Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Onus largely on private sector to recover economy, says Deloitte (Engineering News)

With the 2024/25 national Budget not having provided much relief to taxpayers, and the economy having a high debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and slow growth rates, South Africans need to redefine resilience, says consultancy Deloitte. “As government opens up sectors to more private investment, there is hope that corporates will be able to provide the impetus to bolster the economy,” said Deloitte Africa tax and legal MD Itereleng Kubeka.

While the Minister announced R943-billion in infrastructure investment by government over the next three years, much greater capital investment would be required, not just through delivery by the public sector, but with the intent of crowding in the private sector via public-private partnerships, while enhancing the quantity and quality of infrastructure delivery by government, Deloitte reported.

Itac finds steel dumping harming Sacu industry, recommends anti-dumping duties against Chinese imports (Engineering News)

Trade agency the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) has, following an investigation into alleged dumping of steel products from the People’s Republic of China, determined that dumping of products originating in or imported from China is taking place. Itac also determined that the industry of the regional bloc Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) is experiencing material injury and that there is a causal link between the alleged dumped imports and the material injury experienced by the Sacu industry.

The commission made a final determination to recommend to South Africa’s Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel that definitive anti-dumping duties be imposed against imports of flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width of 600 mm or more, plated or coated with zinc, and of a thickness of less than 0.45 mm originating in or imported from China.

The South African Coil Coaters Association, which is a Sacu industry body, lodged an application. Steelmaker ArcelorMittal South Africa is also the major producer of the products investigated and provided material injury information during the investigation.

Bridging Continents: Türkiye and South Africa Forge Stronger Trade and Investment Ties (BNN)

In a world that’s rapidly globalizing, the distance between continents is shrinking, not just in miles but in economic barriers. The recent flourishing of trade and investment relationships between Türkiye and South Africa stands as a testament to this phenomenon. With both nations experiencing growth in these areas, it’s clear that the efforts to enhance bilateral ties are bearing fruit. But what’s driving this surge in economic cooperation, and how are businesses and economies on both sides of the equation standing to benefit?

The story of Türkiye and South Africa is more than just about numbers and economic indicators. It’s about building bridges between continents and cultures. With over 60 Turkish companies thriving in South Africa and more than 65 South African companies making their presence felt in Türkiye, the economic landscape is evolving. This evolution is not just beneficial for the businesses directly involved but also for the economies and people of both nations.

Kenya oil dealers in panic as Uganda picks Tanga port over Mombasa (The East African)

Kenyan oil dealers are in a crisis mode after Uganda stuck to its guns and started talks with Tanzania to import its fuel through the Port of Tanga instead of the Port of Mombasa following a spat with Nairobi. Uganda had initially announced that it was in talks with Tanzania to use the Port of Dar es Salaam to import its fuel after Kenya refused to give it concessions to use its pipeline. But the road distance between Dar es Salaam and Kampala is 1,715.6km, which is 49.5 percent longer that the distance of 1,147.6km between Mombasa and Kampala. This shorter distance means that Uganda saves up to $35 per cubic meter for using Mombasa instead of Dar.

But this has changed after it emerged last week that Uganda and Tanzania are locked in talks that will see the former import fuel via the Port of Tanga, which is far closer to Kampala. Tanga is the oldest port in East Africa and is the second largest in Tanzania. While it’s far smaller than the Dar and Mombasa ports, Tanzania has been boosting its capacity to handle more cargo in recent years.

Zim rolls out trade reforms (The Herald)

Zimbabwe has implemented trade facilitation reforms despite facing challenges that impede it to fully and meaningfully participate in global trade, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr Frederick Shava yesterday told a meeting of Landlocked Least Developing Countries (LLDC) in Abu Dhabi.

“To date, Zimbabwe has so far implemented a number of trade facilitation reforms with notable progress in the application of information and communication technology solutions to facilitate trade through the use of automated systems for customs data. “We are also in the process of completing the process to implement the Zimbabwe electronic single window which will further facilitate trade administrative processes at our national borders. This will complement the ongoing establishment of one-stop border posts at our national borders.

