Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa finds high prices, lack of competition in its fresh produce market (Engineering News)

South Africa’s competition watchdog has uncovered barriers to entry, distorted competition and price mark-ups in its fresh produce market, according to a provisional report released on Tuesday after an inquiry. Last year the Competition Commission launched the Fresh Produce Market inquiry in order to examine whether any features in the fresh produce value chain impede, restrict or distort competition in the market.

Detailing the findings of the preliminary report, Deputy Commissioner Hardin Ratshisusu said the inquiry found some instances of high mark-ups by retailers which have been sustained over a period of time, which the Commission found to be an indictor of a lack of competition. The inquiry also noted that there is still slow progress in integrating historically disadvantaged small-to-medium enterprise farmers into various retailers’ supply chains.

The agricultural sector contributes approximately 2.5% of South Africa’s gross domestic product, while the market size of the domestic fresh produce market is estimated at over R53-billion annually.

Namibia’s tightened visa rules threaten tourism growth (ZAWYA)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council Tourism Alliance has voiced strong opposition to Namibia’s planned restrictive visa policies. The Alliance warns that these policies could cripple the nation’s tourism sector and hinder economic growth.

Namibia recently removed visa-free entry for citizens of 31 countries, most of whom are major tourists. This decision has sparked criticism from tourism and economic groups who fear it will damage Namibia’s tourism industry and economic growth. The Economic Policy Research Association (EPRA) urged the Namibian government to talk with these countries instead of imposing visa restrictions.

It says this move by Namibia directly contradicts Namibia Airports Company’s recent “Air Connect Namibia” strategy, which aims to attract more international flights and improve overall connectivity. The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance fears stricter visa requirements will have a negative domino effect, impacting not just tourism but also hospitality, transportation, and retail – all industries that rely heavily on international visitors.

FG tasks African countries on SMEs training to boost continent’s economy (Tribune Online)

The Federal Government has tasked African countries to invest more in the training of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on issues of standards as a means of improving the continent’s economy. Speaking while declaring open the 30th Assembly of the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) in Abuja on Wednesday the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka Anite said standardization plays a vital role in the growth of the economy.

She stated that “allow me to highlight that the 30th ARSO General Assembly theme, “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century – Building a Quality Culture – “One Market, One Standard” articulates the essential role of standardisation in promoting sustainable development, innovation, export-oriented manufacturing and production.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Amb. Nura Abba, the Minister explained, “as you are already aware; standards shape our everyday lives, drive economic efficiency, facilitate trade and are the fulcrum for tackling the challenges of moving towards a more sustainable and resilient model of development. “There are many areas of policy-making decisions guided by standards of different kinds in areas such as facilitating international trade as well as helping establish trust through guaranteed specifications and quality requirements.

How President Ruto’s Punitive Taxes Threaten Namibia-Kenya Trade (The Namibian)

President William Ruto’s finance bill 2024, tabled in parliament for passage yesterday, contains punitive taxes poised to dent the progressive strides made towards bolstering much-needed intra-Africa trade. More specifically, it threatens the efforts to enhance and strengthen trade and investments between Kenya and Namibia.

Fresh data by auditing firm KPMG Kenya has shown that the bill, once assented to by Ruto and becoming effective by 1 July, is expected to impact both Namibian and Kenyan importers and exporters, manufacturers, air travellers, banking and money transfer chains, and digital marketplaces. For instance, the bill proposes to increase the rate of import duty from 2,5% to 3% of the customs value of imported goods, payable by the importer at the time of entering the goods for home use.

This comes barely one year after the rate was reduced from 3,5% to 2,5%. The increase is expected to raise the cost of importing Namibian products into the country. The bill also proposes to introduce the eco levy on select locally manufactured and imported goods. This is the introduction of yet another levy after the Finance Act of 2023 introduced the export and investment promotion levy.

Concerning the export and investment promotion levy (EIPL), the Finance Act of 2023 introduced the EIPL on select goods imported into the country for home use. The stated purpose of the levy was to provide funds to boost manufacturing, increase exports, create jobs, save on foreign exchange and promote investments. However, the finance bill of 2024 proposes to delete the entire third schedule as introduced by the Finance Act and in its place introduce a new schedule of items to be subject to an export and investment promotion levy.

I therefore add my voice and call upon Kenyan parliamentarians to reject the punitive bill. Elvis Mboya is the founder and ambassador of the Namibia-Kenya Chamber of Commerce

Govt unveils plans to support exporters (Nilepost)

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, has outlined strategies on how the government intends to support producers and service providers who engage in exporting. Mr Ggoobi made these statements during a post-budget dialogue for the Financial Year 2024/25 in Kampala on Wednesday. The dialogue was organised by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) in collaboration with Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) and other partners in Kampala.

