Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Competition Commission to tackle economic concentration by large companies, Ramaphosa promises (Engineering News)

Government will be setting a target for the Competition Commission to undertake market inquiries in more strategic sectors of the economy over the next few years to address high levels of economic concentration by major companies and low participation by small- to medium-sized enterprises, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

“We need to open up the economy and make it more inclusive. This means that we need to address features of the market structure that inhibit the participation of black industrialists in the economy,” he said at the Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference, in Sandton, on March 20. Ramaphosa said that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank both agreed that one of the key problems with the South African economy was the high level of concentration, ownership, control and market dominance by large companies.

Uganda diaspora inflows grows 13.4pc (The East African)

Uganda’s diaspora remittance has registered 13.4 percent growth over the last 12 months which ended January 2024, according to the country’s central bank head of research. Globally, remittances continued to be the premier source of external finance for low-income countries (LMICs) during 2023, relative to foreign direct investment and official development assistance.

Bank of Uganda Executive Director of Research Mr Adam Mugume said the remittance grew to $1.42 billion (Ush5.5 trillion) in the 12 months to January 2024, up from $1.25 billion (Ush4.8 trillion) in the same period to January 2023.”Personal transfers, which we usually call workers remittances, amounted to $1.42 billion in the 12 months to January 2024, up from $1.25 billion in the same period to January 2023, a growth of about 13.4 percent,” Mr Mugume said. Mr Mugume also said the main source of these personal transfers were from the Middle East, Europe, Americas and Africa.

Uganda set to join Single African Air Transport Market (COMESA)

So far, only fourteen countries out of 29 that belong to the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Community (IOC) have acceded to the Single African Air Transport Market, six years since it was launched. This has limited the potential economic growth and development of the region and greatly affected air connectivity within Africa as air travel costs remain prohibitive. To the contrary, many air transport markets outside Africa have been liberalised to a significant extent while most intra-African air transport markets remain largely closed.

This was communicated during a two-day national awareness workshop on the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) held in Kampala from 29 February to 1st March 2024. The objective of the workshop was to create awareness of the existence of SAATM and underscore its benefits to the people of Uganda,

In his statement during the workshop, Uganda’s Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala acknowledged the importance of the SAATM and called for the establishment of enabling legal and institutional frameworks at the continental, regional and national levels in order to operationalise the market. “Apart from proper infrastructure that will ensure safe, effective and efficient air transport systems, he said the region requires appropriate institutions, infrastructure and procedures,” he added.

Lesotho validates a successor national industrial policy to harness economic growth (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Sub Regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO SA) provided technical support to the Government of Lesotho to develop the country’s successor national industrial policy through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Business Development (MTIBD). The policy document aims to harness an export driven economic growth trajectory through industrialization, and was validated through a one-day workshop jointly organized by MTIBD and ECA SRO SA.

The objective of the workshop was to review and identify gaps in the policy document, obtain feedback from participants and further, provide a platform for stakeholders who were unable to participate in the questionnaire-based data collection process to provide inputs into the draft policy document to enhance collective ownership of the Lesotho National Industrial Policy.

Powering Africa’s green growth offers major investment opportunities, Ivorian Environment Minister tells USTDA-AfDB workshop (AfDB)

Powering Africa’s green growth with new sustainable investment models offers huge opportunities for the continent, a workshop organised jointly by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the African Development Bank heard. At the opening session held on Tuesday 19 March, Côte d’Ivoire’s Environment, Sustainable Development and Ecological Transition Minister Jacques Assahore Konan hailed the two-day session dedicated to exploring innovative financial investment opportunities.

“This workshop offers huge opportunity to explore investment models … and important collaboration between the public and private stakeholders. By investing in clean technologies, companies can reduce their ecological footprints. In view of the stakes involved, Côte d’Ivoire intends to play its part and is committed to implementing the recommendations of this workshop,” Konan declared.

African Development Bank and Mozambique strengthen partnerships to boost regional infrastructure development and trade (AfDB)

The African Development Bank and Mozambique reinforced their partnership during a visit by Mr. Solomon Quaynor, the Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization. This visit, held from March 12th to 15th, 2024, underscores the Bank’s commitment to supporting Mozambique’s economic growth trajectory, particularly following the third review of the country’s Extended Credit Facility with the International Monetary Fund and the Bank’s recent Economic Acceleration Package and Budget Support Mission.

