Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa well placed to benefit from huge green hydrogen outlook, attendees hear (Engineering News)

Green hydrogen has a massive potential future and South Africa is very well positioned to produce it, attendees of the Hydrogen Economy Discussion heard on Thursday. Most of the 90-million tonnes of hydrogen produced currently through the likes of South Africa’s Sasol and others is grey. Not only must all of that become green, but it also needs to grow seven times bigger to allow green hydrogen to become a necessary 7% of the energy mix.

“From a South Africa perspective, we’re very well positioned through our energy resources in terms of both solar radiation and onshore wind, our lengthy coastline and ability to desalinate water for hydrogen production, our proximity to both the European and Asian markets, and having places like the Northern Cape, which are significant land masses,” South Africa’s Ministerial advisor and Presidency green hydrogen lead Masopha Moshoeshoe highlighted at the event covered by Mining Weekly.

South Sudan clarifies new $350 levy on goods imports (The East African)

The Mombasa Monitoring Station-National Revenue Authority of South Sudan has clarified that only exporters and importers will be required to comply with the payment of $350 (Ksh46,000) levy being charged per unit to all goods destined to South Sudan and not clearing agents. In its response to a petition by clearing agents, the Authority said that a clearing agent should not use own funds to pay the service charge (levy).

“The payment of this service is at all times to be paid by the importer or exporter of cargo into and out of South Sudan respectively,” the response by Mombasa Monitoring Station-National Revenue Authority of South Sudan filed in court read. Clearing agents under Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) challenged imposition of the levy.

Kenya, Ghana attempt smooth trade in cagey Africa (The East African)

Kenya and Ghana, on opposite sides of the continent, say they want to revive trade between them. And they see their vast deposits of gemstones and prized agricultural products as key to boosting their commercial partnership.

On a state visit to Accra last week, Kenya’s President William Ruto and his host Ghana’s leader Nana Akufo-Addo, witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding. One of the agreements was between the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the Kenya Investment Authority (KIA). Others were between the Association of Ghana Industries and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, a kind of peer-to-peer relationship. There are not many similarities. But the ones that do exist could help boost trade. They are among Africa’s most stable economies (although Ghana, like Kenya, has struggled with foreign debt).

In Africa, trade has often been hampered by a lack of manufacturing, meaning that countries produce similar products that cannot be sold across borders. This is in addition to the many tariff and non-tariff barriers such as language differences, currency conversion problems, infrastructure problems and insecurity. But since AfCTA was signed five years ago, enthusiasts like Ghana and Kenya have been looking for opportunities.

Business is blooming in East Africa – UK suspends tariff for flower exports (GOV.UK)

From today, the UK has temporarily removed export tariffs for cut flowers, with the aim of making trade with the UK easier and cheaper for growers in East Africa and beyond. Unlimited quantities of flowers can now be exported to the UK at 0% tariff, even if they transit via a third country. This is particularly important for East African flower growers who transport their blooms via third-countries or auction houses before they arrive in the UK.

The move aims to increase trade and further strengthen the economic relationship between the UK and the region. UK consumers could win big too – on price, seasonality and variety. The suspension of 8% duty for cut flowers applies across the world but will be a big win for major flower growing regions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The duty suspension will remain in place for two years from 11 April 2024 to 30 June 2026.

Unlocking Malawi’s Trade Barriers Through One-Stop Border Posts (World Bank)

The Dedza border post, situated between Malawi and Mozambique, is a busy place. On average, more than 80 trucks are cleared daily, carrying shop merchandise from South Africa to Malawi including fertilizers for Malawi’s agriculture sector.

For the past few years, before the construction of the new One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) facility, it took about 24 to 36 hours to clear a truck carrying items such as wheat, fertilizers, groceries, and raw materials for Malawi’s manufacturing industry. Drivers and clearing agents had to dash from one office to another between the two countries to clear the goods. Malawian traders traveling to and from South Africa through the Dedza–Mozambique border had difficulty locating the appropriate offices to present the required paperwork. In addition, the lack of parking facilities meant that the road leading to the border post was always congested, as trucks scrambled for space to park while waiting to be cleared.

The Dedza One-Stop Border Post, which was completed in 2023, boasts two examination bays for goods, parking spots for 100 freight trucks, and a modern passenger terminal. “We now take less than half a day to process all the paperwork to clear the goods that we have carried, which is far less than the minimum of three days that we used to spend here,” says Flatella Makwakwa, a truck driver who has been using the Dedza border for more than three years. He also acknowledges the benefits of the new system when it comes to facilitating the passing of trucks and making life more comfortable for the users.

