Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Andrew Kasuku


Economist: COVID effects will be determining factor in SA’s economic growth (Eyewitness News)

Economists say the effects of the Omicron variant and the ability of business to rebuild will be the determining factor of South Africa’s economic growth in the final quarter of this year. South Africa’s economy shrunk by 1.5% in the third quarter after growth in four consecutive quarters.

Decarbonisation roadmap highlights economic benefits and international support for South Africa (Engineering News)

Europe-Africa energy cooperation foundation Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa’s (Res4Africa’s) ‘Decarbonisation Roadmap for South Africa’ report highlights the economic benefits of modernising and decarbonising the country’s economy and demonstrates the broad international financial and technical support South Africa is receiving for raising and achieving its decarbonisation ambitions.

“The decarbonisation of South Africa’s economy has taken on much significance after COP26, which was preceded by South Africa revising and aligning its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) with the more ambitious global approach. Decarbonisation efforts received a boost with the $8.5-billion pledge as part of the Just Energy Transition Partnership with France, Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union,” said Res4Africa secretary-general Roberto Vigotti.

October trade deficit at N$7 billion (The Namibian)

DURING the month with some sort of normalcy in global trade such as October, Namibia slid back to its widened trade deficits, still exporting less than what is imported. For October, imports exceeded exports by a whopping N$7 billion, trade data for the month from the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) show. The previous months were better, the deficit then was only around N$3 billion. Owning to this bloated trade deficit is imports which increased by 25,1% year on year to N$15,3 billion in October. Exports on the other hand came in low at N$8,3 billion, though they increased by 5,8% from last year.

According to the NSA, Namibia by trading with other countries plays a crucial role in economic development as it links producers and consumers located in different countries into a global economic system. On a monthly basis, the value of exports dropped by 2,7%, whereas the value of imports increased by 32,2% m/m in October 2021.

‘Food, nutrition security remain priority’ (The Herald)

The Government of Zimbabwe remains committed to crafting political guarantees and an enabling policy environment that ensures food and nutrition security through broad-based partnerships, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global economies, and climatic conditions are ever-changing, thus obstructing vulnerable communities in both rural and urban areas from accessing safe and affordable food. Officially opening the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) sub-regional office for southern Africa (SFS) 15th Multidisciplinary Team meeting (MDT) in Harare, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, said addressing challenges in the food system requires a holistic approach and broad-based partnerships involving all stakeholders.

In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro, Dr Masuka outlined the ministry’s thrust to develop an efficient, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector that ensures sustenance at both household and national levels.

“The transformation of agriculture and food systems in Zimbabwe requires a well-coordinated multi-stakeholder drive to address the current inherent weakness and inequalities as we pursue the global drive to eliminate hunger and all forms of malnutrition by the year 2030,” Dr Masuka said.

Oil prices drop sharply, eyes on Kenya subsidy (Business Daily)

Crude oil prices have fallen sharply in the past two weeks on concerns over possible decline in global demand due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but Kenyan motorists risk missing out on the benefits should the government opt not to apply the price subsidy in the January 2022 review. International oil market data shows that the prices for the UAE’s Murban oil — Kenya’s main petrol source market — has dropped from a high of $83.60 a barrel on November 24 to $74 on Tuesday, having gone as low as $69 at the beginning of the month. But experts hold that Kenyans may not enjoy reduced prices for petrol, diesel and kerosene from next month adding that the State will likely opt to discontinue applying the subsidy that has been in place since April as it looks to replenish the fund.

Economic diplomacy bearing fruit: ZimTrade (The Herald)

THE economic diplomacy agenda being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa’s administration is bearing fruit as the country continues to record positive growth in exports, which shows the world is warming up to Zimbabwean products, ZimTrade has said. Guided by the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”, the Government is working closely with the private sector to revamp key productive sectors, as part of the broader economic transformation agenda, which is anchored on the rolling out of reforms aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business and stimulating both domestic and foreign direct investment. Creating an export-led growth and substituting imports are at the heart of this drive, which should culminate in the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

Citing statistics recently released by Zimstat, Zimbabwe’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade said exports grew by 47,46 percent to US$3,75 billion between January-August this year, from US$2,54 billion recorded during the same period last year.

