tralac Daily News
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for May 2022 recording a preliminary trade balance surplus of R28.35 billion. The R28.35 billion preliminary trade balance surplus for May 2022 is attributable to exports of R179.46 billion and imports of R151.11 billion.
South Africa imported record volumes of steel in 2021, new report shows (Engineering News)
At close to 1.7-million tonnes, South Africa imported record volumes of primary steel in 2021, constituting about one-third of all steel used in the country, a new Steel Report published by the South African Iron and Steel Institute (SAISI) confirms. The report, which is the inaugural edition of what will be a yearly publication, concludes that South African apparent steel consumption, which recovered by “an astonishing 36%” following the Covid lockdown, is now substantially propped-up by imported primary steel products. Written by SAISI secretary-general Charles Dednam, the report notes that South Africa, which was historically a steel exporter, became a net importer at the beginning of 2020. It also notes that the rise in imports has occurred notwithstanding the “much-contested trade measures introduced to curb the influx of foreign steel to the country”. Price and availability have been given as reasons for the surge in imports.
South Africa to appeal against EU decision to reintroduce import regulations on oranges (FreshFruitPortal.com)
The South African Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) has announced it will appeal against the EU Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed’s decision to reintroduce new import regulations, regarding the entry of the False Codling Moth (FCM) pest.
Firstly, the CGA highlighted that “South Africa operates a sophisticated Systems Approach for FCM Risk Management, which already includes different cold treatment protocols”, indicating that the new regulations were not “necessary”. Secondly, the association hinted that the measures were unjustified, arguing that “there is no crisis with regard to FCM interceptions relating to citrus imports”, given that there has been a decrease in notified interceptions over the past three years, the length of time that the FCM has been a quarantine pest. Thirdly, the CGA said that “the proposed measures would severely impact SA exports to the EU”, insinuating that they are disproportionate. “There are clearly less trade restrictive and equally effective measures available such as the continuation of the existing Systems Approach, which has been further strengthened ahead of the 2022 season,” it added.
Lastly, the South African association implied that the EU regulations were not “feasible”, as “86.6 percent of South African oranges exported to the EU in 2021 were loaded under Codes specified in the Risk Management system that do not require pre-cooling.”
Digital transformation of manufacturing expected to improve efficiencies (Engineering News)
The transformation of manufacturing processes and operations into connected, integrated, automated and smart operations, collectively known as Industry 4.0, will reduce the amount of low skilled positions but also create new skilled positions, assurance and advisory services multinational PwC South Africa’s ‘Insights into the I4.0 maturity of SA Manufacturing’ report has found. The report surveyed representatives across nine industrial sectors in South Africa during April and May and found that 35% of respondents predicted that throughput would increase between 10% to 20% owing to Industry 4.0 investments made over five years, and enable them to see a return on their investments.
Kenya requires mandatory recordal of IP rights for imported goods (Inventa International)
Kenya has taken recent measures regarding anti-counterfeiting to be implemented by the Anti-Counterfeiting Authority (ACA). The ACA’s Public Notice (No.1/2022), issued on 26 April 2022, established that all IP rights for goods imported into Kenya must be recorded with the ACA starting July 1, 2022. This applies to all imported goods freed of where the IP right is registered. The second Public Notice (No.2/2022) states the deadline extension to submit a mandatory record to 1 January 2023. Not complying with the legislation can lead to legal consequences.
Application submissions for an ACA recordal process require detailed information about the IP rights owner, subsidiary, or foreign company which uses the IP rights abroad, the goods, and the place where they are manufactured. Samples or photographs of goods to be imported and certified copies of the respective IP registration certificates must also be added.
The record will remain valid for one year, after which period the IP owner will be able to request its renewal. This is a clear progress in the country to combat counterfeit goods and illicit trade in the country.
World Bank faults Kenya’s ‘ad hoc’ disaster budgets (Business Daily)
The World Bank has urged Kenya to review its budgeting for disaster and emergency management citing unsustainable ad hoc tweaks in the expenditure plans of ministries and State departments and agencies(MDAs) whenever such mishaps occurred. The multilateral lender said the Covid-19 pandemic and floods encountered in the country in the 2019/20 financial year exposed deep weaknesses in the current trend where the State heavily relies on reallocating the budgets of MDAs to tackle disasters.
