Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Call to transform the biodiversity sector (SAnews)

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy has called for the urgent transformation of the biodiversity sector. “This transformation must ensure the meaningful and equitable inclusion of rural communities and previously disadvantaged individuals into the biodiversity economy, and biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in general,” Creecy said on Monday.

Leading the inaugural Biodiversity Economy and Investment Indaba in Boksburg, the Minister said such inclusion is critical for sustainable rural socio-economic development to address the triple burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment. “This requires new approaches such as investment in community owned land for conservation compatible land-use with biodiversity-based enterprises, more inclusive processes, opening up of value chains, and ensuring equitable and inclusive access and benefit flows.

First-quarter agriculture sentiment largely influenced by droughts, public infrastructure deterioration (Engineering News)

The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) and Industrial Development Corporation’s Agribusiness Confidence Index (ACI) has remained unchanged in the first quarter of the year at a level of 40. This followed a deterioration of ten points to 40 in the fourth quarter of last year.

The ACI remains below the neutral 50-point mark, which implies that South African agribusinesses remain downbeat about business conditions, mostly owing to persistent port issues, poor rail infrastructure and worsening municipal service delivery. Other factors such as the El Niño-induced drought devastating summer grains and oilseeds in some regions; rising crime rates; lingering animal disease challenges; persistent loadshedding; and the uncertain policy environment ahead of elections, also continue to weigh on sentiment.

The volume of export subindex fell by seven points to 35 in the first quarter of the year, which signals the potential decline in export volumes this year – from a record $13.2-billion of exports in 2023.

Defence PS Attends The Second Session Of The Kenya-China Investment Forum Ahead Of The Focac Summit (Ministry of Defence – Kenya)

Defence Principal Secretary, Mr. Patrick Mariru, and his counterpart in the State Department for National Treasury, Dr. Chris Kiptoo participated in the Second Session of the Kenya-China Joint Commission on Trade, Investment, Economic, and Technical Cooperation. They were joined by a Chinese delegation led by Assistant Minister of Commerce, Mr. Tang Wenhong.

During the session held at a Nairobi hotel, the discussions centered around the implementation of nine programs resulting from the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) by the Government of Kenya. Additionally, priority bilateral cooperation areas were explored with the aim of strengthening the already robust Kenya-China bilateral relations for the benefit of citizens from both states.

The forum also served as a planning platform for the proposed upcoming FOCAC summit scheduled to take place later this year in Beijing.

Kenya-Uganda oil tiff: Dodoma offer Kampala can’t refuse (Nation)

Tanzania has seized a momentous opportunity in the Kenya-Uganda stalemate over oil importation with a raft of offers that Kampala cannot refuse. The EastAfrican understands that President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s government has offered to register Uganda National Oil Company (Unoc) to use the Dar es Salaam port in the importation of fuel for Uganda as Kenya sticks to its guns on Uganda’s demands.

Meanwhile, a case that Kampala lodged at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) awaits determination, with no set timelines although various sources have indicated a willingness by Uganda to withdraw it, on which Kenya is banking. Presidents William Ruto, Yoweri Museveni and Samia recently converged in Zanzibar -- rare tripartite meeting reportedly requested by Uganda, people close to the discussions say, to seek assurance of Uganda’s smooth importation of petroleum and other products.

And while Kenya offers Uganda a pass through the Northern Corridor, it seems to insist on local regulatory processes, saying they are legal under Kenyan law. Nairobi is also opposed to Uganda’s decision to take the matter to the regional court.

Tanzania and Rwanda to open new border point (The East African)

Rwanda and Tanzania are moving to open a new border post, as the two countries deepen trade ties at a time trade and political forces pull regional partners in different directions. The new post will be opened at Tanzania’s Kyerwa district in Kagera Region to provide a second passage for people and goods and reduce pressure on the Rusumo border post. Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, January Makamba, said this in Kigali during his recent four-day visit to Rwanda.

“We want to make it easy for people of the two countries to cross and visit each other,” he said. “We have talked about the possibility and readiness to open a new border front in Kyerwa, and we are ready to have it operational.”

South Sudan orders new tracking measures for transit cargo (The East African)

About 1.5 million metric tonnes of cargo passing through Mombasa port to South Sudan will have to be tagged before leaving the country in measures to control illegal, undeclared goods. South Sudan Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Bak Barnaba Chol has informed shippers on the new tracking measures by Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN). The country has appointed Invesco Uganda Ltd, under supervision by the Customs Revenue Division of South Sudan Revenue Authority, to start and run the programme.

