tralac Daily News
Empowering Farmers: Enhancing Zambia’s Horticultural Exports (Trade for Development News)
Zambia’s horticultural sector has faced significant challenges in recent years, making it difficult for local farmers to export their produce to the global food market. From time-consuming border processing to inadequate resources and legislation, the sector has been facing a myriad of obstacles that have hindered its growth and competitiveness.
Farming is a demanding sector, particularly for those seeking to compete in the global market. Many farmers in Zambia are unable to meet international standards and other requirements in importing countries that can help them implement good agricultural practices and stand out on the world stage. However, despite the challenges, there are some beacons of success.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC) on Thursday. The SAIC will be attended by delegates from varying industries in South Africa and across the world at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
In its 5th year since inception, President Ramaphosa convened the South Africa Investment Conference with an objective of achieving R1.2 trillion in investments targets. Investors heeding the call have over the last four conferences declared R1.14 trillion in investment commitments.
The Presidency said the new investments also significantly contribute to South Africa’s national goals of socio-economic development to create sustainable jobs, reduce poverty and drive back inequality. These investments have also contributed to a substantial increase in local production and encouraged efforts to buy local.
Govt communication must improve if more investment is to be garnered – BLSA (Engineering News)
Of all the factors impacting on investor confidence in the country, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso says government’s communication to the market is one that requires extensive work.
She cites in her latest weekly newsletter the example of the debacle around the exemption given, and then withdrawn, to State-owned power utility Eskom to allow it to not report fruitless and wasteful expenditure in its yearly financial statements.
Nigeria’s hope of witnessing export-driven economic growth through air cargo remains a far cry, as the sector’s share of total trade volume appears abysmal. This is coming against the backdrop of the country’s inability to facilitate more export by air despite the availability of goods in the country.
For instance, Nigeria was only able to process goods for exports valued at N34 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, Q4’22, an increase of nine per cent when compared to N31 billion recorded in Q3’22.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Foreign Trade in Goods Statistic for Q4’22, the country also witnessed a significant decline of 11 per cent in inbound cargo at N245 billion recorded in Q4’22 from N271 billion in Q3’22.
Nigeria Caught In Anti-export Bias – Trade DG (Leadership)
Director-general of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN), Yonov Agah, has expressed concern over Nigeria’s disadvantaged position in foreign trade, saying the largest African economy is held up in anti-trade bias engineered by bad government policies.
Agah who is Nigeria’s chief trade negotiator said there is need for national conversations on how the nation can get rid of the anti-export challenges.
When government policies are not government oriented, they create rents. And businesses like rents because it’s cheap money.”
Kenya-China trade gap grows despite diplomatic charm (Business Daily)
The Trade deficit between Kenya and China has widened for the second year in a row despite aggressive efforts by Nairobi to push Beijing to open up its markets in refreshed export strategy in 2018.
Official trade statistics show the deficit — the difference between exports and imports — grew to the highest levels since 2017 before Kenya made China the top target destination under Integrated National Exports Development and Promotion Strategy in July 2018.
The deficit rose to $3.62 billion (Sh485.08 billion under the prevailing exchange rate) in 2022 from $3.51 billion (Sh470.34 billion) in the prior year, according to data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya. That was the highest goods trade deficit between the pair since $3.68 billion in 2017, the data says.
The new port of Ndayane may be DP World’s “largest” investment in Africa, but any hope of it helping unlock the continent’s economies depends on increasing intra-regional connectivity.
Construction of the £1.2bn deepwater port has recommenced after a year-long delay, after president Macky Sall said securing the government’s share of the financing had been resolved. Now there are surging expectations of what the port will do for Senegal’s economy, at least.
“The port of Ndayane and the associated economic zone will reinforce Senegal’s position as a major trade hub and gateway in West Africa,” a DP World spokesperson told The Loadstar.
Textiles in tough times as EAC proposes top taxes (Business Daily)
Kenya’s textile industry will be hit hard following a proposal by the East African Sectoral Council on trade to move tax paid on imported apparel to the highest band in order to spur local production.
The council, which is an apex organ for investment and trade in the region, wants the duty levied on textiles under the Common External Tariff (CET) to be moved to 35 percent –the highest tax band under the EAC.
