Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

EU and Kenya conclude negotiations for an ambitious Economic Partnership Agreement with strong sustainability provisions (European Commission)

(European Commission)

The EU and Kenya have announced today the political conclusion of the negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Agreement will boost trade in goods and create new economic opportunities, with targeted cooperation to enhance Kenya’s economic development. It is the most ambitious EU trade deal with a developing country when it comes to sustainability provisions such as climate and environmental protection and labour rights.

The EU is Kenya’s first export destination and second largest trading partner, totalling €3.3 billion of trade in 2022 – an increase of 27% compared to 2018. The EPA will create even more opportunities for Kenyan businesses and exporters, as it will at once fully open the EU market for Kenyan products, and it will incentivise EU investment to Kenya thanks to increased legal certainty and stability.

This is a balanced agreement, taking into account Kenya’s development needs by allowing it a longer period to gradually open its market, safeguards for agriculture, and protection of its developing industry. A dedicated chapter has been included on economic and development cooperation, aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the Kenyan economy. Together with EU development assistance, this will help build capacity and assist Kenya in implementing the EPA smoothly, while supporting local farmers in meeting EU standards and in reaping the opportunities this agreement provides.

Liquid’s new subsea cable enhances connectivity between Mauritius and South Africa (Engineering News)

The successful deployment of the Mauritius Telecom T3 subsea cable is set to enhance connectivity between Mauritius and South Africa.

The subsea cable, deployed at pan-African technology group Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ landing facility in Amanzimtoti, in Durban, South Africa, comprises four 13.5 Tb/s fibre pairs, with a design capacity of 54 Tb/s for the whole system.

It is expected to bolster the stability and redundancy around the connectivity that exists between the two countries, said Liquid Intelligent Technologies South Africa CEO Deon Geyser.

“Liquid South Africa is bringing a critical increase in the availability of high-speed and reliable Internet connectivity for economies in the Indian Ocean islands to South Africa, leveraging on Liquid’s 110 000 km of fibre backbone in Africa.”

Driven By Minerals, Metals, Nigeria’s Exports To Surge To $127bn By 2030 (Leadership News)

Driven largely by expected growth in the metal and minerals sector of the economy, the value of Nigeria’s export to other countries is predicted to hit $127 billion by 2030, a new report has projected. The report titled ‘future of trade’ by Standard Chartered, a global bank, said the country’s exports will grow annually by an average rate of 9.5 per cent between 2021 and 2030.

“This growth will be driven by activities in agriculture (4 per cent), metals and minerals (94 per cent), especially with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, adding that by 2030, exports will constitute 20 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” it said.

It said inclusion in the free trade area helps to facilitate trade in sectors ranging from fishery and textiles to automotives and electricals.

“Following this agreement, Nigerian exports to African markets outside of West Africa are expected to increase significantly, and reach markets such as Botswana, Egypt and Kenya,” it added. Last year, the country recorded a trade surplus of N1.2 trillion compared to a deficit of N1.94 trillion in 2021 as the cost of exporting commodities exceeded the value of its import. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that total trade was N52.4 trillion in 2022, 31.8 percent up from N39.8 trillion in 2021, of which total imports amounted to N25.6 trillion, while total exports were recorded at N26.8 trillion.

Zambia Receives Rapid Test Kits to Facilitate Transit Trade (COMESA)

Secretary at the Ministry, Mrs Lillian Bwalya received the equipment which will be used by the Ministry of Health. They will be used at the borders as one of the solutions to eliminate impediments to trade at Chirundu, Mwami and Nakonde One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) under the Zambia Border Post Upgrading project.

The equipment were procured under the COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), with funding from the 11th European Development Fund. The TFP is a EUR 53,000,000 programme with COMESA, under which a EUR 6,880,000 sub-delegation agreement was signed with Zambia in November 2020.

Mrs Bwalya said that testing of products in Zambia has been highly centralised and is usually done from the provincial centres. Hence the procurement and placement of the kits at the designated borders will enable testing of products without having to send samples to the provincial centres. This will allow for more effective surveillance and result in more effective planning.

