufacturing of goods for export.

There is also need to focus on non-oil sectors for export. It is laudable that these concerns dominated discussions at the recent Intra-Africa Trade Fair, in Durban, South Africa, where the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACfTA), Mr. Wamkele Mene, lamented that Africa’s over-dependence on export of raw commodities will impede the continent’s trade growth.

AfCFTA: NEF Seeks Quality Packaging Of Non-oil Commodities (Leadership)

The Nigeria Entrepreneurs Forum (NEF), said for Nigeria to effectively maximise the economic benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) adequate measures must be put in place for quality packaging of the nation’s non-oil commodities for export. The president of NEF, Dr Sidney Inegbedion, said Nigeria is blessed with abundant agricultural commodities and resources needed to boost her economic growth in the international market if effectively harnessed. According to him, the training is part of NEF strategies of enhancing the leadership of small holder farmers through productive corporate governance and value chain development.

Nigeria’s low tax-to-GDP ratio not justification for increasing taxes, AfDB tells FG (TheCable)

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says the federal government must exercise restraint in tax increment. He said that the fact that the country’s tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at 6.1 percent remained relatively low was not an excuse for incessant tax increase. The AfDB boss said this on Tuesday in Abuja while delivering a lecture at the 51st annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) themed ‘Trust in Governance’. To increase tax revenue, Nigeria raised its value-added tax (VAT) rate from five percent to 7.5 percent in 2020.

“While tax rates are relatively low in Nigeria, it simply is not an excuse to keep increasing taxes,” Adesina said. “While progress is being made the challenge, however, is that in many parts of Nigeria, citizens do not have access to basic services that governments should be providing as part of the social contract.

“These are implicit taxes, borne by society due to either inefficient government or government failure. As such, we must distinguish between nominal taxes and implicit taxes — taxes that are borne by the people but are not seen nor recorded.

DRC can get better value for cobalt by processing, rather than exporting, raw materials (Energy Storage News)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) supplies most of the world’s cobalt, but exporting semi-finished or finished products rather than raw materials would better help the country capture the value of the metal used in high power lithium-ion batteries. A new report has found that the export of raw materials is not economically beneficial to the DRC and other countries with significant resources in the long-term, compared to exporting products like battery cathode precursor materials. At present, nearly all of the DRC’s cobalt capacity is exported to Europe and China for processing. Not only that, but it would actually be cheaper to build manufacturing facilities for battery cathode precursor materials in the DRC than in the US, China and Poland and would have less intensity of carbon dioxide emissions. In a new study, ‘The cost of producing battery precursors in the DRC,’ analysts from BloombergNEF found that at a calculated cost of about US$39 million, it could be three times cheaper to build a 10,000 metric tonne cathode precursor plant in the African country — which currently supplies about 70% of the cobalt used in global lithium-ion batteries — than in the US.

Tunisia’s clothing exports to European market up 11% (CETTEX) (TAP)

Tunisia’s clothing exports to the European market were up by 11.27% in the first 8 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to the results of an analysis conducted by the Textile Technical Centre (CETTEX) on the European clothing imports.

In value, exports stood at about €1.1 billion during the first 8 months of 2021. Tunisia is the EU’s 9th largest supplier of clothing with a market share of 2.69%, according to this analysis published Tuesday. Despite a drop in European imports, some suppliers increased their clothing exports to the EU, including Tunisia, achieving better returns with an increase of 11.2% of their exports to this market.


Experts highlight hindrances in the way of AfCFTA actualisation (The New Times)

African experts have spoken out on the hindrances that Africa should address as it gears towards implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA). In a meeting held at the Kigali Convention Center over the weekend dubbed the African Regional Journal Forum, African economic experts from various countries spoke about the ACFTA and the bottlenecks that governments need to tackle to implement it.

Sylvie Potignon, a Cyber Security Investor based in the United Arab Emirates said that Africa also has a lot of work in addressing cyber-security related issues as it looks to trade under the ACFTA. “We talking about ACFTA, but how many of you are sure that your country is protecting you (in terms of cyber security)?” she asked her audience. “We have the convention of Malabo. They wrote everything that was necessary, but only 8 countries have signed it. This is not enough. You want to do free trade, but when you start, you will be using I.T, the internet, networks. These people abroad (hackers) are waiting for us,” she added.

