Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Premium car market outlook murky as South Africans continue to hunt for Asian bargains (Engineering News)

The South African new-car market has been shifting steadily over the last few years as consumers continue to battle persistent economic headwinds. Times are tough. Interest rates, living costs, fuel prices and new-vehicle price tags are all high, driven by not only international turmoil, but also poor management of the domestic economy, especially in terms of power supply and logistics channels such as ports and rail infrastructure.

South Africans have reacted by opting for smaller and cheaper cars, as well as cars offering more extras and luxury compared with others in the same price band. Chinese brands have been the big winners here, as well as Japanese small-car importer Suzuki.

Despite its origins, Suzuki brings in most of its vehicles from India – the global hub for small-car plants. Suzuki, currently at number three in the domestic car market, has edged out its competitors one by one and now has Volkswagen, a local vehicle manufacturer, in its sights.

Kenya, UAE seal comprehensive economic partnership deal (The East African)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kenya have concluded a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa), UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi said on Friday. Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, was one of the first African countries with which the UAE launched bilateral trade deal talks in 2022 as part of a strategy to diversify its oil-based economy. Non-oil trade between the Gulf state and Kenya reached $3.1 billion in 2023, up 26.4 percent on 2022, Al Zeyoudi said in a post on social media platform X.

“We will now look to expand across sectors from food production and mining to technology and logistics,” he said of the agreement.

Uganda-EU Forum to focus on job creation, standards (The Independent Uganda)

The European Union-EU has reiterated its demand for standards in the imports from Uganda and other countries because the authorities must ensure the safety of the public. Amidst this vow, however, the EU says it will continue working with the Ugandan authorities and the private sector to ensure that the country meets the demands of the market.

For close to ten years, the EU has intensified standards, especially on fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables as well as cut flowers, with measures including blocking consignments. The Ugandan government also suspended the exportation of some agricultural products to the EU until the farmers, processors, and exporters met the required standards. Ambassador Jan Sadek, the Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda, said the demands of the people cannot be compromised.

The EU is also due to implement a policy where the region will not allow coffee from Uganda that is produced from areas that were forested by 2020, as part of efforts towards fighting degradation. Sadek says the EU is working with the local authority to ensure that Uganda beats the 2025 implementation deadline without disruptions in the coffee industry. He was speaking ahead of the 3rd Uganda-European Union Business Forum slated for early next month in Kampala.

Tanzania’s SGR connecting with Burundi, DR Congo gets Sh230 billion AfDB funding (The Citizen)

Tanzanian government has, on Friday 23 February, 2024, signed a Sh231.3 billion ($91.76 million) financing agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to start the construction of a modern railway that seeks to connect it with the neighbouring countries, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The project is part of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which stretches from the port of Dar es Salaam to connect Tanzania with the neighbouring countries through the central corridor of transportation.

The concessional loan targets to finance construction of sections six and seven of the modern railway, from Tabora to Kigoma and from Uvinza to Malagarasi. According to Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, the Minister for Finance, the construction of the 567 kilometres will be implemented in the space of seven years, starting from2024 to 2031. “The goal of this project is to connect Tanzania with Burundi through a modern railway from Malagarasi to Musongati and in the future, connect with DRC from Malagarasi,” said Dr Nchemba during the signing ceremony.

Minister of Finance holds high level session to propel Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Development in Zambia (UNECA)

Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon. Situmbeko Musokotwane held a high-level session of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Council of Ministers of Zambia, along with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to discuss the outcomes of a four day workshop intended to build capacities of government officials and to mobilise finance for Zambia’s sustainable development.

The PPP Council of Ministers was preceded by a two-part capacity building workshop on PPPs in Zambia. Ms. Eunice G. Kamwendo, Director, UNECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) pointed out that the imperative for prioritizing PPPs in infrastructure development is underscored by the pressing needs across Africa. She said the African Development Bank estimated an annual infrastructure requirement of $130–170 billion and a staggering financing gap ranging from $68–$108 billion in Africa.

She emphasized that to address these challenges Zambia needed a strategic engagement with the private sector to develop robust PPP framework and bridge the infrastructure gaps that hinder progress and prosperity. She noted that the workshop presented, “a unique opportunity to strengthen stakeholders’ capacities to utilise PPPs for innovative financing and infrastructure development to support industrialisation in selected African countries”.

