tralac Daily News
The National Assembly (NA) has passed the Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill and the National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill during its hybrid plenary on Tuesday.
The Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990; to provide for the auditing of a product for management control systems; to make provision for the setting of tariffs by assignees on a cost-recovery basis, and to make further provisions for the Minister to make regulations pertaining to audit and management control systems.
As legacy economies continue to fall out of favor the world over, Ghana and Gambia are ramping up efforts to build tech-based economies. In a time when most economies run by oil, manufacturing, and agriculture are shifting to digital economies, the two countries with a combined population of 35 million don’t want to be sidelined.
Now, they have joined Nigeria, Rwanda, Morocco, and Djibouti as members of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) that aims to link Africa and Gulf countries in the realization of a common digital economy agenda. Other members are Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, and Pakistan. They collectively represent nearly $2 trillion in GDP and a market of nearly 600 million people.
Africa faces funding shortfalls in tech infrastructure, challenges in implementing data protection policies, and slow adoption of frontier tech skills, but hopes that partnerships supporting its digital economy agenda could unlock financing.
Uganda wants stern laws enacted against barriers inhibiting trade in the East African Community (EAC) region. The member of the seven-nation bloc wants the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) to spearhead the exercise.
“I urge Eala to pass laws that would drastically reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers,” said Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy Speaker of the Uganda Parliament.
He said during the visit to the National Assembly in Kampala by Eala Speaker Mr Joseph Ntakirutimana that such barriers have significantly impacted on trade.
Mr Tayebwa also called on Eala to come up with a resolution that would compel the council to impress upon their respective partner states to comply with the Summit directives.
New Commonwealth’s Nairobi office to boost Kenyan exports (Business Daily)
Commonwealth’s official business networking organisation will on Wednesday open an office in Nairobi to support East African businesses seeking export markets for their goods and services. The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) chairperson Lord Jonathan Peter Marland says the office will be used as a hub to grow trade and investments by offering opportunities such as business networking and legal advice for firms eyeing cross-border deals.
“We are opening our office here (Nairobi) this Wednesday as part of our territorial outreach so that we can help businesses achieve international connectivity,” said Mr Marland.
Nairobi becomes the fourth hub for CWEIC in the African continent after Accra (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria) and Douala (Cameroon). CWEIC has been keen on supporting opportunities in areas such as food security, climate change and technology. Mr Marland said part of the specific focus in Kenya will be on supporting agri-tech to improve food security.
Mauritius has made significant strides in bolstering its public procurement system, but there is room for improvement in electronic procurement and capacity-building for practitioners.
These are among the findings of an assessment report the African Development Bank launched virtually on 15 February from Port Louis, the capital. The bank undertook the study in partnership with the Mauritius government using the MAPS framework, a universal standard for evaluating public procurement systems.
The report also provides recommendations for the government’s next steps in implementing the reforms.
Strengthening governance, investing in human capital with a focus on education, and improving the business climate are key pillars for Guinea-Bissau to break out of the fragility cycle towards sustainable and inclusive growth and make progress on gender equality. These are the main recommendations of the Economic Update and the Country Economic Memorandum, two new reports launched by the World Bank in Guinea-Bissau.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have revealed the vulnerabilities of the country’s economy to external shocks. It is important that Guinea-Bissau implement structural reforms over the medium term to support economic recovery and improve human capital and gender equality indicators, strengthening the country’s resilience”, said Anne-Lucie Lefebvre, World Bank Resident Representative in Guinea-Bissau.
The reports present a comprehensive overview of the country’s economic sector and its constraints and offer recommendations for the post-COVID-19 development, focusing on policies that can stimulate a rapid recovery and support sustainable and inclusive growth.
SACU chair announces the finalisation of the SACU Tariff Offer to AfCFTA (Namibia Economist)
The current Chair of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), Cleopas Sipho Dlamini officially announced the finalisation of the SACU Tariff Offer on 18 February during the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Dlamini in a statement reiterated SACU’s commitment to Africa’s integration and specifically the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The submission of the Tariff Schedule speaks to that commitment with the view to ensuring that the SACU business community leverage on the benefits of the AfCFTA.
According to the statement, SACU submitted an initial Tariff Offer in November 2020, in preparation for the commencement of trading in January 2021 which needed further work to comply with the agreed modalities.
Subsequently, the region worked tirelessly to meet the threshold of 90%t products to be liberalized. This process has now been completed as noted by the 11th Meeting of AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for Trade and Industry held from 11-12 February 2023, in Gaborone, Botswana.
