Germany Presents its “Marshall Plan with Africa” to AfDB Experts
Gerd Müller, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, has presented in early March the “Marshall Plan with Africa” developed by his government at the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan. The plan constitutes a large-scale initiative aimed at supporting development on the African continent.
“It represents an overall concept that goes far beyond development policy. It brings together economic, financial, trade, security, legal, environmental and health policy,” said Müller in February while addressing the German-African Business Summit.
A first version has been unveiled in January by the German government. It is articulated around three thematic pillars: (1) Economic activity, trade, and employment; (2) peace, security, and stability; and (3) democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
Food Crisis Worsens Across Several African Countries, UN Warns
Millions of people face acute food shortages across a swathe of African countries, with parts of South Sudan in particular facing famine, the UN has recently warned.
At a humanitarian summit in late February in Oslo, governments pledged US$672 million in funds for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, three days after the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a joint statement warning of famine in South Sudan.
“People are dying of hunger. We must take action now," said the FAO’s José Graziano da Silva, the WFP’s Ertharin Cousin, and UNICEF’s Anthony Lake in this communiqué. The landlocked African country has been ravaged by civil war since late 2013, just a couple of short years after it became independent from Sudan.
WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement has entered into force
The World Trade Organization announced at the end of February that the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has now entered into force, having surpassed the minimum requirement of 110 ratifications from members. “The Trade Facilitation Agreement is the biggest reform of global trade this century,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo in commenting on the news. “It sends a message about the power of trade to support jobs and growth around the world – in developed and developing countries alike,” he continued.
The landmark agreement aims to cut customs-related red tape, easing the flow of trade between countries by simplifying customs procedures, speeding up the clearance of goods, supporting cooperation among customs officials, and otherwise making it quicker and more efficient for goods to cross borders.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo Gears Up for Second Term
WTO members formally reappointed Director-General Roberto Azevêdo for a second term on Tuesday 28 February, with the global trade chief outlining to members the day before his vision for the organisation’s next four years. Speaking to members at the General Council, Azevêdo described both the achievements seen during his first term, as well as his plans and possible challenges going forward.
Azevêdo’s second term will formally begin on 1 September 2017, just months before trade ministers head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for their eleventh ministerial conference (MC11). “My honest assessment is that in all areas we still have a long way to go – and a huge amount of work ahead if we are to arrive at concrete outcomes,” he said. noting that effectively WTO members have eight working months left to prepare for the ministerial.