Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Solar, battery, inverter imports surged to R70bn in 2023 as wind turbines recovered from two-year lull (Engineering News)

South African imports of solar panels, lithium-ion batteries and inverters climbed to a record $3.8-billion last year, or about R70-billion, while imports of wind turbines began to recover following a two-year lull, analysis compiled by Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies senior economist Gaylor Montmasson-Clair shows.

Imports in 2023 were double the $1.7-billion of 2022 and lifted the overall value of the three energy components imported over the ten years from 2014 to 2023 to above $10-billion. The analysis points to an extremely strong rise in solar-panel imports last year, which was also the country’s worst-ever year for loadshedding.

African experts meet to discuss auto industry standardisation (Engineering News)

South Africa is hosting the African Organisation for Standardisation Technical Committee 59 (ARSO/TC 59) this month to discuss technical standardisation within the African automotive industry. The four-day event includes the participation of technical experts from the automotive industry across continental national standards bodies.

ARSO/TC 59 is being held with the objective of reaching consensus on the adoption of international standards and harmonisation of standards for the region in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

ARSO secretary-general Dr Hermogene Nsengimana says the established Strategy for the African Automotive Manufacturing Sector, within the framework of the AfCFTA, highlights the need of harmonised standards in tackling the challenge of imported vehicles, regional value chains, and the long-term goal of establishing a common external tariff for the sector.

Kenya to ‘fast-track’ Lapsset projects to woo Ethiopia (The East African)

Kenya and Ethiopia have agreed to fight insecurity, review tariffs and fast-track completion of infrastructure projects to facilitate seamless flow of cargo from Lamu to Ethiopia. The two governments on Thursday held a meeting during which Nairobi assured Addis Ababa of a functional Port of Lamu, with a superstructure, cargo yard, operational equipment, port workshop, warehouses, office space, and accommodation facilities. The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will rework port tariffs as Ethiopia puts in place plans to start using the port the month. The tariffs are one of the conditions Addis asked to be considered after Kenya assured them of security on the Lamu Port, South Sudan Ethiopia transport (Lapsset) corridor.

Uganda ready to sign Africa open skies plan (The East African)

Uganda is keen to sign the Single Africa Air Transport Market protocol, ending years of fence-sitting. Authorities in Kampala indicated this week that the Uganda will join the open skies regime in the next financial year.

“We are left with approval by Cabinet. Once that is done, we will be good to go,” said Fred Bamwesigye, director-general of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCCA) at a meeting in Kampala. Mr Bamwesigye, who represented Works and Transport Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, said Uganda’s reluctance to join the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) since its launch in 2018 was due to a need to shield its national carrier from competition.

Other considerations were invest in and build new infrastructure such as the Kabalega International Airport, to support traffic numbers resulting from liberalisation; improve Entebbe International Airport to requisite standards as well as reorient the regulatory regime, which was inward-looking.

Increase in Domestic Savings Can Unlock Rwanda’s Private Sector Potential (World Bank)

Maintaining Rwanda’s development trajectory and achieving the goals outlined in its Vision 2050 will require increased efforts to shift the drivers of economic growth towards a private investment-led model, given the country’s depleting fiscal space. This is according to the 22nd edition of the Rwanda Economic Update (REU): Mobilizing Domestic Savings to Boost the Private Sector in Rwanda, which underscores the critical link between private sector investment growth and domestic savings capacity.

Given the backdrop of sluggish productivity and limited fiscal resources, there is therefore a need for Rwanda to bolster private investment to adequately complement public spending and sustain economic growth. Rwanda’s financial sector, industry leaders and policymakers need to address certain challenges to maximize the country’s savings potential.

Rwanda: the African Development Fund commits $12 million to the rapid operationalization of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) (AfDB)

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund approved, in Abidjan on 27 February 2024, $11.96 million Grant to speed up the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda.

The financial support from the African Development Bank Group’s Regional Public Good window, together with a contribution of $1.93 million from the Rwandan government, is intended to implement the Regional Pharmaceutical Sector Support Project in Rwanda.

“The project should produce considerable benefits (outputs and outcomes) throughout Africa,” stated Aissa Touré Sarr, head of the African Development Bank’s Rwanda country office. “The leading-edge research and technological innovations of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation should improve health care outcomes by providing access to advanced medicines and treatments, tackling prevalent diseases and contributing to the continent’s overall health resilience.”