“The financial year2019/20 revealed some weaknesses in the Kenyan ability to effectively finance a disaster response with poor contingency planning and an overreliance on reallocations,” the World Bank said.
Official data shows that in the financial year 2019/20 alone, the Treasury reallocated approximately Sh50 billion from the budgets of the various MDAs towards disaster response compared to the initial total provision of Sh5 billion for contingencies.
“Although reallocations per se are a normal instrument used for financing emergencies and although the level of reallocations might be expected given the size of the Covid-19 crisis, the Kenyan experience reveals delays and, in some instances, inaccurate predictions, which led to numerous corrections of estimates that affected crucial votes,” the World Bank said.
Kenya, UK business lobby sign deal to fight corruption (The Standard)
The government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the British Chamber of Commerce Kenya (BCCK) to promote business climate reforms, including the fight against corruption. BCCK’s Business Integrity Initiative and the Department of Business Reforms and Transformation (DBRT) under the Ministry of East African Community (EAC) and Regional Development will establish a joint programme to identify and recommend areas for reform, host public-private workshops, and build private sector capacity. Speaking during the signing of the MoU, Principal Secretary in the State Department for EAC Kevit Desai said business integrity is the foundation of international trade. “While corruption is a global issue, it is a concern that has been raised in our discussions with businesses and international investors. This MoU will create a platform to reaffirm Kenya’s commitment to strengthening the business climate,” he said.
Today, Administrator Samantha Power launched a groundbreaking new $30 million, subject to appropriations, trade and investment program, called TradeBoost Zambia, that will advance the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa and Feed the Future initiatives. TradeBoost is among the first projects to be launched as part of USAID’s new continent-wide Africa Trade and Investment program, the Agency’s flagship effort in support of Prosper Africa. TradeBoost will amplify market intelligence, increase investment in Zambian businesses, and direct targeted trade facilitation support to Zambian businesses to reach regional and international markets. TradeBoost prioritizes locally-led development with all sub-contracts and grants going to local partners. The program will focus on businesses led by women and young people who invest in climate smart production.
As part of this new trade and investment program, Administrator Power announced two private sector partnerships that will enhance Zambia’s ability to grow food for people across Africa.
Seychelles’ economic recovery in 2021 vastly outperformed projections, fueled by a faster-than-expected rebound of the tourism sector. The recovery is expected to continue in 2022 with projected real GDP growth of 7.1 percent as the tourism sector shows resilience to COVID-19 waves and geopolitical tensions. The recovery has been accompanied by a significant fiscal overperformance.
The Seychellois economy continues to face significant risks. The economic outlook, while positive, remains subject to external risks including a further surge of commodity prices and fewer tourist arrivals. Higher nonperforming loans in the banking sector could emerge as COVID-support and forbearance measures are being withdrawn. The country remains vulnerable to climate change.”
Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr. Li , Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, made the following statement: “Fueled by a fast rebound of the tourism sector, Seychelles’ economic recovery in 2021 outperformed expectations, with stronger-than-expected growth and fiscal outturns. The tourism sector has shown resilience to COVID-19 waves and geopolitical tensions. The recovery has been accompanied by a significant fiscal overperformance, creating fiscal space to address current challenges. The economic outlook, while positive, remains subject to external risks including from spillovers of the war in Ukraine, a further surge of commodity prices and fewer tourist arrivals.
The DRC’s macroeconomic environment has improved since the last Article IV consultation in 2019. The authorities have adopted prudent macroeconomic policies, most visibly by halting central bank financing to the government. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, considerable macroeconomic gains were achieved in 2021 and reform momentum under the ECF arrangement was sustained. The economy rebounded more than envisaged with growth at 6.2 percent, supported by non-extractive growth. Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation declined to 5.3 percent year-on-year, accompanied by a stable exchange rate as the central bank stopped providing financing to the government. The fiscal outturn was better than projected, as higher fiscal revenues and external financing provided space for additional spending, mostly on investment although domestic arrears accumulated. The external position improved, and gross international reserves increased to US$3 billion at end 2021. However, despite excess liquidity, private sector credit remains subdued at 7 percent of the GDP and the banking sector faces vulnerabilities. Fragility continues to hinder inclusive growth as 72.5 percent of the population is in poverty and access to basic public services is severely under-provisioned.
