Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Eswatini Air flights boost tourism, trade ties with SA (CAJ News Africa)

THE resumption of flights by Eswatini Air to South Africa is anticipated to boost trade between the two countries. The direct flight to Durban was opened early in May, with a maximum capacity of 50 passengers operated by an Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft. It operates flights on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There are plans to increase frequencies to seven times a week from this month, based on demand.

“Eswatini is one of the key regional tourism markets and shares strong historical and cultural ties with the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” Member of Executive Committee (MEC) for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma, said.

Pre-pandemic, tourist arrivals from Eswatini averaged 290 000 per annum and in 2022 tourist arrivals demonstrated a strong recovery of 89 percent. “This presents an exciting opportunity for Eswatini Air to grow as a partner in accelerating the recovery of tourism between the two destinations,” Duma said.

Rwanda steps up policy efforts to spur e-commerce growth (UNCTAD)

As a landlocked economy undergoing massive transformation, Rwanda is increasingly gaining international attention for its forward-looking digital policies. Such policies, in part, aim at boosting the country’s emerging digital economy through a coordinated “whole-of-government” approach, and could be strengthened by a national e-commerce strategy as outlined in a report recently published by UNCTAD.

“E-commerce growth is a unique opportunity to open access to international and local markets for our small and medium-sized enterprises. It can help strengthen the private sector’s contribution to national growth,” says Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, Rwanda’s minister of trade and industry, in the report’s foreword.

The UNCTAD report outlines a five-year strategic plan to foster an enabling e-commerce environment in Rwanda, with detailed frameworks for governance, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Another key aspect of the strategy is enabling more Rwandan women – particularly those living in rural areas – to benefit from the digital economy.

This would require reducing telecommunication costs, while making it more affordable for women to use and own devices such as smartphones and computers to ease e-commerce.

Other initiatives featured in the report aim to improve women’s digital skills and knowledge, as well as access to financial services to help grow their businesses.

Single digital market crucial for Africa to navigate economic challenges: GITEX Africa 2023 (Ahram Online)

The inaugural event of GITEX AFRICA 2023, which concludes on Friday, is being held in Marrakech, Morocco. It is the biggest event on the continent gathering investors, startups and innovators seeking to advance digital transformation in Africa and showcasing the newest in all tech-based solutions.

Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s minister of state for artificial intelligence, said that the global tech market is expected to jump to $712 billion by 2030, up from $115 billion. This increase provides a golden chance for Africa with its large young population to accelerate the process of digital transformation for the benefit of the continent’s economies and people.

“Private sector and governments have to work hand in hand to push forward the digital transition process, and to support the small and medium-sized enterprises in this regard,” Trixie Lohmirman, the CEO of GITEX Africa organiser UAE-based KAOUN, said.

Africa Month: African youths optimistic over AfCFTA – Report (Vanguard)

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s African Youth Survey reports have revealed that 46 per cent of young Africans had limited knowledge of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, which was brokered by the African Union, AU, in 2018.

The foundation, which conducted an expansive study of Africans between the ages of 18 and 24, also disclosed that among those who were aware of AfCFTA, the majority (55 per cent) of respondents said the free trade area would have a positive impact on their country.

According to the foundation, a little more than one-in-five young Africans (22 per cent) indicated that they were familiar with AfCFTA, one-in-five were skeptical about AfCFTA making a difference in their country’s economic situation, while 15 per cent noted that it would worsen the situation.

AfCFTA: African ministers adopt ban on trade of second-hand clothes (The New Times)

African ministers, on June 1, adopted the protocol that prevents trading second-hand clothes across the continent under the preferences of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The decision was taken during the second Ministerial Retreat of the Council of Ministers on the AfCFTA, held in Nairobi, Kenya, to assess the progress and address critical aspects of the agreement’s implementation.

Held under the theme “The Role of the Private Sector in the Implementation of the AfCFTA: Own and Drive AfCFTA,” they discussed the outstanding Rules of Origin on Auto, Textiles and Clothing, estimated tariff revenue losses and the adjustment facility allocations, as well as proposals on front-loading liberalisation of trade in basic agricultural products.

Manufacturing industry a catalyst for economic growth – Adeyemi (Businessday)

The manufacturing industry serves as a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and technological advancement; it adds value to the economy and fosters innovation and productivity, according to Tumi Adeyemi, founder and CEO, ZenoLynk Technologies Limited.

This was disclosed recently at the third Equipment and Manufacturing West Africa (EMWA) Expo in Lagos themed, ‘Reigniting Manufacturing to Drive Growth and Development’.