Port of Mombasa receives longest-ever container ship (The East African)

The longest-ever vessel to call on the Mombasa port has berthed, targeting to pick up more than 5,000 cargo containers that would free up massive space at the main gateway. The Mv Kotka, currently sailing under the flag of Liberia and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company, is 318 metres long and 42.92 meters wide. This is equivalent to three football fields end to end. The ship with 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (Teus) capacity docked in Mombasa from the port of Durban Thursday morning carrying 400 empty containers.

Democratic Republic of Congo: African Development Bank to lend $117 million to support agricultural transformation (AfDB)

Meeting in Abidjan on 14 February 2024, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group approved a loan of $117.9 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo to implement the Project to Support Governance and Skills Development in support of the Agriculture Transformation Programme (PTA).

“This project is to support agricultural transformation in the Democratic Republic of Congo through the improvement of sectoral governance and the quality of labour and by promoting entrepreneurship in agricultural value chains to support the agricultural transformation programme,” explained African Development Bank Director-General for Central Africa, Serge N’Guessan.

Tanzania and Ethiopia seal trade deals (The East African)

Tanzania and Ethiopia this week signed bilateral agreements targeting agriculture, trade, energy and air transport and aviation technology exchange. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and the visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday witnessed the signing of agreements strengthen trade between the two countries.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation said on Friday that the two leaders agreed to deepen trade and bilateral relations that would create new opportunities for trade between Tanzania, with a population of over 61 million, and Ethiopia, with a population of more than 100 million people.

“Ethiopia is globally renowned for coffee and tea production, Tanzania’s tea and coffee are equally popular, therefore, how to access markets together will be an integral part of bilateral agreements during this visit,” Mr Makamba said.

A decade of logistics performance in Africa: Navigating trade and the blue economy (MyJoyOnline)

The Logistics Performance Index (LPI), a detailed gauge developed by the World Bank, has chronicled Africa’s trade logistics landscape since 2007, offering a snapshot of its performance in customs efficiency, infrastructure, international shipments, and the overall quality of logistics services. As Africa confronts the twin tasks of advancing its blue economy and maximizing the AfCFTA’s potential, the LPI not only reflects past and present performance but also serves as a beacon for what could be achieved through sustained focus and development in logistics.

Africa needs effective policies and infrastructure to prosper from artificial intelligence, experts say (UNECA)

Africa needs supportive policies and robust infrastructure to tap the limitless opportunities of Artificial intelligence to leapfrog its development, experts have said. Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Fostering prosperity through policies on artificial intelligence in Africa’, on the sidelines of the on-going 56th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM), experts agreed that Artificial Intelligence presented massive development opportunities for Africa if the right policies and infrastructure were in place.

Artificial intelligence, a fast-evolving technology that taps the intelligence of machines or software is transforming all social spheres globally. Research shows that the technology has the potential to contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, of which $1.2 trillion could be generated in Africa, representing a 5.6 per cent increase in the continent’s gross domestic product by 2030.

EAC Bloc Has Not Launched Common Currency – Secretariat (Taarifa Rwanda)

The secretariat of the East African Community (EAC) regional bloc has dismissed rumours circulating that a new common currency has been launched. A post on platform X (formerly Twitter), claimed that the bloc’s member countries have launched a common regional currency.

“The EAC Secretariat wishes to inform all our stakeholders that the Partner States’ journey to a single currency is still a work in progress. Kindly ignore any rumors circulating on social media on the unveiling of new banknotes for the region “the EAC stated.

South Sudan’s Economic Leap: EAC Membership Fuels Trade, Investment, and Growth (BNN Breaking)

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, is witnessing a substantial economic transformation, thanks to its strategic initiatives and international partnerships. With its recent membership in the East African Community (EAC), South Sudan has unlocked doors to tariff-free trade, attracting significant investor interest and paving the way for economic diversification beyond its oil-dependent economy.

The opening of the one-stop border post at Nimule, located approximately 200km from Juba, symbolizes the burgeoning trade and connectivity between Uganda and South Sudan. This development is crucial for trade via Mombasa, with expansion plans also exploring export routes through Djibouti. Furthermore, the government’s prioritization of the construction of 13 major highways is set to revolutionize the country’s trade and connectivity, with the Pagak Mathiang Malakal Road project, supported by a loan from the Ethiopian government, highlighting efforts to boost economic growth and provide alternative export routes for South Sudanese crude oil.

