A dedicated COVID-19 page has been added to this blog to provide Customs and Trade users a reference and insight into a variety of international and South African weblinks and documents concerning guidelines under COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly to include additional links and updates to any relevant document or website referenced. Please bookmark this page to be kept abreast of updates.
Maintaining trade flows during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial in providing access to essential food and medical items and in limiting negative impacts on jobs and poverty.
The speed and scale of the crisis are unprecedented. But governments can ameliorate the impact. The following documents, hyperlinked to this page provide initial guidance for policymakers on best practices to mitigate pandemic-related trade risks, support trade facilitation and logistics, and implement trade policy in a time of crisis.
Managing Risk and Facilitating Trade in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Maintaining trade flows as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial in providing access to essential food and medical items and in limiting negative impacts on jobs and poverty.
Some countries are closing border crossings and implementing protectionist measures such as restricting exports of critical medical supplies. Although these measures may in the short-term provide some immediate reduction in the spread of the disease, in the medium term they may undermine health protection, as countries lose access to essential products to fight the pandemic. Instead, governments should refrain from introducing new barriers to trade and consider removing import tariffs and other taxes at the border on critical medical equipment and products, including food, to support the health response.
Trade facilitation measures can contribute to the response to the crisis by expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The World Bank Group provides guidance and technical assistance to developing and least developed countries to implement best practices to facilitate the free flow of goods.
Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Policy in Response to COVID-19
Despite the initial inclination of policy makers to close borders, maintaining trade flows during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial. Trade in both goods and services will play a key role in overcoming the pandemic and limiting its impact in the following ways:
- by providing access to essential medical goods (including material inputs for their production) and services to help contain the pandemic and treat those affected,
- ensuring access to food throughout the world,
- providing farmers with necessary inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, equipment, veterinary products)for the next harvest,
- by supporting jobs and maintaining economic activity in the face of a global recession. Substantialdisruption to regional and global value chains will reduce employment and increase poverty.Trade policies will therefore be an essential instrument in the management of the crisis.
Trade policy reforms, such as tariff reductions, can contribute:
- to reducing the cost and improving the availability of COVID-19 goods and services,
- to reducing tax and administrative burdens on importers and exporters,
- to reducing the cost of food and other products heavily consumed by the poor and contributing to themacro-economic measures introduced to limit the negative economic and social impact of the COVID-19 related downturn,
- to supporting the eventual economic recovery and building resilience to future crises.
Governments with industries producing COVID-19 medical goods or food staples can further contribute by committing to refrain from limiting exports through bans or taxes. If export restrictions must be used, then they should be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary.Measures to streamline trade procedures and facilitate trade at borders can contribute to the response to the crisis by expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, and enabling exchange of services.
Reforms can be designed to reduce the need for close contact between traders, transporters and border officials so as to protect stakeholders and limit the spread of the virus, while maintaining essential assessments to ensure revenue, health and security. Interventions to sustain and enhance the efficiency of logistics operations may also be critical in avoiding substantial disruption to distribution networks and hence to regional and global value chains.
Trade in Critical COVID-19 Products
The covid-19 pandemic is increasingly a concern for developing countries. Using a new database on trade in covid-19 relevant products, this paper looks at the role of trade policy to address the looming health crisis in developing countries with highest numbers of recorded cases. It shows that export restrictions by leading producers could cause significant disruption in supplies and contribute to price increases. Tariffs and other restrictions to imports further impair the flow of critical products to developing countries.
Also view the Blog post – Viral protectionism in the time of coronavirus
Source: World Bank, 1April, 2020
Real growth in global trade has decelerated significantly since its sharp recovery in 2010. Year-on-year growth in global real trade decelerated from 13.3 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2010, to 9.9, 3.1, and 0.5 percent at the end of the first quarters of 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively, while picking back up to 3.9 percent in the year leading up to the fourth quarter of 2013. This aggregate deceleration in global trade includes absolute declines in real trade for many product categories and regions. In the wake of the Great Trade Collapse of 2008–9, understanding of the behavior of trade in slowdowns has improved. Among the many explanations offered for the Great Trade Collapse, including explanations related to uncertainty, trade financing, and new protectionist measures by governments, there has been a significant focus on whether the emergence of global value chains (GVCs) in international trade, and their behavior, are a contributing factor in trade slowdowns.
