Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA grapples with AGOA compliance concerns (Farmer’s Weekly)

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been a cornerstone of economic relations between the US and sub-Saharan Africa for over two decades. However, as conversations swirl about a potential extension of the agreement, South Africa finds itself at a crossroads with compliance concerns. While continued access to the lucrative US market is undeniably attractive, compliance barriers and a complex relationship with the US raise concerns about the future. The current iteration of AGOA is set to expire in 2025. Talks of a potential extension offer a glimmer of hope for South African exporters who have benefitted significantly from duty-free access to the US market.

“South Africa has been perceived to show actions that undermine US national security and foreign policy interests. In efforts to remedy the situation, South Africa has proposed a mandatory out-of-cycle review of [its] eligibility compliance. “Unfortunately, important aspects of the US government proposals have been misconstrued in the South African media. This poses a major challenge for SA,” Dr Noluthando Phungula, a researcher at the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation explained. No official announcement has been made, leaving South African businesses and policymakers in a state of uncertainty. This lack of clarity makes long-term planning difficult, potentially hindering efforts to fully leverage AGOA’s benefits.

Tau to focus on accelerating the implementation of policy (SAnews)

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Parks Tau says the new leadership of the department under his stewardship has no intention of reinventing the wheel but will be focusing on accelerating the implementation of industry policy and economic transformation.

“The Government of National Unity [GNU] is guided by the Statement of Intent and there is a clear commitment on the underlying principles that inform the economic agenda of this 7th Administration,” Tau said. “It has direct focus on transformation and on ensuring that trade happens in a manner that addresses the interests of the country, as well as our ability to grow the economy and create jobs,” he said.

“All we have to do is to focus our energy on implementation. We have gone through various phases of industrial policy in a democratic South Africa. And all that we will be doing is to look at where our industrial policy is, starting with the sector master plans as mechanisms for the implementation of the policy.” He committed to engaging with the private sector to identify priority areas that will enable the implementation of the industrial policy and economic transformation to be accelerated.

DRC now Kenya’s fastest-growing EAC export market (The East African)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has overtaken Uganda to become Kenya’s fastest-growing export market within the East African Community bloc, new data shows. Kenya’s exports to the DRC jumped by more than half (56.04 percent) to Ksh8.62 billion ($66 million at current exchange rates) in the first three months of the year, according to the latest official data, the biggest year-on-year growth in over a decade. 

“Notably, there was increased domestic exports of …wheat flour to Democratic Republic of Congo,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) wrote in the latest Balance of Payment report, covering the first quarter of 2024. The data shows Kenyan traders trucked goods worth nearly Ksh23.88 billion ($185 million) in the first nine months ended March 2024 since the reduced duty on wheat took effect, a significant 57.48 percent climb over Ksh15.16 billion ($117 million) previously. KNBS also cited wheat flour as the main driver of demand for exports in the second half of last year.

Kenya shilling now extends gain against regional currencies (Business Daily)

The Kenyan shilling has gained up to 30 percent of its value against regional currencies, reversing a trend that was witnessed last year, and giving additional money to exporters selling their goods to the East African Community (EAC) countries. Churchill Ogutu, an economist at IC Asset Managers (Mauritius) said strengthening the local unit is likely to have a negative impact on exports to those EAC markets while giving higher gains to EAC investors such as those in Uganda who have invested in Kenyan stocks and bonds at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

“From a trade perspective, the strengthening of the shilling against peer currencies in the region may reduce the appeal of Kenyan export products to other EAC countries. On the other hand, it is beneficial to EAC investors who have invested locally who will enjoy a double boom, both on currency valuation gains and the price appreciations that have been seen on the NSE,” said Mr Ogutu.

African Countries Urged to Expedite Implementation AfCFTA (ENA)

The Executive Director of the Coalition on Media and Education for Development Africa Forum (CAFOR), Lawalley Cole urged African countries to expedite the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the benefit of the people in the continent.

Speaking to ENA, Lawalley Cole, the executive director of the Coalition on Media and Education for Development Africa Forum (CAFOR) said it is important to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA as its great economic benefits for Africa. “If the AfCFTA is implemented in Africa, it will become the largest trade area in the entire world. If it works, it will generate a lot of revenue, a lot of income for countries; allow other countries to participate in it to trade and invest in the continent and this is what we need.”

He said Africa is endowed with resources in various areas including minerals, agriculture, land, people, and youth. “If we train the young workforce, they can do many things. I think Africa has to wake up now.” Moreover, Cole stressed that African countries have to strengthen their cooperation among themselves to realize the goals of continental free trade agreement and ensure the well-being of African citizens through the implementation of Agenda 2063 and other initiatives.

