Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National Development Agency signs Development Cooperation Agreement with German Cooperative Raiffeisen Confederation (South African Government)

South Africa is the latest Southern African Development Community (SADC) partner country to enter into an international development cooperation agreement with the German Cooperative Raiffeisen Confederation (abbreviated DGRV in German), an Apex Cooperatives Body in Germany with over 20 million members. GCRC has ties with more than 30 other countries, to provide consultancy and aid to develop cooperative systems and structures aiming at a sustainable development of the cooperative sector.

The agreement will be implemented through a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Development Agency (NDA), an agency of government tasked with contributing towards the eradication of poverty and its causes in South Africa.

R21.4 billion infrastructure projects completed (SAnews)

As part of government’s commitment to grow the economy through infrastructure delivery, projects worth about R21.4 billion that mainly comprise of roads and human settlement have been completed.

These projects are part of the Infrastructure Investment Plan, which articulates the country’s need for an infrastructure-led economic growth and recovery. The plan was approved by Cabinet in May 2020 and it outlines pipeline of projects from all three spheres of government, state-owned entities and the private sector.

Addressing members of the media on Tuesday in Pretoria, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, said the total value of projects currently in construction is R313.5 billion.

Tunisia: Legal procedures for application of AfCFTA agreement finalised (ZAWYA)

Necessary legal procedures and technical conditions for the application of the provisions of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement were finalised by the General Directorate of Customs on April 6.

The Ministry of Trade and Export Development said all economic actors - exporters, importers, distributors and all those operators interested in the African market- who wish to carry out foreign trade operations within the framework of this continental agreement can use the specimen of the AfCFTA agreement certificate of origin.

The certificate, a key element of the free trade agreement negotiations, can be issued by the chambers of commerce and industry.

Mobile money transfers beat other digital payment platforms (The East African)

Mobile money transactions defied the competition last year, hitting a new record high globally despite the emergence of alternative digital payment platforms.

The latest mobile money industry report by the Global Systems for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) shows that global daily transaction value in 2022 surpassed forecasts to hit $3.45 billion, as the total value transacted on mobile money platforms grew by 22 percent to hit $1.26 trillion.

In East Africa, 41 million new mobile money accounts were registered last year, growing the number of transactions by 18 percent to 28 billion, worth about $491 billion. This is 23 percent higher than in 2021.

Debt payments surpass State running expenses (Business Daily)

Debt repayments for the first nine months of the current financial year overtook the national government’s recurrent spending on items like civil servant salaries for the first time, underlining the burden of mounting State borrowing.

Kenya spent Sh815.35 billion on debt repayments between July 2022 and March, up from Sh740.69 billion in the same period a year earlier.

This marks the first time in Kenya’s history that debt costs have surpassed the recurrent expenditure that stood at Sh814.7 over the period, Treasury data show.

Zimbabwe: Transform Africa IT Summit kicks off with $1.5m project to enhance digital trade (The Africa Report)

Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga introduced Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa, Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), Faure Gnassingbé (Togo), Hakainde Hichilema (Zambia), and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) to the three-day summit on Wednesday.

The special project will create harmonised e-payment policies across 10 countries to enhance digital trade and encourage e-commerce.

Cross border e-payments through the Digital Payments and e-Commerce Policies for Cross-Border Trade Project (IDECT) will be facilitated for governments, the private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises. The use of technology in day-to-day government projects and how investment in digital technology can create more efficient services and encourage economic growth.

Oil trade routes that take at least 5 times as long after war will likely result in more pollution (Anadolu Ajansı)

While Europe shifted away from Russian suppliers and toward those in West Africa, Latin America, and the US, Russia shifted 90% of its crude exports, which were originally destined for European markets, to those in India and China. Before the war, the voyage of a Russian oil ship from the Baltic ports of Ust-Luga and Primorsk to European ports in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium took five to six days because Europe was Russia’s main oil export destination.

Sudan fighting likely to affect supply chains, disrupt regional trade - analysts (The North Africa Post)

As fierce battles between armed forces loyal to two rival generals continue raging and with Sudanese counting their losses, the wider region is already reeling from the impact of the one-week conflict due to Khartoum’s economic importance in Northeast Africa, according to analysts.

Khartoum’s economic importance to its neighbors have already been felt and, as the conflict continues unabated, the wider region should brace for more losses, analysts warn.

“Sudan also plays a key role in preventing infiltration of terror merchants, or illegal weapons, who may be hiding in troubled Libya,” says Claire Amuhaya of Rudn University in Moscow. “It connects important transportation routes for aviation, oil and other stuff. It needs to be in stable hands to sustain this flow,” she adds.

