tralac Daily News
Impact on SA trade with Russia minimal: BUSA (East Coast Radio)
In a statement released on Tuesday, Busa said it is “gravely concerned” about the situation and stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. “According to the Bureau for Economic Research, for now, the direct economic impact on SA is minimal. Our trade with Russia is negligible, making up less than 0.4% of total merchandise exports in 2021.
“South Africa imported goods worth R9.2 billion from Russia in 2021, less than 1% (0.7%) of total imports. Our trade linkages with Ukraine are also negligible.
“In 2020, we exported over (R3,7 billion) worth of agricultural products, with citrus and apples & pears making up nearly 90% of those exports. In total, SA exports more than 7% of its total citrus crop to Russia, and more than 12% of its apples and pears exports.”
Positioning South Africa’s renewable energy manufacturing (Engineering News)
As fossil fuel industries and infrastructure reach the end of their historical cycle, renewable energy should become a pivot for South Africa’s industrial development. At present, roughly 85 per cent of electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. What is clear is that there is serious strain on South Africa’s energy security and the ongoing electrification crisis reinforces the need for a low carbon pathway that delivers jobs, economic growth, and social benefits. While the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) and other policies have catalysed a shift in the energy market, the transition to renewable energy is not happening at the speed and with the urgency required. Unlocking the country’s untapped renewable energy potential reveals the often-intense debates that characterise a larger, more fundamental aspect of South Africa’s entrenched industrial structure.
South Africa, underpinned by uneven and exclusionary growth, has largely failed to deliver meaningful structural change, certainly by comparison to countries such as Malaysia and Brazil. The post-apartheid state has set the country on a path of ‘premature deindustrialisation.’ Navigating the complex politics of South Africa’s energy transition requires a proactive and coordinated approach that locates the renewable energy transition within a broad-based industrialisation agenda.
Expo 2020 Dubai to rake in US$10m (The Herald)
Zimbabwe expects to rake in US$10 million through horticultural exports to the United Arab Emirates from deals struck during the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai. This was said by ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru when he appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement. Mr Majuru said they had sealed deals approximately worth US$2 million during the Expo. “From the Expo we managed to get deals worth over US$2 million and by the end of the year we expect to make in excess of US$10 million through follow up deals,” he said.
He added that apart from exporting horticultural products, ZimTrade was also engaging potential investors from UAE to invest in production of horticultural products locally to secure supply.
Truckers blame KRA tracking system for costly port delays (Business Daily)
Transporters hauling cargo from the Port of Mombasa have raised concern over the shortage of Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking Seals (RECTS) that are exclusively owned and operated by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The lack of the seals has forced trucks to wait for long hours before leaving the port, incurring more costs. The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) said they are paying delay charges levied by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) for any truck staying at the port past midnight, attracting charges. KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo urged the government to intervene and remove the charges to allow more transporters and traders use the port. “KRA has insisted that all cargo under customs control must be tagged with RECTS that are exclusively owned and operated by KRA. These seals are not enough as a result crippling business due to delay in loading of cargo at border points. Due to the shortage, loaded trucks have to wait for these seals for a period ranging from six hours to 24 hours to be available before tagging to exit,” said Mr Wang’oo.
Russia, Ukraine conflict set to exert toll on local exporters (Business Daily)
The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine will adversely impact exporters starting this March as freighters have adjusted the shipping charges by 10 percent in response to the rising cost of fuel. The rising cost of fuel will also have an impact on imports with Kenyans expected to pay more in shipping goods to the country. The price for a barrel of oil jumped to $100 last month, a rate that was last witnessed in 2014. “Cost of freight will go up because of this war between Russia and Ukraine as a result of high cost of fuel,” said Astral Aviation chief executive officer Sanjeev Gadhia.
“Kenyans should embrace expensive exports and imports in the coming days because of the expensive fuel currently,” he said. The move will hit hard exporters of fresh produce, especially coming at a time when the horticulture industry is expecting to export more flowers to Europe ahead of the Mother’s Day celebration in May. The orders are normally ferried in advance. Chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Ojepat Okisegere said they are waiting to see how the industry will react to the current disruptions in the coming days.