In his address, Adeyemi noted that although Nigeria’s manufacturing sector is faced with obstacles such as inadequate infrastructure, unreliable power supply, bureaucratic bottlenecks, etc, it possesses immense potential for growth and development.

According to him, “By capitalising on this vast market of 1.3 billion people and eliminating trade barriers, Nigerian manufacturers can expand their reach, tap into new markets, and bolster export-oriented production. This agreement calls for strategic planning, increased competitiveness, and product diversification to position our manufacturing sector as a regional powerhouse.”

Africa must work together to guarantee food, economic security – Akufo-Addo (Ghana Business News)

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African leaders to foster intra-trade partnerships to ensure sustainable economic growth for the continent. He said it was imperative that the countries took advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement to guarantee food and economic security. The President made the call when he addressed the opening of the Seventh African Leadership Forum (ALF) in Accra on Thursday.

Ghana is hosting this year’s ALF on the theme: “Promoting Intra-Africa Trade to Unlock Agricultural Potential in Africa.” It aims to highlight the continent’s agricultural potentials and opportunities emerging from climate change, discuss the obstacles, as well as practical and realistic requirements for implementing the AfCFTA. The agenda is to identify priorities and a roadmap for implementing the agricultural trade perspective under the Agreement to realise its transformative economic objective.

The President said the time had come for the continent to define its own narratives in respect of producing enough to feed its people. This was achievable given the continent’s vast arable land and natural resources, he noted.

Establishing food security, the President noted, was important for millions of people facing hunger in Africa, and crucial for sustainable economic development and the long-term prosperity of the continent.

Africa moves to protect its interests in the global tax rules to increase revenues and stem illicit financial flows (AU)

The African Union has concluded a three-day meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration- Sub-Committee on Tax and Illicit Financial Flows under the theme “Tax in Africa: contemporary issues affecting the continent” and adopted recommendations that ensure African interests are protected in the design and implementation of the global tax rules, and ways to improve domestic resource mobilization for Africa’s development.

The meeting discussed parameters of the African position on the Promotion of inclusive and effective tax cooperation at the United Nations and on the consideration of the enactment of a Domestic Minimum Top-up tax for tax base protection ahead of the incoming global tax rules; adopted recommendations to use the VAT toolkit by ATAF for improved revenue collection on cross-border supplies; and identified areas where future legislative action or coordination would benefit Member States, the African Union and relevant partners, in regard to addressing the issue of wasteful tax incentives, stemming of Illicit Financial Flows respectively, and improving continental domestic resource mobilization necessary for the development of the continent.

Amb. Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, noted that to effectively operationalize the UN Convention on International Tax Cooperation, the process must be inclusive in incorporating the views of existing African structures and leverage the work of the UN Committee of Experts on International Tax Cooperation. Further, the Member State-led intergovernmental body ought to have a well-resourced technical structure to focus on specific pain points in developing countries not addressed by previous initiatives to address gaps in tax cooperation. “At the continent level, the core issue is how Africa can develop tax administrations to increase investments from the current level of 20% of GDP to 40%. By incorporating the views of existing African structures, the operationalization process of the Convention will ensure accountability and full ownership by the Member States.”

Regional bodies meet in Madagascar to discuss domestic financing (Africa Science News)

The African Union (AU) Commission, in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States ‎‎(ECCAS) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Member States, ‎is ‎convening experts on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)‎ programming for ‎a regional meeting to discuss mobilising domestic ‎resources and ‎strengthening ‎programs to combat NTDs in the ‎Eastern and Central African ‎regions from 31 May to 02 June in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

NTDs regularly occur within an area or community (endemic) in 49 AU Member States. They affect more than 600 million people, accounting for about 42% of the global burden of ‎NTDs. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, heightened exposure to vectors, unsafe food and water, reservoir hosts and climate and other poor living conditions exacerbate the spread of NTDs. In some regions of the African continent, socio-political conflicts and internal civil unrest continue to aggravate the spread of NTDs and hamper effective interventions to control and /or eliminate these diseases.

The leaders called for the containment and reversal of other major infectious diseases as part of the continental agenda to promote poverty reduction, sustainable development and political security. The Abuja call is reinforced by the AU Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want”, which envisions healthy and well-nourished African citizens free of all diseases, including NTDs.

