Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA, Ghana explore ways to expand trade and investment (SAnews)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the significance of expanding trade and investment between South Africa and Ghana, highlighting the need to explore avenues for enhancing cooperation beyond the existing areas covered by the Bi-National Commission (BNC). He was delivering opening remarks at the second session of the South Africa-Ghana BNC held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s OR Tambo Building in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“In addition to the many areas of cooperation that the BNC covers, it is important that we explore how best both countries can increase trade and investment among ourselves... The purpose of the Business Forum that will take place on the margins of this BNC is to expand trade and investment between our two countries.

Botswana strengthens Rules of Origin competence through an Advanced Training Workshop (WCO)

The World Customs Organization (WCO) under the framework of the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme, funded by the European Union (EU), held an Advanced Training workshop on Rules of Origin in Gaborone, Botswana, from 26 February to 1 March 2024. The workshop benefited the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) and aimed at enhancing the understanding of preferential rules of origin and regional trade agreements among customs officials from various units and border stations within the Customs Department.

Mr José Angel Marta Becerra, representing the EU Delegation to Botswana and SADC, emphasised the importance of capacity building in rules of origin, highlighting its role in ensuring the efficiency of Customs administrations.

Mrs. Jeanette Chanda Makgolo, Botswana Unified Revenue Commissioner General, noted the timeliness of the advanced rules of origin training, especially considering Botswana's preparations for implementing the AfCFTA trade agreement. She encouraged participants to approach the training with enthusiasm and to share the knowledge gained during the workshop with their colleagues.

The workshop covered critical aspects such as proper origin determination, operational and procedural issues, and the establishment of efficient origin implementation of rules of origin.

China leads global lithium race amid processing plant building boom in Zimbabwe (South China Morning Post)

Beijing currently controls the global lithium-ion battery industry, while it also dominates much of the processing of the mineral. To get the raw materials it needs, China has ramped up its procurement of lithium from Africa and elsewhere amid disquiet from Washington over Beijing’s grip on critical metal supply chains.

That grip got even tighter last year when African exports of lithium, which mostly go to China, rose sharply between August and November. That was when the companies commissioned processing plants for two products – mainly lithium concentrates spodumene and petalite – for export to China for further processing into lithium chemicals to make batteries and other electronics.

At present, Megginson said, the facilities in Zimbabwe are producing spodumene or petalite concentrate which, while not completely raw products, still require further refining. This process, also referred to as beneficiation, then turns the concentrate into chemicals that can be used in the production of lithium-ion batteries.

“For these projects, this further processing is currently happening entirely in China, though there is strong political momentum – not only in Zimbabwe – towards encouraging more of this refining capacity to take place in the country of extraction,” Megginson said. “This is to capture more of the added value of this step in the process domestically.”

Egypt-Kenya trade ties: CIB pledges support to traders (The Exchange Africa)

Lender Commercial International Bank (CIB) has identified partnerships as key drivers of growth that will power investments by bringing together businesses seeking to explore Egypt-Kenya trade opportunities. Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi says the entry of CIB into Kenya’s market is a major win for Africa’s quest to enhance trade among its 54 member states.

Speaking at the Egypt-Kenya trade forum in Nairobi attended by roughly 40 Egyptian companies drawn from construction, transport, water, tourism, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, Mudavadi said Kenya was at the forefront of opening its market to African countries to boost intra-Africa trade.

“Over the past two years, we have played a great role in funding trade and investment opportunities for Egyptian companies doing business with Kenya. Since we now have a solid footprint in Kenya, we have provided a seamless platform for the businesses to unlock growth opportunities and we see that we can play an integral role in doing the same for Kenyan companies doing business with Egypt,” said Daphne Maina, the Acting CEO of CIB Kenya.

