Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

It’s time for Africa! (SAnews)

The official launch of South Africa’s first shipment and preferential trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on 31 January 2024, at the Port of Durban goes beyond a feather in the cap for trade and economic growth. It signals the unyielding African spirit which has prevailed against the injustices that plagued our continent, including colonialism and apartheid.

Together we can harness our collective energies and resources ensure to take our continent closer to the ultimate vision of being free of poverty and conflict. The AU’s flagship project of Agenda 2063, is a roadmap to our development over the next 50 years. This project prioritises African goals, including; equality, intra-regional trade, infrastructure and technology development. The African Continental Free Trade Area is in line with Agenda 2063, which is aimed at deepening African economic integration. Strong partnerships among African nations for inclusive socio-economic development is key to advancing the African Agenda. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) also presents opportunities for massive financial growth in Africa.

A thriving African economy requires developed infrastructure to facilitate trade globally. South Africa is working to improve its rail and port efficiencies to drive economic growth and enable further economic opportunities across the continent.

IRP deadline extension an opportunity for more renewables ambition in line with SoNA vision (Engineering News)

The recent extension of the deadline for responses to the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023 (IRP 2023) presents an opportunity to incorporate the vision presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) for more renewable energy, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) asserts. Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announced a month-long extension to the public comment period to March 23 in a recent speech to the Mining Indaba but without committing to public hearings.

There is significant concern about the technology cost assumptions used by the drafters of the document, as well as the material increase in the allocation for gas-to-power for the short-term horizon to 2030 and the substantial decrease in the allocation for wind over the same period.

Draft work visa regulations a boon for attracting skills (SAnews)

South Africa’s new draft work visa regulations are a milestone for the country’s efforts to attract investment and promote job creation. This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa who addressed the nation through his weekly newsletter on Monday. Last week, the Department of Home Affairs released the draft second amendment of the Immigration Regulations for public comment. The draft regulations deal with remote work and critical skills visas.

“The publication of the new draft regulations are part of our ongoing drive to reform the country’s visa system, making it easier to attract the skills our economy’s needs and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. An efficient, agile, responsive visa regime is key to attracting business investment and boosting economic growth.

Malawi Announces Visa-Free Entry for Visitors From 79 Nations (VisaGuide.News)

Malawi has recently announced a significant step towards boosting tourism and trade within its borders by lifting visa restrictions for travelers coming from 79 different countries. In this regard, President Lazarus Chakwera revealed the decision aims to facilitate entry for visitors, specifically from countries such as the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), VisaGuide.World reports.

Following Malawi’s new visa regulations, multiple entry visas now grant travelers up to 12 months of validity. However, this exemption doesn’t extend to countries that impose visa requirements on Malawian citizens. In addition, certain privileged groups such as diplomats, government officials, and countries with mutual exchange agreements for multiple-entry visas with Malawi are also exempt from these regulations.

Historically, Malawi’s stringent visa requirements have been a significant barrier to realizing its potential for tourist inflows. With its new visa policies, it joins the growing list of countries making travel more accessible for international visitors. In addition to Malawi, last month, Ghana announced plans to implement a policy allowing visa-free entry for all African visitors by the end of 2024. While 48 African countries offer visa-free travel to citizens of at least one other African nation, only five out of 52 African countries allow complete visa-free entry. Seychelles, Gambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Benin are the only countries every African can visit without a visa.

Moreover, in November 2023, Rwanda also extended visa-free entry to all African nationals, positioning itself as the latest African nation to adopt such a policy to promote free movement and trade across the continent.

Dar port managers woo Ugandan businesses (The East African)

Cargo figures in the Dar es Salaam port to most of its hinterland markets has grown in recent years, but Tanzanian ports chiefs are uneasy about the share of transit traffic destined to Uganda, which has stagnated at two percent, despite the port’s multimillion-dollar investment to compete with Kenya’s Mombasa. According to the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Mombasa still accounts for 80 percent of Uganda’s cargo, as the Central Corridor continues to grapple with infrastructure challenges, high transport costs and slower clearance at the port.

Under the $421 million Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP) – implemented since 2017 – Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) invested to upgrade the facility, to widen and deepen the port’s berths and entrance channels to enable post-panamax size vessels to call at the port.