Mr Ggoobi, who is also the and Secretary to the Treasury, affirmed that the government will foster export growth and development in the upcoming financial year by creating a favorable environment for producers and manufacturers to access foreign markets. He encouraged citizens to embrace exporting and assured them of government support. “Exports are key drivers of economic growth and prosperity, and the government is fully committed to assisting those with the capacity to produce and export,” said Ggoobi.

COMESA Investment Forum (CIF 2024) (African Manager)

The COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA), will inaugurate the COMESA Investment Forum (CIF 2024) on 27th June, in Tunis, Tunisia. This high-level forum offers participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within the COMESA region.

The forum is a business-to-business (B2B) and government-to-business (B2G) gathering, bringing together leading policymakers with captains of industry, financiers, major industrialists, and investors from across the COMESA region, focusing on strategic sectors: Agribusiness, Pharmaceutical, Renewable Energy, IT, among others. Over 150participants are expected during the forum to advance trade and investment across the COMESA region.

This year’s edition takes place against an important backdrop with Tunisia, having joined COMESA in July 2018, offering a strategic gateway to the region’s extensive market. The theme for this year, “Unleashing Potential: Cross-Border Trade and Investments,” reflects the need for policymakers and the private sector to collaborate more closely and take decisive actions to advance and fast-track development across the region through enhancing cross border investment and trade flows.

Digital currency has power to accelerate financial inclusion – Bahamas Central Bank Governor (The New Times)

The Bahamas became the world’s first country to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2020. The Sand Dollar as it is known is the digital version of the Bahamian dollar (B$). The Bahamian government introduced the CBDC to allow for greater flexibility and accessibility of people who want to participate in financial services through a mobile phone application or a card payment.

“It’s been challenging because there is an incredible amount of technical work and preparation involved. I think there's still a considerable amount of work that is ahead of us,” said Central Bank of the Bahamas Governor, Derek Sean Rolle, speaking to the New Times’ Business Editor Julius Bizimungu

“There's incredible awareness locally around the digital currency, and we deliberately took that effort, starting particularly in 2023, to just let people know that there was a digital currency and how it worked.

We didn't put any emphasis on telling people how to get it because we were so busy doing more of the work around improving the ease of onboarding for mobile wallets. Now we're at the stage where we can allow that access to be more easily facilitated, but we are still doing it in a gradual way.” 

Despite challenges, Southern Africa has improved financial inclusion with adoption of digital financial services (UNECA)

South African countries performed well on their financial inclusion, between 2011 and 2021. Progress is partly attributed to rapid adoption of digital financial services including mobile money, according to financial experts at a webinar on the African Financial Sector Southern Africa. Organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the webinar is part of a Series themed, Regional Dialogues on the African Financial Sector - regional profile.

In her opening remarks Eunice Kamwendo, ECA’s Director of the Subregional Office for Southern Africa noted the potential for growth, innovation and sustainable investments in the financial sector in Southern Africa. “Southern African region’s financial sector faces financial challenges that include liquidity issues, debt distress, limited access to financial services, high levels of informality and regulatory constraints; Despite these challenges, it is important to prioritize the development of the financial sector to create stability, mobilize domestic resources and foster a stable environment for investment,” said Ms. Kamwendo.

Presenting a report on the demographic economic landscape of the Southern African region, Andrew Bamugye, Senior investment manager SME, Trade and Development Bank said the banking sector in Southern Africa has remained solvent with adequate capital

“The challenge in the banking industry in the region is the strong interconnection between the banking system and non – banking financial institutions and foreign markets, which leads to the risk of contagion,” said Mr. Bamugye.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Hosts Expert Group Meeting to Review Progress on Boosting Intra-African Trade (UNECA)

In a critical step towards bolstering Africa’s economic integration, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) is convening an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on 19 June 2024 in Douala, Cameroon. The meeting aims to evaluate and enhance the implementation of the Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) Action Plan, ensuring that it aligns with the transformative goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Trade integration is recognized as an important driver for inclusive growth and economic development across Africa. Despite Africa’s substantial potential, the continent’s share in global exports remains low at around 3%, highlighting the need for increased intra-African trade and industrialization. Currently, intra-African exports and imports stand at 17.8% and 14.6% respectively, far below the levels observed in Europe and Asia.