Tanzania Can Unlock Important Economic Benefits by Accelerating Health and Fertility Improvements (World Bank)

Tanzania has made important strides in reducing infant and child mortality, but the authorities must act quickly to capitalize on this progress and accelerate efforts to reduce fertility rates in order to unlock the full potential of a demographic dividend, according to a new World Bank report. The latest 20th Tanzania Economic Update explores the country’s progress towards attaining a demographic dividend, which refers to how improved health and reduced fertility can drive economic growth.

The report titled, ‘Overcoming Demographic Challenges while Embracing Opportunities’, shows that while Tanzania has seen a rapid drop in infant and child mortality over several decades, there has been only a minimal decline in fertility. As a result, the population growth rate remains high, at three percent. At this rate, the population will double in 23 years, increasing demand for social services outstripping the economy’s capacity to provide essential services, such as health and education, and create jobs.

On Tanzania’s economic outlook, the Update shows the economy has been resilient, growing by 5.2 percent in 2023, compared to 4.6 percent in 2022. The services sector remained the main driving force behind Tanzania’s overall economic growth, expanding by 7.3 percent, supported by buoyant economic activities in financial and insurance, transport and storage, and trade and repair subsectors. Despite recurrent droughts and floods, the agriculture sector grew at 3.4 percent in 2023.

Tanzanian Shippers Choose Mombasa Port Over Dar Inefficiencies (Business Day Africa)

The Port of Mombasa is capitalising on inefficiencies at the Port of Dar es Salaam as shipping companies opt for the expeditious and cost-effective route through Kenya. Last week, the MV Jolly Giada arrived at the Port of Mombasa, unloading 2,000 Tonne Equivalent Units (TEUs) at the harbour. Notably, 35 percent of this cargo, totaling 700 containers, constituted transit cargo destined for Dar es Salaam.

Dar es Salaam Port has grappled with a substantial backlog, imposing elevated costs on shippers through demurrage payments. The Kenya Ports Authority reported a surge in initial calls to the Port of Mombasa, attributing the growth to operational efficiency enhancements that have significantly reduced ship waiting times.

“Mombasa has observed a rise in the number of initial calls to the port, with the growth credited to operational efficiency improvements that have led to decreased ship waiting times,” said Kenya Ports Authority. Key metrics affirm the port’s increased competitiveness. The turnaround time for container vessels dropped from an average of three days in 2022 to two days in 2023. Furthermore, the average container dwell time decreased to 3.5 days from 3.9 days in 2022, marking a 10 percent improvement.

The Port of Mombasa is experiencing a notable influx of transit cargo, primarily from landlocked countries diverting to Kenya due to quicker turnaround times in clearance processes, exacerbated by inefficiencies at the Port of Dar es Salaam.

Tehran, Dodoma finalize draft of double taxation avoidance agreement (Tehran Times)

Iranian and Tanzanian tax officials have signed the draft of an agreement to eliminate double taxation on income taxes and prevent tax evasion with the presence of the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tanzania, IRNA reported on Tuesday. As reported, the draft was signed by Hossein Abdollahi, director general of the Legal Office and Tax Contracts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and William M. Moja, the acting commissioner of the policy analysis department of the Ministry of Finance of Tanzania. According to Abdollahi, the two sides have so far held three rounds of negotiations to prepare the mentioned agreement for signing.

This agreement has various goals such as the elimination of double taxation in the two countries, the attraction of direct investment, further development of economic relations and expansion of tax cooperation between the two countries, exchange of information to promote transparency in the tax behavior of the parties, assistance in tax collection, and the provision of facilities, the official explained.

Nigeria’s trade with African countries yet to reach pre-COVID-19 levels despite AfCFTA (Nairametrics)

Nigeria’s trade with African countries has yet to reach pre-COVID-19 levels despite implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in 2021. Data from the latest foreign trade report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals a slow recovery in Nigeria’s trade with other African nations. Although there has been a progressive trend from the pandemic slump, the trade volumes have yet to eclipse the pre-COVID-19 zenith, casting a shadow on the effectiveness of the AfCFTA agreement in catalysing a robust trade recovery.