Burundi, DR Congo to Establish Joint Border Committees (COMESA)

Small-scale cross-border traders between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed on Terms of Reference (TORs) that will pave the way for the establishment of Joint Border Committees. These committees will assist in making trade faster, safer, and cheaper across the border. The implementation of the JBCs is in line with the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Burundi and the DRC signed in April 2022.

With support from the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation and Integration Project (GLTFIP) financed by the World Bank, COMESA convened a three-day technical meeting from 26 to 28 March 2024 in Burundi to assist the two member states in setting up JBCs along their common borders.

Currently, tradable commodities, particularly agricultural products, face various regulations, leading to multiple inspections and other controls by border agencies. The meeting noted that the uncoordinated application of these regulations and controls often frustrates the seamless flow of trade across borders, making small-scale cross-border trade costly and risky.

Africans should unite, maximise on trade opportunities on continent – says re-elected PAP president Charumbira (New Zimbabwe)

Africans should be conscientised on the trade opportunities available to them, recently re-elected Pan African Parliament president, Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, has said. Addressing journalists after meeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House recently, Charumbira said his first task was to unite over 270 PAP MPs and to ensure Africans become aware of the great business potential within the continent.

“The first one is unity to the Parliament. We have been fractured, but l can assure you that l will embark on a programme of uniting over 270 PAP members. One major issue on the continent is that of trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA). “The main issue on the PAP is Agenda 2063 pronounced by the African Union (AU) and the issue of trade on the continent,” Charumbira said. He urged countries that have not ratified the Protocol on Trade to do so and to conscientise Africans on the opportunities available on trade under the AFCTA.

Developing Further The Social Dimension Of The African Continental Free Trade Area (Forbes Africa)

Lauded as the key to Africa’s economic fortunes, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been met with much excitement. Indeed, this area holds great economic promise for the continent but there are some glaring gaps that require consideration – particularly from a social dimension. Established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA entails the creation of a consolidated marketplace for goods and services throughout the African continent.

According to a 2022 World Bank report, this agreement could generate vast economic benefits, embracing 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion. If fully implemented, the agreement is expected to increase income by 9% by 2035 and help uplift 50 million individuals from extreme poverty.

Yet, there has been little consideration of the impact of this movement on social security, an important policy tool that addresses socio-economic challenges, contributes to long-term development, and promotes a more equitable and resilient society. In Africa, particularly, its impact cannot be overlooked.

US senators will introduce bill to renew Africa trade pact through 2041 (Reuters)

A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a bill to renew the United States’ trade pact with sub-Saharan Africa ahead of its expiration next year, an aide to one of the senators said on Thursday.

The bill was introduced by Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat, and James Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A cross-party group of senators - Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet, Chris van Hollen, Todd Young and Mike Rounds - are also co-sponsoring the bill. An aide to Coons said it was a high priority to reauthorize the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) this year.

The bill, which was seen exclusively by Reuters, would renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act for 16 years, through 2041, and help countries implement strategies to take advantage of the program. It would also maintain benefits for countries as they grow richer, enabling them to remain in the program if they are determined to be high-income for five years rather than removing them if they reach that threshold for a single year.

China eyes digital, green economy cooperation potential in Africa: MOC (Xinhua)

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Thursday that the government encourages Chinese companies to explore new investment potential in Africa in such areas as digital economy and green development, and to innovate the investment-construction-operation model. Responding to a media enquiry on China’s investment in Africa, MOC spokesperson He Yadong said at a press conference that the government encourages Chinese firms to expand economic and trade cooperation in Africa in accordance with commercial and market rules.

“In recent years, China’s investment and cooperation with Africa have developed steadily and healthily,” he said, adding that in 2023, China’s direct investment in Africa maintained a growing trend, with projects covering diversified sectors such as building materials, automobiles, home appliances and agricultural product processing.

Gender Equality and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (IMF)

Efforts to achieve gender equality will not only help sub-Saharan Africa revive its inclusive growth engine but also will ensure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help address the main disruptive challenges of this century. This book explores the progress made in gender equality in the region, highlighting both the challenges and successes in areas such as legal reforms; education; health; gender-based violence; harmful practices, such as child marriage; and financial inclusion. It takes stock of initiatives towards integrating gender into core macroeconomic and structural reforms, such as through implementing gender budgeting and examines the role that fiscal and other policies can play in closing gender gaps when they are mindful of distributional impacts.

Drawing from extensive research across different institutions, the book underscores the macroeconomic significance of gender equality, emphasizing its potential to drive GDP growth, enhance economic stability, reduce income inequality, and foster sustainable development. It lays out how gender gaps interact with emerging challenges, such as digitalization, and explores the impact of global megatrends, such as climate change, on gender inequality, offering strategies for inclusive policy responses—including in a context where women and girls are still carrying a disproportionate care burden that is often not captured in economic measurement.