The council says the move is aimed at promoting production of cotton within the region and cutting overreliance on imports, which has hindered development of the sector in the regional.
Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) have criticised revised dates for the single currency economy in the region. They said frequent changes in time lines and delays were not only counterproductive but had also put the commitment of some regional leaders in question.
Abdullah Hasnu Makame, an MP from Tanzania, wondered why dates for attaining full monetary union kept on changing without justifiable reasons.
“That the monetary union would be up and running by 2024... Then the Council (of Ministers) came and said we are going to extend the delivery time,” he told the just-ended House sitting in Bujumbura.
The East African Community (EAC) Monetary Union Protocol, which was signed on November 30, 2013, aims to converge the currencies of the partner states into a single currency. The convergence of the currencies of all seven EAC partner states into a single currency was to take 10 years, which means the regional bloc was to have a common currency by 2024. In the run-up to achieving a single currency, the member countries have to harmonise their monetary and fiscal policies, as well as their financial, payment, and settlement systems.
East Africa’s cross-border electric trains set to speed up intra-African trade (The Independent Uganda)
Tanzania and Burundi have floated a tender for designing and constructing an electrified railway that will initially connect the two countries and pass through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the countries look to tap AfCFTA, the world’s largest single market, and create the continent’s second multinational electrified railway.
About 282 Kilometer of an electrified Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line will be built from Uvinza in Tanzania (off the Tabora – Kigoma SGR line), across the international border along Malagarasi river to Musongati and onwards to Gitega, both in Burundi.
“The two Governments of Tanzania and Burundi have entered into a bilateral agreement to implement this multinational project as a single project within Tanzania and Burundi territories,” according to the tender document. The project will be implemented for a period of five years.
Upon completion, it is set to become Africa’s second cross-border electrified rail after Ethiopia and Djibouti launched the continent’s first fully electric multinational railway line, in 2016.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund has approved $8 million in funding toward the establishment of a digitally interoperable unique bank identification system and harmonised customer identification framework for The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Implementation of the project will commence in July 2023, led by the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), working with central banks of the participating countries and in close collaboration with banking and non-banking financial service providers.
The project is expected to enhance financial sector efficiency within the participating countries, leading to increased access to finance and further regional integration efforts. Approval of funding from the Bank’s concessional lending window was made on 29th March. The new bank identification system will link banking accounts of individuals across different financial service providers.
AfCFTA: Tackling Counterfeits Substandard Products Through PAM (Leadership News)
Experts said the questions begging for answers are how much of this projected sum of $3.4 trillion will be accrued to the country? How will much of an impact will this pact have on Nigerian businesses? Needless to state that the country’s over 200 million population is a huge market that is very vital to the success of the trade agreement.
Based on a recent survey of 1,804 Nigerian manufacturing enterprises, six out of 10 businesses expect the AfCFTA to lead to a reduction in material and labour costs, increase production capacity, expand the market and consumer size, and reduce prices.
Overall, Nigeria’s small and medium-sized businesses are optimistic about the opportunities created by AfCFTA, although with mixed feelings grounded in concerns about rising foreign competition and dumping of substandard goods.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) also re-echoed the same concern. It reemphasised that dumping is a huge challenge that may hinder manufacturers, even as it stressed the need to ensure that all participating countries obey the Rule of Origin policy that is expected to govern the trade.
The Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) Africa CEO Trade Survey has officially launched today, offering a unique opportunity for CEOs and business leaders to share their insights and experiences of trading in Africa.
The survey aims to capture the opinions and views of CEOs and senior executives from across the continent, providing valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing African businesses.
This year’s theme will be “Realising the AfCFTA in an era of disruption”. The implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, has been disrupted by various challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and other external shocks. These challenges have highlighted the need for African countries to adapt to the changing global environment and seize the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA to transform their economies and societies. The Africa CEO Trade Survey will look to capture the sentiment of Africa’s private sector to inform policy-makers in the implementation of trade policies to fulfil the potential of the AfCFTA.
Stakeholders from across the public and private sectors pledged to strengthen collaboration with Governments to address infrastructure deficit, ineffective trade facilitation processes, and invest in innovation and technology to promote trade across borders in Africa, to accelerate sustainable development.
This commitment was made at the maiden Africa Sustainable Supply Chain Summit hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Ghana, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Africa Investment Group in Accra on 29-30 March 2023.
