tralac Daily News
Opportunities abound in transport, logistics if challenges can be addressed (Engineering News)
There are considerable challenges facing the country’s commuter transport, freight and logistics sectors, which are impeding economic growth; however, there are signs of improvement. This was a key message from speakers during a transport and logistics panel discussion, on day two of the Manufacturing Indaba on June 22.
Innovation key for SEZs to support post-pandemic recovery (Engineering News)
There is a role for SEZs to play in the country’s post-pandemic recovery, however, this will require changes to certain approaches, speakers indicated during a ‘Growing Industrial Development Zones and SEZs’ panel discussion, as part of day two of the Manufacturing Indaba. Coega Development Corporation investment promotion manager Vuyokazi Gwabeni emphasised that, despite the challenges and impacts of the pandemic, the world is now moving towards a more environmentally conscious, sustainable approach, and that, for SEZs to contribute meaningfully to the country’s post-pandemic recovery, they must align to this as well.
Kenya to Increase Sugar Imports to Meet Local Demand (Krishi Jagran)
The Sugar Directorate of Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority set an annual limit of 180,000 MT for raw sugar imports from all countries in 2022. The issuance of import permits enforces this ceiling.
Sugar production in Kenya is expected to fall by 4% to 660,000 MT in MY 2022/23, owing to lower sugarcane yields caused by higher fertilizer prices, which are expected to limit fertiliser application.
Sugar has become a more appealing option than maize for many farmers in these areas due to lower labour requirements and guaranteed farmgate prices and sales through mill contracts. According to a GAIN report, USAID notes that private mills, which account for nearly 80% of total sugar production in the country, are expanding into zones previously reserved for state-owned operations. In the long run, this will almost certainly increase Kenya’s sugarcane yields and processing efficiency.
Firms in digital race to stave off supply chain disruptions (Business Daily)
The Covid-19 pandemic has come with many lessons for businesses. It has been a learning curve but Kenyan manufacturers and processing companies are fast tapping into technology to address supply chain hiccups that resulted from lockdowns and restricted movement in 2020.For close to two years, these companies were unable to source raw materials to manufacture different products. Warehouse fees went up at ports and the cost of importing materials rose. A 2022 report by South African business management software provider SYSPRO, indicates that 70 percent of businesses experienced material handling and supply chain disruptions while 60 percent were unable to engage with customers and suppliers. To solve the problem, industry players have committed to digital transformation initiatives, with 69 percent building digitisation strategies.
Ministry hosts Agoa capacity-building workshops (The Namibian)
THE Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade and the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) Trade Hub held two African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) capacity-building workshops in Windhoek on 8 and 15 June. The purpose of the workshops was to provide an overview of Agoa key principles, export opportunities, and of the requirements to successfully export to the United States (US) market. The workshops came on the heels of the Namibia-US trade forum, which the ministry held in Windhoek early this month.
Agoa is a non-reciprocal unilateral US trade law providing eligible products from sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market. After its initial 15-year period of validity, Agoa was extended in 2015 by 10 years to September 2025. “The workshop on 8 June provided participants with relevant information on the overview of market entry requirements for Agoa, with discussions focused on the Food and Drug Administration Act with regards to compliance, food safety and standards,” said the statement.
The workshop on 15 June provided participants with appropriate facts on export procedures to the US through dual expositions made by Namibia’s customs experts and the US Customs and Border Protection, respectively.
TZ, China bolster diplomatic, trade ties (Dailynews)
AS trade relations between Tanzania and China continue to grow, the former is planning to open up another consulate in China’s financial hub-Shanghai. Already, Tanzania has a consulate in Guangzhou, which is operating under the coordination of the Embassy situated in Beijing which is the administrative capital of China. This was revealed yesterday by the Director General of African Affairs in the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wu Peng during an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’. He said, successful completion of the move will significantly boost the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries that has seen a steady growth despite the eruption of Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s gratifying to see that our economic cooperation withstood the test of the Covid-19 pandemic, the bilateral trade continued to expand with the volume in 2020 and 2021 growing respectively by 9.5 per cent and 47 per cent to 6.74 billion US dollars,” he said.