Meeting of the Technical Working Group on ECOWAS Common Trade Policy (ECOWAS)

Trade stakeholders from both regional and national levels have gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, for a three-day meeting from July 9th to 11th, 2024, to review and amend the Draft ECOWAS Common Trade Policy (CTP). Mr. Kolawole Sofola, the ECOWAS Director of Trade, said the CTP aims to make trade a vital component of the economic lives of the people and the regional integration agenda. He noted that despite various interventions, policies, strategies, and initiatives aimed at increasing intra-regional trade, diversification, and market access, such as the ETLS, CET, and WACIP, intra-regional trade remains around 7 percent, with regional currencies depreciating against major currencies and high inflation rates.

“We are hopeful, however, that the adoption of a number of trade policy instruments such as the E-Commerce and the AfCFTA Implementation Strategies and action plans by our statutory bodies in 2023, will, together with the CTP, help spur more economic growth and integration for our region,” Mr. Sofola said. “Furthermore, when adopted, the CTP will provide a common framework for our trade relations even with third parties, and attract, sustain, and leverage investment both foreign and domestic.”

The Summit of the Future (Pearls and Irritations)

The world’s geopolitical system is not delivering what we want or need. Sustainable development is our declared goal, meaning economic prosperity, social justice, environmental sustainability, and peace. Yet our reality is continued poverty amidst plenty, widening inequalities, deepening environmental crises, and war. To get back on track, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has wisely called for a Summit of the Future (SOTF) at the United Nations on September 22-23, a call that has been endorsed by the 193 UN Member states.

The core idea of the Summit of the Future is that humanity is facing a set of unprecedented challenges that can only be solved through global cooperation. The crisis of human-induced climate change (especially the warming of the planet) cannot be solved by any one country alone. Nor can the crises of wars (such as in Ukraine and Gaza) or the geopolitical tensions (between the US and China) be settled by one or two countries alone. Each country, even the major powers including the US, China, Russia, India, and others are part of a complex global structure of power, economics, and politics that requires truly global solutions.

Dubai to get world’s largest fruit and vegetable trade logistics hub (Economy Middle East)

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed witnessed the signing of an agreement between Dubai Municipality and DP World to develop the world’s largest logistics Hub for Foodstuffs, Fruit and vegetable Trade, linking it to global markets, and doubling the current size of the fruit and vegetable market under the management of DP World.

Sheikh Maktoum took to Twitter: “Under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the supervision of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, we strive to provide advanced infrastructure and facilities with the latest specifications and best standards, create greater commercial and investment opportunities for investors, support the UAE’s food security strategy, and make Dubai a destination for markets, export, and re-export operations for the region and the world in various sectors.”

China, Africa seek more cooperation between local governments (Xinhua)

Chinese and African officials emphasized the need for increased cooperation among local governments at the 5th Forum on China-Africa Local Government Cooperation held in south China’s Guangzhou on Tuesday. Around 350 delegates attended the event, including political leaders, officials and organization heads from China and Africa. They agreed to enhance cooperation between local governments for shared governance experiences, joint responses to issues, and mutual benefits.

Data released by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries indicated that 28 provinces, regions and cities in China have established 166 sister-city relationships with counterparts in 35 African countries. Among them, Guangzhou has formed sister-city and sister-port relationships with 10 African cities and 5 ports, respectively.

Africa, Middle East emerging as battleground for US-China ‘enterprise tech trade war’ - experts (The North Africa Post)

Africa and Middle East are “emerging as a battleground for international tech supremacy in all areas related to enterprise technology” between the United States and China, which includes cloud, radio access networks for enterprise 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI), according to the London-based data and analytics firm GlobalData.

While the growing geopolitical tensions between the US and China have not yet erupted into an actual physical conflict, analysts have warned that there are “signposts of a struggle” in the region as the two superpowers fight for dominance of the enterprise tech market. The conflict in the enterprise first emerged when Chinese tech giant Huawei became the first cloud vendor to create a regional public cloud in Africa, starting with Johannesburg in 2018. “Chinese vendors, principally Huawei, are moving in to woo telcos and governments with the promise of improved infrastructure and an immediate boost to national economies, all of which dovetails with the digitalization of economies and the fulfillment of national visions,” Ismail Patel, Enterprise Technology Analyst at GlobalData, said. “Offsetting this, the threat of US sanctions is delaying many countries from putting all their eggs in the Chinese basket,” Patel added.

UN Trade and Development calls for sustainable and equitable strategies to mitigate digital economy’s growing environmental impact (UNCTAD)

UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 10 July launched The Digital Economy Report 2024, shedding light on the significant environmental impact of the global digital sector and the disproportionate burden developing countries bear. This detailed report highlights that while digitalization drives global economic growth and offers unique opportunities for developing countries, its environmental repercussions are becoming increasingly severe. Developing countries remain unevenly affected both economically and ecologically due to existing digital and development divides but they have the potential to leverage this digital shift to foster development.

UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan underlined the need for a balanced approach: “We must harness the power of digitalization to advance inclusive and sustainable development, while mitigating its negative environmental impacts. This requires a shift towards a circular digital economy, characterized by responsible consumption and production, renewable energy use and comprehensive e-waste management. The digital economy’s growing environmental impact can be reversed”.

China Races to Boost Computing Power in Pursuit of AI and Digital Economy Leadership (W.Media)

China is pushing the pedal on developing its computing power, aiming to become a global leader in this crucial field that fuels artificial intelligence (AI) and the booming digital economy. Data presented at the recently concluded Global Digital Economy Conference revealed China’s impressive progress. By the end of 2023, the nation boasted over 8.1 million data center racks, generating a total computing power of 230 Eflops (exaFLOPS). This unit measures a computer’s processing speed, with 1 Eflops signifying the ability to perform one quintillion floating-point operations per second.

China is adopting a two-pronged approach. First, the country is integrating green energy sources like hydrogen and solar power with computing infrastructure. Secondly, resource-rich western regions with abundant renewable energy are emerging as data center hubs. Beyond building data centers, China is also exploring ways to bring computing power directly to users. The “computing power plus” model aims to integrate AI capabilities with various sectors, including finance, education, healthcare, and transportation.

New tool to make agriculture and food systems sustainable (Farmers Review Africa)

Recognizing the critical role investors and businesses can play in driving the transition to more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food systems, the Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) Tool for Agribusiness offers a practical framework for business leaders to understand what responsible practices look like, identify gaps, and prioritize improvements as they seek to align with international principles. The tool has been developed by IISD, Cerise+SPTF, and partner organizations with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Intended to be used by a wide range of stakeholders engaged in promoting sustainable agricultural investments—such as agribusinesses, financial investors, and industry associations—the tool shows how to create a clear, actionable plan. It has been tested by agribusinesses in Africa and Asia and refined based on their feedback and is designed to be compliant with internationally recognized best practices of sustainable business conduct, such as the principles on responsible investment in the agricultural and food systems (CFS-RAI Principles) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.

Climate risks projected to affect fish biomass around the world’s ocean, FAO report says (FAO)

New projections highlight potential climate risks to exploitable fish biomass for nearly all regions of the world’s ocean, including top producer countries and those with high reliance on aquatic foods, according to a report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Global projections of exploitable fish biomass show declines of more than 10 percent, particularly under the high-emissions scenario, by mid-century for many regions of the world, said the report Climate change risks to marine ecosystems and fisheries: Projections to 2100 from the Fisheries and Marine Ecosystem Model Intercomparison Project.

“Understanding the potential impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and their fisheries, and their associated uncertainties, is crucial to design adaptation programmes at appropriate scales,” said Manuel Barange, FAO Assistant Director-General and Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division. “Lower emissions significantly reduce end-of-century biomass losses for nearly all countries and territories compared to the high-emissions scenario. This highlights the benefits of climate change mitigation measures for fisheries and aquatic foods,” he added.

DDG Ellard, at FAO meeting, urges completion of critical work on fisheries subsidies (WTO)

Addressing the 36th session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on Fisheries in Rome on 10 July, WTO Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard highlighted the critical importance of entering into force the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and successfully concluding the second wave of negotiations for additional provisions. DDG Ellard noted that the WTO Fish Fund is ready to support developing members and least-developed country members once the Agreement enters into force.

“The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, concluded at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2022, marks a key milestone in achieving this goal,” she said, noting that this historic deal prohibits the most harmful subsidies affecting the sustainability of global fisheries, namely those to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, those concerning overfished stocks, and those to fishing in the unregulated high seas.

DDG Paugam: WTO system can serve as insurance policy for green steel investors (WTO)

In a keynote speech at the 2024 World Steel Association Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Industrial Chain Collaborative Innovation Development Conference in Jiangyin City, China on 10 July, Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam emphasized the critical role of the WTO as an insurance policy for investment decisions in steel decarbonization. Highlighting the global imperative to shift to net zero, DDG Paugam called for innovative pathways and coordinated policies to secure a sustainable future for the steel industry.

“The steel sector has historically been the focus of many trade disputes due to its strategic importance and sector significant employment. Currently, green steel frictions risk exacerbating existing tensions related to overcapacity and trade defence. The first job of the WTO is to ease these tensions.”

Quick links

Examining Africa’s Digital Landscape (Tekedia)

WTO reform key to driving re-globalization (Hinrich Foundation)

Statement by Rabab Fatima at the HLPF Youth virtual side event “Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development: Voices from the LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS” (UN)

Launch of a new Global Partnership for the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils initiative (FAO)


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