Niger: Strong Agricultural Season Boosts Economic Rebound in 2022 (World Bank)

Niger’s economy recovered strongly in 2022 after two years of weak growth. This is primarily due to a good agricultural season, thanks to favorable rainfall and an expansion of irrigated land. However, there are uncertainties and risks that could affect future growth, such as the security situation and climatic shocks. These are the findings of the World Bank’s latest economic update for Niger published today.

The report titled “Strengthening Financial Resilience of Pastoralists to Drought” (french) provides an overview of Niger’s economic situation and poverty levels in 2022 as well as the outlook for the next three years. The report also analyzes the potential of using disaster risk financing and insurance instruments for pastoralists to mitigate the adverse socio-economic impacts of climate shocks.

“Niger’s economy depends to a large extent on the livestock sector, which contributes almost 15% of the national GDP. However, this sector is significantly affected by climate shocks,” says Han Fraeters, World Bank Country Manager for Niger. “Disaster risk financing and insurance can play a crucial role in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate shocks on pastoralists, who constitute one of the poorest and most vulnerable populations. These communities face high levels of exposure to such shocks and encounter difficulties in managing and recovering from them.”

East African budgets update

EAC $103m budget focuses on infrastructure growth (The East African)

The East African Community is prioritising infrastructure development in the next fiscal year, signalling a break from a three-year lull blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic. The EAC on Tuesday tabled before the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) budget estimates totalling $103,842,880 for 2023/2024, out of which 43 percent ($44 million), funded by development partners, will be used on infrastructure projects to spur intra-EAC trade, which increased by 13.4 percent to $74.03 billion in 2022 from $65.268 billion in 2021.

The earmarked infrastructure projects are meant to spur intra-EAC trade, which increased by 13.4 percent to $74.03 billion in 2022 from $65.268 billion in 2021.

“In 2022, EAC total exports to the rest of the world were valued at $20.139 billion, while total imports from the rest of the world into the EAC amounted to $53.891 billion,” said Dr Nibigira. Further, total Intra-EAC trade grew by 11.2 percent to $10.910 billion in 2022 from $9.810 billion in 2021.

East African nations to bolster their economies with bigger budgets (Moneyweb)

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are all set to release their annual budgets on Thursday, providing details of their spending priorities and how they expect to fund them.

Most of the East African nations have already signaled that they will increase expenditure to shore up their economies against the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continued aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Finance ministries in East Africa have little choice but to raise their spending as inflation means costs have continued to climb,” said Ben Hunter, an Africa analyst at risk advisory firm Verisk Maplecroft. “East African states sorely need more assistance from the global financial institutions now that access to capital markets has been curtailed for many. An expansion of concessionary lending will be crucial for achieving sustainable growth over the coming decade.”

Budgets: Will intra-regional trade spur nations growth? (The Citizen)

After the devastating Covid-19 and the impact of other global dynamics, will increased intra-regional trade boost growth in East Africa this time around? Four members of the East African Community (EAC) tabled their annual budgets for 2023/24 financial year on Thursday with optimism about recovery.

The finance ministers of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda presented their budgets in Parliament on Thursday with varying priorities.

A quick glance, however, saw infrastructure given much emphasis; as a key factor driving the economies.

According to the EAC Treaty, the Finance Ministers of the partner states are required to read their budgets simultaneously under a common theme. However, this has not yet worked perfectly with countries that joined the bloc recently, like the DR Congo.

Others, like Burundi and South Sudan, still subscribe to the old order of reading their budgets in tandem with the calendar year. As has been the case for many years, Kenya topped the six other EAC partner states in the size of its budget, being the largest economy.

Kenyan investors urged to take advantage of expansive EAC market to do business - KBC (KBC)

Kenyan investors and traders have been encouraged to seize the immense market opportunities presented by the East African Community (EAC) region to expand their businesses.