“The sole purpose of the ECTN is to help the government of South Sudan to maximise its revenue collection by remedying the challenges of underestimation, undervaluation, diversion of cargo and round tripping,” Dr Chol said.

All importers and exporters will pay the agent’s service charge of $350. ECTN also known as Waiver Certificate is a mandatory shipping document for importing cargo to 25 African countries. The cargo tracking note is designed to provide local customs authorities with the required information and visibility about the import shipment. But Kenyan clearing and forwarding agents have said it will increase the cost of transport and that payments should be made to the South Sudan agents not Kenyan brokers.

Trade policy review - Angola 2024 - Concluding Remarks by the Chairperson (WTO)

Members appreciated Angola’s efforts to improve its business climate, including measures to reform taxes, ease visa requirements, implement a single window for investment, and establish a regime for free trade zones. Members welcomed steps to simplify and modernize Angola’s customs procedures, including those taken to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which Angola ratified in 2019.

New World Bank Group Report Says Liberia Needs to Prioritize Essential Climate Actions to Promote Growth and Development (World Bank)

The World Bank Group’s new Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) for Liberia explores the mounting risks that climate change could undercut Liberia’s economy and push more Liberians into poverty. Highlighting the role of proactive action, the report calls for adaptation and better planning for low-carbon growth, land use, and investment.

While Liberia is among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases responsible for global climate change, it is among the most vulnerable countries to climate impacts. For instance, rice – Liberia’s main staple – is highly reactive to increased humidity, extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, and the pests that flourish under these conditions. The CCDR finds that Liberia’s rainfed rice production could be reduced by up to 13 percent over 2041-2050 from climate change compared to the baseline scenario. The resultant decrease in income and heightened reliance on costly imports could exacerbate poverty and food insecurity for many Liberian households.

Sierra Leone Records Progress in Human Capital Development (World Bank)

Sierra Leone has made commendable strides in improving human capital development with the government demonstrating a strong commitment to enhancing the well-being and productivity of its population through significant investments in health and education, according to a new World Bank report launched today in Freetown. The report also highlights the prioritization of social protection interventions like cash transfers to extremely vulnerable groups as a notable intervention aimed at reducing poverty and building human capital.

The Sierra Leone Human Capital Review: Maximizing Human Potential for Resilience and Inclusive Development, provides critical insights into the country’s efforts to foster human capital development and economic growth. The report examines the current state of health, education, and social protection systems in the country and offers recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of human capital investments.

Goldstar Air to enhance cargo movement across the continent under AfCFTA (GhanaWeb)

Wholly-owned Ghanaian airline, Goldstar Air aims to enhance cargo movement across the continent under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative. Each year, more than 52 billion tonnes of cargo are shipped by air, creating a constant demand for industry jobs. As an indigenous airline, our vision extends to operating over one hundred aircraft and generating sustainable job opportunities for Ghanaians to connect African businesses and capitalize on the opportunity presented by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, with a staggering 44 million Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (SMEs) across Africa.

The continent possesses the resources to make significant economic strides, and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area aims to eliminate trade barriers, representing a significant opportunity for Africa to assert itself on the global economic stage. Therefore, the airline has introduced Afrik Allianz, a multi-model single air transportation alliance connecting Africa and beyond.

Why travel within Africa is expensive despite visa openness initiative (Businessday Nigeria)

Despite the continent’s allure with its stunning landscapes from the majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to the pristine beaches of La Digue in Seychelles, the costs of intra-Africa travel rate remains one of the highest globally when compared with other regions. This stems from a myriad of factors, from economic struggles to colonial legacies, amid visa openness initiatives allowing 54 African passports visa-free access to other nations.

For instance, airfares from Nigeria to popular African destinations range from N1 million to N6 million, pricing many potential travellers out of the market. Bernard Bankole, an aviation analyst, attributes these sky-high costs to weak African currencies, especially the naira, expensive aviation fuel and maintenance of air planes, as well as strained trade relations between African countries. He emphasised the need for seamless intra-continental trade and cooperation to make travel more affordable.

FTA talks with SACU nations on the cards after new govt takes over (Business Standard)

Discussions for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between India and the five-member South African Customs Union (SACU) nations may begin after the new government takes over in June, two people aware of the matter said. The customs union includes South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. After the Lok Sabha elections, India plans to reach out to SACU nations to launch trade talks, one of the persons cited above said. Last year, discussions on the terms of reference were initiated, but not much progress was made thereafter.

