Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country-related news

Smuggling of Illegal Consignments of Clothing into South Africa Presents Ongoing Threat to the Viability of South Africa’s Clothing Industry (GlobeNewswire)

The “Clothing Industry in South Africa 2021” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering. South Africa’s clothing industry has been materially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although lockdown restrictions and supply chain disruptions dealt a massive blow to companies across the industry value chain, the closure of borders prompted companies to reduce their reliance on imported goods and increase local sourcing. In terms of a recently implemented industry masterplan, major retailers have committed to increasing locally-made clothing ranges in their stores from around 50% currently to 65% by 2030.

The smuggling of illegal consignments of clothing into South Africa, much of which is counterfeit or knock-offs of other brands, presents an ongoing threat to the viability of South Africa’s clothing industry. Added to this is tax evasion, which takes the form of under-invoicing and roundtripping. Illicit practices have been facilitated by corrupt officials in customs administration.

This report focuses on the clothing industry in South Africa, including manufacturing and retail. It includes comprehensive information on the state and size of the sector, notable players and their performance, developments and corporate actions, and factors influencing the sector including the effect of the pandemic on sales and the increase in online sales.

Value chains key to industrial development (NewsDay)

Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Mavis Sibanda on Thursday said the country’s industrial sector needs resuscitation; hence the need for more coordinated value chains to enable efficiency in production and distribution of goods. Sibanda said this in Harare during her opening remarks at the value chain strengthening workshop. “It is common knowledge that the manufacturing sector went through a phase of de-industrialisation. Now is the time to resuscitate, re-strategise and move forward. “In this endeavour, the government has identified the strengthening of our already existing value chains as a key strategy to reclaim our place as a strong and growing manufacturing base in Southern Africa.” She said Zimbabwe has prioritised 10 value chains which are dairy, sugar, bus and truck, fertiliser, plastic waste, pharmaceutical, clothing, leather, soya and steel value chains. She said the workshop will analyse progress made in five value chains; namely the dairy, sugar, bus and truck, fertiliser and plastic waste value chains.

Cross border traders seek space in economic recovery (The Herald)

The Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association has called on the Government to give them space to make meaningful contributions to the national vision by addressing issues of price distortions and exchange volatility, promoting exports in the region, gender empowerment and creation of employment. In a statement, the association’s general secretary Mr Augustine Tawanda, said it was important for the Government to recognise cross border traders as strategic economic players. “Despite the absence of official data and statistics about the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and misrepresentations from some quarters, cross border traders can make a huge difference in restoring livelihoods. They have the capacity to contribute to the national vision,” he said.

“Given operating space, cross border traders can bring sanity in this area, if the government temporarily lifts import restrictions on some basic commodities which are being overcharged and allow cross border traders to freely import these goods. This will force local producers to reduce the prices to regional parity levels. Cross border traders can also increase exports into the region if supportive mechanisms are put in place,” said Mr Tawanda.

China allows exports of fresh Kenyan avocados (Business Daily)

The Chinese government has allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado after four years of lobbying as Beijing reverses an initial requirement that only allowed frozen produce, coming as a major boost to farmers. China had locked out the fresh produce in 2019 due to prevalence of fruit flies locally.

“Kenya has been granted market access by the Peoples’ Republic of China for export of fresh avocado fruits,” said Prof Mutui. The deal to export avocado to China was agreed in April 2019 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping but Beijing required Kenya to export only frozen avocado, which majority of exporters could not manage owing to the high cost involved.

Producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocado to china will have to ensure that all their production farms, pack houses and fumigation treatment facilities are registered by Kephis.

CBK seeks digital and mobile payment platforms fees cut (Business Daily)

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has asked digital payment service providers including mobile money firms to cut their prices, arguing that they have the headroom to charge customers less. The mobile and internet-based payment platforms charge relatively higher fees for cash transfer and payments compared to banks. The regulator says in the National Payments Strategy 2022-2025 paper that the recent reduction in the fees charged by the digital platforms mandated in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has not gone far enough.