Zambia pushes for deal on unresolved debt [Business Africa] (Africanews)

Zambia still has nearly $7 billion of debt on its books pending resolution. That is despite a deal with bilateral lenders last year which treated over $6 billion. The $7 billion is owed to bondholders and commercial banks. The southern African country’s quest for debt relief has been long and exhausting. A deal with bondholders to restructure about $3 billion of debt last October was rejected by the official creditors. Co-led by France, China, and South Africa, they argued that the terms Lusaka agreed with bondholders did not match the concessions the southern African country won from the official lenders.

Cabinet approves Egypt’s accession to membership of Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa (EgyptToday)

The Cabinet approved, in its meeting chaired by Mostafa Madbouly, the project of the President’s decree regarding Egypt’s accession to the membership of the African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA). The establishment of the fund comes to implement two key axes of the current strategy of the bank, which are export development and manufacturing, and enhancing intra-continental trade.

The accession of African countries to the fund aims to support small and medium-sized projects operating in export value chains, increase exports of goods and services with added value, support industrial infrastructure, and increase intra-African trade, among other numerous objectives.

Burkina Faso suspends export permits for small-scale gold production (The East African)

Burkina Faso’s military junta has suspended the issuance of export permits for artisanal and semi-mechanised gold and other precious commodities with immediate effect, it said. “This suspension follows the need to clean up the sector and reflects the government’s desire to better organise the marketing of gold and other precious substances,” it said in a statement on Tue. It did not say how long the suspension would be in place.

Gold is Burkina Faso’s main export, accounting for 37 percent of total exports in 2020, and mining is a leading source of jobs. But a rampant Islamist insurgency and political instability has hindered exploration and dented gold output in recent years, causing several mines to shut down and others to produce less.

Beijing’s African Gambit Runs Into Trouble (Forbes)

Beijing has decided that it needs to make concessions within its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa. The arrangements always aimed to give China ultimate dominance — in Africa and elsewhere along the BRI. The problem for Beijing is that the underlying plan is revealing itself a little too fast and a little too thoroughly to keep African states enthusiastic. China’s leaders simply cannot afford to let these African states see the tremendous disadvantages that are the ultimate end of the scheme, at least not yet.

China-Africa trade news has raised a red flag. Total trade between China and its African partners in the BRI – most notably South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Egypt – increased last year only a modest 1.5% to the equivalent of $281.1 billion. Most of the growth came from a strong 7.5% surge in Chinese exports to these African countries. The dangers implicit in Beijing’s plans reveal themselves in the 6.7% drop in African exports to China. Africa’s trade deficit with China jumped 14% from $46.9 billion in 2022 to $64 billion last year.

Under conventional trade circumstances, these figures might not please the Africans, but against the backdrop of Beijing’s BRI, the news carries a deeper, more revealing meaning, and one that Beijing has little desire to see clarified.

Debate on ditching CFA begins as Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger forge new path (Al Jazeera)

In September, Niger along with fellow ECOWAS members Burkina Faso and Mali formed a military alliance called the Association of Sahel States (AES). Four months later, the trio announced their withdrawal from the larger bloc for “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions” it imposed on them after coups. This month, reports emerged of a possible parting with their currency, the West African franc (CFA).

“Perhaps everything we’ve done has surprised you, hasn’t it?” Captain Ibrahim Traore, leader of the Burkinabe transitional government, said in an interview in February. “More changes might still surprise you. And it’s not just about currency. We will break all ties that keep us in slavery.”

Within days, his Nigerien counterpart, Abdourahmane Tchiani, confirmed that a major monetary shake-up could be in the offing. “Currency is a sign of sovereignty. … The AES member states are engaged in the process of recovering their full sovereignty. It is no longer acceptable for our states to be France’s cash cow,” he said in an interview with the state broadcaster. Their statements made headlines across a continent where criticism of the continued use of the CFA, a remnant of the French colonial system, is on the rise.

Editorial: Shaping the future of democracy and trade in West Africa (The Business & Financial Times)

Ensuring peaceful, credible, and inclusive polls is not just about choosing leaders; it is about Ghana taking a stand for stability in a turbulent sub-region. Moreover, peaceful elections will serve as a powerful signal to the wider continent, showcasing the AfCFTA’s potential to drive economic growth and prosperity across Africa.

