tralac Daily News
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel has reportedly asked South Africa’s cement producers to commit to “no price increases” in return for government approval of “safeguard action” against cheap cement imports, particularly from China and Vietnam. This has raised serious doubts about the success of the application by several cement producers to the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) for “safeguard action”.
Electronic customs system to reduce cost of business in Kenya (The East African)
Importers and exporters in Kenya are set to benefit from increased competitiveness and reduced cost of doing business from reduced shipment delays and demurrage charges after President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the National Electronic Single Window System Bill, 2021, on June 21.The Bill empowers Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) to operate autonomously without the Exchequer’s funding. KenTrade facilitates cross-border trade. KenTrade CEO Amos Wangora said; “The law will enhance the use of Single Window System by helping protect data,” stem fraud and exploitation in the logistics coordination system often faced by importers and exporters using the platform. Mr Wangora said the law makes KenTrade a one-stop Customs release centre and offers electronic trade transactions.
The law comes two months after KenTrade launched the Africa e-trade platform to handle the exchange of commercial documents. The platform is integrated in 22 countries, which are members of the African Alliance for Electronic Commerce.
Speaking during the launch of a report titled ‘Leaving no one behind: Policy Interventions and Approaches to Fight Inequality in Tanzania and SADC region’ over the weekend in Dar es Salaam, Chairman of Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and Integrity of Creation (ISCEJIC) and Bishop at Tanzania Menonite Church Nelson Kisare said although Tanzania ranks 5th out of 15th in SADC and 39th globally, there some areas that require significant improvement especially regressive Value Added Tax (VAT) and poor tax collection. Bishop Kisare said Tanzania collects only 22 per cent of the tax it should, the top personal income tax rate is too low, and the VAT is high and doesn’t exempt basic foodstuffs.
Tanzania hits traders with nearly double export fees (Business Daily)
Tanzania has doubled the cost of export permits by 93 percent, a move likely to open another round of trade dispute between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The authorities in Tanzania have increased the cost of acquiring export permits from the previous Sh27,000 per truck to Sh52,000, according to border officials. The move caused a huge snarl-up of trucks moving to Kenya in the last one week as traders and truckers were caught off guard by the new requirement. “Tanzania has increased the charges that it levies on export permit to Sh52,000 per truck creating confusion at the border but activities are slowly coming back to normal,” said an officer of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)
Hundreds of trucks were left stranded at the border the whole of last week as truck owners updated their export permits to meet the new requirements. However, officials from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) told the Business Daily that they resumed the clearing of trucks last week.
Budget: Key projects to be financed next fiscal year (The New Times)
The Government has proposed to spend Rwf4,658.4 billion (over Rwf4.6 trillion) in the next fiscal year – 2022/23 which will start on July 1, representing an increase of Rwf217.8 billion or 5 per cent compared to the over Rwf4.4 trillion revised budget for the current fiscal year. Finance and Economic Planning minister Uzziel Ndagijimana told lawmakers on Thursday, June 23, that the proposed national financial plan will strengthen the ongoing economic recovery efforts as well as finance medium term development objectives planned for in the National Strategy for Transformation.
In the transport sector, the mobile bridge procurement project will be financed with Rwf1.5 billion. Such movable bridges are used to ease the movements of people and goods in case floods and landslides damage roads and static bridges. In the maritime transport component, the project for the development of water transport infrastructure was allotted Rwf13.8 billion.
Stakeholders hold expo to prepare Nigerian engineers for AfCFTA (Punch Newspapers)
Engineering and construction giants will converge on July 5 in Lagos for Elan Expo which will discuss the way forward for these professions and prepare them for the African Continental Free Trade Area. The three-day expo, which is tagged ‘the Biggest Construction and Engineering Show in West Africa’, is expected to open its doors to over 5000 engineers, architects, builders, manufacturers, and importers as over 150 brands who will showcase their products in sectors such as wastewater, water treatment, ceramics and sanitary wares, as well as building construction materials and machinery. The Chief Executive Officer, Elan Exhibition West Africa, Mr Jude Chime, noted in a press conference in Abuja that the expo, the sixth in the series, would also serve as a platform to harmonise various efforts of stakeholders in construction, engineering, and commerce, especially with the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area, which would give them access to over 1.4 billion population.
