Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Gas still has a crucial role to play in South Africa’s energy mix (Engineering News)

Gas has an important role to play in South Africa’s energy transition journey, Kearney partner Prashaen Reddy says amid calls for public comments on a draft Gas Master Plan, which was released for comment at the end of April. He notes that the Southern Africa region has had several recent gas finds across Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia, that allow for the development of indigenous resources to drive industrialisation, social development and economic growth.

Currently, the industry employs at least 70 000 people and contributes between R300-billion and R500-billion a year to South Africa’s GDP, based on the existing indigenous gas supply.

“Additionally, to maintain and grow the industrial base, there are few substitutes readily and economically available for gas in the energy-intensive industries; hence, industrialisation may further decline should no gas solution be found in the years ahead,” Reddy warns. He says gas to power is another critical enabler to stabilising the power sector as South Africa endeavours to balance its energy mix from being primarily driven by coal to other technologies as outlined in the recent draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023.

Small businesses can help South Africa fight unemployment if they get proper support (The Conversation)

South Africa has an alarming unemployment rate of approximately 32.1%. Solutions have been elusive. The unemployment rate has been consistently high for decades.

Our research has revolved around entrepreneurship. We have examined the “liability of newness” related to small and medium scale enterprises and entrepreneurial development in general. In particular, we’ve looked at the differences between very new small and medium scale businesses, and those that have established themselves in the market place. Our aim has been to understand vulnerabilities, and what support is needed to ensure longevity.

In a recent study, we examined the relationship between globalisation – the integration and interconnectedness of economies, societies and cultures across the world – the development of entrepreneurship in South Africa, and unemployment. The interaction between the three is key to informing what institutional support and policies should be put in place to create jobs.

We find that globalisation has a dual impact on entrepreneurial activity and development. On the one hand, it helps established businesses in creating jobs and reducing unemployment. With the proper support, globalisation can help new businesses grow into job-creating established businesses. This is done by giving local entrepreneurs new opportunities, such as trade, technology transfer, and access to new markets.

NRZ on track for US115m Afreximbank facility (The Chronicle)

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is making headway on its efforts to secure the US$115 million loan facility from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) after the Government approved the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle that will be used to service it.

NRZ board chair Advocate Mike Madiro said in an interview, “It (Afreximbank loan approval) is contingent to the establishment of an SPV and a feasibility study (on how the project will be rolled out) — those are the two fundamental conditions, which are supposed to be in place for Afreximbank to do their internal processes for approval upon confirmation of its bankability.”

“When that is done, the bank will now do its internal processes and we hope the bank will approve that project after which the drawdown of resources from the loan facility will ensue,” he said. Under the loan facility, US$81 million will be used to procure rolling stock from RITES Limited of India where NRZ is expected to receive nine locomotives and 315 wagons while US$34 million would be allocated towards infrastructural rehabilitation and expansion of the rail network.

Microsoft and G42 Invest $1 Billion in Kenya’s Digital Sector (We are Tech)

Microsoft and G42, a United Arab Emirates-based firm specializing in artificial intelligence and cloud computing, have announced plans to invest $1 billion in Kenya’s digital sector. The announcement was made through a press release issued by Microsoft on Wednesday, May 22.

The investment will be directed towards the construction of a data center in Olkaria, which will be powered entirely by renewable geothermal energy. G42 and its partners will oversee the development of this infrastructure to utilize Microsoft Azure in a new cloud region in East Africa. The data center is projected to be operational within 24 months after the signing of definitive agreements, scheduled to take place on Friday, May 24, in Washington, D.C.

The investment will also involve the development of four key pillars in collaboration with local stakeholders. These pillars include creating AI models in local languages and related research, establishing an innovation lab in East Africa, providing extensive digital skills training in AI, in international and local connectivity, and working with the Kenyan government to promote cloud services across East Africa.

Technology increasingly being used to improve control, accuracy in logistics value chains (Engineering News)

The freight and transport logistics sectors are seeing ever greater use of technologies in warehouses, as well for stock-picking, consignment loading and delivery checks, among other applications, as the sectors work to automate a range of processes and improve the accuracy of those processes. New capabilities were being created using existing systems that were integrated with new machine learning (ML), image recognition and AI solutions to deliver new insights, capabilities and controls, logistics risk management company Professional Risk and Asset Management group operations director Gerhard van Zyl said.

