Building capacity to help Africa trade better

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Local news

SA Cangegrowers calls on government to honour Sugar Masterplan commitments (Engineering News)

When Minister Ebrahim Patel delivers the budget for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on May 20, industry organisation SA Canegrowers says it hopes he will use it as an opportunity to provide an update on government’s action to implement its commitments under the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan. This plan was developed to address a number of serious challenges facing the industry and to ensure its long-term sustainability and profitability.

Collaboration needed to make South African mining globally competitive again – CSIR (Engineering News)

Concern about mineral resource scarcity is widespread and, at the same time, many countries, such as Australia, Canada and China, are investing significantly in strengthening their mining-related research, development and innovation (RDI) capabilities. “This makes cost and differentiation competitiveness a challenge for South Africa,” states Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini in an Op-Ed to Mining Weekly, in which he emphasises that it will require all mining RDI stakeholders – Minerals Council South Africa, mining companies, mining equipment suppliers, government and research institutions – to have an integrated plan for South Africa’s mining industry to become globally competitive in niche areas.

Momentous occasion as Lesotho, US sign US$300 million Compact II (Lesotho Times)

Today all roads lead to ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre for the official signing ceremony of a US$300 million (about M4, 8 billion) grant to Lesotho from the United States (US)’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). In a statement, the US embassy in Lesotho this week said MCC CEO Alice Albright will sign on behalf of the corporation while Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister ‘Matšepo Ramakoae will sign on behalf of Lesotho.

The compact has three proposed projects — Market-Driven Irrigated Horticulture (MDIH), Business Environment and Technical Assistance (BETA), and the Health System Strengthening (HSS) project, and each project has several components. The Compact II signing is a huge relief to Lesotho which has endured a five-year wait for a definite funding agreement.

The big infrastructural projects revamping the coastal economy (The Standard)

Deputy Director Kenya National Highway Authority, Eng Kungu Ndungu explains the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone construction plan.

Mombasa Port is the region’s biggest handler of sea cargo, with two berths handling 1.5m twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) per year. This is expected to rise. Conceptualised over 40 years ago, the roads with the three largest bridges in the country will be complete and in use soon.

The Mombasa Port Area Road Development Project - carried out in what the contractors have classified as Three Packages - is expected to improve efficiency and thereby increase capacity at the port with the expected linkages to the Special Economic Zone besides opening up the inaccessible hinterland.

The Mombasa Port’s capacity as the gateway to the Northern Corridor is being expanded. JICA partnered with Kenya in the construction of berths cover 33 per cent of the container cargo handling capacity of the country, which is expected to rise to 47 per cent once Phase 2 is completed.

“If Mombasa Port does not expand, it becomes a feeder port. That means other ports will receive the large ships and it can only get cargo from them. The double handling will be very expensive,” he said. The cost of maintaining containers stuck at sea due to slow processing will also be eliminated. Right across the port, on 3,000 acres of land, the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone is taking shape.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Kenya (Foreign Policy Research Institute)

Through trade, investment, and strategic diplomacy, China is re-shaping sub-Saharan Africa. Beijing has growing economic ties with Africa’s largest economies and Chinese firms dominate infrastructure construction projects. In 2020, nearly one-third of infrastructure projects in Africa worth at least $50 million were built by Chinese companies. In addition, China is, in many areas, replacing the United States and Europe as trade partners with Africa. Beijing has translated China’s growing economic footprint in Africa into geopolitical influence.

Some Western commentators have observed China’s growing economic footprint in Africa — especially its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—with skepticism and concern. They argue that Chinese investments are debt traps that will eventually lead to neo-colonialism. Despite this criticism, China’s influence on the continent continues to rise.

Is it true that Chinese infrastructure projects malicious are debt traps? Or is the BRI merely an extension of a partnership where China supports the economic development of African countries? Or is it some combination of both? While African elites

Kenya and Uganda agree on fuel supplies (Business Daily)

Uganda has struck a deal with Kenya, its main route for petroleum imports, after talks by officials from the two neighbouring countries in Nairobi.Last month, Kampala had demanded fixed monthly transit petroleum product quotas to ease shortages amid anxiety over a fuel crisis.Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma met with Uganda’s top energy officials led by her counterpart Sidronious Okaasai.”We reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment, as the gateway, to service the fuel needs of the region and discussed ways of enhancing cooperation through joint and complementary projects that accelerate regional integration,” said Dr Juma in an update.