“In spite of the many trade facilitation reforms Zimbabwe is pursuing and recently implemented, we continue to share challenges faced by developing countries occasioned by multiple crises, which include inflation, energy and food prices, and financing, as well as disruptions in supply chains and elevated trade costs - which all acutely affect LLDCs,” Dr Shava said.

Zim needs to ramp up manufacturing: AfCFTA (The Zimbabwe Mail)

Buy Zimbabwe, an initiative to promote consumption of local products, says Zimbabwe should ramp up its manufacturing capacity to withstand competition and tap into opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

In its 2023 annual report, Buy Zimbabwe said without a robust buy local initiative with set local content thresholds, the opportunities in Africa will be lost. “With the coming on board of the African Free Continental Trade Area (AFCTA) which is estimated to have a combined GDP of US$2 trillion, it is important for Zimbabwe to enhance her local productive capacity. “Without a robust buy local initiative with set local content thresholds the opportunities in Africa will be missed.

In this context, Buy Zimbabwe will have its programmes this year anchored on four pillars that are accelerated engagements with the public sector to ensure local content requirements are enforced; 80 percent top-of-mind awareness; development of local databases to track domestic producers and link them to markets.

In partnership with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe and QMIZ (Quality Management Institute of Zimbabwe), it will implement local content rating programmes. “It is estimated that between 10 percent and 15 percent of Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product goes through public procurement. “Enhancing multiplier effects in this sector is critical for growth. “Presently, the law in Zimbabwe gives preference to domestic suppliers. “However, the lack of local content thresholds has left the exercise amenable to imports,” said Buy Zimbabwe.

Ethiopia, Zimbabwe enhancing trade, economic cooperation (ENA)

Ethiopia and Zimbabwe striving to elevate their ties through enhancing trade, investment and fostering overall development, Ethiopian Embassy in Harare said. Ethiopian Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Zimbabwe, Rashid Mohammed who is also non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Zambia and the Republic of Mauritius, reaffirmed commitment to strengthening bilateral ties, fostering economic cooperation, and promoting cultural exchange between the two nations.

He stated that both countries supported each other in many fields such as aviation, air force, education and assistance each other in technical support, capacity-building programs, and humanitarian aid in times of need. Both are highly elevating their long diplomatic relationship working collaboratively in the areas of trade, economic cooperation and continued to maintain cordial diplomatic ties based on shared interests and mutual respect.

Ethiopia finalizes preparations to trade under AfCFTA (ENA)

Ethiopia has set to exchange goods under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following endorsement of country’s tariff line, Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. In a presser held yesterday, Foreign Affairs State Minister, Ambassador Misganu Arega expressed that leaders of the African Union member states have endorsed Ethiopia’s tariff line for goods to be traded under the AfCFTA. “We have now the opportunity to join the nine countries which are implementing the AfCFTA,” he said. Tariff concessions have been made on commodities on aggregate, he noted.

Meanwhile, asked about Ethiopia’s further engagement in the AU ordinary sessions, the State Minister said that the country has informed leaders of the Union clearly about Somalia’s case appertained to the Ethio-Somaliland MoU. “Ethiopia’s foreign policy underlines the need of regional integration, cooperation and mutual benefits. We have no history of invading or annexing others. In case, we need to work on boosting the people to people integration since we both have same people,” he said.

Ethiopia’s Search for the Sea (tralac)

On New Years Day 2024, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the president of Somaliland for access to the Red Sea. This angered Somali (Mogadishu) officials who claim the territory as their own. The MOU allegedly promises Somaliland a stake in Ethiopian Airlines and the possibility of the recognition of their sovereignty in exchange for sea access. Ethiopia has been landlocked since the independence of Eritrea (previously part of Ethiopia) in 1993, and the Somaliland Deal is part of Ethiopia’s drive to regain sea access given limited viable alternatives.