He was speaking during the Safety and Security in Transport and Logistics conference hosted by industry organisation the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport of South Africa on May 22, in Woodmead, Johannesburg.

“One of the things we are working on at the moment is to match imagery without human intervention from product loading onto the vehicle and then offloading,” he told attendees.

“The solution uses closed-circuit television (CCTV) present in the warehouse and in trucks, along with ML to match what has been unloaded from the truck to what was loaded, and that the pallet that is being delivered is the correct one for that client.”

Call for Zim-Zambia to strengthen trade cooperation (The Herald)

Zimbabwe and Zambia should take advantage of their historical ties to strengthen economic cooperation, the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Albert Chimbindi, said yesterday.

Opening a two-day Joint Trade and Customs Committee meeting in Harare, in a speech read on his behalf by Chief Director in the Ministry, Rofina Chikava, Ambassador Chimbindi said the objective of the meeting was to continue the legacy of cooperation between the two countries, especially in promoting trade and investment, thereby improving the welfare of citizens.

The issues to be discussed include updates on an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the tripartite memorandum of understanding between Zimtrade, Zimbabwe Development Agency and the Zambia Development Agency.

COMESA, Malawi Sign Euro 900,000 Sub-Delegation Agreement: Funds to be used for construction of the Mchinji Cross-Border Market (COMESA)

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat, and the Government of Malawi, have today signed a Euro 900,000 sub-delegation agreement to construct a cross-border market in Mchinji District, 20km from the Mchinji/Mwami One Stop Border Post. COMESA Secretary General, Ms. Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Sosten Gwengwe, signed the agreement in a virtual event.

The traders’ market which is located in Mchinji District in Malawi, is funded by the European Union, under the 11 European Development Fund (EDF), Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI). The SSCBTI supports the provision of gender sensitive basic infrastructure for use by small scale cross border traders.

The availability of border market infrastructure will increase the connection between traders and customers and lead to reduced losses, especially in perishable stock, according to an assessment carried out by consulting firm, IMANI Development in May 2017. The assessment was conducted at the following border posts; Kasumbalesa (DRC and Zambia), Chirundu (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nakonde/Tunduma (Zambia and Tanzania), Mwami/Mchinji (Zambia and Malawi) and Moyale (Ethiopia and Kenya). The assessment identified basic workspace infrastructure at the border as a major requirement of small-scale traders.

Jigawa seals trade, industrialisation pact with Nigeria-Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (Premium Times Nigeria)

Jigawa State Governor, Umar Namadi, on Tuesday, presided over the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Jigawa State and the Nigeria-Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (NAGCC), which aims to promote trade and industrialization in the state. The MoU was signed during a colourful ceremony at the Government House, Dutse attended by members of the State Executive Council and a delegation from the NAGCC led by Kassim Gidado, the Waziri of Jama’are.

In his remarks, Mr Gidado expressed NAGCC’s commitment to fostering economic development and trade between Jigawa State and the Gulf region, stressing that the significance of this partnership has been in the making since 26 October, 2023, when they first approached the state for the partnership.

He highlighted the enormous potential Jigawa State holds, particularly in products like sesame seeds, hibiscus, and solid minerals.

Tinubu Seeks Stronger Intra-Africa Investment, Economic Integration (Leadership News)

President Bola Tinubu has called for synergy and stronger coordinated action to address economic frailties within African nations. He made the call at the State House yesterday during the presentation of Letters of Credence by newly-appointed ambassadors to Nigeria. The ambassadors who presented their credentials include Ambassador Edouard Nduwimana, Burundi Ambassador to Nigeria; Ambassador Mersole Mellejor, Philippines Ambassador to Nigeria, and the High Commissioner of Kenya to Nigeria, Isaac Parashina.

In his meeting with the Philippines ambassador, the president said Nigeria had embarked on a bold initiative to expand its natural gas production to meet domestic needs and increase exports. He encouraged the representative of the Southeast-Asian nation to attract investors from his country to explore opportunities in Nigeria.

Ambassador Mellejor acknowledged Nigeria’s leadership role and strategic position in Africa as the continent’s largest economy, population, and democracy. He said these strong credentials form the basis upon which his country seeks to expand economic ties with Nigeria.