In 2022, the DRC’s economy is facing some headwinds from the war in Ukraine, which has increased the cost of living and the fiscal costs associated with the fuel subsidy. Despite the deteriorating global economic prospects, the outlook remains favorable sustained by improved mineral prices. Growth has been revised down to 6.1 percent (6.4 percent previously) and inflation revised up to 11 percent due to imported prices. The domestic fiscal deficit (program target) is projected to widen by 0.4 percentage points of GDP, to 1.4 percent of GDP as the higher mining revenues will not fully compensate for the increased fiscal costs associated with the fuel subsidy and higher domestically financed investment for priority social infrastructure projects.
African trade and development news
The first African Union (AU) SME Annual Forum is aimed at realizing Africa’s industrialization in the context of the integrated market, experts reveal. And they also add that Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the African economy, representing more than 90% of businesses and employing about 60% of workers, many of whom are women and youth.
But despite the significant role which SMEs play in the development of African economies, they have yet to be fully integrated into the regional value chains system and in turn the continental trading system.
It is against this backdrop, as Commemoration of the International Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Day, the First Edition of African Union Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Annual Forum kicked off on 27 June 2022 in Cairo, Egypt under the theme “Economic Empowerment of SMEs, Women and Youth Entrepreneurs to Realize Africa’s Industrialization in the Context of the Integrated Market”.
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel says five Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional leaders will use the Seventh Southern Customs Union (SACU) summit to find solutions to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the regional bloc. He was speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) ahead of the one-day gathering scheduled for Gaborone, Botswana later on Thursday morning.
“SACU is the place where we put together a common position on trade for the rest of the African continent. More than a quarter million jobs in South Africa are dependent on what we are selling to the rest of the African continent.”
“So, the African trade is a very big part of our job space, our economic growth and what we generate in a way of taxes that we use for housing, health care, education and so on and so our focus has been on why the inability of African countries to trade with each other. Parliament has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area and this year we seek to complete the offer to each other and in that way help to create more jobs,” says Patel.
Over 150 transit trucks cross over the Katuna-Gatuna One Stop Border Post (OSBP) daily following the reopening of the border. This was revealed during the EABC-TMEA Public Private Dialogue with Trade Facilitation Agencies at the Katuna-Gatuna OSBP. Mr. Peter Gikwiyakave, Regional Manager, Uganda Revenue Authority said “800 people cross the Katuna border.”
The Gatuna Katuna OSBP currently only facilitates movement of transit cargo. Traders pleaded for Ugandan exports to be allowed to enter Rwanda and vice versa for bilateral trade ties to flourish better. Transporters called for harmonization of road tolls citing Rwanda charges a flat fee of USD.76 while Uganda charges USD 10 per 100 mileages.
Ms. Akaukwasa Miria, Chairperson of Katuna Women Cross Border Traders appreciated that a trade information desk is instituted at the border. She stated that women need to be sensitized on the EAC Simplified Trade Regime and small cross border traders should be allowed to do business at the Gatuna-Katuna OSBP.
This can extend to Africa, and there is an air of scepticism about Africa’s economic recovery and long-term growth prospects. While not as severely impacted as the West and other developed economies, Africa’s growth was dented by Covid-19 as trade flows stuttered and tourism stalled. This has prompted the IMF to predict that Sub-Saharan Africa will grow at just 3.8% in 2022, much lower than the average performance since 2000.
However, there remains much cause for optimism, not just over the next decade, but in the second half of 2022. This positive outlook lies foremost in recognising that the pandemic has not impaired the continent’s main structural drivers of growth. Africa’s youthful population, ongoing urbanisation and development of its financial services, technology and power infrastructure continue to serve as the cornerstones for its ascent.