Quaynor stated, “Mozambique’s resilience is a strong indication of the leadership role that it is poised to play in ensuring green energy supply to the South African Power Pool, as well as building climate resilient economic corridors to benefit internal markets in Mozambique as well as regional trade with and from land-linked countries in the Southern Africa Development Community. We appreciate the government’s steadfast trust in the Bank’s capacity to deliver on its mandate in Mozambique.”

This is what it takes to double intra-EAC trade by 2030 (The Citizen)

Concerted efforts and strategic interventions are key for the East African Community (EAC) to achieve its goal of doubling intra-regional trade from the current levels of 15 percent to 30 percent by 2030, according to the East African Business Council (EABC) executive director, Mr John Bosco Kalisa. The efforts would have to include having a common investment framework or a regional investment authority, improving port efficiency and productivity and addressing all regulatory hurdles, just to mention a few.

Mr Kalisa was speaking during the CEO Roundtable Meeting on East African Integration and Economic Outlook 2024 held here on March 20. He remarked that while the EAC economies continued strong performance and diversified the targets to improve trade, there is a need for clear and simple tax policies that support business operations and facilitate trade finance while also promoting regional value chains.

“It’s only possible to reach that target if we put down the right policy environment, with the private and public sectors working together in designing solutions,” he said. “Some of the other recommended issues by the EABC include improving port efficiency and productivity, having a one-stop border post, and branding products from the region as ‘Buy East Africa’ or ‘Build East Africa’ to enhance market visibility and promote regional identity,” said Mr Kalisa.

Capacity building workshop on mainstreaming the Democratic Republic of Congo into the EAC Customs Union underway in Kampala, Uganda (EAC)

The East African Community (EAC) capacity building workshop on mainstreaming the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the EAC Customs Union is currently underway in Kampala, Uganda. The five-day workshop from 18th -22nd March, 2024 facilitated by the Trade Mark Africa under funding of the USAID- ERRA program is being attended by Senior Officials from the Ministry of Trade, Ministry EAC affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Bureau of Standards, Immigration and Customs Administrations

The main objective of the capacity building workshop is to sensitize the DRC officials on EAC regional integration, Customs Union Protocol and the concept of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) legal framework and procedures.

Speaking during the opening session of the workshop, Mr. Evaristae Munyampundu, from the EAC Secretariat underscored the importance of the regional integration, Trade Facilitation and the role of OSBP in establishing cultural linkages among the Partner States as well as enhancing intra-EAC trade. He urged the participants to familiarize themselves with the EAC instruments including; EAC Treaty, Customs Union Protocol; Customs Management Act; SQMT Act; NTBS Act; OSBP Act, Regulations and Procedure Manuals to name the few and implement them in order to allow traders and people to enjoy the benefits of integration.

COMESA and World Bank Collaborate to Accelerate Sustainable Energy Access in Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

A landmark 5-day Implementation Support Mission for the “Accelerating Sustainable and Clean Energy Access Transformation (ASCENT)” program, jointly spearheaded by the COMESA and the World Bank, took place in Lusaka, Zambia, from 11 – 15 March 2024. This collaborative endeavor represents a significant stride towards enhancing energy access throughout the region.

ASCENT aims to enhance health and reduce time spent on cooking chores by providing access to clean energy sources, thereby improving overall well-being and alleviating the burden of domestic responsibilities, particularly on women. Additionally, the program endeavors to bolster the resilience of essential services by electrifying schools and health clinics, ensuring vital services remain accessible, even during times of crisis.

Critically, the ASCENT program prioritizes gender equality by acknowledging the disproportionate impact of energy poverty on women. Through targeted interventions, ASCENT seeks to empower women, recognizing them as catalysts for socio-economic progress.

Cocoa beans are in short supply: what this means for farmers, businesses and chocolate lovers (The Conversation)

A shortage of cocoa beans has led to a near shutdown of processing plants in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two countries responsible for 60% of global production. With chocolate makers around the world reliant on west Africa for cocoa, there is significant concern about the impact on the prices of chocolate and the livelihood of farmers.

Three factors are at play: environmental, economic cycle related and human. One environmental factor is the impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has caused drier weather in west Africa. The economic cycle of cocoa production refers to the inherent patterns of expansion and contraction in cocoa farming. The human factor includes challenges such as illegal mining, which has overtaken numerous farms in Ghana.