Mozambique has experienced rapid growth for more than two decades. Growth accelerated remarkably following the end of the civil war, averaging 7.9% between 1993 and 2015—among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, growth decelerated sharply following the hidden debt crisis in 2016. The revelation of undisclosed debts led to a crisis of economic governance and a protracted economic slowdown, with growth falling to 3% in 2016-2019. The slowdown has been exacerbated by the natural disasters in 2019, the escalation of insurgency in Northern Mozambique since 2017, and the pandemic since 2020. Mozambique’s growth strategy has been limited in its capacity to generate productive jobs and support accelerated poverty reduction. Nearly two-thirds of the population lives in poverty and the country is among the most unequal in SSA. This partly resulted from Mozambique’s increased dependence on large extractive projects, with limited linkages with the rest of the economy, and low-productivity agriculture.
The discovery of some of the largest natural gas (LNG) reserves in the world is expected to provide Mozambique with a transformative opportunity for sustained and inclusive growth. However, making the most of the anticipated LNG resources and bringing growth closer to the poor will require a new ambitious growth model that goes beyond the extractives.
While Togo has made undeniable progress in certain areas, the West African nation is yet to take full advantage of its potential to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, the World Bank said today in its latest Togo Country Economic Memorandum. The Bank’s study entitled “Towards sustainable and inclusive growth” shows Togo could increase agricultural productivity and trade competitiveness as well as its participation in global value chains, and harness urban economic opportunities to achieve inclusive growth. The report pointed at low agricultural productivity, untapped economic potential of cities, and low levels of trade competitiveness and participation in global value chains, as the main contributing factors.
African trade and development news
New research by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) at Makerere University shows that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will mostly inflict revenue loss on Kenya in the East African region. “Kenya will incur the largest loss at $14.2 million, followed by Uganda at $13.5 million. Tanzania is estimated to register revenue loss of $5.3million, Burundi $4.3million and Rwanda $ 3.9,” the research shows. Considering proportional tariff revenue losses, Burundi is expected to incur the biggest at 30 percent, followed by Uganda at 7.6 percent, Rwanda 5.5 percent, Kenya 4 percent and Tanzania 3.7 percent. “The overall result is that each EAC partner state will incur losses but at varying levels and proportions,” researchers observed. These custom revenue losses for the EAC member countries are trade trends in the rest of Africa where tariff revenue has significantly reduced.
Africa’s reliance on external markets instead of promoting intra-Africa trade has shrank its economy and pushed up inflation, according to a new trade report .The survey by the Pan African Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) projects that the continent’s GDP growth will shrink by 0.7 percent while inflation will rise by 2.2 per cent. It attributes this to the Ukraine war which it says will push more people into food insecurity and poverty .This, at a time when the continent is still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the global supply chain. According to the survey Africa imports around $40 billion (Sh4.69 trillion) worth of food annually and the soaring wheat and sunflower prices in the wake of the Ukraine crisis threatens food security in the region.
Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, has stated that African governments have the potential to take advantage of industrialization on the continent. He noted that this will help the continent to gain influence on the global market. According to him, even though the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been implemented, Africans have to do more to reap its benefits.
Speaking at the commonwealth business forum in Rwanda, he said, “In order for Africa to gain leverage in global trade or even trade within the continent governments across Africa need to take industrialization seriously because really even without us industrializing as much as we should, about 66% or so intra-African trade is in manufactured goods.”
Otchere-Darko added, “So it tells you the potential if we do more and I will use Ghana as an example; over the last five years a government set up “One District One Factory”, essential it means is that they identify the area that the district may have a sort of advantage … and then help fund to build a factory there.”
Côte d’Ivoire – Ghana : Will AfCFTA offer cocoa farmers a solution? (The Africa Report)
Alex Assanvo, the executive secretary of the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative, believes the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could offer solutions.
“It is my big dream,” Assanvo says, to push cocoa as a pilot project and show how the AfCFTA can be deployed to encourage more processing of raw commodities on the continent. “This is probably one of the best tools we have to start promoting local processing. We need to bring it to a level where processing becomes cheaper in Africa.”
