tralac Daily News
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has participated in two multilateral meetings to cement international tax co-operation in Africa and among the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] countries.
During the 7th Bi-annual ATAF General Assembly, Togo and South Africa were re-elected as Chair and Vice Chair of ATAF, respectively. Under the theme, ‘Rethinking Revenue Strategies: The Human Face of Taxation’ hybrid event saw more than 500 attendees, representing 33 tax administrations and 15 partner organisations. “The meeting discussed various tax-related issues, including the importance of domestic resource mobilisation to development financing, technology and human capital, the Two-Pillar Solution aimed at addressing the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, reforms to enhance fiscal resource mobilisation, the maximisation of natural resource rents, as well as curbing illicit financial flows,” said SARS.
The highlight of the Heads of Tax Authorities meeting was the endorsement to launch the first issue of the BRICS Tax Best Practices compilation, a collection of insightful administration case studies from BRICS Tax Authorities. South Africa will assume the chairmanship of BRICS at the beginning of 2023 and will subsequently host the BRICS Tax meetings in 2023. “International cooperation is crucial in enabling SARS to deliver on is mandate. Working with and through stakeholders to improve the tax system is implicit in our strategic direction.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the transition from coal dependent energy sources towards cleaner energy must be in line with South Africa’s developmental goals. The President was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter on the eve of the 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also known as COP27.
“Although South Africa is playing its part in the global climate change effort, we have been consistent in emphasising our right to development. We must ensure that the transition to a low-carbon, climate change resilient economy does not jeopardise our developmental goals.
“The move from fossil fuels to greener, cleaner energy sources cannot take place at the expense of economic growth and job creation,” he said.
President Ramaphosa acknowledged that South Africa itself will need “substantial support…to build the resilience that is needed to protect our country and safeguard our economy” against the economic and social effects of natural disasters induced by climate change.
The President reflected that historically, the continent of Africa “bears the least responsibility for climate change, but it is Africa that is feeling its effects most”.
The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors approved South Africa’s request for a $497 million project to decommission and repurpose the Komati coal-fired power plant using renewables and batteries. The project will also create opportunities for the affected workers and communities. This is in line with the government’s efforts to transition the country toward a low carbon development path with reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy for all.
Addressing energy poverty and transitioning toward lower carbon development requires a reliable power sector to underpin inclusive economic growth. The Komati Project aims to help mitigate climate change, enhance energy security, and support economic opportunities in the Komati area. The project is aligned with the country’s Just Transition Framework, which aims to minimize the socio-economic impacts of the climate transition, improve the livelihoods of those most vulnerable, and embrace the opportunities stemming from the transition.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a difficult challenge worldwide, and particularly in South Africa given the high carbon intensity of the energy sector,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Closing the Komati plant this week is a good first step toward low carbon development. We are cognizant of the social challenges of the transition, and we are partnering with the government, civil society, and unions to create economic opportunities for affected workers and communities.”
The Namibian minister of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipumbu, launched an economic partnership agreement (EPA) implementation plan at the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-European Union EPA Trade Forum at the Windhoek Country Club Resort on Monday. The event was co-hosted by the European Union (EU) delegation in Namibia under the theme ‘Towards Increased and Diversified Trade under the EPA by Ensuring Inclusivity, Sustainability and Economic Growth’.
“The EPA Implementation Plan for Namibia which we are also launching is geared towards attaining the objectives of the SADC – EU EPA and ensuring that the potential benefits that can accrue from it are fully utilised by the intended beneficiaries, which include exporters, importers, consumers, and the entire business fraternity,” she added.
The prevailing high prices of maize have seen farmers sell their harvest directly to consumers, surpassing the warehouses storage where they could store their produce as they await for prices to stabilise. Warehouse Receipt System Council (WRSC) chairperson Jane Ngigi said they have been unable to stock the grain for growers in the ongoing season because of the existing high prices in the market. “It is the first time that the price of maize has hit a high of Sh5,000 at the farm gate and this has seen farmers avoid storing their commodity as they seek to enjoy the prevailing prices in the market,” said Ms Ngigi.