IMF and indebted Zambia move toward a $1.4B rescue package (Devex)

Zambia and the International Monetary Fund have reached a deal on a $1.4 billion “Extended Credit Facility” for the nearly bankrupt country in what could be a key step to its economic recovery. An updated version of the rescue package was announced Monday, though IMF’s board must still approve it. Zambia will have to take steps to access the money, including showing “Sufficient progress” in talks with its many creditors.

The move will likely mean significant cuts to the country’s agriculture and energy subsidies, according to Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane. Depending on how the reforms are handled, prices could go up, at least in the short run.

Nigeria’s foreign trade grew 10.43% in 2021 third quarter - NBS (Premium Times)

Nigeria’s foreign trade grew as imports rose significantly and showed a marginal increase in export, resulting in an unfavourable trade balance in the third quarter of 2021, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said. The bureau disclosed this in its Foreign Trade Goods Statistics Q3 2021 published on Monday. The NBS said total trade increased by 10.43 per cent in the third quarter, compared to the second quarter, and 58.59 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2020.

As for exports, the statistics office said the total exports in the third quarter of 2021 were recorded at N5,130.30 billion, translating to a 1 per cent growth compared to the second quarter of the same year and a 71.38 per cent growth compared to the third quarter in 2020. The report said export in the third quarter of 2021 was still oil-dependent.

Nigeria Targets Agriculture to Boost Economy (International Policy Digest)

Nigeria has had a tough two years since the pandemic began. The fall in crude oil prices in 2020, on account of falling global demand and containment measures to fight the spread of COVID, made the country enter a recession, reversing three years of economic growth. But with worldwide demand now booming and oil prices spiking, Africa’s largest economy is set to return to growth.

In 2020, Nigeria experienced its deepest recession in two decades, with the GDP shrinking by 3% as the fallout of the global pandemic hit aviation, tourism, hospitality, restaurants, manufacturing, and trade. But with restrictions being eased and oil prices recovering, the economy is projected to grow by 1.5% in 2021 and 2.9% in 2022, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). Importantly, the government-initiated reforms at the height of the pandemic, to eliminate gasoline subsidies and increase transparency in the public sector, to counter the economic shock. These changes will benefit the economy in the medium term.

President transmits finance bill, urges partnership to improve health services (The Guardian Nigeria)

To expedite the passage of the 2022 budget by the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, transmitted the Finance Bill 2021 for the consideration and approval of the lawmakers.

He explained that the bill seeks to support the implementation of the 2022 ‘Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other relevant laws. The President added that the bill provides for enhanced domestic revenue mobilisation efforts to increase tax and non-tax revenues and ensure tax administration and legislative drafting reforms, particularly to support the ongoing automation project of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Implementation of AfCFTA will boost the country’s balance of payment (News Ghana)

The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) says the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) will boost the country’s Balance of Payment as local enterprises flourish on its platform.

Mr. Daniel Acheampong, the GEA President, said there was no doubt, employment, and per capita income levels would also be boosted to help improve the quality of life of the people.

He called on government to develop far-reaching strategies to ensure that Ghanaian employers benefited significantly from the proposed Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) by the Afrexim Bank.

Free Zones Authority to build 3 industrial cities (Graphic Online)

The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry are in the process of developing three separate industrial cities in the country to boost the government’s industrialisation agenda. Known as the Special Economic Zones Project, the industrial cities are being developed in the Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions to serve as additional industrial hubs that could facilitate the processing of natural resources into value-added goods for the export market.

Burundi validates its AfCFTA National implementation Strategy (UNECA)

An Experts’ meeting to validate Burundi’s implementation strategy for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) started this Tuesday in Ngozi, Burundi. The meeting will discuss a range of sectors that could help the country benefit from the agreement. The two days-meeting is organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with Burundi’s Ministry of Trade, transport, Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. About 60 experts that including government officials, Burundians traders and economists are participating in the meeting.  