The book aims to serve as a roadmap for policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates seeking to harness the untapped potential of gender equality—for its own sake and for the region’s inclusive, sustainable, and green development. It calls for concerted efforts to dismantle structural barriers, transform social norms, and prioritize gender-responsive policies to unlock the full economic potential of sub-Saharan Africa.

Global coal power grew 2% last year, the most since 2016, GEM survey says (Engineering News)

The world’s coal-fired power capacity grew 2% last year, its highest annual increase since 2016, driven by new builds in China and decommissioning delays elsewhere, according to research published on Thursday. Despite record renewable additions, nearly 70 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity were commissioned across the world last year, including 47.4 GW in China, the U.S.-based Global Energy Monitor think tank said in its annual survey. Coal-fired capacity outside China also grew for the first time since 2019, while worldwide only 21.1 GW was shut down, the survey said.

Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, 25 countries have cut coal-fired power capacity, but 35 have increased it, and far more needs to be done, said Flora Champenois, the GEM report’s lead author. “The world is heading in the right direction in terms of coal’s role in the energy sector, but not quickly enough, and with some risky detours along the way,” Champenois said.

Russia is considering the possibility of creating a BRICS grain exchange (Oreanda-News)

The updated BRICS strengthens its position on several fronts at once. Russia plans to create a common grain exchange. This will strengthen the importance of Moscow as a key supplier and increase the food security of the interstate association. In addition, it transforms international trade, and not in favor of Western manufacturers. At the end of last year, the Union of Grain Exporters appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to the estimates of the Union of Exporters, the five countries of the “old” BRICS represent 40% of the global grain market. Total production is 1.17 billion tons, consumption is 1.1 billion. In January, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates joined the international organization. Now the figures are 1.23 and 1.22 billion, respectively. The BRICS grain Exchange would bring together leading buyers and suppliers, Russian exporters stressed.

Economists admit that there really is a problem, the established order needs to be changed — both in the interests of Russia and taking into account the “grain potential” of the entire BRICS.

UN: AI resolution must prioritise human rights and sustainable development (Article 19)

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, welcome the United States-led United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution ‘Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development’. Stakeholders far from UN grounds benefit when states clarify their position on new and emerging technologies and how international law, including international human rights law, and sustainable development commitments apply to fields like artificial intelligence. This is especially true with all the hype, murky definitions, and self-interested boosters surrounding artificial intelligence.

​New data shows majority of companies are overlooking plastic-related risks (CDP)

Thousands of companies are behind on key steps to tackle plastic pollution in their value chains, according to landmark data released today by CDP, the non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system. The data reveals, for the first time, the extent of companies’ awareness of their contribution to the plastic crisis, and presents a strong baseline for accelerating action at the fourth round of Global Plastics Treaty negotiations (INC-4) later this month, where mandatory corporate disclosure is on the table.

Findings show that almost half (42%) of companies took the vital first step of mapping where plastics were produced and used within their value chains in 2023. However, there are significant gaps in corporate understanding and action:

Aid under pressure: 3 accelerating shifts in official development assistance (UNCTAD)

Official Development Assistance (ODA) is more than just cash. It is a powerful way to make a difference where it matters most. It is aimed at improving economic development and welfare for millions of people. ODA, also referred to as aid, means having access to electricity and medical care, having food on the table, or even having an opportunity for a better future.

Global ODA reached record levels in 2022, $287 billion at constant 2021 prices, but continues to fall short of the SDG 17 aid target. ODA from DAC donors remained $143 billion below the SDG 17 aid target of 0.7% of their gross national income. Moreover the aid landscape is undergoing shifts that may be detrimental to the development aspiration of some countries.

Along with remittances and foreign direct investment, ODA represents a major source of external financing. While ODA is the smallest of these three sources in developing countries overall, for vulnerable countries, it often represents the main source of external financing. Yet international crises leave visible marks on the ODA landscape, generating new demands and reshuffling priorities.

Aid flows to developing regions fell by $4 billion despite global ODA reaching record levels in 2022. ODA for developing countries decreased by 2%. It fell by more than 3.5% for Africa, Asia and Oceania and least developed countries (LDCs) between 2021 and 2022. The decline in ODA affected the majority of developing countries, including 24 LDCs and 15 Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

International aid rises in 2023 with increased support to Ukraine and humanitarian needs (OECD)

International aid from official donors rose in 2023 to a new all-time high of USD 223.7 billion, up from USD 211 billion in 2022, as provider countries increased aid flows to Ukraine and directed more humanitarian assistance to developing countries, according to preliminary data collected by the OECD.