For detailed analysis of the apparel/footwear, electronics, and motor vehicles and related parts industries, download the World Bank report. Source: World Bank
South Africa has been ranked number 34 out of 160 countries in the World Bank’s 2014 Logistics Performance Index (LPI), which is topped by Germany, with Somalia ranked lowest. Africa’s largest economy remained the continent’s highest placed LPI participant, but South Africa’s position was well off its 2012 ranking of 23 and its position of 28 in 2010.
In February, the World Bank argued in a separate report on South Africa that the country’s high logistics costs and price distortions were an impediment to export competitiveness. That report noted, for instance, that South Africa’s port tariffs on containers were 360% above the global average in 2012, while on bulk commodities they were 19% to 43% below the global average. Similar commodity biases existed in the area of rail freight.
But the new report, titled ‘Connecting to Compete 2014: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy’, still clustered South Africa as an “over-performing non-high-income” economy along with Malaysia (25), China (28), Thailand (35), Vietnam (48) and India (54).
The report draws on data arising from a survey of more than 1 000 logistics professionals and bases its LPI rankings on a number of trade dimensions, such as customs performance, infrastructure quality, and timeliness of shipments. Besides China, South Arica also performed above its ‘Brics’ counterparts of Brazil (65),Russia (90) and India.
Germany was followed in the top 10 by other developed economies, namely Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Singapore,Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, the US and Japan. Among low-income countries, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda showed the highest performance.
The report warns that the gap between the countries that perform best and worst in trade logistics remains large, despite a slow convergence since 2007. The gap persists, the study asserts, because of the complexity of logistics-related reforms and investment in developing countries. This, despite strong recognition that poor supply-chain efficiency is the main barrier to trade integration.
However, senior transport economist and founder of the LPI project Jean-François Arvis stresses that a country cannot improve through developing infrastructure, while failing to address border management and other supply-chain issues.
Logistics performance is strongly associated with the reliability of supply chains and the predictability of service delivery for producers and exporters, the report notes, adding that supply chains are only as strong as their weakest links. They are also becoming more and more complex, often spanning many countries while remaining critical to national competitiveness.
“It’s difficult to get everything right. The projects are more complicated, with many stakeholders, and there is no more low-hanging fruit,” Arvis argues.
The report also finds that low-income, middle-income and high-income countries will also need to adopt different strategies to improve their standings in logistics performance. “Comprehensive reforms and long-term commitments from policymakers and private stakeholders will be essential. Here, the LPI provides a unique reference to better understand key trade logistics impediments worldwide.” Source: Engineering News
- Logistics Performance Index (LPI) Report: The Gap Persists (worldbank.org)
The report, South Africa Economic Update 5: Focus on Export Competitiveness, examines the performance of South Africa’s export firms against that of peers in other emerging markets— and analyzes the challenges. It assesses South Africa’s economic prospects in the context of the global economic environment and prospects.
With this Economic Update, we hope to enrich the on-going debate on growing a sector critical for South Africa’s economic growth. As with previous editions, this report is intended not to be prescriptive but to offer evidence-based analysis that will help bring South Africa’s policymakers, researchers, and export stakeholders closer to finding innovative and sustainable ways to grow the sector. The report highlights opportunities for growth, particularly with Sub-Saharan Africa being the largest market for non-mineral exports. It also explores strategic directions that can ignite export growth and help South Africa realize its goals of creating jobs and reducing poverty and inequality.
The report identifies three areas that present opportunities to promote the competitiveness and spur the growth in South Africa’s export sector:
- Boosting domestic competition would increase efficiency and productivity. By opening local markets to domestic and foreign entry, South Africa would enable new, more productive firms to enter and place downward pressure on high markups. This would lower input costs and tip incentives in favor of exporting by reducing excess returns in domestic markets. Competition would also stimulate investment in innovation and, over time, condition the market to ensure that firms entering competitive global markets have reached the productivity threshold to support their survival and growth.