Speaking on behalf of ECA in Eastern Africa, Ms Mama Keita recalled that liberalization of trade under AfCFTA will harbour great benefits for Burundi and Africa at large. “Everyone will gain, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)” she said.  Ms Keita stressed that AfCFTA could double Eastern African exports to the rest of the continent in sectors like textiles and clothing, and expand significantly light manufacturing and agro-processing sectors. 

Malawi, Zambia vow to boost trade and investment cooperation (The East African)

Malawi and Zambia will seek ways to cooperate more on trade and investment opportunities, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said Tuesday during a one-day meeting with his Zambian counterpart President Hakainde Hichilema.President Chakwera added in a joint press briefing at Kamuzu Palace that key areas of trade and tourism need to be further explored as the two countries share a long border.“Our relations have to be nurtured and watered and we are here to confirm that the relations are important,” President Hakainde Hichilema said.  “Zambia and Malawi have long standing, shared historical values which we must all harness and celebrate. A good neighbour is a protected neighbor,” President Hichilema added.

This visit comes at a time when both Malawi and Zambia are facing internal issues.

Farmers to benefit from Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (Business Ghana)

The Executive Secretary of the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative, Mr Alex Arnaud Assanavo, has pledged to secure decent incomes for cocoa farmers in the two countries in honour of their toils and for the sustenance of the industry. Mr Assanavo said it was right that cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire were properly remunerated to compensate for their investments to motivate them to sustain and increase production of the crop.

“The vision of the initiative is to move the value from cocoa production back to cocoa farmers in the two countries; it is to increase the revenue of farmers,” Mr Assanavo explained.

Senegal, DRC could soon reach new deals with IMF (Ecofin)

As Covid-19 continues to spread, African countries still lack sufficient financial resources to get their heads above water. Following the allocation of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to facilitate the global recovery, the IMF committed to developing countries, particularly in Africa, to ensure that their share of this financing would reach $100 billion. This commitment is based on a principle of solidarity between the richest countries and the poorest. But almost four months after the SDRs are issued, only Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and China have publicly committed to this process.

While Africa continues negotiations to secure additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, it has also begun a strategy to strengthen local production. The Institut Pasteur in Dakar is expected to play a special role in this strategy, especially since Macky Sall will be chairing the AU in 2022. For now, the continent’s rapid economic recovery is conditioned on the implementation of a mass vaccination campaign. Although expected to grow by 3.7% this year (IMF estimate), SSA’s economic growth should be the lowest of all regions, in contrast to previous years when countries south of the Sahara had the strongest growth in the world.


Virtual Launch of Reports on Regional Integration in Africa, Services Trade Liberalization and Common Investment Area (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold a virtual launch of three publications on December 7 and 8, 2021 on the sidelines of the 2nd Session of the Committee on Private Sector Development, Regional Integration, Trade, Infrastructure, Industry and Technology. The first two publications - the 10th edition of the biennial Report on “Assessing Regional Integration in Africa,” dubbed ARIA X and the non-recurrent report titled “Governing the interface between the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)” will be launched on December 7. The third report, entitled “Towards a Common Investment Area in the African Continental Free Trade Area: Leveling the Playing Field for Intra-African Investment” will be launched on December 8.

Presentation of the Economic Development in Africa Report 2021 (UNCTAD)

The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area presents a unique opportunity to promote inclusive growth and accelerate the achievement of the post-pandemic recovery, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union. The latest edition of the Economic Development in Africa Report 2021, entitled “Reaping the Potential Benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area for Inclusive Growth”, aims to equip African governments and development partners with knowledge on how the AfCFTA can be beneficial for inclusive growth and help realize Africa’s untapped export potential.