FG uncovers 32 routes of smuggling food out of Nigeria (Daily Trust)

The federal government has uncovered 32 routes through which food items are smuggled out of the country. Speaking at a conference on Public Wealth Management organized by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) which was held in Abuja on Tuesday, Vice President Kashim Shettima said, “Just three nights ago, 45 trucks of maize were caught being transported to neighbouring countries.

“Just in that Ilela axis, there are 32 illegal smuggling routes. And the moment those foodstuffs were intercepted, the price of maize came down by N10,000. It came down from N60,000 to N50,000.” So, there are forces that are hell-bent on undermining our nation but this is the time for us to coalesce into a singular entity,” he said.

IMF Staff Completes 2024 Article IV Mission to Mauritius (IMF)

“The Mauritian economy has rebounded strongly from the impact of the pandemic, supported by the deployment of pre-pandemic fiscal and external buffers. Real GDP growth reached 8.9 percent in 2022 from rebounding tourism and manufacturing. Rapid growth was sustained in 2023—estimated at 6.9 percent—with output now having exceeded its pre-pandemic level. Vibrant tourism, social housing construction, and continued strong performance of transport and financial services buoyed growth.

“Advancing structural reforms, including by sustaining compliance with Anti Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards, improving governance, reducing skill mismatches in the labor market, and fostering digitalization and climate-resilient infrastructure investment is key to supporting private sector investment and promoting economic diversification.

Unlocking the Potential of Women and Adolescent Girls in Madagascar will Reduce Poverty (World Bank)

Malagasy women and girls face multiple disadvantages that affect their ability to accumulate human capital in education and health, participate in economic opportunities, and make decisions, according to a new World Bank report “Unlocking the Potential of Women and Adolescent Girls – Challenges and Opportunities for Greater Empowerment of Women and Adolescent Girls in Madagascar”.

Women and girls cannot access equal opportunities as men and boys in the country can and are disproportionally affected by the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, which increases their vulnerability to poverty, violence, and discrimination.

“Investing in the social and economic empowerment of women and adolescent girls can lead to sustainable economic growth and benefit the country. This is the reason why the World Bank is supporting Madagascar through the recent East Africa Girls’ Empowerment and Resilience Regional Program (EAGER) and other programs in the portfolio to promote girls’ education, increase women’s productivity in the labor market, and strengthen the capacity of local administrators, community leaders, and service providers reforms to implement gender equality reforms effectively,” says Atou Seck, World Bank Country Manager for Madagascar.

Reforms to boost productivity and private investment would help secure stronger growth, more high-quality jobs and increased living standards in Egypt: OECD (OECD)

Renewed reform efforts helping to boost private sector activity and investment would help boost growth, which is currently slowing amid high domestic inflation, and would support the creation of more high-quality jobs, according to a new OECD report. The first OECD Economic Survey of Egypt projects GDP growth to ease to 3.2% in fiscal year 2023/24, before increasing gradually to 5.1% by fiscal year 2025/26. Growth is expected to be driven by growing consumption, provided inflation subsides and despite the gradual withdrawal of fiscal support. Investment is set to remain weak as long as financing conditions remain tight in the context of the continuing fight against inflation. Export growth is expected to pick up if geopolitical tensions in the region recede.

Kenya, Uganda in drive to end feed shortage (The East African)

Kenya, Uganda and Somalia are among six countries to pilot a programme to plug persistent shortage of animal feed and fodder. Under the programme dubbed “Resilient African feed and fodder systems (RAFFS),” researchers want to improve livestock production and, by extension, nutrition. “The lack and poor quality of feed is a driver of production inefficiencies translated into the high cost of livestock sourced foods unaffordable for those that need the nutrients most,” African Union-Inter African Bureau for Animal Resource’s (AU-IBAR) Dr Sarah Ashanut Ossiya said.