“The African Union (AU) Commission is committed to attaining Aspiration One, Goal three of Agenda 2063, of well-nourished and healthy citizens. The AU Continental Framework and Common African Position on NTDs recommend strong strategies to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa. Our collective task moving forward is a mandate to increase investment, action and collaboration towards successfully implementing the recommendations. We are committed to collaborating with partners to progress the elimination of NTDs on the African Continent,”- Prof. Julio Rakotonirina, Director of Health and Humanitarian Affairs, Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development African Union Commission

EAC Secretariat given greenlight to commence negotiations with Somalia (The New Times)

Regional leaders on Wednesday, May 31, directed the East African Community Secretariat and the Council of Ministers to “with immediate effect” commence negotiations with Somalia as regards the latter’s request to join the seven-member bloc.

That was after the Heads of State deliberated on and adopted the report of the verification of the application of Somalia to join the EAC – earlier circulated to the partner states – during their 21st Extraordinary EAC Heads of State Summit.

Somalia’s Presidential Special Envoy to the EAC, Abdusalam Omer, on Thursday, June 1, told The New Times that “This is a major milestone for Somalia’s accession to the EAC and the acceptance of its application. It is a testament that Somalia has met the necessary requirements to join the EAC. I am sure the negotiations will be successful.”

EABC: EAC taxmen should facilitate trade not only tax (Tanzania Daily News)

THE East African Business Council (EABC) has advised the East African revenue authorities to focus on trade facilitation and not only to dwell on tax issues. The EABC Executive Director, Mr John-Bosco Kalisa, said on Tuesday that the governments should provide incentives and measures to build businesses better and more resilient amid global crises.

“Revenue authorities should focus on trade facilitation,” Mr Kalisa said during the senior executives’ tax seminar aiming at gaining valuable insights from tax experts and experiences in East Africa. “The EAC partner states should harmonise their monetary and fiscal policies to remove tax distortions.”

Last July, EAC partner states started applying a 4-band EAC Common External Tariff Structure of 0 per cent, 10 per cent, 25 per cent, and 35 per cent. The new tariff structure maintained the sensitive items that attract tariff rates of 50 per cent to 100 per cent.

UNCTAD tool improves service trade data in West Africa (UNCTAD)

Statistics on trade in services are crucial to supporting negotiations and monitoring the impact of relevant trade agreements. But getting comprehensive, high-quality statistics in this area remains a challenge for many developing countries.

UNCTAD’s trade in services statistics (TiSSTAT) information system developed at the request of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, known by its French acronym UEMOA, is helping countries in the region to tackle this issue.

Trade in services is conceptually difficult to measure, as it takes varying forms from transport and construction to business services. By their very nature, such services are often produced and consumed at the same time, and their trade is not captured by customs systems.

The TiSSTAT software developed under an UNCTAD-UEMOA project helps strengthen and streamline the collection and processing of statistics on international trade in services.

West African states urged to make a start on ‘daunting’ $15bn highway (Global Construction Review)

The governments of five West African states held more talks last month about a long-discussed $15bn highway connecting Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, taking in Benin, Togo, and Ghana along the Gulf of Guinea coast.

The 1,028 km road would form the spine of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, a major economic development project.

Ghanaian vice president Mahamudu Bawumia said the prompt execution of the project was critical for the economic development of the region, particularly in the wake of the implementation of the Africa Continent Free Trade Area.

He said most of the preparatory work, such as feasibility and preliminary design studies, had been completed, and that the time had come for the five countries to be “more committed to the commencement of this daunting project”.

West African sub-regional actors mobilize for sustainable development of the sub-region (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), through its Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, in partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Cooperation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Comité Inter Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) and the World Food Programme (WFP), is organizing in Dakar a Regional meeting of Intergovernmental Organizations in West Africa: “Promoting Regional Value chains and food security for strengthening regional integration and sustainable development in West Africa”.

The specific objectives of the meeting are: Review the progress on the regional integration, Review and discuss the findings of the ECA’s study on the Opportunities for Regional Value Chains in West Africa within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Assess the recent subregional macro-economic and food security trends;

EU spends £32 million to boost energy in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Mali others (The Guardian Nigeria)

The European Union is expending the sum of £32 million euros as part of ongoing effort to boost the energy sector in Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries. The AGoSE-AO program which seeks to Improve governance of the energy sector in West Africa was commissioned through the 11th European Development Funds is to be implemented between May 2022 to April 2024.

Officials of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in conjunction with the European Union (EU) and other development partners held talks in Abuja yesterday aimed at boosting the energy sector in Nigeria and other countries in the west African sub-region.

Mr Bayaornibe Dabire, Directeur of Energy and Mines of ECOWAS and chairman of the meeting urges all stakeholders within the energy sector to continue to work together and to forge a path towards enhanced governance, transparency, and accountability in the energy sector, hence paving the way for sustainable development and alleviating poverty in West Africa.

