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PAFTRAC Challenges WTO to hear Africa’s voice

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Agriculture subsidies and non-tariff barriers highlighted as a specific hindrance to development

Communiqué sets out a road map for WTO reform; Communiqué calls for development to be at the centre of WTO reform; Agriculture subsidies and non-tariff barriers highlighted as a specific hindrance to development.

Following a meeting convened by the Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) and hosted by the Afreximbank, a communiqué addressed to members of the WTO and the eight candidates who have been shortlisted as the institution’s next Director General was released yesterday calling for a wide range of reforms.

The communiqué was formulated following numerous consultations with PAFTRAC members, its institutional partners, and through a comprehensive survey of the African private sector. Within it, the Committee have highlighted a number of recommendations to ensure the institution is more effective in growing global trade but doing so in a manner that is fair to all.

The communiqué stated that “ignoring the voice of Africa and other emerging economies will have dramatic consequences for and undermine the relevance of the WTO and the rules-based system at a time when multilateralism is already under threat.”

In the opening remarks at the meeting, the President of the Afreximbank stated that “Africa has played an important but largely under-valued role in the global economy.” He cited that Africa’s global share of trade has fallen from 4.4% in 1970 to 2.5% today, whilst the share of Asia has risen from 7.7% to 20% over that same period. “Whilst this is the result of numerous factors, including fragmented markets and persistent supply-side constraints,” he said, “tariff escalations and stringent standards on final goods in developed economies have limited Africa’s potential to move up value chains.”

The communiqué called for the WTO to ensure “that development issues are front and centre of its reform agenda.” They specifically called for African countries to be afforded Special and Differential Treatment that will allow flexibilities and sufficient policy space to support local industries and advance development. The African private sector also emphasised the importance of addressing subsidises and state-aid in developed economies which continue to confine Africa to the bottom of global value chains.

With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) coming into effect in 2021, they also requested that African integration under the AfCFTA and the establishment of an African Common Market is not undermined by multilateral negotiations.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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FG to Absorb Exited N-power Beneficiaries into New Program

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Exited N-power Beneficiaries to Be Absorbed into Another Program

The Federal Government has commenced plans to absorb exited N-power beneficiaries into a new program in an effort to help them eke a living.

Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, made the statement at an interactive forum with state focal persons of the National Social Investment Programmes in Abuja.

She said: “As we renew our commitment to the service of humanity, I will like to cease this opportunity to once again state that we have successfully exited Batch A and B of the N-Power beneficiaries in June and July respectively and we are still working towards ensuring a transition plan that will further engage or absorb them into other programmes.

Sadiya also stated that the selection process of the Batch C N-power application will be thorough and base on merit.

We have also received over 5 million applications from proposed N-Power Batch C and we are currently in the process of selecting the qualified beneficiaries coming into the programme.

“I assure all the applicants and Nigerians that the selection process will be transparent,” she said.

She added that, “I wish to reiterate that I have given approval for the payment of stipends for the exited beneficiaries of batches A and B up to the month of June 2020 including that of the independent monitors. Also, the final payment of stipend for Batch B is almost ready for transmission to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for final checks and payment.

The minister urged state coordinators to discharge their duties diligently and not let her down.

It is against this background that I urge everyone of you to continue to give in your best to ensure the lives of those we are called to serve are made better.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that each one of the vulnerable persons are not mere numbers or statistics but real people with dreams, hopes, aspirations and a desire to live decent lives in peace and safety,” he submitted.

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FG Says All Airports Are Now Open for Domestic Flight Operations

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All Airports Are Now Open for Domestic Flight Operations Says FG

The Federal Government on Monday said all airports in the country are officially open for domestic flight operations.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.

Hadi, however, noted that operators flying into private-owned airports must know the status of such airports.

Speaking at the PTF Briefing, the minister said there is no need for flight approval within Nigeria again as all airports are now opened for domestic operations.

He said, “All airports in Nigeria are now open for domestic flights, including those that are for private charter operations.