- Alleviating infrastructure bottlenecks, especially in power, and removing distortions in access to and pricing of trade logistics in rail, port, and information and communication technologies would reduce overall domestic prices and further enhance competitiveness. It would be especially beneficial for small and medium-size exporters and non-traditional export sectors, which these costs tend to hit harder.
- Promoting deeper regional integration in goods and services within Africa would generate the right conditions for the emergence of Factory Southern Africa, a regional value chain that could feed into global production networks. South Africa could play a central role in such a chain, leveraging the scale of the regional market, exploiting sources of comparative advantage across Africa to reduce production costs, and providing other countries in the region a platform for reaching global markets. Progress on all three fronts would help catapult South Africa toward faster-growing exports, allowing it to realize the higher, more inclusive, job-intensive growth articulated in the National Development Plan.
Source: World Bank
The folk at Tralac have provided some welcomed insight to the challenges and the pains in regard to ‘regionalisation’. No doubt readers in Member States will be familiar with these issues but powerless within themselves to do anything due to conflict with national imperatives or agendas. Much of this is obvious, especially the ‘buzzwords’ – globally networked customs, one stop border post, single window, cloud computing, and the plethora of WCO standards, guidelines and principles – yet, the devil always lies in the details. While the academics have walked-the-talk, it remains to be seen if the continent’s governments have the commitment to talk-the-walk!
Regional integration is a key element of the African strategy to deal with problems of underdevelopment, small markets, a fragmented continent and the absence of economies of scale. The agreements concluded to anchor such inter-state arrangements cover mainly trade in goods; meaning that trade administration focuses primarily on the physical movement of merchandise across borders. The services aspects of cross-border trade are neglected. And there are specific local needs such as the wide-spread extent of informal trading across borders.
This state of affairs calls for specific governance and policy reforms. Effective border procedures and the identification of non-tariff barriers will bring major cost benefits and unlock huge opportunities for cross-border trade in Africa. The costs of trading remain high, which prevents potential exporters from competing in global and regional markets. The cross-border production networks which are a salient feature of development in especially East Asia have yet to materialise in Africa.
Policy makers have started paying more attention to trade-discouraging non-tariff barriers, but why does the overall picture still show little progress? The 2012 World Bank publication De-Fragmenting Africa – Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services shows that one aspect needs to be singled out in particular: that trade facilitation measures have become a key instrument to create a better trading environment.
The main messages of this WB study are:
- Effective regional integration is more than simply removing tariffs – it is about addressing on-the-ground constraints that paralyze the daily operations of ordinary producers and traders.
- This calls for regulatory reform and, equally important, for capacity building among the institutions that are charged with enforcing the regulations.
- The integration agenda must cover services as well as goods……services are critical, job-creating inputs into the competitive edge of almost all other activities.
- Simultaneous action is required at both the supra-national and national levels. Regional communities can provide the framework for reform, for example, by bringing together regulators to define harmonised standards or to agree on mutual recognition of the qualification of professionals……. but responsibility for implementation lies with each member country.
African governments are still reluctant to implement the reforms needed to address these issues. They are sensitive about loss of ‘sovereign policy space’ and are not keen to establish supra-national institutions. They are also opposed to relaxing immigration controls. The result is that border control functions have been exercised along traditional lines and not with sufficient emphasis on trade facilitation benefits. This is changing but specific technical and governance issues remain unresolved, despite the fact that the improved border management entails various technical aspects which are not politically sensitive.
The required reforms involve domestic as well as regional dimensions. Regional integration is a continental priority but implementation is compounded by legal and institutional uncertainties and burdens caused by overlapping membership of Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The monitoring of compliance remains a specific challenge. Continue reading →
Improving customs efficiency can boost trade volumes and reduce the cost of doing business in the region, the Doing Business in the East Africa Community 2013 survey (Click hyperlink to view the report) has indicated.
The study conducted by World Bank (WB) and the International Finance Corporation showed that a one day reduction in inland travel times could lead to a 7 per cent increase in exports. The report also noted that easing access to finance, improving infrastructure and empowering the private sector are key in the region’s integration process.
