Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country news

South Africa’s Covid-19 Response Gets a $750 Million Boost (World Bank)

The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors today approved South Africa’s request for a $750 million development policy loan (DPL). This loan will support the Government of South Africa’s efforts to accelerate its COVID-19 response aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable from the adverse socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and supporting a resilient and sustainable economic recovery.

“The World Bank budget support is coming at a critical time for us and will contribute towards addressing the financing gap stemming from additional spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” says Dondo Mogajane, Director General of National Treasury of South Africa. “It will assist in addressing the immediate challenge of financing critical health and social safety net programs whilst also continuing to develop our economic reform agenda to build back better.”

South African farming: new policy offers promise, but there’s fixing to be done too (The Conversation Africa)

For most agricultural subsectors, South Africa is emerging from one of the best years. The 2020/21 season saw bumper harvests for grains, oilseeds and some fruits. These boosted export earnings and improved farm incomes, especially for grains where the large harvest coincided with higher crop prices. When it started the current season, 2021/22, promised to be exceptional. But the continuation of the heavy rains has proved to be a challenge for various regions, causing crop damage and delaying planting. The heavy rains of the new year are La Niña induced and follow another year of higher-than-average moisture. Various crop surveys have indicated a potential decline in harvests in 2021/22 as a result. The year ahead could therefore be financially costly for the farming community if crop damage proves to be extensive. The devastation being caused is another reminder that climate change is driving unpredictable weather patterns.

Tourism sector and government must work together to rebuild tourism in South Africa (Mail & Guardian)

The announcement of the Omicron variant in South Africa, just days before the country’s peak tourism season last year, only served to further the misery the sector has experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. As the industry looks to recovery after a number of crises ranging from load-shedding and water shortages to crime and corruption, which has now been laid bare in the Zondo commission’s report on SAA, South African Airways Technical and ground-handling services, rebuilding South Africa’s brand as a tourism destination will require the government and the sector to work together to address a number of issues.

Opinion: Steelmaking remains a key strategic industry for South Africa (Engineering News)

Imported steel products continue to impact the viability of the South African steel industry. Each tonne of steel produced domestically adds to the national economy, creates jobs and provides value through beneficiation. It is estimated that it would take more than a decade to re-establish an integrated steel industry in South Africa were it to disappear. This would be detrimental to the South African economy in every sense. Contrary to the assertions of some in the industry, the protection measures implemented by the South African government are in place to protect the entire South African steel manufacturing sector and not just one player. These measures are vital for the survival of the country’s steel industry and for ensuring the steel sector remains the backbone of South Africa’s industrial manufacturing capacity and capability.

Nairobi plans e-platform to export agricultural products to China (Business Daily)

Kenya is working on an online platform that will sell agricultural products such as tea, coffee and macadamia nuts to the Chinese market, following the signing of six memoranda of agreements (MoUs) with the Asian giant. The two countries also plan to have exchange programmes by June to boost the export of avocados.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nairobi Chapter chairman Julius Opio said the platform would ease access to Chinese markets for the exporters. It is expected to cut new logistic challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic causing delays in supply and affecting business.

Food producers, KQ in Gulf cargo transport deal (Business Daily)

Horticulture producers have negotiated a cargo transport deal with Kenya Airways to export chilli, peas and passion fruits to the United Arab Emirates, with the first batch of export expected next month. Kenya Airways is set to start bi-monthly horticulture cargo flights from Kisumu International Airport to the Gulf nation, according to the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC-Kenya). The UAE market is important given that Kenya lost the lucrative European market due to quarantine pests that were found in Kenya’s consignment that were shipped to the EU in 2018.