Nigeria, Benin Republic Strengthen Ties To Boost Trade (Leadership News)

Nigeria and the Benin Republic have strengthened commercial and trade relations to boost economic activities in both countries. Briefing journalists after the bilateral meeting at the Anguwar Sule Wara in Benin Republic border station, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar said the meeting was designed to boost trade and commerce between the two countries.

Tuggar said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the Benin Republic be reopened to strengthen trade and commerce in the two countries. The minister said the meeting identified some challenges such as infrastructure and security that the two sister nations must address. The minister said if Nigeria and Benin Republic borders had been better handled, they would have boosted revenue generation and the economies of the countries.

Benin Closes River Crossing With Niger In Escalating Trade Tensions (Barron’s)

Benin has blocked border crossings to Niger across the river between the neighbours, sources told AFP on Thursday, in an escalation of tensions since the military seized power in Niamey last July. Benin and Niger have engaged in increasing tit-for-tat accusations in recent weeks over the movement of goods, despite West African bloc ECOWAS in February lifting sanctions imposed on Niger’s military rulers.

Relations over the border are also complicated by a spillover from expanding jihadist conflicts in Niger and Burkina Faso that increasingly threaten Benin and its Gulf of Guinea neighbours Ghana and Togo. Benin initially announced the opening of its border at the same time as the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions. But the border has remained closed on the Niger side, irritating Beninese President Patrice Talon, who said Niger was treating them like “an enemy”.

A source close to the Benin government confirmed the river crossing had now been closed. “The river is part of the border. Niger says its borders with Benin are closed. It’s a consequence,” the source told AFP.

Abuja Action Plan on Sustainable Hydropower Development in Africa unveiled (International Water Power)

In a strategic move to bolster energy security and sustainability across Africa, the Abuja Action Plan on Sustainable Hydropower Development has been unveiled. Recognizing the critical role hydropower plays in the continent’s energy landscape, the plan aims to expand electricity supply by 50% by 2030 and quadruple it by 2050. Hydropower currently supplies 40% of sub-Saharan Africa’s electricity, underscoring its significance as a reliable and familiar technology.

The challenge lies in scaling up this capacity affordably while addressing climate change. Hydropower is championed as an affordable, renewable, clean, and green solution that can significantly enhance energy security and access. It also complements other renewable technologies like solar and wind, which require firm, dispatchable, and flexible resources that hydropower can provide.

Joint ECOWAS, COMESA and EAC Workshop to Validate New Functionalities for the Update of the “50 Million African Women Speak Platform (50MAWSP)” (ECOWAS)

The three-day workshop, held from 15 to 17 May 2024 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, was organised by the ECOWAS Centre for Gender and Development (ECGD). It brought together experts from ECOWAS, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), EAC (East African Community), women users of the 50MAWSP platform and partners such as the Spanish Cooperation, the African Development Bank (AfDB), USAID West Africa and the UN Women Office for West and Central Africa.

At the end of the three-day workshop, the three implementing partner RECs of the 50MAWSP project signed the Workshop Outcome Declaration, which summarises the agreements between RECs for the next steps in the implementation of the project. For reference, the 50MAWSP digital platform, launched in November 2019 and covering data collection in 38 African countries, is dedicated to supporting the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs in Africa. Its main objective is to meet the need for financial and non-financial information to facilitate the growth and success of women in business.

The AU Calls for Effective Governance of Labour Migration at the Inaugural Africa-Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Lebanon Dialogue on Labour Mobility (AU)

Over 28 million migrants resided in GCC countries by 2017, with 12% from Africa. To address this growing trend, a historic two-day dialogue on Labour Mobility kicked off in Doha, Qatar. In her opening remarks, Ms. Angela Martins, the Ag. Director for Social Development, Culture and Sport, African Union Commission, emphasized that effective governance of labour migration is one of the top priorities for the African Union.

“The African Union has long championed rights of migrant workers, adopting various instruments such as the Agenda 2063, the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the African Common Position on Migration and Development, and other protocols. We are committed to fostering collaboration and cooperation with member states and regions like the Gulf Countries to implement these frameworks effectively and harness the development potential of labour migration,” said the Ag. Director at the Technical session ahead of the High-Level dialogue on Labour Migration.

