Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


South Africa records FDI inflows of R558bn in the third quarter (Engineering News)

South Africa recorded R557.9-billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in the third quarter of this year versus inflows of R17.4-billion in the second quarter, central bank data showed on Wednesday. The central bank said its December Quarterly Bulletin that the large inflows were due to technology investor Prosus buying about 45% of its South African parent Naspers.

SA Plastics Pact an effective platform for value chain collaboration (Engineering News)

The South African Plastics Pact sets aspirational targets for the value chain to meet by 2025, and businesses, government, producer responsibility organisations, nongovernmental organisations and retailers are collaborating and developing solutions to ensure plastics are eliminated, reused or recycled, says mass retailer Spar Group packaging manager Devin Galtrey. SA Plastics Pact members are working to eliminate problematic plastics, reducing the total amount of packaging on supermarket shelves, stimulating innovation and new business models that will help build a stronger recycling system in South Africa.

Importing cars older than eight years prohibited (The Namibian)

THE Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra), in collaboration with the police and the Roads Authority, is engaged in efforts to combat the illicit trading and fraudulent registration of motor vehicles. According to Tonateni Shidhudhu, the agency’s spokesperson, this applies especially to vehicles imported from outside the Southern African Common Customs (Sacu) area. Sacu countries include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. “The importation of certain second-hand motor vehicles into Namibia, from outside the common customs area, that are older than eight years and registered in the common customs area for less than two years prior to importation into Namibia are prohibited,” Shidhudhu says.

He says qualified vehicles are subject to import permits before entering the country. Such permits are provided by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade.

‘The DRC can become an electric car champion’ – Industry minister (The Africa Report)

President Félix Tshisekedi is committed to making the DRC an ‘electric car champion’, he said at the DRC-Africa Business Forum held from 24 to 25 November in Kinshasa, signing several agreements with various technical and financial partners. These include the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea) and the Australian mining group AVZ Minerals.

Ugandan Cabinet hits Kenya with farm goods export ban (Business Daily)

Uganda will restrict from its domestic market some of Kenya’s raw and processed agricultural products in a reciprocal move that follows her eastern neighbour’s continued ban on some of her agricultural products. On Monday, the Ugandan Cabinet finally agreed to this nearly two-year proposal, which has often been opposed by President Yoweri Museveni. According to Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan Minister for East African Affairs, the Cabinet has directed the Agriculture ministry to identify and list Kenyan products that will then be banned by the Ugandan government “in a short time.” Key agricultural exports to Uganda from Kenya include palm oil at Sh7.2 billion last year, sorghum (Sh1.4 billion), vegetables (Sh311 million) and legumes (Sh200 million).

How standards body’s new certification procedures will boost trade (The New Times)

In previous months, Athanase Harelimana the coordinator of UNICOOPAGI (Union De Cooperatives Agricoles Intégrées) based in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province, would make several trips to Kigali when seeking certification or other services from the Rwanda Standards Bureau. The cooperative is often seeking services such as certification documentation, sample testing among others. However, recently when he was purchasing standards (a set of minimum mandatory standards that RSB expects producers to comply with for certification), he did not have to make the trip and received the service in hours as opposed to days as was previously the case. To access the service, he used the agency’s e-Portal, made his selection, made payments virtually and was able to download the documents.

The development follows the launch of a Single Window Information for Trade (SWIFT) project last week which was made possible by input and investment from partners such as TradeMark East Africa and USAID.

The Single Window Information for Trade (SWIFT) also reduces time and cost for local producers seeking services such as test results and certification as they only need to drop their samples at the agency and results are delivered electronically in about a week’s time as opposed to about a month previously.

2022 budget is one of the best-ever — Osafo-Maafo (GhanaWeb)

The Senior Presidential Advisor, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, says the 2022 Budget is one of the best Ghana has ever produced because of its focus on youth entrepreneurship and employable skills development. He cited the infusion of the Electronic levy (E-levy) in the proposed budget towards funding entrepreneurship programmes as one of the best decisions of the government. Mr Osafo-Maafo made the remarks at the unveiling of the new Ghana TVET Service at the Accra Technical Training Centre (ATTC) in Accra on Tuesday on the theme: “Stirring Ghana’s industrialisation drive through skill acquisition for national development.”