In the short term, the continent has shown promising signs of organic recovery from the pandemic which will be boosted further when China, Africa’s biggest trading partner, reengages. Meanwhile, Africa’s commodity markets, the backbone of many of the continent’s largest economies, are relatively buoyant and countering some of the headwinds in the international environment.
Africa’s collective strength is its diverse economic backdrop; growth is multi-speed and with varying primary drivers.
there remain at least two major headwinds that will inhibit more spirited near-term growth across the continent. The first of these is global monetary tightening which will curtail capital flows to the continent and elevate risk aversion. The second is the impact of the war in Ukraine. While most African countries have less than 2% of their overall international trade with Russia and Ukraine, there are some notable exceptions, such as Egypt and Malawi. Moreover, for the vast majority of Africa, more than half of these countries’ wheat supplies come from Russia and Ukraine, with Benin and Somalia completely reliant on these two countries.
The new partnership involves the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SEforALL). These organisations want to set up a financial innovation centre to support access to renewable energy in developing countries, many of which are in Africa. The centre, which is due to be launched at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022, will identify innovative solutions to the development challenges of partner countries, including gaps in green finance and private sector investment. It will also promote innovative business models and financing instruments to find, unlock, de-risk and scale up private sector investment in energy access.
“Designed as an end-to-end global political and financial platform, the Hub will harness the power of financial innovation to ensure maximum leverage. Every dollar of sovereign finance is expected to attract $4 of green and sustainable capital into projects in the medium term,” says UNCDF. The centre is being set up at a time when electricity access in Africa remains low. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity.
Participants at the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) Africa have stressed the need for African countries to tighten cyber-security measures as African nations open their borders for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). This, they say is necessary to block trans-national fraud in the banking sector estimated to be around 1.4 trillion dollars in 2018. Speaking at the AGA Annual Conference in Accra, the Executive Director of the Alliance, Karen White, said African countries stand to lose the most if cyber fraud is ignored. “Recent developments like the ratification of the AfCFTA are commendable—facilitating the free movement of people and goods across the continent. They also signal the ease with which trans-national criminals can expand the scope of their operations,” she said.
Contrary to the erroneous belief in some quarters that doing business in rural areas is immune from the common challenges that businesses generally face, reality is that micro business owners in underserved areas also have peculiar challenges they go through. Some of these challenges include difficulty in accessing goods on time. Dearth of infrastructure such as good road network, long distance to the market and lack of adequate transportation system to move purchased goods are among the factors that constitute access barriers to goods and commodities. As a result, many owners of micro businesses spend longer time or wait for days and weeks to receive inventory or restock, while oftentimes they experience supply shortages.
The delay or disruption in supply also affects the end-users/consumers, who are unable to purchase things they need as at when due.
However, the increasing impact of digital technology that is rapidly transforming every segment of our socio-economic ecosystem is also changing the narrative positively for businesses including retail trade.
The digitalisation of the economy, which is enabling e-commerce platforms in the B2C segment and lately the B2B segment, has had and continues to have great impact on the manufacturing, distribution and retail value chains.
Hackers now shifting focus to small traders (Business Daily)
It is always thought cybercriminals target big companies in order to demand ransom running into millions. However, recent trends show that hackers are shifting their focus to small online businesses mainly because they are vulnerable.
“Cybercriminals are now targeting small businesses more as they have realized that these enterprises do believe they would be exposed due to their comparatively low turnovers until they lose their data and payments are compromised,” Agora Group co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Hadi Maeleb said.
Speaking during the inaugural Africa Cybersecurity Congress held in Nairobi, Mr Maeleb said the threats to online businesses were growing at an exponential rate as more than 90 percent of business owners are unaware that their enterprises are at risk.
Whereas these measures accelerated the adoption of digital platforms, they also increased vulnerability such as data breaches, ransomware, cyber bullying, harassment, data breaches, and phishing attacks. With more than 1 million local businesses running online, Mr Maeleb said this creates an attractive environment for threat actors.