Technical experts at the historic dialogue in Doha delved into key areas for improving labour mobility and migrant protections. They also laid the groundwork for future discussions. Ministers officially launched the dialogue and unveiled the “Doha Declaration,” solidifying a shared commitment to ethical recruitment and safeguarding migrant worker rights.

ICYMI: ECOWAS, ITC launch West African Competitiveness Observatory to boost regional exports (ITC)

Policymakers and businesses in West Africa now have an online tool to track their countries’ trade competitiveness and to find new business opportunities in the region, with the launch of the West African Competitiveness Observatory.

The ECOWAS Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC), with financial support of the European Union (EU), launched the online platform at a high-level event on 21 May to help unleash economic growth across West Africa, where more than half of intraregional export potential -- valued at $3.2 billion -- remains untapped. West Africa’s exports are more competitive within the region than on the rest of the continent or in global markets.

The Observatory offers three modules that enable policymakers to monitor and analyze trade competitiveness at both national and regional levels. Businesses can use the platform to identify business opportunities and engage with buyers and suppliers across markets in the region.

“Policymakers and businesses, use the Observatory for insights into your region’s great untapped trade potential and turn that potential into tangible economic benefits,” said ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton. “We hope to see businesses, especially small businesses, make the most of this tool to find buyers and enter new markets.”

ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority Advocacy and Sensitization Meeting on Competition and Consumer Protection Law in Liberia (ECOWAS)

The ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) as part of its mandate to support Member States in the competition matters conducted advocacy and sensitization on Competition and Consumer protection laws in Liberia from 20- 22 May 2024, in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia.

The Executive Director of ERCA, Dr. Konan Simeon KOFFI, on behalf of the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Madame Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, welcomed all participants to the advocacy and sensitization meeting and expressed gratitude and thanks to the Liberia Ministry of Commerce and Industry for their willingness to collaborate with ERCA in hosting this meeting. This shows that the joint advocacy and sensitization programme on Competition policy is an example of the expected cooperation between ERCA and Member States competition authorities, thus consolidation of the regional competition framework. The Executive Director emphases collaboration between ERCA and national stakeholders in order to strengthen: (i) mechanism for collecting and sharing information and best practices, (ii) national ownership of the regional competition framework, (iii) capacities building of the stakeholders, and (iv) investigation and enforcement of competition law.

The opening statements were followed by presentations and discussions on ECOWAS competition framework, overview of the Competition Law of Liberia and Status of competition and consumer protection monitoring in Liberia. The meeting considered the importance of continue collaboration with stakeholders for enhanced awareness of competition issue and for the Liberian government to review the existing competition law to take into consideration the regional and continental framework, and in particular the creation of the National Competition Authority of Liberia for the implementation of the competition and consumer protection policy.

The meeting further adopted a recommendation for ECOWAS Regional competition Authority to accompany the Liberia in the process of law review, and by extension the Liberian Authority to use the competition laws to strengthen the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

ECOWAS bloc under growing pressure (Africanews)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is facing a critical period with the challenges posed by the Alliance of Sahel States and economic instability in West Africa. Recent coups and economic sanctions have highlighted the organization’s weaknesses, exacerbating internal divisions.

To explore whether ECOWAS can overcome these obstacles and maintain its role as an economic pillar, we interviewed international economist Magaye Gaye from the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and the African Guarantee and Economic Cooperation Fund (FAGACE). “To stay on course, ECOWAS must develop policies for industrial complementarity, focus on energy, industry, integration complementarities, and intra-regional trade.” - Magaye Gaye, international economist.

Since May 6, Benin and Niger have been in crisis due to Beninese President Patrice Talon’s decision to block the loading of Nigerien crude oil in Beninese waters, citing informal practices and protesting against Niger’s closure of their common border. This situation has been exacerbated by accusations of blackmail from Nigerien Prime Minister and the involvement of China, which built a pipeline for Nigerien oil exports. Surprisingly, Benin lifted the embargo on May 15 after fruitful negotiations with a Chinese delegation, although the reopening of the Nigerien land border remains uncertain.

