Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA economy demonstrates resilience through multiple gains (SAnews)

Despite the prevailing difficult global economic conditions, South Africa’s economy continues to demonstrate its resilience, with multiple gains being achieved towards the country’s economy, investment and trade.

These include the 0.6% expansion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2023, a R5 billion investment pledge by auto component manufacturers, job creation at the Rainbow Chickens facility in Hammarsdale and an investment by Stellantis to develop a greenfield manufacturing facility.

“Cabinet is pleased with the resilience of the South African economy as shown by South Africa’s GDP second quarter data, as released by StatsSA. This is despite the prevailing difficult global economic conditions and the persistence of the electricity situation in the country,” Minister in The Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Thursday. According to Stats SA, six industries on the supply side of the economy grew in the second quarter, with manufacturing and finance driving much of the upward momentum.

“The petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products division made the largest contribution to the increase in the second quarter. The basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metal products, metal products and machinery division also made a significant contribution to the growth in this industry,” the Minister said.

Kenya exports to Somalia up 76pc after resumption of miraa trade (Nation)

Kenya’s exports to Somalia nearly doubled in the first half of 2023 following the resumption of miraa exports to the Horn of Africa country that has now zoomed past the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia to become the fifth largest destination of the country’s goods in Africa.

Latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows Kenya exported goods worth a record Sh11.4 billion to Somalia in the first six months of the year, underlining a 76 percent growth from Sh6.5 billion in the same half last year.

The increase saw Somalia become Kenya’s fifth largest export destination on the African continent only behind Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Egypt, and above DRC and Ethiopia which previously used to rank above it. This comes a year after Mogadishu lifted a two-year-long ban on Miraa imports from Nairobi after talks between then President Uhuru Kenyatta and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who had been newly elected as the Somalia President.

The miraa exports to Somalia were initially capped at 19 tonnes daily when the ban was lifted in July last year but was later increased to 50 tonnes daily. The lift was a major boost to farmers who had been forced to look for alternative markets for their produce, heavily affecting farmers in Mt Kenya East and West who grow the crop.

Commonwealth supports Southern African trade officials to leverage e-commerce opportunities (The Commonwealth)

The Commonwealth Secretariat and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held a two-day workshop in Johannesburg this week for the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Member States on leveraging emerging digital infrastructure and digital trade opportunities.

Focused on the need for the development of a regional framework on e-commerce within the SACU region, 50 trade officials from the Member States of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and the SACU Secretariat discussed methods to advance work on e-commerce at the regional level and identified key elements to be considered in developing the framework.

In her opening remarks, the Chairperson of SACU and Deputy Principal Secretary of Lesotho’s Ministry of Trade, Tsireletso Mojela said: “The outcome of our deliberations should assist SACU to draw insights that will help strengthen policy and practical interventions towards addressing the changing landscape for cross-border trade, and how SACU can collectively facilitate digital e-commerce trade in the Common Customs Area.”

Senior Director of the Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Paulo Kautoke reiterated that: “To ensure that our Member States continue to leverage the emerging digital infrastructure and digital trade opportunities, the Secretariat is determined to address the challenges that impede the expansion of e-commerce across the Commonwealth and ensure that the evolving digital technologies do not widen the existing digital divide.”

Intra-COMESA exports shoot up (The Herald)

Intra-COMESA exports have increased from US$1.5 billion in 2000 to US$12.8 billion in 2021 as part of the significant achievements under the free trade area regime. This came out at the two-day 10th COMESA Annual Research Forum which started yesterday in Lusaka Zambia. The event is part of efforts to strengthen integration and trade in the region and the African continent.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Secretary General of COMESA, Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe said: “Despite this growth, intra-COMESA exports remain low at about nine percent of its total exports. Recent studies indicate that inter-COMESA export potential is in excess of US$100 billion,” she noted. She added that a lot more work, including research was required to unlock the potential and enable Member States to better utilise the preferences embedded in the Free Trade Area regime.