“We are hopeful that some of these action areas could enable us to address petroleum product supply problems in Uganda,” Ugandan Permanent Secretary Irene Batebe had said last month in a letter to her counterpart in Kenya, Andrew Kamau. Both Ms Batebe and Mr Kamau attended the talks.

Why Uganda’s critical minerals industry is important (The Observer)

Uganda is one of the many countries in the Great Lakes region that have committed to the Paris Agreement and the need to address the mineral intensive clean energy technologies for a transition to a 1.5oC - 2oC by 2050.

Recent developments in the mineral sector place Uganda at the centre of the energy revolution, both for its energy security needs, but also as a key player in shaping regional initiatives and the control of the international supply chains of critical minerals. These developments call for a regional collaborative solution as opposed to a one-state solution such as the presidential ban on the export of unprocessed raw materials imposed in 2011 by the Ugandan government. The critical minerals industry requires a special Afro-centric policy, fiscal and regulatory framework modelled on the East African Community vision, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Africa Mining Vision.

Domestic regulation and development of these resources must be data-driven to establish their commerciality, mine life, access to finance to establish the desired technology in Uganda and specific commodity feasibility studies to establish availability of regional sustainable supply of raw materials to sustain value addition initiatives within the East African Community and the Great Lakes region.

Rwanda pumps $150m to private sector for post-Covid recovery (The East African)

Rwanda has unveiled an additional $150 million in funding for businesses to stimulate growth and mitigate the prolonged impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. The funds, drawn from its $250 million Economic Recovery Fund launched in June 2021, have been earmarked for the private sector, specifically manufacturing. This is set to boost production locally as the country seeks to contain rising prices and reduce imported inflation.

“The current global inflation is heavily impacting our economy…the government has invested in subsidies and attracted investors in the manufacturing sector to boost local production to reduce our dependence on imports,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said. The government will also continue to add subsidies to essential commodities such as fuel to ease the burden of hiking prices. Rwanda heavily depends on imports with a trade deficit of $216.43 million in 2021, according to the National Statistics of Rwanda.

‘Our poultry industry could suffer greater shocks from fertilizer shortages’ – Akufo-Addo (GhanaWeb)

Growing concerns about the unavailability of fertilizer for agriculture production have contributed to the surge in the prices of food in Ghana and the continent. The poultry industry has also bemoaned the unavailability of feed and raw materials. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that these concerns could heighten as fertilizer shortages are being experienced across Africa. According to the President, the country’s maize and soy production could be affected noting that “our poultry industry could suffer greater shocks.”

Leveraging Locally Produced Goods for FX Accretion (This Day)

While Nigerians grumble over the increase in exchange rates, Ayodeji Ake presents the advocacy of business experts on patronage of locally produced goods to address import dependency putting an end to escalating issues of low foreign exchange Over the years, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged Nigerians to embrace homemade products to boost Nigeria’s economy and to save Naira from continuous depreciation in the parallel market. According to reported statistics, Nigeria’s capital inflows plummeted to a four-year low of $9.66 billion in 2020, sloped to $6.7 billion in 2021. Nigeria’s international trade balance for 2021 hit a deficit of N1.94 trillion, the largest on record. Nigeria’s exports climbed 51 per cent to N18.91 trillion in 2021, up from N12.52 trillion of the year before. However, the increase in export proceeds was not enough to offset the 64.1 per cent increase in import bills, which totalled N20.84 trillion.

As a result of the FX Outflows, a $5.26 billion negative balance of payment was made in 2021, putting even more pressure on the local currency and necessitating the use of the external reserve.

Highlights of Key Developments in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry in 2021 (JD Supra)

Despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting to changes in global trade patterns and a supply chain crisis, Nigeria’s maritime industry made some gains in the year 2021. Compared to the year 2020 which saw a downtime in global trade, the year 2021 marked a rebound in commercial shipping activities around the globe with Nigeria receiving its fair share of value. According to the Maritime Transport Review 2021 – a flagship report published annually by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – Nigeria ranked highest among the top 35 flags of registration in terms of increase in its share of the world merchant fleet value which moved from 0.50 to 0.78 per cent1 . Nevertheless, the year 2021 was not without challenges. Besides the pandemic, the industry was severely constrained by rising exchange rate coupled with Dollar scarcity, incessant increase in Customs duty and policy inconsistency on the part of government. This paper highlights key developments that took center stage in the industry in the year under review.

