tralac Daily News
The Competition Commission of South Africa has gazetted the draft terms of reference for a new market inquiry into the South African steel industry, which will examine whether or not there are any features or combination of features in its value chain that impede, distort or restrict competition in the domestic steel industry.
The commission highlights that, in 2014, the South African steel industry was ranked nineteenth in terms of global crude steel production and was the largest producer on the African continent, producing more than half of the continent’s steel output.
While all investments contribute to economic growth and job creation, investments in the digital economy particularly will propel the country into a new era of innovation and progress, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his weekly letter to the nation, he said that not only was the digital economy important for growth, but it was also vital to the provision of key services such as education, social services and health care.
The Director General/Chief Executive, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, has said arrangements have been finalised for the launch of its Product Authentication Mark (PAM) sticker to check the inflow of fake, sub-standard, and counterfeit goods imported into the country.
Speaking at a stakeholder’s sensitisation programme on PAM), he said over 20 security feature stickers have been created adding that when fully in use, these will address the prevailing challenges experienced as a result of dishonesty on the part of fraudulent importers and manufacturers of products.
He said, “SON introduce the SONCAP to ensure the quality of products in our market that we will be proud of as consumers while the merchants of fake products will continue to flood the market with substandard items. “We also introduced for the locally manufactured goods the MANCAP in order not to be seen by the International Community as creating a trade barrier so that imported goods cannot come into our country especially with Nigeria being a signatory to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). “With this imported product will be certified and given the Product Authentication Mark (PAM) and it will be in our market.”
Trade in Services plays a key role in the economic growth and development of a country. Services directly support production but also value chains and create jobs and other economic and non-economic opportunities. For Ethiopia, there exist numerous strategic services namely transport (air transport where Ethiopia Airlines remains a leader when it comes to air connectivity), arts, sports & recreational services. Others are financial, tourism and energy-related services.
Ghana, Netherlands renegotiates 34 year BIT (BusinessGhana)
Ghana and the Netherlands have started renegotiating their 34-year-old Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in order for the agreement to conform to current global economic dynamics.
The current BIT was signed on March 31, 1989 and operationalised on July 1, 1991, for the trading of agricultural products like cocoa beans, fresh fruits, and vegetables from Ghana, and machinery, agricultural inputs, chemicals, and electronic equipment from the Netherlands.
At a ceremony to begin exploratory talks in Accra last Wednesday, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, KwakuApratwum-Sarpong, announced new proposed areas for the BIT, expected to be ready in approximately two years.
Comoros has huge untapped investment potential (Africa Renewal)
In February 2023, the Union of Comoros ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Later that month, the country’s President Azali Assoumani took over as Chairperson of the African Union. In this interview with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor, the UN Resident Coordinator in Comoros François Batalingaya explains the UN support for the country during the ratification process and highlights investment opportunities in the country.
Q: Comoros recently ratified the AfCFTA. What kind of support did the UN provide the national authorities in ensuring a successful ratification process?
A: As you know, President Azali Assoumani was one of the first African leaders to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in Kigali in 2018. So, Comoros was always there with a high-level political will. However, there were some concerns about a potential loss of customs revenue, which represents between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the total government revenue. Not all the Members of Parliament or senior government officials were convinced that the AfCFTA is a good idea.
Comoros’ main trading partners are in the Middle East, not the African mainland. For example, India and Pakistan. As well as China and Brazil. We import most of our chicken from Brazil.
Q: What are some made-in-Comoros products the country could potentially export to the larger African market?
A: These are essential oils like ylang-ylang of which Comoros is the number one producer in the world; we have spices that are beloved in places like India; we have vanilla and cloves. We need to create value chains around these products and export to countries like Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and others. Comoros needs to access these markets.
Africa’s private sector converge in Cape Town to accelerate AfCFTA (MyJoyOnline.com)
Africa’s private sector will descend upon Cape Town, South Africa to participate in the 2023 African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business Forum – the first one to be held in person.
A statement released by the AfCFTA secretariat notes the key objectives of the event are to create awareness of the current trade and investment opportunities in the area among Africa’s business community; connect businesses to funding opportunities for AfCFTA value chains; establish a private sector engagement platform for continued consultations on private sector needs in the implementation of the AfCFTA; and to promote a private sector-friendly environment, especially for Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) led by Women and Youth, to unlock more accessible and affordable trade finance opportunities.
The AfCFTA Secretary-General His Excellency Wamkele Mene has called on Africa’s business community to partner with the Secretariat in order to ensure a successful implementation of the Agreement.
He said “creating an integrated One African Market hinges upon effective private sector participation in the implementation of the AfCFTA. It is therefore critical that Africa’s private sector, as one of the key drivers, takes a keen and active interest, supports and fully participates in AfCFTA’s programmes”.
Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene, has noted that intra-Africa trade is the only way to help African economies build robust and more resilient economies to absorb any shock – internally or externally. This, he said, will help managers of African economies to stop running to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions for monetary support whenever there is an economic meltdown.
Speaking at the AfCFTA Business Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, Mr Mene disclosed that the Bretton Woods institution has diverted global capital targeted at helping ailing economies bounce back on track to the advocacy of climate change.
He stressed that intra-Africa trade on the continent will mitigate the risk of reduced support for development finance as there would be a boost in trade which would in turn reflect in the GDP of every African economy.
Afreximbank gives fresh impetus to intra-African trade (Business Times)
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) says the share of intra-African trade in the bank’s portfolio has jumped on the back of a US$20bn disbursements meant to drive trade within the continent.
The Cairo-headquartered bank is on drive to boost intra-African trade, which at 18% in 2021 is low below Europe (68%) and Asia at 59%, according to latest data. Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah said the pan African bank has made intra-African trade finance the cornerstone of its interventions and have shown that it is not as “risky as historically portrayed”.
He said the bank has created the African Trade Facilitation Programme through which it is forging strong partnerships with African commercial banks to help them finance intra-African trade.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a key opportunity for Africa to alleviate poverty, drive economic activity and achieve prosperity for her people, says Standard Bank, a key sponsor of this week’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business Forum in Cape Town.
“As Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank is committed to driving her growth and unlocking opportunities across the 20 markets we serve. In this regard, we support solutions that are Africa-centric and where the private sector plays a greater role in the health of local and regional economies. However, trade barriers and other protective internal policies remain stumbling blocks” says Philip Myburgh, Head of Trade for Business and Commercial Banking at Standard Bank.
Recent global supply chain disruptions illustrate the urgent need of building domestic value chains integrated into regional and global supply ecosystems. Standard Bank is optimistic about the benefits of a single market and wants to harness its broad networks and expertise on-the-ground to play a key role in helping AfCFTA take off.
“Standard Bank is building the finance and trade solutions to help address the tariff and non-tariff barriers required to realise the continent’s ambitions to create an effective single market,” says Myburgh.
Visa Foundation to invest US$5m in Africa (The Namibian)
The Visa Foundation plans to contribute US$5 million in grants and impact investments in Africa that would support women’s participation in the digital economy.
This follows Visa’s recent pledge to invest US$1 billion in Africa to advance resilient, innovative and inclusive economies in connection with US vice president Kamala Harris’s trip to Africa and the creation of a new Women in the Digital Economy Fund.
Aida Diarra, the senior vice president and head of sub-Saharan Africa at Visa, said expanding access to digital financial services lay at the core of Visa’s purpose, and the company and Visa Foundation were committed to helping address gender disparity and connecting more people to the global economy.
Visa Foundation’s support would focus on increasing access to financial solutions and other services for women entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa, to drive equitable digital financial access as countries continue to digitise.
Over 50 delegates comprising of IT and legal experts from the COMESA Member States, and cooperating partners begun a four-day meeting of the Technical Working Group on the Implementation of a regional Single Window.
A Single Window as a trade facilitative measure in Customs administration that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit related-related regulatory requirements.
With a membership of 21 countries, trade within the region can be complex involving extensive documentation and coordination amongst multiple agencies stakeholders. To overcome this challenge, COMESA has been working with member States to promote the establishment of an Electronic Single Window (ESW) to have a harmonized and standard data connectivity platform among other government agencies and private stakeholders who are active players across the trade supply chain.
East Africa could soon become Africa’s economic powerhouse if ongoing plans to expand the East African Community are implemented successfully. Latest figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast the seven-member bloc’s gross domestic product (GDP) to hit $346.17 billion this year, thanks to notable growth in a number of countries, with Tanzania being the region’s fastest growing economy.
According to the IMF, Tanzania’s economy is projected to grow by about $17 billion from 2021 to 2023 to reach $85.42 billion. Kenya’s economy is projected to reach $118.1 billion this year. This will be a growth of about $8 billion compared to the 2021 level.
According to the East African Community (EAC) secretary-general Peter Mathuki, the bloc’s leaders are at an advanced stage of bringing Somalia on board, to be possibly followed by Ethiopia. The entry of Somalia, with a projected GDP of $8.74 billion, and Ethiopia, whose GDP is set to be $156.1 billion, would lift the EAC’s GDP to $511.01 billion.
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is expected to slow to 3.6 percent as a “big funding squeeze”, tied to the drying up of aid and access to private finance, hits the region. This is the second consecutive year of an aggregate decline in SSA growth.