AfCFTA investment protocol signals a new era in sustainable trade and investment (IOL)

Since the start of trade under AfCFTA in 2021, African countries have been implementing changes to diversify their economies, increase production capacity, and widen the range of products made in Africa. To be able to do so effectively, they must attract sustainable funding and investment.

Some of the AfCFTA Protocols, developed to facilitate investment and harmonize policy and regulations across African Union (AU) member states, have now been adopted, including Protocols on Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property. Most recently, in February 2024, Protocols on Digital Trade and Women and Youth in Trade, were adopted.

The  pdf Protocol on Investment (1.08 MB) was launched in February 2023, at the same time as the Competition Policy Protocol. The AfCFTA Protocols include in their mandates a focus on sustainable and inclusive socio-economic transformative goals, and a consistent approach to public interest.

AfCFTA: Ethiopia to commence trial trading commodities (ENA)

Ethiopia is set to commence trial trading of commodities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) announced. In an interview with FBC, MoTRI Minister Gebremeskel Chala said that Ethiopia has made the necessary preparations put in place the trial trading phase and implement the framework agreement through streamlined strategies.

“Alike other African member countries, Ethiopia is currently employing preliminary activities to commence commodities trial exchange of goods with selected counterpart countries,” he underscored. He further mentioned that the Ministry has also projected to nullify 90% import taxes of agricultural and industrial products within ten years. Thus, the country has approved 90% of commodity tariffs for 6,000 goods to the African Free Trade Zone, he further remarked.

Zim adopts top-notch continental payment system (New Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe has become a part of the three first Southern African countries to embrace the efficient Pan-Africa Payment System (PAPPS) in a bid to improve the ease of payments for local businesses when transacting beyond the borders.

PAPSS was jointly created by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to allow for instantaneous cross-border payments in local currency. The African Union also gave a hand in the development of the platform guided by the objective of promoting trade and commerce between corporate and retail clients. This financial market infrastructure facilitates real-time settlement of intra-African trade and payments in African currencies, across the continent.

In a recent update, trade promotion agency, ZimTrade revealed that PAPPS has to date steadily expanded into four regions. “This network includes 13 central banks, with 6 in the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) region Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, three in East Africa Kenya, Rwanda, and Djibouti. “In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is among the first three countries to embrace the system with two other nations being Zambia and Malawi,” said ZimTrade.

GHIB to boost trade finance in Sub Saharan Africa (Graphic)

THE Ghana International Bank (GHIB) has committed to evolve into a true Pan-African firm over the next decade to address the urgent trade needs across Sub-Saharan Africa. This transformation underscores GHIB’s commitment to make a tangible impact in the lives of people across the continent while serving as a catalyst for development in the region.

“Over the next decade, it is my sincere hope that GHIB can once again transform itself, from a fledgling multinational financial institution to a truly pan-African firm with the scale and resources to address the urgent trade and financial needs of its clients – governments, corporates and other institutions - across markets in sub-Saharan Africa,” Chief Executive Officer of GHIB, Dean Adansi said.

New champion could drive home African Union reforms (ISS Today / Daily Maverick)

When the reform process started, member states focused on human resources as a solution to the AU’s ineffectiveness — avoiding the problem of AU Assembly decisions not being implemented. The skills audit and competency assessment, aimed at enhancing recruitment, promoting diversity and ensuring all member states are represented in the AU Commission, has fallen short.

Ruto has emphasised the need for genuine reform so the AU can deliver on its priorities. He has repeatedly called for a stronger and financially autonomous AU and for member states to cede some sovereignty to ensure a strengthened AU Commission. Having been clear that the AU needs ‘fixing’, Ruto can now push for the change he talks about.

Five ways to boost intra-African trade for growth, prosperity - McKinsey (Businessday Nigeria)

Improving manufacturing competitiveness for both local markets and exports, as well as boosting agricultural productivity, are critical tactics to stimulate intra-African trade for future economic advancement, McKinsey & Company says in its latest report. In the report titled ‘Reimagining Economic Growth in Africa: Transforming Diversity into Opportunity,’ the global management consulting firm said sluggish intra-African trade was stated as one of the obstacles hindering the continent’s economic potential.

High-level event kicks off expansion of strategic EU-AU partnership, pledging joint commitments to strengthen Global Health and African Health Sovereignty (Africa CDC)

Building on the health commitments of the 6th EU-AU Summit and outcomes of the Addis Ababa AU-EU High-level dialogue, the AU and EU expanded collaboration in priority areas of common interest in the New Public Health Order and the EU Global Health Strategy.