“Prices and tariffs of some payment services can be high in relative terms, while others are not easily understood by the average customer,” the regulator says in the strategy paper. “CBK is determined, working with the industry, to change this reality and ensure that benefits of digitalisation translate to affordable, transparent and customer-centric payment services.”

Rwanda on course to wean herself off poultry imports (The New Times)

The government has sustained its halts on the importation of poultry products, especially chicks, as it looks to prevent the spread of bird flu in the country. Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) told The New Times that the country was now concentrating on bolstering the domestic industry in order to wean herself off foreign supplies. The government imposed a ban on poultry imports in November last year following an outbreak of bird flu in Europe—the leading supplier of chicks to Rwanda. The ban, RAB said, was meant to prevent the highly contagious Avian Influenza (AI) or bird flu from spreading in Rwanda. It affects both domestic and wild birds. Occasionally, mammals, including humans, may contract this virus, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). As things stand now, there is no end in sight to the lifting of the ban.

“Local supply is increasing, and we are even exporting,” Fabrice Ndayisenga, the Head of Animal Resource Research and Technology Transfer Department at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) told The New Times, stressing that locally produced chicks were also more affordable compared to imported ones. Our priority is to develop our industry.”

Tanzania to establish bank for small-scale miners (The East African)

The Tanzanian government plans to establish a bank designed for artisans and small-scale miners, in a bid to boost their investments by channelling a dedicated line of credit. Dr Philip Mpango, the country’s Vice President, told a mining forum on Tuesday that the idea is to establish a financial institution that is specialised in providing loans and other funding services to groups of small-scale miners. “While the government is working to bring in Mineral Bank, all the industry players, including banks, artisans and small-scale miners, should work hand in hand with the State Mining Corporation (STAMICO) to facilitate loans for miners,” he told participants at the 4th International Mineral and Mining Investment conference 2020, at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam.

Export Oriented Enterprises sector: Mauritius still a reliable source market (African Business)

“Despite the difficulties faced since the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, figures for the Export Oriented Enterprises sector for calendar year 2021 show that Mauritius still remains a reliable source market for several countries.” The Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, made this statement, today, during a press conference in Port Louis on the performance of the Export Oriented Enterprises (EOE) sector. He highlighted that in 2021, the EOE sector contributed about 4.4% to Gross Value Added and it accounted for around 70% of total exports, excluding sugar.

He underlined that this rise was mainly attributed to: a relative upturn in export orders from the country’s traditional markets as compared to the previous corresponding period; the gradual economic recovery in the country’s main markets (United Kingdom, France and South Africa); the positive impact of support schemes such as the Freight Rebate Scheme and the Support for Trade Promotion and Marketing Scheme, which had enhanced export competitiveness; and the extensive use of export promotional activities such as participation in the Intra-Africa Trade Fair and virtual trade shows in the fashion field with USA and South Africa, among others.

African trade

Groundwork for AfCFTA laid by governments, but private sector will drive its success (Mail & Guardian)

Trade agreements do not guarantee trade; they are not self-executing and require enormous energy, reform and governance. This, according to Gerhard Erasmus, a Trade Law Centre (tralac) founder and associate, is why the groundwork surrounding the African Continental Fair Trade Area (AfCFTA) is vital for its implementation and future success. Erasmus was in conversation with tralac’s executive director Trudi Hartzenberg during a webinar on “The start of ‘commercially meaningful trade’ under the AfCFTA – what businesses should know”, hosted in partnership with the Mail & Guardian.

Signed in 2018, the AfCFTA was officially – but largely symbolically – launched in January 2021 after a number of delays. “The reality, however, is that trade has not yet begun,” said Hartzenberg. “What we see now is an interim arrangement, taking into account that even though we may not have reached the 90% [tariff line] threshold, we will make a start for ‘commercially meaningful trade’ – a term coined by the Council of Ministers Meeting, which took place on the 28th and 29th of January.”