10 hurdles to Africa’s COVID-19 recovery: Mo Ibrahim Foundation report (Devex)

Efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent, have been met by formidable hurdles. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation report, released Monday, examines these challenges through the lens of governance performance in 54 African nations between 2010 through 2019, marking gains and losses during that time frame.

“To be frank, the potential is there, but so are the hurdles and the challenges,” said Nathalie Delapalme, executive director of the foundation, during a press briefing. Below are the foundation’s top 10 takeaways:

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises play a crucial role in the economic development of the region, says Secretary General (EAC)

The EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki said Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play a crucial role in the economic development of East African countries, accounting for 90% of businesses and 80% of employment especially among youth and women. Speaking during the official opening of the 21stMSMEs Trade Fair at Rock City Grounds, Mwanza, United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Mathuki reiterated that EAC Partner States still have a critical role in enabling MSMEs growth to ensure long term sustainability and recovery by promoting programs that prioritise MSMEs to spur demand for quality finished goods and progressively improve the region’s competitiveness.

EAC economies grew the fastest in Africa last year (The East African)

East African economies remained resilient, growing by 2.3 percent and keeping the region on its trajectory as the fastest-growing in Africa in 2020, says a report by Ernst & Young. The report, “Reset for Growth: Fast Forward EY Attractiveness Report Africa November 2021” indicates that across the continent, East Africa was most robust, with Tanzania and Ethiopia growing the fastest in 2020. Southern Africa was affected negatively, with South Africa registering the highest number of Covid-19 cases in 2020, pushing the economy into deep recession. In the latest outlook, although gross domestic product growth in Ethiopia and Tanzania slowed in 2020, it remained in positive territory while the general East Africa GDP is expected to pick up in 2021.

Kenya’s growth is expected to rebound to five percent, supported by its Economic Recovery Strategy and a strong recovery in the services sector. The country is also eyeing a free trade deal with the US.

Rising shipping charges a concern in East Africa (The Citizen)

Business captains in the East African Community (EAC) region say they are concerned by escalating maritime transport costs. They said while intra-regional trade has kept on rising, businesses continue to encounter high transaction costs related to shipping and allied logistics. This emerged here yesterday during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the East African Business Council (EABC) and Inter-Governmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS)The agreement is intended to ease and reduce high transaction costs related to maritime, shipping, transport and trade logistics in the EAC in the EAC bloc.

COMESA: Building resilient economies (Ahram Online)

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi assumed the chairmanship of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Heads of State and Authority on 23 November at the 21st Summit of the COMESA Authority, the organisation’s supreme policy-making body. In his address to the summit, Al-Sisi called for concerted regional efforts to deepen integration in Africa

Cross-border trade was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closure of borders, curfews, and delays caused by additional measures including testing and quarantines. Supply chains and education and training were disrupted. Exports, imports, business services, transport and tourism were also affected. Member states that heavily rely on the service sector like Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Madagascar were the most affected. Health services were stretched. On the positive side, financial services were less affected due to the digitisation that has taken place.

COMESA is strongly advocating the manufacture of vaccines in our region due to the difficulties that our countries and the continent at large have been facing in accessing vaccines. Already member states such as Egypt have taken the lead in this direction, and we are looking forward to more countries starting to manufacture vaccines.

President Al-Sisi has emphasised the importance of having products labelled “Made in COMESA”.

This initiative is critical in promoting authentic African products by supporting their origination in COMESA countries. The challenges may include ensuring the protection of intellectual property, and countries should establish instruments that protect the intellectual property of authentic African products and innovations. There is also the challenge of changing mindsets from their affinity with imported products from the developed countries. Another challenge is how fast countries will buy into the idea and put in place policies to promote locally produced products. Egypt together with the COMESA Business Council (CBC) could champion the adoption of a “Made in COMESA” label at the COMESA Council of Ministers meeting in 2022. The CBC is the recognised voice of the private sector in the region, bringing together a diverse group of businesses within a common platform to influence the regional business agenda.

