Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Desiderio Consultants Ltd. is a think tank and a network of independent professional international development consultants established to promote and influence customs & trade-related policies in African nations to achieve trade facilitation reforms aimed at improving international and regional trade
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The old habit of protectionism in Africa and the free circulation of goods dilemma

Old Habits Are Hard to Break, says a famous proverb. Despite the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the numerous Free Trade Areas and Customs Unions that promote the free circulation of goods in the various regions of Africa and in the continent, trends to erect walls to trade remain high in Africa. Economic nationalism, the tendency to prioritize national interests by protecting local industries from external competition, seems to be still at the core of African policies.


Largest demand for trucks and rail wagons due to AfCFTA implementation to come from West Africa

During the 5th Africa Business Forum organized on 7 February 2022 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the findings of a report titled “Implications of the African continental free trade area for demand for transport infrastructure and services” were revealed. The report, now available online, argues that the implementation of the Agreement will lead to an increase of the demand for freight transport services in the continent by about 50 times. To accommodate such an increase, it will be necessary to upgrade and expand logistics infrastructures in Africa, but also transport services. If these two conditions will not materialize, the realization of AfCFTA’s benefits will be compromised.


The shorter road is not always the less expensive road

Ease of moving goods is critical in the choices of transport companies. And in Africa, the shorter road is not always the less expensive road. This video from the Brenthurst Foundation documents the case of a shipment of copper cathodes via road from Solwezi, in Zambia, provincial capital of the mineral-rich North-Western Province, to the port of Walvis Bay, in Namibia, for a total distance of about 2,300 Km. It describes the challenges, and the costs of moving a 34-tonnes load along the poor roads connecting the Zambian mining centre to the Namibian port, including the “soft infrastructure” costs, i.e.; costs associated to crossing borders and waiting time at the port during which the truck remains idle awaiting a return cargo to transport back to Zambia.


African Tripartite Business Council formed

The EAC, COMESA and SADC Business Councils have officially launched and formed the African Tripartite Business Council to spearhead the inclusion of joint private sector policy proposals representing traders from these 3 regions into the negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreements. The decision has been adopted at the Consultative Meeting of Regional Business Councils on the Implementation of the AfCFTA organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) on 10th August 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda and aims at the formulation of joint private sector policy positions to be submitted to the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana and to the Tripartite Ministerial Council Meetings in order to accelerate the implementation of the two Agreements.


Arbitral Ruling on safeguard measure within the EU-SADC EPA finally published

As described in our previous post, at the beginning of August 2022, an arbitration panel decided on the first case of dispute on a bilateral safeguard measure adopted within a European Partnership Agreement (EPA) of the European Union (EU). Both the EU and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have been celebrating this decision, stating that it was more favourable to the one, rather than the other organisation. Now that the ruling has been published, it seems to us that it is more favourable to SACU. This is, briefly, the description of the facts.


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