A breakdown analysis shows that in 2019, the import trade figure was N1.11 trillion, while exports soared at N3.92 trillion, cumulating a total trade of N5.03 trillion. This period represents a high-water mark for Nigerian trade within the continent, according to data presented by the NBS. However, the advent of 2020 and the ensuing global pandemic inflicted a pronounced disruption, manifested by a steep contraction in trade. Import values plummeted to N406.88 billion—a stark contrast to the previous year.

While less affected, exports still declined to N2.37 trillion, bringing the total trade down to N2.78 trillion, signalling a retreat in economic interactions and a disruption of supply chains across the continent.

Region’s private sector moot plan to grow intra-EAC trade (The Standard)

The Namanga border between Kenya and Tanzania is one of the key areas that a team from the East African Business Council (EABC) and the East African Community (EAC) plans to visit next month. The visit is aimed at determining the extent of the challenges affecting cross-border trade in the region. The visit, which will be done by a Technical Working Group already in place, forms part of the intense lobbying by EABC to remove barriers hindering cross-border trade.

EABC also wants designated checkpoints for goods originating from partner States as the lobby body seeks to boost intra-regional trade to 40 per cent. EABC is the apex umbrella body for the private sector in the EAC. The Technical Working Group formed between EABC and EAC is in Nairobi for two days to deliberate trade policy issues and proposals which should inform EABC Policy Advocacy Priorities for 2024/25.

COMESA Leads Regional Energy Regulatory Harmonization for Enhanced Access and Trade

Harmonization of regional energy regulatory frameworks is now a priority for the regional economic communities towards improving reliable and affordable energy access. Towards this goal, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is leading the implementation of a $1.5m African Development Bank (AfDB) funded Project on Regional Harmonization of Regulatory Frameworks and Tools for Improved Electricity Regulation in the COMESA region. The project aims to promote cross-border power trading by advancing intra-regional harmonization of electricity regulations in the region.

West Africa not producing enough palm oil to meet its needs – ECOWAS official (Daily Trust)

ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Customs, Union and Taxation, Salifou Tiemtore, has lamented that West African countries are not producing enough palm oil to meet members’ needs. He disclosed this while speaking to journalists on the sideline of the meeting on the free movement of palm oil under the ECOWAS preferential tariff regime – ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), in Abuja on Tuesday.

“If you take a country like Nigeria, it has the capacity to double its production in terms of palm oil but we need to put in place some incentives so that through ECOWAS ETLS Nigeria can cover the Nigerian market and also go beyond the Nigerian market.” He said the region has the potential to meet the needs of member states if support were given to entrepreneurs to expand production and take advantage of the ECOWAS ETLS.

Regional meeting on ECOWAS draft Report on the State of the Environment Climate and perspectives (ECOWAS)

The Department of Economic Affairs and Agriculture, through the Directorate of Environment and Natural Resources, organized the regional meeting on the draft report on the State of the Environment, Climate and prospects for ECOWAS, from March 5 to 7, 2024 in Abuja, Nigeria . The meeting brought together representatives of Member States, representatives of regional and international institutions (UEMOA, IUCN, WASCAL), the ECOWAS Staff and two external consultants.

The main objective of the meeting was to examine the draft ECOWAS report on the state of the environment, climate and regional perspectives in order to collect observations and contributions from experts in order to substantially improve the said report. .

The draft ECOWAS Environment and Climate Report constitutes an important first attempt to provide Member States with relevant data and information on the environmental and climate status and trends of the region as well as political and operational recommendations. The draft report covers the following environmental thematic areas: i) Climate change and air quality; ii) Land; iii) Biodiversity and ecosystems; iv) Fresh waters; v) Marine and coastal environment; vi) Human settlements; vii) Waste.

African countries should put an end to resource backed loans (Nairametrics)

The African Development Bank’s President, Akinwunmi Adesina is advocating for an end to the practice of offering loans in return for access to Africa’s abundant oil reserves and vital minerals, which are essential for producing smartphones and electric car batteries.   These transactions he said have facilitated China’s dominance in the mineral extraction sector in regions such as Congo, leading to financial instability in several African nations in an interview with AP. 

