tralac Daily News
While the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), held in November, could not reach a consensus on the zero-draft text for a legally binding instrument to coordinate global efforts to end plastic pollution, South Africa continues to make progress in addressing plastic pollution, said Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
In a speech at the South African Plastic Pact CEO engagement breakfast event, she said that government had put a restriction of a minimum of 50% recycled content as part of the product design measures for plastic carrier bags in 2023, with the intention that by 2027 plastic carrier bags and black refuse bags should be made from 100% recycled material.
“The inability to reach a consensus at the INC-3 in Nairobi is disappointing news and reflects the difficult road which lies ahead for effective action at a global level to combat plastic pollution. I am, however, pleased to say today that through the SA Plastics Pact and other forms of government action, our country is making progress in addressing plastic pollution.”
Cabinet has welcomed measures and plans put in place by Transnet to resolve the backlog at ports in Durban and Richard’s Bay. Briefing the media on the Cabinet meeting that took place on Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said Transnet is making intensive efforts to mobilise equipment, such as cranes, from all over the world to ensure a successful execution of its implementation plan.
“The progress made by Transnet in clearing most of the backlog at the Cape Town Container Terminal, with only one vessel at anchorage, is encouraging. Transnet remains committed to working with all role-players to address the challenges within the logistics sector,” the Minister said on Thursday.
Doing business in South Africa comes with a side serving of challenges – as anyone who does business here knows. But South African business owners are also courageous and resilient, and technology is helping them thrive in a post-pandemic world.
South Africa is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in Africa, with businesses optimistic despite the difficult conditions of the past few years. A recent report entitled: ‘Small Business, Big Opportunity’, revealed that confidence in South African small to medium-sized businesses is 10% higher than the global average, and that most of these enterprises expect both their employee numbers and revenue to increase this year.
Technology, and the many opportunities it enables, is set to fuel business growth. In fact, the ‘Small Business, Big Opportunity’ report said business owners see technology as a crucial part of their success. Nearly half of the South African small and medium businesses surveyed said they intend to increase their current investment in technology – specifically into areas like 5G, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Kenya: 818 cargo consignments marked for destruction (Business Daily)
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is holding 818 consignments of condemned cargo marked for destruction, including motor vehicles and sugar. The taxman said the consignments seized by various regulatory agencies include 80 motor vehicles and 48 containers of sugar.
The KRA said in a submission to the National Assembly’s Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee says the condemned sugar consignment was imported from Swaziland by eight companies including M/S Spicy Ventures, Wakalisa Holders, Krishna Allied Industries Pvt, and Sharaf Shipping Agencies. Others are Messina Limited, Wilyan traders, Igaal trading, and Mediterranean Shipping Company. “The sugar consignment is unfit for human consumption and has been condemned for destruction,” said the taxman in its submission to MPs.
Kenya relies on sugar shipments from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) to bridge a deficit in local production. The Comesa Council of Ministers last week gave Kenya the seventh extension against an allowable limit of five years under the bloc’s trade rule.
Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said Ghana is poised to use digital tools to accelerate the integration of the continent through trade. She stated that the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Ghana formed part of efforts to make Ghana the digital gateway in Africa.
Speaking at the first global conference on cyber capacity building in Accra on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful noted that government’s goal is to bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital transformation, and energize Ghana’s economic growth.
By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.
“Our major goal is to bridge the digital divide, facilitate our digital transformation, to energize Ghana’s economic growth. This is designed to establish Ghana as the continent’s digital gateway and it is no accident that we host Africa Continental Free Trade Area and are poised to use digital tools to accelerate the integration of the continent through trade,” the Communications and Digitalization Minister said.
Recurrent shocks, including a prolonged 2020/23 drought, disrupted Somalia’s growth, devastating crops, livestock, and exports. Many fled their homes in search of food and water. The severe drought, coupled with global commodity price surges, intensified inflation, hampering household consumption. Consequently, GDP growth slowed to 2.4% in 2022 from 3.3% the previous year.