EAC, US seek stronger trade, investment ties (The Citizen)

Trade and investment ties between East Africa and the United States are set for a boost during a business summit scheduled to take place in Nairobi next month. The event will see US business executives and investors engage with government representatives from East Africa partner states on crucial areas of cooperation.

“They will engage in dialogue that will showcase opportunities that will foster increased two-way trade and investment between the two sides,” the East African Business Council (EABC) said in a statement.

During a similar summit initiated by AmCham with the EAC and other African countries held last year, business deals worth over $700 million were struck. “Such outcomes underscore the summit’s efficacy as a catalyst for advancing business partnerships and investment opportunities,” the regional business body added.

All eyes on Kenya, EAC after European parliament backs free trade pact (The Standard)

Lawmakers at the European Parliament this week voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new bilateral deal that will boost trade between Kenya and the EU bloc. The deal’s controversial negotiations have been years in the making and the landmark nod now paves the way for its implementation. The agreement will now enter into force after the Kenyan parliament also gives its consent.

In signing the deal earlier this year, Kenya risked the wrath of her East African neighbours who have been dithering to sign it. Kenya and the European Union (EU) bloc earlier this year finally signed the bilateral deal that will boost trade between the two regions.

Related: Kenya-EU trade pact to come into force ‘in 2-3 months’ (The East African)

Somalia finally joins EAC as the bloc’s 8th Partner State (EAC)

The Federal Republic of Somalia has finally joined the East African Community as the bloc’s 8th Partner State after officially depositing her instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Accession with the EAC Secretary General at a ceremony held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Hon. Jibril Abdirashid Haji Abdi, presented the Horn of Africa nation’s instrument of ratification to the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, completing the admission process in line with EAC Procedure for Admission of new members.

In line with the EAC Admission Procedure for new members, Dr. Mathuki subsequently pronounced the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) as a new member of the Community after receiving the instrument of ratification from the Hon. Abdi. Dr. Mathuki further said Somalia now has the green light to contribute in the development of a roadmap for her integration into the EAC.

CEMAC sees commodity price rise in Q4 2023 but faces bleak outlook for 2024 (Business in Cameroon)

Export commodity prices for the six CEMAC countries experienced a 1.3% increase in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the Composite Commodity Price Index (CCPI) released on February 29, 2024, by the Bank of Central African States (Beac).

In the previous quarter, the increase was 8.3%. The central bank attributes this growth to rising prices in the agricultural market sector. “The index of prices for major agricultural products exported by CEMAC countries rose by 8.0% to 153.29. This increase, starting since the third quarter of 2022, correlates with ongoing uncertainties in the global economic situation, affecting international markets for products like coffee, cocoa, and bananas,” Beac explains.

Achievements of ECOWAS overshadowed by political developments in the region : President Touray inaugurates weekly media briefing (ECOWAS)

ECOWAS is taking steps to address the impediments to the unhindered intra-community movement of persons, goods and services to improve the implementation of its flagship protocol and facilitate the realisation of the economic union of the 15-member community, the President of the Commission, H.E. Dr Omar Alieu Touray has said.

In an address to mark the launch of a new media engagement for the Commission on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, the President said that these include the introduction of two travel documents - the ECOWAS passport and a biometric identity card for intra-community travel for those without their national passports which has been deployed in six Member States. This is in addition to the phased construction of joint border posts to facilitate the processing of people at border posts with the support of the European Union.

SADC adopts technology to drive financial inclusion initiatives within the region (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Financial Inclusion (FI) Subcommittee convened a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on 19-20 February 2024 to review progress on the implementation of the SADC Strategy on Financial Inclusion and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Access to Finance 2023-2028.

The SADC Financial Inclusion Strategy and SME Access to Finance aspires an inclusive, stable, and innovative SADC financial system that empowers individuals and businesses to access and use quality financial services, to contribute to industrialisation, inclusive growth, and resilient, sustainable economic well-being in line with the SADC Vision 2050.