“Transport efficiency and a favourable business environment have a greater marginal effect on exports as they boss access to foreign markets, especially in low income economies,” it indicated. “Improving logistical performance and facilitating trade may have a larger effect on regional trade, especially on exports, than tariff reduction.”
Also, economies with efficient business registration, fair tax policies and efficient transport have a higher entry rate of new firms and greater business density, meaning that they are essential to ensure strong firm productivity and macro-economic performance.
According to the report, lowering costs for business registration improves formal job opportunities as more new firms hire skilled workers. “This strengthens other sectors, including the education sector and legal systems,” said Chantal Umuraza, the director of Chamber of Industries. “Economies that rank high on the ease of doing business tend to combine efficient regulatory processes with strong legal institutions that protect property and investor rights,” she added.
According to the report, financial market infrastructure, including courts, creditor and insolvency laws, as well as credit and collateral registries, improves access to credit and boosts trade. It also noted that entrepreneurs in EAC face weak legal institutions and complex regulatory processes compared with global averages and those of the developed economies.
Despite instituting some reforms, the survey found that East African Community businesses still faced huge obstacles, while economies in other regions had improved business regulations. “As a result, EAC member states’ rating in this area has stagnated at around 117 over the past four years,” the report showed. According to the report, it requires only eight procedures and 20 days on average to start a business in the East African region.
EAC economies accounted for two of the 11 regulatory reforms implemented in sub-Saharan Africa to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, the survey said. Rwanda still has the most efficient process in the EAC to start a business and 8th globally out of 185 countries surveyed. It is followed by Burundi at 28th position, Tanzania at 113, Kenya at 126 and Uganda trails at 144.
In general, 3 of 5 EAC economies rank well below the regional average in all areas measured by the survey. Burundi eliminated four requirements to have company documents notarised, to register the new company with the commercial court and the department of taxation. As a result, it moved up 80 places in the global ranking on the ease of starting a business, from 108 to 28.
On the whole, the report indicated, the region’ fares better than other regional trading blocs on the continent on the ease of starting a business. It was ranked 84th, way above 104th position for the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is at 110th position while the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) ranks 127th. Source: AllAfrica.com
The World Bank Group committed a record US$14,7 billion in the 2013 fiscal year to support economic growth and better development prospects in Africa despite uncertain economic conditions in the rest of the global economy.
“The continent has shown remarkable resilience in the face of a global recession and continues to grow strongly,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “Africa is at the centre of the World Bank Group 2030 goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, in an environmentally, socially, and fiscally sustainable manner.”
The World Bank approved US$8,25 billion in new lending for nearly 100 projects for the 2013 fiscal year. These commitments include a record US$8,2 billion in zero-interest credits and grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. This is the highest level of new IDA commitments by any region in the Bank’s history.
International Finance Corporation’s (division of the World Bank) total commitment volume in Sub-Saharan Africa, including mobilisation, grew to a record US$5,3 billion, 34% more than the year before. Similarly, IFC’s spending on Advisory Services programmes in the region increased to more than US$65 million, about 30% of IFC’s total. Supporting developmentally beneficial foreign direct investment into Sub-Saharan Africa is a priority for the bank in 2013.
According to the WEF, competitiveness reflects the level of productivity of a country, based on its institutions, policies and economic factors. In its study, the WEF groups the 144 countries it surveys into one of three economic categories. “Factor-driven” economies are the least developed and rely on low-skilled labor and natural resources. More developed countries are considered “efficiency-driven” economies because they turn to improving output. The most developed economies, which focus on improving technology and new product and idea development, are considered “innovative.”
To create the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) score for each country, the WEF ranked more than 100 economic indicators divided into 12 broad categories, referred to as pillars, that quantify the extent to which a country is competitive. The economic indicators and pillars were then scored 1 to 7. To rank the countries, some economic measures were weighted more heavily than others, depending on how the economy was categorized.
Based on WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks 144 countries that make up almost 99% of the world’s GDP, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the economies with the highest and lowest Global Competitiveness Index scores. Data from the World Bank and the World Health Organization were used to provide additional information on some economies.