Kenya might have lost huge tax revenues, with an analysis of official data showing imports valued at close to Sh300 billion from China were either under-declared or diverted. Data from China’s General Administration of Customs, which handles international trade shows that the Asian country exported to Kenya goods valued at Sh738.9 billion ($6.73 billion using an average exchange rate of 109.7), in the 12 months to December last year. However, this is a substantial variance compared to the goods worth Sh441.5 billion published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for the same period. KNBS, the national statistician, gets its data on exports and imports from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The taxman has since launched non-intrusive scanners at key border points to help detect suspicious items. An electronic cargo tracking system that monitors transit cargo from the point of entry to the exit is also expected to cut offloading of undeclared goods in the local market. Recently, the government, in a bid to facilitate easy and faster clearance of Cargo, gazetted various facilities to be used for deconsolidation and clearance of cargo by small-scale traders. “All cargo consolidated at the countries of export will, upon importation, be deconsolidated at facilities designated for that purpose,” said KRA. This took effect early last month, with all consolidated cargo imported by sea and transported to Nairobi through rail being opened and cleared. It is then collected by the owners at the Kenya Railways Corporation (Boma Line) Transit Shed, in Nairobi. However, there is almost no solution for under-declaration with KRA officials sometimes resorting to estimating the cost of the products, a move that has hurt a lot of traders.
Central bank to pronounce itself on digital currency by December (The New Times)
People will know Rwanda’s stand on the use of digital currency by the end of December 2022, according to central bank Deputy Governor, Soraya Hakuziyaremye. Digital currency represents any currency or money that is managed or exchanged on digital computer systems, especially over the internet, and never converted into physical form at any point. In this case, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) is the one that would be issued and overseen by a country’s central bank. In June 2021, the central bank announced the commencement of a study that would look at the economic, financial and technology aspects related to CBDC as well as the operationalisation model, taking into account the local context.
Use of cheques falls as digital payments rise (Business Daily)
Growth in usage of cheques has slowed down in the last decade, losing out to digital payments channels which are more efficient for businesses and individuals. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said in its 2022-2025 national payments strategy that the paper-based payment channel will need reforms as part of the alignment of the automated clearing house (ACH) with emerging global practise that is marking a shift away from cheques. While the value of cheques went up from Sh2.05 trillion in 2011 to Sh2.54 trillion in 2021, the number issued in the payments fell from 18.2 million to 16.4 million in the period. Meanwhile, the volume of cash transacted through mobile money agents rose by nearly six times to hit Sh6.87 trillion in 2021, from Sh1.17 trillion in 2011. Bulk payments made through real-time bank transfers have also gone up by a significant margin, from Sh21.9 trillion in 2011 to Sh34.55 trillion last year. “At a broader level, cheque volumes and values continue to fall, as individuals and businesses make greater use of electronic payment instruments, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the CBK.
Rwanda secures €56 million for climate change action (The New Times)
Rwanda has received €56 million to kick off the implementation of priority projects that address the issues raising climate change as well as development. In the agreement signed with the KFW Development Bank of Germany, €30 million will be allocated to urban development project, Green City Kigali and €26 million for the implementation of the Rwandan National Determined Contributions (NCDs) through the NDC Facility at the Rwanda Green Fund. Under its NDCs to Paris Agreement, Rwanda has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 38 per cent by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual scenario on condition of international support and funding which complements domestic resources. The commitment is estimated at $11 billion investment cost and it revolves around matters such as water security, agriculture, land and forestry, settlements and health.
“It is encouraging for my government and party, the New Patriotic Party, to recall that the rate of growth of the economy, 5.6%, against the background of the exceptionally difficult circumstances of the COVID-era, is still considerably better than the 3.4% we inherited (in 2016) in calmer times from our predecessor administration.” These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he delivered the keynote address at the National Labour Conference, held in Kwahu Nkwatia, in the Eastern Region, on Monday 28th February 2022. According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghanaians “should not forget that, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, we witnessed average annual GDP growth rates of seven percent (7%) in 2017, 2018, 2019 and part of 2020, when our economy was then, generally, acknowledged as one of the fastest growing in the world.”
‘$42b deals sealed at IATF2021’ (The Nation)
Deals and commitments amounting to over $42 billion were concluded within the two weeks that the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IITF2021) took place in Durban, South Africa, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, has said.
Noting that some of the deals were concluded by Nigerians, Mansur said others were in form of negotiations for investments and trade. “Some of our members who were in Durban confirmed that they were able to agree to some relationships, whether it was a deal in terms of supply of materials or supply of goods,” he said.