As the regional bloc approaches its 30th anniversary next year, she said it was important to take stock of its regional integration journey, its achievements, its challenges, and the prospects for promotion of further regional economic integration as an instrument for sustainable economic growth and development.

COMESA infrastructure ministers call for resource mobilization to close regional infrastructure gap (COMESA)

Ministers of infrastructure from the COMESA region conducted their 13th meeting in Kigali, Rwanda with a call for mobilization of funds from national resources, public private partnerships, foreign direct investment and development partners to close the rising infrastructure gap. The meeting which was attended by ministers and ministerial representatives responsible for transport and communications, information technology and energy, noted that since the onset of the COVID -19 pandemic, the infrastructure gaps have increased as resources were shifted towards the needs of the pandemic.

It is estimated that African infrastructure gap is have increased in the year 2020 to between $59 billion and $96 billion.

Rwanda Minister for Minister of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Eng. Patricie UWASE, who opened the meeting noted that despite the positive efforts of Member States, regional infrastructure is still lacking in terms of its quantity and quality. “In addition, our national policies sometimes could hinder easiness of trade, mobility and logistics,” she added. She called on the ministers to provide policy guidance to facilitate development and adoption of practical solutions to mitigate the infrastructure challenges to ensure adequacy of the infrastructure in relation to current and future demand.

Niger receives 265 trucks of basic supplies from Burkina Faso amid ECOWAS embargo (GhanaWeb)

The military junta in Niger has affirmed relations with their counterparts in Burkina Faso relative to supply of basic commodities. A report by the state-run Radio, Television Niger (RTN) revealed that Burkina Faso had delivered 265 trucks of supplies to Niger this week. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Seydou Asman, was at the Niamey-Tillabery Regional Customs Directorate to receive the trucks which had various goods from Burkina Faso.

The intervention is part of the supply of basic necessities initiated between the two neighbours in the face of what the junta has declared “unfair ECOWAS sanctions.” ECOWAS slapped economic sanctions on Niger, including general and targeted sanctions on the landlocked country after the July 26 coup, including border closures and trade freeze.

Already the two countries have also agreed a military-level agreement that allows Burkina Faso to deploy men and logistics to support Niger in case ECOWAS carries out a threat to militarily engage the junta.

Integrating Sustainability Standards in South-South Trade Policies (Farmers Review Africa)

Trade between developing countries and regions—known as “South–South trade”—is growing rapidly. In the past couple of decades, its value has grown almost tenfold, from USD 600 billion in 1995 to USD 5.3 trillion in 2021.

A new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) explores how governments in developing countries are using voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) in their trade policies to ensure this growth benefits small-scale producers, communities, and the environment. VSSs are private or public initiatives that set requirements for producing, consuming, and trading products more sustainably. However, small-scale producers in developing countries can face challenges participating in them, such as high certification costs and a lack of support, incentive, or information on how to adopt their practices.

“Governments in developing countries are increasingly recognizing the benefits of working with VSSs to promote trade that supports more sustainable production practices while also addressing some of the concerns associated with their adoption,” said Steffany Bermúdez, Policy Advisor, IISD.

“We found that integrating VSSs in South–South trade policies can help reduce some barriers to trade for small-scale producers and SMEs,” said Florencia Sarmiento, Policy Analyst, IISD. “It can also encourage trust and recognition in VSSs, lower the costs of compliance, increase demand for VSS-compliant products, and promote harmonization between different standards.”

Ruto, Adesina Backs African Youths’ Demand for Involvement in Setting Climate Policies (THISDAYLIVE)

President of African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the President of Kenya, William Ruto, have backed the demand of African youths for greater involvement in setting national and international climate policies, insisting that African youths are the biggest asset to the African continent and the global population.

Both leaders made the declaration at the recently concluded Africa Youth Climate Assembly, which held in Nairobi, Kanya, where issues of accelerated establishment of a Global Green Bank and a New Global Financial Pact, were discussed. The discussions were aimed at prioritising young people and their interests in climate financing, at a time when hundreds of young people from across Africa are demanding a significant role in decision making for climate action.