Food Production: ActionAid tasks govt on 10% annual budgetary allocation to agriculture (Vanguard)

A non-profit making international organization, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Wednesday, tasked government at all levels on ensuring 10 per cent budgetary allocation to agriculture in order to boost food production in Nigeria. This was stated by the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, in an address of welcome at the ‘National Dialogue & Dissemination on Nigeria’s Performance at 3rd Biennial Review Exercise on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP)’.

Obi pointed that after the Malabo Declaration for 10 per cent of budgetary allocation to be for the agricultural sector across Africa, the Nigerian government’s budgetary allocation for the sector has not been encouraging, because it has remained between three and five per cent.

FG Urged to Create Basic Data Infrastructure to Attract Foreign Investments (This Day)

The Chief Operating Officer of MDXI, MainOne’s Data Centre business, Mr. Gbenga Adegbiji, has called on the federal government to revisit its policies and create basic infrastructure for data centre operations across Nigeria, in order to attract foreign investments in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Adegbiji who gave the advice during an interview with THISDAY, said: “Investors do not invest based on what any government tells them, but they invest based on what the see, which has to do with growth indices and numbers. They look at the population report and the growth of the economy, including security of investments in the country, before they can invest in the country. “Attracting foreign investments, goes beyond what the Nigerian government is currently doing by mere visiting these investors in their countries to woo them to invest in Nigeria. They will surely come and invest if they see the need to invest in Nigeria, and a good example is the recent acquisition of MainOne by Equinix because MainOne has over the years, positioned its operations to a standard that is attractive to any foreign investor. Investments are made based on numbers, foreseeable return on investments, and risk that is associated with a particular country.”

Sanwo-Olu, Others Call for Increase in Investment to Bridge Nigeria’s $11trn Infrastructure Gap (This Dau)

For Nigeria to close the infrastructure gap in the critical sectors of the economy, about $11 trillion would be required, the Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN), has revealed. To this end, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, professional engineers, experts and other stakeholders have advocated increased investment in the provision of infrastructure to foster real growth and economic prosperity on the continent. Sanwo-Olu alongside the professional engineers and experts, spoke at the opening of the 28th Annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference held on Monday in Lagos, with the theme, ‘Infrastructure Development in Africa’.

They called on governments across Africa to give attention to the provision of critical socio-economic infrastructure that could catalyse growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stimulate prosperity.

South Sudan set to receive ‘cheap electricity’ from Ethiopia (The New Arab)

Ethiopia has agreed to send 500 megawatts of electricity, some of which will be sourced from its controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, to South Sudan over the next six years. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has caused long-standing disputes between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over water rights [Getty] South Sudan will receive 500 megawatts of electricity from Ethiopia over the next six years following the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to reports.

“[Ethiopia is] aggressively working to supply electric power to its neighbours as part of regional integration,” said the chief of Ethiopian Electric Power, Anadualem Siaa, to the country’s state media.

Ethiopia also has agreements to sell electricity to Kenya and Tanzania. There are plans to supply power to Rwanda, the Somaliland region of Somalia, and Burundi.

African trade news

AfCFTA is a start, but private sector empowerment is needed to unlock full free trade benefits (The Africa Report)

At a time when global transport and logistics systems are being disrupted and trade wars are raging, relying on the rest of the world for essentials has proven to be a risky bet. Africa learned this the hard way during the Covid-19 pandemic, with just 11% of Africans being fully inoculated against the virus due to inequitable vaccine distribution. The world is realising this again with the war in Ukraine and its impact on the price of oil and food security. Removing barriers to cross-border trade and championing the creation of regional manufacturing hubs that can produce vaccines and other essential goods is an urgent priority for Africa, and important progress is already being made across the continent.

Private sector investors are joining forces with development partners to promote vaccine manufacturing in Africa, for Africa.

In the last two decades, intra-African trade not only increased in volume but also in quality. Goods traded within Africa are more diverse and of higher value addition than those traded with the rest of the world.