The world is rushing to Africa to mine critical minerals like lithium – how the continent should deal with the demand (The Conversation)

Global demand for critical minerals, particularly lithium, is growing rapidly to meet clean energy and de-carbonisation objectives. Africa hosts substantial resources of critical minerals. As a result, foreign mining companies are rushing to invest in exploration and acquire mining licences.

According to the 2023 Critical Minerals Market Review by the International Energy Agency, demand for lithium, for example, tripled from 2017 to 2022. Similarly, the critical minerals market doubled in five years, reaching US$320 billion in 2022. The demand for these metals is projected to increase sharply, more than doubling by 2030 and quadrupling by 2050. Annual revenues are projected to reach US$400 billion.

In our recent research, we analysed African countries that produce minerals that the rest of the world has deemed “critical”. We focused on lithium projects in Namibia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ghana. We discovered these countries do not yet have robust strategies for the critical minerals sector. Instead they are simply sucked into the global rush for these minerals.

We recommend that the African Union should expedite the development of an African critical minerals strategy that will guide member countries in negotiating mining contracts and agreements. The strategy should draw from leading mining practices around the world. We also recommend that countries should revise their mining policies and regulations to reflect the opportunities and challenges posed by the increasing global demand for critical minerals. Otherwise, African countries that are rich in critical minerals will not benefit from the current boom in demand.

New revenue streams: Using Africa’s vast renewable energy and natural resources for premium carbon credits (Africa Renewal)

African countries could leverage their vast renewable energy resources, tropical forests, peatlands, and marine ecosystems to export premium carbon credits, providing a new revenue stream, according to the 2024 Economic Report on Africa by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The report says, carbon markets could support Africa’s goals of resilience and prosperity, in line with Agenda 2063. They also present a potential path for achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.

“A failure, however, to ensure credit additionality, appropriate governance, and high enough prices could lead to perverse market incentives that increase carbon emissions and slow the climate transition on the continent,” says the report, launched at the recently concluded 10th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-10) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Nassim Oulmane, Acting Director of ECA’s Technology Climate Change, and Natural Resource Management Division explains that there are two types of carbon markets that Africa could invest in: the regulatory compliance market and the voluntary carbon market (VCM). But so far, credits from the VCM, where many African countries participate, have been only a small fraction of those supplied by the overall regulatory compliance market.

‘Be part of the plan’ to end nature loss on Biodiversity Day (UN News)

The appeal on the International Day for Biological Diversity urges governments to fully implement a landmark agreement to halt and reverse nature loss by mid-century, adopted by 196 Member States in 2022.

In his message to mark the International Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the “complex web of biodiversity” which sustains all life on Earth is “unravelling at alarming speed – and humanity is to blame.” ”We are contaminating land, oceans, and freshwater with toxic pollution, wrecking landscapes and ecosystems, and disrupting our precious climate with greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

See International Day for Biological Diversity

UN biodiversity conference 2024 to feature first-ever ‘Trade Day’ (UNCTAD)

With one million species currently at risk of extinction, the state of global biodiversity loss spells trouble for nature and economies. That’s why back in 2022, world leaders at a UN conference agreed on a global biodiversity plan aimed at protecting and repairing Earth’s biological wealth.

To address the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, trade remains a crucial part of the plan, Deputy Secretary-General Pedro Manuel Moreno reaffirms at an event gathering international organizations in Geneva. “It requires integrating environmental and biodiversity-friendly considerations into our trade and development policies, promoting sustainable practices, reducing waste and pollution, and protecting natural habitats,” says Deputy Secretary-General Moreno in his statement.

In 2022, trade in biodiversity-based products generated some $3.4 trillion, accounting for about 17% of global export value. For low-income economies, that share even surpassed 40% over the past decade.

With the right policy and governance approach – including criteria and principles such as BioTrade − sustainable trade can flourish and, in turn, nourish the very biodiversity on which it relies, while providing livelihood for communities, especially the most marginalized.

Harnessing small business action to achieve the Biodiversity Plan (ITC)

Over half of the global GDP, a staggering $44 trillion, is moderately or highly dependent on nature, according to a 2020 World Economic Forum study. This dependency is particularly pronounced in rural communities, where forest ecosystems can contribute significantly to livelihoods. Take India, for example, where forests represent only 7% of the country’s GDP but sustain 57% of rural communities.

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, including some 70 million indigenous people. At the same time, the small business sector represents 90% of the world’s businesses and more than half of global employment.