“Growing competitive African businesses for the One Africa market requires better supply chain governance and more investment by multiple actors including diaspora investors. It requires collaborative approaches to attract innovative and new forms of financing for MSMEs”, said Angela Lusigi, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana.
The President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has commended the work of the African Development Bank Group in helping the continent to deal with the impact of global economic challenges.
The Egyptian leader on Tuesday received the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in the capital Cairo.
Adesina was in Egypt to familiarize himself with preparations ahead of the Bank Group’s 2023 Annual Meetings scheduled for 22-26 May in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh. Up to 13 heads of state and government are expected to join the Bank’s Governors, executive directors, development partners and management at the meetings to discuss Mobilizing Private Sector Financing for Climate and Green Growth in Africa.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have launched a new regional initiative to enhance the sustainability of the electricity sector in Eastern and Southern Africa through harmonized regulatory frameworks.
The initiative, named “Regional Harmonization of Regulatory Frameworks and Tools for Improved Electricity Regulation in COMESA,” aims at effective, transparent, uniform, and enforceable regulatory frameworks in the region. The ultimate objective is to stimulate cross-border electricity trade and improve energy access in the COMESA region
The project comprises three key components, including: (i) the Elaboration and Adoption of Regional Electricity Regulatory Principles, and Regulatory and Utility Key Performance Indicators based on the AfDB’s flagship Electricity Regulatory Index for Africa for the COMESA region; (ii) Harmonised Comparison of Electricity Tariffs and Cost Reflectivity Assessment Framework Tool; and (iii) the development of an Information and Database Management System.
Liberia, an ECOWAS member state where importers mostly experience high tariffs on goods, which lead to inflation of prices on the local market, is yet to ratify the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The agreement has been signed by 54 of the 55 African Union member states, with 44 countries depositing their instruments of ratification. However, Liberia, which signed the AfCFTA document on March 21, 2018, is yet to ratify.
“If Liberia does not ratify the AfCFTA, it means Liberia is no longer a state party. Therefore, Liberia will not benefit from preferences negotiated within the agreement,” said Dr. Olu Alaba, an expert on trade.
“Ratification will legally give Liberia the leverage to export to ECOWAS countries tariff-free and have other countries export to it as well under similar privileges. But if Liberia does not ratify, it means the country has not formally consented to the agreement and would not benefit from cross-border trades,” he said.
Cameroon is looking to rejoin the US’s trade initiative for Africa, as the country works to boost export revenues amid falling foreign exchange earnings. Cameroon’s economy minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said his country has started talks with Washington for admission back into Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), which grants African countries tariff-free access to the U.S. market.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that Cameroon, a Central African oil producer, will record 4.3% economic growth this year. The Fund has classified Cameroon as being at high risk of debt distress. But, the Fund added, that Yaounde’s debt could still be sustainable with with sound fiscal reforms and management.
In 2019, the US kicked Cameroon out of the AGOA program for rights violations by security forces in the restive southwest and northwest regions.
The global powers in new scramble to win over Africa (The East African)
Three global powers are in a race to win over Africa, the continent’s market of more than a billion people and tap its natural resources. Russia, China and the US are engaged in spirited charm offensives centred around political, military, economic and cultural initiatives.
Competing with both China and Russia is Washington’s ‘African reset’ initiative, in which the US sent Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on a tour to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa, along with similar outings to Africa by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The outlook is uncertain again amid financial sector turmoil, high inflation, ongoing effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and three years of COVID.
The baseline forecast is for growth to fall from 3.4 percent in 2022 to 2.8 percent in 2023, before settling at 3.0 percent in 2024. Advanced economies are expected to see an especially pronounced growth slowdown, from 2.7 percent in 2022 to 1.3 percent in 2023. In a plausible alternative scenario with further financial sector stress, global growth declines to about 2.5 percent in 2023 with advanced economy growth falling below 1 percent. Global headline inflation in the baseline is set to fall from 8.7 percent in 2022 to 7.0 percent in 2023 on the back of lower commodity prices but underlying (core) inflation is likely to decline more slowly. Inflation’s return to target is unlikely before 2025 in most cases.