For a summary of the results, read – The World’s Best (and Worst) Economies – 24/7 Wall St.
For the full report, a PDF download (<500 pages) is available from: World Economic Forum
For a view on the impact for South Africa, read – Global South Africans
The word ‘reform’ is a constant in the daily life of a customs officer. No customs administration among the 177 members of the World Customs Organization has not had a reform program in progress or planned. This is ultimately quite normal.A new World Bank publication “Reform by Numbers” will no doubt appeal to customs and tax reform experts and change agents.
It was written in the context of new and innovative policies for customs and tax administration reform. Eight chapters describe how measurement and various quantification techniques may be used to fight against corruption, improve cross-border celerity, boost revenue collection, and optimize the use of public resources. More than presenting ‘best practices’ and due to the association of academics and practitioners, the case studies explore the conditions under which measurement has been introduced and the effects on the administrative structure, and its relations with the political authority and the users. By analyzing the introduction of measurement to counter corruption and improve revenue collection in Cameroon, two chapters describe to which extent the professional culture has changed and what effects have been noted or not on the public accountability of fiscal administrations. Two other chapters present experiments of uses of quantification to develop risk analysis in Cameroon and Senegal.
By using mirror analysis on the one hand and data mining on the other hand, these two examples highlight the importance of automated customs clearance systems which collect daily extensive data on users, commodities flows and officials. One chapter develops the idea of measuring smuggling to improve the use of human and material resources in Algeria and nurture the questioning on the adaptation of a legal framework to the social context of populations living near borders. Finally, two examples of measurement policies, in France and in South Korea, enlighten the diversity of measurement, the specificities of developing countries and the convergences between developing and developed countries on common stakes such as trade facilitation and better use of public funds.
The “gaming effect” is well known in literature about performance measurement and contracts performance, because there is a risk of reduced performance where targets do not apply, which is detrimental to the overall reform. It is crucial to keep in mind that, by themselves, indicators “provide an incomplete and inaccurate picture” and therefore cannot wholly capture the reality on the ground. Measurement indicators must be carefully chosen to ensure that knowledge is being uncovered.
Measurement, for purposes of reform, should not be “copied and pasted” from one country to another. Due consideration must be given to the varying aims of the customs service and the specific political, social, economic, and administrative conditions in the country.
Measurement applied to experimentation is also about how donors, experts, and national administrations work together. On the one hand, national administrations in developing countries ask for technical assistance, standards, and expertise that are based on experiences of developing countries and use experts from such countries.These requests encourage the dissemination of such models. On the other hand, reforms of customs or tax administrations are represented as semi-failures in terms of the initial expected outcomes set by donors and politicians – usually the end of a reform is the time when donors and local administrations become aware of the gaps of their own representations of success.
While scientific and academic in approach, lets hope it means more than just miserable experimentation in target countries.
The acceptance of private sector participation in ports in Africa is gaining traction, and not before time. At least that’s what a meeting of port minds in Nigeria would have us believe. The Port Management Association of West and Central Africa at its 35th Council Meeting and 11th Round Table Conference held recently in Lagos, Nigeria, came out firmly in favour of increased private sector participation in ports as a means of achieving cost efficiency improvements.
The Council meeting, held under the theme ‘Impact of Port Concession on the Socio-Economic Development of Our Countries’ ended with the resolution that, “member countries should put in place robust legal frameworks that will sustain the growth of Public Private Partnerships in port management systems”. Words that are encouraging to hear and that generally reflect a much changed position from a decade ago when there was still a strong belief in the public versus private system of port operation.
Successful privatisation programmes such as the major one that has been implemented in Nigeria have, however, brought some insight into what the private sector can do better than the public sector and hence a changed perception, although the learning curve is by no means over in this respect. What would also help facilitate this however is improved process to the goal – what can perhaps be termed Step 2. In particular, concession processes that are not weighed exclusively by cash received considerations but place greater emphasis on technical considerations in the broadest sense of the word.