Russia-Ukraine conflict hurting East Africa’s business community (The Statesman)
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is hurting the performance of East Africa’s business community due to the rising prices of key commodities, the regional apex lobby has said. John Bosco Kalisa, the chief executive officer of the East African Business Council (EABC), told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that the crisis has disrupted global supply chains and has been devastating given the substantial amount of products that are imported from the two nations, Xinhua news agency reported. “The financial performance of businesses has been negatively affected given that we are net importers of wheat and edible oils from Russia and Ukraine which are key inputs for businesses,” Kalisa said during the EABC-Trade Mark East Africa regional private sector consultative meeting on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
He observed that the transmission mechanism of the impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis has manifested in the form of skyrocketing prices of most household and commercial goods.
Africa must wean itself off dependence on food and medicine imports, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said, as the institution approved creation of a pharmaceutical tech foundation and began processing requests for food relief. Africa was hit hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as many countries are still struggling to rebound, they are facing rising inflation and food shortages aggravated by the war in Ukraine. “Africa should not allow itself to be vulnerable in excessively depending on others, whether it is for vaccines or whether it is for food,” AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Kigali.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a diverse region with an abundance of human and natural resources and a great potential to be competitive in cotton production and achieve inclusive growth. Its textile and apparel industry has major importance in terms of job creation and income generation. In recent years, Sub-Saharan African countries have attracted the attention of textile companies globally and have become a budding destination for textile and apparel sourcing. This sector is witnessing a remarkable growth for which the key reasons are foreign investments, investor confidence in the continent’s manufacturing and design capability, and the rising cotton industry. In 2021, the textile and apparel exports from Sub-Saharan African countries increased by 25 per cent to $5.14 billion, compared to exports of $4.11 billion in 2020.
Call for innovative approaches to boost food security (The New Times)
Africa should not be relying on foreign countries such as Russia and Ukraine for food supplies, rather it should invest in enough resources, including technologies in the production of enough food and offset its imports, officials have said. They made the observations on Tuesday, June 21, during the “Innovating for Resilient and Inclusive Food Systems Think Tank” session which is part of the CHOGM2022 underway in Kigali.
Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), said that the agriculture sector in some places, especially in developing countries of the Commonwealth is heavily underinvested, calling for adequate funding to boost the sector productivity, strengthen its resilience and deal with climate change, as well as create jobs. “And the opportunity is very clear with us. We have a market but we have successfully isolated smallholder farmers in these markets. They are not part of these markets,” she said.
According to “the Impact on Trade and Development of the War in Ukraine,” a rapid assessment by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) of March 2022; in 2018–2020, Africa imported $3.7 billion worth of wheat from the Russian Federation and another $1.4 billion from Ukraine.
For decades, tourism has remained a major contributor to the GDP of African economies. In 2019, the industry accounted for about seven percent of Africa’s GDP and contributed $169 billion to its economy—about the size of Côte d’Ivoire’s and Kenya’s combined GDP. But the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic changed all that. In July 2020, the African Union estimated that Africa lost nearly $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues and two million jobs in only the first three months of the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that real GDP among African countries dependent on tourism shrunk by 12 percent in 2020. However, as Covid-19 restrictions ease, tapping domestic tourism demand has offered the sector some respite, as a growing middle class and young population show more interest in domestic tourism.
According to the World Travel &Tourism Council (WTTC), domestic tourism accounted for 55 per cent of travel and tourism spending in Africa in 2019, below the contribution of local tourism in North America (83 per cent), Europe (64 per cent) and Asia-Pacific (74 per cent). Domestic tourism accounted for 73 per cent of the total global tourism spending in 2017. Africa’s growing middle class and population of young travellers hungry for adventure, and the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area by the number of participating countries, are among the pillars seen supporting the future growth of domestic and regional tourism in the continent.
With the sustained strain on economies and livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the African Union continues to engage among its Member States on ways to enhance the resilience of African economies to withstand such unprecedented events which have profoundly affected growth prospects of the continent, leaving little fiscal room for Member States to satisfy the needs of their population and meet their financial obligations to the Union.