“They (operators) will no longer need approvals from us to operate domestically within government-owned airports. However, for the private airports, operators should check their safety status with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

“Such airports are Jalingo, Uyo, Asaba, Gombe, Nasarawa, Damaturu, Osubi, etc. So you don’t need any approval from the minister, but you should check the status of these airports with the NCAA.”

Commenting on international chartered flights, the minister said they need approvals to flight out of the country.

He said, “All flights out of the country that are private charter will still need approvals for those kind of flights, including technical stops.

“So with this, it means that the approvals that are sent via the NCAA, NAMA and myself will cease and if there is any change, it will be so advised accordingly.”

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Afreximbank, ITFC Partner With ARSO to Facilitate Intra-African Trade

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AFREXIMBANK and International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) Partner With ARSO to Facilitate Intra-African Trade in Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, under the Umbrella of the AATB Program

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), have partnered with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), to launch a new Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) initiative called the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices in Africa, aimed at promoting the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices imported or produced on the continent.

Harmonized product standards are critical to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), ensuring that producers of goods on the continent comply with one shared set of minimum regulatory and customer quality requirements, in turn allowing them to supply the continental market and beyond with goods that meet those standards. The harmonisation of standards also serves to enhance the quality of African manufacturing and boost intra-African and Arab-African trade and investment – one of the AATB’s key objectives.

The initiative, which will be implemented in a phased manner over three years, begins immediately with the harmonisation of standards for pharmaceutical products and medical devices for use in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The second phase will analyse and assess existing international, regional, and national standards for their suitability in meeting the unique challenges faced by African healthcare industries before achieving the 3rd phase, which is the harmonization of the related African Standards and their adoption on the continent.

Commenting on the initiative, ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said, “From a trade development standpoint, harmonizing the standards of pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Africa is a crucial first step in facilitating local production and trade within sector. Such standards provide a necessary baseline from which to regulate the sector more effectively, raising the quality of locally produced life-saving drugs and related products, and ensuring timely access to appropriate and affordable medicines, vaccines, and other health services for those who need them most. It will also act as a catalyst for Africa to benefit from a burgeoning pharmaceutical sector, expanding trade opportunities locally and beyond borders thus creating long term sustainable socio-economic impact on the continent”.

The initiative will also serve to enhance trade and investment within Africa’s healthcare industry by boosting the manufacture of high-quality homegrown products and services – objectives laid out within the AfCFTA.

Welcoming the initiative, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Afreximbank’s Managing Director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative said, “At a time when the demand for quality medicines and medical devices is increasing, Africa needs to reinforce regional value chains to scale-up the supply of quality medical products. This would also contribute to building the continent’s resilience against pandemics like COVID-19 in the future. Furthermore, leveraging on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, this joint initiative will also facilitate increased intra-African trade in pharmaceuticals and medical consumables.”

As part of a COVID-19 response, the harmonization of standards will facilitate the development of equivalent technical regulations among African countries. Therefore, distribution of medical supplies and equipment from one country to another can be fast-tracked.

A long-term outcome of the initiative will be the emergence of regional supply chains for pharmaceutical and medical devices, which will foster an ecosystem of innovation, local production and the development of medical products for diseases that are currently neglected.

Commenting on the initiative, ARSO’s Secretary General, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, said “While on one hand COVID-19 has created social distancing as a new norm, on another hand it has brought Africa together by opening our eyes to the need for industrialisation. Standards circulated by ARSO and other standards organisations related to face masks, and hand sanitizers have been used widely by African SMEs to develop locally made personal protective equipment thereby shedding light on the role of standards in industrialization, safety, and trade. This Initiative with Afreximbank and ITFC, will not only help in increasing local production but will also create trust and enable cross border trade and investment for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.”

The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) will play a key role in the development of standardization policies, applying existing principles and procedures that are already set out in the African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM). ARSO’s involvement will be supported by its Council, in addition to a Joint Advisory Group comprised of Regional Economic Communities, and a series of technical committees, which will carry out the harmonisation work with the resources provided under this grant from AFREXIMBANK and ITFC.

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