Enhancing equitable access to safe, qualitive, effective and affordable health services and products and national sovereignty will be key to reach SDG-targets such as achieving Universal Health Coverage. Therefore, it is crucial to support social protection systems which incorporate social health protection, aiming at gradually granting universal health coverage as well as at providing income security in case of sickness. The AU and EU further stressed the importance of the health sector in the creation of jobs and growth.

Most African countries are struggling to ensure sustainable and equitable access to the health products needed to meet the continent’s priority health needs. At the same time, the EU has expertise in health as well as manufacturing and access, including regulation of health products and has set out clear targets in supporting human development in its international partnerships.

Undue detainments, confiscations & restrictions: Shut out of normal participation at WTO, civil societies claim (Down To Earth)

Civil society organisations (CSO) have complained that they have been shut out of normal participation at the ongoing World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. A day after filing a complaint to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO director general, about several incidents of detainment, confiscation of materials and heavy-handed restrictions on lobbying CSOs, participants alleged they have faced an “escalation in repression” despite fully complying with the WTO’s guidelines for the conference.

The WTO has failed to ensure the safety and rights of participants that it has registered for this meeting, claimed Sidik. “This incident happened during a public civil society event where affected community groups — fishers from developing countries — were discussing the negotiations that would directly impact them,” he said.

“Participants, especially from developing countries, are fearful of even walking alone in the conference centre now, lest they be unjustly detained and possibly deported and then unable to secure visas ever again. This climate of fear should not be the result of advocacy for an institution of global economic governance,” Sidik said.

Members supporting Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement discuss next steps (WTO)

WTO members who are parties to the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement discussed the way forward at a meeting on 19 March, reiterating their aim to incorporate it into the WTO framework as a most-favoured-nation-based plurilateral agreement open to all members. Participants welcomed two members (Democratic Republic of the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire) who joined the Agreement during the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi. Burkina Faso also announced it was joining, bringing to 125 the number of co-sponsors requesting the Agreement to become part of the WTO’s legal architecture.

Working group on small business discusses way forward post MC13, welcomes 99th member (WTO)

At its first meeting of the year, on 19 March, the Informal Working Group (IWG) on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) considered possible topics for discussion in their future work. The Group welcomed the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a new participant, bringing the total number of WTO members taking part in the initiative to 99. Participants heard an update on the Trade4MSMEs platform, aimed at improving MSMEs’ ability to trade internationally, and discussed various issues facing small businesses.

Timor Leste and Comoros, whose WTO membership terms were endorsed at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi in February, shared with the Group how issues related to small business were considered in their accession process and how WTO membership will support the sustainable development of MSMEs.

DG Okonjo-Iweala lauds MC13 work, urges members to swiftly complete unfinished business (WTO)

Speaking at the formal meeting of the WTO’s General Council on 21 March, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala commended members for concluding a package of 10 outcomes at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) and urged them to deliver results on the remaining issues as soon as possible. “Despite the more than challenging context, we concluded MC13 with 10 consensus multilateral Ministerial Decisions and Declarations,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “That’s why I personally see the glass as half full.”

The future of global trade: UNCTAD announces first-ever Global Supply Chain Forum (UNCTAD)

In a world facing unprecedented challenges, the Global Supply Chain Forum (GSCF) 2024 is set to provide a crucial platform for leaders and experts to discuss the changing landscape of international trade and logistics. This first event of its kind, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in collaboration with the Government of Barbados (Bridgetown, 21-24 May 2024), aims to shape the future of global trade in a rapidly evolving world.

In recent years, global trade has faced significant disruptions, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and geopolitical tensions. These challenges have not only tested global supply chains but have also highlighted the urgent need for resilience and sustainability, particularly for developing countries. The forum will feature an innovation challenge, aimed at inspiring solutions to make global production and distribution networks greener and more efficient and resilient.

Quick links

Current developments in West Africa’s regional integration: challenges for the future design of foreign and development policy (IDOS)

Did Russia, Iran provoke Niger walkout from US military pact? (Al Jazeera)

US pushes India to reverse laptop trade policy, says they will ‘think twice’ about future business (Fox News)

Gender and trade policy: how agricultural tariff reform can support rural women in Bangladesh (World Bank Blogs)


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