Trudi Hartzenberg said that the most difficult negotiations have proven to be on the two foundational requirements – the minimum requirements – for a free trade area, namely tariff concessions and rules of origin: “The rules of origin are in fact those rules which determine eligibility for the tariff concessions and the tariff preferences that are negotiated in a free trade area. They play a gatekeeper role. If your products comply with the applicable rules of origin, then you will trade under the preferential tariff regime. If not, then by default, you would attract the higher duty under the World Trade Organisation rates that are applicable for the export destination.”

Gerhard Erasmus said trading services are vital for the success of the agreement and the bigger picture achievements: “Only about 16% of the goods that we produce in Africa are destined for other African markets, and that has obvious implications and shows that there is a large opportunity for boosting intra-African trade in goods. Many of the commentators and politicians have started to emphasise that the AfCFTA is actually a framework for industrialisation and development of value chains. Trade in services is so obviously at the centre of this strategy, as 90% of our goods are being transported by road.”

WCO shares good practices for drafting a rules of origin tool with the AfCFTA (WCO)

At the invitation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the World Customs Organization (WCO) gave a presentation on international standards for the drafting of tools and instruments on rules of origin at a virtual workshop on the drafting of the AfCFTA Rules of Origin Handbook held on Monday 21 February 2022.

In her welcoming address, the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Rules of Origin reminded those taking part that Article 8.3 of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area laid down that any additional instruments, within the scope of that Agreement, deemed necessary, are to be concluded in furtherance of the objectives of the AfCFTA and will, upon adoption, form an integral part of the Agreement. In accordance with Article 13 of the Protocol on Trade in Goods, discussions among the negotiating bodies had led to the adoption of Annex 2 on Rules of Origin and of close to 88% of the tariff lines constituting Annex IV. She also emphasized that both of those legal documents on rules of origin had to be made operational through the use of the Rules of Origin Handbook.

AfCFTA takes centerstage at 35th AU heads of states meeting (GhanaWeb)

The Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government held its 35th Ordinary session and was the first to be held in person since the Covid-19 pandemic at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The opening session was marked with calls for continued African solidarity in addressing the impact of covid-19 on the continent and the urgent need to address the emerging scourge of coup d’états and the threat of terrorism. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, whose country hosts the AU Headquarters called on the leaders to collectively make the effort to boost Intra-Africa Trade on the Continent. “Our continental free trade agreement holds the greatest promise of effectively realizing continental integration and development, importation of increase intra-Africa trade, free movement of people and investment and self-reliance is a beacon for Africa’s renaissance. In the state of depending solely on trade out of Africa our collective effort to boost intra-Africa trade will protect us from the fluctuations of global economy, economic and political change,” he said.

Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has met with the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry to reveal that African heads of states have agreed at the AU Summit that the continent commences trading at the 87.7% currently negotiated rules of origin.

Africa’s 2021 FDI up 147 percent smaller nations not left out (The Citizen)

Against the backdrop of a 147 percent increase in foreign direct investments into Africa in 2021, smaller African nations are racing to develop business-friendly policies and economic reforms to bolster their investor attractiveness. Just as the UN released a report showing that foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa grew by 147 percent, so another report shows that smaller African economies, too, have begun flaunting their colours, particularly in the form of economic reforms and business-friendly policies as they vie for a greater share of inbound investment.

A new global index, shows seven low and lower-middle-income countries in the continent are among 10 with the most improved investment climates in the world - climbing the index by as much as 21 positions. “The 10 countries that gained the most positions are all low-income and lower-middle-income countries from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America,” according to the index. Among the seven African countries, Burkina Faso, improved the most in the rankings, from position 143 in 2021 to its current 122, according to Milken Institute’s Global Opportunity Index 2022: White Paper.

