Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country-related news

SA automotive industry developments boost optimism for manufacturing sector (Bizcommunity)

The amended Automotive Production Development Programme (APDP) regulations, legislated in Schedule No.3 of the Customs and Excise Act, were released by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) just over a year ago, on 5 February 2021. The APDP is essentially South Africa’s long-term masterplan to grow the automotive industry. The production incentive scheme is aimed at creating an environment that enables registered light motor vehicle manufacturers to significantly grow production volumes and component manufacturers to substantially grow value addition in South Africa.

Over the course of the last year, automotive manufacturers in South Africa have adopted a proactive approach to the new APDP regulations by investing in production facilities and local plants, and developing efficient technology expertise. According to South Africa’s automotive business council, Naamsa, major vehicle manufacturers invested R8.8bn in the sector in 2021 and R9.23bn in the sector in 2020. Multinational original equipment manufacturers were the biggest investors in the automotive sector last year.

WCO and South African Institute of Taxation untangle complexities of tariff classification (WCO)

On 24 February 2022, the South African Institute of Taxation (SAIT) delivered a webinar on issues related to commodity classification and taxation of international trade transactions. The webinar gathered a wide audience of participants from the private sector, including SAIT members and the South African Freight Forwarders Association. Upon the invitation of the SAIT, the webinar panel of experts was joined by a representative of the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union.

The webinar offered an opportunity to discuss the latest developments related to Customs and tax policies, with a specific focus on the new version of the Harmonized System. In his interventions, the representative of the HS-Africa Programme briefly introduced the HS emphasizing its role of a common language of international commerce and its importance for trade facilitation. He called attention of participants to some of the most significant changes made in the HS as a result of the HS 2022 amendments, to some aspects of the maintenance of the HS by the WCO, and to the importance of the uniform use of the latest edition of the HS by Customs and trade.

Streamline SACU trade policies with national policies says VP (Namibia Economist)

The Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba has urged the SACU Secretariat to ensure that the body’s trade policies are entrenched and streamlined with Namibia’s national policies with a clear strategy that promotes coherence across all sectors to ensure that the country maximises its benefits from such arrangements. Mbumba, who paid a courtesy visit to the SACU Head Office in Windhoek this week said, the government prioritizes regional integration efforts, as a credible strategy for tackling the country’s development challenges. “It (regional integration) is an ideal platform for promoting large scale investment and economic efficiency required for economic growth and employment creation,” Mbumba said. He said Namibia recognises that its continued involvement in regional integration efforts by being a member of SACU, is a strategic response to the growing demand for market enlargement within the context of globalisation.

According to the Executive Secretariat of SACU, Paulina Elago, In the area of Trade Facilitation and Logistics, SACU seeks to create a seamless trade environment for cross-border movements. She said this will be done through the application of innovative and emerging technologies to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, while also detecting and deterring illicit trade in goods within the Common Customs Area. “It will also address obstacles and hindrances facing businesses that are moving goods across the borders in the Common Customs Area and beyond. The goal is to develop trade facilitation solutions that are practical, transformational, measurable, and geared towards enhanced efficiency and reduced transaction costs,” Elago said.

China emerges as Namibia’s main export market in January (Xinhua)

Namibia’s trade balance with Asian countries decreased from a surplus of 1.7 billion Namibia dollars recorded in December 2021 to 1.3 billion Namibia dollars obtained in January 2022, according to the country’s statistics agency (NSA) on Thursday. Exports declined by 318 million to 3.2 billion Namibia dollars whereas imports increased by 156 million to 1.9 billion Namibia dollars, NSA statistician general Alex Shimuafeni said in the latest NSA trade statistics. Despite the trade balance decrease, Shimuafeni said China emerged as the main export market for Namibia, absorbing 32.3 percent of all goods exported, ahead of South Africa in the second position with a market share of 18.3 percent of total exports.

Govt might roll over debt this year (The Namibian)

Namibia has debt to the tune of N$3,5 billion maturing this year, but the money in the reserves is not enough to redeem it, as the sinking fund only has N$1,8 billion. The government might either have to roll over part of the debt or borrow from Peter to pay Paul. The N$3,5 billion is made up of the GI22 and Nam01 bonds, valued at N$2 billion and N$1,5 billion, respectively.

Although the state was prepared for the redemption of these bonds, the use of the reserved funds during the heat of Covid-19, and the redemption of some bonds last year led to the thinning of the reserves balance.

In 2005, the state introduced a sinking fund approach to accumulate savings to ensure successful redemption for upcoming bond maturities.