In response to the Declaration, President Ruto and the Bank Chief recognised Africa’s youth as the biggest asset for Africa and the whole world, praising their dynamism and innovation. Ruto and Adesina backed their demand for greater involvement in setting national and international climate policies.

Ruto highlighted his government’s initiative to establish smart cities to tackle unsustainable settlements and cut pollution in a bid to foster environmentally sustainable development. One way of investing in young people is by providing quality education and skills to help them tackle future challenges, Ruto said. He explained that his government had committed the largest budget in the country’s history to education – 630 billion KES ($433 million), representing over 27 per cent of the total annual budget. Adesina who had similar sentiments, underscoring the critical nature of youth investment in fostering growth and stability on the continent, said: “The biggest risk in this continent is not investing in the youth. The youth need investment, not empowerment. The African Development Bank has set up youth strategy to provide 25 million jobs. So far, we have developed 15 million jobs: ten million in the formal sector and five million in the informal sector.”

UAE’s Belt and Road Initiative Summit participation highlights its role as global trade hub linking Asia, Europe and Africa (ZAWYA)

Today, the UAE is participating in the 8th session of the Belt and Road Initiative Summit in Hong Kong, with the aim of enhancing joint trade and investment cooperation with governments and the private sector, especially in the new economy, technology and entrepreneurship. The UAE has broad economic and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China, which is one of the country’s most important strategic partners in the world, as well as with countries that will contribute to the Silk Road trade corridors connecting the East with the West.

Since the launch of the Belt and Road initiative, the UAE has been leveraging its development potential, strategic location, and pioneering economic role in the region to be an active participant in it. The initiative is considered a favourable opportunity to advance the country’s development and investment plans regionally and internationally, especially since the initiative focuses on the UAE’s pivotal role in international trade and is in line with the objectives of the UAE Centennial. The economic partnership agreements the UAE forged as part of the initiative constitute an essential pillar of the UAE’s non-oil trade, as it contributes to approximately 30 percent of the UAE’s non-oil trade.

The UAE has advanced logistical capabilities with its state-of-the-art airports and international ports, which are now classified as the largest container handlers in the Middle East region, along with its capabilities in transporting large quantities of goods, which can be used to integrate land routes with the shipping lanes in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. In light of this competitive advantage of the UAE, the Belt and Road Initiative will enhance its capacity and position as a global centre for merchandise trade and logistics services, strengthening its position as a strategic point of contact between Asia, Europe and Africa.

Steel industry highlights importance of trade policy in decarbonisation efforts ahead of COP28 (WTO)

In her opening remarks, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted that the steel industry needs the right trade policy environment to support its decarbonization efforts, stressing the importance of an environment which should enable investments in breakthrough technologies, ensure availability of critical inputs, and increase the demand and cost competitiveness of green steel. Noting that carbon pricing has an important role to play in reaching net zero for greenhouse gas emissions, Rajiv Mangal, Vice President for Safety, Health and Sustainability of Tata Steel, said that implementation of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism could help provide a level playing field for steel in the European Union by ensuring that the cost of carbon is passed on to consumers.

High-level panel discusses inclusive strategies for climate action, sustainable trade (WTO)

Empowering vulnerable communities in decision-making processes is imperative for addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change, said participants in a high-level panel at the 2023 Public Forum on 14 September. They discussed how a holistic approach embracing diverse perspectives can help to develop comprehensive strategies and pave the way for a sustainable future for communities across the globe.

In a video message, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association of Indigenous Women and People of Chad, highlighted the dangers facing indigenous people as a result of climate change. She urged the global community to pursue a new trade model not powered by fossil fuels and to invest more in the African continent to boost the growth of renewable energy. “Only 2% of renewable energy investment goes to Africa. Climate change is a threat to our survival. It’s time for all participants in climate change discussions to make a real move,” she said.

