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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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AfCFTA updates and latest developments

The African Center for Trade, Integration and Development (ENDA-CACID), an African think-tank based in Dakar, Senegal, has made available on its website the report of the former president of Niger Issoufou Mahamadou, designated in 2018 as the “AfCFTA Champion”,  on the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The report was presented on 16 July 2023 to the Fifth (5th) Biannual Coordination Meeting of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities held in Nairobi, Kenya. It gives an update on the status of implementation of the AfCFTA and its future challenges, which are described as follows.


New protectionist policies shield Kenyan economy from concurrence from abroad

Periods of crisis are generally conducive to the return of protectionist policies, a temptation that in Africa has always traditionally been high. The government of Kenya is reported to have banned on Saturday 29 July international firms from engaging in clearing and forwarding business related to provision of land transport services in the country. The reason seems to be the fact that logistics firms in Kenya cannot compete with international shipping lines that operate land-based logistics services. According to the government, already 50 nations have enacted laws restricting foreign access to domestic transportation. But the question now is, will this measure increase logistics costs in an economy that has already experienced a sharp surge in the last years, especially after the increase of fuel prices? Logistics costs are typically incorporated by importers in the prices of goods to consumers, so the risk is that this restriction will further inflate prices in the country is high.


Multimodal sector in Ethiopia struggles to open up

In 2021, the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport issued the much contested Multimodal Transport Operators Commercial Licensing and Competency Certification Directive no. 802/2021 (MTO Directive) to open up the multimodal business sector, currently reserved to the state-owned Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise (ESLSE). The directive allows the provision of multimodal transport services (i.e. the offer of combined maritime-road-air-rail transport services under a single contract), only to those operators that are granted with a license issued by the Ethiopian Maritime Authority (EMA).


WTO annual report reminds trade finance gap as a main constraint to the African trade expansion

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has made available its latest Annual Report, the periodic publication describing the organization's activities over the past year. Apart from revealing plans for the revitalization, by 2024, of the Appellate Body (which is currently paralyzed due to the fact that all its seven members have not yet been appointed, as we discussed in this post), the report once again highlights the problem of Africa's trade finance gap as a major constraint to African export development. In an era of enduring discussions about the potential of the AfCFTA and how this agreement can accelerate intra-African trade, it is important to keep this constraint in mind.



Last WTO Dispute Settlement case book confirms that African countries’ participation to the Organization’s dispute resolution mechanism is almost zero

The WTO Dispute Settlement (One-Page Case Summaries), is a biennial publication with a summary of all cases where the panels and the WTO Appellate Body decided disputes between the WTO members since the creation of this body up to the end of 2022. The publication summarizes the core facts and substantive findings contained in WTO panel reports and those of the Appellate Body - a body, the latter, now paralyzed because of "veto power" exerted since 2019 by the United States on the appointment of its members. The 2023 edition of the WTO publication shows that the main users of this dispute resolution mechanisms remain the developed economies: mainly the United States, the European Union and Canada. Cases involving African countries are just a bunch.


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