Agricultural productivity in Ghana grew from $1,863 in 2012 to $3,208 in 2021, the African Development Bank has revealed. These improvements, the Bank said have increased food security, as shown by the prevalence of stunting among children under the age of five, falling from 22.8% in 2012 to 17.5% in 2021.Although Ghana outperformed other African Development Fund countries on nutrition, AfDB said in its country brief on Ghana that undernourishment remains a concern.
The report further said Ghana is in the process of developing more advanced food systems, having more than tripled its exports of processed commodities from $302 million in 2012 to $1.1 billion in 2021. This results principally from processing more cocoa, which has allowed the country to capture more value in the sector.
Shippers Authority sensitizes Exporters on AFCFTA (BusinessGhana)
The Ghana Shippers Authority has organized a sensitisation workshop for members of the Eastern Regional Shippers Committee (ERSC) on how to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). The members were taken through the requirements for registration and approved exportable products under the AfCFTA and benefits of some government policies in the export and import sector, including the benchmark reversal policy. Mr Jonathan Debra, a senior officer of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA-Customs division) explained that the 30 per cent discount was to cushion businesses, adding that every importer was entitled to that facility and, therefore, had the right to appeal as part of the clearing process.
On Wednesday, 22 June, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved a €39.62 million loan to Cameroon to improve road access to the industrial and port areas of Kribi, in the south of the country. Designed for implementation of the second phase of the Kribi Industrial and Port Area Access Roads Development Project, the funds will complement the €114.33-million loan granted in October 2021 for the first phase. The Cameroonian Government built a deep-water port backing onto an industrial zone called ‘Kribi Industrial and Port Complex’ to address congestion in the port of Douala, which cannot accommodate deep-draft vessels, due to its proximity to the coastal town of Kribi. The complex is equipped with ultra-modern machinery and large storage and work areas. Access roads to the complex have deteriorated over time due to increasing usage by heavy-duty vehicles amid increased industrial activity at the site.
African trade and integration news
How AU platform can free Africa trade from shackles of US dollar (Business Daily)
Intra-Africa trade remains low at 13 percent compared other regions of the world. One of the factors hindering trade is reliance on third currencies - US dollars, Euros and the British Pound - for the clearing and settlement of cross-border payments and transactions, which in turn leads to high costs and long transaction times. Just recently, on his State visit to Kenya, President Hakainde Hichilema captured the impact of this obstacle aptly.”…how strange it is that sometimes we (Zambia) trade in goods from Kenya through Europe and vice versa. Really? Does that make sense? Absolutely not,” he told guests at State House during a state banquet hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta recently.
The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (Papss) is tipped to reduce transaction costs through more efficient direct rates and faster transfers, the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the platform’s developer says. That way, it notes, Africa will reduce dependency on the US dollar and other hard currencies, a situation that has particularly left Kenya facing external shocks that have weakened it, and choked supply chains.
The Eight (8th) Regional Meeting on the Trade in Services Protocol under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was held virtually on 17th June 2022. The Regional meeting was preceded by a 3-day ECOWAS Commission Internal Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting on Trade in Services to consider the AfCFTA verification reports for ECOWAS Members States and provide proposals for their consideration. On behalf of Mr. Tèi KONZI, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs & Free Movement, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade, recalled the support provided by the ECOWAS Commission to Member States as part of effort at ensuring that the regional offer is in line with negotiation modalities as well as the regional integration agenda. He added that the recent bilateral sessions organized by the ECOWAS Commission with Member States, provided an opportunity to discuss issues raised from the verification reports. He concluded on the importance of submitting a regional Schedule of Specific Commitments for consideration by the AfCFTA Senior Officials for onward transmission to AfCFTA Council of Ministers.