East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Maina Karobia is in particular appealing to manufacturers to target the 300 million population of the EAC member countries in marketing their wares.

Speaking during the opening of the new Grand Maria Industrial Park in Thika, Kiambu County, the legislator said the regional assembly has enacted laws that make it easy for member states to do business.

The EAC, consisting of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, offers a sizable consumer base and a framework for regional economic integration, making it an attractive market for Kenyan businesses.

EAC budget insufficient, say lawmakers (The Citizen)

The budget estimates for the East African Community (EAC) tabled at the regional assembly last week may not achieve the desired targets. The $103 million would not suffice implementation of projects and operations of the regional body for 2023/24 despite a marginal increase compared to recent years.

“The absolute rise was not significant,” said Ms Fatuma Ndangiza, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) from Rwanda. She told the House, currently holding a sitting here, that the budget increase this time around was partly due to admission of DRC Congo into the bloc. She argued that the regional organization needed “a higher budget allocation to meet its integration targets”.

Increased funding will not only cover routine operations of the EAC but finance an increasing number of projects being executed across the region. These include, among others, fast-tracking the single currency economy project (monetary union), infrastructure development and peace building.

Uganda’s ‘Optimistic’ Budget (The Independent Uganda)

Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, on June 15 hit several optimistic notes for next Financial Year when announcing a Shs52.7 trillion budget. That is a 10% jump from the Shs48 trillion last financial year and the biggest rise in projected government expenditure since COVID struck in 2020.

Kasaija appeared determined to signal a return to pre-COVID-19 positivity by reeling off measure after measure to boost the economy and said the economy is projected to grow at a rate of 6% next FY and at an average of 6.5-7% per year over the next five years.

And many budget followers and experts appear to have bought into the government’s optimism. In post-budget reading interviews with The Independent, many said Kasaija’s planned revenue and expenditures are good.

“It is a good budget. Priority areas are very strategic and important for our country,” said Pamela Natamba, a partner at the PWC.

Martin Kyeyune, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Roofings Group said it is time for citizens to appreciate the role of paying taxes to help government deliver services. “Good investments in agriculture, industry, and service sectors would increase the basket in which URA has to pick taxes,” he said.

Imported smart cards for NIDA granted duty exemption (Daily News)

IMPORTED smart cards for the National Identification Authority (NIDA) are set to be cheaper after the government waived Common External Tariff (CET) to facilitate issuance of the national identity cards.

Presenting government budget estimates for 2023/24 financial year in Parliament on Thursday, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Mwigulu Nchemba said EAC member states had agreed to grant stay of application of EAC Common External. Tariff (CET) rate of 25 per cent apply a duty rate of zero per cent on imported smart cards by the National Identification Authority for one year in order to facilitate issuance of National Identification Cards.

He said the same applies to the rest of the East African Community (EAC) region as it is included in a list of goods for common tariff by member states in a pre-budget meeting held in May in Arusha.

New AfDB sponsored digital platform launched in Kenya to help farmers (Farmers Review Africa)

In a bid to save farmers from heavy losses as a result of erratic weather patterns due to climate change, a new digital platform has been launched to help Kenyan farmers access timely weather updates for proper decision making thanks to a Ksh114 million aid by African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Transformation Centres Digital Platform (KRTCDP) created by the Co-operative University of Kenya (CUK) aims at putting farmers at the centre of a single electronic “ecosystem” and connecting them with all the sectors in the agricultural value chain.

“The platform will help farmers in decision-making through access to agribusiness services and information such as the broadcast of agricultural-cycle information on weather forecasts, wholesale and retail commodity prices,” said Mr. Josphat Muhunyu, the Agricultural Secretary, State Department of Crop Development.

EAC rolls out campaign to grow agri-export trade (EAC)

The East African Community (EAC) has launched a campaign aimed at creating awareness on the agri-export trade opportunities that have been created through the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP). Through the campaign, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural value chain, co-operatives and farmers, as well as government entities in the EAC will access information and tools on agri-export trade.