According to Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, this inefficiency is “further exacerbated by over 40 percent wastage of existing feed resources. The recent triple global crises of climate change, drought and flooding, Covid-19 and conflict in Russia – Ukraine and other conflicts have severely exposed the vulnerabilities in African feed and fodder systems.”

“The recent drought in the Greater Horn of Africa region resulted in a massive loss of over 9.5 million livestock, valued at over $2 billion,” she added. Other losses are invaluable livestock genetic resources developed over decades, serving as a key factor for livelihoods and incomes, especially for pastoralists and smallholders who contribute over 80 percent of meat and milk production in the region. “Subsequently, Africa imports about $4 billion worth of livestock sourced foods annually, effectively exporting millions of lucrative youth jobs,” added Sacko.

Algeria announces road connection, free trade area with Mauritania (The Arab Weekly)

Wary of regional isolation, especially after Morocco’s launch of its “Royal Atlantic Initiative,” facilitating Sahel countries’ access to the Atlantic Ocean, Algeria has turned its sights towards its southern neighbour Mauritania.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his Mauritanian counterpart Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani opened on Thursday a gate at the border of the two North African countries. They also agreed to set up a free trade zone and build an 847 kilometre road, which will link the Algerian town of Tindouf to Mauritania’s Ezouirat. Experts see the ambitious project as likely to face a few hurdles considering its lack of clear vision, its cost and the sparse population inhabiting the area.

This agreement comes a few days after OPEC member Algeria also announced it would invest $442 million in energy projects in Mali, Niger and Libya. Algeria has furthermore said it will open four other free trade zones in 2024 with Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Libya.

High cost of intra-EA cash transfers slows the Common Market (The East African)

East Africans are still struggling to find cheap options to send money from one country to another within the region, making it one of the greatest barriers to trade and slowing the implementation of the Common Market Protocol. Latest data from the World Bank shows that some money remittance corridors in the region are among the most expensive in the world, and much higher than the global average, despite efforts to bring down transaction costs to ease trade.

An analysis by the IMF reveals that many factors are behind the high cost of cross-border payments in emerging markets and developing economies, mostly in the origin countries. The results, published last month in a report dubbed IMF and World Bank Approach to Cross-Border Payments Technical Assistance. “More developed infrastructure and enabling legal and regulatory frameworks for payments in the sender jurisdiction are associated with lower average cost of sending remittances as well as average fees,” the IMF said.

COMESA, EAC to triple horticulture growth (Tanzania Daily News)

Public and private sectors of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) have joined forces to triple growth of the horticultural industry in a decade’s period. The two RECs will in March 2024 roll out a COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA) and its marshal plan to fast-track growth of the industry, beginning with avocado, onion and Irish potato value chains.

“Avocado, onion, and Irish potato can generate a combined 230 million US dollars per year for approximately 450,000 smallholder farmers of a minimum farm size of 0.4 hectare with 60 avocado trees, or 1 hectare for onion farmers,” the CEHA Coordinator, Mr Apollo Owuor, said. Other value chains, such as tomato and cabbage may be added in future as will be recommended through the CEHA structures, Mr Owuor told a maiden stakeholders’ meeting for Tanzania chapter in Arusha, under the auspices of the country’s champion of horticultural industry, TAHA.

“CEHA targets to achieve 12 key performance indicators, including increasing intra-regional trade in fruits and vegetables to 25 million US dollars and global exports from 416 million US dollars in 2021 to 950 million US dollars by 2031,” Mr Uwour told the meeting in Arusha recently. The idea is to harmonise COMESA-EAC fragmented regulatory and standard policies, coordinate production chain, address poor storage and transportation snags for perishable crops and ensure availability of quality and sufficient seeds. “For instance, some ports within the EAC that serve the rest of land-linked countries lack what we call green lanes to fast-track clearance of perishable goods to the overseas markets, so CEHA seeks to tackle such a challenge,” he explained.