Proposed 35 percent CET aims to boost East Africa trade to $6.8 billion (The Citizen)

The proposed 35 percent common external tariff (CET) for imported goods, will boost intra-East African Community (EAC) trade to $6.8 billion. In 2020, the total trade within the six nation bloc stood at 11.8 percent, amounting to $6.39 billion. This means the trade among the six partner states - Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan, will increase by $18.9 million. Enforcement of the proposed maximum CET for goods entering the region is, however, subject to adoption by the EAC member countries. The expected trade gains are revealed in an analysis done by the Arusha-based EAC secretariat.

EAC working with EU Technical Groups on Economic Partnership Agreements (EAPs) (EAC)

The EAC Partner States are currently engaging in internal consultations with a view to ensuring that they are involved in the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). EPAs are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific Partners engaged in regional economic integration processes. The EAC Heads of State, during the 21st Extra-Ordinary Summit in February 2021 noted that not all Partner States are in a position to sign, ratify and implement the agreement. “The Summit recognized the importance of some Partner States to move forward and concluded that Partner States who wish to do so should be able to commence engagements with the EU with a view to starting the EU-EAC-EPA implementation under the principle of variable geometry,” noted. EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki.

Dr Mathuki added that the EU-EAC EPA covers trade in goods, fisheries, agriculture, Institutional provisions, dispute settlement as well as economic and development cooperation. The Agreement contains a clause for future negotiations to be undertaken on Trade in Services and Trade Related Issues (competition policy, investment and private sector development, intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development, and transparency in public procurement).

EABC calls for non-state actors involvement in EAC trade talks (The Star, Kenya)

The East African Business Council (EABC) has called for Private Sector involvement in the negotiation under the African Continental Free Trade. EABC CEO John Bosco Kalisa, said services account for 54 percent of African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 75 percent of Greenfield Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) hence salient to involve non-state actors.

Kalisa expounded that Trade-in services (TiS) on the continent remain far below its potential. He elaborated that stakeholders such as private services providers are crucial to informing the AfCFTA services negotiations with practical experience on the ground. “It is imperative that non-state actors, such as firms in services sectors, be actively engaged in the preparations for the EAC schedule of commitment and regulatory framework negotiations of services under the AfCFTA,” Kalisa said.

The rapid decline in Africa’s GDP (Tribune Online)

Recently, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, painted a gloomy picture of governance and life on the African continent when he revealed its dwindling economic fortunes resulted in a $165 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline in 2020. In the same year, over 30 million jobs were lost while 26 million Africans joined the extreme poverty bracket.

According to the AfDB boss, Africa needs between $600 million and $1.3 billion to meet its goal of attaining 60 per cent vaccine production by 2040, and investing in health is investing in national security. Therefore, he said, the bank would invest $3 billion to support pharmaceutical and vaccines manufacturing capacity for Africa. He said: “To address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and support economic recovery, Africa will need some $484 billion over the next three years. To eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, the continent will need $414 – $784 billion per year. Africa will need $7-$15 billion a year to deal with climate change. The continent will also need between $68 and $108 billion per year to fix the infrastructure financing gap.” To this end, he said, Africa must drastically increase its resource base, adding that with the help of the continent’s leaders, AfDB’s general capital had increased in 2019 by 125 per cent, rising from $93 billion to $208 billion, the highest since its establishment in 1964.

How does infrastructure investment promote economic development in fragile regions of Africa? (World Bank Blog)

What are the expected impacts of future regional transport investments in the Horn of Africa and Lake Chad Region? Simulations based on a general-equilibrium model quantify the subnational and aggregate gains from future major transport investments of interest for the World Bank: a series of regional corridors in the Horn of Africa and the road and rail corridors in Chad and Cameroon.

In the Horn of Africa, Somalia will benefit the most from the transport as well as combined energy and transport investments, as the new road corridors will largely increase its access to bigger regional markets and lead to important price reductions for goods exchanged in the region. Somalia’s annual real income is predicted to increase by 1.4% from the transport investments, by 6.2% when combined with major electricity improvements, and by 10% when border delays are additionally reduced. However, the effects differ across locations within the country. The road investments will primarily benefit the border locations that gain the most in terms of market access. While some regions do not benefit from road investments alone, all regions gain when infrastructure investments are combined with trade facilitation measures, as these help to amplify the affected area.