Opportunities await Zim leather in AfCFTA (The Herald)

Africa’s leather industry presents huge opportunities for Zimbabwean firms, with the sector expected to expand to US$2,5 billion by 2030 from the current US$450 million 2030. Zimbabwe’s leather industry, already on a recovery path, could use the African Continental Free Trade Area to unlock the potential, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told The Herald Finance & Business. Zimbabwe enjoys a competitive advantage of the leather value chain given its solid livestock and wildlife base

In 2021, the Government launched the Zimbabwe Leather Sector Strategy (2021-2030) in Bulawayo, which seeks to bring together all the value chain players in the industry with the long term objective of promoting export of value-added products such as finished footwear, garments and other leather related goods.

“The strategy will go a long way in ensuring that the leather industry, which is already on a recovery path, undergoes structural transformation along the value chain, and becomes one of the biggest employers in the country bolstered by the country’s competitive livestock and crop production,” said Dr Nzenza.

The strategy would encourage more domestic production of leather goods and hence increased exports and generation of foreign currency, with Comesa estimating that the industry would balloon to US$2,5 billion from US$450 million.

Top Four Sectors for FDI in Angola (African Business)

Over the course of 2022-2023 Angola aims to consolidate its post COVID-19 economic recovery agenda on the back of stronger oil and gas prices. Given the landmark USD$100 per barrel price threshold being exceeded, analysts are projecting an upbeat economic outlook for the country with real GDP growth expected at an average of 5.1% for 2022-2025.

Angola’s economy, similar to that of other major hydrocarbon producers in Africa, remains vulnerable to volatile oil prices. The crude oil sector currently accounts for over one-third of GDP and for 90% of total exports. In order to mitigate against the risk of external oil price shocks, as well as reduce the country’s dependence on imports, the administration of H.E. President Joao Lourenço is strengthening efforts to diversify the economy beyond oil and gas. Not only does the government seek to broaden its industrial base by offering tax incentives, special programs to promote agriculture, attract foreign investors and the creation of free trade zones, a key objective is to create more employment opportunities for the country’s young and rapidly growing population. Four key sectors expected to witness investments and rapid growth from the ongoing diversification efforts include agriculture, logistics infrastructure, Telecommunication and the finance sector

Nigeria records foreign direct investment of $698.8 million in 2021, worst on record (Nairametrics)

Nigeria attracted a sum of $698.78 million as foreign direct investments (FDIs) in 2021, representing its lowest level on record. This is according to data compiled by Nairalytics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). A year-on-year comparison shows that FDIs into Nigeria dipped by 32% in 2021 to $698.8 million compared to the $1.03 billion recorded in the previous year. This also represented the fourth time Nigeria has recorded foreign direct investment below $1 billion in the past 15 years. The first time was in 2010, following the backdrop of the 2008 global financial crisis, which saw Nigeria’s direct investment inflow drop from $3.33 billion recorded in 2009 to $728.9 million in 2010. It also fell below the $1 billion mark in 2017, 2019, and now 2021. The recent drop in FDIs could be attributed to the ripple effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy, which resulted in a contraction of the economy and contingents of downturns on the macro level.

A major factor contributing to the constant decline in Nigeria’s ability to attract direct investments from foreign soil is the level of insecurity, ravaging most parts of the country, from the insurgency in the north, herdsmen and bandit attack, kidnapping, armed robbery amongst others.

Policy inconsistency hindering productive sector – MAN (Daily Sun)

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disclosed that hindrances experienced in the productive sector are largely caused by policy inconsistency and somersaults which have , led to improper planning and projections. The association noted that this has led many manufacturers to close shop and discouraged prospective investors who are unsure what the next move of government would be.

Noting that the manufacturing sector deserves more critical attention, given the plethora of challenges that members face in the course of production, the MAN boss Mansur Ahmed said he was expectant that with consistent push, there would be improvement in the manufacturing landscape.

Ursula marks Ghana high in digitalization drive policy at Global Standards Symposium (GhanaWeb)

The Government of Ghana is employing the application of digital technology to stimulate the growth and transformation of the Ghanaian economy, and, thereby, help ensure that every Ghanaian derives maximum benefit from this process, Communication, and Digitalization Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said. According to her, the Akufo-Addo led government for the past five years has taken the necessary digital decisions that have provided the necessary results to stimulate the economy on several levels adding that, the future outcome would be to enhance coordination and provide significant benefits to citizens. “For Ghana, we are intensifying our digital transformation drive with the ultimate goal of improving lives pursuant to the Sustainable Development Goals and we can only do this by ensuring that the required frameworks are in place. The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization is playing a pivotal role in the development of a robust framework to support the digitalization of the economy in a manner that benefits every citizen.