Technical Assistance Coordination Group reviews Comoros, Timor-Leste post-accession needs (WTO)

Now that the accessions of Comoros and Timor-Leste are progressing rapidly towards conclusion, with the terms of their WTO membership starting to emerge, it is important to start looking at the support these two LDCs would need to implement their future commitments and obligations.

“Based on the experience from past accessions, the implementation of WTO commitments can be as challenging and demanding as negotiating them, if not more so,” WTO Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang said.

Investment Policy Review of Togo (UNCTAD)

Togo’s IPR, commissioned by the government, includes an analysis of development policies, the business climate and institutions with a role in investment. Two fact-finding missions, in May and July 2022, completed the desk research. A workshop to present the draft report to stakeholders was held online on 17-18 January 2023.

UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Reviews (IPRs) help countries to improve their investment policies in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also help to familiarize governments and the private sector with the investment climate in these countries.

ECA’s Antonio Pedro urges Africa to cooperate for sustainable development (UNECA)

United Nations agencies should cooperate and coordinate their work to help member countries achieve sustainable development, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Acting Executive Secretary, Antonio Pedro, has urged.

Addressing a United Nations Country Team (UNCT) retreat in Mozambique, Mr. Pedro, lamented that African countries were not collaborating effectively to deploy their national competencies to attract investment and boost trade among themselves.

“It is not really because of lack of strategies, visions or plans that Africa is not moving, it is because we do not connect the dots,” Mr. Pedro said, urging the UN agencies to take time to understand complementarity between their specific areas of specialization and competence.

Trade Minister advocates for reform at WTO to benefit developing countries (GhanaWeb)

Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Kobina Tahir Hammond, is calling for an enhanced capacity for developing countries to enable them to participate effectively in WTO negotiations and thereby benefit from the Multilateral Trading System.

The Minister also wants the restoration of a fully functional two-tier dispute settlement mechanism i.e. Panels and the Appellate Body to give the multilateral trading system (MTS) the needed predictability and certainty.

Additionally, he is pressing for improving the transparency of governments’ trade measures, especially as it pertains to export prohibitions and restrictions as witnessed during the height of the COVID crisis.

The African Development Fund’s new Climate Action Window, a pivotal instrument for strengthening Africa’s climate resilience (AfDB)

In December 2022, in Tangier, Morocco, on the occasion of the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF), the African Development Bank and its development partners created a Climate Action Window for low-income countries. The window covers 37 member countries of the ADF, which are also among the world’s most fragile and vulnerable to climate change.

The recently published report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2023) confirms that West Africa, East Africa, and Central Africa are among the world’s hotspots for human vulnerability to climate change. According to the latest climate vulnerability index released in 2022 by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA, nine out of 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa. They are the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Africa, which suffers the most from the effects of climate change – while polluting the least, accounting for just 2.8% of world greenhouse gas emissions – is the continent that receives the least climate finance: less than 3% of total global climate finance.

In response to this urgent need to boost climate finance flow to support Africa’s development and promote a resilient and low-carbon development pathway, the African Development Fund and its partners have committed a total package of $ 8.9 billion to its 2023 to 2025 financing cycle. Of this package, which represents a 14.24% increase over the previous replenishment of $7.4 billion, $429 million is earmarked as seed money for the new Climate Action Window to reach up to $13 billion from traditional and non-traditional partners, as well as state and non-state, including the private sector.

African Development Fund, Smart Africa Alliance launch $1.5 million project to enhance digital trade and e-commerce ecosystems across Africa (AfDB)

The African Development Fund and Smart Africa Alliance have jointly launched a $1.5 million project to streamline digital trade and e-commerce policies across 10 African countries.

The Institutional Support for Digital Payments and e-Commerce Policies for Cross-Border Trade Project (IDECT) will evaluate policy gaps in the digital trade and e-commerce ecosystems of Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project will see to the implementation of regional training and capacity-building programs focusing on cross-border e-payment and e-commerce for governments, private sectors, and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). These programs are expected to reach 600 participants, with 60% being women and youth. Additionally, a certified gender-sensitive e-learning training program addressing the unique challenges faced by women in digital trade and e-commerce, will be developed and disseminated to 2,500 participants, of whom 60% will be women.

“This initiative will bolster the development of harmonized e-payment policies, capacity building, and gender-sensitive frameworks, ultimately fostering a digital trade ecosystem that generates employment opportunities across the continent,” African Development Bank Director General for Southern Africa Region Leïla Mokaddem said.