A better balance between the two elements can lead to the selection of a more appropriate long term strategic partner and potentially to all-round greater economic benefit. The trouble is of course that such systems are not high on the agenda of African nations where cash considerations are usually to the fore especially in today’s troubled economic times. A system of this ilk is more likely to be found deployed in a mature economy than an emerging one. It remains a laudable goal, however, as a longer term objective and as part of efforts by the IMF, World Bank and aid agencies to develop Africa’s infrastructure, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Source: Port Strategy
The Southern African Trade Hub (SATH) presented the National Single Window (NSW) concept as one of the most effective tools in trade facilitation to the Ministry of Trade, Malawi Revenue Authority and other public and private sector organizations in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively during May 2012. The presentation highlighted the great benefits accruing to countries that have implemented the NSW. A case study of Thailand was discussed, indicating how Thailand was ranking position 108 in the Trading Across Border Index by the World Bank in 2007 and remarkably improved to position 10 in 2009 after implementing their NSW. Malawi is currently ranked at 164 out of the 183 countries assessed.
A single window is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents through a single entry point to fulfill import, export and transit regulatory requirements. The benefits accruing to the NSW include substantial decrease in clearance time, substantial increase in government revenues, clear identification of roles and responsibilities in the clearance process and accurate, consistent and real time statistics. The presentation also highlighted that while there are different models of implementing the single window, the public-private partnership (PPP) model achieved results in a short period of time and was implemented efficiently due to the technical expertise and efficient processes brought in by the private sector. It was also emphasized that it was critical to have all stakeholders’ buy-in for the successful implementation of the NSW.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and other stakeholders agreed in principle to establish a NSW using the PPP but a cabinet memo to secure formal approval of NSW will only be prepared after SATH has facilitated a more technical and practical presentation by one of the countries already using this tool. Source: SA Trade Hub
While on the theme of African economic and trade emancipation, it is interesting to consider the detailed analysis and evaluation occurring in regard to African continental readiness for information and communication technologies. One such study is the Transformation Ready or eTransform Africa programme, a joint programme of the African Development Bank and the World Bank, in partnership with the African Union. Bear in mind that the WCO and African Development Bank recently signed a cooperation agreement to enhance the capacity of Customs administrations in Africa.
The study (Click Here!) is a series of case studies of certain countries. The aim of the programme as a whole, as set out in the terms of reference, is to:
- Take stock of emerging uses of ICT across sectors and of good practices in Africa and in other continents, including how ICTs are changing business models in strategic sectors.
- Identify key ICT applications that have had significant impact in Africa or elsewhere and that have the potential of being scaled up, both from the public and private sectors.
- Identify binding constraints that impact ICT adoption and scaling-up of effective models, such as the need to develop a regional culture of cyber security, and measures to address these constraints, including in relation to the role of different actors and stakeholders (private, public, development community, civil society, etc).
- Commission a series of country case studies, to formulate a guide for rolling out and scaling up key applications in Africa, in each of the focus sectors, and thereby to identify opportunities for public/private partnership, as well as identifying areas where intervention can be reduced or eliminated.
- Develop a common framework for providing support in ICT for development to countries that brings together the operations of the two Bank Groups and their respective departments.
The terms of reference for individual sectors were as follows:
Within each sector, identify specific opportunities and challenges in Africa that can possibly be addressed with an increased or better use of ICT. Constraints that are hindering ICT uptake and scale-up will be examined within the context of each sector/industry, including human capacity in IT skills and sustainable business models such as for public private partnerships (PPP). Further, the appropriate role of governments in the provision of priority ICT applications and services will be examined in order to maximize private sector development;
Undertake a quick scan of ICT applications in the different sectors and identify a few applications that have had significant impact in Africa or elsewhere and that have the potential of being scaled up. The scan should refer to a matrix of selection criteria on which to select case study countries that are considered ripe for the creation of public/private partnerships. On this basis, specific country case studies will be chosen – two to three per sector — on a representative basis, for deep dive analysis. The selection of case studies should be made in consultation with the partners and the other consultants. A workshop should be organized by the coordinator firm at an early stage in the project to finalise this selection.