Rural industrialisation gathers steam (The Herald)
President Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned a US$20 million edible oil refinery plant in Mahusekwa Mashonaland East, where he said global shocks that have caused food shortages and related challenges in many countries have driven Zimbabwe’s desire to produce adequate food for its citizens. The President implored farmers to take advantage of the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) and the Second Republic’s rural industrialisation drive and access inputs for strategic crops whose production is being supported by the Government through accelerating the construction of dams and existing schemes to increase size of land under irrigation.
President Mnangagwa has declared that his administration will drive rural industrialisation, which will see industrial activity being launched in rural areas based on factor endowments in each rural space. Such endowments become the definers and drivers of the industrial activity envisaged in any one area. The objective of rural industrialisation is to stem rural-urban migration. Government has already laid the preparatory groundwork for the transformation through, among many other things, establishing tertiary institutions, including vocational training centres in rural areas and intensifying the rural electrification programme.
Green Energy’s Dirty Secret: Its Hunger for African Resources (Foreign Policy)
In June, the European Parliament voted to effectively outlaw the sale of new cars using gasoline or diesel by 2035. If approved by the European Union, the move would revolutionize the world’s third-largest auto market after China and the United States—and hasten the global transformation of the entire automotive industry to battery technology. What the parliamentarians didn’t mention: The world cannot mine and refine the vast amounts of minerals that go into batteries—lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, palladium, and others—at anywhere close to the scale for this rapid transition to electric vehicles (EVs) to occur. The dirty secret of the green revolution is its insatiable hunger for resources from Africa and elsewhere that are produced using some of the world’s dirtiest technologies. What’s more, the accelerated shift to batteries now threatens to replicate one of the most destructive dynamics in global economic history: the systematic extraction of raw commodities from the global south in a way that made developed countries unimaginably rich while leaving a trail of environmental degradation, human rights violations, and semipermanent underdevelopment all across the developing world.
A key issue is cross-border infrastructure such as railways and access to seaports. This is not just a prerequisite for bringing battery resources to market. The dearth of cross-border infrastructure in much of Africa also means that efforts to integrate the continent’s economies have never really taken off, even though the African Continental Free Trade Area, created in 2018, is the world’s largest free trade zone, at least on paper, encompassing 43 states. Here, China is far ahead, with rail and port infrastructure funded and built by Chinese entities transforming African logistics. In 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that 46 sub-Saharan African ports were built, expanded, or operated by Chinese entities.
Renewed calls for SMBC to halt East African pipeline support (Global Trade Review)
A group of environmental organisations and NGOs are putting pressure on Japanese lender SMBC to end its involvement in a controversial US$5bn East African crude oil pipeline, ahead of a shareholder meeting this week. In a letter sent to SMBC’s board this month, the campaign groups warn the bank’s role in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is inconsistent with its own environmental and social pledges, leaving it open to accusations of “greenwashing” and possible legal action.
AAFA on AGOA: Africa ‘Logical’ Choice for Brands Fleeing China (Sourcing Journal)
The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) urged the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), as U.S. brands and retailers look to diversify sourcing. While the trade agreement’s expiration is still three years away, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group believes that establishing long-term, forward-looking policy will help brands commit to new sourcing strategies with the 36 AGOA-eligible sub-Saharan African nations. “U.S. investment in the region already faces mounting uncertainty” in the absence of a decision on AGOA’s renewal, AAFA vice president of trade and customs policy Beth Hughes wrote to Trade Policy Staff Committee chair William Shpiece last week.
“Companies are poised to diversify out of China, and Africa is a logical place for many of them,” she added. Brands are looking to work with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries to counteract ongoing supply chain challenges and tensions with China.
The AGOA region’s growing textile and garment sector has gained business from American brands in recent years, but the legislation’s “on-again, off-again nature” has eroded U.S. importers’ interest in utilizing its benefits, according to Hughes. While its 10-year renewal in 2015 was an “important first step,” she said officials should extend the agreement’s active period to “sustain the kind of long-term trade and investment that is needed to alter centuries of underdevelopment.” Should AGOA be renewed for a decade or longer, “companies would have the necessary certainty and timeframe they need to grow a vertical, responsible, and competitive industry in Africa up to and past 2025,” Hughes said.