Speaking at the 14th June, 2023 launch of the campaign, Ms. Flavia Busingye, the Acting Director of Customs at the EAC Secretariat, said that MARKUP had created numerous trade opportunities for agri-SMEs in the region.

“The campaign ‘MARKUP: Growing agri-export markets’ aims to raise awareness of the opportunities in agricultural trade, and to demonstrate that international markets are within reach of East African exporters,” said Ms. Busingye.

Why East Africa farmer groups are opposing new seeds plan (The Citizen)

Farmer groups in East Africa say they will not relent in their opposition to a proposed seed and plant varieties bill. The draft East African Community (EAC) Seed and Plant Varieties Bill is being finalized at the EAC secretariat amid stiff opposition.

Although the EAC says if passed, it would improve access of farmers to improved seeds, non-state seed stakeholders maintain it would marginalise smallholder farmers. “It is more leaning towards stringent commercial seed and plant variety protection (PVP) laws,” said Emmanuel Justine, a programme manager with Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (Esaff). This, he went on, will have massive impacts on smallholder farmers and their systems “including threats to agricultural biodiversity.”

SADC Ministers discuss strategic policies and activities to accelerate implementation of projects and programmes for regional Transport, ICT, Information and Meteorology and Infrastructure (SADC)

The Joint Meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Committee of Ministers responsible for Transport, ICT, Information and Meteorology and Infrastructure met virtually on 16th June 2023 to discuss strategic policies and activities aimed at accelerating implementation of projects and programmes for regional Transport, ICT, Information and Meteorology Infrastructure.

In his remarks, Honourable Augustin Kibasa Maliba, Minister of Postal Services, Telecommunications, and New Information and Communication Services of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chairperson of the Joint Meeting of Committee of Ministers responsible for Transport, ICT, Information, and Meteorology and Infrastructure, emphasised the importance of consolidating their efforts to thoughtfully consider and review policies, strategies, programmes, and projects.

The Minister urged SADC Member States to address the challenges across all sectorial disciplines emanating from unstable universal socio-economic and political conditions, especially the Russia-Ukraine conflict, declining global economic growth, high rates of inflation, tight monetary and financial conditions, as well as the continued threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Corporate Affairs, representing the Executive Secretary of SADC, His Excellency Mr Elias Magosi emphasised that as infrastructure has intertwined linkages with other sectors, such as health, food security, and the environment, SADC Member States must be proactive in ensuring that these sectors develop in a complementary approach.

Ambassador Nourrice called for the development of climate-resilient infrastructure projects and urged Member States to develop innovative solutions and implement best practises that demonstrate resilience to combat adversaries.

Globalising African Voices on Illicit Financial Flows, Asset Recovery (The Gazelle News)

For over two decades, the issue of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) has been a major concern for the Africa as assets and funds running into billions of dollars continue to find its way out of the continent as a result of corrupt public servants and multinational corporations. Their destination is the Western and European countries.

Though stakeholders including the African Union Member-States have played significant roles in the international efforts to combat these opaque and destabilizing transfers of capital, such efforts have not yielded the desired goal.

Tackling corruption, particularly IFFs, has become a matter of survival for Africa’s development and must be treated with urgency. There is broad consensus that the funds being bled out of Africa, could be channeled towards the continent’s development if successfully retained. Former President of South Africa and the Chairman of the African Union High Level Panel on IFFs, Thabo Mbeki, has stated that the African Continent suffered an annual loss of over $50 billion as at 2015 through IFFs, which has grown to $80 billion yearly.

He had also called for the establishment of a globally inclusive intergovernmental tax body to strengthen global efforts against IFFs.

As part of measures towards addressing the IFFs in the Extractive Industries, the African Union (AU) High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (AU HLP on IFF) and the Working Group on the Common African Position on Asset Recovery (CAPAR) in collaboration with the African Union Advisory Board Against Corruption, Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA), Forum Civil, the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) and TrustAfrica, held a conference in Dakar, Senegal.