“But we are mindful of the fact that we cannot do it alone and have to build systems that are capable of being linked up to those developed by our neighbors. We are building fiber to our borders and are active in continental initiatives such as the Smart Africa Alliance.

She further explained government is working tirelessly to ensure that Ghana and its neighboring countries successfully ensure the establishment of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) digital platform. This she says would help to serve as standards that are incorporated by socially-conscious investors to evaluate the sustainability and societal impacts of investments in companies across the African continent.

World Bank Forecasts Mild Economic Recovery for South Sudan in FY2021/2022 (World Bank)

Driven by improving macroeconomic conditions and relative peace that have supported a rebound of growth in services and trade, South Sudan’s economy is projected to grow by 1.2% in FY2021/22 after contracting by an estimated 5.4% in FY2020/21, according to the World Bank’s latest South Sudan Economic Monitor (SSEM). The report finds that the unrelenting floods in 2021 affected both oil production and agricultural sector performance and constrained the country’s ability to achieve higher growth. The fifth edition of the South Sudan Economic Monitor (SSEM), Towards a Jobs Agenda, projects that South Sudan’s economy could grow by 3.5-5.0% over the medium-term if the peace process holds, the economic management reform program succeeds, and global and regional economic recovery does not falter. The economy would also have to navigate additional challenges arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and climatic shocks.

“As the South Sudanese economy recovers and stability takes holds, there is an opportunity now to promote macroeconomic conditions that create better job opportunities for the poor,” said Firas Raad, World Bank Country Manager for South Sudan. “As oil continues to provide a large income stream, effective management of this revenue is vital for the transition to a more development-oriented policy towards job creation in the country.”

Morocco’s Diverse Energy Mix an “Example” for Gulf States (African Business)

Speaking at next month’s Middle East Energy Dubai (MEE) (www.MiddleEast-Energy.com), the most reputable and comprehensive energy event in the MENA region, Ali Zerouali, one of Morocco’s leading industry experts is set to outline why Morocco’s diverse energy mix and mission to decarbonise make it the perfect role model for petroleum and gas reliant Gulf states.

The event is expected to attract over 18,000 energy professionals for a three-day conference featuring five key product sections: Smart Solutions, Renewable & Clean Energy, Critical and Backup Power, Transmission and Distribution, and Energy Consumption and Management. Ali Zerouali, Head of Cooperation & International Development at the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen), will take to the stage at the industry-shaping Global Energy & Utilities Forum to outline why Morocco, with its abundant renewable energy resources, is the rising star of the MENA energy landscape.

“Middle East Energy provides MASEN and Morocco’s diverse assortment of energy sector pioneers with the perfect venue to see how we are transforming the nation’s energy sector – and why our unique energy mix is a sustainable solution for Gulf states and the wider world,” said Azzan Mohammed, Exhibition Director, MEE. “Europe’s well-known investment in Morocco’s burgeoning hydrogen sector is building on the country’s remarkable achievements in the solar sector. This burgeoning energy renaissance will allow Morocco to meet the significant challenge of lowering its fossil energy imports even while its economy continues to grow.”

Ghana’s Digitalization Agenda Scores High Marks (PeaceFM Online)

The Government of Ghana is employing the application of digital technology to stimulate the growth and transformation of the Ghanaian economy, and, thereby, help ensure that every Ghanaian derives maximum benefit from this process, Communication and Digitalization Minister, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said. According to her, the Akufo-Addo led government for the past five years has taken the necessary digital decisions that have provided the necessary results to stimulate the economy on several levels adding that, the future outcome would be to enhance coordination, and provide significant benefits to citizens. ”For Ghana, we are intensifying our digital transformation drive with the ultimate goal of improving lives pursuant to the Sustainable Development Goals and we can only do this by ensuring that the required frameworks are in place. The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization is playing a pivotal role in the development of a robust framework to support the digitalization of the economy in a manner that benefits every citizen. ”But we are mindful of the fact that we cannot do it alone and have to build systems that are capable of being linked up to those developed by our neighbors. We are building fiber to our borders and are active in continental initiatives such as the Smart Africa Alliance.