In 2023, the 1.8% rise in real terms was the latest in a series of annual increases in Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the fifth consecutive year that ODA has set a new record. Total 2023 aid is up by a third from 2019 levels, reflecting the additional aid provided since, related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Massive investment is needed in sustainable infrastructure to build climate change resilience (OECD)

Record global temperatures around 1.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages led to more heatwaves and floods, longer wildfire seasons and widespread droughts in 2023. A new OECD report details the growing pressure of such climatic events on infrastructure in all sectors, from electricity, communication and transport networks to water and waste treatment, with developing countries often particularly hard hit.

The Infrastructure for a Climate-Resilient Future report released today during the OECD Infrastructure Forum, recommends governments systematically factor climate resilience into infrastructure planning and decision-making, including by prioritising sustainable projects, to help reduce societal and economic vulnerability and avoid long-term costs. Climate-resilience measures can also protect investment returns, ensure business continuity and support continued economic growth and development.

Industrial Policy Is Not a Magic Cure for Slow Growth (IMF Blog)

Many countries are ramping up industrial policy to boost innovation in specific sectors in the hope of reigniting productivity and long-term growth, amid security concerns.

Industrial policy, in which governments support individual sectors, can drive innovation if done right. But striking the right balance is a crucial consideration, as history is full of cautionary tales of policy mistakes, high fiscal costs, and negative spillovers in other countries.

This recent turn to industrial policy to support innovation in specific sectors and technologies is not a magic bullet, as we show in a chapter of the April 2024 Fiscal Monitor. Instead, well-designed fiscal policies that support innovation and technology diffusion more broadly, with an emphasis on fundamental research that forms the basis of applied innovation, can lead to higher growth across countries and accelerate the transition to a greener and more digital economy.

Most industrial policy relies heavily on costly subsidies or tax breaks, which can be detrimental for productivity and welfare if not effectively targeted.

Outlook for the Global Economy and Policy Priorities, Speech by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva ahead of the 2024 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings (IMF)

Lifting up growth prospects is paramount to improve living standards and strengthen economic resilience. It requires eliminating constraints to economic activity and creating opportunities to boost productivity growth. Foundational reforms — strengthening governance, cutting red tape, increasing female labor market participation, improving access to capital — all have a role to play. Across emerging and developing countries, a well-sequenced package of reforms could lift output by 8 percent in four years.

Even more can be achieved with policies to encourage economic transformation — to speed up the green and digital transition. How well we handle them will define the legacy of this decade. This is particularly important for the green transition. How quickly we advance it will have tremendous significance for whether we succeed to tame climate risks. But the shift to a climate friendly economy goes beyond managing risks. It also offers tremendous opportunities for investment, jobs, and growth.

Technological advancements affect many sectors of the economy—from manufacturing to healthcare and financial services. We have been transitioning to a new digital economy, and now AI is likely to dramatically accelerate the fourth Industrial Revolution.

The pandemic, wars, and geopolitical tensions have changed the playbook for global economic relations. Policymakers are looking to strike a balance between efficiency and security, between cost considerations and resilience in supply chains. There are already signs that trade relations are being re-shaped.

Open letter to G20 health ministers calls to ‘preserve IP enablers’ (BusinessLine)

Health ministers of the G20 countries have been urged by representatives of the international pharmaceutical industry to protect intellectual property (IP), to enable technology transfers and voluntary collaborations, among other things.

In a joint open letter, three organisations including the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) have called on health ministers of these countries to “preserve health innovation enablers” like the intellectual property framework, for example, in their policies and programs worldwide. The submission comes against the backdrop of the Second G20 Health Working Group meeting this week at Brasilia.

The IP enablers “underpin legal security to enhance the potential for increased trade, investments and voluntary collaborations, including technology transfer in G20 countries,” said the joint letter from IFPMA, US-based nutritional supplements company Interfarma, and FIFARMA (the Latin American Federation of the pharmaceutical industry).

New Global Services Trade Data Hub offers extensive, tailored access to WTO data (WTO)

The new Global Services Trade Data Hub now available on the WTO website provides access to comprehensive data on services trade. It provides visualizations and customizable features for download – catering to the diverse needs of trade negotiators, analysts, researchers and decision-makers – to deliver insights into global services trade.

Quick links

China-Africa ties: A Chinese ‘debt trap’? (France 24)

Africa-China cooperation and prospects of a shared future (The Nation Newspaper)

Russia’s BRICS Chairmanship: Priorities and Goals (TV BRICS)

BRICS vs G7: The Fight is On (Asia Sentinel)

Strengthening the G20 Common Framework a global public good that benefits all (Arab News)


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