She said there is high demand for the grain right now a move that has pushed up the price to historic highs.
Bill to protect consumers from predatory pricing in offing (The Independent Uganda)
The Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry has said that it will move the protection law aimed at protecting consumers from false advertisement, predatory pricing and substandard products. According to the Chairperson of the Committee, Mwine Mpaka, although there are several laws in the country that protect consumers, they are scattered making it difficult to rely on.
He pointed out section 3 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, section 10 of the Contracts Act 2010, section 13 of the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, section 5 of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act and section 1, 2 and 3 of Food and Drug Act among others.
Mpaka now says the committee will through a private member introduce the bill which will help protect consumers from exploitation in the business sector. He said several drugs and alcohol are currently being sold to minors and this is what will be curbed.
Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry (MCTI) has launched the findings and recommendations of Time Release Studies conducted at the Nakonde One Stop Border Post (OSBP) and Mwami Border Posts. The study was facilitated by the Zambia Border Posts Upgrading Project. The launch was conducted on 3rd November 2022 at the Mulungushi Conference Centre in Lusaka, with support of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) European Development Fund (EDF) 11 Trade Facilitation Programme.
Information on the Time Release Study (TRS) was collected by a Technical Working Group from cross border regulatory agencies, truck drivers and small-scale traders at both Nakonde One Stop Border Post and Mwami Border Post.
The WCO representative Mr Stephen Muller, said the TRS is accepted widely as an evidence based and objective methodology to assess clearance and release times. “It is seen as the global standard to measure clearance and release times and identify bottlenecks, contributing to the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA),” he said.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Bank of Ghana (BOG) and Development Bank Ghana (DBG) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop the Ghana Integrated Financial Ecosystem (GIFE). The GIFE aims to enhance financial capabilities and access for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana and generate greater opportunities for trade and financial services cooperation between Singapore and Ghana. Over time, it is envisaged that the integrated financial ecosystem model can serve the Asia-Africa SME trade corridor more broadly.
The GIFE will offer an open digital infrastructure for MSMEs in Ghana and Singapore in four key areas:
The SME Financial Empowerment Programme will help MSMEs build foundational digital financial literacy skills and gain a good understanding of cross-border financial services.
MSMEs in Ghana and Singapore can expand their international business connections in Asia and Africa, through a network of business-to-business e-commerce platforms.
DBG and partner financial institutions will provide digital trade finance and guarantees for eligible MSMEs through a digital platform.
MAS, BOG, DBG and financial institutions will jointly develop financial trust frameworks to assess credit worthiness for financing by enabling financial institutions to use alternative data sets, such as the track record of successful payments to suppliers and tax payments to relevant authorities.
Ghana is to benefit from United Kingdom’s investment in West Africa’s agriculture sector through increased trade and jobs. A statement issued by the British High Commission and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday said the COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had exacerbated the challenges of energy, finance, and food security. It said the UK, Ghana, ECOWAS and other partners were working together to ensure that Ghana produced more rice, facilitated trade, and reduced costs on the consumer.
Through the Africa Food Trade and Resilience programme, the UK Government, alongside strategic partners, was investing £450,000 to establish the ‘ECOWAS Rice Observatory’ (ERO) and its national chapter, known as the ‘Ghana Competitive Africa Rice Platform (CARP).’
In The Gambia, sustainable fishing a lifeline to economy under water (Trade for Development News)
On paper, fish is a small part of the economy of The Gambia. On the plate, however, fish is a big and important chunk of food security.
Agriculture contributing to 30 percent of GDP and employing seven out of every 10 Gambians, according to government officials. However, it remains mostly subsistence in nature, and The Gambia remains a net food importer, including of its staple, rice. The sector is also vulnerable to drought and the negative effects of climate change.
Fish-related activities are the main source of income for communities living near the coastline. The sector supports the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people and is particularly important to women who make up 80 percent of fish processors and half of small-scale fish traders.