Somalia’s economic outlook is improving as effects of these shocks wane, but it remains subject to significant risks. The World Bank projects GDP growth to pick up to 3.1% in 2023 and gradually reach 3.8% by 2025. These improvements are expected to bring about positive, although very modest per capita income growth. As the reforms for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion start to bear fruit, growth prospects are likely to improve further. However, the outlook is subject to significant risks including climatic shocks, security threats, and global economic shocks.
COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber today gaveled the first major milestone of COP28 delivering a historic agreement to operationalize the Fund which will assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, known in the negotiations as ‘loss and damage’
The Fund was first agreed upon during COP27, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and becomes operational today following the agreement reached by parties during 5 transitional committee meetings. The 5th transitional meeting hosted earlier this month in Abu Dhabi was added by the COP28 Presidency following the impasse reached at the 4th meeting, where Parties reached a resolution.
Loss and Damage is essential even if the world meets climate mitigation goals because a “locked-in” level of warming already impacts particularly vulnerable communities being hit by extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, reduced agricultural productivity, and rising sea levels. This decisive action on Loss and Damage will enable the Parties to focus on the strongest possible response to the Global Stocktake, the world’s report card on progress toward Paris Agreement goals.
The UAE announced today its commitment of $100 million to the Fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to countries at extreme risk from climate change, to support climate change mitigation and recovery. Other countries making notable commitments included Germany, which committed $100million, the UK, which committed £40million for the Fund and £20million for other arrangements, Japan, which contributed $10million and the U.S., which committed $17.5million.
Carbon credits may top agenda as UN climate forum begins (The Standard)
Kenya’s move to cede millions of acres of land to Blue Carbon, a young Dubai firm, for creation of carbon credits just days to the highly awaited Cop 28 is a clear demonstration of how the controversial emission offsetting programme will feature as one of the biggest agendas at the summit.
“The FOC (Framework of Collaboration) was signed with the State Department of Environment and Climate Change and underlined Blue Carbon’s commitment to explore and support Kenya’s Article 6 readiness as per the Paris Agreement, whereby carbon credits are generated in the form of Internationally Transferable Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) and aligned with national climate targets,” said Lesia Buinoza, a spokesman for Blue Carbon.
Although the Kenyan government is yet to make the deal public, FOC agreement between Blue Carbon and the Kenya’s Ministry of Environment is being treated as big news by major news networks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The contract is set to be announced as one of the deals that will be made in Dubai by the host nation for Cop 28.
Dubai airport has rolled out the red carpet today for a host of dignitaries flying in for COP28, the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. The shipping industry will be watching on to see what concrete comes out of the 12 days of talks. The sector has had a growing presence in recent COP meetings, most notably the green shipping corridor initiative at the meet-up in Scotland in 2021, however, campaigners argue that this year’s showcase in the oil-rich emirates is unlikely to deliver meaningful direction on shipping’s path to decarbonisation.
“COP28 being held in the UAE this year is the antithesis for any meaningful progress, especially in regards to reducing the carbon footprint of the maritime industry. The UAE is a major oil exporter – 40% of the global shipping fleet is employed to move fossil fuels. It’s like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas,” commented Diane Gilpin, founder of Smart Green Shipping, a UK-based wind-assist solutions provider. “High-profile, feel-good events hosted by major oil exporters won’t reduce emissions.”
Trust deficit hangs over COP28, where humanitarians aim to play a bigger role (The New Humanitarian)
The COP28 climate summit opens today in Dubai with phasing out fossil fuels, new funding for the energy transition, and loss and damage among the urgent issues – while campaigners warn that a crisis of mistrust threatens to divide countries at a crucial time. Humanitarians head to the UN-backed summit in unprecedented numbers and under the long shadow of Gaza: Israel’s siege of the Palestinian territory “will be front and centre”, said Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network International (CAN-I).
