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Tunisia takes part in second ministerial retreat on AfCFTA in Nairobi

Tunisia – Tunisia will be taking part in the work of the second ministerial retreat of the Council of Ministers on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from May 29 to 31, 2023, in Nairobi, Kenya.This meeting aims to draw up a detailed roadmap to complete the agenda of the AfCFTA Secretariat for the current negotiations and to identify the specific priorities for achieving the slogan: “Accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA”, chosen by the African Union for the year 2023.
Minister of Trade and Export Development, Kalthoum Ben Rejeb, and Director General of Tunisian Customs, Najet Jaouadi, are representing Tunisia at this meeting, says a press release issued on Monday by the Department of Trade.
The second ministerial retreat of the Council of Ministers is an opportunity for the trade ministers of the AfCFTA region to exchange views on several issues, including the blocked files linked to the negotiations on rules of origin.
These include the automotive components sectors, textiles and clothing, and certain issues relating to the investment protocol annexed to the agreement.
Transit trade and the possible drop in customs revenues as a result of the application of the customs cuts mentioned in the agreement will be discussed by the participants on this occasion.
They will also examine the dossier linked to negotiations on the liberalisation of trade in services and basic agricultural products, as well as the role of the African private sector in the implementation of this agreement, the same source said.
© Tap 2022 Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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Collective action can ‘move mountains’ for Africa – Morsy

Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Hanan Morsy, has called for continued collective action in support of the Africa High-level Working Group on Global Financial Architecture (HLWG).
“Our key objective is to build African consensus on what needs to be done and amplify the continent’s voice on the global stage,” said Ms. Morsy, adding, “The work of this group (HLWG) shows that when we come together, we can move mountains.”
Ms. Morsy co-chairs the HLWG with African Union Commissioner Albert Muchanga and Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.
In her remarks during a meeting with heads of regional and continental institutions, held on 25 May on the margins of the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Ms. Morsy lamented the high cost of debt incurred by African governments.
“Debt service composes 22% of revenue” in Africa, limiting countries’ ability to make essential investments in health, education, and infrastructure to help operationalize the AfCFTA.”
Ms. Morsy underscored the urgent need to fix the global debt architecture so that countries in debt distress can obtain swift and effective debt restructuring.
The ECA Chief Economist highlighted some of the near-term reform proposals put forth by the HLWG, including the need to: suspend debt service for all countries entering the Common Framework restructurings to provide relief and incentivize speedy restructurings; expand eligibility to middle-income countries; establish Expanded Creditor Committees to incorporate private sector creditors, smooth coordination challenges, and accelerate restructurings; establish a ‘Comparability of Treatment’ formula to reduce technical disputes and accelerate restructurings further; and bolder use of IMF Lending into Arrears policies to reduce leverage of holdout creditors.
Credit enhancement tools and guarantee facilities would also help unlock more resources for investment, she noted. Such mechanisms can be combined with debt-for-climate investment swaps, which allow reducing countries’ debt servicing costs and create fiscal space.
Ms. Morsy urged stakeholders to rally behind a proposal by the AfDB and the Inter-American Development Bank for the rechanneling of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) through Multilateral Development Banks.
“This will increase the leverage of SDR resources and provide much-needed liquidity,” Ms Morsy noted. 
The meeting was chaired by AfDB President Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, who commended the work of the ECA and the HLWG, adding that “On the issue of debt resolution, I think AfDB and ECA will continue to work very hard” to ensure that Africa has a “common voice.”
The meeting was attended by over 18 heads of African regional and continental institutions.
The High-level Working Group is coordinated by the ECA. It comprises African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the African Union, the African Development Bank, Afreximbank, and the World Bank, and includes the participation of IMF staff and Executive Directors. The Group serves as a forum to develop reform proposals for the global financial architecture and strengthen the African voice on the global stage.
Source: ECA

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AU Africa Day highlights continent’s intra-trade potential

The African Union (AU) yesterday held its Africa Day commemorations, celebrating its 60th anniversary, while promoting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement.

The continentalbody was originally known as the organisationof the African Unity.

The AU brokered agreement was signed in Rwanda by 44 African nations in 2018 to strengthen inter-continental trade. Since then, 54 African nations, excluding Eritrea, have become signatories, expanding the pact’s reach.

AU youth ambassador for peace to central Africa Achaleke Christian Leke told VOA the AfCFTA will help Africa capitalise on its raw materials, innovative products and market to Africans.

“Even in countries where they are advanced (in Africa), other African countries cannot benefit and I think that’s why this glorious idea of the Africa free trade zone is so important and timely,” Leke said.