At the just concluded African Union High Level meeting of the Committee of Fifteen Finance Ministers, also known as the F15, Amb. Ukur Yatani, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Planning, chairing the meeting on behalf of Mr. Tahir Ngulin, Chairperson of the F15 and Minister of Finance and Budget of the Republic of Chad, underlined the significance of efforts by the continent’s leadership to reduce dependence on external resources; enhance predictability of revenues from Member States; and continue reforms towards greater accountability and transparency in the management of African Union resources.
He stated, “in this reform journey, this Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance has been accorded a salient role of participating in the preparation and oversight of the annual budget of the Union. This mandate provides us with the opportunity to contribute to the desire of AU Member States to achieve a financially autonomous and self-reliant African Union. I am happy that the F15 Committee has made useful input in this regard…However, a lot of work lies ahead of us to not only sustain the gains made so far, but also entrench the principles and culture necessary for efficient and effective budget making and implementation in the Union.”
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan today (23 June 2022) appointed John Humphrey as Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) to Africa. The appointment comes as the Prime Minister attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this week to further strengthen ties with Commonwealth nations – 19 of which are in Africa.
As the new Trade Commissioner for Africa, John will generate business opportunities for the UK while contributing to the growth of sustainable, resilient, and productive economies across the African continent.
With a growing population and economy worth $2.4 trillion, a thriving trade and investment relationship between the UK and Africa presents huge opportunities across a variety of sectors including tech, transport, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and Agri-Tech.
How significant is Africa to the West, to the world? (BusinessAMLive)
The global economic growth and growing affluence are resting on Africa’s prop. The major drivers of current and possibly future economic growth will remain the unsung Africa, for a number of reasons, some of which are under consideration here. Unfortunately, for the world, keeping Africa perpetually backward is one way of holding back the development of the entire world. This is because various mechanisms in place, designed to make Africa – a major source of the engine that keeps the world economy going – continually depend on those countries that depend on commodities imported from Africa for their own survival, will also be negatively affected, albeit indirectly. Evidence abounds. Global disruption in the supply chain during the COVID-19 lockdown created huge shocks within the manufacturing sector in the West and, in particular, China that has come to assume the status of global manufacturing powerhouse. Although the impacts were widespread, the industrialised countries experienced huge shocks from the supply chain disruptions as raw material exports were truncated while the lockdown lasted.
Africa’s raw materials are needed cheaply if the economies of the industrialised countries are to continue to run well. The very day the raw material exporting countries of Africa begin to process locally and send finished products to the world market is when the yoke of dominance of the raw material importing countries is broken. It looks like a dreaded prospect for many industrial countries, particularly in the West.
Global economy news
The BRICS response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated what can be achieved when nations work together in the spirit of friendship, solidarity and responsibility, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Ramaphosa said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on human life, livelihoods, economies and communities around the world. He was delivering his opening remarks during the virtual 14th BRICS Heads of State Summit on Thursday. “We are here as members of BRICS to affirm our shared desire for a world in which all people have a meaningful stake, in which all have equal opportunity, and from which all can benefit,” the President said. He said that the launch of the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] Vaccine Research and Development Centre, in March this year, will strengthen international health and science cooperation to prepare for future crises. The President said it is cause for great concern that the rest of the global community has not sustained the principles of solidarity and cooperation when it comes to equitable access to vaccines.
“We need to realise the great potential of our economic partnership to strengthen intra-BRICS trade, investment and tourism. Our combined economic strength should be a catalyst for sustainable global economic recovery,” he said.
BRICS partnership stands strong amid global challenges (Cyprus Mail)
The 14th summit of BRICS, an emerging-market group that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will be held this week in virtual format under the theme of “Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development” under China’s chairmanship.
BRICS countries are an important driving force for regional and global economic and trade growth. Despite the prolonged impact of COVID-19, the total volume of trade in goods of BRICS countries reached nearly US$8.55 trillion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 33.4 percent, official data shows.