WTI, COMESA Initiative to Strengthen Capacities in Trade Negotiations (COMESA)

The World Trade Institute and COMESA are conducting a training course for COMESA Member States aimed at strengthening human and policy-making capacities on Trade in Services. The course takes place virtually from 6 – 8 December 2021.

Director of Trade and Customs in COMESA, Dr Christopher Onyango described the training as critical for COMESA trade liberalization programme. “Whereas significant progress has been made in liberalizing trade in goods in COMESA, the same is not the case as regards the services sectors despite existence of a framework for trade in services,” he said when addressing participants at the opening of the training, Monday.

Currently, all COMESA Member States are involved in negotiations on seven Trade in Services sector that have been prioritized for liberalization namely: communication, finance, tourism, transport, business, construction and energy-related services.

AIO Announces Incorporation of Regional Insurance Sector into AFCFTA (ThisDay)

The President, African Insurance Organisation (AIO), Mr Tope Smart, has announced the official incorporation of insurance sector integration into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). Smart, who is also Managing Director, NEM Insurance plc, announced this at the recent 25th African Reinsurance Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda.

In his explanation on the decision of the regional insurance body in this direction, Smart said: “After deep reflection, the AIO Secretariat thought it wise that we incorporate insurance integration into this agreement. This is why during this 25th African Reinsurance Forum, discussions will centre around the theme Insurance Integration In The Context Of The African Continental Free Trade Area.

Roadmap for Africa airlines’ revival from corona storms (Business Daily)

Africa’s transport sector has always faced a myriad of challenges, with aviation particularly confronting headwinds from all corners. A number of airlines such as Kenya Airways were already finding it hard to negotiate stormy skies and dark financial clouds even before the pandemic struck. The sudden arrival of coronavirus almost became the last nail in the coffin of some airlines.

Speaking during the 53rd African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly in Luanda, Angola under the theme Flightpath to Africa’s resilient travel ecosystem, air transport leaders asked for more commitment to get the continent’s air industry back to profitability. Abdérahmane Berthé, AFRAA’s Secretary-General, stated that business conditions caused by the pandemic provide an opportunity for Africa to rethink its air industry and develop resilient and sustainable solutions.

ECOWAS ministers propose reopening of land borders next month (The Guardian Nigeria)

Sectoral ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) manning the Interior, Health, Finance, Trade and Transport ministries and other experts have recommended the mutual recognition of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests and reopening of land borders from January 1, 2022. They made the recommendations at the end of the virtual meeting of the body held in collaboration with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) in Abuja.

Beyond the impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the raging COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in demands and supplies, as well as investments in key economic sectors. Also, the tertiary services and primary (agriculture) sectors experienced a considerable decline on account of

N18bn ISWAP Funding: NFIU Says ECOWAS Report Outdated (ThisDay)

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) yesterday disputed the report of the Inter-governmental Action Group on Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), which stated that terror group, the Islamic State for West African Province ((ISWAP) moved N18 billion annual revenue through Nigeria’s financial system to fund its terrorism activities. GIABA is a task force set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and a specialised institution of ECOWAS responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the region. A statement by NFIU said the report alleging that N18 billion ISWAP Funds was laundered through Nigeria’s formal financial system was untrue.

2021 AEC: Reforms, debt initiatives come under the spotlight as Africa enters ‘critical’ phase (AfDB)

Participants at the 2021 African Economic Conference have urged countries to implement crucial governance and economic reforms to see the continent through a historic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference brought together leading thinkers, development specialists and policymakers virtually and in Sal, Carbo Verde, to present their latest research on the challenges facing the continent, including mounting debt and an unrelenting health crisis. “The next few years are critical for our continent…The richness that Africa has and the capacity it has doesn’t deserve to have people living in such poverty. We need to make the right decisions to fight extreme poverty,” said Cabo Verde Deputy Prime Minister, Olavo Correia, at the closing ceremony of the three-day hybrid event on Saturday.