2022 WTPO Conference: AfCFTA eyes continent’s $450 million untapped SME market (Myjoyonline)

The 13th World Trade Promotion Organizations Conference has opened in Accra with a high panelled forum which is focused on leveraging the economic potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for inclusive growth. Speaking at the Conference in Accra, Secretary General of the Continental Free Trade Agreement Area, Wamkele Mene, announced that the secretariat is shifting its focus from large industries to SMEs to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth through a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Trade Corporation (ITC). It comes as Ghana and the rest of Africa risk losing an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDO) of $450 million if struggling SMES and social impact entrepreneurs are not cushioned from the economic impact of COVID-19, climate change and the war on Ukraine.

“It is vital that under the current circumstances, the SMEs are supported to survive and adapt, as they can be a key component on the road to economic recovery on the continent. Indeed, TPOs will be vital in providing assistance to SMEs to ramp up their export capabilities. In addition, it is crucial that you support them to understand and participate in regional value chains, for our “Made in Africa” revolution to be successful,” he stated.

Alan urges developing countries to prioritise trade in national development agenda (GhanaWeb)

Multi-modal transport network key to AfCFTA success – Dep. Minister (GhanaWeb)

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport Kwaku Ofori Asiamah at the opening ceremony of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Africa Forum held in Accra, the Deputy Minister said transport would play a key role in linking activities within the continent and beyond.

“On our part as policymakers, we remain committed to the facilitation of cargo and passengers across our borders and to other African countries through the development and enhancement of ground and air transport infrastructure. From airports, seaports and cargo terminals to maritime and air space management. In terms of infrastructure we have embarked on massive infrastructure development to improve all of our seaports and airports as well as railway connectivity.”

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Herbert Krapah also supported the call for improved multimodal transport network in order to meet the continent’s integration objectives.

Digitalisation of Africa’s smaller airports vital for economic recovery (BusinessLIVE)

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and demand for air transport starts to normalise, airports are among the first to feel the impact of the harm caused by the pandemic. However, this latest struggle holds important lessons and solutions for African airports.   

The industry’s recovery in Africa has already been deferred a year thanks to the triple-whammy of the initially slow and still low vaccination rates, the discovery of the Omicron variant, and more recently the surge in fuel prices as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is a silver lining in that it gives Africa’s airports some time to acquire the capacity, systems and solutions to manage the recovery and future growth.

The solution is for all airports — from mega-hubs to small municipal and regional facilities — to digitalise and automate time-costly processes like passenger processing and baggage handling. Agile cloud technology platforms that are efficient, flexible and scalable to fluctuating passenger volumes can help alleviate the pressure. By empowering passengers to use their mobile phones as a remote control for travel, we can reduce bottlenecks and offer a more seamless passenger journey.

Deepen trade within Africa – Akufo-Addo challenges business leaders (Graphic Online)

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has made a clarion call to African countries to increase trade within the continent for them to stand on their own feet. That, he said, was in view of the current derangement of the global commodities market, supply chains and logistics occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine crisis which had culminated in fertiliser shortages around the globe. He said the situation could affect maize and soya production in African countries, including Ghana, and had “greater shocks” in Ghana’s poultry industry. President Akufo-Addo made the call when he opened the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development Conference at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) yesterday.

Ukraine war: A wake-up call for Africa to increase inter-continental trade (The Africa Report)

Over the past couple of months, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has severely disrupted the supply of essential crops to Africa and led to significant price increases for agricultural goods and energy, with prices skyrocketing across the globe.

Most of Russia’s imports to Africa are agricultural goods, with 90% of these agricultural goods being made up of wheat and 6% from sunflower oil in 2020. Similarly, 48% of Ukraine’s agricultural exports to Africa were made up of wheat and 31% of maize.

Could Africa fill the global commodities gap? (Energy Capital & Power)

Forecasts suggest that the global economy is facing a ‘commodity gap’ in the near future as the demand for battery minerals could outstrip supply; could Africa be the continent to fill that gap? There is certainly good reason to see Africa making a valuable contribution to future supplies of mined commodities from lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite to manganese, iron, copper, chrome, uranium and aluminum, according to SRK director and principal consultant Andrew van Zyl.

While there are considerable resources of these minerals available in Africa and even currently being mined, there remain challenges which prevent their economic extraction. “One of the reasons why the gold sector thrives in many parts of Africa, for example, is because it needs relatively little in the way of national or state-managed infrastructure,” said Van Zyl. “For better or worse, a gold mine can operate quite effectively as an ‘island’ of activity and prosperity – providing most of its own inputs to mine and process ore, and to transport the very compact end-product.”