He pointed out that the negotiations often favour the lenders, who wield more power and set the terms for financially constrained African countries. This imbalance, along with limited transparency and opportunities for corruption, paves the way for exploitation. 

Regional workshop highlights the importance of efficient transit regimes for LLDCs (WCO)

From 26 to 29 February 2024 the World Customs Organization (WCO) delivered a Regional Workshop on transit interconnectivity and the use of regional transit guarantees for the West and Central Africa (WCA) region. The workshop was organized as a WCO pre-conference event to the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) that will be held from 18 to 21 June 2024 in Kigali, Rwanda and will adopt a renewed framework for international support to address the special needs of LLDCs.

The first day of the workshop was devoted to discussions on the principle of freedom of transit and the provisions of the relevant international and regional framework including the Agreement on Trade Facilitation of the World Trade Organization (WTO TFA), the Revised Kyoto Convention, the WCO Transit Guidelines, and the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) among others. This was done based on presentations delivered by the WCO experts and the AfCFTA Secretariat.

Then participants delved into the topic of transit interconnectivity in West Africa. Seven Members of the sub-region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo) presented the status of implementation of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit widely known as SIGMAT from the French title Système Interconnecté pour la Gestion des Marchandises en Transit.

The main objective of these sessions was to showcase good practices implemented by Members of the West Africa sub-region, with a view to enabling other Members to benefit from the lessons learnt and to replicate those good practices throughout the region.

Mudavadi seeks European support for Africa’s trade challenges in Copenhagen (The Standard)

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has advocated for a stronger Europe-Africa alliance to drive sustainable development.  Speaking in Denmark on Monday, March 11, where he is representing President William Ruto at the High-Level Dialogue meeting in Copenhagen, Mudavadi stressed the need for both regions to unlock their full potential by promoting inclusive growth and fostering cross-sector collaboration.

“Let us remain steadfast in our dedication to cooperation and dialogue, translating our discussions into tangible actions that foster positive change in our societies. Together, we can build stronger partnerships, foster innovation, and create a more prosperous world for future generations,” he said.

‘There’s a $42 billion gender gap for financial inclusion in Africa’ — AUC (Modern Ghana)

The gender gap in access to financial services in Africa is costing the continent an estimated $42 billion each year, according to the African Union Commission (AUC). In an effort to boost women’s economic empowerment, the AUC is stepping up work to close this gap through new initiatives targeting women and youth.

Speaking at the launch of the AUC’s flagship “1 Million Next Level” youth-focused program, Prudence Ngwenya, Director of the AUC’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate, stressed the need for greater investment in women’s economic capacity and inclusion. “One of the things that have been lacking in terms of investment is capacity and economic empowerment for women. So currently, the gender gap for financial inclusion on the continent is 42 billion US dollars,” Ngwenya said.

‘AfCFTA would be futile if airspace and landing are not free across Africa’ (GhanaWeb)

Professor Kofi Abotsi, the Dean of Law School at the University of Professional Studies (UPSA), has opined that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would be inefficient and an illusion if airspace and landing are not made free across Africa.

In a tweet published on his official X page, Professor Abotsi reiterated the exorbitant rates of air travel in Ghana and its negative impact on businesses. He attributed the high cost of air travel in Africa to protectionism, taxes, and fuel costs. According to him, the current state of air travel in Africa would inhibit business travel across Africa. He called for free airspace and landing to be incorporated into AfCFTA.

“Air travel is senselessly expensive and difficult in Africa. And apparently, protectionism, taxes & fuel costs are driving that. The AfCFTA would be a mirage without a free airspace and landing across the continent,” Prof Abotsi’s tweet on the microblogging platform, X formerly known as Twitter read.

DP World’s global freight network grows with 18 new offices in sub-Saharan Africa (Bizcommunity)

Globally, DP World has opened 100 freight forwarding offices and created 1,000 jobs across six continents, as it looks to capitalise on an industry that is projected to reach a global market size of over $215bn by 2029. These offices already employ 1,000 people, adding to DP World’s 108,000-strong team – helping move more than 10% of global trade each year.

