Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa swings into a R23 billion trade deficit (Business Tech)

South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance deficit of R23.05 billion in January 2023.

Despite recording a full-year total trade surplus of R211.6 billion (exports of R2.02 trillion and imports of R1.81 trillion) in 2022, South Africa is importing more than it was exporting at the start of 2023.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) said that the preliminary trade balance deficit of R23.05 billion for January 2023 is due to exports of R139.36 billion and imports of R162.41 billion.

Call to improve trade between SA and Uganda (SAnews)

There is room for improvement in South Africa and Uganda’s trade relations, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. “When it comes to trade and investment linkages between South Africa and Uganda there is certainly room for improvement,” President Ramaphosa said on Tuesday. The President was speaking at the SA-Uganda Business Forum held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand

President Ramaphosa said he hopes to see a strong showing from Ugandan and South African business at the inaugural Africa Free Continental Trade Area (AfCTA) Business Forum that will be hosted in Cape Town in a few months’ time.

“In 2022, our two-way trade amounted to US$ 130 million, or just over R1.8 billion at the time. We should aim to more than double this to at least R4 billion within the next five years. “South Africa is open to increasing the quantity and diversity of products we source from Uganda, because the success of intra-Africa trade hinges on each of us sourcing from one another and prioritising ‘made and grown in Africa’ products and services.”

South African Envoy: Power Crisis Heightens Focus on Clean Energy Plan (Global Atlanta)

During a short visit to Atlanta last week, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States said an electricity crisis gripping the country is all the more reason to embrace an energy transformation plan focused on renewables. Ambassador Nomindiya Mfeketo said the government has declared a “state of disaster” and has outlined a plan to address persistent blackouts and power rationing at households and businesses that has slowed the machinery of the continent’s most industrialized economy.

Nigeria, PAPSS sign MoU to accelerate cross-border transactions  (The Sun Nigeria)

In its bid to connect payments and accelerate Africa’s trade by transforming and facilitating payment, clearing and settlement for cross-border trade across the continent, the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)’s Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday.

This partnership is expected to stimulate an efficient payment system and enhance market liquidity – the current challenges in the securities and trade markets across the continent.

“The dream is becoming a reality and it is coming at an opportune time. The fact is that we cannot promote investments in our securities market without looking at a structure at which cross border transactions can be integrated.

We have a fragmented system and unless we take control of our capital, we cannot promote trade in a fragmented system and this is what we need to unlock and so I am happy with the PAPSS initiative as it will power the effective payment and settlement of cross border transactions”, President, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah said.

Niger is Africa’s fastest growing country – how to feed 25 million more people in 30 years (The Conversation)

Niger, a landlocked country in the dry Sahel region of Africa, struggles to feed its 25 million people. It currently ranks 115th out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index, and the number of people not getting enough to eat has increased from about 13% of the population in 2014 to 20% in 2022.

Things could deteriorate even further as Niger confronts a “perfect storm”. The country has one of the highest population growth rates in the world, with few signs of slowing down. Its fertility rate – at an average of seven children per women – is the highest in the world.

To make matters worse, Niger is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. It has high exposure to heat and a low ability to adapt to changes in climate, like increasingly unpredictable rainfall.

We identified three interventions to address food availability: better food supply, with accelerated investments in agricultural research and development less food demand through slower population growth global market integration.

Three RECs resolve about 90% of non-tariff barriers to ease trading as ECOWAS lags (The Guardian Nigeria)

No less than 716 out of 796 (88.9%) of NTBs registered in the online reporting system implemented by the three regional economic communities (RECs), COMESA, East African Community and the Southern Africa Development Community have been resolved, leaving only 80 NTBs left unresolved.

The main NTBs include restrictive licensing, permitting, and other requirements applied at the border. Barriers behind the border, such as unwarranted technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures are equally prevalent.

For the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, the challenge has been various NTBs in the form of infrastructure, language, movement of people and goods among others.

AU’s approval of AfCFTA draft protocols paves way for more trade (The East African)

The African Union has approved the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) draft protocols on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy paving way for their implementation. The move signals conclusion of the AfCFTA Phases I and II protocols that provide a legal basis for the start of trading and gives members the greenlight to domesticate the protocols.