Africa’s dream of feeding China hits hard reality (CNBC Africa)
Taking advantage of Beijing’s deeper focus on trade with African countries to help reduce gaping deficits, Kenya struck an export deal with China for fresh avocados in January after years of lobbying for market access. Six months later, no shipments have left, Kenya’s avocado society, the East African country’s plant health inspectorate and Kakuzi KUKZ.NR told Reuters.
“You can actually have a market, but if you can’t meet the standards, you can’t take advantage,” said Stephen Karingi, head of trade at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Reuters spoke to nine officials and businesses across Africa who said Chinese red tape and a reluctance to strike broad trade deals were undermining Beijing’s plan to boost African imports.
Ramping up agricultural exports, however, is one of the few options many African countries have to rebalance their trade relationships with China and earn the hard currency they need to service mountains of debt, much of it owed to Beijing.
For decades, China has loaned billions of dollars to Africa to build railroads, power plants and highways as it deepened ties with the continent while extracting minerals and oil. That has helped China-Africa trade balloon 24-fold over the past two decades and two-way trade hit a record $254 billion last year despite the turmoil of the global pandemic. But for $148 billion of Chinese goods shipped to Africa in 2021, China imported only $106 billion and five resource-rich nations – Angola, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo South Africa and Zambia – accounted for $75 billion of that.
The United States has announced support for the African Development Bank’s initiative to significantly increase food production in Africa to avert the looming food crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. The Bank Group’s $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility, approved by its Board of Directors in May, will provide 20 million smallholder farmers with climate-smart, certified wheat, maize, soy and other staple crop seeds, as well as more affordable fertilizer and extension services. This will allow Africa to rapidly produce over the next four farming seasons an additional 38 million tons of food worth $12 billion. At a summit of G7 leaders on Tuesday, U.S. President Joseph Biden and fellow G7 leaders announced a contribution of $4.5 billion to address global food security, with the United States meeting 50% of that commitment. The Biden administration announced that it will invest $760 million of its contribution to combat the effects of high food, fuel, and war-driven fertilizer prices in those countries that need this support most.
Global economy news
“The Cross-Border Paperless Trade Toolkit that we are launching today responds to growing demands for practical and solutions-oriented instruments that can harness trade digitalization for easier, less costly and more inclusive global trade,” WTO Deputy Director-General Anabel Gonzalez said at the launch of the report. “Paperless trade specifically — and trade facilitation more generally — are also highly relevant in the broader context of the supply chain disruptions that we have been witnessing over the past two years,” she added. “Paperless trade can be a very powerful tool to reduce trade costs, which is key to making economies more efficient, global trade more inclusive, and supply chains more resilient,” DDG Gonzalez concluded.
Ramaphosa warns G7 leaders of new aim for Covid patent... (Daily Maverick)
After winning what he called a success on Covid vaccines, President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned the leaders of the G7 rich countries that he will remain on their case to support another “TRIPS waiver” – to suspend the intellectual property rights of international pharmaceutical companies over their Covid therapeutics and diagnostics so that developing countries could manufacture these without the authorisation of the patent holders. Ramaphosa said South Africa, India and other countries were “celebrating the success of achieving a TRIPS waiver” on 17 June 2022 when the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to suspend patent rights of the pharma companies for their Covid vaccines. This waiver has received mixed reviews, with some health rights activists dismissing it as a “very bad deal”, while others in the South African pharma industry welcomed it as “balanced” but also warned that many bridges still had to be crossed before it could be practically implemented in Africa.
Ramaphosa reminded G7 leaders at their just-completed summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany that some of them had at first resisted the waiver of these Covid vaccine patent rights – which are governed by the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). However, “we finally got them to concede that there should be a waiver”, Ramaphosa told the government information service, GCIS. But he added that he had warned the G7 leaders at the summit that the WTO concession on vaccines should be just the foundation for further concessions on Covid-19 therapeutics and diagnostics, which the WTO will decide on in six months.
With climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment — the 2022 UN Ocean Conference opened in Lisbon, Portugal today with a call for a new chapter of ocean action driven by science, technology and innovation. “Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an “Ocean Emergency,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates at the opening of the Conference. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.” The theme of the Conference, “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions,” in line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, stresses the critical need for scientific knowledge and marine technology to build ocean resilience.
The Secretary-General also stated there is good news with a legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; a new treaty that is being negotiated to address the global plastics crisis that is choking our oceans; and a week ago multilateral action on display with a World Trade Organization agreement on ending harmful fishery subsidies. But he also noted much more needs to be done.
Today, over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. How quickly and how well we manage these resources, and the decisions we all make now, will greatly impact people and the planet for decades to come. This is a moment for global cooperation and for global solidarity.
A sustainable, global blue economy requires a strong set of rules, regulations and policies. In 2015, world leaders tasked the international community with the SDGs, including SDG 14 on sustainable ocean and fisheries management. We are now in a race against time to complete the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and the relevant SDGs.
The Geneva package adopted at MC12 was multilateralism at its best — our 164 members, from Ukraine and Russia to US, China, EU, India, Japan and so many SIDS and LDCs and other developing countries — came together across geopolitical fault lines to strike agreements that will make our ocean healthier, and enhance our collective ability to respond to the COVID pandemic and the food crisis that has been made much worse by the war in Ukraine. It shows that with the right level of political commitment and leadership, multilateralism can work.
The new agreement on fisheries subsidies - the WTO’s first to put a primarily environmental objective at its core — responds to SDG 14.6. After over 20 years of negotiations, members agreed on curbing the estimated US $22 billion in annual public support that contributes to the depletion of marine resources. It bans subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as well as fishing in the unregulated high seas and in overfished stocks.
A new Fund has been established to provide technical assistance — in partnership with organizations like FAO, IFAD (and World Bank) — and capacity building to developing countries, helping them implement the new rules and improve their fisheries management. We’ve already received substantial pledges from donor countries and more is expected.
While small-scale fisheries provide jobs along the value chain for 60.2 million people — nearly 90 per cent of fishing employees worldwide — their voices are often undervalued and unrecognized in global food systems, experts and delegates alike stressed today, as participants in the fifth Lisbon dialogue explored ways to protect their valuable stocks from overexploitation. Taking place on day three of the 2022 Ocean Conference, the interactive dialogue — “Making Fisheries Sustainable and Ensuring Access to Marine Resources and Markets for Small-Scale Fishers” — looked at how subsidies exacerbate the problems of overcapacity and overfishing and are often a source of unfair competition against small-scale fishers. Against that backdrop, Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said oceans, rivers and lakes can help feed the world, provided that their precious resources are exploited responsibly, sustainably and equitably. While marine food production is proven to be more nutritious, has less environmental impact and emits fewer greenhouse gases than land animals, too few countries include fish in their food security and nutrition strategies. Nonetheless, he said effectively managed fish stocks are recovering, citing progress on Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, which aims to eliminate subsidies that promote overfishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
The speaker from Africa Blue Economy highlighted fishing’s share of gross domestic product in many African countries, noting that steps have been taken at the national, regional and continental levels to promote sustainable fisheries management. The African Union is also working to establish a food security agency to reduce post-catch losses by upgrading the “cold chain” and other measures to facilitate market access.
The global agrifood sector faces fundamental challenges over the coming decade, particularly the need to feed an ever-increasing population in a sustainable manner, the impacts of the climate crisis and the economic consequences and disruptions to food supply linked to the war in Ukraine, according to a report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2022-2031 focuses on assessing the medium-term prospects for agricultural commodity markets. The findings of the report underscore the crucial role of additional public spending and private investment in production, information technology and infrastructure as well as human capital to raise agricultural productivity.
Prices of agricultural products have been driven upward by a host of factors, including the recovery in demand following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting supply and trade disruptions, poor weather in key suppliers, and rising production and transportation costs, which have been further exacerbated recently by uncertainties regarding agricultural exports from Ukraine and Russia, both key suppliers of cereals. Russia’s role in fertilizer markets has also compounded already existing concerns about fertilizer prices and near-term productivity.