The Conference, which has as theme “Addressing Illicit Financial Flows and Asset Recovery in the Extractive Industries”, was attended by policymakers, regulators, civil society organizations, industry stakeholders and the media. It was held on the margins of the 2023 Global Conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Dakar, Senegal, which is the first ever EITI global conference to be held in Africa despite African countries being the majority among the EITI’s fifty-seven member states.

Why are African countries, others pushing for ‘de-dollarisation’ — trade in currency other than the USD (ThePrint)

In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, the South African High Commissioner to India spoke out against the “domination” of the US Dollar (USD) in the world economy. He was not the first to question the USD being used as the world’s reserve currency for global trade.

According to media reports earlier this month, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, has called for African leaders to move away from using the USD for intra-Africa trade, and to support the pan-African payments and settlement system, launched in 2022. The reason for the movement gaining recent steam is the economic sanctions enforced by the US-European Union (EU), due to Russia’s operations in Ukraine.

Not just Africa, other global leaders from developing countries have also joined the call for the ‘de-dollarisation’ of trade — which means trade to be carried out between two countries in currencies other than the USD.

Afreximbank Pushes Ahead with Continental Payment System as Several Countries Join (Arise News)

A pan-African payment system that would allow African nations to trade among themselves, using their own currencies, is gaining momentum. The African Export-Import Bank expects 15 to 20 countries to have joined the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) by the end of the year, Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah said in an interview ahead of the lender’s annual meetings in Accra, Ghana’s capital, that runs Sunday through June 21.The platform has started commercial operations with nine countries signed up so far, he told Bloomberg.

The system, known as PAPSS, is using dollar exchange rates for now, said Oramah, whose bank funds the system. “But we are working with central banks to develop an exchange-rate mechanism that would allow Africa’s 42 currencies to be convertible among themselves. What we are doing is to domesticate intra-African payments,” he said.

The vast majority of Africa’s intra-regional trade is done through conversions to the dollar. Initiatives like PAPSS and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which would create the world’s largest free trade zone by area, seek to boost internal trade by reducing barriers, including the need for intermediaries such as the US dollar.

Export & Digitalization: Kick-off in Rabat of the ECA - EU - EBRD Capacity Building Workshops for Women Led Enterprises (UNECA)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Union representations in Morocco and the ECA Office for North Africa will hold on Friday 16 June in Rabat (Morocco) the first of a series of five training workshops for women-led businesses in various parts of Morocco.

These workshops are being organised as part of the EBRD-led “Women in Business” program financed by the EU and benefit from the support of multiple partners including the Moroccan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (AFEM) and the Association of Moroccan Exporters (ASMEX). They are also being organised as part of a series of actions undertaken by the ECA Office in North Africa aimed at the development of programs and policies in support to female entrepreneurship in North Africa and the implementation of an environment conducive to job creation for women and young people in North Africa.

The five workshops will focus on enhancing export capacity and building up the digital skills of about 200 women owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Besides supporting women in the Morocco labour market and their livelihoods, the project’s main objective is to strengthen Morocco’s trade with the African continent and support the country’s structural transformation.

Each workshop will address four key themes, namely access to finance, product development, market development strategies and the digitalization of SME export activities. Participants will learn about financing options available to SMEs, how to identify export opportunities, where are the potential markets in Africa, what are the qualification of exportable products as well as the latest digital platforms and tools that may boost exports.

North Africa to boost public-private partnerships to support economic development (AfDB)

“Diversifying the sources of funding for public infrastructure projects means seeking innovative approaches that integrate public-private partnerships in particular,” the Tunisian Prime Minister, Ms Najla Bouden, told participants of a seminar titled Public-Private Partnerships in North Africa for sustainable and inclusive growth that was held on 15-16 June in Tunis.

“North Africa has immense potential in terms of infrastructure development, which is essential for sustainable economic growth,” said Mohamed El Azizi, African Development Bank Managing Director for North Africa. “Given the investment and maintenance needs of infrastructure, PPPs offer a suitable approach to meeting the challenges facing African countries. However, we must recognize that PPPs are not without their shortcomings and pitfalls. Higher costs, complex contractual processes and potential monopolies are just some of the challenges we need to address diligently,” he warned.