The meeting committed to finalizing the outstanding issues in the respective national Offers and resubmit to the ECOWAS Commission for consolidating into the Regional Schedule for onward submission to the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Concerned by the increasing infrastructure deficit and the need to address the financing challenge of regional infrastructure projects, The ECOWAS Commission through the ECOWAS Project Preparation & Development Unit (PPDU), and the sector Departments of Transport, Telecommunication, Energy and Water Resources, has held a sensitization meeting on the recently developed ECOWAS Regional Infrastructure Masterplan. The event was held from 23rd to 24th June 2022 at the Alisa Hotel, Accra, Ghana. The objective of the meeting on one hand was to present the newly approved Masterplan to the Ministries in charge of National Planning from Member States, and on the other hand to ECOWAS Institutions (Parliament, Court of Justice and EBID) and Development Partners,
A proposal by Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga in his manifesto to phase out trade of second-hand clothes (mitumba) in the country has sparked a debate on the future of the trade. The East African Community has since 2016 pushed member states to buy clothes and footwear made in the region to boost local manufacturing and help the economies. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi were to phase out mitumba trade by 2019 but only Rwanda has implemented the plan, introducing high taxes on mitumba imports to deter their imports. Now the private sector in the region says import of used clothes should be phased out gradually to allow focus on growth of the local textiles and apparel sector, according to newspaper reports from the region.
African ministers on Friday outlined the impact that the global food crisis is having on their countries and added their voices to calls for action. The ministers made the call to action at a ministerial conference in Berlin, convened by the German government, as current head of the G7 group. The conference highlighted the impact of soaring food prices, brought on by the Russia-Ukraine war. As a result of the conflict, the African Development Bank estimates that the continent faces a deficit of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from the two European countries. The Bank has responded with a $1.5 billion food facility. The main goal of the conference was to coordinate responses to the global food crisis. It brought together ministers from the G7 wealthiest nations and Champions of the UN Secretary General’s Global Crisis Response Group, as well as the most vulnerable and most affected countries, among others.
The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, a new groundbreaking institution that will significantly enhance Africa’s access to the technologies that underpin the manufacture of medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products. African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “This is a great development for Africa. Africa must have a health defense system, which must include three major areas: revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.”
Global economy news
There are years in which decades happen. Indeed, the past few years have changed the world and the global economic outlook. We are living through a global pandemic, the war in Europe, rampant inflation, widespread food insecurity in the developing world. And we are facing the existential threat of climate change, extreme weather events, and environmental degradation. I use the word “polycrisis” to refer to these multiple and overlapping crises of our time. This Greek term was made famous by Jean-Claude Juncker, a former President of the European Commission, in the context of the European crises of the past decade. It is also suitable to describe today’s world more broadly. We live in the world of polycrisis.
In many ways, not enough globalization — or multilateralism — has resulted in the world’s uneven, fragmented response to the pandemic, worsening its effects. And vaccine protectionism has led to inadequate attempts to vaccinate people in developing countries, risking the emergence of new, vaccine-resistant variants threatening the world. In short, the pandemic has shown that when a global threat is mismatched with a deglobalized response, a crisis is likely.
The WTO’s multilateral approach has a tremendous role to play in solving all of these problems, to harness the best parts of globalization. It brings all 164 Members to the table and gives each of them a voice. Consensus is very difficult to achieve and negotiating international agreements is the long game. But once consensus, is achieved, it means that there is buy-in from all WTO Members, that they “own” the Agreement, and will be likely to respect it. It’s not a “majority rules” outcome.
UK to consult with WTO members on tariffs protecting steel (Engineering News)
The UK government said it will consult with other countries at the World Trade Organization on its plan to extend steel tariffs, after prime minister Boris Johnson said it was “reasonable” to use them to protect Britain’s domestic industry. “No decision has yet been taken,” Johnson’s spokesman Jamie Davies said to reporters on Monday, ahead of a June 30 deadline when some of the tariffs will expire. The decision “will balance our international obligations and the national interest.” The UK has proposed to extend safeguard tariffs and quotas on certain steel products for a further two years, after International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said that ending them may cause “serious injury” to British producers. On Sunday, Johnson said UK steel ought to enjoy the “same protections” as in other European economies.