African trade

The AfCFTA Provides Opportunities for Gender Equality (UNECA)

A promising connection has been made between the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment by the Acting Director of the ECA’s Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, Ms. Edlam Yemeru. Ms. Yemeru made this analysis during discussions on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Africa. The virtual event, organized by the ECA, UN Women and UNFPA on the margins of the 8th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD).

Acknowledging that some of the gains made in gender equality were eroded by the pandemic. Ms. Yemeru highlighted the opportunity presented by the AfCFTA to enhance the capacity of African women for self-determination. “The AfCFTA creates a huge market and it is expected to bring together the continent in ways that will increase productivity and job creation.” She added. The growth and expansion of technologies promised by intra-African trade will also be of considerable benefit, particularly in enhancing the financial inclusion of women.

LAPSSET Gets a Boost at 7th PIDA Week (UNECA)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today convened a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya and on the sidelines of the 7th PIDA Week, to discuss on how to address the financing needs of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor programme. Held under the theme “The investment potentials of the LAPSSET Land Bridge to Central Africa and beyond”, the session, moderated by Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor at the United Nations of Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), focused on how to strengthen partnership, promote cooperation and coordination amongst the three countries on the LAPSSET project. Speaking on the issue of how to crowd-in investment for LAPSSET, Mr. Silvester Kasuku, CEO of the African Center for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Integration (ACTIRI) and former CEO of LAPSSET Authority, said that Africa needs to translate its population to be a business population that can support growth in Africa. “The private sector is a key partner to governments and RECs in the successful implementation of the LAPSSET,” Mr. Kasuku stated.

Africa’s digital economy projected to hit Sh20trn (Business Daily)

The value of Africa’s internet economy is projected to more than double to over $200 billion next three years from the current estimated $115 billion, according to a new report. The research commissioned by blockchain-based mobile network operator, World Mobile shows professional investors are forecasting strong growth in the value of Africa’s internet economy with mobile phones central to the expansion. The study by independent research company PureProfile surveyed investors responsible for around $700 billion assets under management. It found that one in four (25pc) investor managers expect Africa’s internet industry to increase by 51 percent in three years. Increased use of mobile phones will be central to the growth which will be further enhanced by improved affordability, says the study which interviewed investors in the US, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Nigeria, and Switzerland found.

Are Central Bank Digital Currencies the Key to Unlocking Financial Inclusion in Africa? (CNBC Africa)

Technology is changing money as we know it. Financial technology or fintech as a form of financial innovation has reshaped the financial services industry, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, the advent of central bank digital currencies (hereafter CBDC), presents a transformative opportunity for the global financial sector. New analysis shows over 90 percent of global economy exploring a CBDC. According to The Atlantic Council’s CBDC Tracker, nine countries have now fully launched a digital currency. Nigeria is the latest country to launch a CBDC, the e-Naira, the first outside the Caribbean. The e-Naira is expected to boost cross-border trade and financial inclusion, make transactions more efficient as well as improve monetary policy, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The idea of digital money is not new, many of us use debit and credit cards or payment apps for transactions. Africa’s reputation for innovation as the global leader in mobile money is a key driver behind the continent’s burgeoning fintech investment scene. The continent is already the largest adopter of mobile money transfer systems, comprising nearly half of the globe’s registered mobile money customers, approximately 70 percent of global mobile money transactions, and two-thirds of the transaction volume by value. But what would make a CBDC different?

Fourth Africa STI Forum ends with call to bridge gap between academia and private sector (UNECA)

The 4th Africa Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum closed with a commitment from stakeholders to bridge the gap between research in academia and the private sector businesses in need of the knowledge. The two-day event under the theme, “Strengthening STI Institutional Arrangements to Advance Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Africa”, was held on the sidelines of the 8th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) in Kigali, Rwanda. Drawing participants from public and private institutions across Africa.

“We launched the Alliance of Entrepreneurial Universities and the Science and Technology Development and Transfer Network which are institutional arrangements that can improve the African STI landscape,” Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and Technology Director, at the ECA, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam said.

IMF Executive Board Concludes Regional Consultation with West African Economic and Monetary Union (IMF)

The WAEMU has so far demonstrated strong resilience to the Covid crisis. Nonetheless, the region has been hard hit by the Omicron variant and security risks continue to increase in some countries. Despite these headwinds, the economic rebound that started in the second half of 2020 firmed up in 2021, while fiscal and monetary policies remained supportive. External reserves have risen to comfortable levels and the financial system appears to be broadly sound. Inflation has exceeded the 3 percent ceiling of the BCEAO’s target band since April 2021, mainly on account of higher domestic and imported food prices.