“The Assembly takes note of the executive council recommendations for the consideration and adopts the following Draft Legal Instruments: draft protocol to the agreement establishing the AfCFTA Competition Policy, Investment and on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR),” the AU Communique reads.

“Promoting youth employment in agri-food systems in West Africa” at the heart of the 14th Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDT14) (APO Newsroom)

Despite West Africa's agricultural potential, young men and women are in a vulnerable situation and face age-specific difficulties, even though they are key operational and political actors in the transformation of agri-food systems (production, processing, storage, distribution and use of food).

In spite of these challenges, there is a largely untapped reservoir of employment opportunities in agriculture to help young people build a better life for themselves while contributing to more productive, efficient and resilient agri-food systems towards the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. To take advantage of all these opportunities, there is a need to invest more in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries (ASPH) sector and make it more competitive, modern and attractive to all young people, especially young rural migrants who may consider agricultural work to be arduous and unrewarding. This would not only harness their potential labour force for development, but also provide opportunities and a better future and thereby reduce the use of "negative" coping strategies (migration, drugs, crime, terrorism, etc.).

Economic integration: ECOWAS moves to ensure seamless communication in sub-region (The Sun Nigeria)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has kick-started a process aimed at ensuring seamless communication within the West African sub-region.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the Delocalised Meeting of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications and Information Technology/Education, Science and Culture/Trade Customs and Free Movement in Niamey, Niger Republic, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, said issues concerning telecommunications, mobile roaming and its tariffs were quite critical and constitute major ingredients in the ECOWAS Integration Process.

Tunis also said in a study on Mobile Internet Adoption in West Africa, conducted by the Bonn Institute of Labour Economics in 2021, it was found that the widespread adoption and use of digital technologies have multifold potential for the sub-region.

Africa must combat illicit trade in natural resources - reports (The North Africa Post)

To protect its abundant natural resources, African countries need to make concerted efforts to combat illicit resource trade, according to reports from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Africa boasts a significant amount of the world’s natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, including arable land, oil, natural gas, minerals and wildlife. The continent contains 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, 8% of natural gas reserves and 12% of oil reserves, according to the UNEP data. Africa holds 40% of the world’s gold reserves, up to 90% of the world’s chromium and platinum reserves, the world’s largest cobalt, diamond, platinum, and uranium reserves. It has 65% of the world’s arable land and 10% of the world’s internal renewable fresh water supply.

Africa as a whole stands to benefit greatly from banding together and utilizing its abundant natural resources to fund development and achieve greater prosperity. But to achieve this, it must ensure that future resource development and exploitation are goal-oriented, climate resilient and sustainable.

Closing the gap for the illegal trade in natural resources can help raise some of the funds that Africa needs to support inclusive prosperity. The unrecorded exchange of natural resources that undermines the economic advancements of the larger African civilization is referred to as “illicit commerce” in this context.

What will it take to boost Africa’s vaccine production? (SciDev.net)

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of vaccines in controlling infectious disease in sub-Saharan Africa and renewed interest in vaccine research and development across the continent. Yet at the moment, Africa produces just one per cent of its routine vaccines.

“Africa has to build that capacity to produce vaccines,” Ebere Okere, senior technical advisor at the Tony Blair Institute for global change and honorary senior public health advisor of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, tells SciDev.Net.

This insufficient capacity to produce vaccines leaves the region dependent on imports for its vaccine needs, and makes it vulnerable to a vaccine crisis during health emergencies.

Innovation seen as key to growth for Africa (China Daily)

Leaders and experts have called on African countries to invest in research and development if the continent is to realize sustainable development, industrialization and economic diversification.

Experts who spoke at the fifth African Science, Technology and Innovation Forum held on Sunday and Monday said many nations had underfunded research and development.

Antonio Pedro, acting executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, or ECA, said the allocation for R&D was just 0.5 percent of GDP in most African states. Many countries have fewer than 100 researchers per million inhabitants.

“To build on the innovative spirit, we need to strengthen the enabling environment through informed policies, increase investment in R&D, and harness the support of the private sector more effectively,” he said.