The Manufacturing Indaba 2022 addresses the need for business to swiftly adapt and remain competitive in a post pandemic era (Pumps Africa Online Journal)

The Manufacturing Indaba Conference will discuss key issues critical to supporting the development of manufacturers. The conversation will take place at the upcoming Manufacturing Indaba taking place from the 21st to 22nd June 2022 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference aims to focus on the financing and economic recovery of businesses in the manufacturing industry in a post pandemic era. The event will provide information to support, revitalise and aid manufacturing growth and recovery.

Time to reduce dependence on foreign aid – Akufo-Addo (Ghana Business News)

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Wednesday called on African researchers and policy makers to scale up policies that would reduce the Continent’s dependence on foreign aid. They should pursue a path of self-respect and take actionable steps to create the enabling environment to build prosperity and development to make Africa rich and resilient. “The time to pursue a path of prosperity and self-respect for the African Continent is now,” he said at the opening of the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development (AABD) Conference, at the University of Professional Studies, Accra.

President Akufo-Addo said the concept of “Africa beyond Aid” was about acknowledging development in a sustainable manner, ‘taking the bull by the horns’, and take responsibility for sustainable growth while perceiving fellow African countries as key stakeholders in development.

Africa demands ‘fair international finance architecture’ (The New Times)

Calls for an international finance architecture which is fair grew on Monday, May 16, in Dakar, Senegal. The call was led by President Macky Sall at the annual Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, ECA’s largest annual event where participants debate key issues concerning the continent’s development. It also discusses the think tank’s performance in delivering on its mandate.

Sall noted that given prevailing conditions, the parameters that allow global economic governance are outdated and unsuited to reality. Besides the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Africa is confronting a new food, fuel and fertilizer crisis reverberating across the world as the Russia-Ukraine war creates global trade and commodity disruptions. Food prices are reported to be 34 per cent higher than this time last year. Crude oil prices increased by around 60 per cent while gas and fertiliser prices more than doubled. African economies are in a state of general fatigue, Sall said.

“The least we can say is that our economies are in a state of general fatigue, the extent and duration of which, unfortunately, we are yet to measure. And that is a problem,” President Sall said.

Global lenders want a piece of East Africa’s retail banking market (The East African)

East Africa is becoming fertile hunting ground for foreign banks seeking to explore the booming retail market that has seen KCB and Equity banks assets rise to over Ksh1 trillion ($8.62 billion) each, buoyed by expanding customer numbers and loan books.

global players are eyeing the regional banking market, with Nigeria’s Access Bank Plc and Egyptian Commercial International Bank (CIB) acquiring Kenyan lenders as launching pads into the seven-member bloc comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The banking model has shown that there is a merit to good expansion. If you are able to expand and grow your balance sheet then you are also able to increase your profitability and East Africa is where the next growth frontier is considered to be,” said Paul Mwai, the Chief Executive of AIB-AXIS Capital Ltd and vice chairman of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

A survey conducted by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2019 showed that global lenders were expressing interest in the East African market as local banks become more competitive regionally with their mobile money solutions, agency models and digital platforms that appeal to East Africans.

EA ports expect more ships after drop in piracy cases in Indian Ocean waters (The East African)

More ships are expected to make calls at East African ports following a drop in maritime crime targeting shipping lines over the past 20 years. Cargo ships destined for Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Jeddah and the port of Djibouti have previously had to use circuitous routes to avoid being attacked in the Indian Ocean. Others have had to pay higher insurance premiums or hire security escorts, which in turn made importation costly for the local consumer. Now, the Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS) “Safety & Shipping Review 2022” report indicates that maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean has almost disappeared.

Sub-Saharan Africa turns to Argentinian wheat (Argus Media)

Argentina is set to replace most of the lost Black Sea wheat supplies to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in May. Importers in the region seek to replace shipments from Russia and Ukraine, which have fallen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Argentinian wheat totalling 242,650t has been loaded, shipped or is awaiting shipment to Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania in May, according to preliminary line-up data.

