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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Africa's Trade

September 14, 2020  India/Africa: Common Threads of Kanga and Vitenge
    The new book Common Threads (along with an accompanying video, both open access), explores the ties that bind India and Africa through the material medium of cloth, from antiquity to the present. Cloth made in India has been sold across African markets for millennia, by Indian, African, and European traders. ... Most significantly, it highlights the role of African consumers in defining the evolution of these genres of fabric, and the centrality of people-to-people connections in sustaining the continued cosmopolitanism of these transoceanic connectivities.

July 6, 2020  Africa/Global: Not Pessimism or Optimism but Possibilism
    “The evidence—gathered both from our own long experience of working with African governments and from the work of others—is that there are in fact cadres of thoughtful, public-spirited policy officials and even politicians; and furthermore that there is ample demand from wage workers and the intelligentsia for industrial policies rooted in evidence rather than abstruse economic theory.” - Christopher Cramer, John Sender, and Arkebe Oqubay

December 9, 2019  Africa: Continental Unity and Industrialization?
    “If it unfolds appropriately, the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) could facilitate the emergence of regional value chains that allow the continent as a whole to move to a higher level of value-added production. These would arise if its preferences facilitate the emergence of higher value-added productive activities in a number of countries producing components for an increasing range of “products of the African continent” supplied to consumers on the continent, as well as eventually also exported. ... This would of course depend not just on a tariff regime but on programmes addressing the other barriers identified in the development integration paradigm – inadequate infrastructure and more effective cooperation to promote industrial development.” – Rob Davies, former South African Minister of Trade and Industry, 2009-2019

June 1, 2014  South Africa: Disappearing Diamond Revenue
    "In 2011, South Africa produced diamonds whose uncut, or rough, value was $1.73 billion, or 12 percent of global production, according to the most recent government data available. Yet from 2010 to 2011, diamond-producing companies paid South Africa's government just $11 million in mining royalties, according to the latest Tax Statistics report, produced by the South African Treasury and the South African Revenue Service." - Khadija Sharife

May 26, 2014  Africa: Fraudulent Trade & Tax Evasion
    "The fraudulent misinvoicing of trade is hampering economic growth and potentially resulting in billions of U.S. dollars in lost tax revenue in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, according to a new report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC- based research and advocacy organization. The study -- funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark -- finds that the over- and under-invoicing of trade transactions facilitated at least US$60.8 billion in illicit financial flows into or out of the five African countries between 2002 and 2011."

Apr 2, 2013  Africa: The Industrialization Agenda
    It seems to be the season for economic reports and meetings, with the IMF issuing a critique of subsidies for fossil fuels, the UNDP's Human Development Report focusing on the "Rise of the South," the BRICS summit in South Africa, meetings of the Pan African Parliament and civil society on "Structural Transformation," and more. That's far too much to even provide links for in one AfricaFocus Bulletin, so I'm beginning a series today with a policy paper from the Economic Commission for Africa on the critical importance of new industrialization strategies.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: Trade Profile
    "In 2008, U.S. imports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were $66.3 billion, 29.8 percent more than in 2007. ... Petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports, with a 92.3 percent share of overall AGOA imports. ... The top five AGOA beneficiary countries in 2008 were Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Chad and the Republic of Congo." - U.S. International Trade Administration, July 2009.

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 3
    "The welfare of developed and developing countries is mutually interdependent in an increasingly integrated world economy. ...Without a truly inclusive response, recognizing the importance of all countries in the reform process, global economic stability cannot be restored, and economic growth, as well as poverty reduction worldwide, will be threatened. This inclusive global response will require the participation of the entire international community; it must encompass more than the G-7 or G-8 or G-20, but the representatives of the entire planet, from the G-192." - United Nations Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 1
    "There is a need for developing countries to examine the options for national policy on each aspect of the economic crisis and to seek the appropriate policies. However, only some policy measures can be taken at national level, especially if the country is too small to rely on the boosting of domestic-led growth. Regional-level measures are important. And most critical are the reforms, actions and cooperative measures required at the international level." - Martin Khor, South Centre