“Levels of trust have not been doing well in these [climate] negotiations between the Global South and the Global North”, and the war “certainly will play into what is a growing divide”, Essop said at a pre-summit press briefing. Like major crises before it, the conflict also brings into sharp relief one major difficulty: The resources required to address climate change – political, social, and financial – are delivered through fragile and complex multilateral processes that are frequently diverted to other urgent and immediate concerns.
But this year’s backdrop is grim: Latest predictions suggest the world has only a 14% chance of limiting global warming to the relatively safe limit of 1.5°C this century – even under the most optimistic scenarios. “As we get deeper into this [climate] crisis, these COPs become more relevant to work that we do,” said David Nicholson, chief climate officer at humanitarian response NGO Mercy Corps. “It’s no longer about how to avoid this crisis, but how to manage the crisis.” And as the climate crisis pushes up the humanitarian agenda, some observers say its institutions face key strategic decisions around how best to respond and position themselves for a future set to be dominated by extreme weather events, and finite funding.
Climate action for Africa in 2023: 3 big developments (The East African)
The African Union Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), African member states and other regional partner will mark the African Day on 2 December 2023 at COP28 in Dubai
The 2023 edition of Africa Day, will be held under the theme Scaling up Financing for Climate Action and Green Growth in Africa” which aims to amplify Africa’s voice at the UNFCCC COPs and to provide the space and platform to highlight Africa’s challenges, opportunities and responses to Climate Change.
The theme of this year’s Africa Day builds on insights and outcomes from the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) that was convened by the African Union and hosted by President William Samoei Ruto in September 2023 under the theme” Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World”. In this regard, Africa Day at COP28 will provide a platform for Africa to pitch a strong case for leveraging investment capital from supporting business and ecosystems to leapfrogging to climate-compatible growth for sustainable development.
As the world’s second-largest economy and biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China’s shift to green and low-carbon growth has a significant bearing on global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement to curb climate change. Ahead of this year’s UN climate conference (COP28), an UNCTAD report examines China’s experience in “greening” its development while sustaining its economic growth, marked by rapid industrialization and urbanization over the past four decades.
The analysis helps shed light on challenges that other developing countries could similarly face to green their economic structures and policy strategies that could facilitate the transformation. “How China pursues the dual economic and climate goals not only presents a new dimension of its development story but also enriches peer-learning among developing countries,” said UNCTAD economist and lead author Dawei Wang while launching the report on 5 November at the 6th Hongqiao International Economic Forum in Shanghai.
The 23rd edition of the annual EAC MSMEs Trade Fair, which will be held under the theme “Connecting East African MSMEs to enhance Intra EAC Trade,” is expected to attract more than 1,000 artisans from all the seven (7) EAC Partner States. The exhibition will run from 5th – 15th December, 2023 at the Cercle Hyppique Grounds in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The main objective of the Trade Fair is to contribute towards the realisation of the region’s development goals and aspirations by lending support to this budding sector of the economy, which needs public patronage and Government support to make it sustainable. The Trade Fairs further create considerable impact on the image of the sector, which is today seen as the panacea to the daunting question of unemployment and poverty alleviation in the region.
EAC Court throws out Eacop challenge (The East African)
A regional court on Wednesday threw out a legal challenge to a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline project in Tanzania and Uganda that has been condemned by environmental and human rights campaigners. The East African Court of Justice ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the challenge by several civil society groups because it was filed too late. The pipeline is part of a $10 billion project led by French energy giant TotalEnergies to develop Ugandan oilfields and ship the crude to Tanzania for export.
The scheme has come under fire from activists who say it will harm fragile ecosystems in areas rich in biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of tens of thousands of local people.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) successfully held a 3-day stakeholder consultative workshop for delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Zambia, in Lusaka, Zambia on 22-24 November 2023.The workshop was attended by representatives of the two Member States responsible for trade, trade facilitation, customs, security, infrastructure, transport, migration, private sector, transporters associations and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs).