The authority also invested in a new roll-on, roll-off vessel terminal, among many other service facilities all meant to enhance the port’s overall performance, leading to container traffic to grow at an average rate of 12 percent per annum, and transit traffic at an average rate of 23.5 percent per annum since 2020.These growth numbers saw the World Bank last year rank the Dar port above its main regional competitor, Mombasa, in port efficiency ranking.

‘Africa stands as one of the biggest source markets for trade, business, and tourism’ (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), Ag John Chirchir has said that the West African market is integral in the strategy to diversify tourist source markets and broaden the country’s destination portfolio. According to Chirchir during a meeting held to mark the beginning of a series of roadshows in Nigerian and Ghanian cities, recently, “with around 1.4 billion people, Africa stands as one of the biggest source markets for trade, business, and tourism. This is why Kenya is targeting to raise tourist arrivals from West Africa by pitching for business and leisure travel that are key interests to the region.”

Chirchir noted that Nigeria and Ghana have shown improvements of 6 per cent and 48 per cent respectively in 2023 and rank among Kenya’s potential markets in the African continent. “KTB and Kenya airways are leading over 15 travel trade companies for in-market activations set for February 5th-9th, 2024 and will be held in various cities of the two countries and is expected to attract over 400 trade partners.

Cautious on debt, Ruto woos Japan with public-private deals for projects (The East African)

Kenya has turned to Japan to support its infrastructure ambitions, opening up for Tokyo to tap into public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a way of reducing the load of debt owed to external lenders. This week, President William Ruto made an official visit to Japan, which State House inaccurately labelled a state visit and confirmed that PPPs would be central to the discussions.

Some governments adopt PPPs to avoid debt by inviting investors to fund projects and then recoup their money by charging users of the facility before handing it over to the government. One such PPP is the Nairobi Expressway built by the Chinese. The model usually works well where the demand to use the facility is high. After a series of talks, President Ruto said his administration was upending financing arrangements for mutual benefit.

Tanzania’s major breakthrough in helium (African Mining Market)

As the government amplifies its commitment on carrying out geological survey on critical minerals’ presence in the country, the Helium One Global licensed for exploration has discovered 4.7% of helium concentrations at Rukwa Rift Basin. The Helium One Global on Monday this week in its breakthrough statement described the high concentrations as a big milestone toward achieving commerciality at the earliest opportunity.

“When performing the Basement Drilling Stem Testing (DST), high concentrations of helium began to flow to the surface, following reverse circulation and yielding a compositional mix up to 4.7% helium, 1.5% argon, 8% oxygen and 86% nitrogen” read the statement from the company. Adding “a measured helium concentration of 4.7% equates to almost nine thousand times above background levels.” According to the statement, the company has identified that the frequency of helium increases with depth and is preferentially carried in hot fluids.

Africa’s biggest oil and gas finds are doing little for economies at home (Engineering News)

The last thing Senegal needed in its long-drawn-out effort to capitalize on large oil and gas finds off its coast was political turmoil. Africa’s newest natural gas superstar had bubbled with optimism when BP, Woodside Energy Group and Kosmos Energy agreed to develop the fields off the shores of the West African country a few years ago. The finds were touted as a game changer in a country where villages are still not connected to the power grid and more than a third of the inhabitants live in poverty.

“General electrification for the entire population will become a reality,” Sokhna Ba, the youngest member of Senegal’s parliament, said in an interview in the capital Dakar late last year. “The revenue could also be used to improve the living conditions of the population.” But a string of delays in BP’s $4.8-billion Grand Tortue Ahmeyim, or GTA, gas project, with the latest coming just last month, has meant it won’t happen soon, prompting the country to say it may miss the International Monetary Fund’s economic growth forecast in 2024. Now, matters have been made worse by a bid to delay elections that extends President Macky Sall’s term by almost a year, throwing the country that is among the most stable democracies in West Africa into crisis and raising the cost of funds needed for its energy aspirations.