Beat Simon, group chief commercial officer of logistics at DP World, says: “Our expansion in freight forwarding complements our end-to-end supply chain solutions and capabilities. Our asset-appropriate approach is a step-change for the freight forwarding industry that puts customers in the driving seat with more visibility and control and gives them the confidence to trade in today’s global market.

“As we continue to grow our freight forwarding footprint, we are building a network that will cover more than 90% of global trade. We are focused on densifying our network as we build a best-in-class, strong and resilient global capability.”

Across sub-Saharan Africa, businesses are choosing to build resilience into their supply chains in the face of growing challenges such as fragmented markets and infrastructure constraints. To support these businesses, DP World is helping clients to overcome customs and trade barriers. By expanding its freight forwarding offering with a focus on air and ocean freight, DP World will deploy its ‘toolbox’ of owned global assets made up of ports, terminals, warehouses, trucks, rail and shipping services to increase control and resilience, whilst also working with complementary partners across the supply chain to boost efficiency.

‘Africa cannot achieve sustainable development without the youth’ — Mustapha Ussif (Modern Ghana)

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Youth Pavilion organised by the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate in Accra on Monday, March 11, the Minister said young people must be at the centre of efforts to realize Africa’s development aspirations. Promotion of an all-inclusive and sustainable development for Africa and the African youth cannot be achieved without the involvement of our future leaders,” Minister Ussif told attendees, which included young leaders from across the continent.

He added that “To achieve the Africa we Want, all young persons seated here, should rise to the call through collaborative and shared efforts. All young people should be agents of change and take advantage of the numerous opportunities that exist in the continental and global space.”

How a shipping carbon tax could help Africa build climate resilient trade (African Arguments)

With Africa disproportionately affected by climate change and its impacts worsening other structural deficiencies, climate-resilient development is urgent. African countries are well aware of this and are committed to adapting to and mitigating climate change as demonstrated by their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The difficulty is that implementing these national climate plans costs around $2.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 (or about $250 billion a year). African governments can barely cover 10% of this total. At least 77% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions envisaged by African NDCs are conditional on international support. The result has been huge shortfalls in what is needed. In 2020, for instance, annual climate finance flows in Africa – from domestic and international sources – amounted to just 12% of the sum required.

It is in this context that a proposal to tax GHG emissions from the international shipping industry is advancing at the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO). The proposed levy comes as climate vulnerable countries call for more global action and has been supported by over 100 countries, from the Global South and North.

Africa is moving towards greater integration as Niamey meeting drives the momentum (AU)

Following the historical context of the African integration process and the progress of African leaders towards achieving a united, integrated and prosperous continent under the Abuja Treaty and Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the ultimate goal to transform its fifty-five (55) economies into a single economic and monetary union, with a common currency and free mobility of capital and labour, the African Union (AU) is convening in Niamey, Niger for the Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area and the first Mid-Year Coordination meeting of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), both purposed at moving the integration agenda forward.

In Niamey, the African Union will also hold an Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) to celebrate the first Anniversary of the Signing of the AfCFTA and to formally launch the operational phase of the African Internal Market which officially entered into force on the 30th of May 2019. More on the AfCFTA event is available at AfCFTA Web Page

The Mid-Year Coordination meeting and the AFCFTA summit will be preceded by a two-day Executive Council meeting. The Executive Council will among other agenda items, consider and adopt the AU Budget for the year 2020. The budget preparation process, before adoption by the Executive Council, involves the oversight role of the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15) tasked with strengthening the financial and budgetary reforms within the Union.

What we learned from the WTO trade meeting in Abu Dhabi (WEF)

Industrial Policy: Trade Policy and World Trade Organization Considerations in IMF Surveillance (IMF)

Maritime trade navigating troubled waters: UNCTAD (BusinessLine)


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