Financial Inclusion is a significant result area of the Support to Improving the Investment and Business Environment (SIBE) Programme, which is a five-year Programme, implemented by the SADC Secretariat and financed by the European Union under the 11th European Development.

Unpredictable global trade reveals the benefits of AfCFTA and intra-African trade as South Africa celebrates first AfCFTA export to Ghana (Business Tech Africa)

Amidst disruptions to traditional trade routes, unpredictable shipping times and soaring freight tariffs caused by the conflict in the Red Sea region, the opportunities the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement creates for the development of intra-Africa trade are becoming apparent, says Standard Bank.

“Besides reducing the need to import goods from outside of Africa, the preferential tariff rates promote Africa’s growth. AfCFTA has the potential to boost South Africa’s economy and create new jobs by increasing economic participation.”

See also:

Cross-Border Traders in Zimbabwe Navigate Challenges, Eye AfCFTA Opportunities (BNN Breaking)

Traders await benefits of AfCFTA (African Business)

Experts propose advancing AfCFTA implementation as theme of the next Conference of Ministers (UNECA)

The next Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM2025) will be held in Ethiopia in March 2025. At the closing of the Experts Segment of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, on 1 March, the meeting proposed to hold COM 2025 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on the theme, “Advancing the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA: Proposing Transformative Strategic Actions”.

In making the case for the theme, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Hanan Morsy, said that inter-regional trade in Africa stands at only 13 percent, compared to 55% in Asia and 70% in Europe. Furthermore, we have witnessed disruptions in global supply chains due to global shocks, which has impacted on costs, trade flows, costs, and efficiency.

Three top priorities for Africa in the G20 (African Business)

Last week, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Banks Governors gathered in Sao Paulo, Brazil. On the agenda was a multitude of issues, including the reforms of the global financial architecture, the state of the global economy, food security, development and equity, trade and investment, climate change, energy transition, the digital economy, among many others. In the course of 2024, the Brazilian G20 Presidency has scheduled a total of 120 meetings before it hands over the Presidency to South Africa.

2024 is the first year that the African Union is participating as a permanent member. The just-concluded African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia provided key guidance on the process of setting up the support structure around the AU’s participation in the G20. This process will be subject to further discussions among African Union member states. But the G20 agenda is moving forward and seizing this opportunity to already put forward AU proposals is important. 

First, the AU can play an important role to advocate other G20 members to double efforts to address the challenge of debt distress in many low- and middle-income countries and address liquidity challenges head on. Second, the African Union Summit deliberations flagged several concerns by African countries regarding the reforms of the global financial architecture. Third, Africa’s fiscal challenges will increasingly arise from trade shocks. Discussions on inequality and development can therefore not be detached from trade.

MC13 ends with decisions on dispute reform, development; commitment to continue ongoing talks (WTO)

The Ministerial Declaration underlines the centrality of the development dimension in the work of the WTO, recognizing the role that the multilateral trading system can play in contributing towards the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. DG Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the recognition by members of “the role trade and the WTO can play in empowering women, expanding opportunities for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs,) and achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions — economic, social and environmental.”

WTO Decision Shields Diagnostics, Therapeutics from TRIPS Waiver Expansion, Bolsters Digital Economy (BNN Breaking)

This move, supported by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), underscores the importance of protecting intellectual property to ensure continued innovation and preparedness for future health crises. At the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, a pivotal decision was made not to expand the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver to include diagnostics and therapeutics.

WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations (Arab News)

The least developed countries are set to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Declaration at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, improving global supply chain access. Trade deals, aimed at fostering new agreements, will extend international trading system benefits to more nations, following intensive negotiations, as reported by the UAE’s official news agency, WAM.

Members have agreed to implement Special and Preferential Treatment for Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade. This effort supports producers in the least developed countries, facilitating their global supply chain access, the WAM report stated.

The report added that the current measures of SPS constitute a staggering 90 percent of non-tariff trade barriers, posing a significant obstacle for smaller nations and being viewed as discriminatory. In a significant development for developing countries, ministers approved a decision responding to a 23-year-old mandate. The aim is to revamp special and differential treatment provisions for improved precision, effectiveness, and operational functionality.

