tralac Daily News
Whiskey dispute hits new EU-Kenya trade pact (EUobserver)
Kenya faces s dispute with the EU on whiskey imports just weeks after its tortuously agreed trade pact with Brussels came operationally into effect. Even though the trade pact has not officially been ratified by the EU, Kenya is already breaking its terms by applying higher tariffs on certain products in order not to breach the East African Community’s (EAC) Common External Tariff.
Large external shocks in recent years exacerbated pre-existing fiscal and debt vulnerabilities, resulting in an acute crisis in 2022. In response, the authorities have adjusted macroeconomic policies, made significant progress on a comprehensive debt restructuring, and launched wide-ranging reforms. These efforts are bearing fruit, and signs of economic stabilization are emerging. Growth in 2023 has proven resilient, inflation has declined, and the fiscal and external positions have improved. Nonetheless, fully and durably restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability and fostering a sustainable increase in economic growth and poverty reduction will require steadfast policy and reform implementation.
Ghana eyes auto assembly plant in Tanzania (The Citizen)
Ghana is considering establishing an automobile assembly plant in Tanzania in a move to strengthen trade with East Africa. The plans under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement are to convince Kantanka Automobile Company Limited to set up the car assembly plant, Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry chief commercial officer, Mr Kofi Addo, told The Citizen yesterday.
“The good thing is that Kantaka is a Ghanaian assembly plant that makes cars or vehicles based on the African environment. They understand the African interest, and that is why it is good for us to talk and engage them to be here in Tanzania,” said Mr Addo.
Mr Addo was speaking during the official opening of a five-day Ghana Expo 2024 themed “Acceleration of Implementation of the AfCFTA Enhancing Ghana-Tanzania Relations.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana unveiled plans to abolish visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of 2024. Unveiling the policy at the Africa Prosperity Dialogue 2024 in Ghana’s Eastern Region, Akufo-Addo linked the move to the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The Government of Ghana is committed to ensuring visa-free entry for all Africans traveling to our country,” declared Akufo-Addo. He emphasized the need for similar policies across the continent to facilitate the free movement of people, goods, and services, ultimately leveraging trade as a driver of economic transformation in Africa.
Beyond visa liberalization, Akufo-Addo also championed a more inclusive AfCFTA implementation, advocating for measures that benefit various social strata in Africa.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB Group) met on 17 January 2024 in Abidjan and approved the 2023-2028 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CSP aims to reduce fragility through inclusive and sustainable structural transformation driven by industrialization and job creation for women and men.
To achieve these goals, the new CSP identifies two priorities. The first is the installation of sustainable infrastructure to support agricultural and industrial value chains, and the second is to improve the quality of human capital and the business climate to support social inclusion and private sector growth in the DRC.
EAC Ministers in charge of Health have endorsed a regional policy framework aimed at promoting antibiotics production and a collaborative mechanism for information exchange in the production and supply of antibiotics across the region.
The 44th EAC Ordinary Council of Ministers endorsed this framework following multistakeholder consultations at the national and regional level as well as sensitization meetings with senior officials including Permanent Secretaries of Ministries responsible for health and industry. The project engaged over 300 stakeholders from both public and private sectors across the region.
This significant development came to light during a closeout meeting of the EAC-UNCTAD project, “Investment Incentives for Local Production of Essential Antibiotics in East Africa,” held in Nairobi in December 2023. The meeting, attended by representatives from the EAC and its Partner States, UNCTAD, GIZ, and GFA Consulting Group, provided a platform to unveil the Council’s approval of these essential policy documents.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat officially launched the Regional Customs to Business Forum (RCBF) in Johannesburg, South Africa on 19th January 2024.The SADC Regional Customs to Business Forum is a significant vehicle of the SADC region that seeks to foster trade partnership based on mutual trust and inclusive participation of the private sector in policy formulation and application, implementation of innovative trade facilitation measures and harnessing of collective solutions to the ever-increasing challenges of managing the cross-border supply chain.
In his official address at the launch, Mr. Rakokoana Makoa, Commissioner Client Services of the Revenue Services Lesotho, emphasised the need for the Forum to provide conducive and constructive dialogue between the private sector and customs in furtherance of trade facilitation in the SADC region.
