22 November 2016

Tanzanian parliament advises government not to sign EPA with EU

Members of the Tanzanian parliament (MPs) unanimously called on the East African country’s government not to sign an Economic Partnership agreement (EPA) negotiated between the EU and member states of the East African Community (EAC), many of them pointing to potential negative implications for Tanzania’s industrialisation strategy if the deal is inked in its current form.

While MPs called on the Tanzanian government to renegotiate the EPA on terms that would allow for better protection of domestic industries, a few of them also expressed concerns that rejecting the deal could have a negative impact on aid flows and development cooperation between the EU and EAC countries.

Despite the parliament’s advisory vote, the Tanzanian government still has the possibility to go ahead and sign the accord.  East African leaders will hold discussions on this issue during an EAC summit in January.

Turkey seeks to boost its trade and economic ties with Africa

Around 1,500 participants from Turkey and 42 African countries, including numerous business representatives and high-level officials, gathered in early November at the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum. The event provided a platform for dialogue between African business and public sector circles and their Turkish counterparts, with a view to enhancing economic cooperation between the two sides.

“One of the main constituents of our comprehensive interest in Africa is composed of economic and trade relations,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the forum.

Reflecting on the way forward,  Turkey’s Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci called on Ankara and its African partners to “turn 2017 into a free-trade year,” while participants in the event discussed the possibility of establishing trade and economic partnership agreements.

World Bank: Record number of business reforms carried out in Africa

Economies across sub-Saharan Africa have adopted a record number of reforms to upgrade their business environment over the past year, says the World Bank in its Doing Business 2017 report.  Last year saw 37 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 48 countries undertake a total of 80 reforms, a third of all the reforms adopted globally. This constitutes a 14 percent increase from the previous year.  This year again Mauritius (49) is the best performer among sub-Saharan African economies, followed by Rwanda (56), Botswana (71), South Africa (74), and Kenya (92)

The document, however, warns against excessive enthusiasm, as sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the less business-enabling conditions. For instance, transferring property takes on average 2 months, while the time necessary to do so in OECD economies is only 22 days.

TRIPS Council meets on public health and access to medicines

WTO members reviewed on 8-9 November a series of recommendations by a UN panel aimed at supporting access to medicines, debating in particular the report’s findings relating to trade and intellectual property rights. The discussions took place under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council.

The report includes specific recommendations which involve leveraging the full use of the flexibilities for access to medicines afforded by the TRIPS Agreement by developing countries. The discussions reportedly considered potential challenges WTO members face in using those TRIPS flexibilities, as well as the possible risks posed by TRIPS-plus provisions in regional and bilateral trade agreements in undermining the use of TRIPS flexibilities.

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