Facilitating trade and transit in developing countries (UNCTAD)

Helping trade flow as freely as possible across borders requires stronger cooperation, globally and regionally. That’s the message from an UNCTAD event held at UN headquarters in New York on 20 April. The event, gathering over 200 participants, concluded a month-long intensive training for 61 transit coordinators from 12 countries across Africa and Latin America.

The landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) encourages countries to appoint a national coordinator to facilitate the movement of goods in transit while respecting specific regulations, documentation and customs requirements. But as of April 2023, only three WTO members had officially nominated such a coordinator.

“It’s in countries’ interest to appoint coordinators and then let others know about them for better cross-border coordination,” said Jan Hoffmann, head of UNCTAD’s trade logistics branch. UNCTAD works to raise awareness of the key role transit coordinators play, while promoting regional cooperation to help countries benefit from transit facilitation measures.

Tough Challenges, Tougher Choices: Parliamentarians show resolve in the face of overlapping crises (World Bank)

The Global Parliamentary Forum (GPF) returned to an in-person format following COVID-19, convening 160 parliamentarians from 62 countries in Washington, D.C. on April 10-11, 2023 around the theme “Tough Challenges, Tougher Choices.”

The flagship Spring Meetings event, organized jointly by the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, provides a platform for lawmakers to dialogue directly with World Bank Group and IMF senior leadership and experts, as well as their peers, on the most pressing development challenges.

This year’s GPF took place at a moment when the development landscape is being reshaped by an onslaught of crises, from climate change and surging debt to deepening conflicts and widening gaps in human capital, that are devastating the world and lives of the poor and vulnerable. Many parliamentarians are concerned about how to deliver results to their people in the face of these challenges, but remain committed to finding solutions.

Workshop promotes understanding of quantitative restrictions, notification requirements (WTO)

Quantitative restrictions are, generally speaking, prohibitions or restrictions other than tariffs and other taxes that are imposed on imports or exports, which can be implemented through several policy measures. While QRs are generally prohibited, they are allowed by the WTO in exceptional circumstances and many WTO members use them to fulfil certain legitimate objectives, such as the protection of the environment or human, plant and animal health.

The chair of the Committee, Kenya Uehara of Japan, highlighted that 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of the Council for Trade in Goods decision on notification procedures for quantitative restrictions, establishing an obligation for members to inform the WTO of their trade prohibitions and restrictions on a biennial basis.

New data reveals regional variations in digitally delivered services trade (WTO)

The recently released WTO-OECD Balanced Trade in Services dataset reveals digitally delivered services traded within Asia reached 43.2% of the region’s total trade in these services in 2021, up from 39.2% in 2019 (see Figure 1). Telecommunications, computer and information services as well as business, professional and technical services drove this rapid growth. In North America, the share of intra-regional trade in digitally delivered services rose to 18.2%, up from 15.8% in 2019.

However, the share of Africa’s exports of digitally delivered services to Asia rose from 20.3% in 2019 to 22.0% in 2021. Flows from South and Central America and the Caribbean to North America and to Asia were also on the rise. In 2021, 37.5% of the region’s exports of digitally delivered services went to North American countries, up from 34.5% before the pandemic.

International trade: what you need to know this month (World Economic Forum)

This monthly roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on global trade. Top international trade stories: WTO predicts slower global trade growth in 2023; UK strikes its biggest trade deal since Brexit; EU bans imports of goods linked to deforestation.

Guterres urges countries to recommit to achieving SDGs by 2030 deadline (UN News)

Launching a special edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress report, he warned that their collective promise made in 2015 of a more green, just and equitable global future, is in peril.

The report reveals that just 12 per cent of the 169 SDG targets are on track, while progress on 50 per cent is weak and insufficient. Worst of all, he said is the fact that progress has either stalled or even reversed on more than 30 per cent of the goals.

The UN chief noted that many developing countries cannot invest in the SDGs because of burdensome debt, while climate finance is far below commitments. Richer nations have not yet delivered on the $100 billion promised annually in support, he recalled, among other climate pledges.

“The 2030 Agenda is an agenda of justice and equality, of inclusive, sustainable development, and human rights and dignity for all. It requires fundamental changes to the way the global economy is organized,” he said. “The SDGs are the path to bridge both economic and geopolitical divides; to restore trust and rebuild solidarity,” he added. “Let’s be clear: no country can afford to see them fail.”

Mr. Guterres has appealed for an SDG Stimulus plan of at least $500 billion a year, and for deep reforms to the international financial architecture, both key recommendations in the report.


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