“Indeed, this current budget is one of the best this country has ever produced because there are two things in it which are fundamental and these are entrepreneurship training that we are putting as part of the responsibility of government to ensure that the youth is resourced financially to be entrepreneurial, that people cannot use access to funds as a handicap.

Industry Ministry implements plan to boost local manufacturing, exports: Gamea (Daily News Egypt)

Nevine Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, has stated that the ministry is implementing a comprehensive strategy to deepen local manufacturing in the industrial sector and increase export rates. According to Gamea, Egypt’s exports have increased by 24.5% in the previous ten months, and the local industrial sector accounts for 17% of GDP.

She also noted that there are 100 measures in place to enhance the industrial sector, 30 of which have been finalized with 9 ministries, in addition to reshuffling the Supreme Council for Exports and strengthening the function of the Export Development Fund. She went on to say that these processes include raising VAT requirements, increasing the local components in the industrialization, and raising quality standards in order to meet the ministry’s objectives.

African Development Bank loans Nigeria $210 million for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (AfDB)

A $210 million loan approved by the African Development Bank’s Board of Directors on Monday could impact the lives of millions of people in Africa’s most populous country. The loan will co-finance Phase 1 of the Nigeria Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone Program. The program will help to unlock Nigeria’s agriculture sector potential. It will promote industrialization through the development of strategic crops and livestock. African Development Bank financing for this program represents one of the Bank’s most ambitious operations in terms of scale and scope to date. It is made up of an African Development Bank loan of $160 million and an Africa Growing Together Fund loan of $50 million. Phase 1 of the project will target seven Nigerian states and the country’s Federal Capital Territory. The project will support Nigeria’s efforts to raise agricultural productivity, promote investment, create wealth and jobs, and transform rural areas into corridors of economic prosperity. Its first phase will be implemented with co-financing from other partners in the amount of $538.05 million.

Farmers eye direct Eldoret Airport, EU flower exports (Business Daily)

Eldoret International Airport has resumed direct exports to the European market of cut flowers from the North Rift region as it seeks to turn around the fortunes of the local farmers and boost regional economy. The facility has partnered with Ethiopian Airlines to export the fresh produce to European markets such as Belgium and Netherlands. “For many years, farmers have been transporting their produce by the road which means extra costs. But now this is a game-changer in the horticultural sector as it will significantly lower costs,” said Walter Agong’, the airport’s manager. “Farmers are excited about this new milestone and we are targeting to increase volumes from current five tonnes per week to 15 to over 20 tonnes starting this week, that is five tonnes in each of the three flights in a week.”

Egypt’s exports hike 24.5% in 10 months (EgyptToday)

Egypt’s exports increased 24.5 percent during the first 10 months of 2021 on an annual basis, recording $25.9 billion, according to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Nevine Gamea.  Gamea attributed Tuesday the increase to the measures implemented to stimulate exports.  The minister added that the contribution of industrial production to the gross domestic product (GDP) increased to 17 percent during the fiscal year 2019/2020, compared to about 16 percent during the fiscal year 2018-2019.


Connecting Africans with Africans: How effective communication can help boost intra-African Trade (Modern Ghana)

January 2021 marked a historic event for African economic development –the launching of free trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The agreement promotes socio-economic growth and development in Africa through liberalised trade processes and structures. So far, the 54 African countries have signed the agreement, resulting in immense potential for the growth of trade between African countries. In fact, it has been hailed as perhaps the “most ambitious free trade project since the creation of the World Trade Organization itself” by Martyn Davies, the managing director of Emerging Markets at Deloitte Africa.

The question is, are African countries harnessing this potential offered by the AfCFTA?

Private sector, SMEs crucial for AfCFTA development benefits, primary commodities export bias a problem (Engineering News)

A survey of more than 400 CEOs from 44 countries in Africa and two outside has reflected the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. The continent’s bias towards the export of primary commodities, however, reduces the relative developmental value that would accrue from trade in higher value-added manufactured goods, trade finance institution the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) African relations and trade policy consultant Professor Patrick Utomi said on December 14.