Ethiopia reaffirms commitment to Lamu Port project (New Business Ethiopia)
Ethiopia reaffirmed its continued commitment to the realization of the under-construction Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) Corridor Project, geared towards the development, integration and prosperity aspirations of our respective people. This is indicated by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem, at the 7th Program for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA) Week. He reiterated the fact that the LAPSSET is a game changer regional integration and economic development project, according to the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
He further noted, the project seeks to unlock the potential of the untapped regional trade through seamless connectivity, driven by a multi-faceted transport and logistics corridor. The project also seeks to promote regional integration through trans-border trade and investments, he added.
Cameroon to import 143 kilotons of palm oil this year (Business in Cameroon)
The Oilseeds Refiners Association (ASROC) requested authorization to import 100,000 tons of palm oil to complement the local supply for 2022. It finally increased that volume to 143,000 tons of palm oil, which will be imported duty-free. The authorization was given on January 31, 2022, by the Minister of Finance Louis Paul Motazé, as announced by the ASROC during a press conference held in Yaoundé on February 23, 2022. This is the highest volume authorized since 2017. Indeed in 2017, the country imported 96,000 tons of palm oil, 100,000 tons in 2018 against 90,000 tons in 2019 and 70,000 tons in 2020. In 2021, the country imported 100,000 tons of the raw material, the ASROC reveals. The increase in the volume of palm oil to be imported by Cameroon this year is due to the rise in sourcing challenges experienced by refiners, indicates Jacquis Kemleu, secretary-general (SG) of ASROC.
Cameroon to keep 2022 public debt below 50% of GDP (Business in Cameroon)
Cameroon plans to keep its public debt below 50% of GDP during the current 2022 fiscal year. The information was disclosed on February 25, 2022, in Yaoundé, by Finance Minister Louis Paul Motaze, during the annual conference of heads of central, decentralized, and external services of the Ministry of Finance. According to the government official, to help the country succeed in that plan, the 2022 finance law provides that measures will be taken for non-oil revenues to contribute an additional 0.8% to GDP. For the time being, public debt is still under control although it slightly increased in 2021, Minister Louis Paul Motaze announced. As of end-October 2021, it was 44.% of GDP, representing a 0.8% increase compared to its level in late 2020. As of end-December 2021, it was at 45.4% of GDP.
Benin economic growth has risen over the past decade, averaging 5.1% per year and positioning the country as one of the region’s rising economies. But the country’s positive economic growth remains volatile, due to limited economic diversity and structural change.
Most of the GDP per capita growth difference between Benin and its peers is explained by its significantly lower rate of labor productivity growth. Between 2001 and 2018, the output of an average Beninese worker increased 16.2% compared with 50.4% for a worker in Rwanda, and 56.5% in Sri Lanka.
To move up the ladder to a strong middle-income economy, Benin needs to accelerate the structural transformation of its economy through new growth engines that can sustain economic acceleration, increase labor productivity, and create quality jobs, especially for youth and women.
The Benin Country Economic Memorandum proposes three ways for accelerating growth and creating better jobs: Enhancing human capital and the quality of the labor market for greater productivity; improving infrastructure and transportation services; diversifying exports, and strengthening regional trade.
Adeyemi Dipeolu and Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka have been appointed among the 14-member trade and industrial development advisory council of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). AfCFTA secretariat disclosed this in a recent statement announcing the inauguration of the council. Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA secretariat, said the establishment of an advisory council is to provide counsel on trade integration and transformative industrialisation. “It is against this background that Wamkele Mene convened a brainstorming workshop to discuss the matters of trade and industrial development, which led to his proposal to constitute an Advisory Council to provide advice on trade integration and transformative industrialisation as part of the implementation of the AfCFTA,” the statement reads. “The recent Summit of Heads of State and Government in February 2022 endorsed this proposal.”
The statement added that Adeyemi Dipeolu, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on economic matters and Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, special advisor to the president of African Development Bank (AfDB) on industrialisation, are members of the advisory council. Others are Jane Ezirigwe, Arkebe Oqubay, Rob Davies, Taffere Tesfachew, Celestin Monga, Carlos Lopes, Magda Shahin, Caroline Ncube, Fiona Tregenna, Stephen Karingi, Gainmore Zanamwe and Faizel Ismail.
