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WTO: in G-20 economies trade restrictions outpace trade-facilitating measures

The 30th Trade Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows that between mid-May and mid-October 2023 (review period), G20 economies introduced more trade-restrictive than trade-facilitating measures on goods. The members of the G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and since September 2023, the African Union. However, with the exception of South Africa, the WTO report still does not cover African countries, given the too recent admission of the African Union (AU) to the group. It will be interesting to read the next edition of the report to understand what is the ratio trade restriction/trade facilitation in Africa, which is likely to raise the average at the G20 country level. Speaking about this average, the WTO notes that for the first time, since 2015, the average number of new trade restrictions introduced per month by G20 economies, reached a level that was superior trade-facilitating measures (9.8, compared to 8.8).

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Kenya finally signs interim EPA with the EU

This morning, 18 December 2023, the President of the Kenya Republic and the President of the EU Commission met to the State House in Nairobi for signing the much disputed EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The EU Council authorized on 12 December the EU Commission to sign the EPA with Kenya. Following this authorization, the President of the EU Commission traveled today to Nairobi to officially sign the agreement. Kenya is one of the largest economy in Africa, one of the most stable democracies in the continent, and a gateway to East Africa. For the country, the EU represents its second largest trading partner. Total trade between the EU and Kenya averaged €3.3 billion in 2022, with a surplus in the EU’s favour. In particular, the Kenya exports to the EU goods for a total amount to €1.2 billion, mainly represented by agricultural products with low value addition, such as vegetables, fruits, and flowers. On the other hand, EU’s exports to Kenya amount to €2.02 billion and are mainly made by high-value added products such as mineral and chemical products and machinery.

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UNCTAD statistics show steady growth rates in exports of African goods and services

In Africa, population is not the only factor that is growing fast. The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2023, released yesterday, shows that in 2022, African developing economies experienced one of the highest rise in exports (16.9 per cent) at global level. Unfortunately, the structure of African states remains strongly concentrated in primary goods, which accounted for 79 per cent of merchandise exports, with fuels representing 42 per cent of such exports, followed by ores, metals, precious stones and non-monetary gold. Particularly low, instead, are food exports, representing a modest 11 per cent of outward trade flows of the continent, as shown in figure 1.

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AfCFTA, main benefits in the industrial and agricultural sectors, but do not neglect services, UNECA notes

A new report published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) argues that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be particularly beneficial for trade in agrifood, services and industry sectors, that are expected to increase by 49%, 38% and 36% by 2045, respectively. Hence, it concludes that these sectors will be those that will gain more from the implementation of the agreement than others. On the other hand, the traditional extractive and energy sectors (that historically represent the primary sources of exports of most of African countries), will increase only of 19%. This is not surprising, considering that such goods are mainly traded outside Africa, while the AfCFTA is expected to lead to an increase of intra-Africa trade.

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Which progress in visa openness in Africa to ease cross border travel, trade, investment and regional integration?

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has published on 12 December 2023 the Africa Visa Openness Index 2023, the report that analyses the visa openness policies that African countries adopt towards other African States. The seventh edition of the report reveals significant progress, showing an increasing number of African countries that have opened their doors, at least apparently, to visitors from other African countries. The publication comes on the day of celebration of the birth of the Kenya Republic, during which the Kenyan President announced the elimination of visa from all countries (both African and non-African), starting from 1 January 2024. A measure this, that is expected to increase tourism in Kenya.

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