Director of Industrialisation and Trade Department at the SADC Secretariat Mr. Dhunraj Kassee, informed participants that the workshop was being convened in response to the decision of the 43rd SADC Summit of the Heads of State and Governments, in August 2023 in Luanda, Angola, that directed the Secretariat to “constitute an Inter-Ministerial Task Force to find a lasting solution to the continued challenges faced by transporters and drivers at the Kasumbalesa border post,”
Mr. Dhunraj Kassee underscored the strategic importance of the Kasumbalesa border post in facilitating the cross-border movement of goods in the SADC region given its location at the confluence of several trade corridors in the region. These include the North-South Corridors, Dar es Salaam Development Corridor, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, Beira Development Corridor, and the Lobito Development Corridors. This, he said, indicates how much benefit the region can accrue by resolving the recurring challenges at Kasumbalesa.
President William Ruto of Kenya recently announced that Kenya’s borders would be open to visitors from the entirety of Africa, with no visas required, by the end of 2023. He said: When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers. A few days later, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda followed suit, saying all Africans would be able to enter Rwanda without visas.
Within the broader East African Community, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya allow cross-border travel without passports. Botswana and Namibia recently signed a similar agreement. Neither Kenya nor Rwanda will be the first. By the end of 2022, Benin, The Gambia and Seychelles had already implemented a system of visa-free access for all Africans. Perhaps more will follow soon. Some regions, some sub-regional groups and some bilateral arrangements have also resulted in visa-free access and even passport-free access in certain cases.
With $6.2 trillion worth of natural resources, 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and a vibrant youth population, Africa has no excuse to be poor, African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said on Tuesday. He said the continent must look inward urgently to solve its many challenges and urged citizens to hold governments accountable for poverty.
“If we manage our natural resources well, Africa has no reason to be poor. We have $6.2 trillion in natural resources,” he said. “So how in the world are we still poor? We simply need to pull up our socks, stamp out corruption, and manage our resources in the interest of our countries and our people,” added Adesina.
Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services and with a large global and African footprint of some 35 countries, proudly shared expertise in support of agricultural productivity and export trade at the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in Egypt which ran from on 9th to 15th November.
Touted to generate $43 billion worth of trade and investment deals according to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)-organized event drew some 1600 exhibitors from 75 countries, and pointed a sharp needle on exchange of expertise, news on developments in trade and industry on the content and the driving of foreign direct investment.
Providing a platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people with a GDP of over US$3.5 trillion created under the recently formulated African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, Bureau Veritas participated in discussions on agriculture, harmonization of standards and compliance and regulation at the event.
Panelists were unified in their support of the “Made in Africa” product being as readily respected and recognized internationally as any other brand. Furthermore, there was alignment between speakers on the need for consistency of standards across the board to ensure that consumer trust would be instilled. To this end, Bureau Veritas discussed a need to ensure products are tested to international standards to ensure acceptance in global markets.
The African Development Bank has revised its short to medium-term macroeconomic forecast for Africa, for 2023 and 2024 downwards to 3.4% and 3.8%, from 4.0% and 4.3%.
The slightly lower figures reflect the persistent long-term effects of COVID-19, geopolitical tensions and conflicts, climate shocks, a global economic slowdown, and limited fiscal space for African governments to adequately respond to shocks and sustain post-pandemic economic recovery gains. The updated data were published on Thursday, 29 November in the 2023 Africa’s Macroeconomic Performance and Outlook (MEO) update, a follow-up to the Bank Group’s 2023 Africa Economic Outlook released in May.
Development planning experts from countries across Africa concluded a Peer-Learning Workshop to exchange ideas on strengthening development planning processes in support of the implementation of SDGs and Agenda 2063. The workshop was also attended by development partners and representatives from various divisions within the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
In his intervention, Adam Elhiraika, the Director of the Macroeconomics and Governance Division at ECA emphasized the significance of development planning in the context of resource utilization, mobilization, allocation, monitoring, and reporting. He further applauded the regained prominence and advancements achieved by Member States in the areas of development planning and financing.