The statement further said that the Tariff Offer of 7111 tariff lines, which represents 90% of the SACU Tariff, Book in line with the Agreed Modalities for Tariff Liberalisation, was submitted to the AfCFTA Secretariat on 13 February 2023 for verifications
The EAC-Comesa-SADC tripartite agreement will be in place by the end of April 2023, President William Ruto has said. This means 28 African countries will trade as a bloc with the European Union.
Pitching Kenya as the preferred investment hub for EU investors on Tuesday, President Ruto said Nairobi is a strong participant in the Tripartite Trade Agreement encompassing EAC, Comesa and SADC. “The tripartite agreement was signed in 2015 and unfortunately for the seven years or so, we have not concluded it to the satisfaction of the EU requirements,” the President said in Nairobi during the EU-Kenya Business Forum.
“He [Moses Kuria] has been to Egypt, Angola, Comoros [new AU chair], Uganda, Tanzania, Lesotho South Africa …, and now I can promise with confidence, by the end of April, we will have the tripartite agreement in place,” Ruto said.
Capacity building of stakeholders who will play a key role in the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) has begun. The initial focus is on the Rules of Origin, which represent the most important cross-border trade instrument in economic integration agenda.
The first regional Training of Trainers session on the TFTA Rules of Origin was hosted in Nairobi, Kenya on 17 – 18 February 2023. It targeted the business community, revenue authorities’ customs services departments, government ministries and agencies and organizations that support trade to enhance their skills and knowledge on TFTA Rules of Origin. This will improve their operational performance and support the uniform application of TFTA Rules of Origin to enhance regional cooperation and intra-Tripartite trade.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) describes Rules of Origin as the “Passport for circulating goods under preferential tariffs”. Non-preferential Rules of Origin are applied to determine the country of origin for purposes other than granting preferential tariff treatment. They can support production and trade of goods made in the Tripartite region, boost intra-regional trade across existing regional economic communities and therefore enhance structural transformation.
South Africa and its neighbours were at the centre of a tussle for influence this week when top Russian and U.S. officials visited, offering a rare moment of leverage for governments on a continent more used to being buffeted by events than wooed.
For the countries of southern Africa, which maintain strong ideological and historical sympathies for Russia but hold far more significant trade balances with the European Union and United States, that rivalry presents an opportunity.
“They have the opportunity to play one side off against the other to get concessions; to get more aid, more trade,” said Steven Gruzd from the South African Institute of International Affairs. “That’s precisely what we’re seeing at the moment.”
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) will hold a meeting to validate the Report on the Development of Local Content Thresholds for the Fertiliser, Packaging, and Pharmaceutical Sub-Sectors at Holiday Inn in Harare on 24 February 2023.
In support of industrialization and industrial growth, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is developing local content thresholds (LCTs) across all economic sectors, in accordance with the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (ZNIDP) (2019-2023). The establishment of these thresholds will boost investment, value chain development, value addition, and beneficiation in line with the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 (2021-2025). Emphasis will be on the procurement of local products and inputs based on specific metrics to support industrial development and intensify economic sector linkages.
The findings of the study aim to align the Local Content Thresholds with the overall thrust of NDS1 and other frameworks supporting industrialization and local content in Zimbabwe. The proposed framework for the implementation of the thresholds will be interrogated for practicality, reasonableness, and sustainability. This will help to address any gaps and/or misrepresentations in the study and provide a template that can guide implementation of local content strategies in the three sectors.
CSOs in Accra for AfCFTA conference (Graphic Online)
A three-day consultative seminar on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) among civil society organisations (CSOs) from across Africa is underway in Accra. The seminar, sponsored by the Africa Trade Network, aims to share perspectives on AfCFTA, exchange detailed information on the processes, and form an agenda for future interactions among CSOs regarding the trade pact and broader trade development advocacy in Africa.
Topics slated for discussion include Africa in the context of global economic and political challenges, broad overview of Africa’s economic structure and its dynamics, interrogating the thematic issues confronting Africa today, domestic resources mobilisation, taxation and financial flows in Africa.
The Africa Trade Network has indicated that the implementation of the concluded protocols on Trade in Goods and on Trade in Services under the AfCFTA have been challenged by the need to create rules to operationalise those protocols. Final agreement on Trade in Goods remains to be reached in areas such as rules of origin and final tariff schedules.
The development of aviation policy should be a priority for African countries if they are to capitalise on the benefits of a continent-wide trade agreement.
Panellists at the Air Cargo Africa event agreed that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) stood to benefit the continent and air cargo.
However, they said it was essential that air cargo policy at a country level is enhanced to ease the movement of goods between countries.
Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said: “The AfCFTA is fantastic but it will not work if we don’t grow the air traffic and the aviation business in Africa.
“If the policy formulation is not in tandem with the intention of the free trade agreement it will not work.
Fast-growing African fuel markets spur gas-station deal making (Engineering News)
The rapid expansion of Africa’s fuel demand is driving deal-making activity in the continent’s retail business, as trading houses to oil majors chase the growth that’s lacking in their home markets.
“There is a new wave of consolidation of assets as existing players are either rationalizing (Puma) or expanding (Vivo) their networks, or both (TotalEnergies),” Elitsa Georgieva, executive director at Citac, a consultant that specializes in African refining, wrote in response to questions from Bloomberg. “Meanwhile, there is an increasing number of African energy companies that are expanding rapidly.”
Africa’s oil consumption is forecast by the US Energy Information Administration to significantly outpace Europe and North America in the coming years. Demand for petroleum products is set to increase over 6% annually in some parts of continent in 2023, according to Citac. That’s a faster pace than the decade to 2021, when total oil consumption rose 1.4% a year on the continent, outstripping the US and Middle East, and compared with a contraction in Europe, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.
Jill Biden headed for Africa on Tuesday, first stop Namibia, declaring as she departed Washington that she had “a lot to accomplish” during a five-day visit focused on empowering women and young people and addressing food insecurity.
Through renewed engagement with the countries of Africa, the U.S. aims to catch up with its economic rival, China, which has outpaced the U.S. in terms of trade in some of the 54 nations on the continent, the second most-populous.Trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa totaled $44.9 billion in 2021, a 22% increase from 2019. But direct investment fell by 5.3% to $30.3 billion. Trade between Africa and China in 2021 surged to $254 billion, up about 35% as Chinese exports increased to the continent.
African Union-China relations enter crucial stage (The Citizen)
On February 18 and 19, 2023, African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa for the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State.
On the opening day of the Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the 36th AU Summit, commending the regional body for uniting and leading African countries to stand up to global challenges, accelerating the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and playing an important role in mediating hot issues in Africa, which according to Xi has boosted Africa’s international status and influence. Xi pledged that he stands ready to work with leaders of African countries to build a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.
At the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October 2022, the Chinese path to modernisation was put forward in five points: modernisation of a big population, modernisation for common prosperity, modernisation of material and cultural-ethical advancement, modernisation of harmony between humanity and nature, and modernisation of peaceful development. These aspirations are centred around the idea of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Investment by business across Africa most impacted by trade and supply chain challenges will be supported by a new targeted financing initiative backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB).
EIB, through its new dedicated development finance arm EIB Global, today formally agreed to provide a trade finance facility of USD 200 million to TDB to this effect. This amount is expected to support USD 400 million in new private sector investment, including by companies from across all sectors including agri-food and manufacturing which have been impacted by the disruption of trade flows following the Russo-Ukrainian crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.
My key message today is that the APEC and the WTO models of trade cooperation have been converging much more than initially expected over the last 30 years; and I also think that the topic of sustainable development holds a great potential for more convergence in the future.
This is why it is my privilege to address your working group. I have no doubt that what you are doing here is very relevant to the WTO There are four reasons why I believe this to be true.
It takes on average 30 to 40 days and nine different document requirements to clear imports and exports in LDCs, speakers noted. To boost LDCs’ participation in global supply chains, they underlined the importance of trade facilitation measures, digitalization of import and export transactions and greater transparency of trade laws and regulations. Participants suggested providing training to both importers and exporters to raise awareness of customs processes so that LDCs can make better use of existing preferential market access schemes.
LDC business representatives noted that the competitiveness of LDCs’ firms could be strengthened by actively participating in the multilateral trading system and deepening regional integration.
On 15 February 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held the first symposium on E‑Commerce and Customs Valuation. During the hybrid event, international organizations, Customs administration, and the private sector discussed the challenges in calculating Customs Value for E‑Commerce.
In his opening speech, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the WCO, recognized the that “E-Commerce brings enormous opportunities for economic and social development by fostering innovation, introducing new trade models, creating job opportunities and leading new consumer trends”. He also underlined the challenges associated with E-Commerce and called for a concerted effort on the part of the Customs community and their partners for tangible solutions to those challenges.
In her address, Ms. Suja Rishikesh Mavrodis, Director of the Market Access Division at the World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighted various initiatives related to E-Commerce, including potential ways to enhance cross-fertilization and learning through the trade facilitation and valuation committees, in conjunction with the WCO.