Marlon Weir, the CEO of Afrikanekt, an all-in-one platform for multiple solutions including fintech, entertainment among other things said the ACFTA agreement has made the possibility of our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” of free movement of goods and people. “The establishment of the AfCFTA presents an unprecedented opportunity for continental cooperation, promising economic development and sustainable growth,” he said. “We must be nimble – fleet of mind and foot – in order to spot opportunities and act succinctly. Furthermore, it is not enough to just move fast – we have to have a plan and forge strategic partnerships that will make us sustainable and go far… and in order to go far, we have to go together – “forward ever, backward - never!”

IATF 2021 Generates US$42.1 billion Trade and Investment Deals (Afreximbank)

The second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) generated a record setting US$42.1 billion in trade and trade-related investment deals, according to the latest tally released today by the IATF Advisory Council. The latest figures captured additional data submitted by Trade Promotion Agencies of Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa.

This record value of trade and investment deals was the outcome of more than 500 business deals concluded during the rich and varied 7-day programme of business-to-business, business-to-government and government-to-government exchanges, exhibitions, trade and investment conference sessions, as well as other verticals, such as the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) programme, the IATF Automotive Show and the African Union’s Youth Start-Up programme.

IATF 2021 thus surpassed its pre-set target of US$40 billion in trade and investment deals, going well beyond the US$32 billion in transactions closed at the first edition in Cairo, Egypt in 2018.

Kagame to open major continental meeting on civil aviation (The New Times)

Different delegates from African member states have on December 1, convened in Kigali for the African Civil Aviation Commission meeting, which is set to discuss matters of concern in the aviation industry. The New Times has learnt that matters of discussion range from the safety and security of the African aviation industry, sustainable development of air transport in Africa, the Yamoussoukro Decision, and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

A survey by IATA indicates that if just 12 key Africa countries opened their markets and increased connectivity, an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries.

Airlines stare at fresh storm as new Corona variant emerges (Business Daily)

Airlines, including national carrier Kenya Airways, are staring at a slowdown in business ahead of the festive season as nations impose new travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other countries due to a highly infectious new coronavirus strain. The discovery of the new Omicron coronavirus variant in South Africa has caused a panic move globally forcing nations to impose travel bans. The European Union, the United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates, the UK, among other nations, have suspended flights to southern Africa while Singapore, Italy, and Israel have placed all of those nations, plus Mozambique, on their red lists.

The latest Covid-19 crisis is already causing a storm in the aviation sector with players such as Kenya Airways expected to suffer disruptions at a time they had projected bigger businesses coinciding with the Christmas festivities. The global aviation industry had started showing signs of recovery as more countries opened their borders with an increase in the rate of vaccinations, giving hopes to the sector that was hit hard by the pandemic. International Air Travel Association (IATA) said the sector recorded an 18 percent growth in September, compared with the previous month, in what came as good news to the sector.

The emergence of the new variant will now see airlines go back to the drawing board in regard to additional frequencies that they had planned to increase ahead of the holiday season.

Media Statement: SADC Parliamentary Forum Statement on Travel Bans (sardc.net)

The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum is cognisant that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing worldwide fears and tensions, especially with the upsurge of new virus variants. While public health remains a priority, the Forum considers that there is a need to rely at all times on verified scientific and empirical data, such as those shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), before imposing travel bans that may seem unjust or harsh for some countries. The need for international cooperation to share information buttresses the recent action of the SADC Group at the InterParliamentary Union (IPU) held from the 26th-30th November 2021 in Madrid, Spain, which called for greater equality in the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Travel bans are never favourable to the economy, whether it is the economy of the imposing country or the one of the affected country. Travel bans are also devastating to airline companies who are struggling to stay afloat and to rebuild after almost 2 years of travel slowdown. It is thus important for bans to be imposed only based on verified and reliable information that has been preferably endorsed by the WHO.

SADC Region prepares for the 2021/ 22 cropping season (SADC)

In preparation for the 2021/22 cropping season, the SADC Secretariat convened a virtual meeting of the Technical Committee of Directors of Crop Production on 22-24 November, 2021. The committee is responsible for regular review and monitoring of regional instruments guiding the crop sector. The Technical Committee addressed a number of topics including enhancing domestication and implementation of the Regional Crop Development Programme and the implementation of the SADC Plant Genetic Resource Centre programmes and projects. The meeting discussed progress and updates on the implementation of the Regional Crop Development Programme (2019) by Member States, SADC Secretariat and partners; and Assessment of regional preparedness for the cropping season 2021/22 by all parties participating. It reviewed and validated draft regional instruments and frameworks for enhanced attainment of priorities outlined in the Regional Crop Development Programme (RCDP) (plant genetic resources issues, fertilizer and irrigation).

