Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

March 2018
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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Operationalizing the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Customs Union, which will result in the removal of barriers to free trade in the region, is being strengthened through a series of regional capacity building consultations being undertaken by the OECS Commission. These sessions will provide a clearer understanding of the new era in domestic, regional and international trade for the seven OECS Protocol Member States, which would include the removal of import formalities on goods traded within the Customs Union and the harmonization of border and regulatory procedures with respect to goods imported from countries outside of the region. To date, the Commission has held consultations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis on the work undertaken to establish the Customs Union and Free Circulation of Goods.

The African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of ministers began a meeting here yesterday with a call on the 79-member grouping to meet their financial obligations so as to allow their group to better survive a changing global environment.The Guyanese ACP Secretary General Dr Patrick I Gomes, addressing the 105th Council Session, said that a prerequisite to the continued well-being of the ACP Group in general, and the Secretariat in particular is to better serve all our stakeholders. “I would therefore like to appeal to member states to continue your efforts towards the timely payment of statutory obligations in order to improve our self-reliance and the smooth functioning of the secretariat

The European Commission (EU), confirmed that the EU-Africa Business Forum held a consultation with African business leaders. The EU announced its €4.1 billion External Investment Plan (EIP) ahead of the 2017 Africa-EU Heads of State Summit, at a Dialogue co-hosted by Africa investor (Ai) in Durban, South Africa on 3 May 2017.The EIP was announced for the first time in Africa and will exist to encourage investment in Africa and to strengthen partnerships that contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The facility is expected to leverage more than €44 billion of investments between now and 2020 and it will also facilitate blended finance instruments that catalyse EU and African private sector development.

Monday, 08 May 2017

Namibian President Hage Geingob over the weekend implored African governments and the private sector to aggressively champion industrialisation in their economies and curb over-reliance on raw commodity exports. Geingob, who was on a three-day state visit to Zimbabwe, spoke at the official opening of the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, where he noted that the challenges facing the African continent and rising youth unemployment could only be addressed by harnessing regional linkages and pursuing a robust regional industrialisation agenda anchored on value addition and beneficiation. He bemoaned low intra-regional trade and reliance on imports from developed economies, which he blamed for the continued use of economic models that serve colonial interests.

The European Union (EU) is concerned about South Africa’s ability to deal with exposure to prohibited medicines and growth hormones with regard to its poultry and other commodities. Briefing the portfolio committee on trade and industry at Parliament on Tuesday, Dessislava Choumelova, EU counsellor for trade and economics, said there are serious concerns about South Africa’s ability to conduct strict sanitary controls. According to Fin24, the understaffing at state veterinarians and “problems” at South Africa’s laboratories were cited in residue and public health audits conducted in February this year as reasons for health and safety concerns. “We (the EU) need to be convinced and sure of South Africa’s ability to deal with exposure to prohibited medicine and growth hormones,” Ms Choumelova said, “not only for poultry but for all commodities.”

For too long, neoliberal ideas have dominated issues in development economics, and it is easy to see why. When richer countries put their success down to increased trade openness and capital mobility, it is understandable that developing countries would want a taste too. The most famous argument for this line of thinking is that as countries move goods more easily between each other, it encourages the flow of ideas and innovation. The question of how regional trade can promote development in Nigeria is an important one. Over time, regional trade blocs have cropped up across Africa – a response to the argument that Africa's underdevelopment is due to low intraregional trade.

Peter Sotamaruti’s 2-acre farm near Bungoma, a village in western Kenya, is minuscule by the standards of the developed world. But it’s double the acreage he tended five years ago. Sales of surplus corn have allowed the 49-year-old farmer and his family to trade up from a mud hut to a three-room brick house with solar-powered lights. His modest profits also cover school fees for his four high school-age children and pay for health insurance, a luxury among farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. “We now treat our farm as a business,” says Sotamaruti, who plans to expand to 4 acres in the next year.

Vegetable seed specialist Hazera has announced that it has opted to support agricultural development in Africa, providing high quality seeds and expertise to support people improving their living conditions. Hazera utlined several examples of where it has made a difference on the continetn. In Ethiopia, a development project that began with the adoption of one village is expanding now to 13 additional villages, while another project is supported in Holeta, where the Roseland foundation is developing the community through education and agriculture. More broadly, Hazera is training farmers all over Africa and is introducing vegetable varieties that can bring African farms to healthy profit.

Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector has entered a new stage of development thanks to the care and attention President Ilham Aliyev pays to the development of the non-oil sector, said Heydar Asadov, the Agriculture Minister. The minister made the remark while addressing the first Turkey-Africa Business Forum in Antalya, Turkey on February 28. Asadov was invited as an honorary guest by Turkey’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Faruk Celik. Asadov went on to say that thanks to the successful reforms carried out in the agro sector Azerbaijan has managed to completely ensure domestic demand in some strategic goods through local production, decrease its dependence on the foreign countries in the food security and develop its regions through increasing the volume of production of export-oriented goods.

The Agriculture Export Council (AEC) is working on the preparation of marketing and consumer studies for the African markets and is expected to finish them in May. The AEC also intends to raise exports of the sector to $2.26bn in 2017, up from $2.146bn in 2016, with an expected growth of 5%. Head of the AEC, Abdel Hamid Demerdash, said that the African market is important and promising for the future of Egyptian crops, where there are many potential large markets. He added that the studies are based on exploiting the joint trade agreements between Egypt and the rest of the African countries, which will contribute to entering these markets with the help of intact economic trade plans.