Food Inflation in Sub-Saharan Africa (IMFBlog)

Inflation is rising around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, one item is driving the trend more than others: food prices. Food accounts for roughly 40 percent of the region’s consumption basket—a measure of goods and services used to measure consumer price index (CPI) inflation.

Food inflation increased throughout 2019, on average, across 20 countries in the region where monthly food price data are available. After remaining stable around 9 percent (year over year) since the beginning of the pandemic, food inflation started to rise again from April this year to some 11 percent in October.

On a global scale, the recent increase in food inflation is attributed to rising oil prices (which raise fertilizer prices and transportation costs), droughts and export restrictions imposed by some major food exporters, and stockpiling in some countries. In addition, pandemic containment measures disrupted production and imports of seeds and fertilizers and caused labor shortages during planting seasons. Importantly, there is diversity across the region—food inflation in Chad is near zero but around 30 percent in Angola. This suggests that domestic factors such as weather and exchange rates are important contributors to food inflation in sub-Saharan African countries.

Workshop to Validate the Report on “Strengthening Migration Governance in Lesotho” (African Union)

As Africa seeks to facilitate safe, orderly and dignified migration on the continent, it has to contend with a myriad of the opportunities and challenges that migration presents in an increasingly dynamic environment; more so given the fact that the bulk of migration in Africa is intra-continental. The AU Commission is cognizant that the ability of AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to capitalize on the opportunities that migration presents, and mitigate its negative impacts; and their ability to manage all aspects of migration and to engage with other continents that are destinations for African migrants, pre-supposes the presence of robust migration governance systems: the legal and policy frameworks and institutional arrangements for managing migration in a coherent manner.

Against this backdrop, a Workshop on Strengthening the Migration Governance in Lesotho kicked off on 7 December 2021 in Maseru, the Kingdom of Lesotho. The purpose of the workshop is to review and validate the “Strengthening Migration Governance in Lesotho” report, and to familiarize the migration stakeholders in Lesotho on the work of the newly established migration centres: the African Migration Observatory, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration, and the Continental Operational Centre in Sudan.


Rethinking multilateralism for a pandemic era (IMF Finance & Development)

We are nowhere near the end of the pandemic. Delta will not be the last highly transmissible variant. Large unvaccinated groups and the unchecked spread of the virus around the world raise the prospect of further mutations, possibly evading today’s vaccines, that will create new waves everywhere.

Crucial too is building the global capacity needed to radically speed up supplies of vaccines and other vital materials to avoid prolonging a pandemic and repeating the staggering inequalities of access that COVID-19 has revealed. We need a globally distributed development, manufacturing, and delivery ecosystem that is kept in use in normal times and can pivot swiftly to provide the medical countermeasures specific to each pandemic.

In the absence of a larger global supply capacity ready early in a pandemic, producing nations will remain prone to prioritize the needs of their own populations over global needs. The private sector currently has little incentive to invest in this ever-warm supply capacity on the scale required ahead of a pandemic, even if there is scope for dual uses to meet ongoing needs in normal times.

However, to succeed in averting the next pandemic, we must strengthen multilateralism. That cannot be achieved with incremental changes to existing mechanisms, which have failed to prevent and respond decisively to the current pandemic. We need major renovation and replenishment of both individual institutions and the global health architecture. The G20 panel has advocated three strategic shifts to enable proper and proactive financing of global health security.

5 ways trade can support a gender equal recovery (WEF)

Ahead of the now postponed 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), member countries are considering how to advance the still incomplete agenda on gender and trade. The evidence is increasingly clear that while the international trade architecture itself is embedded with the principle of non-discrimination, the benefits of trade are not equally distributed across gender lines. WTO negotiators should take concrete steps to ensure trade policies positively impact women – as consumers, entrepreneurs, producers, suppliers and workers. We believe there are five reasons why the time to act on gender and trade is now.