Meanwhile, China’s bilateral trade with other BRICS countries totaled US$490.42 billion, up 39.2 percent year on year and higher than the overall growth of China’s foreign trade in the same period. Worldwide, BRICS countries account for 18 percent of trade in goods and 25 percent of foreign investment, statistics show.
The achievement of BRICS cooperation has not only enhanced the say of emerging markets and developing countries in the world, but also made BRICS an important platform for promoting South-South cooperation.
Commonwealth must leave no one behind – Kagame (The New Times)
President Paul Kagame has said that Commonwealth countries need to continuously engage and find out what they can do to bring a balance to ensure that everyone in the 54-nation community feels included. Kagame said this at the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum on Tuesday, June 21, in Kigali, drawing more than 1,000 delegates. The forum is one of the events taking place in the Rwandan capital as part of the 26th edition of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM). “With the Commonwealth, we already have many things in common indeed. Be it the language, be it the different systems, financial systems, that would enable us to make investments, trade with each other all together,” the Rwandan leader said during a panel discussion.
He said there is a starting point that is more or less good enough, but “we need to make it better.”
Whether it is trade and business, investments, or other issues such as health, Kagame said, “the pace at which things move needs to be increased, so that we give more value to the Commonwealth and the feelings of the people of the Commonwealth.”
World services trade continued to grow into the second quarter of 2022, indicating resilience to the conflict in Ukraine according to the WTO’s Services Trade Barometer, released on 23 June 2022. The latest reading of 105.5 is firmly above the previous reading of 102.5 in September 2021 and comfortably over the baseline value of 100 for the index, signalling that services trade is likely to post sustained gains in the second quarter once official statistics for the period are available.
WTO members welcomed at a meeting of the Committee on Trade and Development on 20 June the decision taken by the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to reinvigorate activities under the Work Programme on E-Commerce, with the aim of increasing the participation of developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs) in digital trade. The Committee also received updates on initiatives to increase capacity-building training activities in these countries and on the preferential treatment extended to LDC exports.
The latest Annual Report from the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), launched on 22 June, spotlights how ongoing dialogue and cooperation among partners have helped developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) strengthen their food safety, animal and plant health capacity and facilitate safe trade despite the ongoing pandemic.
A few years ago, trade negotiators pacing the corridors of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would not have expected a war in Europe, a global pandemic, and a global food crisis to dominate discussions at a WTO Ministerial Conference. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has reported that world hunger increased in 2020 under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic. Zooming into the Black Sea, the closure of Ukrainian ports amidst the Russian invasion does not bode well for net food importing countries across the globe. In June 2022, trade ministers from more than 100 WTO members gathered in Geneva to discuss international trade rules, including those on trade in food and agriculture. The Twelfth Ministerial Conference of the WTO (MC12) delivered a first important outcome on food security: a Ministerial Decision on World Food Programme (WFP) Food Purchases Exemption from Export Prohibitions or Restrictions – the WFP exemption.
The WFP exemption is a symbolically important outcome that showcases the political will of WTO members to tackle the ongoing food crisis. The WFP exemption could save time and ensure critical relief reaches the most vulnerable, as underlined by the World Food Programme. Importantly, by agreeing the WFP exemption, WTO members have demonstrated that the WTO is a forum where non-trade concerns such as food security can be progressed.
The so-called ‘Geneva package’ of MC12 outcomes also includes a Ministerial Declaration on the Emergency Response to Food Insecurity (WTO Food Security Declaration). This is a welcome development. The WTO Food Security Declaration underscores the need for agricultural trade to flow and reaffirms the importance of not imposing export restrictions or prohibitions in a manner inconsistent with relevant WTO provisions (paragraph 4). Notably, it features a commitment to having a dedicated work programme in the WTO Committee on Agriculture (CoA) to operationalize the Marrakesh Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries (paragraph 8).
Trade constitutes the backbone of every economy and 80-90% of global trade requires financing. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for around 90% of companies and more than half of the jobs worldwide according to the World Bank. It’s often those SMEs that are underserved and lack access to affordable trade finance.