Electrifying Africa: The Procurement Of Renewable Energy Is Critical To Close The Widening Power Gap (Africa.com)

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, over 320 million people do not have reliable access to electricity because of a lack of appropriate energy supply legislation and policy. These people cannot keep their food or crucially medicines and vaccines cold in fridges or simply cannot turn lights on at night. But most critically, without access to electricity, there is no access to clean water. It is an energy crisis for a continent with a population full of potential. If the procurement and rollout of energy is properly managed, many people will gain access to what is actually a basic human right. Africa needs to be powered just like every other continent on Earth. This is why Innovation: Africa, an efficient non-governmental organisation (NGO), is focused on the rollout of solar, water and agricultural technologies in Africa.

Having access to electricity on a regular basis enables entrepreneurs and business owners to run operations more easily, at a lower cost. This unlocks economic potential and fosters job creation. Insufficient energy access can manifest itself in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year as desperate people try to live functional lives. Energy access for all Africans is one of the key drivers of inclusive growth as it creates opportunities for women, the youth and children both in urban and rural areas.

Africa needs to beat plastic pollution, says WWF (The Mail & Guardian)

New findings on plastic pollution in Africa indicate that the problem could be addressed more efficiently if policymakers tackled the entire lifecycle of plastic as opposed to just its end cycle, waste. The report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) titled, Plastic Pollution in Africa: Policy Gaps and Opportunities, has been published ahead of a key meeting in Kenya, Nairobi, when the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly conference takes place from 28 February 2022. Among the items on the agenda is the adoption of a resolution which, if passed, will give the mandate to start negotiations on a global, legally binding treaty on plastics pollution. It encourages African governments to actively participate and provide African perspectives and priorities in the negotiations.

Conference explores game-changing potential of the circular economy for Africa (AfDB)

African countries have been urged to scale up circular value chains to accelerate industrialization and job creation in the green economy. The call was made last week during a virtual panel discussion on the circular economy at the 7th Europe-Africa Business Forum. The circular economy refers to a model of sustainable production and consumption that aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption. This includes designing products for longer use and ease of repair. “Finance is a key enabler for the deployment of innovative solutions, so it is critical for the African Development Bank to anchor and nurture the circular economy as a bankable business model for Africa,” said Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Officer-in-Charge for the African Development Bank’s climate change and green growth department.

Dorsouma said the circular economy offered a low-carbon and climate-compatible development strategy with strong adaptation benefits for the continent. He noted that accelerating the circular economy transition required increased access to finance and stronger partnerships.

Eurochambres: Trade, investment, and Africa are key to Europe’s future (EURACTIV)

International trade from the European Union and developing a solid partnership with Africa are key parts of Europe’s future, according to the President of Eurochambres and former Minister of Finance of Luxembourg, Luc Frieden.

He stressed the importance of making companies aware of what the EU is doing and defined his agenda for this term to be focused on two main areas “one is a further deepening of the single market, where there are still a lot of hurdles, and secondly, international trade because I think a lot of European companies produce excellent goods and services”.

Speaking about the EU-Africa Summit that took place in Brussels, Frieden said, “I consider Africa to be a natural partner for the European Union. I think that Africa has a huge potential”. Finally, he spoke about the possibility of Africa increasing Europe’s supply chains and shifting the relationship with Africa “in different ways than just development as has been done very much in the past”, adding that to start, there is a need “to work on the general framework conditions in terms of the rule of law, investment protection”.

The EU hopes to rekindle its relationship with Africa to respond to new actors like Russia and China on the continent – Foreign and security policy (IPS Journal)

Before the highly anticipated 6th Summit between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) concluded on 18 February, the two sides had one common goal: to press the reset button on the European Union’s relations with Africa after a few years dominated by mistrust, a mismatch of expectations, and lots of anxiety.