The Douala EGM at Krystal Palace Hotel will serve as a veritable platform to review the draft report titled “Framework for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT), Ten-Years After: Progress, Implementation Challenges, and Implications for the AfCFTA.” The meeting will gather insights from experts, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and other stakeholders to enrich the report’s content, enhance its analytical soundness, and ensure the robustness of its data and recommendations.

Potential or Peril: Carbon Trading in Africa (Policy Center)

Carbon trading have long been touted as a silver bullet to channelise climate finance to African countries lacking the capital to support climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The erstwhile ‘Kyoto Protocol’ and its successor ‘The Paris Agreement’, though much more comprehensive and wider in scope, both recognize the importance of carbon trading (a form of carbon pricing) in combatting climate change, and in the Paris Agreement the same is enshrined under Article 6 and its sub-components

Carbon credits are generated from avoiding, reducing, or removing greenhouse gas emissions by either switching from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives, adopting energy efficient technologies or conserving and increasing forests which are primary providers of carbon cycle ecosystem services. However, it must be noted, that apart from Article 6, carbon credits can be generated from domestic or closed jurisdiction carbon markets under national or regional compliance mechanisms such as the EU ETS and many other countries domestic carbon markets, as well as voluntary carbon markets where companies or countries can offset their emissions of their own accord by purchase of carbon credits arising for mitigation based economic activities.

Africa, which has contributed least to historical emissions and continues to have the lowest per capita emissions globally (an annual average of 1 ton of CO2 compared to 10.3 ton in North America), faces a disproportionate burden from climate change. According to the World Bank, while China must raise its annual climate mitigation spending by 2% of GDP through 2030, Cameroon must do so by a staggering 9% of the GDP. Countries of the West African Sahel including Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, need to increase spending by about 8% of GDP on average to support mitigation efforts at home. Moreover, African governments, as in most emerging economies, are fiscally constrained, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crises. Their debt-to-GDP ratios are high, as high as 70% and 40% in South Africa and Nigeria respectively in 2021. This means a limited ability to borrow from the international markets. The situation is compounded by insufficient lending from multilateral banks, often accompanied by harsh conditionality.

The situation begs for innovative financial engineering and creative thinking that can help mobilize large-scale and low-cost climate finance for the region.

Implementation technicalities of international carbon trade largely unresolved at the 2024 Bonn Climate Change Conference (UNECA)

As interest in carbon markets in Africa continue to rise, the sixtieth session of the subsidiary bodies (SB60) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) failed to reach agreement on all technicalities related to the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, demonstrating the complex challenges of emissions trading. The methodological elements of the new UN carbon crediting mechanism also remained largely unresolved. Article 6 governs how countries can cooperate voluntarily in the implementation of their nationally determined contributions to climate action while promoting sustainable development and environmental integrity.

The SB60 negotiations on Articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement focused on the technicalities of international carbon trade, particularly authorization and reporting on transaction, as well as the role of an international registry. The African Group of Negotiators on climate change (AGN) offered progressive solutions which can potentially break the impasse and link the voluntary trading schemes of Article 6.2 with authorization processes deriving from Article 6.4, and thus addressing many of the uncertainties of voluntary carbon trading.

The AGN’s contributions to the SB60 negotiations on Article 6 were informed by key outcomes from a regional workshop on “Regulating carbon markets: building capacity for the Implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement”, that was held from 14 to 16 May 2024 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. This workshop was organized by the African Climate Policy Centre of the ECA, in collaboration with the AGN and the Government of Zimbabwe. The workshop was motivated by the increasing interest in carbon markets in Africa against a background of lack of clarity on operationalization of the rulebook for the implementation of Article 6 Paris Agreement and the need to provide technical backstopping to the AGN ahead of the SB60 meetings.

The 7th African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration (AU)

The AU Commission led by the Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Mining (ETTIM), is organising the 7th Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration under the theme, “Enhancing Macroeconomic and sectoral policies coordination in Africa: challenges, opportunities and policy priorities for inclusive growth and sustainable development”. The lack of coordination between macroeconomic and sectoral policies is reducing Africa’s ability to achieve inclusive 7 to 10 percent growth and sustainable development as encapsulated in Agenda 2023.

African Union celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the Malabo Protocol (AU)

The Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (Malabo Protocol) was adopted by the Twenty-third Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 27th June 2014, to play a key role in combating impunity in Africa. The Protocol extends the jurisdiction of the pending African Court of Justice and Human Rights (Merged Court) to a wide variety of crimes under international law and transnational crimes, including, but not limited to, the core crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression and new categories of “international crimes” such as corruption and the illicit exploitation of natural resources.