The Asian Development Bank found that SMEs are disproportionately affected by the $1.7 trillion trade finance gap – the difference between the number of applications to finance companies’ participation in international operations and the number of approvals. SMEs account for 40% of such rejections, much higher than their share of applications.
Trade finance therefore has all the components that investors look for. It is a multi-trillion dollar asset class based on the flow of physical goods and services, making it less susceptible to financial market volatility. Default rates for trade finance products are generally lower and the time to recovery in case of default tends to be shorter than for other credit products.
But why is it that trade finance is the only asset class that doesn’t get distributed from banks’ balance sheets?
Global port leaders highlight advantages of digitalisation in crises (Daily Cargo News)
PORT leaders from around the world who met under the remit of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development have highlighted the role of technology in safeguarding ports against challenging global events. UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade Port Management Week was held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain last month. It provided a platform for 100 port leaders to discuss building port resilience against current and future crises. Aurelio Martínez, president of Spain’s Valencia Port Authority, said crisis such as the pandemic have reminded society of the importance of port-based logistics for the safety and security of global wellbeing. “More than ever, and bearing in mind the growing risks linked to the climate change evolution, ports should become key resilient partners for supply chain managers,” he said.
According to UNCTAD, port managers agreed that advancements in digitalisation and cybersecurity are vital to improving port resilience. It said digital technologies allow ports to minimise human interaction while remaining operational during pandemic situations. “COVID-19 showed us the importance of having reached at least a certain level of digitalisation,” Ghana Port Authority director general, Michael Luguje said. “Otherwise, many ports would have been shut down and the economy would have suffered even more.”
Global remittances, the hard-earned money sent by migrant workers to their family members in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), grew by 8.6 per cent in 2021. Despite predictions that the COVID-19 pandemic would reduce remittance flows, the momentum was sustained due to a 48 per cent increase in money sent through mobile channels, according to the report MobileRemit Africa launched today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“The digitalization of remittances, particularly through mobile channels, is a great opportunity to boost rural development as over half of these funds go to rural areas. Digitalization reduces fees and other transactions costs like travel time, making the process more convenient and safer while promoting digital and financial inclusion,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, speaking on the International Day of Family Remittances.
A roundtable, convened by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and CUTS International, Geneva, as a part of IISD’s second Trade and Sustainability Hub, discussed the digital divide’s relationship to inequality and the impacts of e-commerce development and governance.
Torbjorn Fredriksson, Head of the E-commerce and Digital Economy Branch, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital use and e-commerce, while simultaneously deepening the digital divide between men and women, and rural and urban populations, and revealing digital skills gaps and inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks. He noted that South and Southeast Asia experienced the largest surge in e-commerce, while e-commerce in Africa plummeted, illustrating the digital divide between different regions and countries. Power imbalances intensified for digital platforms as well, with the largest online platforms experiencing extreme growth during the pandemic while smaller platforms saw more marginal growth.
Fredriksson stated that data is a “cross-cutting issue that no single ministry can handle on its own.” He suggested governments aid small startups joining the digital space, include e-commerce in “more powerful national ministries,” and consider factors like human rights and health in their e-commerce policies.
The purpose of this report is to: provide an update on the evolution of a selection of official SDG indicators and complementary data and statistics; provide an update on progress in the development of new concepts and methodologies for SDG indicators for which UNCTAD is a global custodian agency; and to showcase how UNCTAD is supporting member States in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report also investigates thematic issues of relevance to the 2030 Agenda – this year, the report discusses, as In-Focus topic, the issue of inclusive growth with particular emphasis on gender equality and environmental sustainability, assessing progress and challenges in these areas. Over the last decades, rising inequality as well as climate change have indeed questioned the ability of economic growth to continue to play its historical role as the driver of development. To support the SDGs, growth needs to be inclusive and sustainable. The report is arranged in a way that it can be read by theme, and by goal and indicator.
the indicators are browsable by the three themes to which UNCTADs work contributes: multilateralism for trade & development; productive growth; and structural transformation. Through this thematic lens, progress towards a wide range of SDG indicators is discussed, including recent trends in trade, including barriers to trade, and policies to promote trade; financial resource mobilization, investment, debt sustainability.