The EU had a fairly coherent strategy towards Africa beyond its sheer material power – making use of its a large market, wealth, and status within the international system. In contrast, efforts at regional integration through the AU still relied on external actors’ largesse – including the EU’s. However, in the lead up to the summit, this strategy was being challenged as African countries increasingly have more options beyond Brussels and other European capitals. In recent years, African partnerships with China, Russia, Turkey, Japan, among others, have grown. In fact, both a Turkey-Africa Summit and a China-Africa Summit preceded the meeting with the Europeans. These new actors in Africa provide viable alternatives to the EU’s historical influence on the continent. Importantly, they allow African decision makers to exercise more agency – by asserting African interests, norms, and values – in African affairs, something which the EU consistently promised in negotiations, but failed to deliver on.

How Russia-Ukraine conflict could influence Africa’s food supplies (The Conversation)

Wheat and other grains are back at the heart of geopolitics following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both countries play a major role in the global agricultural market. African leaders must pay attention. There is significant agricultural trade between countries on the continent and Russia and Ukraine. African countries imported agricultural products worth US$4 billion from Russia in 2020. About 90% of this was wheat, and 6% was sunflower oil. Major importing countries were Egypt, which accounted for nearly half of the imports, followed by Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa. Similarly, Ukraine exported US$2.9 billion worth of agricultural products to the African continent in 2020. About 48% of this was wheat, 31% maize, and the rest included sunflower oil, barley, and soybeans.

Disruption in trade, because of the invasion, in the significant producing region of the Black Sea would add to elevated global agricultural commodity prices – with potential knock on effects for global food prices. A rise in commodities prices was already evident just days into the conflict. This is a concern for the African continent, which is a net importer of wheat and sunflower oil. On top of this there are worries about drought in some regions of the continent. Disruption to shipments of commodities would add to the general worries of food price inflation in a region that’s an importer of wheat.

Africa: UK Reiterates Commitment to Green Manufacturing Africa (AllAfrica)

The UK Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford gave the assurance on Wednesday when she visited Nigerian e-mobility platform and an electric vehicle assembler, MAX, to highlight the UK’s commitment to the transition to green manufacturing in Africa and the strong economic links between the British and Nigerian economies in Lagos. UK Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the team at MAX and to see first-hand how the UK is helping these dynamic entrepreneurs attract investment, create jobs and produce the innovative electric vehicles the world needs to meet our climate challenge.”

US seeks more investment opportunities in Africa (The East African)

The US government is exploring ways to expand trade and investment opportunities in Africa, in a bid to scramble for the control of the continent’s raw materials with other world’s powerful nations such as China and Russia. The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Akunna Cook said the country has yet to deepen its presence in Africa, which has a population of about 1.3 billion people. “We have been behind the curve for quite some time in terms of really taking advantage of the opportunities on the continent… the great challenge is to inform our companies and investors the opportunities that exist on the continent after I leave for Washington,” she said while on a visit in Namibia.

She said the Biden-Harris administration has made trade and investment with Africa a huge priority, with a focus to connecting with African entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers to talk about how the US government can improve its commercial and economic diplomacy initiatives.

Global economy

International trade statistics: trends in fourth quarter 2021 (OECD)

Following a slow third quarter, G20 international merchandise trade accelerated in value terms in Q4 2021, partly due to high commodity prices, in particular for energy. While shipping costs kept the value of trade in transport services at record highs, trade in other services showed a slowdown notably in Europe, possibly reflecting a tightening of Covid-19 related restrictions towards the end of the year.

Growth in G20 international merchandise picked up in Q4 2021, with exports up 3.4% and imports up 5.0%, with respect to the previous quarter and measured in seasonally-adjusted current US dollars. This compares to the slower growth (1.5% for exports and 0.9% for imports) recorded in Q3 2021. Energy price increases continued to fuel merchandise trade growth in value terms, while pressure on supply chains, including for semiconductors, appears to have eased towards the end of the year.