An update on free trade in Africa – the Guided Trade Initiative, regional value chains and measures for sustainable trade (ZAWYA)

The AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) is the latest development designed to boost trade in the Africa’s continent-wide free trade zone. The GTI was launched in October 2022 with the aim of testing meaningful, continuous trade under AfCFTA and to assist in the development of regional value chains that will allow for more climate-friendly, sustainable trade across the continent.

The GTI will test AfCFTA’s policies, legal framework and operational and institutional environments. There are eight countries participating in the GTI that have all met the minimum requirements in terms of AfCTA’s tariff book and rules of origin – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia. The GTI will allow the shipment of goods from these countries through customs clearance, including ceramic tiles, sisal fibre, batteries, and beverages and foodstuffs, including tea, coffee, processed meat products, corn starch, sugar, pasta, glucose syrup and dried fruits. African countries receiving these goods will benefit from reduced tariff treatment (and possibly eventually from zero tariffs). The GTI will also focus on increasing opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), youth and women in trade.

Namibia hosts regional transport system (New Era)

The launch of the Transport Registers and Information Platform System and the Corridor Trip Monitoring System took place yesterday in Windhoek.

Namibia is providing facilities for hosting the TRIPS and CTMS on behalf of the tripartite regional economic communities to facilitate intra-regional trade and cross-border transport and transit. The tripartite is made up of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

TRIPS is an information communication technology (ICT) gateway or switch that inter-connects national transport information systems in order to improve information-sharing and authentication of transit documents, licences, permits and vehicle and driver particulars between and among the 25 participating member states’ regulatory and law enforcement agents within the tripartite region.

African businesses seem to prefer trading with non-African nations over intercontinental trades (Business Insider Africa)

African traders are taking advantage of favorable import tariffs provided by the US, Canada, EU, and Japan (the “Quad nations”) under different preferential trade agreements (PTAs), which has led to significant exports to these quad nations.

This information is according to findings by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) which showed that enterprises are not fully utilizing comparable advantages under local regional economic communities.

Because of this, commerce between the regional blocs has trailed substantially behind transactions with the Quad nations.

During the same period of exports to the Quad, nations sat at 77.3% while interregional exports came in at 60.8% Uganda and Burundi are two examples of nations that reported exceptionally low levels of PTA usage while utilizing cross-border free trade agreements.

As Multiple Crises Undermine Development Gains, Financing, Partnerships Key for Driving Transformative Socioeconomic Progress, Deputy Secretary-General Tells African Forum (UN)

We meet at a crucial moment for Africa and for us all. Our world is experiencing a series of cascading crises that are undermining hard-fought development gains and threatening current and future generations alike. Africa is taking the impact full on, with socioeconomic fall-outs of COVID-19, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine, all of which Africa have least contributed to.

We do so with the common understanding that through African-led solutions, born on African soil, we can change course and rise to the challenge of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. Intra-African trade is rising in the region and the Continental Free Trade Agreement has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty. Thanks to the leadership in the African Union.

African Heads of State have also endorsed an action plan on sustainable industrialization and economic diversification. We must ensure that the emerging green and digital economies better serve Africa’s people and natural environment. And key to implementation will be the inclusion of our young population.

Africa’s energy transformation is at the heart of these efforts. The development of a sustainable value chain for electric vehicle battery minerals by Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and other development partners is a promising example.

Mobilizing finance for a just transition, inclusive recovery through innovative partnerships (UNECA)

Addressing the climate crisis and achieving the goals of the historic Paris Agreement require transitioning to a just net-zero economy for which finance is a major lever.

It is against this backdrop that a high-level panel was organized at the ninth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development to explore how to mobilize finance for a just transition and achieve an inclusive recovery as the financing agenda for a just transition moved into a new phase with the announcement at COP27 by richer nations to pay for loss and damage to accelerate the pace towards inclusive growth as we build back better.

A lot has changed since the United Nations charted a reasonable and sustainable route for our people and planet in 2015 to achieve inclusive growth. The effects of climate change, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine are remaking societies and worsening their economic outlook. In Africa, meeting the goals for Agenda 2030, Agenda 2063 and adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change and the fallouts of the pandemic require access to finance to deliver an inclusive recovery to a sustainable economy.