Ivorian company receives Africa50 investment (ALB)

The Africa-focused private equity platform has taken a stake in a border-control solutions provider active in the WAEMU region. Africa-focused investment bank Africa50 has made an equity investment into Ivorian company Scanning Systems. International law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe served as legal counsel to Africa50 on the deal which was announced on 18 January, and for which financial terms were not disclosed.

Abidjan-headquartered Scanning Systems was established in 2008, and is a subsidiary of holding company Tassec Investment Holdings Africa. It focuses on the provision of technology-led infrastructure solutions to facilitate border control. It is involved in the construction and operation of one-stop joint border posts (JBPs) in a number of jurisdictions within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) area, including administering the Cinkansé JBP bordering Burkina Faso and Togo for a decade.

Research group warns maritime operators against 2024 uncertainty (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Maritime Researchers and Authors Association of Nigeria (MARASSON) has warned that the year holds a bleak future for the maritime industry, especially as 2023 witnessed poor import and export. The research group stated that Nigeria is gradually sinking as the current economic challenges demand a total liberalisation of trade.

The National Secretary, MARASSON, Ajanonwu Vincent said the deliberate war on trade by the previous Customs administration is still affecting the psyche of the international traders as many of them have gone out of business in the country. Vincent noted that the current administration’s penchant for higher revenue collection without looking at the effects on the masses has consequences for importers and exporters.

He pointed out that the continuous hike in tariff bands and some customs comptrollers’ zeal to exceed their targets were discouraging trade, adding that the Customs Service has abandoned trade facilitation for revenue mobilisation.

APMT, Customs explore investment in scanners (The Guardian Nigeria)

Terminal Manager, APM Terminals Apapa, Steen Knudsen, has said the terminal is in talks with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to invest in more scanners for optimal cargo delivery to consignees. He expressed optimism that cargo delivery to consignees would be faster with the deployment of more scanners to the ports to boost efficiency.

Knudsen stated this to the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Akutah Pius Ukeyima and a delegation of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), led by the National President, Nwokeji Emenike, during a working visit to the terminal. He said the terminal has made substantial investments in digital technology and cargo handling equipment to ensure prompt service delivery to customers.

IMF Executive Board Concludes Post Financing Assessment with Nigeria (IMF)

Niger reiterates ban on flights from Nigeria (Business Insider Africa)

In a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Niger Republic, the airspace authority stated that the country’s airspace “is opened to all national and international commercial flights from ground to unlimited except for Nigerian flights to or from Nigeria.”

“This restriction doesn’t affect commercial flights that fly over Nigerien airspace without landing there. However, it is recalled that ADB-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast) or Radar transponders (for surveillance and communication) must remain on for any flight taking place in the Niger Republic airspace,”

“On the other hand, the Niger Republic Airspace remains closed for all military, operational and other special flights. These military or special flights are only permitted subject to prior authorization from the competent authorities. This circular, which only concerns Niger and Nigeria does not repeal no NOTAM in force,” the circular stated.

Lobito corridor: Hoping to break China’s grip on African ore (DW)

In the Congolese border town of Kasumbalesa, you will see one delivery truck after another, in a long queue of more than ten kilometers. Their trailers are covered with tarpaulins to protect the precious cargo: heavy copper plates and bags filled with cobalt. Trucker Tito Mandela has turned of the engine of his Mercedes truck and waits in his driver’s cabin for literally anything to happen.

In October 2023, the United States and the European Union passed a declaration to support efforts to revive and strengthen the Lobito corridor, especially by assisting with finding investors for the project, which according to US government officials will cost more than $1 billion (€1 billion). For Washington and Brussels, linking the Copper Belt with the Atlantic Ocean is, however, also a geopolitical move in their race against Beijing. China currently dominates the market for the strategic supply chains for the energy transition.

In addition to these shorter distances, the fact that the Lobito corridor is a rail link also helps drum up excitement for the project: Hauling cargo on rails is far more climate-friendly. And there is yet another upside: Not a single tree has been felled for the new railway line, as the trains are set to run on a historic artery that is already in place, but needs a major revamp.

African coffee-producing countries urged to add value to coffee export (Xinhua)

While specialty coffee from Africa is gaining popularity among consumers across the world, officials of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) have urged African coffee traders to boost value-added coffee export, and cease export of unprocessed coffee to the international market. The remark came during the 20th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition and the First African Coffee Week that took place from Feb. 6 to 10 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with the aim of advocating the export of value-added coffee from Africa.