The Committee noted that in view of the prediction of good rains in most parts of the Region by the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) in August 2021, Member States should prepare for a possibility of flooding and cyclones. Furthermore, the predicted weather forecast also provides a conducive environment for breeding of locusts and other transboundary pests and diseases, calling for enhanced monitoring and surveillance.

African Energy Chamber Calls on CEMAC Leaders to Improve Business Climate at CEMAC Business Forum (APO)

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) executives called on regional leaders and energy ministers to improve the business climate at the CEMAC Business Forum in Brazzaville on Tuesday, specifically taking aim at the Bank of Central African States’ (BEAC) foreign exchange regulation that imposes stricter rules on currency transfers and payments and faces full implementation from January 2022.

While initially intended to safeguard dwindling foreign exchange reserves in the region, the new forex regulations have proven contentious among African energy industry leaders, stakeholders and lobbyists, who argue that they deter investment and impede private sector growth by increasing transactional and operational costs and limiting access to foreign financing for local businesses. As a result, the AEC has called for an open and honest dialogue and urged local leadership to listen to industry and embrace free market principles by eliminating lengthy and bureaucratic regulations.

ECOWAS Commission and UNECA organize a technical review of the draft Regional AfCFTA Implementation Strategy (ECOWAS)

The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), organized a meeting on 23-25 November 2021 in Abidjan – Cote d’Ivoire, to review the draft Regional AfCFTA Implementation Strategy as part of preparations towards a regional validation workshop by ECOWAS Member States.

In his opening remarks, the representative of UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Mr. Amadou DIOUF highlighted initiatives being undertaken by UNECA towards the implementation of the AfCFTA, including supporting the development of national AfCFTA implementation strategies. He underscored the role of Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks for African economic integration and commended the ECOWAS Commission for initiating the development of the regional implementation strategy which would complement efforts being taken at the national level.

West Africa has Leaped in All Development Indices, Says ECOWAS (This Day)

The Vice-President of the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) Commission, Madam Finda Koroma, has said that in the course of 2021, the West Africa region has taken a great leap in all development indices, insisting that countries in the region are now borderless than in the past. Speaking during the meeting of ECOWAS Administrative and Finance Committee (AFC) in Abuja, Koroma said: “We have moved economic and monetary integration agenda forward and have enhanced the peace and security architecture to foster tranquility for political, social and economic development in our region. “Additionally, our 2021 programming has led to improvements in key areas of our community such as agriculture, environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, infrastructural development, promotion of education and cultural exchange, youth development and the advancement of gender equality.

“Our private sector is becoming more engaged and is receiving significant support in advancing economic development and integration for our region, especially in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This includes support to ICT start-ups. Special initiatives such as the Regional Stabilisation and Development Fund and the Integrated Human Capital Development Strategy have advanced significantly in achieving their respective objectives.”

Summit calls for more Africa-EU investments in sustainable Agriculture (Africanews)

Investors have been urged to take advantage of Africa’s arable land to drive sustainable agriculture and increase food production. This was amongst the conclusions of Business leaders and policymakers at the 4th edition of the EU-Africa business summit in Marrakech held to promote business and policy initiatives between both continents. Experts say key private sector investment and policy implementation are what’s needed to drive further growth.

“This is the time for partners from all over the world to come and invest in the continent. They have the freedom to establish under the The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in any of their preference, and wherever they are established we are saying that their market is a whole continent,” said Chiza Charles Chiumya, the acting Director of the Directorate of Industry, Mining and Entrepreneurship, at the African Union Commission.

Trade imbalance remain key concern at Africa-China forum (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

The exports and imports mismatch has been highlighted as a key concern as Africa continues to deepen trade with China. African leaders at the Forum for Africa-China Co-operation (FOCAC) currently underway in Dakar, Senegal have called for correction of the trade imbalance which favours the asian economic giant.

“There is urgent need to address the widening trade imbalances to facilitate a fairer share of the benefits of trade. In this regard, FOCAC partners must focus on ways to ameliorate the Africa-China trade imbalances, boost China-Africa trade and promote a win-win framework through increased exports from Africa, especially in Agricultural products,” said Ukur Yatani, National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary.