Nigeria leads Africa in foreign investment inflows (The East African)

Eastern Africa received the lowest foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020 compared to its western and southern Africa counterparts, mostly due to policy bottlenecks and rising political tensions, like those in Ethiopia. Kenya was the highest FDI recipient in the region and the fifth in Africa, attracting capital investments worth $500 million last year. This was a significant drop from the $2 billion it received in 2018. Tanzania was second, attracting $200 million while Uganda booked no foreign inflows in the year under review. Southern Africa regained its lead as the largest FDI hub in Africa owing to its diversified economy, which has attracted investors. Morocco and Egypt attracted most of the investment in the North while Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire dominated in the West. Angola took the lion’s share of FDI in Central Africa. The “Africa Attractiveness Report 2021” by global auditing firm Ernst and Young also shows that FDI into Africa fell sharply by almost 50 percent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, trailing all other emerging markets.

Africa 2022: Supply Chain and payment revolution (IDG Connect)

As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) enters its second year in 2022, most enterprises are now looking continent-wide to grow their businesses. Inter-country trade has been a riddle that African governments, businesses and organisations have failed to solve, but is now being unravelled by technology. In 2022 we will see the use of technology erasing the borders that have hampered the growth of trade and business in Africa. The bedrock of trade lies in supply chain management, custom processes and easy payment options. Implementing these technologies will be innovative startups and entrepreneurs whose eyes are now trained on the 1.2 billion population in Africa. However, the tech talent to grow these solutions is lacking. Below are some of the technologies that will dominate developments in Africa and have the potential to positively affect how Africa does business.

Africa hopeful free trade area will block second-hand imports (the East African)

Towards the end of Liberia Road stands the assertive Africa Trade House, the headquarters of the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA) that was commissioned in August last year. Nestled in the Africa Trade House, is also the African Export Import Bank (Afrexim), the Cairo-headquartered pan-African lender that provides loans for trade and other project related finance. More than any other continental institution, Afriexim Bank has poured massive sums into personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 vaccines.

Opposite the Africa Trade House, a little worse for wear, is Cedi House, a 14-storey building that houses the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Stock Exchange. Next to Cedi House is another of new age complexes, home to South African giant First National Bank (FNB) and other financial institutions. Then, directly across the road from FNB, is the well-appointed National Theatre.

It is the perfect setting to beg the question; if you had to take a play across the road to the stage at the National Theatre about the dream of a pan-African market and the possibilities for the money people to make a fortune, what story would you tell?

Vehicle manufacturing and food processing could reap billions from African free trade zone (How we made it in Africa)

African Continental Free Trade Area supporters are betting that full tariff liberalisation of the vehicle manufacturing and food processing sectors will unlock billions of dollars in regional trade as the continent stands to reap the benefits of the world’s largest single market.

Communique on Progress Made on Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa - Kigali, Rwanda 06 07 December 2021 (Africa CDC)

On 6th-7th December 2021, the African Union, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the AUDA-NEPAD, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) convened a stakeholder’s meeting in Kigali, Rwanda to review progress made in manufacturing vaccines in Africa. The objective of the meeting included: a) an update on progress made so far on the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa (PAVM), b) agreement on an AU-endorsed approach to facilitate regulatory approval of vaccines produced in Africa, c) discuss critical market shaping needs once African countries produce vaccines, and d) review progress on vaccine manufacture hubs and pilot a drug Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)-final drug product Hub program.

NOTED that after considering several options the regulators agreed on two potential pathways for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) of vaccines including those for the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19: 1) Use and strengthen the Africa Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH), as a mechanism to provide EUA for COVID-19 vaccines produced in Africa pending the full operationalization of AMA.2) Create a network of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) from countries with intent to produce vaccines and other NRAs with advanced maturity levels, using AMRH structure with close coordination by PAVM, and develop a step-wise process for strengthening them to facilitate the issuance of EUA.3) Collaborate with the AfCFTA Secretariat to support manufacturing and Intra-Africa Trade for COVID-19 vaccines and pharmaceuticals products through appropriate Intellectual Property Framework. PROPOSE the submission of the options proposed above to the AMA Conference of States Parties in January 2022.