The East African Business Council (EABC) has singled out compliance to rules of origin as a restrictive aspect to trading. The regional business council said here recently that small-scale women cross-border traders bore the most brunt, as far as rules of origin was concerned.
EABC Chief Executive Officer John Bosco Kalisa underscored the need for a “flexible, clear predictable rules of origin for business to benefit from the agreement which advocates the elimination and reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 54 countries that agreed to be members of the bloc by providing a single market for goods and services.
The current structure on the rules of origin is restrictive in nature” he said when speaking at a Webinar on for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Country Business Index Report organized by Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Mr Kalisa further warned that intra-regional trade is sliding back below 20 per cent due to persistent tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers imposed on both large and micro small medium enterprises.
The EABC boss recommended for sensitization campaigns on the AfCFTA, harmonization of standards on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and improving transport and logistics on the continent. The ACBI focuses on business perceptions of trading under the Free Trade Area by looking into constraints and challenges. It calls for more support to equip enterprises to identify strategic interest and market opportunities in light of the AfCFTA.
ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Hanan Morsy on her part noted that intra African trade was a key driver in building forward for a green, inclusive and resilient Africa. According to her, AfCFTA had huge potential to drive sustainable development.
Rich countries will have to do far more to ensure all Africans are vaccinated and that all African economies recover. “We heard the refrain….that no one is safe until all of us are safe. Similarly….we won’t have a robust global economy until every country is in the process of economic recovery,” the Columbia University economics professor said. He was speaking at a webinar about a new report produced by South African scholars – The Economic Impact of Covid-19 and Prospects for a Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery in Africa.
The report found that African governments had not been prepared to effectively manage the pandemic which had accentuated challenges that had existed in Africa for decades. These included poor governance, a lack of growth-friendly policies, weak institutions, poor health and education systems, widespread poverty and inequality, poor statistical data and digital access and predominantly informal economies.
The report noted Africa’s economy had shrunk by 2.1% in 2020 – though some estimates have put it higher. This was in any case less than predicted, though anti-Covid-19 measures had nonetheless precipitated Africa’s first recession in 25 years pushed a further 25 million Africans into extreme poverty in 2020.
Nonetheless South Africa’s Wilmot James, chair of ISERP’s Center for Pandemic Research, who, with ISERP president Robert Shapiro, was one of the architects of the report, said: “While the pandemic exposed a range of problems from poor data and high levels of informality in the private sector to comparatively low digital connectedness, inequality, and poor health and education systems, it has also provided a catalyst for change.”
A high-level international conference of African leaders, representatives of international development organizations and the private sector, has begun in earnest in the Kenya capital Nairobi, aimed at assessing and tracking the status of financial investments in Infrastructure development in Africa
“As African countries, we need to focus on policies and strategies that will promote and increase domestic resource mobilization, attract private investment and create an environment that attracts the growth of quality infrastructure projects. I, therefore, urge for deeper engagement between PIDA, the private sector, and development partners”, said the President of the Republic of Kenya H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.
Despite the African continent having investment-worthy infrastructure projects, there is still a big funding gap related to various risks such as project bankability and preparation and in this regard, the AUC Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid during her opening remarks affirmed that the second Priority Action Plan of PIDA(PAP2), was carefully curated to address the challenges relating to bankability. “Africa has infrastructure projects that meet investment criteria. The projects are inclusive, sustainable, and gender smart and will certainly better the lives of fellow Africans. So, this is a call for action and implementation, for the private sector financiers, donors, and partners to invest in these projects that produce a win-win outcome. This continent has many opportunities, and we urge investors to invest in Africa’s infrastructure!”, she said.
African countries reviewing their sustainable development progress met to share stories, best practices and lessons learned at the annual ECA Regional Workshop on Voluntary National (VNRs) and Local Reviews. This year, a record 21 African countries will undertake reviews of the alignment of their policies with the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 of the African Union. In her opening remarks, Hanan Morsy, Deputy Executive Secretary of the ECA, commended these countries, noting that this represents “continuing follow-through by Africa on its global commitments to sustainable development”.
Participants stressed the urgency of moving from plans to action and implementation, while ensuring that the frameworks in place foster inclusive growth.
