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EDITO
Sunday, 22 October 2017

The year started off on a negative note for the South African economy. In the midst of discomfort over the weak currency, the rand, foreign investors may also worry about the country’s new policy direction on investment protection. President Jacob Zuma signed the new Protection of Investment Act (PIA) into law in 2015. The new Act replaces bilateral investment treaties, which offered investors from specific countries greater protection than local investors and other foreign investors. South Africa is the first African country to terminate its bilateral treaties.

In Egypt more than 1,500 public and private business delegates and state leaders agreed on 20-21 February to mobilise massive investments for the implementation of Africa’s largest trading bloc which was created last year by 26 African countries with a total of 620 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nearing 1,2 trillion dollars. The agreement crowned the “Africa 2016” investment forum held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort Sharm El Sheikh with the participation of business leaders together with government officials and heads of international organisations to discuss trade and investment as engines of progress. African heads of state and government from Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Sudan and Togo took part in the forum. No official figures relating to the amount of these investments have been released.

Resource-rich Papua New Guinea (PNG) is seen as an economic powerhouse in the Pacific Islands with a state-led focus on resource extraction initially expected to drive one of the world’s highest growth rates of 15 per cent last year. But in the wake of falling commodity prices, GDP growth has plummeted from 8.5 per cent in 2014 to a forecasted 3 per cent this year. As the government faces a growing deficit between revenue and expenditure, exacerbated by high public debt, experts in the country believe greater efforts to diversify the economy are essential.

On January 27, 2016, a consortium of knowledge institutes composed of the African Studies Centre Leiden, LEI Wageningen University and Research Centre, and the European Center for Development Policy Management organized a scoping conference on the theme of regional trade and investment in West Africa. The consortium has recently started a scoping study, titled “Improving the perspective for regional trade and investment in West Africa: the key to food security, economic development and stability in the region?”. The study is commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and funded by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP).

Urbanisation, mobility, infrastructure, natural resources, telecommunications investments and inter-regional trade are just a few of the untapped opportunities making Africa the last growth frontier. The continent is set to become the second fastest growing region by 2025, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $4.5 trillion. In a new video, Mega Trends in Africa, Frost & Sullivan experts and C-level executives note that Africa is the only continent that has the potential to achieve double digit economic growth within the next decade.

Africa is eating more rice than other food staples, though it produces less than it needs. This is good news for the cereal’s potential to help Sub Saharan Africa out of poverty according to researchers. Rice is the second most important source of calories in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), a research organisation working to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security. Thanks to fast urbanising Africa, consumption of rice is growing by six per cent annually. “Rice is important for Africa food security and the reasons are clear,” AfricaRice Center, Deputy Director General, Marco Wopereis, told IPS, adding that “consumers like it and the consumption growth is just mind boggling as a result of population and change of preference as people in cities want food that can be prepared quickly and stored easily and rice is just perfect for that.”

Egyptian investors are seeking further inlets into the markets of neighbouring African countries under the parameters established by the framework of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). To this end, Plenipotentiary Trade Minister of the Egyptian Commercial Services (ECS) Ali Al- Leithy said that Egypt will inaugurate new representational offices in five African countries in 2016 to better promote its national products in African markets, especially COMESA member states.

For the first time since the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) began keeping records, the Caribbean outperformed every major tourism region in the world in setting new arrival and spend records in 2015, while exceeding expectations. International tourist trips to the region grew by seven per cent to 28.7 million visits, much higher than the projected four to five per cent growth. Visitors spent an estimated US$30 billion, a 4.2 per cent rise over the US$28.8 billion spent in 2014.

Monday, 07 March 2016

The Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel with support from USAID, conducted the survey and reported that one of the major obstacles to development of intraregional trade in agricultural and food products in West Africa is the multiplicity of checkpoints. “These are the natural forms of administrative barriers and costs of all kinds (official taxes, fees, contributions, illegal payments etc.). These checkpoints cause delays in getting products to consumer markets, and different types of illegal payments increase the cost-price of commodities to the final consumer,” the study revealed.

Timor-Leste (East Timor) offers tax advantages and other incentives to those who want to invest in the country and is working to overcome the shortcomings that still exist in terms of legislation, the country’s Trade Minister said Thursday in Dili. Constancio Pinto, who is also the Industry and Environment Minister, was presenting the 2nd meeting of trade ministers and of the 1st Economic Forum of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), taking place next week in Dili. “Timor-Leste is located in what is an economically very active region and can be the gateway or bridge between the countries of the CPLP and Asia-Pacific,” he said, cited by Portuguese news agency Lusa.