ECOWAS lifts coup sanctions on Niger in a new push for dialogue (Africanews)

West Africa’s regional bloc known as ECOWAS has lifted travel, commercial and economic sanctions imposed on Niger that were aimed at reversing the coup staged in the country last year, a senior official announced Saturday. The sanctions will be lifted with immediate effect, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray said after the bloc’s meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, that aimed to address existential threats facing the region as well as implore three junta-led nations that have quit the bloc to rescind their decision.

The summit of the 15-nation regional economic bloc known as ECOWAS in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, comes at a critical time when the 49-year-old bloc’s future is threatened as it struggles with possible disintegration and a recent surge in coups fueled by discontent over the performance of elected governments whose citizens barely benefit from mineral resources.

See also: ECOWAS lifts sanctions on Niger weeks after Sahel states announce withdrawal from bloc (Peoples Dispatch)

ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Guinea and Mali (Africanews)

After Niger, Guinea, and Mali. In a statement released on Sunday, February 25, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced “lifting financial and economic sanctions against the Republic of Guinea” and “lifting restrictions on the recruitment of citizens of the Republic of Mali for positions within ECOWAS institutions.”

The regional organization had convened a new extraordinary summit on Saturday to discuss “politics, peace, and security in the Republic of Niger,” as well as “recent developments in the region.” The lifting of sanctions against Guinea and Mali was not specified during the final address by Omar Alieu Touray, the President of the ECOWAS Commission on Saturday evening.

pdf Final Communique – Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on the Political, Peace and Security Situation in the Region | 24 February 2024 (590 KB)

Exports venturing into uncharted territories of Africa, Asia, Europe: Indian Govt (Business Standard)

At a time when global trade is facing geo-political uncertainties, India’s exports of goods like automobiles and gold jewellery have ventured into uncharted territories of Central Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to an analysis by the commerce ministry. The analysis has shown that India has penetrated into what are termed as “absolutely new markets” in regions such as Africa, Central Asia, Latin America and North America during April-December 2023.

The “absolutely new markets” refer to areas where India did see any export during April-December 2022, but healthy growth of certain principal commodities like motor vehicles, two- and three-wheelers, petroleum products, sugar, gold and other precious jewellery were recorded in April-December 2023.

Exports of these commodities to the absolutely new markets during April-December 2023 stood at USD 234 million as against nil shipments during the same period of 2022. It added that these commodities captured a greater number of markets in the Central Asia, Africa, and European regions.

Navigating the Evolving Landscape between China and Africa’s Economic Engagements (IMF)

China and Africa have forged a strong economic relationship since China’s accession to the WTO in 2001. This paper examines the evolution of these economic ties starting in the early 2000s, and the subsequent shift in the relationship triggered by the commodity price collapse in 2015 and by the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential effects on the African continent of a further slowdown in Chinese growth are analyzed, highlighting the varying effects on different countries in Africa, especially those heavily dependent on their economic relationship with China.

The African Union Commission and World Bank Seal a New Grant Agreement to Foster Regional Integration (World Bank)

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Bank have marked a significant milestone in their partnership with the signing today of a grant agreement to support the implementation of the Africa Think Tank Platform Project aimed to help think tanks across the continent to produce policy-relevant research on critical cross-border priority issues.

The $50 million project will enable the AUC to create and set up the structures and systems necessary to operate a continent-wide platform for effective cooperation and harmonization on regional policy issues among country-level policymakers, regional associations, and think tanks. Additionally, it will facilitate resource mobilization and the creation of facilities to attract funds from various stakeholders to support the platform’s operations. This new project brings the total value of World Bank-supported projects, approved by its Board of Directors in the past six months, to $131 million, all aimed at supporting the implementation of AUC’s strategic priorities.