WTO, IFC heads agree to enhance cooperation on trade finance (WTO)

In a joint statement, the two pledged to enhance existing cooperation to improve the analytics, identification and detection of trade finance gaps in order to better direct capacity building and other resources where unmet demand is greatest, particularly in Africa. “Our developing country members regularly identify a lack of trade finance as a major obstacle to participating in global trade — all the more so for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and businesses led by women,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “Working together, experts from our two organizations will be able to better analyse, detect and explain trade finance gaps, with a view to directing finite resources where they are needed the most. I believe that a significant share of trade finance gaps results from knowledge gaps.” “Trade is the lifeblood of the global economy but without trade finance, there can be no effective trade,” said the IFC’s Managing Director, Makhtar Diop. “By expanding our knowledge of trade finance gaps and bolstering traders’ capacity, IFC and the WTO can help small enterprises in developing countries integrate into the global economy.”

WTO members support maintaining momentum of discussions on common IP COVID-19 response (WTO)

The TRIPS Council meeting, which had been convened before the announcement of MC12 being indefinitely postponed, saw members sharing the common view that the WTO cannot afford to lose the momentum that was gathering in the discussions among delegations, with a view to finding a pragmatic and tangible consensus-based solution on this issue.

The chair of the Council, Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli of Norway, said he will consult in the coming days and weeks with members to help facilitate continued engagement, and with a view to finding consensus on a substantive solution. This includes by convening small-group consultations and where necessary meetings open to all members for the purposes of transparency and inclusiveness.

The objective of keeping these agenda items open is to enable re-convening the TRIPS Council at short notice when and if there are indications that members might be closer to finding a landing zone. The chair said that meeting rooms have been booked for 10 December and 16 December to reconvene the Council, should this become appropriate as a result of new developments.

Supporting Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the Commonwealth ahead of WTO Ministerial Conference (The Commonwealth)

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) forthcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to be held from 30 November to 3 December, comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted human and economic activities and heightened the significance of trade-related responses to accompany other global initiatives. Enhancing the participation of developing countries, including Commonwealth least developed countries (LDCs), in the multilateral trading system is indispensable because trade is an essential tool for growth and development. The WTO LDC Group, which includes eleven of the thirteen Commonwealth LDCs, have prepared and advanced proposals on their priorities and expected outcomes at MC12.

Advanced global workshop on Government Procurement Agreement concludes (WTO)

The workshop gave participants the opportunity to share their experiences regarding the benefits of the revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) adopted in 2012. The revised Agreement — also known as “GPA 2012” — is based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and procedural fairness.

In opening the workshop on 25 October, WTO Deputy Director-General Anabel González noted the special character of this year’s workshop as “the WTO celebrates the 25th anniversary of the WTO GPA, which entered into force in 1996, and the 40th anniversary of the first-ever version of the GPA”. She highlighted the vital role of government procurement in “building infrastructure and delivering essential public services for the benefit of citizens, including health, education and national defence”, and the “undeniable development dimension” of sound and efficient procurement procedures.

Natural Disasters, Trade Policy and Trade Negotiations: Challenges, Solutions and Resilience Building for Small Island Developing States and Others (The Commonwealth)

From December 1-3, 2021, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is providing a virtual space ‘The IISD’s Trade + Sustainability Hub’ for civil society, government, business, and international organizations to discuss trade and sustainable development. This virtual session on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM GMT is co-organized by The Commonwealth Secretariat, Shridath Ramphal Centre at the University of the West Indies and WTI Advisors and will examine ways to mobilize trade and trade policy to mitigate the consequences of natural disasters and ensure the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

OECD Economic Outlook sees recovery continuing but warns of growing imbalances and risks - OECD (OECD)

The global recovery is continuing but its momentum has eased and is becoming increasingly imbalanced according to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook. The failure to ensure rapid and effective vaccination everywhere is proving costly with uncertainty remaining high due to the continued emergence of new variants of the virus. Output in most OECD countries has now surpassed where it was in late-2019 and is gradually returning to the path expected before the pandemic. However, lower-income economies, particularly ones where vaccination rates against COVID-19 are still low, are at risk of being left behind. The Outlook projects a rebound in global economic growth to 5.6% this year and 4.5% in 2022, before settling back to 3.2% in 2023, close to the rates seen prior to the pandemic.


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