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, has called for the establishment of an African Technology Development and Transfer Network to spur innovation and accelerate development on the continent. She made the call during the opening of the 4th Africa Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, on 1 March 2022. An African Technology Development and Transfer Network could “identify emerging technologies, anticipate needs and encourage the sharing of knowledge” across the continent, said Ms Songwe, noting that such a network would lie at the heart of diffusing technologies to the continent’s SMEs. “We need to build sound scientific, technological and innovation foundations to enable STI to deliver. As we have witnessed recently, many of our countries needed support to build capacities to test for COVID-19. As global supply chains collapsed, Africa’s over-reliance on imported medical supplies left the continent vulnerable in many aspects, and Africa was forced to innovate,” she added.
UN official proposes technology development and transfer network for Africa (Engineering News)
To stimulate development and innovation across Africa, an ‘African Technology Development and Transfer Network’ should be created. This was the proposal of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) executive secretary Vera Songwe, in her opening address on Tuesday, at the 4th Africa Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum, being held in Kigali, Rwanda. The ECA is an agency of the United Nations (UN). “We need to build sound scientific, technological and innovation foundations to enable STI to deliver,” she affirmed. “As we have witnessed recently, many of our countries needed support to build capacities to test for Covid-19. As global supply chains collapsed, Africa’s over-reliance on imported medical supplies left the continent vulnerable in many aspects, and Africa was forced to innovate.”
New whitepaper aims to accelerate discussions around Africa’s digital trade (Engineering News)
A new whitepaper has been published to start discussions about the opportunities and challenges around digital trade in Africa and examine how the mobile industry and its partners are working to open up a $180-billion market opportunity by 2025. The report, “Towards A Flourishing Digital Economy for All – A Spotlight On Africa“, which was commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) and conducted by GSMA Mobile World Live analysts, shows that, increasingly, digital trade is a driver of business growth globally.
African SMEs will be able to rapidly achieve international standards with digitisation, enabling them to compete on and access international markets. This message was the key plank of the presentation by Nana Dwemoh Benneh, CEO of the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), during the 4th Strategic Leaders’ Summit 2022 held in Kampala, Uganda.
According to the World Bank and other think-tanks, SMEs account for over 70% of economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A key trend in the development of SMEs worldwide is the increasing trend to enterprises operating in or powered by what the World Economic Forum has termed the 4th Industrial Revolution largely driven by four specific technological developments that are, big data analytics, AI and automation, cloud technology and high-speed mobile Internet.
Nana Dwemoh Benneh, presenting for the Bank, noted “digitisation represents perhaps the biggest all-encompassing game-changer for African SMEs in a generation”. “We know harnessing technology allows SMEs to leapfrog, leading to economic development. We saw this happen with the Asian economies in the last century. We estimate that a similar effect can be achieved with digitisation. Digitisation is allowing African SMEs to accelerate their adoption of quality-control standards and speed up their routes-to-market.
EALA receives key bills paving way for regional Monetary Union (The New Times)
The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers on Tuesday, March 1, eventually tabled before the regional Parliament three draft laws which will pave way for the establishment of the long-overdue East African Monetary Institute (EAMI). The legislations are; the EAC Financial Services Commission Bill, the EAC Surveillance Compliance and Enforcement Bill, and the EAC Standardisation, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Bill. Two other pertinent bills – the EAC Monetary Institute Bill, 2017 and the EAC Statistics Bureau Bill, 2017, were tabled in the Assembly in 2018. The EAMI is a transitional mechanism to the East African Central Bank that will issue the single currency that is expected to be in place by the year 2024, if all goes according to plan. This regional monetary institute, a precursor to a regional central bank, is one of the four institutions expected to carry out much of the preparatory work for the creation of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU), an important stage in the regional integration agenda.
The EALA Speaker, Martin Ngoga (Rwanda) said it was a “big positive development” since it was the first time the Council of Ministers was tabling three bills at once in the House. “They are bills that are taking us to another level of integration. We will work together with the Council to make sure that we process these bills as soon as possible,” Ngoga said.
The ECOWAS Commission Committee of Directors (COD) has concluded a five-day retreat on the community strategic framework, communication strategy and resource mobilization strategy towards achieving the implementation roadmap for ECOWAS Vision 2050. The retreat featured discussion sessions, step challenge exercise game and a tour visit across the city of Assinie.
The focus of the discussion sessions focused on the presentation and deliberation on the community strategic framework (CSF), the Vision Communication Strategy and the Resource Mobilization Strategy. On the community strategic framework, it was agreed that thematic working groups be created to fast-track the key components of the framework. The communication strategy which was a key to the Vision was thoroughly deliberated upon and it was agreed that both traditional and new media sources should be utilized while efforts must be concentrated on captivating messages for different groups in the region.