Ukraine, Gaza Polarize G-20 as Global Money Chiefs Seek Sidestep (Bloomberg)

The world’s top economic policymakers figure they’ll have to steer clear of two conflicts convulsing global politics — the wars in Ukraine and Gaza — to make progress on anything else at this week’s G-20 summit in Brazil. There’s plenty more to talk about. The host nation is pushing ambitious plans on inequality and climate change. Finance ministers are keen to address trade and corporate taxation. Central bankers want to discuss cross-border money flows and the tricky last phase of the global inflation fight.

UN Environment Assembly opens with calls for stronger multilateral action (UN Environment)

Ministers of environment and other leaders from more than 180 nations convened today in Nairobi for the start of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6). With a focus on strengthening environmental multilateralism to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution, this year’s Assembly will be negotiating resolutions on issues ranging from nature-based solutions and highly hazardous pesticides to land degradation and drought, and environmental aspects of minerals and metals.

As climate change intensifies, a million species head towards extinction, and pollution remains one of the world’s leading causes of premature death, UNEA-6 will see countries consider some 19 resolutions, part of a broader push to spur more ambitious multilateral environmental action. The resolutions cover, among other issues, circular economy; solar radiation modification; effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions towards climate justice; sound management of chemicals and waste, and sand and dust storms.

More than 7,000 delegates from 182 UN Member States and more than 170 Ministers have registered for UNEA-6, taking place under the theme, effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Delegates this week will include Heads of State, representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector.

See also: What is the UN Environment Assembly and why does it matter? (UN News)

G20 ministers in Rio call for reform of international institutions (Yahoo News)

G20 foreign ministers called for comprehensive reforms of the most important international organizations as they met in Rio de Janeiro, while war continues to rage in several parts of the world. “Everyone agreed that the most important multilateral institutions such as the UN, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund must be reformed in order to meet the challenges of today’s world,” said Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira on Thursday at the end of the meeting. The United Nations is indispensable as an organization for peace and security, he said.

“As far as the multilateral development banks and the International Monetary Fund are concerned, there was also broad agreement on the need to facilitate access to finance for the poorest countries and to improve the representation of developing countries in the governing bodies,” said Vieira.

How the G20 Can Build on the World Economy’s Recent Resilience (IMF)

With recent improvement to the global-near term outlook, G20 policymakers have an opportunity to rebuild policy momentum, setting their sights on a more equitable, prosperous, sustainable, and cooperative future. After several years of shocks, we expect global growth to reach 3.1 percent this year, with inflation falling and job markets holding up. As our new report to the G20 makes clear, some of these trends—such as AI—hold promise to lift productivity and improve growth prospects. We badly need it—our projections for medium-term growth have declined to the lowest in decades.

Against this backdrop, Brazil’s G20 agenda highlights key issues such as inclusion, sustainability, and global governance, with a welcome emphasis on eradicating poverty and hunger. This ambitious agenda, which the IMF is working to support, can guide policymakers at this pivotal moment in the global recovery.

India-Brasil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) gains strength at G20 meeting (G20 Brasil)

Foreign Affairs ministers from the three Global South countries—who coincidentally make up the current G20 Troika—met to strengthen ties and align common agendas. “IBSA democracies strive to overcome poverty and are of great geopolitical importance within their regions,” explained Ambassador Eduardo Paes Saboia, Secretary for Asia and the Pacific at Brasil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among Brasil’s expectations for the G20 presidency, in addition to the high-level discussions around the three main priorities established for this mandate, is the revitalization and strengthening of the India-Brasil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA).

At the February 22 meeting, the ministers decided to strengthen the IBSA Fund, a South-South cooperation initiative; and to hold a first meeting of authorities belonging to the forum on food security and nutrition, in alignment with one of the three priorities defined by President Lula for the G20

“It’s about putting the poor in the budget and the rich in income tax,” said Minister Wellington Dias (G20 Brasil)

Brazil’sMinister Wellington Dias for Development and Social Assistance, Family and the Fight Against Hunger—also Coordinator of the Task Force for the G20 Global Alliance against Hunger and Poverty—held a press conference this Wednesday (21) at the G20 headquarters in Brasilia. Dias spoke at the opening of the task force’s first meeting, to be held between February 21 and 23, via videoconference.