Amir Hamza, chairperson of the AFCA, said coffee-exporting African countries need to concentrate on value addition and apply better marketing strategies to boost their earnings from the coffee export. “The biggest problem Africa is facing is poor marketing approaches and export of unprocessed coffee, something the AFCA is trying to solve. Africa has the best coffees, but they are not marketed as they should be,” Hamza told Xinhua in an interview.

Somalia close to formalise EAC membership (The East African)

Somalia has moved a step closer to ratifying its admission to the East African Community (EAC), paving the way for local legislative authorities to formalise laws that will make it enjoy the benefits of membership. Somalia was admitted to the regional bloc in December, making it the eighth member state. The others are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Abdullahi Bidhan, a member of the parliamentary sub-committee for foreign relations said “This endorsement of Somalia joining the EAC is historic, benefitting our people and the rest of the community in many ways.” “It will stimulate economic growth,” he added. Somalia has until June to deposit the ratified instruments of the Treaty of accession at the EAC headquarters to become an official full-fledged member.

EAC embarks on use of Mobile App to eliminate NTBs (EAC)

The East African Community Secretariat and Partner States have been directed to operationalise the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Mobile Application including sensitisation by 30th April, 2024. Making the directive, the Ministerial Session of the 43rd EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) that was held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania further commended Trademark Africa for supporting the development of the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Mobile Application.

The EAC Elimination of NTBs Mobile Application was developed to ease the reporting, monitoring and elimination of NTBs in the Community. The EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Mobile Application was finalised and piloted during the National Monitoring Committee (NMCs) meetings in March 2023. The EAC NTBs App allows the users to report the complaints in one of the three (3) EAC official languages, i.e., English, Swahili and French. The mobile app can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android devices, and can be accessed through www.eac-mobile.portal.africa

EAC experts adopt strategies to boost the region’s agricultural, pharmaceutical and leather sectors (EAC)

East African Community (EAC) regional experts in the agricultural, pharmaceutical, and leather sectors convened in Nairobi, Kenya, to review the progress achieved within their respective industries and to formulate recommendations aimed at enhancing growth and scaling up regional trade. The two-day workshop dubbed ‘Regional Focal Persons Workshop to Monitor the Implementation of the EAC Fruits & Vegetables; Leather & Leather Products; and Pharmaceutical Sectors Strategies and Action Plans’ comprised of experts from EAC Partner States, the EAC Secretariat, East African Business Council and representatives from GIZ/GFA.

In the fruits and vegetables sector, the experts emphasised the importance of harmonizing agricultural and food safety standards within the region. They highlighted the need to support the development and adoption of a code of conduct for farmers and exporters, aiming to strengthen self-monitoring frameworks. Additionally, the experts stressed the significance of prioritising the development and improvement of quality planting seeds and seedlings.

On the pharmaceuticals front, the experts noted significant ongoing projects, singling out the developments in Kenya where two Biovax vaccine manufacturing plans are being set up while in Rwanda, with a BioNTech Vaccines manufacturing plant is set to go to production by end of 2024. They underscored the urgent need for Partner States to expedite and streamline approval processes for pharmaceutical waste disposal, citing the potential risks associated with prolonged procedures.

On the leather sector, the experts highlighted the need for investment and adoption of modern processing technologies to address existing challenges. These challenges include the high cost of production and the production of low-quality leather products. Notable issues identified included low volumes of locally produced leather products, limited capacity of tanneries, and insufficient technology and manpower

SADC aims to enhance growth and development of fish value chains to meet market demand (SADC)

During the validation workshop for the PROFISHBLUE project, a collaborative initiative between the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), which took place in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on 6th February 2024, several speakers expressed concerns and lessons learned regarding the inadequate fish and fisheries production in the SADC region to sufficiently meet its market demand.