Accelerated action for African LLDCs and LDCs needed to achieve sustainable development (UNECA)

Multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the current geopolitical and global macroeconomic situation have resulted in poor economic progress and exacerbated the structural challenges of African Landlocked Least Developed Countries (LLDCs), putting them off track in meeting the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs (VPoA). This, according to experts meeting ahead of the March 4-5 ministerial segment of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, “requires accelerated action for them to achieve sustainable development.”

Africa’s LLDCs contend with many development challenges due to their lack of direct territorial access to the sea, remoteness and distance from world markets. They face higher trade costs than their transit neighbours, limited infrastructure, undiversified economies and export markets. LLDCs fared poorly in health delivery, real GDP growth and infrastructural development.

The WTO just extended its moratorium on digital trade tariffs. Here’s why it will boost innovation and productivity (World Economic Forum)

Digital trade, from software sales to streaming movies, plays a bigger role than ever in the global economy. Its meteoric growth has renewed interest on the implications that this form of globalisation could have on the global economy, development opportunities, and jobs. A related question is how countries, especially developing economies, need to adapt their policies to the increasing digitalization of international trade.

The value of global trade in digitally delivered services reached $3.82 trillion in 2022, or 54% of total global services trade and 12% of total goods and services trade combined, and its average annual growth rate was 8.1%, outpacing both goods and other services. Trade through digital channels has several unique benefits beyond traditional gains from trade: it contributes to the digitalisation of all aspects of the economy; enables more efficient processes that boost productivity; promotes interconnectivity, communication, and hence the transmission of existing knowledge and technology as well as innovation; and fosters inclusion by reducing trade barriers for small firms and women-led businesses.

Visit tralac's WTO MC13 Resource page for more

UN Environment Assembly advances collaborative action on triple planetary crisis (UN Environment)

The sixth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) concluded today in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with Member States delivering 15 resolutions aiming to boost multilateral efforts to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

The UNEA-6 resolutions advance the work of Member States on management of metals, mineral resources, chemicals and waste, on environmental assistance and recovery in areas impacted by armed conflict, on integrated water resource management in the domestic sector, agriculture and industry to tackle water stress, on sustainable lifestyles, on rehabilitation of degraded lands and waters, and more.

The 2024 Assembly also held its first Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) Day, dedicated to the international agreements addressing the most pressing environmental issues of global or regional concern, which are critical instruments of international environmental governance and international environmental law. UNEA-6 also welcomed youth to host their own environmental summit, which called for greater inter-generational equity. A Ministerial Declaration on the closing day affirmed Member States’ commitment to slow climate change, restore and protect biodiversity, create a pollution-free world and confront issues of desertification, land and soil degradation, drought and deforestation by taking effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions.

Trade Drives Gender Equality and Development (IMF)

Gender equality is not only a fundamental right but an economic imperative. A considerable body of research shows that it makes economic sense for society to benefit fully from the skills and labor of the entire population, not just half of it. And it makes economic sense for men and women to receive commensurate rewards. For developing economies, the economic case for gender equality is even more compelling, for two reasons: the levels of inequality between men and women are higher, and the potential rewards from reducing the gender gap are greater.

So how can developing economies promote gender equality? International trade offers a promising path. Our research shows that trade has the potential to significantly boost women’s role in the economy, reduce inequality, and expand women’s access to skills and education. Countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate more, improve productivity, and provide higher income and more opportunities to their people.

New Data Show Massive, Wider-than-Expected Global Gender Gap (World Bank)

The global gender gap for women in the workplace is far wider than previously thought, a groundbreaking new World Bank Group report shows. When legal differences involving violence and childcare are taken into account, women enjoy fewer than two-thirds the rights of men. No country provides equal opportunity for women—not even the wealthiest economies.

The gender gap is even wider in practice. For the first time, Women, Business and the Law assesses the gap between legal reforms and actual outcomes for women in 190 economies. The analysis reveals a shocking implementation gap. Although laws on the books imply that women enjoy roughly two-thirds the rights of men, countries on average have established less than 40% of the systems needed for full implementation.

Myanmar Eyes 2024 BRICS Currency Adoption, Joining Global Financial Shift (BNN Breaking)

This bloc, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has seen its influence grow with a combined effort to reduce reliance on the US dollar and enhance trade and investment among member countries. Myanmar is set to embrace the BRICS currency in 2024, aligning with global financial reforms spearheaded by the bloc’s initiatives like the New Development Bank.


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