Ex-ECOWAS President Urges Leaders To Lift Sanctions On Mali, B/Faso, Niger (News Agency of Nigeria)

Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the former President of the ECOWAS Commission, has appealed to ECOWAS leaders to lift sanctions imposed on Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger following recent military coups in these countries. He stressed the importance of unity and called on the military leaders of the mentioned nations to withdraw their threats of exiting the sub-regional bloc.

Speaking ahead of the ECOWAS Summit scheduled for Abuja during the weekend, Chambas urged all stakeholders in the West African sub-region to heed the recent call from former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), to end conflicts and unite the people in the area. Chambas emphasised the need for ECOWAS to come together, highlighting that the region is stronger united than divided. He lauded Gowon’s appeal for lifting sanctions and encouraged ECOWAS Heads of State to reach out to the affected countries for reconsideration.

AfCFTA Trading Company must have its own transport fleet (GhanaWeb)

Chairman of McDan Group, Dr. Daniel McKorley has encouraged the establishment of air and land transport fleet for the AfCFTA Trading Company across the continent. According to him, the trade pact needs its own ships, cargo planes, and warehouses across the continent to help facilitate trade among member states. He made this known at a meeting to discuss guided trade and the AfCFTA Trading Company.

McDan also indicated the importance of transportation for AfCFTA’s growth, adding that, over 25 percent of intra-African trade gains in services would go to transport alone, and nearly 40 percent of the increase in Africa’s service production would be in transport. “AfCFTA is offering a lot of opportunities because it also has to do with air, such as intra-country air connections at cargo airports. The same thing that affects maritime also affects the air like the planes, airport, air insurance and legal regulations,” McDan said.

“So, what is going to happen is that because there is an increment in demand, supply will have to increase to meet the demand. The maritime sector has a role to play in this, making sure that all these benefits are attractive to Africans. That is why it is important for AfCFTA to own its ships, cargo planes and warehouses,” he added.

AfCFTA: Upcoming Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade a chance to empower women (Africa Renewal)

The protocol provides an innovative approach to inclusivity of trade agreements by providing specific provisions towards enhancing women’s participation in trade to fulfil the core objectives of the trade agreement. This complements previous approaches that focus primarily on socio-economic concerns as a goal. Once adopted, the protocol will offer an innovative and sustainable approach of improving the competitiveness of women in their various trade roles while serving to advance the global discourse on addressing gender considerations in trade agreements.

The Beijing Platform for Action, adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, remains the main framework in the global effort to advance gender equality. Its focus on crucial areas such as the role of women in the economy and their participation in leadership and decision-making aligns seamlessly with the objectives of the AfCFTA. In this quest, the Maputo Protocol—a groundbreaking legal instrument aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights in Africa—serves as a complementary force to the AfCFTA. Together, they form a formidable set of frameworks that can address the unique challenges faced by women on the continent.

AfCFTA: NASS says continuous research necessary to guide policy makers (TVC News)

The National Assembly says continuous research on different aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, is necessary to guide policy makers, including relevant committees of the parliament. This came to the fore at a roundtable on the impact of AfCFTA on the Nigerian Economy put together by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS.

At a time global economies face turbulence, a gathering of experts seeks to harness available technical and non-technical resources to promote discussion on critical socio-economic issues in Africa. The leadership of the National Assembly and other speakers stress the need for continuous research to assist in legislations that will further harness the gains of AfCFTA The consensus among participants is that intra-African trade should be further encouraged to facilitate trade in manufacturing and industrialisation as a way of enhancing Africa’s economies, Nigeria inclusive.

Bold ambitions and uncertain paths in the African Union’s new ten-year development plan (Businessday Nigeria)

The African Union (AU) has set a bold target of producing 100,000 PhDs from Africa over the next decade. The AU stated that twenty percent of the output should come from STEM fields. The target is embedded in the Second Ten-Year Implementation Plan (STYIP) of the AU, focused on accelerating the implementation of the vision of “Africa We Want.”.

The AU’s Agenda 2063: pdf Second Ten-Year Implementation Plan (2024-2033) (6.58 MB) , or STYIP, was launched on February 13 with its development agency, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). AU hopes there will be a significant increase in enrolment rates in higher education across Africa in the university and technical and vocational education (TVE) sectors. It noted the lack of employability skills across African higher education but plans to reverse it.