The Generalized System of Preferences: How much does it matter for developing countries? (UNCTAD)

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme is a voluntary trade measure implemented by developed countries that provide an advantageous, or “preferential”, tariff treatment to imports from developing countries.

Different national GSP schemes were introduced following a resolution adopted at the second session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1968. The scheme is expected to contribute to developing countries’ export growth particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Five decades since its inception, the GSP stands at a crossroads. The effectiveness of tariff incentives as a tool to foster exports has eroded over time as trade liberalization processes proceed at multilateral, regional and unilateral levels, and as the relevance of tariffs to overall trade costs declines. The question arises as to whether the relevance and effectiveness of tariff preferences remain valid today.

High-level Policy Roundtable on Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Role of the Public Sector in Money and Payments – A New Vision (IMF)

Our Discussions at today’s panel were exceptionally constructive, as our main objective with this high-level event is to bring this very important discussion on CBDCs to Africa.

We agreed on the need to continue dialogue on CBDCs and to gather and share knowledge and information for the benefit of our member countries in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. We also highlighted the value of enhancing our coordination efforts on the links between digitization, fintech and economic reform.

Harnessing the digital transition is also a key theme of our 2023 Annual Meetings.

In my remarks, I stressed that CBDCs could help to increase inclusion by giving more people access to financial services, and at a lower cost, strengthen the resilience and efficiency of payment systems, and make cross-border payments and remittances cheaper and quicker. However, if poorly designed, CBDCs could also lead to financial stability risks, data privacy and legal challenges, financial integrity and cyber risks, and central bank operational risks.

India’s Modi seeks African Union’s full membership in G20 (Reuters)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written to the leaders of the G20 nations proposing the African Union be given full, permanent membership of the diplomatic group at its upcoming summit in India, an official source said.

Modi’s proposal to grant the African Union full membership in the G20 demonstrates India’s commitment to strengthening Africa’s representation and partnership in shaping global affairs, the source said. The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies. The members represent around 85% of global GDP, over 75% of global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

“This will be a right step towards a just, fair, more inclusive and representative global architecture and governance,” the source said of the African Union proposal. “(The) prime minister is a strong believer in having a greater Voice of the Global South countries on international platforms, particularly of African countries.”

BRICS Expansion Can Wait, Strengthen the Core First (The Wire)

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is a relatively young organisation, established in 2009 merely on the economic prospects of constituents in the evolving and shifting global economic order. Its primary focus has been on economic cooperation, development and multilateralism. It is now seen as an alternative to the Bretton Woods model and other emerging economies are interested in joining it. The list of aspirants now stretches to eight ― Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. While some of these countries indeed have significant economic influence and regional importance, it is important to consider various factors before expanding BRICS.

The BRICS grouping is yet evolving as an organisation and needs time to develop its institutions and governance structure. Its constituents are evolving nationally, establishing robust governance and developmental institutions and exploring associated socioeconomic convergences. BRICS countries differ significantly in terms of economic development. China, with the sheer size of its economy, is challenging existing governance models and institutions while South Africa is still coping with structural economic challenges. India and Brazil remain attractive economically but Russia is cut off, financially and economically.

Recognising this diversity, BRICS members need to engage with each other to build frameworks for cooperation, explore areas of mutual interest and foster collaboration. Accordingly, BRICS countries should prioritise the strengthening of its New Development Bank (NDB) to promote financial and economic inclusion on a global scale. The NDB can play a crucial role in providing funding for infrastructure projects, sustainable development initiatives and other priority areas within BRICS countries and beyond. By enhancing its capacity, expanding its lending capabilities and ensuring efficient governance, BRICS can contribute to reducing the development gap and fostering inclusive growth.