If no measures are taken, this shortage of funding may force countries to reduce fiscal resources for critical development like health, education, and infrastructure, holding the region back from developing its true potential.
Sub-Saharan Africa is far from powerless. Four policies can help navigate the current turmoil: i) consolidating public finances and strengthening public financial management, ii) containing inflation, iii) allowing exchange rates to adjust, while mitigating the adverse effects on the economy, and iv) ensuring important efforts to tackle climate change do not crowd out financing for basic needs like health and education.
“The Group reiterated the need to address rising debt vulnerabilities and continue strengthening the international debt resolution architecture, including by improving the Common Framework for debt treatments. The IMF continues to explore ways to make debt resolution more efficient. To this end, the IMF, together with the World Bank and the India G20 Presidency, have launched a Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable.
“The Group also agreed that strengthening social protection is critical. Social safety nets can promote higher and more inclusive growth by improving education and health outcomes, enhancing human capital and labor market productivity, and encouraging vulnerable households to invest in income-generating activities that also benefit local communities. Leveraging digital infrastructure, such as mobile phone platforms, can help to increase efficiency and ensure social support is well targeted to the most vulnerable.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today released its report African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Program Usage, Trends, and Sectoral Highlights (Inv. No. 332-589). This investigation and report were requested by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means in a letter received on January 19, 2022.
The report finds that the impact of the AGOA program on beneficiary countries can be substantial depending on the sector, especially apparel. Moreover, although the influence throughout SSA as a whole has been minimal, interviews by Commission staff, fieldwork, and some academic literature indicate that AGOA may have had a positive impact in key areas such as poverty reduction and job growth in some countries. The effect was found to be particularly important in the apparel sector and among underserved groups, such as women. Anecdotal evidence indicated that while meeting AGOA eligibility requirements created a positive impact on workers and poverty reduction, the loss of program eligibility due to failure to meet program requirements had a negative impact on beneficiary economies and regional integration.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says the COVID-19 pandemic taught the world how important global value chains have become for job creation and inclusion.
Speaking at the World Bank/IMF (International Monetary Fund) Spring meetings in Washington DC, the WTO DG, said the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain gave a lot of insight as to how the redistribution of the global supply chain can be structured for more inclusive jobs across the developing world.
“Global value chains are the backbone of trade. Global value chains make up to 45 to 55 percent of world trade. And there are forces for inclusion, they create jobs and help to increase incomes,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Actually studies have shown that when you have global value chains spreading, per capita incomes go up.
“We are saying that at this time when global supply chains are trying to build resilience by not being concentrated in one country or the other, we need to see this as an opportunity to encourage them to spread to more developing countries as a force to bring even SMEs and women into the value chains,” she added.
“Making trade more inclusive is not just morally right, it is also in everyone’s economic self-interest,” DDG González said, adding that “WTO members already have a practical, pragmatic and powerful tool to make trade more diversified, markets less concentrated, and economies more resilient — it is called the Trade Facilitation Agreement.”
The world is in crisis – a multidimensional crisis that is turbocharging inequalities, with a devastating impact on the poorest and most vulnerable. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are turning into a mirage of what might have been, as communities and governments struggle to meet immediate needs. The scars of the COVID-19 pandemic run deep in developing countries that suffered terrible losses in lives and livelihoods. The war in Ukraine is contributing to a global cost of living crisis. Climate disasters are becoming more frequent, deadly, and expensive. One in three countries is at high risk of a fiscal crisis. And more than 40 per cent of people in extreme poverty live in countries afflicted by severe debt problems. These trends are deeply damaging to the poorest people and communities – but not to the richest.
The 2023 Financing for Sustainable Development Report reveals a yawning finance divide that will quickly turn into a development deficit for many countries – and a crisis in global trust and solidarity.
This is the background to my proposal to G20 countries for an SDG Stimulus to scale up affordable long-term financing for all countries in need, by at least 500 billion dollars a year.
We need engagement and support from all corners of the world to renew the international financial architecture and make it able to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
There are so many conflicts, humanitarian disasters, extreme weather events and economic upheavals taking place in the world, that a new word is being used to describe the current state of affairs: the “polycrisis”. The word appeared in 2022, a year that began with tentative hopes that the global economy would begin to recover from the huge disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, but was soon dominated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Amidst all of these competing crises, many countries simply don’t have the resources to invest in recovery, climate action, and sustainable development.
This is the challenging environment in which the 2023 Financing for Development (FfD) Forum is taking place at UN Headquarters, between 17 and 20 April, aimed at pushing forward policies to address global developmental issues, from crippling debt, to under-development, and food insecurity.