Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

May 2017
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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Trade volume among member states of the East African Community (EAC) has declined during the past one year, with officials attributing the fall to existing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, said however that the decline was due to reduced trade in some products, such as food crops, mainly rice, but official figures fall short of specific reasons for the slump in trade."Trade has been growing over the past years save for 'just' last year ... the removal of non-tariff barriers is among issues to be resolved," he explained.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have been established in a bid to garner all opportunities on the ground and boost trade and investment across Africa. Yet, intra-trade among African countries is valued at 12 per cent. This figure, however, remains dwarf as compared with other continents, such as North America and Western Europe which stands at 40 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) President Solomon Afework told The Ethiopian Herald that regional trade integration has long been a strategic objective for Africa.

A Short Messaging Service has been launched for reporting trade barriers in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), according to The Herald. This supplements the existing web-based reporting system. The Tripartite system for reporting, processing, monitoring and resolving non-tariff barriers (NTBs) is available on www.tradebarriers.org and went live in November 2010. The SMS tool was first launched in 2013 in Zambia to facilitate a diverse spectrum of economic operators, especially the informal and small scale traders who may not have access to the internet.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The ministry of Trade together with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) are in advanced stages of developing a strategy to improve trade across borders. The proposed strategy lays out planned interventions and priorities that will eliminate some of the challenges faced by women and informal traders. Addressing the participants during a stakeholders' meeting to review the strategy held in Kampala last week, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said government is going to coordinate different stakeholders in different ministries charged with trade facilitation. "The strategy has also been developed and approved and we are now going to present to Cabinet. We are giving it less than a month. We are also going to ensure that they work on infrastructure and also approve the National Export Development Strategy which comprises all these projects," she said.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

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 New Partnership for Africa’s Development is hoping to play a dominant role in strengthening ties between African countries that would boost traditionally low levels of intra-African trade by focusing on trade corridors, or transit cross-border road networks. NEPAD, as the agency is more commonly known, plans to achieve its goals by tackling logistical transport concerns such as issues of tariff setting, duties and regulations, and harmonization through their Move Africa initiative, which launched in 2016. NEPAD, the technical body of the African Union, works specifically with regional economic communities in Africa to select projects and programs to support.

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 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.

Wednesday, 03 May 2017

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with regional trade facilitator TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to improve cross border trade and enhance trade links between the country and East Africa Community (EAC) member states. The government of the Netherlands has committed $6.7 million to kick-start the projects. TMEA will invest in projects involving already available resources such as water transport, simplifying trade processes through training and facilitating adoption of ICT around Eastern DRC. They will comprise dredging and rehabilitation of Kalundu Port on Lake Tanganyika; capacity building and implementation of Integrated Border Management Systems on the border crossings in Rusizi between Rwanda and Bukavu; rehalibitation of the Ports of Kasenyi on the DRC side and Ntoroko in Uganda; as well as infrastructure work at the border crossing at Goli, Uganda and Mahagi, DRC.

For the fourth consecutive year since 2013, East Africa remained the fastest growing sub-region in 2016 on the back of agricultural growth, an emergent manufacturing sector, improved public spending on infrastructure and resilient household consumption, among others. This is according to the 2017 Economic Report on Africa (ERA2017) recently launched in Dakar, Senegal. The report examines how to harness the opportunities from rapid urbanisation to speed industrialisation and accelerate structural transformation. It also identifies and analyses the drivers, enablers and policy levers for strengthening linkages between industrialisation and urbanisation.

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