The workshop aimed to validate project outputs, through exchanging ideas, shared experiences, and discuss policy harmonisation and the elimination of barriers to promote the free flow of fish and fishery products. Dr. Hastings Zidana, the Director of Fisheries for the Republic of Malawi emphasised that fish contributes 4% to Malawi’s GDP, and constitutes 30% of the protein consumed in Malawi, highlighting the paramount importance of fish and fisheries product trading for Malawi and the SADC Region.

A messy withdrawal from ECOWAS (tralac)

On 29 January 2024, the military juntas of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Their explanation was that instead of helping them to protect their security, ECOWAS had imposed “illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible” sanctions on them after they had previously staged military coups “to take their destiny into their own hands.” They claimed that ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, is betraying its founding principles and has become a threat to its member states. They also said that it was a “sovereign decision” to withdraw from ECOWAS.

In this saga nothing has happened according to the rulebook, and this is certainly not a Brexit type divorce. It is the first time in ECOWAS’ nearly 50 years of existence that some of its members are withdrawing in such a manner.

ECOWAS to work with member states to foster democracy and good governance (ECOWAS)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will continue to promote the ideals of democracy and good governance as well as accountability and transparency. President of ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Dr. Omar Alieu-Touray gave this assurance at the conclusion of the extraordinary session of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the Ministerial Level convened to discuss the recent decision of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to withdraw from ECOWAS.

At the end of the meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria, the council urged Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to pursue sustained dialogue and reconciliation and stressed the critical need for diplomacy and unity in the face of regional challenges. Dr. Alieu-Touray highlighted the yearnings of ECOWAS citizens for good governance stressing that “people in the region are asking for accountable and democratic governments and ECOWAS needs to reflect the aspirations of the people”.

PAPSS Expands into North Africa as Banque Centrale de Tunisie Becomes Thirteenth Member (Afreximbank)

The Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) is proud to announce the entry of Banque Centrale de Tunisie (BCT) into its network as its thirteenth Central Bank member, further strengthening its commitment to promoting seamless cross-border payment services and enhancing financial integration across the African continent.

Banque Centrale de Tunisie’s membership in PAPSS signifies the bank’s determination to foster economic growth and development within the country and the African region. This value-adding collaboration will allow Tunisian businesses and citizens to benefit from enhanced payment efficiency, reduced transaction costs, and more opportunities to trade and pay with other African countries.

“As the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) continues to attract more countries, we are witnessing a growing belief among Africans in their own abilities and potential to drive the development of the continent through their own initiatives. At Afreximbank, we have unwavering confidence that PAPSS will revolutionize the payment landscape within Africa, ultimately benefiting our people. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Banque Centrale de Tunisie for their trust and decision to join the PAPSS network, as it signifies a significant step towards achieving our shared goals.”

Key AU summit in Addis Ababa to focus on most pressing issues facing Africa (The North Africa Post)

Over 34 African leaders are to converge in Addis Ababa for the 37th African Union (AU) Summit by this week’s end to discuss pressing issues, including education, peace, trade, and governance. African leaders will meet in Ethiopia’s capital this February 17-18, for a pivotal gathering that could shape the course of the African continent for years to come. With the theme ‘Educate an African fit for the 21st Century,’ the event aims to build resilient education systems and address the challenges of development, conflict, and inequality.

The summit could mark a turning point in Africa’s journey towards a brighter, more prosperous future. One of the key themes to be discussed is building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa. Access to quality education remains a significant challenge in many parts of Africa, with millions of children still out of school. Besides education, the summit will also cover a range of other critical issues, including peace and security, trade and integration, agriculture and climate change, governance and human rights, and gender and youth empowerment.

More info on the 37th AU Summit

Abuja Roundtable for Economic Transformation in West and Central Africa Declaration (World Bank)

As African countries continue to confront multiple overlapping internal and external challenges, an economic transformation of the continent is achievable but will require creating the right conditions to turn opportunities into transformational accomplishments in key development areas. The World Bank Group is a key partner in this endeavour and its ongoing transformation will further leverage its capacity to support the people of Western and Central Africa.

The roundtable discussed and reaffirmed key priorities for the region which include human capital improvement, job creation through private sector development, food security, and the need to further strengthen financial inclusion and expand safety nets. The importance of budget support to stabilize the macroeconomy and crate fiscal space for investments were highlighted, along with the need for stepped-up efforts by governments to strengthen domestic revenue generation.