Apr 2, 2009  Africa: Global Economic Crisis, 2
    "The Group of 20 (G20) is making a big show of getting together to come to grips with the global economic crisis. But here's the problem with the upcoming summit in London on April 2: It's all show. What the show masks is a very deep worry and fear among the global elite that it really doesn't know the direction in which the world economy is heading and the measures needed to stabilize it." Walden Bello, Foreign Policy in Focus

Oct 5, 2008  Africa: Economic Outlook, Structural Obstacles
    "Confining African countries to the production of primary commodities amounts to condemning them to remain locked in the commodity trap. Africa needs to create a competitive advantage in the production of manufactured products, as many other developing countries have done." - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

May 11, 2008  Africa: Commodity Dependence
    "We are living in a confusing time in the history of commodity markets. Commodity prices are currently high. Yet producers in Africa and other parts of the developing world do not seem to be benefiting from these high prices. ... The rich industrialised North has set the rules of the game, but instead of holding its producers accountable to those rules, it is distorting markets in their favour. Meanwhile, African producers whose governments have accepted to play by the rules are losing out.- - Dede Amanor-Wilks, ActionAid International

May 11, 2008  Africa: UN Conference on Trade and Development
    "Attempts to take matters outside of the United Nations (UN), such as at G7/8 meetings or at the World Economic Forum, have not been inclusive or democratic. The UN, with all its weaknesses, is still the only multilateral intergovernmental democratic institution the world has, and UNCTAD [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] is part of that machinery.... Unfortunately, UNCTAD seems to have been further compromised in Accra." - Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre

Mar 3, 2008  USA/Africa: Health Policy Updates
    The House Foreign Affairs Committee last week approved a commitment of $50 billion over 5 years for spending on global AIDS and related diseases, $20 billion more than the President's original proposal. The bill, which also includes other provisions such as funds for training of health care workers, and is expected to pass the full Congress. But health activists note that additional pressure on U.S. presidential candidates is needed to ensure other measures, such as ensuring access to essential medicines.

Jan 27, 2008  Africa: Footloose Industry and Labor Rights
    "The largest investments in manufacturing [resulting from the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)] are in the garment industry. However, throughout the world, garment industries have been the most footloose, moving from country to country following government incentives and low wages" - Global Policy Network

Jun 29, 2007  Africa: Trade Disconnect
    International trade talks are again on the edge of collapse after failure of the G4 (United States, EU, Brazil, and India) to reach agreement at a side meeting in Potsdam, Germany. Developing countries are increasingly vocal in their refusal to make new commitments for opening their markets without meaningful concessions from industrialized countries on such issues as agricultural subsidies.

Mar 17, 2007  Africa: Trade Unions Speak Out on Trade
    Labor leaders from Brazil, India, South Africa and other developing countries spoke out earlier this month opposing demands by rich countries for sweeping cuts in tariffs. And global trade unions, formalizing new international ties, are also demanding that rich countries respond to the need for better terms for African cotton producers.

Feb 4, 2007  Europe/Africa: Partnership Reality Check
    During the World Social Forum in Nairobi, reported Kenya's Daily Nation, thousands of demonstrators paralyzed operations of the European Union office in Nairobi, protesting the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) now being negotiated as the new framework for economic ties between Europe and Africa. The demonstrators said further opening of African markets to European products would destabilize African economies and marginalize African farmers.

Jul 1, 2006  Africa: Doha Deception Round
    As negotiators again reported "no progress" at international trade negotiations in Geneva, 100 developing nations released a statement saying they were still willing to negotiate but that the chasm between the views of rich and poor countries was huge. Even if a face-saving agreement is reached over the next months, critics said that major powers had already demonstrated that they had no interest in proposals to address developing country concerns.

May 9, 2006  Southern Africa: Slowing Fast-Track Trade
    Civil society groups in both South Africa and the Untied Statets are applauding the halt in progress in trade talks between the United States and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The groups say that U.S. insistence on a "one-size fits all approach" is inappropriate for SACU, which includes five southern African countries at different stages of development. Moreover, they say, the U.S. approach contains many provisions that would damage health, workers' rights, and the prospects of small farmers.