AU Commission Joins Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania to Advocate for Stronger Operationalization of the African Medicine Agency (AMA) & Africa NTDs-Free Future (AU)

“I underscore that the effective operationalization of AMA and ending NTDs in Africa is a multifaceted task that requires strong health systems and a comprehensive approach that involves both leaders and the communities they serve,” stated H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development African Union Commission The African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the Governments of the Republic of Ghana, the Republic of Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania convened a High-level Working Breakfast on Operationalizing the African Medicine Agency (AMA) and Securing Africa’s Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) free future.

AU took important action cybersecurity its 2024 summit more needed (Chatham House)

Africa witnessed a spate of cyberattacks in 2023, against African Union Commission (AUC) systems, Kenyan government data systems, and Nigerian election infrastructure among others. The attacks seem to have served as a wake-up call for the AU, driving its Peace and Security Council (PSC) to make cybersecurity a key agenda point at this year’s summit, held in Addis Ababa.

Real achievements were made: African heads of state addressed a number of cybersecurity related matters – the first notable action on the issue since the AU created its pdf Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (DTS) (1.80 MB)  in February 2020.

At the summit the AUC was directed to expedite the development of a Continental Cybersecurity Strategy. A continental child online protection policy was also adopted, and a Common African Position agreed on the application of international law in cyberspace – a significant development. But the pdf Malabo Convention (13.16 MB) , Africa’s ambitious continental cybersecurity agreement, remains unratified by most AU countries, limiting its credibility. Without wider ratification, and better cooperation on cyber diplomacy, member states may find it difficult to develop the coherent African cybersecurity agenda that is needed.

DHL Group: Insights into fostering sustainable and inclusive trade at WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (AJOT)

Trade and logistics experts from DHL Group, along with other leading trade experts, will be on hand at the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference to share insights into how the world can foster sustainable and inclusive trade. In Abu Dhabi, DHL Group and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), will host a side event together with its partners to present the four key takeaways from the recent GoTrade Summit, held in late 2023 in Bonn, Germany, and which are documented in the comprehensive 2023 GoTrade Summit Report, recently released. DHL Group hopes that the Report and its four key takeaways will serve as a basis for discussions at WTO MC13.

Global trade is at a critical juncture-and we can’t take it for granted, WTO meeting chair warns (Fortune)

The greatest disruption in business occurs when cracks emerge in the systems that we otherwise take for granted. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the treaties that make up the bedrock of international commerce fall firmly into this category. For decades, these international agreements have provided a baseline level of certainty to businesses, investors, and consumers. Today, that system is being buffeted by geopolitical headwinds, powerful political forces, and a trade landscape being redefined by new technologies. That makes certainty more important than ever.

Looking ahead to the conference, I see four key priorities – and private sector engagement is key to all of them. First, there are immediate deliverables on which consensus among the membership is difficult but achievable. To name just one example, the moratorium precluding customs duties on electronic transmissions is up for renewal. Second, it is important the ministerial conference provides a roadmap for the WTO’s future work. Climate change, geopolitical tensions, and a new wave of industrial subsidies are disrupting the status quo. Digitalization is reshaping both how trade is done and what is traded. The third goal of the ministerial conference is facilitating dialogue. As a trade minister, I can attest to the rarity of opportunities to meet with our counterparts for in-depth discussions about the most pressing trade issues.

Other WTO news:

WTO conference faces challenges as big players turn inward (ING Think)

Reform the WTO to make it fit for the 21st century (Financial Times)

Shifting the course of Global Trade at 13th Ministerial Conference (CNBC Africa)

WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi an opportunity to strengthen trade and health agenda (The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry)

The WTO’s FDI Challenge by Karl P. Sauvant (Project Syndicate)

G20: FAO Director-General appeals for peace, right to food and global governance reforms (FAO)

QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), appealed for peace, recognition of the right to food, and reform of multilateral institutions as cardinal imperatives during the G20 Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday in Brazil.

“FAO calls for the prioritization of actions that promote food security globally to achieve the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind,” Qu said at the first session, focused on the G20’s role in dealing with conflicts and ongoing international tensions.

“We need a global governance system that is fit for purpose, works in an efficient, effective, and coherent manner, is accountable to its members, and fully aligned and committed to achieve all the SDGs,” he said at the second session.

See also: G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Summary) (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)


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