The African energy sector has the potential to catapult African economies towards sustainable growth and recovery. This is according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, who was addressing the Africa Energy Indaba held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday. “Energy must drive regional and continental economic development, as is the case with the advanced economies. “We need to continuously share ideas on how we can collectively accelerate Africa’s energy sector development to be at the core of all socio-economic development, and of continental growth and development,” he said. Mantashe said the continent has the resources needed to catapult it into the forefront of global renewable energy.
Africa has contributed the least to climate change, yet it is the continent that suffers the most severe impacts, according to the recent ‘State of the Climate in Africa 2021’ report. Europe, through its historical, social, cultural and economic ties with Africa, has a role to play in building greater climate resilience in Africa. And in Europe, we can also learn from experience across Africa with community-based adaptation to climate change. A strong AU-EU partnership on environmental issues and resilient infrastructure could best meet the challenges facing both continents, and draw upon increased technical and financial support from public development banks, international donors, and investors from both Europe and Africa. Mobilising a diverse set of actors and resources would make it possible to finance and support the transformation of African industrial and economic capacities while contributing to European green aspirations and addressing the global climate challenge
African Governments Urged to Support Plastic Pollution Solutions (Inter Press Service)
Environmental experts gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, have urged African governments to take advantage of ‘circular plastic opportunities’ to lower greenhouse gas emissions and stop environmental degradation. They were speaking to IPS on the sidelines of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). The key approach to a circular economy for developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, according to experts, should focus on addressing plastic pollution by reducing the discharge of plastics into the environment by covering all stages of the plastic life cycle. Plastic waste would be reduced through restorative and regenerative projects using the material without allowing leakage into the natural environment.
“Ambitious action to beat plastic pollution should track the lifespan of plastic products – from source to sea – should be legally binding, accompanied by support to developing countries, backed by financing mechanisms, tracked by strong monitoring mechanisms, and incentivizing all stakeholders – including the private sector,” Andersen said.
US seeks to up its game in scramble for Africa (The East African)
The US government is working towards deepening its engagement with African governments. The world’s largest economy seeks to explore and expand its trade and investment opportunities in the continent, amid a scramble for the control of Africa’s abundant natural resources by the world’s powerful nations such as China and Russia.US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Akunna Cook said the country has not done enough in deepening its presence in a continent with 1.3 billion people. “If I were to take away one challenge, it is really a challenge to us in the US Government to really step our game up,” Ms Cook told reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week.
“We have been behind the curve for quite some time in terms of really taking advantage of the opportunities on the continent, and so this effort to modernise our tools, to get better at telling our stories, to ensure that we are creating awareness among our own investors and among our own companies about just what kind of opportunity exists here on the continent, I think that’s the challenge that I walk away with as I go back to Washington after Namibia.”
The EU and African leaders met at the 6th EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, between February 17 and 18. The summit, initially scheduled to be held in 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It marks 22 years since the inaugural EU-Africa Summit in 2000 in Cairo. The EU is one of Africa’s major trading partners, with trade between the two parties reaching over $327bn in 2021, rising from $255bn in 2020. The EU also serves as a vital source of foreign direct investment for Africa, with its capital stock reaching almost $250bn in 2017, way above the $47bn from the US and $43bn from China. As such, the EU is an important strategic economic partner for Africa. The parties used the latest summit to cement their economic and geopolitical ties even further. The summit produced a document titled “A Joint Vision for 2030”, which maps out the key areas of strategic co-operation between Africa and the EU for the next eight years.
Africa has been at the forefront of calling for the waiver of the Covid-19 vaccines’ intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organization to enable it to produce the vaccines on its own. However, the EU and US have voted against this proposition, saying it would stifle innovation while its effectiveness remains questionable. Clearly, the two parties are not on the same wavelength in terms of their strategic approaches to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. This casts doubt on the prospects of their continued partnership in combating the pandemic.
In a major announcement the EU committed to availing an Africa-Europe Investment Package of €150bn ( $170bn) in investments in Africa in the next seven years. If successful the investment will have a huge impact on Africa’s economy. The package will be directed towards key areas such as infrastructure development, the transition to a green economy, digital transformation and human development initiatives.