Analyze and understand the barriers to the greater adoption and mainstreaming of ICTs. Barriers may include, for instance, low purchasing power, illiteracy, infrastructure constraints, lack of regulation, poorly functioning mobile ecosystem, power shortages, political instability etc. Identify cases/examples on how these have been dealt with;
Analyze and understand the enabling factors of success, including political economy, policy, institutional, human, financial and operational factors;
Consider the option of developing multi-country programs or special facilities that would allow fast-tracking specific programs across countries;
Provide guidelines on designing appropriate and sustainable ICT components for sector projects (including building effective public and private partnerships) and on evaluating the impact of these interventions; and
Propose a course of action on how to include ICT in policy dialogue and planning with country counterparts on sectoral development goals and priorities. Experiences and best practices from other regions will be drawn upon to define the role of the public sector, bearing in mind that government is increasingly positioned as a lead user of ICTs as well as a regulator of the sector.
The following article provides a disturbing – some would call it conspiracy theory – on what lies in store for the continent of Africa. Perhaps the colonial days will be viewed as mild should some of the suggested schemes materialise.
- UN to Control World’s Information and Communications From Internet Hub in Africa (Axisoflogic.com)
- African Bank and WCO create partnership to strengthen customs administrations (mpoverello.com)
- Border Posts, Checkpoints and Intra-African Trade (mpoverello.com)
- Enhancing South Africa’s and Africa’s development through Regional and Continental Integration (mpoverello.com)
East Asian economies have recorded marked improvements in their ability to enable trade, while traditional frontrunners Singapore and Hong Kong retain a clear lead at the top of the global rankings, according to the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012, released today by the World Economic Forum.
The report, which is published every two years, also confirms strong showings for Europe’s major economies, with Finland and the United Kingdom both advancing six places to 6th and 11th, respectively, and Germany and France remaining stable at 13th and 20. Other large economies fare less well: the US continues its decline to 23rd, as does China (56th) and India (100th). Among emerging economies, Turkey (62nd) and Mexico (65th) remain stable while Chile (14th), Saudi Arabia (27th) and South Africa (63rd) climb in the ranking. ASEAN members Thailand (57th), Indonesia (58th) and the Philippines (72nd) also improve. Perhaps the proponents of OSBPs and a BMA in South Africa have not read this or have deeper insight into the matter.
As well as ranking nations’ trade openness, the report finds that traditional notions of trade are increasingly outdated as global value chains require new measurements, policies and cooperation. The report also finds that security, quality and trade can be mutually reinforcing through supply chain integrity efforts, but a knowledge gap in identifying buyers remains an important barrier. The biennial report, covering 132 economies worldwide, measures the abilities of economies to enable trade and highlights areas where improvements are most needed. A widely used reference, it helps countries integrate global value chains and companies with their investment decisions.
At the core of the report is the Enabling Trade Index, which measures institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to destination. It breaks the enablers into four issue areas: market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure, and business environment. The Index uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, as well as the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with its network of partner research institutes and business organizations in the countries included in the report. The 2012 results demonstrate that the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement has facilitated trade since its entry into force in 2010. This year, the report also directly captures the most important obstacles to exporting and importing in each country, and notes the strong links between import and export success. Source: AllAfrica.com / WEF
You may recall earlier this year the African Development Bank and the WCO agreed to a partnership to advance the economic development of African countries by assisting Customs administrations in their reform and modernization efforts.
The AfDB’s regional infrastructure financing and the WCO’s technical Customs expertise will complement each other and improve the efficiency of our efforts to facilitate trade which includes collaboration in identifying, developing and implementing Customs capacity building initiatives by observing internationally agreed best practice and supporting Customs cooperation and regional integration in Africa.
In addition, the partnership will seek to promote a knowledge partnership, including research and knowledge sharing in areas of common interest, as well as close institutional dialogue to ensure a coherent approach and to identify comparative advantages as well as complementarities between the WCO and AfDB. Customs professionals, trans-national transporters and trade practitioners will find the featured article of some interest. It provides a synopsis of the key inhibitors for trade on the continent, and will hopefully mobilise “African expertise” in the provision of solutions and capacity building initiatives.
- WCO/SACU – IT Connectivity and Data Exchange (mpoverello.com)
- African Bank and WCO create partnership to strengthen customs administrations (mpoverello.com)