Statement Delivered by Albert M. Muchanga African Union Commissioner, Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals At the Joint Meeting of The African Union Ministers In Charge of Industry and Economic Diversification (AU)
We need to introspect on what we need to do to improve implementation of AIDA. The starting point is to harness the spirit of pragmatism. Let us learn from our mistakes and adapt accordingly. Let us, from the lessons of experience build capabilities that will make our industrialization process grow with a dynamism of its own. For example, changing the perception and narrative that Africa is a high-return but equally high-risk investment destination starts with us. It is us, no other region of the world which will rebrand Africa.
We would demonstrate to the rest of the world that the reality on the ground is that Africa is a high-return and low-risk investment destination when their investments in Africa start generating high and safe returns.
We also need to work together in a spirit of Pan-Africanism which gave us the African Continental Free Trade Area.
This year’s just concluded Africa Investment Forum Market Days—the continent’s premier investment platform—has drawn $31 billion in investment interest from African and global investors. Combined with $32.8 billion from the rescheduled 2021 Africa Investment Forum Market days—which took place as virtual boardrooms in March this year—the forum has mobilized a total of $63.8 billion of investment interest this year.
The African continent has enormous potential and remains an attractive destination for investors, despite complex national contexts and geopolitical changes, say experts attending the Africa Investment Forum 2022 Market Days. Africa is facing external shocks that negatively impact its growth and socioeconomic development. The Covid-19 pandemic has compromised the sustained growth that the continent has enjoyed for the last 25 years, and the Russian-Ukraine war is threatening populations with a severe food crisis.
During the session titled “Trade and Investment: How can Africa be more competitive in the world context?” Souleymane Diarrassouba, Ivorian minister for Trade, Crafts, and Small and Medium Enterprises; Benedict Okey Oramah, African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank) President; and Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, made opening remarks.
Africa’s potential in the world economy is growing. Most of its population is young people; a quarter of the world’s population is likely to live in Africa between now and 2050, and the African Free Trade Zone is making progress. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of unused arable land is found in Africa, which is also rich in minerals (including cobalt, lithium that are essential for producing batters, and Africa is the world leader in such agricultural products as cacao, coffee, cotton, essential oils, mahogany).
Minister Diarrassouba emphasized Africa’s relatively low production costs: ”Africa is the world’s most profitable region, according to the OECD. Investors from the continent and elsewhere ought to seize its enormous investment opportunities”.
There is an improvement in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) intra-trade which has risen to 23%, up from 19% in 2021, according to the latest African Union (AU) Regional Integration Report (2021). This improvement reflects the impact of ongoing efforts to roll out various provisions of the SADC Protocol on Trade, including the implementation of simplified trading arrangements that have enabled an increase in informal cross-border trade covering both agricultural and non-agricultural commodities.
The share of manufacturing value added (MVA) in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is still below 12 percent compared to a target of 30 percent by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. Most SADC Member states still depend on agro-based and mining commodities in terms of contribution to GDP.
Speaking during the Regional Private Sector Engagement on Sea Freight Transport and Logistics sub-sector, focusing on fresh produce, organized by East African Business Council (EABC) in partnership with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, CEO EABC called for deliberate set up of fresh produce consolidation centers across EAC countries and improve transport interconnectivity in order to boost export volumes and competitiveness.
He said intra-trade in East African Community is low at 17% due to barriers and the high cost of transport estimated at appx. USD. 1.8 per tons per kilometer. He elaborated that the intricacies and competitiveness of EAC economies rely on the transport and logistics sector. He further urged the ports and trade facilitation agencies to facilitate trade better.
In her remarks, Ms. Paveen Mbeda, Head of Public-Private Dialogue and Export Capability at TMEA said TradeMark East Africa is committed to supporting trade facilitation initiatives to increase economic growth and prosperity. She explained that sea freight can cut carbon emissions by between 84%-95% according to a study funded by the UK government in 2021. She urged fresh produce exporters to explore sea freight options.
Mr. Ogambi said that the Port of Mombasa is a crucial landing point for goods and links to the Northern Corridor and expansion of sea freight through the port could increase exports to the Middle and Far East, including China & Singapore.
The ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) organized the fifth meeting of the Consultative Competition Committee(CCC) to examine and validate the draft memorandum on the ECOWAS Directive on Consumer Protection. The meeting also considered the presentation by Executive Director of ERCA, Dr Simeon Koffi, on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) competition policy and a report on the market research study on agriculture and food, transport and pharmaceutical sectors.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Trade, Industry and SME Promotion of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. Souleymane Diarrassouba expressed his satisfaction with the actions taken by ERCA to equip itself with all the legal texts that would enable it to be operational and to ensure the monitoring of the fair play of competition on the regional market.
The minister expressed the readiness of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire and his ministry to support the positive dynamics observed at the regional level, especially in the current global context of inflation which makes the support of consumers’ rights and interests an existential and vital issue.
Africa turns to Asia as demand for rice surges (Food for Mzansi)
Rice-growing experts from Thailand and Vietnam visited Tanzania in October to explore collaboration opportunities with African countries to boost rice productivity and production. Demand for rice consumption is growing in Africa, particularly in urban areas, and the level of domestic rice production is not keeping pace with the growth in consumer demand. To address this gap, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) facilitated a three-day regional workshop involving African and Asian experts to share knowledge experiences on better rice production.
“It is important that we need to redouble efforts in sharing knowledge and experiences on better production but also for better trade in rice, using opportunities such as the African Continental Free Trade Area. There is no short cut to achieving some level of respectable self-sufficiency other than enhancing productivity, which at the moment is at a very low level,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO assistant director-general and regional Representative for Africa.
Africa’s maritime agency cannot be overlooked (Chatham House)
“This report is being launched at the same time as COP27. What I hope to see emerge there and elsewhere is a trade and investment facilitation pathway in support of a just transition to a low-carbon economy,” Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is participating in the climate summit, said in her foreword to the report. “The report argues that trade is a force for good for climate and part of the solution for achieving a low-carbon, resilient and just transition,” she said. The Director-General will present the report at a high-level event for world leaders at COP27 on 8 November titled “Time to Act: Implementing Trade-Related Contributions to the Global Response to Climate Change.”
COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh to Focus on Delivering on the Promises of Paris (UN Climate Change)
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 opened on 6 November 2022 with the key aim of ensuring full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Discussions at COP27 begin near the end of a year that has seen devastating floods and unprecedented heat waves, severe droughts and formidable storms, all unequivocal signs of the unfolding climate emergency. At the same time, millions of people throughout the world are confronting the impacts of simultaneous crises in energy, food, water and cost of living, aggravated by severe geopolitical conflicts and tensions. In this adverse context, some countries have begun to stall or reverse climate policies and doubled down on fossil fuel use.
COP27 is also taking place against the backdrop of inadequate ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CO2 emissions need to be cut 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels to meet the central Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. This is crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall.
Africa says unlocking financing on climate is a key agenda at COP27 (The East African)
As part of their efforts to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, countries have increased their use of carbon pricing through taxes or emissions trading systems, with coverage increasing across countries and sectors in 2021, according to a new OECD report.
“Carbon pricing is one of a range of policy approaches that countries employ in their efforts to reduce emissions. This report shows how the share of emissions that is covered by carbon prices has increased in recent years,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said. “It is clear too that a diversity of policy approaches can be used to boost mitigation efforts while ensuring energy security and affordability. The OECD’s new Inclusive Forum on Carbon Mitigation Approaches initiative will support the international community to reach net zero emissions by providing better data and information sharing about the comparative effectiveness of a full range of policy approaches beyond carbon pricing.”
An open-ended plenary meeting on 3 November wrapped up the consultations held by members in different configurations the previous two days. The consultations allowed delegations to discuss the eighth revision of the “Easter text”, circulated to all WTO members on 31 October, which includes an up-to-date annex revealing that several text proposals had been either dropped by their proponents or considerably streamlined.
The co-coordinator of the negotiations, Ambassador Jung Sung Park of the Republic of Korea, emphasized the progress achieved at this negotiating round. He stressed that four important provisions had been moved from text proposals in the annex to so-called “plain text” — namely, the part of the negotiating document that contains the provisions on which a significant degree of convergence among participants could be achieved.