The secretariat of the AfCFTA estimates that a US$3,4 trillion free trade bloc can be achieved among Africa’s population of 1,3 billion people.

The AfCFTA says the trade agreement has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, while raising income levels to US$450 billion by 2035.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged African countries to implement the free trade area agreement, saying it will provide a major boost to Africa’s economic output and help tackle challenges like climate change.

But several experts argue the AfCFTA may be set for failure if African leaders do not immediately address underlying challenges on the continent such as rampant corruption and poor infrastructure.

Leke agrees, but cautions that the agreement needs implementation.

“The AfCFTA is coming at a time when we have already identified these issues and rather than complain about their existence, let us figure out how to use this institution and existing structures to collaborate in a way in which one speaks to another,” Leke said.

Financial bodies note that intra-continental trade could grow by 53% if steps are taken to remove trade barriers.

The IMF says the largest factors weighing on intra-African trade are infrastructure issues such as trans-border road, rail, port and air transport networks, along with border and customs procedures, telecommunications, financial development, human capital, the presence and efficacy of institutions and restrictive product and labour regulations.

Advocate of the AfCFTA and co-founder of the Zimbabwe Institute of African Integration Tanatsiwa Dambuza said corruption and poor infrastructure have a huge impact on African small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“We talk of corruption at the borders, the SMEs, the young people and women also suffer because officers sometimes ask for bribes,” Dambuza said.


Dambuza called on African leaders to collaborate to ensure the AfCFTA lives up to its potential, to allow for easy market access for African entrepreneurs to sell their products at reasonable prices.

A recent World Bank report identified SMEs as playing a major role in sustaining the economies of developing countries, contributing up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies. Ojooluwa Ibiloye, the founder of RuralPro Nigeria, a Nigerian non-governmental organisation focused on promoting democracy in Africa, echoed Dambuza’s sentiments.

“Political will is very important and key for governments to see the opportunity in this agreement,” Ibiloye said.

Global trade trends show that it is cheaper and faster for African nations to trade outside of Africa than it is within its borders, an issue the AfCFTA expects to address.

In 2022, Kenyan authorities celebrated an export deal of batteries and tea produced by the east African nation to Ghana, but noted eight weeks delivery from Nairobi to Accra, a timeframe exacerbated by infrastructure and connectivity issues.

Aside from the challenges presented by analysts and officials, Gugulethu Siso, the founder of Thumeza, an African tech start-up focused on providing credit to young entrepreneurs, said it is important that SMEs in Africa embrace and understand the AfCFTA.

“Imagine you as the youth in South Africa sitting and thinking that it’s not going to impact you but in two years’ time someone like Jumia (a Kenyan online store) can operate in your market with a free-for-all. How exactly do you protect your market share?” Siso questioned.

She is challenging SMEs to financially and logistically prepare for the potential changes the agreement can bring to Africa as continental trade borders begin to open. – VOA

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President Higgins condemns Brazil’s Amazon law as threat to democracy and planet

President Michael D Higgins has condemned the Brazilian parliament for giving the green light to legislation limiting the rights of indigenous people and expanding mining and deforestation across the Amazon rainforests describing it as the” single biggest disaster threatening the international climate change movement”.He called on the international community to “speak out firmly on where they stand on what is emerging as the greatest threat to democracy – the uncontrolled, unregulated actions of the unaccountable”.A law was passed by Brazil’s lower house of Congress this week which will limit the creation of new Indigenous reserves to areas that were only occupied by native people in 1988.Critics of the legislation have pointed out that many tribes had been expelled from their lands during Brazil’s military dictatorship, which ended in 1985. Many were not able to return until years later so will have no protections under the new laws.The legislation was rushed through the congress, which critics say highlights the strength of Brazil’s powerful agriculture industry which has backed the new law.“It is of the utmost importance that the legislation passed this week by the Chamber of Deputies in Brasília, bill number 490, be seen for what it is – an action that endangers all of humanity, present and future,” President Higgins said.He said the legislation will “allow for the large scale building of roads, mining and deforestation of the Amazon and allow direct confrontation with some very small populations of indigenous peoples, is the single biggest disaster threatening the international climate change movement based on sustainability”.Mr Higgins said the new law is far removed from the policies of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was “bravely elected with a clear mandate to put an end to the destruction of one of the great lungs of the world, the Amazon” and he said it was “a direct confrontation with him on the part of those who are insisting that democracy does not matter and that the prosecution of their private interests must prevail”.He added that the legislation was “a challenge to all Heads of State and Government to now speak out firmly on where they stand on what is emerging as the greatest threat to democracy – the uncontrolled, unregulated actions of the unaccountable”.He said that the legislation would cause the destruction of the Amazon and is “threatening the lives of the indigenous peoples who have protected it. These indigenous peoples, who are this weekend marking the first anniversary of the death of two frontline campaigners – Bruno Pereira and Dom Philips – murdered one year ago on June 5th 2022, deserve our clear and unequivocal support.”The President called on the major signatories to international conventions on climate sustainability to “speak out and, of course, we should hear unequivocal support for President Lula da Silva from the European Union, the African Union, and all of the other unions who subscribe to the international treaties that are there for the protection of all humanity, and indeed from all who believe in established science. “It is not the time for silence, and it would be singularly insufficient to just note that those promoting this destruction simply differ with an elected President,” he said.He noted that around 10 per cent of Amazon cover has been deforested, while large-scale roads are being developed to facilitate a mining industry and forms of intense agricultural production. Brazil has a responsibility for more than three-fifths of the Amazon rainforest and has suffered the greatest portion of the recent deforestation, just less than half a million square kilometres.“This recent action by the Chamber of Deputies stands as a direct challenge, not just to the elected President, but to all those other governments in the neighbourhood who had recently been conferring on a mutually-agreed common strategy of conservation,” Mr Higgins said.“How else can what has been proposed be morally judged other than as a crime against humanity? Let us hear the voices that stand in protection of international law and the rights of humanity.”