Kagame rallies for more domestic investment in Africa’s public health (The New Times)

President Paul Kagame has called for renewed commitment from African governments and national parliaments to increase domestic financing for health in Africa. He made the remarks on Tuesday, December 14, during the first international Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2021), organized by the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). “This has been a priority of the African Union (AU) for several years, but progress has not been fast enough. We cannot continue to rely on external funding for something so important to our future,” he said.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of AU Commission, said that despite the many challenges brought about by Covid-19, it has also created an opportunity to build a new public health order that can effectively fight against future health crises.

10 November 2021: Joint Communiqué from the first meeting of the SACUM-UK EPA Trade and Development Committee (GOV.UK)

The Senior Officials from the Southern African Customs Union Member States (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) and Mozambique and the United Kingdom (UK) held the first meeting of the Trade and Development Committee under the SACUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (SACUM-UK EPA) via videoconference on the 10th November 2021.

The Parties agreed on an approach to develop the Rules of Procedure for the Institutions established under the Agreement as well as the appointment of arbitrators in preparation for the first meeting of the Joint Council. They further agreed to exchange views on the issues to be considered by the Special Committees on Trade Facilitation and Customs Cooperation; Geographical Indications and Trade in Wine and Spirits; and the Agricultural Partnership to facilitate the convening of the first meetings of these Special Committees.

The Parties acknowledged the importance of time-bound commitments provided for under the Agreement, including in relation to the review of regional cumulation; developing work programmes on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Matters; and the scope and volume under the automatic derogations. The Parties also provided information on their respective tariff rate quota usage and administration.

Green jobs for women in Africa (AfDB)

The transition to a green economy will create many new jobs around the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa. Will women share-in these new jobs, and will the economic transformation help women move into higher-paid, more stable jobs that require more education and skills? The short answer is “yes” – provided countries adopt strong policies and programmes to make it happen.

Five African countries shine a light on renewables as they deliver powerful investment pitches at the Africa Energy Marketplace (AfDB)

Five African countries presented their investment cases at the recent Africa Energy Marketplace, which brought together governments, the private sector and development partners, to highlight strategic projects and key energy sector reforms. The countries’ pitches also emphasized the scale of renewable resources among their key priorities. The theme of the fifth African Energy Marketplace, held virtually between 26 and 29 October, was Identifying opportunities across the energy value chain: Resolving bottlenecks and unlocking investments in Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tunisia.

African Development Bank publishes market study on demand for Adaptation Benefits in Africa (AfDB)

Development Bank, in partnership with professional services provider Ernst & Young and Perspectives Climate Group, has published a study on the demand for Certified Adaptation Benefits as a means of financing private sector adaptation projects in Africa. Certified Adaptation Benefits are generated by the Adaptation Benefits Mechanism (ABM), an innovative financial instrument that enables donors, consumers, and others who can afford it, to contribute to the costs of genuine adaptation projects in African countries. The report presents findings from 68 online responses and 15 in-person interviews. Participants considered the ABM highly relevant for agriculture and forestry, water management, energy access, biodiversity, and climate information systems across project sizes. They expressed specific interests in projects ranging from $1 million to $50 million.

New interactive report shows Africa’s growing hunger crisis (UNECA)

A new, interactive digital report launched today shows that the number of hungry people in Africa continues to rise, spurred by conflict, climate change and economic slowdowns including those triggered by COVID-19. The African Union Commission (AUC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched the digital report as the latest update to their annual reporting on the state of food security and nutrition in Africa. Hunger on the continent has worsened substantially since 2013, the report states, and most of this deterioration occurred between 2019 and 2020. The situation is expected to have deteriorated further this year, with no easing of hunger’s main drivers. The three agencies behind the report are calling on African countries to heed the call for agrifood systems transformation.

Sino-African Relations: Sustainable Benefits (Cameroon Tribune)

The just-ended Sino-African Summit in Dakar (Senegal) has added more impetus to the excellent relations between China and Africa. The eighth edition of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that took place in Dakar, Senegal, from 29-30 November 2021 under the theme, “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era,” has come and gone with many positive achievements.

During deliberations, though African leaders hailed the role played by FOCAC as a “beacon of hope” and a “valuable platform for dialogue and amplification of Africa’s voice on the world stage since its inception twenty-one years ago, they unanimously called for a trade equilibrium between China and Africa. This according to the leaders and participants can be done by increasing China’s infrastructure investment in Africa, especially in key sectors such as, seaport, railway, energy, water and technology transfer.