Decision on LDC trade benefit extension may come next year (The Daily Star)
The next WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) in December 2023 might have a decision on the extension of trade benefits for least developed countries (LDCs) which are due to make the United Nations status graduation to a developing one. This was stated by Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh at a press conference in the commerce ministry in Dhaka yesterday on the outcomes of a recently concluded World Trade Organization (WTO) MC12. The WTO members countries at the MC12 held in Geneva last week reached consensus that they would extend the benefits for a certain period for a smooth graduation. However, leaders of the countries did not particularly state when and for how long the benefits would be extended.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, it offers valuable lessons that can help the world respond better to other crises, says UNCTAD’s COVID Report 2022 published on 24 June. Drawing on all its analyses since the beginning of the pandemic, UNCTAD says this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remake society for a better future. The report details how the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in the structure of the international social and economic order. At the same time, it finds remarkable resilience in various areas, but only some people have benefited from this, leaving many behind. COVID-19 has shown that only the state has the capacity to deal with systemic shocks and that responses cannot be left to the markets. The pandemic has underlined that building the resilience of the global system to shocks and protecting the most vulnerable is a shared responsibility and the only feasible way forward.
The report says the pandemic has not only shown how interconnected the world is but also revealed the deep inequalities that exist between countries in many dimensions.
On the final day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 (CHOGM 2022), leaders met today in Kigali, under the theme of ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. Heads underscored the importance of connecting, innovating, and transforming in order to facilitate a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, achieve the 2030 Agenda, and to respond to conflicts and crises in ways that increase resilience and progress in delivering a common future, underpinned by sustainability, peace and prosperity, to improve the lives of all the people of the Commonwealth.
Gabon and Togo join the Commonwealth (The Commonwealth)
The Commonwealth has admitted Gabon and Togo as its 55th and 56th members respectively. Both countries are former French colonies. Leaders accepted applications by the two west African countries at the closing session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. It follows formal expressions of interest by Gabon and Togo and consultation with member countries. Rwanda was the last country to join the Commonwealth, in 2009. Gabon is a sparsely populated country of two million people, bordering Cameroon – also a member of the Commonwealth – and Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. Togo is bordered by Ghana – a Commonwealth member – and Benin and Burkina Faso. It has a population of approximately 7.8 million people.
Countries must not become protectionist: Singapore PM (Borneo Bulletin)
Countries must be wary of turning to protectionism, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday, warning that it was “impossible” for any one nation to produce everything it needs by itself. This comes as the pandemic exposed the complexity and weakness of global supply chains, he said, pointing to how supplies of gloves, personal protective equipment, and ingredients for tests and vaccines were sometimes disrupted and interdicted. “Faced with an emergency, some governments intervened to override the normal operation of the free market,” he said, recalling how suppliers could not fulfil promised deliveries. Lee was speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Kigali, Rwanda, on post-COVID recovery.
The supply chain shocks caused by COVID-19 led to an “unhappy experience” for countries and shook their confidence in globalisation, Lee said. “Countries are now emphasising self-sufficiency, moving from just-in-time production to just-in-case precautions,” he said.
Commonwealth’s rich nations take heat for failing to help small states (The East African)
Rich and influential Commonwealth countries — including the UK, Canada and Australia — have been put on the spot for failing to help low-income and small member states in their hour of need at the height of the global pandemic. They also happen to be members of the elite G7 or G20 in the case of Australia, while on the other end of the spectrum, the Commonwealth has 13 Least Developed Countries and 32 small states. The Commonwealth is supposed to be an important “collective voice” and a vehicle to potentially provide leverage for global positions but influential and rich members remain lukewarm and pursue national interests, to the detriment of the majority of Club members who happen to be developing countries.
Trade policy can have a significant impact in making fisheries and aquaculture more sustainable. However, trade policy can also provide both positive and negative incentives to stocks conservation if not designed responsibly. Developing Oceans Economy and Trade Strategies (OETS) at the national level can frame sound ocean economic governance and provide an enabling environment for ocean-based value chains seeking sustainability. At the same time, addressing negative public incentives such as harmful fisheries subsidies need a clear and immediate multilateral response in the form of a Fisheries Subsidies Agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) with urgency. Seafood Interactive Maps (SIMs) can show a new path and ways for producers globally to learn, connect to markets, find technology solutions, and understand investment opportunities in sustainable seafood harvesting and farming. New risk assessment methodologies for aquaculture under the One Health Approach (OHA) can assist in understanding and mitigating impacts from the intensive use of antibiotics, including challenges with antimicrobial resistance that has broad implications for people and sustainability. This event will introduce how new and diverse partnerships, approaches and recommendations can maximize outcomes for fast-tracking the implementation of targets 1, 4, 6 and b of SDG 14.