Uganda, Tanzania resume talks over trade barriers (The East African)

Uganda and Tanzania have resumed talks aimed at eliminating trade barriers, a major hindrance to the smooth flow of trade between the two countries. During a Joint Permanent Committee meeting held in Kampala, officials from both countries also agreed to continue pursuing joint infrastructure projects. Uganda has over the years blamed Tanzania of instituting several non-tariff barriers that have thwarted seamless trade between the two countries. Uganda’s trade volumes have been affected by the non-tariff barriers imposed by Tanzania. These include restrictions on exports such as sugar, milk and movement on Ugandan trucks.

US, Uganda, Tanzania top as Kenya’s tourist sources (The East African)

Uganda and Tanzania continue to be major tourist sources for Kenya after the United States of America (USA) as the country registered a 53.29 percent growth in 2021, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. This comes even as the tourism industry recorded a 34.76 percent increase in revenue, which translated to $1.46 billion, compared to $885 million recorded in 2020. According to latest data released by the Tourism Research Institute, last year, Kenya received 870,465 tourists compared to 567,848 in 2020.

“We have a strategy of future growth and one of them is to ensure we expand and modernise Kenya’s aviation industry and equip our main international airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, with modern international facilities that delivers an efficient and friendly customer experience; and expand Ukunda and Malindi Airports which are key for international tourist arrivals,” said Mr Balala.

GIPC woos diaspora community to invest in Ghana (GhanaWeb)

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) has called on the diaspora community to save and invest massively in Ghana for rapid socio-economic development. Mr Yaw Amoaten Afriyie, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, said such investment moves would not only support the development of the country in a structured manner but would advance all sectors of the economy through entrepreneurship and innovation. “Ghana is indeed opened for business and investment, and we extend an invitation to the members of the Diaspora, commercial partners to grow in Ghana and with Ghana,” he said.

Republic of Congo: Overburdened by debt, can ECAir take off again? (The Africa Report)

On 7 January 2022 in Brazzaville, Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya, the Republic of Congo’s transport minister, and Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, the minister of international cooperation and promotion of public-private partnership, signed a memorandum of understanding with Allegiance Capital so that the national airline, ECAir, could restart its operations. Since 2016, the government has repeatedly expressed its willingness to revive the activities of the queen of the Congolese sky, without presenting a concrete plan.

There are still many uncertainties surrounding ECAir’s relaunch. Little information is available about Allegiance Capital and its managing director, Eric Kenneth Mouritzen, who visited Brazzaville in early January. For the moment, the Congolese carrier is planning to only operate national routes and to later serve the sub-region and international destinations

African trade news

Africa needs to beef up and integrate infrastructure for AfCFTA to have desired impact (Engineering News)

African nations need to establish and/or reinforce their infrastructure to meet the looming implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), a panel of speakers participating in the UK-Africa Investment Conference, on January 20, have said. “For the African free trade area to function effectively, the goal would be [to have] effective infrastructure, transport, energy and digitalisation,” said Africa Union infrastructure, energy and information and communications technology commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid.

Foresight Africa 2022 (Brookings)

With this and every iteration of Foresight Africa, we aim to capture the top priorities for the region in the coming year, offering recommendations for African and global stakeholders for creating and supporting a strong, sustainable, and successful Africa. In doing so, we hope that Foresight Africa 2022 will promote a dialogue on the key issues influencing development policy and practice in Africa during the upcoming year. Such ideas will ultimately provide sound strategies for sustaining and expanding the benefits of economic growth to all people of Africa in the years ahead.

01 Financing robust post-pandemic growth

02 Ensuring equal access and self-sufficiency

03 Leading a continent

04 Tackling a global challenge

05 Creating and harnessing tools for improved livelihoods

06 Reinventing and pursuing new partnerships

Nigeria’s Vice-President Osinbajo Demands Right for Africa to Manufacture its Own Vaccines and Use Gas to Transition out of Dirty Fuels (WEF)

Access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to pose a serious problem for Africa, with fewer than 10% of populations fully vaccinated in most countries, said Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria, in his address to the Davos Agenda 2022. He called for patent waivers to permit African countries to manufacture vaccines locally. Osinbajo complimented COVAX and other global vaccine alliances for their contribution but noted that the price tag for vaccinating the entire world is just $50 billion, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “This is affordable, he said, but we should not allow this opportunity “to slip through the cracks”. “Now is a good time to test global will,” he said, in building international cooperation to prepare for new, possibly worse pandemics to come.

