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Hemorrhage of companies from Ethiopia's industrial parks threaten the country aspirations to become a light manufacturing hub in Africa

Ethiopian Industrial parks are economic development tools that are mentioned in the recent UNCTAD report on African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as one of the most successful experiences in Africa in terms of attraction of foreign direct investment and stimulation of economic activity. These sites offer to firms that relocate within them a combination of fiscal incentives, duty reductions and administrative facilitation (e.g. one-stop shops for business registration or for dealing with other administrative formalities) that are typical of SEZs. Some of these parks specialise in garment and textile production and are equipped with standard pre-built factory units that the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) makes available for rent to firms so that they can immediately start operations in a plug-and-play set-up. However, after an initial expansion of textile-specialised industrial parks in the country, it seems now that they are entering into a crisis due to the removal of Ethiopia from the list of the countries beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

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Somalia on-track for admission to the EAC

A recent declaration made by the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General reveals that plans to admit Somalia into the East African regional block are entered into an advanced stage. Among the advantages that the Somalia accession to the EAC can bring to the Community, the Secretary General points out the strategic position of the country, noting that with his about 3,200 Km. of coastline, the landlocked and semi-landlocked partner States of the Community (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda), will gain access to other ports in addition to Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam, that currently handle most of their trade, as also discussed in this video.

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The “implementation crisis” of continental and regional regulation in Africa

An article recently published on The East African deals with a particularly important topic, namely the low degree of ratification and implementation of Treaties, Recommendations and Decisions adopted by the African Union (AU). The article notes that most of regulatory policies, tools and frameworks adopted at continental level, after many years of adoption, still suffer from a poor level of implementation or domestication at national level, basically because of a lack of political will by the AU State members. The consequence is that a number of commitments and goals agreed at continental level get stuck in their operationalization phase. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement - together with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights - seems to be an exception, as it is close to universal ratification. But also in this case, the risk is high that after the initial enthusiasm in adopting such Agreement, governments can delay its operationalization by becoming cautious, due to a lack of buy-in by those that should benefit from such Agreement, or to doubts that it will penalise or sacrifice national interests. This is why events like the Africa Prosperity Dialogues, planned for the end of January in Accra, Ghana, are particularly critical to maintain a high degree of commitment to the AfCFTA by African Heads of States and Governments.

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Most of African Customs register positive results on revenue collection in 2022

As a new year starts, it’s time to take stock of results made by Customs in the previous year. Despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 and of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on African nations, most of African Customs seem to have achieved satisfactory results in terms of revenue collection. However, there are some exceptions, like Cameroon, where the National Treasury announced a loss in customs revenue of nearly 20 billion CFA francs (34 million USD) in 2022, mainly ascribed to the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in force, respectively, with the European Union (EU), and the United Kingdom (UK). This figure was revealed on January 9, in Yaoundé.

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AfCFTA: a summary of main achievements at the onset of its second year of implementation

After the official launch of the AfCFTA Secretariat, which opened in Accra on 17 August 2020, followed by the beginning of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) - originally planned for 1 July 2020 and subsequently delayed to 1th January 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic - an article published on Africa Renewal takes stock of the status of the AfCFTA implementation at the beginning of its second year of operationalisation.

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