Growth is expected to further accelerate to about 6 percent in 2022, primarily driven by a rebound in net exports and inflation is projected to return to the BCEAO’s target band by the end of the year. A gradual fiscal consolidation is expected to start this year and bring the aggregate fiscal deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2024. There are however significant downside risks to the outlook, particularly given slow and uneven progress with vaccination, the possibility of further deterioration of security risks and political uncertainty, and the likely tightening of global financial conditions.

Another ‘scramble for Africa’ (IT-Online)

There is another scramble for Africa according to international media, but this time it is about who can best profit from the continent’s business opportunities. And the charge is being led by foreign powers, with 70% of coverage about business in Africa referencing China, the US, Russia, France, and the UK, according to the newly launched The Business in Africa Narrative Report, by Africa No Filter and AKAS. The report shows that the keywords, stories, frames, and narratives associated with business on the continent are dangerously distorted. There is an overemphasis on the role of governments, foreign powers, and larger African states alongside an underappreciation of the role of young people, women, entrepreneurs, creative businesses, smaller successful African states, and Africa’s future potential.

In addition to the dominance of foreign powers in business stories featured in international media, the report highlighted a number of other key frames dominating dangerous distortions played out in stories, and the underrepresentation of businesses across the continent

The report comes at a crucial time for the continent as it recovers from the economic impact of Covid-19. Experts predict that Africa needs an estimated $175 billion per year for 20 years to end extreme poverty, and business will play a critical role.

EU’s summit pledges to Africa fall short, but all is not lost (African Business)

Last month, a much-publicised summit took place between the EU and AU, ostensibly to chart the two regions’ relationship for the next few years. Postponed for a year, the summit was the sixth in a series that has been ongoing since 2000, the same year that China-Africa summits began as well. The unusual feature of this summit, however, was the first ever commitment from the EU to spend a specific sum of money in African countries – €150bn ($168bn) – over the next seven years – that’s close to $25bn a year.

Exciting times perhaps, especially after headlines on the China-Africa summit, held two months prior, which focused on an “underwhelming” $40bn financial commitment from China over three years.

Global economy news

Russia-Ukraine crisis: Okonjo-Iweala says WTO concerned about rise in food products and energy prices (Nairametrics)

The World Trade Organisation has warned that the conflict between Russia-Ukraine will have severe trade implications on agriculture and energy prices. This was disclosed by the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and former Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Okonjo-Iweala said, “At the WTO, we have watched this tragedy in Ukraine unfold with disbelief and the hope that it would have been peacefully resolved. “However, this is now the 7th day and we are deeply saddened by the continued suffering and loss of life.” She added that WTO hopes there will be a peaceful and quick resolution. “We are also concerned about the trade implications of the conflict, especially trade in agriculture and food products and the rise in energy prices and their effects on the impacted population,” she added.

Joint IMF-World Bank Group Statement on the War in Ukraine

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank Group President David Malpass today issued the following statement on the war in Ukraine.

Commodity prices are being driven higher and risk further fueling inflation, which hits the poor the hardest. Disruptions in financial markets will continue to worsen should the conflict persist. The sanctions announced over the last few days will also have a significant economic impact. We are assessing the situation and discussing appropriate policy responses with our international partners.

“The World Bank and the IMF are also working together to assess the economic and financial impact of the conflict and refugees on other countries in the region and the world. We stand ready to provide enhanced policy, technical, and financial support to neighboring countries as needed. Coordinated international action will be crucial to mitigate risks and navigate the treacherous period ahead. This crisis affects the lives and livelihoods of people around the world, and we offer them our full support.”

Services, value chains and the global south – Karin Fischer and Christian Reiner (Social Europe)

Many consumption and investment goods are ‘made in the world’. Different stages of production are distributed to suppliers in various countries which can perform the task at lowest cost. These global value chains (GVCs) account for about half of world trade and powerful transnational corporations (TNCs) from the global north decide their geography, conditions and remuneration.

Institutions such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been very optimistic about the development potential of GVCs. This sanguine view of globalisation is predicated on the idea that countries of the global south can specialise in a limited number of simple tasks, instead of building up national industries from scratch. The advice for catching up is upgrading—improving products and processes to enable firms and workers to capture more value from participating in GVCs.

This upbeat narrative, drawn from the neoliberal ‘Washington consensus’, has however not come true for most least-developed countries (LDCs), let alone their workforces. It turns out to be mainly upper-middle- and high-income countries which benefit from GVCs. Upgrading is neither automatic nor frequent, leaving most countries stuck in low-technology and low-wage segments. Highly unequal bargaining power between firms is key, as markups by firms in the global south diverge—rather than converge—with those in the global north.