He called for natural gas – which Africa has in abundance – to be accepted as a transitional fuel. Africa is the continent that contributes least to climate change yet has been most negatively affected by it, he said. This situation cannot be compounded by rules that hamper Africa from adapting.

Interview: BRI opening up dev’t opportunities in Africa on win-win outcomes: AU official (Xinhua)

Anchored on win-win outcomes, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is opening up development opportunities across the African continent, an African Union (AU) official has said. Speaking exclusively to Xinhua recently, Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the AU Commission, stressed that a growing number of African countries are now implementing the BRI, which is driving development across the continent.

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for more than a dozen years. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, the two sides have multiplied their efforts to cooperate. Over fifty African countries and the African Union Commission have so far signed cooperation agreements with China. Amid the growing list of African countries cooperating with China under the BRI mechanism, many African countries have realized new deep seaports, thousands of kilometers of roads and railways that have transformed logistics across Africa, among other development projects.

In Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali, Fears Rise Over Losing Duty-Free Access to US Market (VOA)

Effective January 1, Ethiopia was one of three countries — including Guinea and Mali — dropped from a U.S. trade program authorized by the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000. AGOA gives sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets for 6,500 products — if those countries meet eligibility requirements such as promoting a market-based economy and good governance and eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment. Ethiopia lost its AGOA trade benefits for alleged “gross violations” of human rights in the conflict spreading beyond the northern Tigray region, and the West African nations of Guinea and Mali were disqualified for “unconstitutional change” in their respective governments, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said. Guinea experienced a coup d’etat in September. Mali has had two coups since 2020, and its military-led transitional government recently delayed elections. Mali also had been suspended from AGOA for all of 2013 after an earlier coup A second AGOA delisting will have “serious consequences on the trade in Mali,” Mamadou Fofana, a Mali Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman, told VOA.

Mohamed Kaloko, head of Guinea’s Export Promotion Agency, said losing AGOA status raises the duty fee from zero to “at least 35%” for Guinean textiles, which he said were “well sought after on the American market.” Gracelin Baskaran, a development economist at Cambridge University, predicted the suspensions would have limited impact on Guinea and Mali. Each sends relatively little to U.S. markets — less than 1% of their total exports, based on 2019 trade data. But Ethiopia likely will feel “much larger effects,” Baskaran said. While the country ranks 88th among U.S. trade partners, its export-driven economic growth model has the American market as a key destination.

Minister for Africa visits East Africa to tackle regional challenges and deepen economic ties (GOV.UK)

Minister for Africa has visited Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia to deepen partnerships on trade, education and health, and discuss solutions to regional challenges including conflict and drought Vicky Ford announced £17 million of UK Aid to respond to region-wide drought, and one million COVID-19 vaccines The Minister also announced new investments in East Africa and attended the regional launch of British International Investment (BII), where she announced a £37m BII investment into Kenya’s Equity Bank. In Ethiopia, she met with Prime Minister Abiy to discuss routes to a peaceful end to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, and UK support for post-conflict recovery.

West Africa: Extreme poverty rises nearly 3 per cent due to COVID-19 (UN News)

The proportion of people living on less than $1.90 a day jumped from 2.3 per cent last year to 2.9 per cent in 2021, while the debt burden of countries increased amid slow economic recovery, shrinking fiscal space and weak resource mobilization.

Sekou Sangare, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water resources, said the pandemic has, in particular, annihilated benefits gained in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition.