“People who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution,” Margot Brown, Senior Vice President of Justice & Equity at the Environmental Defense Fund said, emphasizing the need for decision-makers to listen to the needs of marginalized people and to invest more in building capacity. She also stressed the importance of long-term thinking when introducing green technologies. We should consider the entire ecosystem and assess the impact of these technologies on seven generations to come, she added.

Better Cotton to discuss traceability at WTO Public Forum in Geneva (Fibre2Fashion)

Better Cotton, the world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative, will this week participate in a panel discussion at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Public Forum focusing on the topic of traceability within fashion and textile supply chains. The session, titled: ‘Traceability as the Key Enabler for Improving the Sustainability of Cotton Value Chains’ will take place September 15 at the Centre William Rappard, in Geneva, Switzerland, Better Cotton said in a press release.

Traceability will be discussed in the context of how it could benefit fashion and textile supply chains facing tightening due diligence legislation, in addition to investor pressure and changing consumer expectations around sustainability. Traceability will connect farmers to the supply chain and form the foundation for an Impact Marketplace Better Cotton is developing, through which farmers would be rewarded for their transition to more sustainable farming.

After two years of development, Better Cotton will this year launch its own traceability solution, capable of providing supply chain visibility for industry stakeholders. With this, cotton will be fed through new Chain of Custody models that monitor the flow of product throughout the value chain.

World Investment Forum to mobilize financing for climate, energy, health and food (UNCTAD)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold the World Investment Forum 2023 to rally investments for climate action, clean energy, health care, food security and other development needs.

“As the world faces multiple crises, we urgently need investment stakeholders worldwide to ignite action, unlock more funds and channel them to vital sectors key to reducing the effects of these crises,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2023, overlapping crises such as the war in Ukraine, high food and energy prices and debt pressures led to a 12% decline in global foreign direct investment in 2022.

Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, minister of state for foreign trade in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said UNCTAD can play a major role in addressing and ultimately mitigating these interlocking issues. “It is an undeniably challenging moment for the global economy, and for the economies of the Global South in particular. As we confront the triple shocks of inflation, geopolitical uncertainty and climate change, balancing prosperity and sustainability requires a combination of innovation, investment and, perhaps above all, will,” Dr. Al Zeyoudi said.

He added that the forum provides an opportune moment for the global investment community, supported by policymakers and institutions, to mobilize and direct capital to projects that can fast-track environmentally responsible and socially beneficial development.

Experts make case for tackling climate and sustainable development together (UN News)

In the first-of-its kind report launched on Wednesday, a group of independent experts use available data and evidence to outline the steps governments should take to maximize the impact of agreed policies and actions to address the worsening climate crisis and lagging achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis: Tackling Climate and SDG Action Together | Report on Strengthening the Evidence Base I, First Edition 2023

“We must get the SDGs on track and keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive,” said Li Junhua, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presenting the report’s findings during an online event at the UN Headquarters. He stressed the need for an integrated approach to strengthen synergies between these two global agendas.

The SDG Progress Report released earlier in the year highlights that only 12 per cent of the targets are on track, while over 30 per cent of the SDGs have either stalled or regressed. Meanwhile, the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC, unequivocally shows that to keep the global temperature within 1.5°C limit, emissions need to be reduced by at least 43 per cent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. The Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, Simon Stiell, echoed Mr. Li’s sentiment, stating: “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and stabilizing our climate to build resilient societies are two sides of the same endeavor.”

Quick links

Only Kenyans Require Visa Before Traveling To Somalia, Other African Citizens Can Get It on Arrival (Tuko.co.ke)

How streamlining services trade can accelerate growth in the Middle East and Africa (The European Sting)

African Union tests diplomatic muscle with G20 entry (Monitor)

Taking the pulse of the planet as the world gathers at the UN (UN Africa Renewal)

The Role of African Multilateralism in the New Agenda for Peace (IPI Global Observatory)

As EU carbon border levy looms, businesses scramble to get ready (Energy Monitor)

IMF Staff Co-Publish Paper on Climate Alignment for the Financial Sector (IMF)


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