LDCs are thus in need of a new development strategy. And, once again, the WTO and World Bank believe they have found one. The new magic bullet is services, traded in GVCs just like manufactured goods. Justifying its optimism, the WTO presents India and the Philippines as role models.

Morocco to Host Parliamentary Forum to Boost South-South Cooperation (Morocco World News)

Morocco’s House of Councilors is set to host the Parliamentary Dialogue Forum of the Senates and Equivalent Councils of Africa, the Arab World, Latin America, and the Caribbean on March 4-5. The forum seeks to advocate for peace, sustainable development, democratic governance, and human rights, as well as social, environmental, and climate justice.

The event aims to create a space for dialogue between the participating parties and boost interactive exchange to facilitate regional integration and south-south cooperation.

The forum will also focus on strengthening the action of the senates in the field of economic diplomacy and develop south-south parliamentary dialogue on issues of common interest. The forum intends to do so while improving the role of the legislative institution as the authority responsible for strengthening democratic and territorial governance.

DDG Ellard highlights WTO-ILO collaboration on inclusive trade, opportunities for women (WTO)

ILO data shows the world has lost the equivalent of 137 million full-time jobs since late 2019, with low- and lower-middle-income countries hit particularly hard.

Many women work in sectors that require face-to-face communication and are not adaptable to telecommuting. That is one reason why they were hurt more by lockdowns and other health measures. In addition, many women have significant family responsibilities that have made it difficult to work during the pandemic. For all of these reasons, employment and income losses have been more severe for women than for men.

Our challenge is to make sure that the recovery compensates for this expansion of gender inequality. Trade can be an important tool in achieving our goals of decent jobs, and greener, more prosperous economies that offer equal opportunities to all, and in particular to young people and to women.

Nearly 2.4 Billion Women Globally Don’t Have Same Economic Rights as Men (World Bank)

Around 2.4 billion women of working age are not afforded equal economic opportunity and 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report. In 86 countries, women face some form of job restriction and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work. Globally, women still have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men -- an aggregate score of 76.5 out of a possible 100, which denotes complete legal parity. However, despite the disproportionate effect on women’s lives and livelihood from the global pandemic, 23 countries reformed their laws in 2021 to take much-needed steps towards advancing women’s economic inclusion, according to the report. “While progress has been made, the gap between men’s and women’s expected lifetime earnings globally is US$172 trillion - nearly two times the world’s annual GDP,” said Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships. “As we move forward to achieve green, resilient and inclusive development, governments need to accelerate the pace of legal reforms so that women can realize their full potential and benefit fully and equally.”

UN Environment Assembly concludes with 14 resolutions to curb pollution, protect and restore nature worldwide (UN Environment)

The 5th UN Environment Assembly concluded today in Nairobi with 14 resolutions to strengthen actions for nature to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The Assembly is made up of the 193 UN Member States and convenes every two years to advance global environmental governance

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said Espen Barth Eide, the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, added: “Today, no area on the planet is left untouched by plastic pollution, from deep-sea sediment to Mount Everest. The planet deserves a multilateral solution ­that speaks from source to sea. A legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution will be a truly welcome first step.”

Financial Flows Toolkit to tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade (TRAFFIC)

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is the 4th-largest organised crime after drugs, people and counterfeiting, costing $23bn annually. Financial crime is at the heart of it. Wildlife trafficking is not only extinguishing species and destabilising ecosystems, it’s also fuelling corruption and undermining livelihoods in our communities. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the numbers are horrific: around 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year; and rhino poaching has soared since 2007 with an average death rate of around 100 rhinos per month. Data from TRAFFIC confirms that at least 23.5 tonnes of pangolins and their parts were trafficked in 2021 alone.

Nick Ahlers, TRAFFIC’s Africa Programme Director: “We are witnessing dramatic losses in species globally because of this for-profit crime, so effective strategies to address this require the financial underbelly to be targeted and disrupted. This toolkit will enable financial institutions and governments with the information they need to target and tackle illicit money flows associated with wildlife trafficking; making it harder for criminal syndicates to continue this detrimental practice.”

UK Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon in collaboration with His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh launched a practical and freely accessible IWT Financial Flows Toolkit aimed at supporting governments and financial institutions to raise awareness of IWT and help them identify and mitigate suspicious transactions associated with illegal wildlife trade.


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