The surge in shipments of Argentinian wheat to Sub-Saharan Africa comes as major importers around the globe scramble to secure supplies to replace lost shipments from Ukraine, which have collapsed following the Russian blockade of the country’s Azov and Black Sea ports. Ukraine’s grain exports, 90pc of which were traditionally handled by vessels leaving the country’s sea ports, fell by more than 70pc in April, compared with the same period in 2021. There have been attempts to move agricultural products over Ukraine’s western borders by truck and rail but logistical issues continue to plague operations and so exporting pace has slowed significantly in recent weeks.

Maize shortage ‘biggest issue in Africa’ (SciDev.net)

Maize prices soar as Sub-Saharan Africa production hit by climate change, global conflict and fertiliser shortages. Maize yields are expected to be drastically lower this season than in previous years in drought-hit Sub-Saharan Africa. While the drop will affect the entire region, Kenya is facing the biggest struggle as one of the region’s largest importers of the staple food.

Mid-sized cities key to Africa’s economic development concludes a regional gathering (UNECA)

Local and national governments convening at the 9th Africities gathering in Kisumu from 17 to 21 May 2022 concluded that mid-sized cities spread the benefits of access to cities to a large and dispersed rural population in Africa, while offering critical advantages for agricultural transformation. During the gathering – the largest meeting of local governments in Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in partnership with UN-Habitat convened a specific session to examine the role of intermediate – or midsized – cities in Africa’s economic development and actions needed to unleash their untapped potential.

US seeks African partnerships on climate change, health (The East African)

The US is seeking to create more “mutually beneficial” partnerships with African countries in addressing climate change, health and economic growth, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandez has said. Mr Fernandez was speaking to African journalists on May 11 from Cape Town, where he gave a keynote address at the Mining Indaba, an investment conference dedicated to the capitalisation and development of mining in Africa.

“My message both here and in Zambia is that Africa is key to achieving some of the most important priorities of the Biden administration,” Mr Fernandez said, adding that the US government is ready to partner with African countries and private American firms to invest in key priority areas.

Dawn of a second Cold War and the ‘scramble for Africa’ (Brookings)

Ample empirical evidence shows that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will boost the competitiveness of African economies and accelerate the diversification of sources of growth and trade to deepen economic integration in Africa and enhance the region’s assimilation into the world economy. However, realizing these potentials hinges on reversing the current trend of rising insecurity heightened by proxy wars in the new age of great power rivalries. This paper outlines policy options that draw on the political and trade economies of scale to optimize the allocation of scarce resources and strengthen the security and development nexus to implement the AfCFTA successfully for lasting peace and prosperity in Africa.

Global economy news

Members discuss e-commerce, trade concerns and LDCs’ participation in services trade (WTO)

The WTO LDC Group highlighted that implementation of the services waiver was one of the priorities for the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) identified by LDC trade ministers in a declaration issued in October 2021. The LDC Group called for members’ continued support on this issue, with a view to reaching agreement on improving the implementation of the waiver at MC12, which will take place from 12 to 15 June.

A total of 51 members have notified preferences for LDC services and service suppliers under the waiver, with the aim of boosting LDCs’ participation in world services trade. The waiver was formalized by a decision adopted at the 2011 Ministerial Conference.

Dispute Settlement at the WTO: How Did We Get Here and What’s Next for the Commonwealth States? (The Commonwealth Secretariat)

This issue of Trade Hot Topics examines the current state of WTO dispute settlement with a focus on repercussions for Commonwealth countries. Specifically, it begins by outlining the dispute settlement profile of Commonwealth states, and then turns briefly to the history of the Appellate Body, highlighting its successes and the criticisms it attracted, as well as the reasons for its demise. This is followed by a discussion of the technicalities of one proposed option to temporarily fill the void left by the Appellate Body’s absence, assessing its merits and explaining what it might portend for participating and non-participating members. It concludes with recommendations for the consideration of Commonwealth states as they seek to define and promote their dispute settlement interests in the current WTO environment.

Members review notification activity on national customs legislation (WTO)

The Chair of the Committee, Buddhi Prasad Upadhyaya of Nepal, shared with members the current notification status regarding customs valuation legislation. Members welcomed the Chair’s proposal to organize an experience-sharing session in the margins of one of the upcoming Committee meetings to exchange experiences regarding the implementation of the Customs Valuation Agreement.