New research on how trade policies and labour market tools can be used to reduce inequalities and poverty and support sustainable development, has been unveiled at a high-level ILO event. The two-volume publication was launched at the seminar, Integrating Trade and Decent Work: What Works and Why, organized to throw light on the role played by trade policies, strategies, and labour market institutions in promoting all aspects of decent work – including income, labour rights and working conditions.
Volume I: Has Trade Led to Better Jobs? Findings Based on the ILO’s Decent Work Indicators, examines trade’s impact on labour and employment in various countries and policy options. It includes an analysis of the role of women in export-driven industries, the uneven distribution of trade benefits, the role of labour market institutions and analysis of some specific countries. Volume II: The Potential of Trade and Investment Policies to Address Labour Market Issues in Supply Chains, delves into how trade policies can address labour market challenges, particularly structural imbalances, and looks at how integrating labour standards into trade and investment policies can balance economic and social goals.
On Saturday, September 9, under the presidency of India, the G20 announced its decision to welcome the African Union (AU) as its newest permanent member. As highlighted by the DW News Delhi Bureau Chief Amrita Chima, India led this initiative to enhance representation, with all G20 countries unanimously supporting the decision, as they emphasized the importance of reflecting both emerging and established economies within the G20. The AU’s inclusion transforms the G20 into “G20 plus one,” and its membership is backed by 55 countries.
Assoumani highlighted that the AU’s inclusion would amplify the global majority’s voice within the G20, providing the African continent with an opportunity to advance its agendas on the world stage. Acknowledging Africa’s internal challenges, he stressed the importance of multilateralism and collaboration with other G20 countries to address these issues.
It is no longer possible, if it ever was, for a country to determine its future alone. Climate change does not respect national boundaries, nor do pandemics. Conflicts are becoming more numerous, frequent, and longer lasting. War in one country can affect security thousands of miles away. Poverty, conflict, and climate change often go hand in hand and drive flows of refugees.
Our interconnectedness also has many benefits. Global trade and finance lead to growth and jobs. When we collaborate, we can create changes that ripple out across the world. And when, alongside other countries, we spend a small proportion of our income on international development, it is not only the right thing to do; it is also the wise thing to do.
IOE&IT leads UNCTAD panel exploring e-commerce inclusivity (Institute of Export & International Trade)
Next Thursday (7 December), the Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director general Marco Forgione will chair an UNCTAD e-week panel. Joined by Professor Sangeeta Khorana, academic board chair and international trade policy professor at Aston University, ‘Unlocking potential: Addressing inclusivity barriers in e-commerce trade to deliver sustainable impact in communities everywhere’ will explore barriers businesses face when trying to use e-commerce platforms and the potential for public private partnerships (PPPs) to promote adoption.
The E-Commerce Trade Commission, launched by IOE&IT in June with the aim of encouraging more SMEs to export through e-commerce, is an example of such a venture. Looking ahead to eWeek, commission secretariat lead Susan Roe said the panel presents a great opportunity “to unpack some of the key challenges and obstacles that small businesses face with e-commerce”.
Remittances, a critical lifeline for millions of people in developing economies, reached nearly $800 billion in 2022. Approximately 80% of these funds, sent by migrants to their home countries, went to low and middle-income nations. This amount, about four times greater than last year’s official development assistance from all advanced economies, highlights the potential role of remittances in poverty reduction. Also, studies show that a 10% increase in international remittances as a share of a country’s GDP can lead to a 1.6% drop in poverty rates.
But high transaction costs, averaging around 6.2% globally, greatly reduce their effectiveness. And vulnerable migrants often face exploitation and financial losses in the remittance process. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan has called for governments to bolster consumer protection for both senders and recipients.
WTO members discussed ways for developing economies and least-developed countries (LDCs) to benefit to a greater extent from their participation in the multilateral trading system during meetings of the Committee on Trade and Development held on 17 and 24 November. Dedicated sessions on regional trade agreements, preferential trade arrangements and the Monitoring Mechanism on Special and Differential Treatment were also held on 17 November.