Growth in exports and imports of services for the G20 is estimated at around 2.5% and 2.4% in Q4 2021, respectively, compared with the previous quarter and measured in seasonally-adjusted US dollars.

Investment facilitation negotiators take steps to assess needs of developing countries (WTO)

Participants in the investment facilitation negotiations agreed at a meeting on 14-15 February to establish a Working Group of international organizations working on investment facilitation, coordinated by the WTO Secretariat, to develop a Self-Assessment Guide to help developing and least developed countries assess their needs in terms of implementing the future agreement. They also discussed key issues, with a view to concluding the text negotiations by the end of 2022.

The global economic system is in dire need of an overhaul (UNCTAD)

The system of global economic governance appears increasingly bewildered and hamstrung by the challenges of the 21st century. A renewed multilateral order must prioritize the role of global public goods that are needed to deliver shared prosperity and a healthy planet, promote cooperation and collective actions to bring fairness and balance to market outcomes, coordinate policy initiatives to mitigate common risks, and ensure that no nation’s pursuit of these broader goals infringes on the ability of other nations to pursue them.

Trade ministers should work to introduce complementary reforms at the World Trade Organization and the myriad treaties to accelerate trade and investment in low-carbon economic activity, to eliminate incentives for trade and investment in sectors that need to be phased out, and to encourage green industrial policies for full employment in decent, well-paid work. And they should do so in full knowledge that developing countries face specific challenges that will need differential support and sufficient policy space.

Rising incomes more harmful to environment than population growth (UN News)

The Global Population Growth and Sustainable Development report, launched on Wednesday, is the latest in a series on major demographic trends. The number of people on the planet more than tripled since 1950 and could reach nearly 11 billion by the end of the century, according to the study, which examines the links between population growth and the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

“Whereas population growth magnifies the harmful impact of economic processes on the environment, the rise in per capita income has been more important than population growth in driving increased production and consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases,” the authors said. “More affluent countries bear the greatest responsibility for moving rapidly to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and for implementing strategies to decouple human economic activity from environmental degradation.”

Other key findings include that most of the world’s future population growth will take place in developing countries.

Least developed countries still lag behind in cyberlaw reforms (UNCTAD)

Despite some progress, many least developed countries (LDCs) still lag behind in cyberlaw reforms, according to the UNCTAD Cyberlaw Tracker released on 24 February. This has negative implications for cross-border data flows, trade and digitalization. The tracker shows that LDCs that have adopted privacy and data protection laws rose from 43% in 2020 to 48% in 2021, while those with laws on consumer protection online increased from 40% to 41%. While many developing countries (79%), including LDCs (70%), have adopted laws on cybercrime, fewer than half of the LDCs have legislation on privacy. “The years 2020 and 2021 were exceptional, with industries being severely impacted in every corner of the globe,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “The escalation of cybercrime and online fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic makes the adoption of sound laws, coupled with efficient enforcement mechanisms, ever more urgent,” she said.

For e-commerce to continue to grow, Ms. Sirimanne said, consumers and businesses must be protected when they shop online in the same way as when they buy goods in a store.

ILO Global Forum concludes with renewed commitments to a recovery that puts people first (ILO)

The Global Forum for a Human-centred Recovery, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), concluded with renewed commitments to push for a recovery that puts people first and tackles the dangerous inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The three-day Forum (22-24 February) brought together heads of State and Government, heads of international organizations and multilateral development banks, and employers’ and workers’ leaders from around the world to propose concrete actions to build back better and strengthen the level and coherence of the international community’s response to the social and economic fall-out of the pandemic.

“Wealthy countries are investing a much higher percentage of their GDPs into recovery. While many low-income countries are trapped by spiralling debt and starved of resources – victims of a global financial system that puts profits before people – developing countries face a massive and enduring jobs deficit,” Guterres said.


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