The key objective of the RCBF is to harness policy advocacy opportunities for Customs to Business (C2B) that expedite implementation of regional trade agreements and trade facilitation initiatives which support smooth movement of goods across borders within the SADC Region. The Forum is mandated to inform, advise, identify, discuss, and present options for addressing identified impediments to the flow of goods across borders in the SADC Region.
Delay on tariff offers to affect AfCFTA implementation (The Citizen)
Full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could be delayed further due to the failure of some countries to act decisively on its key pillars. Several state parties to the agreement are yet to finalise matters about the tariff offers and rules of origin. Others have been reluctant to swiftly work on equally important dispute resolution issues, intellectual property rights and services.
“To enable meaningful and real trade, tariffs need to be tackled between the partner states,” said Ms Elizabeth Thande, the chairperson of the East African Women-in-Business Platform (EAWiBP). She was speaking in Nairobi during a capacity-building workshop for women entrepreneurs from the East African Community (EAC) region. AfCFTA, which came into force in January 2021, she said, provides for reduced and/or elimination of trade barriers, both tariff and non-tariff.
The South African government and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat will host the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers meeting in Durban next week. The opening ceremony of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers (COM) Responsible for Trade Meeting will take place on Tuesday, followed by South Africa’s launch to commence Preferential trade under the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative (GTI).
Participants will include secretary-general of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa, Ebrahim Patel, as well as ministers responsible for trade, the diplomatic corps, heads of businesses and media from across the continent. The launch ceremony will be a historic step and an instrumental tool in generating meaningful trade on the African continent through the shipment of South African products to AfCFTA states participating in the GTI such as Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda and Tunisia.
Unlocking opportunities: How female entrepreneurs can leverage on AfCFTA (The Business & Financial Times)
In Africa, it is estimated that small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) make up approximately 90% of all businesses and contribute to over two-thirds of employment opportunities. These enterprises are also becoming hubs of innovation. This upward trajectory underscores the vast potential of MSMEs to drive Africa’s socio-economic growth and actualize the goals of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Despite their significant contributions to the continent’s development, MSMEs, especially those led by women, still face challenges when it comes to accessing international markets and distribution channels.
It is imperative to unlock the transformative potential of women and youth-led MSMEs by linking them with the opportunities presented by the unified African Market, facilitated by the free flow of people, goods, services, and investments across borders. By empowering these enterprises with improved access to markets, financing, and technology, we can enable them to thrive and make substantial contributions to Africa’s transformation.
According to Jan Hoffmann, Chief of Trade Logistics at UNCTAD, the attacks are not only adding to geopolitical tensions but also raising costs and leading to increased greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. “Maritime transport is really the lifeline of global trade,” he said, speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York via video link from Geneva. “These disruptions underline their vulnerability to geopolitics, tensions, and climate changes.”
In the face of escalating conflicts, economic slowdowns and downturns, and the growing climate crisis, the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) plays a crucial role in enhancing transparency and policy coordination in international food markets, Maximo Torero, Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has said.
Speaking at an expert panel at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) 2024 in Berlin, he stressed how AMIS has helped to prevent unexpected price hikes and strengthen global food security.
AMIS was launched in 2011 by the G20 Ministers of Agriculture following the global food price hikes in 2007/08 and 2010. The information system, composed of G20 members plus Spain and eight additional major exporting and importing countries of agricultural commodities, assesses global food supplies (focusing on wheat, maize, rice and soybeans) and provides a platform to coordinate policy action in times of market uncertainty. Hosted by FAO, AMIS involves nine international organizations and aims to address the inherent risks and uncertainties within agrifood systems.
Innovative activity in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), as proxied by data on the protection of various forms of intellectual property rights (IPRs), is limited. While applications for intellectual property (IP) protection have generally increased in LDCs in recent years, they remain very low compared with in developed countries and the global average. Even applications for trademarks, the single most widely used form of IP protection in LDCs fall far below the annual averages globally.
To address these difficulties and deploy IPRs more effectively to stimulate innovation and economic transformation, LDCs need to strengthen their domestic IP strategies, frameworks and institutional structures in ways that align with their local needs and conditions and levels of development and economic structures.