DDG Ellard stresses need to maintain WTO momentum, importance of dispute settlement reform (WTO)

DDG Ellard stressed WTO members’ collective wish to maintain momentum despite the postponement. In particular, there are two key issues that still need to be addressed for which momentum must be maintained – the WTO’s response to the pandemic and fisheries subsidies, she said.

When asked about the relationship between multilateral and plurilateral initiatives, as well as regional trade agreements, DDG Ellard noted that they coexist and complement each other. “The future is not plurilateral or multilateral; it belongs to the agreements of variable geometries,” she said. At the same time, issues of the global commons, such as fisheries subsidies or developing a single instrument regulating carbon pricing, can effectively be addressed only on a multilateral basis.

Small Businesses Adapting to Rapidly Changing Economic Landscape, Study Finds (WEF)

The World Economic Forum has long been at the forefront of recognizing the strategic importance of sustainable value creation objectives for business. While interest has mostly focused on how large corporations contribute to the global economy and sustainable development objectives, small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often overlooked as major drivers of economic activity, as well as social and environmental progress around the world. A new report released today finds factors that previously disadvantaged SMEs can lead them to new opportunities. Nine case studies from multiple industries and regions highlight what SMEs can do to increase their future readiness.

Government support cushions tax revenues in OECD countries from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 crisis (OECD)

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tax revenues was less pronounced than during previous crises, in part due to government support measures introduced to support households and businesses, according to new OECD research published today. The 2021 edition of the OECD’s annual Revenue Statistics publication shows that the OECD average tax-to-GDP ratio has risen slightly to 33.5% in 2020, an increase of 0.1 percentage points since 2019. Although nominal tax revenues fell in most OECD countries, the falls in countries’ GDP were often greater, resulting in a small increase in the average tax-to-GDP ratio. This year’s edition includes the first comparable analysis on the initial tax revenue impacts of COVID-19 across OECD countries, which suggests that government support measures contributed to the relative stability of tax revenues by protecting employment and reducing corporate bankruptcies to a considerably greater extent than in the global financial crisis in 2008-2009.

Boost incentives to grow agro-industrial parks – report (SciDev)

Agro-industrial parks could offer a solution to severe global food supply chain challenges, such as the disruptions caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, new analysis suggests.

Agro-industrial parks are dedicated business areas that focus on processing farm produce, and on farming inputs such as fertilisers, according to the new study released by the Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme.

Mathias Hague, research lead at CASA, says that agro-industrial parks can be highly effective in bringing together, within a single area, smaller individual food processing and farm-related enterprises and offering them access to common facilities and services, such as refrigeration and storage.

China delivers stellar trade performance as global clout grows after 20 years in WTO (Global Times)

China turned in an impressive transcript of foreign trade records on Tuesday, with its exports and imports for the first 11 months already outnumbering the 2020 full-year reading, speaking indisputably to the country’s rising trade clout globally only days before the 20th anniversary of its WTO entry. Growth in both exports and imports for November beat market estimates, official data showed, as China’s trade prowess held up in the face of a continuation of pandemic uncertainty, experts said, expecting the country to extend its trade strength into the next year, thereby paving the way for the economy to hold steady throughout 2022. With China’s trade resilience powering up the global economic recovery amid the pandemic, observers hope its share of global trade will continue its upward trajectory, cementing its role as a vital stabilizer in the world trade landscape.

BRICS 20 years on: A success or failure? (TRT World)

Two decades ago, the investment bank Goldman Sachs came up with an acronym that was supposed to represent the shifting economic balance of power – BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) – that would come to dominate the global economy and usher in a new era of multilateralism and global governance. These large markets had not yet realised their full potential and were soon-to-be hotbeds for international investment.

There was reason to be optimistic: collectively the bloc represented 45 percent of the world’s population, nearly a quarter of global GDP, their leaders began to hold regular meetings, they started a $100 billion development bank, and invited South Africa to complete the acronym in 2008. But twenty years since, Lord Jim O’Neill, former Chairman of Chatham House who coined the abbreviation, believes they haven’t lived up to expectations – apart from China and to a lesser extent, India.


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