The WTO Secretariat made a presentation on how the e-Agenda platform has been implemented in the Committee on Market Access (CMA). While acknowledging that some aspects of the CMA’s activities differ from that of the Committee on Customs Valuation, the Chair encouraged members to consider whether certain aspects of the platform relating to transparency and accessibility of documents could be useful in their work.

Fragile economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic upended by war in Ukraine | United Nations (UN DESA)

The war in Ukraine has upended the fragile economic recovery from the pandemic, triggering a devastating humanitarian crisis in Europe, increasing food and commodity prices and globally exacerbating inflationary pressures, says the latest United Nations forecast released yesterday.

World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2022

Global growth prospects have weakened significantly amid the war in Ukraine, rising energy, food and commodity prices, soaring inflation and tightening monetary policy stances by major central banks. The world economy is projected to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2022, marking a downward revision of 0.9 percentage points from our previous forecast released in January 2022 .

US, UK, and EU Transatlantic Trade Review Developments (The National Law Review)

The United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) continued to impose sanctions against Russia over the first two weeks of May, while the European Union (EU) continued its debate over another sanctions package. The US Congress also continues to debate a new $40 billion assistance package for Ukraine. The UK introduced legislation that would bring the free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand into force later this year. The European Parliament approved its negotiating stance on the proposal for Foreign Subsidies. Meanwhile, the second US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) ministerial meeting concluded on 16 May in Paris-Saclay, France

Study shows COVID-19 effects on trade in biodiversity products (UNCTAD)

The impact of COVID-19 on trade in biodiversity-based products, such as coffee, cosmetics and honey, has been both positive and negative, according to an UNCTAD study published on 3 May. The study based on a survey of more than 300 biodiversity stakeholders, shows that the pandemic’s effects have varied greatly across regions, countries and sectors. Positive impacts from the pandemic were reported by a higher share of respondents from the private sector supporting or implementing UNCTAD’s BioTrade Principles and Criteria. BioTrade is when a product or service sourced from biodiversity is commercialized and traded in a way that respects people and nature. It can be a positive force to protect biodiversity. About 73% of the survey’s respondents said they support or implement BioTrade principles.

The study found that COVID-19 has “created challenges for the collection, production, processing, distribution, commercialization, certification, support and study of biodiversity-based products and services.”

This is how to counter the global digital divide (WEF)

Countering the global digital divide is an increasingly urgent imperative because several essential aspects of everyday life – including banking, health care, education, media, communications and even identity – depend on access to digital tools and technologies. Connectivity has become a conduit to information, communication, education and societal wellbeing. People who lack opportunities to go online and engage purposefully with the digital economy face a worsening cycle of disenfranchisement.

Unfortunately, that’s a lot of people. Despite some improvement in recent years, a third of the world’s population (some 2.9 billion people) suffers from the digital divide – even though 95% of the world’s population resides within range of a mobile broadband network.

Carbon pricing proposals redrawn to account for developing economies (TradeWinds)

The allocation of part of the proceeds of market-based measures (MBM) to developing nations is becoming a critical part of the International Maritime Organization’s negotiations on a carbon pricing scheme. The latest proposal which is to be debated at the IMO’s June meeting is from Japan and includes the option of allocating funds for least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDs).

‘Lifeline’ of renewable energy can steer world out of climate crisis: UN chief (UN News)

Greenhouse gas concentrations Levels reached a new global high in 2020 and continued to increase in 2021, with the concentration of carbon dioxide reaching 413.2 parts per million globally, a 149% increase on pre-industrial levels. “We have broken records in main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and especially the record in carbon dioxide is striking; we haven’t seen any improvement despite of the lockdowns caused by COVID in 2020, so the concentrations continue growing”, explains WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

Declaration of the 7th Meeting of OACPS Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACP)

High-level fisheries and aquaculture policymakers from the Member States of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), as well as leading fisheries professionals and practitioners met in Accra, Ghana for the 7th Meeting of OACPS Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture from 5-8 April 2022. Themed, “OACPS’s Blue Economy Agenda 2030 – Catalysing Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for the Future”, the meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ghana. In his closing remarks at the Meeting, Secretary-General of the OACPS, mentioning the challenges facing the sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector as a result of fisheries governance challenges and human-induced challenges and pressures such as climate change, overfishing, pollution and environmental degradation, nevertheless applauded the considerable efforts by the Senior Officials and the Ministers at the 7th Session, resulting, most notably in the Declaration produced at the end of the Meeting.


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