While waiting for the China-Africa 2035 joint vision to get on the rail, it is worth noting that Sino-Africa relations is waxing strong. According to the China-Africa Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the value of China-Africa trade in 2019 was $192bn, up from $185bn in 2018. In 2019, the largest exporter to China from Africa was Angola, followed by South Africa and the Republic of Congo. In 2019, Nigeria was the largest buyer of Chinese goods, followed by South Africa and Egypt. On 17 November, Chinese vice commerce minister Qian Keming reported that trade between China and Africa had risen 38.2% year on year to $185.2bn in the January-September 2021 period, a record level. China is also Africa’s biggest source of foreign direct investment that surged from $75m in 2003 to $2.7bn in 2019. China’s direct investment in Africa hit $2.59bn in the first nine months of 2021, up 9.9% year on year, reported Qian Keming.


E-commerce co-convenors welcome substantial progress in negotiations (WTO)

Australia’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Koichi Hagiuda, and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong highlighted the good convergence achieved in eight articles so far.

“Thanks to the good progress achieved so far, we’re on track to achieve convergence on the majority of issues in the negotiations by the end of 2022. Australia, Japan and Singapore are committed to driving negotiations towards this objective,” said Minister Tehan.

“The work undertaken promises more stability and predictability for consumers and businesses in a fast-growing sector of the digital economy. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of e-commerce as a tool for inclusion, helping small business access international markets, particularly businesses headed by women. I encourage the initiative to continue to keep its doors open for other members of the WTO to join and to continue discussing development issues necessary to bridge the digital divide,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

Mobile financial services can increase impacts of microfinance organizations—but the story is more complicated than we think (Brookings)

In an attempt to deepen financial inclusion, microfinance organizations are introducing digital solutions to serve low-income households and small- and medium-sized enterprises. Mobile financial services and fintech solutions are particularly promising in Africa where financial inclusion is only 43 percent, whereas mobile phone penetration is almost 90 percent. Such solutions show promise: In Kenya, for example, mobile financial services—specifically mobile money—contributed to increasing financial inclusion from 26.7 percent to 82.9 percent between 2006 and 2019. Microfinance organizations have two goals: One is to increase financial inclusion, the other to be financially profitable—or at least financially sustainable. Balancing those goals is not easy, as leadership must choose between prioritizing social impact versus financial performance, and must consider changes that come with time, investments, environmental fluctuations, innovations, and the like. Thus, as is common when pursuing dual, often conflicting aims, optimizing both is hard. Still, the rewards are worth it, and innovations are making this goal more achievable every day. Indeed, mobile money, fintech services, and online banking have the potential to transform the microfinance industry in Africa, given their enabling capabilities to increase both financial performance and social impact.

G20 GDP Growth - Third quarter of 2021 (OECD)

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the G20 area grew by 1.7% between the second and the third quarter of 2021, up from a moderate quarter-on-quarter growth rate of 0.4% in the second quarter, according to provisional estimates. This is in contrast with the slowing trend recorded in the OECD area over the same period (from 1.7% in Q2 to 1.1% in Q3). The relatively strong growth of the G20 area in the third quarter of 2021 reflects a rebound in India, where GDP rose by 12.7% in Q3, after a contraction of 11.6% in Q2, mainly driven by fixed investment and private consumption. GDP also rose markedly in Saudi Arabia (by 5.8% in Q3, from 1.1% in Q2), exceeding its pre-pandemic level for the first time, and in Turkey (by 2.7%, from 1.5%). Growth recovered more than previously estimated in Canada (by 1.3%, from minus 0.8%),1 and there was a robust contribution from some European countries including France and Italy. However, several other G20 countries recorded a deceleration or a contraction in GDP growth. In China, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed to just 0.2%, from 1.2%, and in Korea to 0.3%, from 0.8%, in the third quarter of 2021. Growth slipped into negative territory in Australia (minus 1.9%), South Africa (minus 1.5%), Japan (minus 0.9%), Indonesia (minus 0.6%) and Mexico (minus 0.4%), and it continued to contract in Brazil (minus 0.1%, after minus 0.4%). These contractions reflected mainly negative contributions from private consumption in Australia, Indonesia and South Africa, and from exports in Brazil and South Africa.