The adoption of the Malabo Protocol represents a significant step in the broader initiative to enhance accountability for international and transnational crimes. While the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the refinement of national judicial frameworks have, to date, advanced these efforts, effective accountability, especially within the continent, often remains elusive. By granting jurisdiction to the Merged Court over a broad spectrum of international crimes, the Malabo Protocol establishes a regional mechanism that will complement and enhance global efforts while asserting African ownership within the international justice landscape.

Against this context, it is vital to reinvigorate conversations about the Protocol and intensify efforts toward its ratification.

Where does India stand in Africa’s $3 trillion opportunity? (The Economic Times)

The world community must end its monopoly on technology and ensure access for all, reiterated Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the recently concluded G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy. Discussions during the outreach session included a range of topics such as AI, critical and emerging technologies, energy, and the Mediterranean. However, the spotlight remained on the India–Africa relationship and the significance of the ‘global South.’

PM Narendra Modi reiterated India’s commitment to fostering closer ties with Africa by stressing the untiring efforts put in by India to include the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. This occurred during India’s presidency last year.

Six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are currently located in Africa. The continent is home to over 400 companies with revenues surpassing $1 billion, having a collective revenue of over $1 trillion. Household consumption is increasing at a remarkable 3.9% annual rate and is projected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2030. All this is underpinned by steady population growth, increasing urbanisation, and rising incomes. Resource-rich nations are demanding local value addition and domestic manufacturing. With the gradually diminishing influence of China, Indian companies are seen as more preferable partners and business collaborators, giving them precedence in dealing with governments and local corporations.

Representatives of BRICS, SCO, Africa and Latin America to discuss digital development of society at International IT Forum (TV BRICS)

Delegations from dozens of countries have arrived in the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk for the XV International IT Forum with the participation of BRICS and SCO countries. The event is being organised under Russia’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2024. TV BRICS is the international media partner of the event.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered a welcoming speech at the forum’s opening ceremony. He spoke about the projects concerning interstate co-operation in the digital sphere.

At the plenary discussion “Trust in the Digital World”, which opened the forum, the participants discussed issues of interstate cooperation in the era of technological development, including the creation of digital platforms in key sectors of the economy.

Zimbabwe eyes BRICS membership for trade boost (Al Mayadeen)

At a BRICS international forum in Vladivostok on Monday, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Defense Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri announced that the country is prepared to become a member of the BRICS group of nations. Muchinguri-Kashiri noted that joining the group would enhance opportunities for free trade with other member states, as reported by Zimbabwe’s state-owned daily, The Herald.

“Zimbabwe, like many of the other countries represented here, has strong conviction in BRICS’ potential to counterbalance Western powers’ dominance by challenging their unilateral decision-making and promoting a more balanced global landscape,” the minister said. Less than two weeks following Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s declaration to TASS at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Defense Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri’s remarks demonstrate Zimbabwe’s readiness to join BRICS.

G20 advances consensus on reforming Multilateral Development Banks and broadening discussions on foreign debt (G20 Brasil 2024)

In Fortaleza, the G20 agreed to include debtor countries in discussions on foreign debt and to reform the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to enhance investment capacity in Global South countries. Brazilian proposals on exchanging debts for investments and including debt suspension clauses for extreme weather events were also discussed.

“We have reinforced the consensus by incorporating the perspectives of debtor countries into the traditional creditor-focused consultations. Brasil has introduced innovative proposals, such as debt-for-investment exchanges to alleviate the debt burden for debtor nations, and debt suspension clauses in the event of climate disasters,” explained Ambassador Tatiana Rosito, coordinator of the G20 Finance Track.

The Ambassador emphasized that the meeting, which included African experts and representatives from Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, the African Development Bank, and G20 member countries, was “an important step in building a global consensus on financial and development issues.”

Sustainable Development Report calls for a UN Parliament, goals off track (Democracy Without Borders)

This week, on June 17, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) published their annual Sustainable Development Report which evaluates and ranks the performance of UN Member States on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since 2015.

The report notes that “the UN needs significant upgrading” and calls for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) constituted “by representative members of national parliaments”. In a “first instance”, the report points out, the new body could be created by the UN General Assembly as a subsidiary body. But ultimately, “the UN Charter will need to be revised and updated to reflect 21st century needs and realities”, the document says.

As financing sustainable development remains a critical challenge, the report includes an urgent call for reforming the global financial architecture. It notes that low and middle-income countries need access to affordable long-term capital to invest in sustainable development. One of the proposals is “to institute global taxation, for example, on CO2 emissions, air and sea travel, financial transactions, and other international goods and ‘bads,’ in order to mobilize sufficient global resources to provide the necessary global public goods.”


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