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Sudan: Egypt urges comprehensive and sustainable cease-fire

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has stressed the necessity of reaching a comprehensive and sustainable cease-fire in Sudan which has been going through an internal armed conflict since mid-April.

Sisi made the remarks during a virtual meeting of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) held to discuss the developments of the Sudanese crisis, said the Egyptian presidency in a statement.
Addressing the PSC gathering, the Egyptian president underlined “the need for a comprehensive and sustainable cease-fire that is not limited to humanitarian purposes.”
Armed clashes have been going on between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since April 15, leaving so far about 865 civilians dead and 3,634 others wounded, according to the latest data from the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate.
A week-long cease-fire between the Sudanese warring parties was reached on May 20 in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, but sporadic clashes have continued in the capital of Khartoum in the past few days. None of the previous truces, likewise, was truly observed by the two sides.
The Egyptian president noted that Egypt has received so far 150,000 Sudanese citizens fleeing the ongoing conflict, besides already hosting five million Sudanese.
“I call on relief agencies and donor countries to provide the necessary support to (Sudan’s) neighboring countries in order to continue undertaking this role,” Sisi said. ■

Qatar has condemned the recent armed attack on its embassy building in Khartoum, which resulted in significant damage to the premises, Qatar News Agency reported. All embassy staff had been evacuated beforehand, according to the [Read More]


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Kenya Says To Boost Trade Ties With Moscow As Lavrov Visits

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made several visits to Africa over the past year

Kenya said Monday it has agreed to boost trade ties with Moscow, during a surprise visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the East African powerhouse.Lavrov’s trip came on the heels of an African tour last week by his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, with the warring sides each seeking to bolster support on the continent for their cause.With the conflict still raging in Ukraine 15 months after Russia’s invasion, President William Ruto reiterated Kenya’s “steadfast position on respect for territorial integrity of member states as outlined in the UN Charter”.”Kenya calls for a resolution of the conflict in a manner respectful to the two parties,” he said in a statement issued by his office after Ruto met with Lavrov.Ruto said trade between Nairobi and Moscow was still low despite the “huge potential” and that the two countries would be signing a trade pact, the statement said, without elaborating.Kenya exported $55 million worth of products to Russia in 2022, while imports totalled $266 million, according to the latest Kenyan government figures.Ruto also pressed the case for Africa to be represented on the UN Security Council, where Russia is one of five permanent member states.Lavrov has visited Africa several times over the past year, as global powers tussle for influence on the continent of 1.3 billion people.Kuleba last week called for African nations to end their neutral stances over war in Ukraine and announced a push by Kyiv to intensify its ties with the continent.”We speak with our African friends, trying to explain to them that neutrality is not the answer,” Kuleba said at a press conference on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, home of the African Union.He also announced in a statement the following day that Ukraine planned to open more embassies in Africa and stage a summit with the continent’s leaders.In February, 22 of the African Union’s 54 member states abstained or did not vote on a UN General Assembly resolution that called for Russia withdraw from Ukraine.Two of them — Eritrea and Mali — voted against the resolution. Lavrov had visited both countries on previous trips to Africa earlier this year.Russia has ties with African countries that can be traced to the Cold War, when the Soviet Union cast itself as an anti-colonialist defender.A Russia-Africa summit, the second in the series, is to be held in Saint Petersburg from July 26-29.