The report provides a short-term assessment of how the war may affect both global agricultural markets and food security. It underlines major risks to key commodity markets: equilibrium prices for wheat could be 19% above pre-conflict levels if Ukraine fully loses its capacity to export and 34% higher if in addition Russian exports are 50% of normal amounts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred financial inclusion – driving a large increase in digital payments amid the global expansion of formal financial services. This expansion created new economic opportunities, narrowing the gender gap in account ownership, and building resilience at the household level to better manage financial shocks, according to the Global Findex 2021 database. As of 2021, 76% of adults globally now have an account at a bank, other financial institution, or with a mobile money provider, up from 68% in 2017 and 51% in 2011. Importantly, growth in account ownership was evenly distributed across many more countries. While in previous Findex surveys over the last decade much of the growth was concentrated in India and China, this year’s survey found that the percentage of account ownership increased by double digits in 34 countries since 2017.
The pandemic has also led to an increased use of digital payments. “The digital revolution has catalyzed increases in the access and use of financial services across the world, transforming ways in which people make and receive payments, borrow, and save,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. ”Creating an enabling policy environment, promoting the digitalization of payments, and further broadening access to formal accounts and financial services among women and the poor are some of the policy priorities to mitigate the reversals in development from the ongoing overlapping crises.”
Opening the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development last year, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that the situation “can and must” be turned around. “We have the knowledge, the science, the technology and the resources”, said the UN chief. “What we need is the unity of purpose, effective leadership from all sectors, and urgent, ambitious action”. As the world faces the ravaging consequences of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, pandemic, and multiple socio-economic disruptions, it’s crucial that we combine all our strength and knowledge to pursue sustainable development. Meanwhile, the world is rolling towards a digital future, and the far-reaching influence of digital technology can help adopt sustainable practices, improve resource efficiency, reduce pollution and emissions, and adapt to climate change better.
When the Global COVID-19 Fintech Market Rapid Assessment Study provided a snapshot of the fintech market’s performance during the first six months of the global pandemic, the indications were that it had fared pretty well. All but one of the fintech verticals reported growth in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with some sectors even reporting a 21% year-on-year growth in transaction volume.
But after two years of lockdowns, vaccination programmes and varying levels of governmental intervention, what impact has this had on the fintech industry? And why is this important? As a follow-up to the initial study, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum have jointly published the Global COVID-19 Fintech Market Impact & Industry Resilience Study.
Most of the world’s central banks have already agreed they should help fight climate change, a critical challenge that necessitates reductions in both energy consumption, which is our focus here, and the carbon emissions associated with the energy consumed.
To meet these aims, it’s important to pay attention to the energy used by the payment systems that central banks regulate and oversee. Monetary authorities now have a unique opportunity to improve efficiency as the way people pay is undergoing rapid changes worldwide. Digital currencies, from crypto assets to central bank digital currencies, can play a role in the transformation that policymakers envision.
With a desire to limit the energy consumption comes a need to understand what drives it. Policymakers confront researchers like us with several questions yet to be fully explored. These include how crypto assets compare with existing payment systems, what factors influence the energy use of the networks, and how new technology can make payments cleaner and greener.
Britain’s trade minister will on Thursday pledge to target dozens of bureaucratic barriers to exports in a pitch for freer trade, the day after she extended a protectionist package of tariffs and quotas on steel products. Anne-Marie Trevelyan acknowledged the move to increase barriers to steel imports breached international trade rules but said the situation warranted the extension of safeguards, even though she considers herself a champion of free trade. read more Ahead of her speech on Thursday, the trade ministry said it would target 100 priority issues worth 20 billion pounds ($24.24 billion) that could be resolved outside of negotiations over new Free Trade Agreements to replace the arrangements that Britain operated under in the European Union.
Among the trade impediments listed, it cited blocks on meat exports to countries in Asia, rules that delay medical devices entering South Africa and restrictions on UK-trained lawyers practicing in Japan.
The trade ministry said it had gained extra powers to remove such trade barriers due to Brexit - although Britain and the EU face the prospect of a possible trade war themselves over a dispute around trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.