Apr 23, 2006  Africa: Trade Talks Skip Priority Issues
    The European Union and the United States blamed each other for the failure to progress in world trade talks, as a "mini-ministerial" scheduled to complete the next stage of negotiations before the end of April was again postponed earlier this month. But African countries say there are more fundamental flaws. Recent statements by African trade ministers and by non-governmental analysts point out that priority African issues supposed to be included in this "development round" are still being sidelined.

Feb 8, 2006  Africa: Fix Resource Leaks
    "What matters for ensuring that governments have adequate resources to finance development are net flows. This means factoring in not just inflows ... but also what is lost to the rest of the world. Debt servicing is [only] one [such] outflow. ... Indeed, the reality of Africa is that the resources that leak out far exceed those that flow in." - Charles Abugre

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 1
    "Any expectations that developing countries or the public might have of Hongkong marking progress to achieving 'development' in the Doha negotiations have been very much dashed. The 'Doha Development Agenda' (DDA) got its nickname when the developed countries pressurised the developing countries to accept a new Work Programme at the Doha Ministerial in November 2001. To cover the fact that the programme was really aimed at opening the markets of the South, the WTO secretariat leadership and the major developed countries dubbed it the DDA." - Third World Network

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 2
    Having failed to come up with a joint proposal on agriculture that begins to satisfy the demands of developing countries, Europe and the United States have proposed a "development package" that they hope will preserve some image of success in the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Hong Kong. But critics say whatever the face-saving agreements reached by the weekend, the results will clearly show no progress at all for poor countries in what was supposed to have been a "development round."

Oct 24, 2005  Africa: Cotton Producers Demand Results
    Two years ago in Cancun, the issue of the damage done to African cotton producers by rich-country subsidies sparked the breakdown of world trade talks, highlighting the failure of rich countries to make this round of trade talks a "development round." In Geneva last week, African countries warned that their interests were still being ignored.

Oct 15, 2005  Africa: Trade Smoke and Mirrors
    In an effort to give momentum to international trade talks, the United States and the European Union this week released new offers to cut widely-criticized subsidies to rich-country farmers. The proposals have already provoked opposition from defenders of subsidies, including U.S. legislators and French officials. But non-governmental analysts say in fact the concessions to developing countries are "smoke and mirrors."

Jul 5, 2005  Africa: The Costs of Free Trade
    "Trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa US$272 billion over the past 20 years. Had they not been forced to liberalise as the price of aid, loans and debt relief, sub-Saharan African countries would have had enough extra income to wipe out their debts and have sufficient left over to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school." - Christian Aid

Jul 5, 2005  Ghana: Playing Chicken
    "For the last few years the Ghanaian market has been flooded with cheap imported chicken from the European Union and the United States. These are usually fatty chicken parts that come in packages without labels. Nonetheless, demand for local poultry has collapsed, threatening the livelihoods of over 400,000 poultry farmers in the small West African nation." - Corpwatch

May 20, 2005  Africa: No Development in Development Round
    "Looking at the current proposals on the table, it is clear that members are not moving towards a fairer multilateral trading system. ...The sad reality for most developing countries is that this round [of trade talks] has become an exercise in how to minimize losses; a far cry from the promise rich countries made to support development objectives and to launch a so-called development round." - Geneva Update, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

May 20, 2005  Europe/Africa: Partnership for Whom?
    "The likely results of these new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are not hard to imagine. With their diverse range of products and muscle in the marketplace, European producers can outstrip ACP [African, Caribbean, and Pacific] rivals in their domestic markets. ... [African countries] stand to lose existing industries and the potential to develop new ones as products from Europe flood their markets." - Christian Aid

Mar 23 2005  USA/Africa: Cotton Dumping
    Pressure to reduce rich-country subsidies for agricultural exports ratchetted upward this month when the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling that U.S. current payments to cotton farmers were illegal. The Bush administration's 2006 budget submitted to Congress proposes reduction in these subsidies by setting new upper limits on payments. But the outcome in Congress is uncertain, and African cotton farmers need more than promises of somewhat fairer terms for their exports in the distant future.