Bottlenecks stagnating the EAC integration amid fresh lobbying (The Standard)

The regional private sector has noted with concern the slow integration of the East African Community (EAC), which has now informed a renewed intent to re-strategise their lobbying efforts. The services sector will now be prime owing to some of the bottlenecks businesses in the region have faced when trading in goods.

The East African Business Council (EABC), which is the regional lobby body for the private sector, recently held a two-day meeting in Nairobi, together with the East African Community (EAC) and other partners to devise new ways of advancing the integration agenda. The meeting was aimed at revamping the Technical Working Group for this purpose. It was noted in the meeting how some of the tools put in place to reduce trade barriers and increase regional exchange of goods and services are not working. This is the reason why intra-EAC trade stands at 15 per cent.

DRC Minister visits COMESA: affirms commitment to regional integration (COMESA)

The Minister of Regional Integration in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hon. Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi visited the COMESA Headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia on Friday 22 March 2024 and held discussions with the Secretary General, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe. The discussions focused on key developments in the implementation of regional integration programmes that relates to the DR Congo, including an update on the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) which the country is poised to fully enlist.

Currently, the FTA has sixteen participating Member States while the DRC is in the process of tariff reduction that will pave way for its full participation once it is completed. “We will continue doing our best to advance regional integration,” said Minister Nyamwisi. “The DRC believes that as Africa and the COMESA region, we should avoid remaining isolated. We need each other by pooling our resources for the betterment of all people.”

The ECOWAS Commission reviews a draft action plan for its Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS) (ECOWAS)

In order to achieve the objectives of its Integrated Maritime Strategy, the ECOWAS commission is holding an interdepartmental meeting to review the draft Action Plan of the EIMS from 20 to 22 March 2024 at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The EIMS is a legal instrument that provides a comprehensive reference framework for actions to be taken by the various stakeholders at national and regional levels.

The general objective of this meeting, which brings together different ECOWAS departments; representatives of ECOWAS Regional Fisheries Centers, ECOWAS institutions and agencies and West African Fisheries Commissions, is to make sure that the technical departments adopts the SMIC Action Plan in order to ensure integrated and coordinated implementation in line with the mission of the ECOWAS Commission.

African Development Bank, IOM launch report on harnessing migration for development in Africa (AfDB)

The African Development Bank and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today released a joint report designed to support practitioners and decision makers to turn migration into a force for development in Africa. The report, Diaspora Engagement, Climate-Induced Migration and Skills Mobility: A Focus on Africa examines the impact of migration on human development and poverty reduction. It provides insights to leverage the potential of the African diaspora, build climate resilience, and harness skills mobility to drive Africa’s development trajectory.

Africa Development Bank and the US government strengthen strategic partnership (AfDB)

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank Group, has praised US President Joe Biden’s administration for its approach towards Africa particularly its emphasis on the development of quality infrastructure, which he described as the “backbone of every economy.” Dr Adesina was speaking on Tuesday when he received a delegation from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) led by Director Enoh Ebong, at the Bank’s headquarters in the Cote D’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan.

The PGII initiative sees the US investing over $1.5 billion in various African projects, including digital access, agriculture, clean energy infrastructure, and the Lobito corridor for transportation corridor linking Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

EU backs AU’s initiative for in-continent vaccine production (The Independent Uganda)

“Learning the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the AU and the EU are committed to advance health systems and strengthen health capacities globally,” she said on March 20 in Brussels, “We are proud of the results achieved in increasing local manufacturing of medicines and vaccines in Africa, for Africa.” She said Team Europe’s (joint European Union approach that seeks to pool EU members’ resources and expertise to deliver more effective and greater impact) initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa has already mobilised over €1.3 billion in grants and loans.

Britain agrees $100mln trade finance to boost Africa food security (ZAWYA)

Development lender British International Investment said on Monday it had agreed a $100 million finance facility with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) to boost trade finance, farming and food security in the region.

The finance will help fund trade, including importing and exporting goods, on a continent where many debt burdened African economies face currency depreciation and rising debt and inflation compounded by issues such as climate change. Providing more capital to help bolster trade finance in the region is important as many international lenders have pulled back from offering it, leading to a finance gap of up to $120 billion a year, African Development Bank research shows.

Quick links

What mega-farming could mean for African economies (GIS Reports)

An ocean of opportunities: The potential of seaweed to advance food, environmental and gender dimensions of the SDGs (UNCTAD)

Global competition law and policy approaches to digital markets (UNCTAD)

Brazil’s ambitious G20 agenda is threatened by geopolitics (Arab News)

India wants WTO bodies to prioritise finance access, food security, tech (The Economic Times)


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