Inflation is slowly falling, but economic growth remains historically low and financial risks have risen
How close will depend on the persistence of public debt, on how climate policies are financed and on the extent of deglobalization
Timely and appropriate fiscal policy adjustments can reduce debt, but countries in distress will need a more comprehensive approach
Long-term losses of 2 percent of global output due to shifting foreign direct investments underscore why global integration needs robust defense
Action Needed on Debt Crisis (World Bank Blog)
At the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings this week, I will be advocating strongly for sound development solutions for the mounting challenges facing developing countries. Resolving the impasse in debt restructurings, especially for the world’s poorest countries, is going to be at the center of discussions.
As we bring together the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable, I see two fundamental challenges: the debt restructuring process is not moving much, and there hasn’t been enough discussion yet on ways to take action toward debt sustainability. Creditors are spending vital months discussing issues that should be agreed on beforehand –the steps in the restructuring process, the process and timeline to reconcile debts, and how to handle cut-off dates. The most important topic – how to measure and apply comparability of debt treatment (fair burden sharing among creditors during a debt restructuring) – is still up in the air. All these points are part of every restructuring and need to be discussed and agreed. This Roundtable meeting could at least start the discussion. There needs to be consensus on these to get to the next step that really matters for countries with unsustainable debt – how to restructure the debt in a way that achieves sustainability.
It is urgent that we make progress: countries need to achieve transparent, sustainable debt burdens in order to restart investment, which has slowed to a standstill.
India wants the World Trade Organization to be more progressive and listening to other countries, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Monday asserting that the WTO needs to give more space to the countries which have something different to say and not just hear.
“India’s attempt to talk to the WTO, talk in WTO have all faced with just no moment. The other classic example, which is in the minds of many of the emerging market countries is the electronics transmission related wall. Isn’t that since 1998, all of us are sitting and watching that you can’t do anything on the customs route for so much that is happening in the electronics business. It’s hitting the kind countries very differently,” she said.
“Since 1998, there has never been a need for reviewing it. All that I’m asking is that. And why wouldn’t every ministerial conference, which happens, ever, ever, ever take up this for discussion. It doesn’t take. The moratorium continues. So, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to appreciate. So when countries will have to speak at the WTO, it has to be on very many issues on which decision has not happened for over decades,” Sitharaman said.
Let me start with the ways in which this new binding, multilateral WTO Agreement is highly significant and meaningful.
First, by prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to the most harmful fishing practices, the Agreement delivers on UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, after more than 21 years of negotiations — the first SDG target addressed through a new multilateral agreement. This outcome is a result of leadership, pragmatism, and commitment to both multilateralism and environmental sustainability by all WTO Members.
Second, the Agreement marks only the second time since the WTO’s creation that our Members have added a new multilateral agreement to our rulebook.
Third, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies is the first WTO Agreement with a broad environmental sustainability objective. The operation of the new disciplines will make fishing — and the ocean ecosystem — more sustainable by prohibiting subsidies to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing — or IUU fishing — as well as subsidies to fishing overfished stocks, and subsidies to fishing on the unregulated high seas.
The UN has published the 2023 report on financing for sustainable development, which calls for “massive” investments in sustainable transformations in electricity, industry, farming, transportation, and buildings, to close the widening development gap between countries, meet climate goals, and achieve the SDGs.
The Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR) 2023 themed, ‘Financing Sustainable Transformations,’ highlights some positive findings on financing for sustainable development.
While the energy crisis, triggered by the war in Ukraine spurred global spending on the energy transition, which in 2022 rose to USD 1.1 trillion, surpassing fossil fuel investments for the first time, most of this spending was concentrated in developed countries and China. The green economy became the fifth largest industrial sector by market value, estimated at USD 7.2 trillion in 2021. Between 2021 and 2022, the world added 338 million regular internet users, representing an increase of just shy of 1 million additional people per day.
A significant scaling up of both production and international trade of critical raw materials is needed to meet projected demand for the green transition and achieve global net zero CO2 emissions targets.
A new policy paper on Raw Materials for the Green Transition: Production, International Trade and Export Restrictions, shows the price of many materials – including aluminum and copper – have reached record highs, driven by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade tensions and the continuing consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While the production and trade of most critical raw materials has expanded rapidly over the last ten years, growth is not keeping pace with projected demand for the metals and minerals needed to transform the global economy from one dominated by fossil fuels to one led by renewable energy technologies.