Scaling up Climate Finance for Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (IMF)

Financing needed to meet adaptation and mitigation goals are estimated at trillions of US dollars annually until 2050. But so far, we are seeing only around 630 billion dollars a year in climate finance across the whole world—with only a fraction going to developing countries.

This is particularly concerning—because emerging and developing economies have vast needs for climate finance. And it underlines why it’s so important for advanced economies to meet or exceed the pledge of providing $100 billion per year in climate finance for developing countries.

This is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

Global nature of trade will prevail, MSC CEO tells TPM23 (Africa Aviation News)

Container shipping will serve as the bedrock for the growth of international trade and commerce, and “global trade will prevail” despite the disruptions of Covid and geopolitical factors, according to MSC CEO Soren Toft.

Speaking for the first time at this year’s Transpacific Maritime Conference known as TPM23, Toft said: “The world will continue to be globalised, but with a more distributed supply chain,” Toft said while giving a detailed overview of the company’s continued growth, expectations for economic recovery, and efforts to realise sustainable shipping.

“The world has seen through the supply chain crunch just how important the logistics and shipping industry really is – we keep global trade moving,” Toft said in an interview with Journal of Commerce’s Peter Tirschwell. “It has really displayed the fundamental role that we have, and customers are now thinking about how to make their supply chain resilient for the future.”

Recommendations of the High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery and Growth (World Bank)

A new joint report from an international panel of development experts outlines recommendations needed to support a pathway to green, resilient, and inclusive development. The report, “The Big Push for Transformation through Climate and Development – Recommendations of the High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) on Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery and Growth,” summarizes insights derived from meetings, consultations, and studies conducted during the 18 months of the HLAG.

“The world is at a pivotal moment. Hard-fought development progress has been eroded by a devastating convergence of recent and ongoing crises. Despite these challenges, there are unique opportunities—from astonishing advances in technology and innovation to unprecedented alignment among international organizations on the approach to green, resilient and inclusive development. The HLAG recommendations provide the world community a path for the necessary action - action at scale and speed”, says Mari Pangestu, HLAG cochair and World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships.

DDG Ellard calls for strengthening global ocean governance at World Ocean Summit (WTO)

The adoption of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies at the 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2022 gave considerable justification for optimism about multilateral ocean governance, DDG Ellard said at the discussion moderated by The Economist Editor-in-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes. Noting that the Agreement was adopted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a food crisis, DDG Ellard said this gives hope that members can put their differences aside to address issues concerning the global commons.

DDG Ellard further emphasized that two-thirds of WTO members have to deposit instruments of acceptance at the WTO for the Agreement to enter into force and start delivering its benefits for ocean sustainability.

DG Okonjo-Iweala: “We cannot afford to have an MC13 that does not deliver” (WTO)

“Excellencies, exactly on this day next year, Ministers will be in Abu Dhabi for MC13,” the Director-General told members. “We have less than a year to ensure that the meeting yields meaningful outcomes. Ten months is a short time in WTO negotiations, so we have to step up our efforts, starting now.”

“We need to show that we can deliver ourselves, even as our sister organizations are under pressure to reform and perform,” the DG continued. “So we cannot afford to have an MC13 that does not deliver.”

MC13 is due to take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, during the week of 26 February 2024.

Fight against climate change will worsen existing inequality in global trade: CSE and DTE (Down To Earth Magazine)

In the name of climate action, countries are introducing policies which can spark trade wars Developed countries of the world are reneging on free trade in the name of climate change, says a new analysis and the subject of its latest cover story by Down To Earth (DTE) magazine. Armed with massive subsidies and tariffs, the US and EU are leading this trend towards protectionism. This may change the global trade system as we know it.

Farm talks restart with positive momentum, focus on food security (WTO)

At a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session — the Committee’s negotiation arm — on 27 February, the recently elected chair, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye, said his extensive consultations revealed members’ strong commitment to achieving an outcome with a focus on food security at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) slated for February 2024. He highlighted the importance of adopting a new mindset as negotiations resumed and said he planned to convene a series of seminars at end-March to gain a better understanding of the issues under negotiation.


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