The EU-Africa Summit came barely three months after the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (Focac) held in Dakar in November 2021. It certainly looks like China and the EU are competing for the African sphere of influence to boost their global geopolitical standing. While the previous two Focac summits had seen China pledge up to $60bn in financial packages for Africa, the 2021 event was a major climbdown to $40bn in packages up to 2024, when the next Focac gathering is due. Instead, China committed to ramping up its imports from Africa to a staggering $300bn in the next three years. The 2021 Focac Action Plan and the Joint Vision for 2030 address broadly similar issues, including the Covid-19 pandemic, infrastructure, climate change, education, investment, and governance. However, the two giants bring different qualities to the table.
Global economy news
Global Trade Disruptions Are About to Get Worse (Bloomberg)
Disruptions in global trade are about to go from bad to worse.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, energy costs are soaring, stocks are plunging, Western sanctions are being sharpened, and central bankers already worried about inflation face additional drags from weaker consumer confidence and bigger potential shocks to fragile European economies.
“This will not be good for energy prices, production, or trade,” said Joseph Francois, managing director at the World Trade Institute. “Certainly we will have, and are already seeing, a spike in energy prices. This will have knock on affects on production, especially in Europe, which will dent the recovery of trade from the Covid recession.”
World’s Biggest Shipping Groups Suspend Russian Deliveries (The Moscow Times)
The three biggest container shipping groups in the world announced Tuesday that they were suspending non-essential deliveries to Russia, adding to the country’s economic isolation following a raft of sanctions by the West.
Danish shipping giant Maersk, Switzerland-based MSC and France’s CMA CGM all announced that they would no longer take bookings for goods from Russia and were suspending most deliveries in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Citing the impact of sanctions, “bookings to and from Russiawill be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies,” Maersk said in a statement.
MSC announced similar measures, saying it would “continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods.”
CMA CGM said its “utmost priorities remain to protect our employees and ensure as much as possible the continuity of your supply chain.”
ICC, DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA and SWIFT have launched the Future International Trade Alliance and signed a memorandum of understanding to standardise digitalisation of international trade. Together, the industry associations will collaborate on the development and adoption of relevant standards to facilitate the use of electronic bills of lading.
Established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards, Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) – a neutral, non-profit group – in conjunction with its nine member carriers, today announced the formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DCSA, ICC, BIMCO, FIATA and SWIFT in which the organisations commit to collaborating to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.
The 13th session of the WCO Capacity Building Committee (CBC), under the theme “Towards a Thoughtful Adaptation in Customs: Building Successful Organizations in the “New Normal,” was held in hybrid format from 21 to 23 February 2022. The meeting was attended by over 350 representatives of Member administrations, development partners, academia and other stakeholders. In his opening address, the WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, outlined that such meeting process has become the ‘new normal’ under the current circumstances. He underscored that the active participation of Member administrations, partners, academia and other stakeholders had been the key to the successful preparation for this hybrid session.
Report: Climate change ‘creating shocks to global trade’ (America Shipper)
As companies and countries strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an alarming report on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability on Monday.
The report explored business as usual and other potential pathways forward with varying levels of climate action and concluded that climate change will continue to impact the freight and supply chain industry drastically.
“Weather-related extremes are creating shocks to global trade,” Debora Roberts, IPCC Working Group II co-chair, said during a press conference about the report, which focused on impacts of climate change in all industry sectors worldwide, as well as potential adaptation strategies.
ICC has launched a new report to aid tribunals, arbitrators, counsel, and parties in leveraging technology for fair, effective, and efficient international arbitration proceedings.
As a response to COVID-19, today’s business landscape is being reshaped by technological acceleration, making it essential that the arbitration community assess how they can best utilize digital tools and solutions to meet today’s challenges and future demands on dispute resolution. Seeing this need, ICC’s Arbitration and ADR Commission set out to update the 2017 edition of their report on information technology (IT) in international arbitration; however, ultimately produced an entirely new resource due to the sudden uptick in technology usage.
W20 will collaborate with engagement and working groups at the G20 to ensure that women’s empowerment and gender issues are included in the G20 Declaration. “W20 will work with engagement groups and working groups, in this case the government, to ensure women’s empowerment and gender issues will be included in the G20 Declaration,” Chair of Women W20 Hadriani Uli Silalahi stated during a webinar as seen from here on Wednesday.