Additionally, the idea of a BRICS currency for trade and internal payment settlements is worth exploring. A shared currency could facilitate trade and investment, reduce transaction costs and enhance economic cooperation within the bloc. However, implementing a common currency would require addressing issues such as exchange rate stability, monetary policy coordination and the establishment of appropriate financial infrastructure. It would also necessitate extensive dialogue and consensus-building among member states, especially on the basis of the intrinsic value of the currency. A currency-commodity basket would be a great idea, reflecting the intrinsic strengths of this currency for global acceptance, beyond internal settlement.

G20 Agriculture Ministers: “Agrifood systems must be part of the solution to the biodiversity and climate crises,” FAO Director-General says (FAO)

Agrifood systems must be part of the solution to the loss of biodiversity and the climate crisis facing our planet, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, today told a meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers.

“Despite progress, today we are facing alarming rates of biodiversity loss, jeopardising food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, prevention of natural disasters and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Qu said in his address to a High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Sustaining Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Food Security, which took place in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

The FAO Director-General emphasized that we need genetic diversity to adapt agrifood systems to climate change, emerging pests, pathogens and changing ecological conditions; we need species diversity for diverse foods; and we need healthy ecosystems to provide water, regulate the climate and provide resilience against disasters.And yet, many drivers of biodiversity loss can be found in inappropriate agricultural practices.”My message is clear: agrifood systems must be part of the solution to the biodiversity and climate crises,” Qu said.

This means promoting improved practices that can help address trade-offs, maintain ecosystems, improve land and soil quality, reduce input use, and strengthen the resilience and adaptation capacity of farming systems to extreme weather events linked to climate change, Qu said.

Second Global Parliamentary Summit reaches historic pact against hunger and malnutrition (FAO)

The Second Global Parliamentary Summit against Hunger and Malnutrition closed on Friday in Chile with a new Global Parliamentary Pact to work towards the transformation of agrifood systems and to promote the right to adequate food for all.

“This event has demonstrated that the first meeting of parliamentarians in 2018 in Spain was not a coincidence. A process has begun today in Chile that will continue in other continents. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will continue to provide technical support to legislative actions that contribute to guaranteeing the right to adequate food”, said Mario Lubetkin, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, welcoming the Pact at the Summit’s closing ceremony.

In the text, over 200 parliamentarians, 15 presidents and vice-presidents of national and regional parliaments and parliamentary bodies from 64 countries agree to commit themselves to work for a transition towards agrifood systems that are sustainable, inclusive, equitable, resilient and conducive to the realization of the right to adequate food for all.

Explainer: What is Russia’s problem with the Black Sea grain deal? (Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin said this month that Russia was considering withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal as he accused the West of cheating Moscow because it still faced obstacles getting its own agricultural goods to world markets. Putin said he would discuss the future of the grain deal with visiting African leaders on Saturday.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative last July to help tackle a global food crisis worsened by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and blockade of its Black Sea ports. It allows food and fertilizer to be exported from three Ukrainian ports - Chornomorsk, Odesa and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny). The deal has been extended three times, most recently until July 17.

The poorest in the world were hit worst by the rising global food prices. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) warned in March last year that its ability to feed some 125 million people was under threat because 50% of its grain came from Ukraine. Between 2018–2020, Africa imported $3.7 billion in wheat (32% of total African wheat imports) from Russia and another $1.4 billion from Ukraine (12% of total African wheat imports), according to the United Nations. The United Nations said last year that 36 countries count on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable, including Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the Black Sea grain deal, more than 625,000 tonnes of grain has so far been shipped by the WFP for aid operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen. In 2022, WFP procured more than half its global wheat grain from Ukraine.

Guterres calls for phasing out fossil fuels to avoid climate ‘catastrophe’ (UN News)

“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open”, he said. “It’s time to wake up and step up.” Mr. Guterres was speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters following a meeting with civil society climate leaders from across the world.

He said limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. However, current policies will lead to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century, which “spells catastrophe”.

He called for immediate global action toward net-zero emissions, which “must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.”


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