Fostering sustainable business models in biodiversity-based sectors is essential to delivering inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development

Biodiversity-based sectors leverage nature and ecosystem services to create products and services that benefit both people and the planet. These sectors encompass a diverse range of goods, from natural foods and cosmetics to handicrafts and ecotourism experiences.

SADC underscores the importance of conserving biodiversity for food and agriculture as the world commemorates International Day for Biodiversity (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has underscored the importance of biodiversity conservation for agriculture and food security as part of the commemoration of the International Day for Biodiversity which falls on 22 May every year.

On this day, SADC reflects on its role in preserving plant genetic resources, through the SADC Plant Genetic Resource Centre (SPGRC) as a source of direct food and nutrition as well as novel genes to mitigate against climate change. Through this initiative, the SADC region has to date collected and secured in regional and national genebanks over 80 000 unique accessions of plants that form the core sources of food for the people in SADC.

SADC is currently implementing the Southern Africa Regional Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization Strategy which seeks to promote collection, safeguarding and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to enhance the resilience of farming and food systems for improved food, and nutrition security and livelihoods in the SADC region.

New Action Plan launched for implementing FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity Across Agricultural Sectors as biodiversity-related projects approved (FAO)

From bees to earthworms, from coral reefs to rain forests - biodiversity helps to ensure our food diversity and must be key to transforming our food production systems, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations underlined today. As it marked International Day for Biological Diversity, FAO launched its updated action plan for Mainstreaming Biodiversity Across Agricultural Sectors and prepared to embark on several new biodiversity-related initiatives.

“Biodiversity is the potential of food diversity in the future,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in a video message for UN celebrations of the day. Qu said biodiversity: “is what we farm, catch, harvest and cultivate. It is what supports our food networks from pollinators to micro-organisms in our soils. It is what prospers livelihoods of farmers, forest managers and dwellers, fishers, livestock keepers and pastoralists across the world.”

FAO this week launched its 2024–27 Action Plan for the Implementation of the FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity Across Agricultural Sectors. The plan supersedes an earlier 2021-2023 document. It has been further streamlined better to serve the strategy’s aims to reduce the negative impacts of agricultural practices on biodiversity, to promote sustainable agricultural practices and to conserve, enhance, preserve and restore biodiversity as a whole.

The new FAO Action Plan fully aligns with the Biodiversity Plan and includes FAO’s Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, providing a ‘one-stop shop’ to facilitate access to knowledge on biodiversity for food and agriculture. It compiles over 350 tools, guidelines and other resources on biodiversity developed by FAO that can be searched and filtered, including by targets of the Biodiversity Plan.

Argentina: Transforming port management for sustainable development (UNCTAD)

Around 80% of international trade in goods is carried by sea, giving ports a crucial role in global production and distribution networks. Consequently, port management features high on the agenda at the first-ever UN Global Supply Chain Forum currently underway in Barbados through 24 May. The weeklong forum seeks to tackle, among others, the most pressing issues facing ports worldwide, ranging from building resilient supply chain and leveraging digital technology to advancing environmental sustainability.

The discussions there speak volumes to Marcelo Teper, who works for Argentina’s General Administration of Ports. The organization is represented at the forum, as part of the TrainForTrade port management network, to share country-specific experience. “A port is not simply a centre for loading and unloading goods, but a key player in the logistics chain that provides services and facilities to streamline import and export process”, Mr. Teper notes.

Members seek to improve transparency in import licensing regimes (WTO)

WTO members discussed ways to improve the transparency of import licensing regimes at a meeting of the Import Licensing Committee on 21 May. The Chair, Mr Nat Tharnpanich of Thailand, emphasized the importance of compliance with import licensing notification requirements and encouraged members to make use of the newly launched Import Licensing Notification Portal.

Quick links

Unlocking growth: Cross-border trade gives African entrepreneurs access to new markets (IOL)

Fast reform, targeted protection key to boost Africa’s agriculture (New Business Ethiopia)

African countries have huge potential but sustainable development also depends on peace and security: UK statement at the UN Security Council (GOV.UK)

New version of the rules for determining the origin of goods from developing and the least developed countries approved (Eurasian Economic Commission)

GDP Growth - First quarter of 2024, OECD


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