Gender, Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries 2023 (AfDB)

This volume is divided into three main parts. Part I highlights the progress being made by African countries towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Part II presents comparative cross-country data on gender (section 1), poverty (section 2), and the environment (section 3). Part III provides more detailed data on each of these three themes across each of the 54 African countries.

BRICS Ministers reflect on Russia-Ukraine war, Sudan conflict (SAnews)

“The Ministers recalled their national positions concerning the situation in and around Ukraine, as expressed at the appropriate fora, including the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and UNGA [United Nations General Assembly],” a joint statement from the Ministers on Thursday read. “They reiterated their commitment to enhancing and improving global governance by promoting a more agile, effective, efficient, representative and accountable international and multilateral system,” the statement said.

BRICS pitches for using local currencies in international trade (Devdiscourse)

The BRICS nations on Friday underlined the need for using local currencies in international trade and financial transactions besides committing themselves to supporting rule-based open and transparent global trade. A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, also pressed for a robust Global Financial Safety Net with a quota-based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF) at its centre.

The joint statement titled ‘The Cape of Good Hope’, said ministers expressed their support for a free, open, transparent, inclusive, equitable, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, with special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing countries, including Least Developed Countries.

‘‘They stressed their support to work towards positive and meaningful outcomes on the issues at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). They committed to engage constructively to pursue the necessary WTO reform with a view to presenting concrete deliverables to MC13. They called for the restoration of a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024, and the selection of new Appellate Body Members without further delay,’’ it said.

WTO flags poor utilisation of India scheme for least developed countries (Business Standard)

About 85 per cent of about 11,000 products offered at zero tariff by India to least developed countries (LDCs) under the duty-free quota free (DFQF) scheme of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) remains unutilised, according to a report by the LDC Group at the multilateral trade body.

The decision to provide duty free quota free (DFQF) access for LDCs was first taken at the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in 2005. The decision requires all developed and developing country members declaring themselves in a position to do so, to provide preferential market access for all products originating from all LDCs.

“There is a significant variation between the beneficiary LDCs, and the two countries (Guinea and Bangladesh) showing the highest amount of eligible imports simultaneously have very low utilisation rates (8 per cent for Guinea and 0 per cent in the case of Bangladesh). Benin on the other hand, reports a utilisation rate of 98 per cent, which is the highest of all beneficiary countries,” the report pointed out.

Beyond Trade and GDP: Exploring the Wealth of the Commonwealth (The Commonwealth)

Together, the 56 Commonwealth countries possess approximately US$150 trillion of wealth. This is 10 times greater than the value of their combined GDP (US$14.5 trillion) and 30 times more significant than the value of their global exports of goods and services ($4.8 trillion).

Three key components of this multidimensional measure of the wealth are physical capital (such as infrastructure and buildings), human capital (such as education and skills of the workforce), natural resources (both renewables and non-renewables).

Commonwealth countries’ wealth has grown by more than 108 percent between 1995 and 2018, surpassing the growth in global wealth (90 percent) in the same period. It has raised per capita wealth in the Commonwealth from US$42,700 to $59,800 despite the rapid rise in population from 1.7 billion to 2.5 billion. The primary driver of this increase has been the expansion of human resources and produced capital stocks, which saw an extraordinary increase, particularly in Asia and Africa

The ongoing restructuring of regional and global value chains offers numerous opportunities for Commonwealth members to leverage their abundant natural wealth to promote sustainable production and trade. Commonwealth countries possess abundant natural resources and renewable assets. With the growing focus on environmental concerns, Commonwealth countries are well-positioned to provide a wide range of environmental goods and services.

Commonwealth countries also hold a substantial stock of critical minerals required for the clean energy transition and digitalisation. This creates numerous opportunities to attract investment in emerging sectors, such as climate adaptation and digital technologies. Countries can facilitate investment in these emerging sectors by streamlining their regulatory environment.

DG Okonjo-Iweala: Trade key to ensuring food security in a time of crisis (WTO)

The jump in food and energy prices triggered by the war “has brought a complete new spotlight” on the issue of food security, the Director-General told participants. “Many of our developing country members, particularly the least developed countries, are on the receiving end of the crises that are happening in the world. This is something they did not cause but they are the ones who are suffering the most from the lack of access to food, from the lack of access to fertilizer, and from high prices resulting from the exchange rate movements and depreciation of currencies.”

With one in five calories traded internationally, “imagine how important the role of trade is now in order to help us solve this problem of access, of building resilience and of managing the volatility of food prices and energy prices,” she said. So “the first and best thing is keeping an open, predictable and stable international multilateral trading system. Trade has been absolutely central on the food front, and keeping a predictable, stable and fair system is key.”


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