Feb 1, 2005  USA/Africa: Textile Meltdown?
    U.S. imports of apparel from Sub-Saharan Africa rose in 2003 and 2004 to more than $1.5 billion a year, benefitting from duty-free access under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This year, however, with new competition from China and India expected after abolition of quotas under the international Multi-Fiber Agreement, textile industries in African countries face the prospect of rapid decline in export potential.

Sep 6, 2004  Africa: Trade Deception
    Initial news stories from world trade talks in Geneva heralded rich country commitments to cut agricultural subsidies, celebrating the July 31 framework agreement as a victory for rich and poor countries alike. For those who followed the later dissection of the fine print, however, it quickly became apparent that the commitment was largely a "shell game," as James Flanagan put it in the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 15, 2004).

Jul 31, 2004  Africa: Trade Talks Background
    Discussions continued beyond Friday's midnight deadline in world trade talks in Geneva, as major countries pressed for wording compromises that would avoid an obvious breakdown. West African cotton-producing countries reportedly accepted a U.S. pledge to deal with the issue of cotton subsidies expeditiously within the wider agriculture negotiations. Even if disagreements are papered over, however, fair trade campaigners note that the text remains deeply unbalanced in favor of rich countries, with their commitments under the framework text still vague and ambiguous in comparison with concessions exacted from developing countries.

Jun 22, 2004  Africa: Trade Update, UNCTAD
    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held every four years, met in Brazil last week. Participants issued ringing statements in favor of South-South collaboration and the need for greater equity in the international trade arena. The meeting was virtually ignored by the press in the United States and other developed countries. Nevertheless, the conference was an indicator of greater international awareness, among almost all political currents, that the current bias against developing countries is both unfair and unsustainable.

Jun 22, 2004  Africa: Trade Update, Commonwealth
    "The development focus of the Doha Round emerged from a renewed spirit of collective responsibility for the challenges faced by poor countries, and also as a response to the perceived inequities generated by previous rounds of trade negotiations. Unfortunately, in the years since it was launched, the Doha Round has not delivered on its development mandate."

May 14, 2004  Africa: Economic Report 2004
    African ministers in the economic sector, meeting next week in Kampala, Uganda, plan to focus on what Africa can do to become more competitive in global trade. Current trade negotiations, as well as the perennial and unresolved issues of debt and aid, will feature in discussions at the meeting. But documents prepared for the meeting, including a preview of this year's Economic Report on Africa, stress that African countries must also build internal conditions for more competitive and diversified trade.

May 14, 2004  Africa: Cotton Update
    "This system [of U.S. cotton subsidies] pits a typical Malian producer, farming two hectares of cotton, who is lucky to gross $400 a year, against US farms which receive a subsidy of $250 per hectare." - Oxfam. The World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon issue a formal ruling, in response to a Brazilian and African challenge, declaring these U.S. subsidies in violation of international trade rules. This changes the climate for international trade talks, but no policy shifts that could directly affect African farmers are yet imminent.

Mar 9, 2004  Africa: Commodity Trap
    Africa remains caught in a "commodity trap," says a new report on trade performance and commodity dependence from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Africa is less competitive than in previous decades even in traditional primary commodities, its trade position undermined both by competition from Asia and Latin America and by agricultural subsidies in rich countries. Market solutions have aggravated this structural vulnerability, and it is time to reconsider a greater role for both national and international state actions, UNCTAD concludes.

Feb 4, 2004  Africa: Rice for the Future
    Only two decades ago, rice was considered a luxury food in West Africa, comments Dr. Kanayo Nwanze of the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA). Now it is a staple, accounting for more than 25% of cereal consumption. Import growth has consistently outpaced growth in production. But new rice varieties developed by WARDA researchers give hope that Africa could rapidly increase domestic production.