High freight rates cast a shadow over economic recovery (UNCTAD)

The recovery of the global economy is threatened by high freight rates, which are likely to continue in the coming months, according to UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2021 published on 18 November. UNCTAD’s analysis shows that the current surge in container freight rates, if sustained, could increase global import price levels by 11% and consumer price levels by 1.5% between now and 2023. “The current surge in freight rates will have a profound impact on trade and undermine socioeconomic recovery, especially in developing countries, until maritime shipping operations return to normal,” said UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan. “Returning to normal would entail investing in new solutions, including infrastructure, freight technology and digitalization, and trade facilitation measures,” she said.

UNited for a fairer and more sustainable recovery (EURACTIV)

Trade is a route to greater diversification of production and hence to more opportunities for citizens. But this is not immediate and automatic. It is also not without pain. Trade rules help to provide transparency and regulatory consistency, while the WTO helps to stymy the threat of protectionism through its monitoring and soft pressure. And this is important because by now we know that trade protectionism doesn’t protect jobs. In short, trade rules make trade possible, but we need to ensure that trade happens, and more importantly, that trade works for all. This is why multilateral efforts need to be combined with strong policies at home to manage the transition. Initiatives such as Aid for Trade and the enhanced integrated framework- two platforms for trade-related assistance under the WTO roof- place a spotlight on the needs of poorer countries for this kind of support, while helping to showcase why investing in trade can lead to scalable and impactful results.

If we are to reset the world economy, we need to do it together. We need to rebuild, recommit and reaffirm that multilateral approaches to global crises as the only route to a sustainable and inclusive recovery for all. The pandemic has lay bare our interdependence and has provided in stark terms examples of how a national action can have a global reaction.

COP26 defined by ‘reinvigorated multilateralism’ (UN News)

“The Glasgow Climate Pact to keep global warming to 1.5C and the other important commitments are a sign of progress”, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) President Collen Kelapile told the special meeting.

“As trillions are being spent on COVID-19 recovery, we must transform this tragedy into a historic opportunity…ensure that recovery efforts are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the goals of the Paris Agreement to ‘build forward better’”, stated Mr. Kelapile. He urged the world to swap traditional “siloed” approaches for cross-sectoral decision-making and innovative solutions that “unlock synergies across government portfolios, sectors of the economy, and the SDGs”. “Recovery packages and policies to address the impacts of the pandemic must also bolster climate action and promote the transformative changes we need to realize the objectives of Paris and Glasgow as well as the SDGs”, upheld the ECOSOC chief.

Asia-Pacific partnership creates new ‘centre of gravity’ for global trade, UNCTAD says (UNCTAD)

A new Asia-Pacific free trade agreement set to enter into force on 1 January 2022 will create the world’s largest trading bloc by economic size, according to an UNCTAD study published on 15 December. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes 15 East Asian and Pacific nations of different economic sizes and stages of development.

The RCEP will become the largest trade agreement in the world as measured by the GDP of its members – almost of one third of the world’s GDP. By comparison, other major regional trade agreements by share of global GDP are the South American trade bloc Mercosur (2.4%), Africa’s continental free trade area (2.9%), the European Union (17.9%) and the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (28%).

UNCTAD’s analysis shows that the RCEP’s impact on international trade will be significant. “The economic size of the emerging bloc and its trade dynamism will make it a centre of gravity for global trade,” the report says.

IATA calls on States to reverse travel bans in wake of new Covid-19 strain (Business Daily)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants governments across the globe to rescind a decision on flights ban and follow the advice issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the management of the new variant. Public health organisations, including WHO, have advised against travel curbs to contain the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant that was first discovered in South Africa. A number of countries in the world have introduced travel bans in response to this latest strain of the coronavirus. “After nearly two years with Covid-19 we know a lot about the virus and the inability of travel restrictions to control its spread. But the discovery of the Omicron variant induced instant amnesia on governments which implemented knee-jerk restrictions in complete contravention of advice from the WHO—the global expert,” IATA said.

“Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivising countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.”


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