“Even if we are happy with the governments’ response through the mitigation actions they have taken, we have to worry about the residual effects of the health and economic crisis as they are likely to continue disturbing our food systems for a long time while compromising populations access to food, due to multiple factors,” he said. The report highlights the effects of measures aimed at preventing coronavirus spread, such as border closures, movement restrictions and disruption of supply chains.

Global economy news

‘Suez Canal and Challenges in World Trade’ Conference Kicks Off at Expo 2020 Dubai Amid International Turnout (GlobeNewswire)

Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), attended on Sunday morning the international conference the SCA organized under the title ‘The Suez Canal and Challenges in World Trade’ as part of Expo 2020 Dubai. The conference discussed how to support global trade amid different challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the policies and procedures adopted to ensure the sustainability of the services the SCA offers and the continuation of the flow of global trade through the Suez Canal, which is the lifeline of supply the world over.

Minister Gamea explained that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has implemented a comprehensive strategy to gain access to more markets and enhance the competitiveness of Egyptian products to reach the target of $100 billion in exports annually, pointing out that the Egyptian Council for Export has been reconstituted under the leadership of H. E. President of Egypt Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Plans and policies to maximize exports were designed while activating the role of the Export Development Fund, developing a network of trade partnerships with foreign markets, and benefiting from regional integration and preferential trade agreements.

Here’s how we can resolve the global supply chain crisis (UNCTAD)

Our livelihoods – food, jobs, energy – depend on functioning and resilient global supply chains. Unfortunately, the uncertainty caused by the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic from region to region has made it difficult to resume business on a global scale. At the same time, fuelled by the e-commerce boom, container shipping freight rates are reaching record highs and transport capacity is being held up in congested ports. This represents a double shock for developing countries distant from global production hubs, with small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries affected the most. On top of disrupting the delivery of much-needed vaccines and critical food supplies, the supply chain crisis may hike global consumer price levels by an additional 1.5 percentage points as a result of increased maritime transport costs, according to UNCTAD’s latest Review of Maritime Transport. The impact on prices in SIDS is five times higher, with 7.5 percentage points additional consumer price inflation.

Our livelihoods – food, jobs, energy – depend on functioning and resilient global supply chains. Unfortunately, the uncertainty caused by the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic from region to region has made it difficult to resume business on a global scale. At the same time, fuelled by the e-commerce boom, container shipping freight rates are reaching record highs and transport capacity is being held up in congested ports. This represents a double shock for developing countries distant from global production hubs, with small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries affected the most. On top of disrupting the delivery of much-needed vaccines and critical food supplies, the supply chain crisis may hike global consumer price levels by an additional 1.5 percentage points as a result of increased maritime transport costs, according to UNCTAD’s latest Review of Maritime Transport. The impact on prices in SIDS is five times higher, with 7.5 percentage points additional consumer price inflation.

DDG González: Now is the time to think big on customs reform (WTO)

DDG González observed that customs authorities need to respond and adjust to changes in the global trade landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid technological developments, geopolitical tensions and climate change. She added that the role of customs was becoming increasingly complex, and that customs officials were being continuously asked to do more in areas ranging from product and food safety standards, climate, deforestation and endangered species to veterinary regulations, fake goods, drug precursors and even labour standards and human rights.

DDG González emphasized that customs practices must be more nimble, innovative and forward-looking to meet the challenges of the 21st century and stay ahead of the curve. While e-commerce provided new export opportunities for small businesses, a wider choice and lower prices for consumers, customs administrations everywhere were being stretched thin by the massive increase in the quantity of e-commerce parcels, she noted.

Macron emphasises technology transfer in fight against vaccine shortages (EURACTIV)

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed pressuring pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge to fight vaccine shortages worldwide, as an alternative to waiving intellectual property (IP) rights. Speaking before MEPs on Wednesday (19 January), Macron advocated for an increased focus on technology transfer to scale up vaccine production and increase global accessibility.

“Firstly, you have to transfer the technology and create the capacity,” Macron said, adding that technology should be transferred to Africa. The initiative follows a proposal from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).


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