The meeting will focus on four reports by international organizations about tackling poverty and hunger—including topics such as sustainable food production, social protection, building resilience, and ways of making international collaboration more effective.

LDCs may enjoy trade benefits for three years after graduation (The Financial Express)

Retaining privileges after LDC graduation gets into focus as commerce ministers and senior trade officials of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) countries start hectic negations on the rules of trade, amid geopolitical tensions raging around. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, delivered her inaugural statement at the session. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade and chair the conference, also spoke.

The LDCs have sought continuity of duty-free, quota-free market access, waiver in the intellectual property rights and other trade-support measures for at least six years after the graduation.In his written statement, the state minister said: “We sincerely hope that Members will make a decision in favour of a transitional arrangement regarding LDC-specific provisions for the LDCs after graduation.”

Forthcoming tralac Trade Brief: Bangladesh’s upcoming graduation from LDC status, its amended provisions for the protection of Patents and its ongoing use of the WTO TRIPS flexibilities

WTO meeting seeks modest outcomes, with global trade at ‘critical juncture’ (Reuters)

Trade ministers from around the world gathered in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a World Trade Organization meeting that aims to set new global commerce rules, but its chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and delegates sought to curb expectations. The almost 30-year-old global watchdog, whose rules underpin 75% of global commerce, tries to strike deals by consensus, but such efforts are becoming more difficult amid signs that the global economy is fragmenting into separate blocs.

“Let’s not pretend that any of this will be easy,” Okonjo-Iweala said in her opening speech, describing the atmosphere as “tougher” than the WTO’s last 2022 meeting, citing wars, tensions and elections and signs that trade growth will undershoot the organisation’s own estimate.

Thani Al Zeyoudi, conference chair and UAE’s foreign trade minister said in an opening address: “The multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core is at a critical juncture; it is confronting many challenges. “I now ask all of you to show the world that the WTO is alive and well and fully capable to deliver results that matter to people everywhere,” he said.

“I think this week is really about trying to consolidate progress from two years ago and build on where possible, but I don’t think there’s going to be major new breakthroughs in new areas,” said Simon Conveney, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, referring to the WTO's 2022 meeting in Geneva.

Members urged to keep reinvigorating the WTO to deliver benefits for people through trade (WTO)

The 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) opened in Abu Dhabi on 26 February with a call to WTO members to seize the full potential of the multilateral trading system so that it delivers for the people it serves, accelerating the green transition and fostering socio-economic inclusion around the world. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged members to show leadership, flexibility and compromise to deliver important outcomes at MC13 for people and the planet.

New WTO-World Bank project seeks to boost Africa’s participation in digital trade (WTO)

Digital trade presents significant opportunities for economies to boost growth, create jobs and reduce poverty, but more needs to be done to help African economies harness these benefits. This is the objective of a new WTO-World Bank project presented by the WTO Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Vice Presidents Pablo Saavedra and Ousmane Diagana and the Trade Ministers of Benin and Rwanda, Shadiya Alimatou Assouman and Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, at an event in Abu Dhabi on the eve of the 13th Ministerial Conference on 24 February.

See also these tralac blogs

The AfCFTA Digital Trade Protocol – clarification of key issues

The Digital Trade Protocol of the AfCFTA and Digitally-Driven Development in Africa

Selected news from the WTO

Ministers approve WTO membership of Comoros and Timor-Leste at MC13

Wave of acceptances of Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies at MC13 advances entry into force

DG Okonjo-Iweala urges trade ministers’ coalition to boost climate action through the WTO

Three-quarters of members mark finalization of IFD Agreement, request incorporation into WTO

WTO, ITC launch USD 50 million global fund for women exporters in the digital economy


Visit tralac’s MC13 resource page for more info.


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