IDA is the largest source of development finance for countries in Africa, and offers critical support for climate adaptation, conflict prevention, and private sector mobilization. A continued strong IDA is imperative to reach regional development aspirations, and the roundtable agreed to work together through the African caucus towards a consequential IDA-21 replenishment.

World Bank Managing Director Anna Bjerde’s Remarks at the Roundtable of Africa West and Central Ministers of Finance and World Bank Governors

GEF deploys additional high-impact climate adaptation funding (Global Environment Facility)

The Global Environment Facility’s member countries have approved $203 million in high-impact climate adaptation investment for Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, and other countries needing to reinforce their food systems, water resources, and warning systems as a result of growing climate change risks.

Meeting in Washington DC, the Council of the GEF-managed Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) agreed to fund 21 projects that build on years of support for critical initiatives that are helping countries address their most urgent adaptation priorities in a way that helps local communities, strengthens policy frameworks, and advances environmental goals for the long term.

UNCTAD - Press Conference: Presentation of the Global Supply Chain Forum 2024 (UN Web TV)

Supply chains drive trade and the world economy: for example, international shipping connects countries and ports, carrying over 80% of global trade volumes. In recent years, global supply chains have been disrupted by crises such as climate change, as shown by the drought affecting the Panama Canal, geopolitical tensions as in the Red Sea and the Black Sea, and energy shortages, as well as the COVId19 pandemic. Supply chain disruptions increase the prices of goods, experience has shown.

Government officials, business leaders and experts at the forum will examine issues such as digitalization, food security, transport costs, climate change, developing countries’ financing needs and how to better manage the energy transition in international transport.

Renewed efforts are needed to open markets as barriers to services trade remained high in 2023 (OECD)

The supply of services through commercial presence and digital trade faced new barriers in 2023, as global services providers were confronted by fragmented regulatory environments, according to annual analysis from the OECD. The overall number of services trade liberalisation reforms enacted in 2023 was below the previous year, but the aggregate impact of liberalising policies nonetheless moderately outweighed the introduction of new restrictions.

New liberalisation efforts in 2023 contributed to easing regulatory hurdles in some countries, notably as regards infrastructure-related services, such as construction, architecture, and engineering services. These positive developments were offset, however, by a range of new barriers across several countries, including related to the screening of foreign direct investment affecting services sectors such as computer services, telecommunications, transport, and commercial banking. Similarly, rules on cross-border data flows, digital trade and market entry for foreign e-commerce platforms were tightened, adding to the challenges faced by global services providers, according to the OECD.

OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index: Policy trends up to 2024 shows a slowdown in the adoption of new regulations affecting services trade between 2022-23, compared to changes observed in 2021-22, across the 22 major sectors covered.

DG Okonjo-Iweala underlines the need to deliver on trade and development at MC13 (WTO)

“Development has a central place in the WTO’s work”, DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “We need to respond to the needs and concerns of developing countries that account for two-thirds of the WTO membership. … Beyond the agreements we already have, we also see opportunities for developing countries to take advantage of what we are calling ‘re-globalization’ and the decentralization of supply chains.” The 10 Agreement-specific proposals tabled by the WTO G90 group of developing WTO members seek to strengthen existing flexibilities for developing members contained in WTO agreements, otherwise known as “special and differential treatment”, and to make them more precise, effective and operational.

Participants in IFD Agreement agree on objectives for MC13 (WTO)

The over 120 WTO members participating in the successful negotiations on the new Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement agreed, at a meeting held on 8 February, to use the occasion of the WTO’s upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) to make the agreement public and request its incorporation into the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO.

The two co-Coordinators of the Initiative, Ambassador Sofía Boza of Chile and Ambassador Jung Sung Park of the Republic of Korea, announced that four new participants - Cameroon, Angola, Malawi and Mozambique – have joined the group since the last plenary meeting in December 2023, bringing total participation in the Initiative to almost three quarters of the WTO’s membership.

The UNCTAD Model Law on Competition after 30 years (UNCTAD)

Committee economic social and cultural rights opens seventy fifth session (OHCHR)


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