UN agency calls for inclusive tax system to secure SDGs

ADDIS ABABA, June 1 (Xinhua) — The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has called for an inclusive international tax system and an overhaul of the global financial system as part of a global deal to secure the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An inclusive international tax system would enable African countries to focus their resources on sustainable and inclusive development, a UNECA statement quoted Acting Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro during the meeting of the Second Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning, and Integration of African Union whose Sub-Committee on Tax and Illicit Financial Flows is in session. Pedro highlighted the challenges facing African countries in generating domestic resources for economic, social, and environmental investment. He stressed the need to raise additional resources as African countries face multifaceted challenges, adding that a double-digit growth rate is needed to rescue the SDGs and accelerate the implementation of Africa’s continental Agenda 2063. He noted that the international financial architecture remains grossly inadequate for low-income countries, especially in Africa, to respond to the imperatives of the SDGs and transform Africa’s economies. Pedro said multilateral financing is increasingly becoming inadequate and unfavorable, and international private financing is equally challenging and costly owing to poor credit ratings stemming from structural issues and systematic bias. Pedro further underscored the importance of an inclusive international tax system to ensure the taxing rights of African countries and the need to formulate an African position on the UN Tax Convention. “With this backing, member states will be able to begin inter-governmental discussions on ambitious reforms to the global governance structure to curb global tax abuse by multinational corporations,” he said. ■

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African Liberation Day 2023: Date, History and Significance

African Liberation Day, also referred to as Africa Day, is held yearly on May 25. It is a commemoration of African sovereignty and African identity African states established the Organisation of African Unity and sought cooperation and coexistence with neighbouring nations that had recently expelled their colonisers as well. This day is revered by nations across the continent because it represents their past, present, and future as nations. African Liberation Day pertains to Africans of all religions and socioeconomic backgrounds, as they are one nation.
In 1958, African Liberation Day was first observed in Accra, Ghana’s capital. In its first year, only eight sovereign African nations were eligible to participate. This resulted in the formation of the Congress of Independent African States, a coalition of neighbouring and allying independent African states. Western powers quickly “decolonized” Africa, with some departing the continent forcibly and others leaving voluntarily.
The intent of the commemoration and the day itself was to draw attention to the adverse effects colonialism had caused to Africa and African unity in overall. It was an effort to restore the continent’s identity and unity.
Bearing in mind that there were not any borders or maps of African territories prior to the invasion of colonisers, who unilaterally divided the land. Therefore, African Liberation Day demolishes all barriers between Africans and proclaims, “Your home is now free and it is yours.”
Since 1958, more African nations have joined the celebrations each year. They currently number 54 in total. African Liberation Day was and remains a significant political movement for Africans who, despite decades of independence, continue to bear the heavy burden of colonialism.
Over time, the Congress of Independent African States transformed into the Organisation of African Unity, and then, in 2002, it underwent a further transformation into the African Union. Peaceful political intervention through collaboration has always been at the core of Africa’s foreign policy, despite the continent’s history of numerous significant conflicts.
It resounds
Through our shared history, we all have a connection to Africa. Examining the accomplishments of the continent as a whole is an excellent method to gain perspective on one’s own life and political landscape.
Expanding our global reach
Africa is much more than a distant land populated with lions and hippos, as is commonly believed. Recognising the people and their own identities, cultures, and nations contributes to the active deconstruction of African illusions that are perpetuated in the modern world.
Huge civil rights accomplishments
No matter where you reside, you will encounter oppression and injustice in your daily life. African Liberation Day commemorates the victory of subjugated people everywhere.


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The Liberty Times Editorial: Test of G7’s resolve just beginning

The curtains have closed on the 49th G7 summit held in Hiroshima, Japan. The summit that commanded the global spotlight over the weekend, hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, has ruffled Russian and Chinese feathers. As the global community grapples with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the summit was hailed as a success, as it brought together different nations and sent a clear message to the troublemakers seeking to disrupt the international order.
A joint statement issued at the summit reaffirmed the consensus that the group strongly opposes unilateral actions that seek to change the “status quo” by force or coercion — in an apparent reference to China’s military expansion in the Pacific.
Kishida put it in simple terms: G7 leaders have reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and called for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues.
“There is clear understanding among most of our allies that, in fact, if China were to act unilaterally, there would be a response,” US President Joe Biden said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said that global partners should unite to ensure cross-strait peace.