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Friday, 6 April 2018

US President Trump determines Trade Preference Program Eligibility for Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

The President notified Congress and the Government of Rwanda of his intent to suspend duty-free treatment for all AGOA-eligible apparel products from Rwanda in 60 days
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 3, 2018/ — The President determined the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda for trade preference benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
In response to a petition filed by the U.S. used clothing industry in March 2017, the Administration initiated an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility regarding their decisions to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear.  The review found that this import ban harms the U.S. used clothing industry and is inconsistent with AGOA beneficiary criteria for countries to eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment.
Based on the results of the review, the President determined that Rwanda is not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, and therefore is out of compliance with eligibility requirements of AGOA. Consequently, the President notified Congress and the Government of Rwanda of his intent to suspend duty-free treatment for all AGOA-eligible apparel products from Rwanda in 60 days.
The President believes suspension of these benefits, instead of termination of Rwanda’s status as an AGOA beneficiary, would allow for continued engagement with the aim of restoring market access and thereby bringing Rwanda into compliance with the AGOA eligibility requirements.
The President is not suspending benefits for Tanzania and Uganda because each has taken steps toward eliminating prohibitive tariff rates on imports of used clothing and footwear and committed not to phase in a ban of these products.  The United States will continue to monitor whether Tanzania and Uganda implement these commitments and demonstrate compliance with all of AGOA’s eligibility requirements.
“The President’s determinations underscore his commitment to enforcing our trade laws and ensuring fairness in our trade relationships,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney. “I commend Tanzania and Uganda for taking corrective steps to address the United States’ concerns. We have and will continue to work with Rwanda to resolve this situation.”
On March 21, 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), asserted that the East African Community (EAC)’s 2016 decision to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear imposes significant economic hardship on the U.S. used clothing industry, and is inconsistent with AGOA beneficiary criteria for countries to establish a market-based economy and eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment.  Its petition requested an out-of-cycle review to determine whether Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, members of the EAC, are meeting AGOA eligibility criteria.  In its petition, SMART estimates that 40,000 U.S. jobs related to the collection, processing, and distribution of used clothing and footwear will be negatively affected once the ban is implemented.  SMART also asserts that the ban will negatively affect tens of thousands of jobs in the secondhand clothing sector in EAC countries.
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) accepted the petition filed by SMART and initiated an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility on June 20, 2017.  A public hearing was held on July 13, 2017 in Washington at which officials from the governments of Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and from the EAC Secretariat testified.  The USTR determined that an out-of-cycle review of Kenya’s AGOA eligibility was not warranted due to the government’s commitment to reverse the tariff back to pre-2016 levels, effective July 1, 2017, and a commitment not to ban imports of used clothing through other policy measures.  Tanzania and Uganda also made similar commitments during the course of the out-of-cycle review.
In order to qualify for AGOA trade benefits, partner countries must meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies, the rule of law, political pluralism, and elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, among others.
Source: APO

Thursday, 5 April 2018

African carriers freight demand increases by 15.9% in February 2018

The increase was helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia driven by ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 4, 2018/ — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released demand growth results for global air freight markets for February 2018 showing a 6.8% increase in demand measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period last year. Adjusting for the potential Lunar New Year distortions by combining growth in January 2018 and February 2018, demand increased by 7.7%. This was the strongest start to a year since 2015.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), grew by 5.6% year-on-year in February 2018. Demand growth outstripped capacity growth for the 19th month in a row, which is positive for airline yields and the industry’s financial performance.
The continued growth in air cargo demand is consistent with ongoing robust global trade flows. There are, however, signs that the best of the upturn for air freight has passed. Demand drivers for air cargo are moving away from the highly supportive levels seen last year. In recent months the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing and export orders has softened in a number of key exporting nations including Germany, China and the US. And the seasonally- adjusted demand for air cargo which rose at a double-digit annualized rate for much of 2017 is now trending at 3%.
“Demand for air cargo continues to be strong, with 6.8% growth in February. The positive outlook for the rest of 2018, however, faces some potentially strong headwinds, including escalation of protectionist measures into a full-blown trade war. Prosperity grows when borders are open to people and to trade, and we are all held back when they are not,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
February 2018
(% year-on-year)             World share¹      FTK         AFTK      FLF
(%-pt)²                 FLF
Total Market                      100.0%                   6.8%     5.6%    0.5%      44.4%
Africa    1.9%      15.9%    3.9%      2.9%      28.5%
Asia Pacific          36.9%    6.5%     7.2%      -0.3%                     51.3%
Europe                 24.2%                     5.7%     3.8%                      0.8%                      47.5%
Latin America                     2.7%      8.7%     6.9%      0.6%      33.9%
Middle East                        13.7%    7.4%      7.6%      -0.1%     44.2%
North America                  20.6%    7.3%      4.1%      1.1%      36.7%
¹% of industry FTKs in 2017   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level
Regional Performance
All regions reported an increase in demand in February 2018.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand in freight volumes grow 6.5% in February 2018 and capacity increase by 7.2%, compared to the same period in 2017. The upward-trend in seasonally-adjusted volumes has returned, with volumes currently trending upwards at an annualized pace of between 6.0% and 7.0%. As the largest freight-flying region, carrying close to 37% of global air freight, the risks from protectionist measures impacting the region are disproportionately high.
North American airlines’ freight volumes expanded 7.3% in February 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, and capacity increased by 4.1%. Seasonally-adjusted volumes are broadly trending sideways. The weakening of the US dollar over the past year has helped boost demand for air exports. Data from the US Census Bureau shows a 10.2% year-on-year increase in air export volumes from the US in January 2018, compared to a slower rise in imports of 6.7%.
European airlines posted a 5.7% increase in freight volumes in February 2018. This was almost half the rate of the previous month and the slowest of all regions. Capacity increased 3.8%. Seasonally-adjusted volumes have been volatile in 2018 with the jump in demand in January largely reversed in month-on-month terms in February. The strength of the Euro and the risks from protectionist measures may impact the European freight market which has benefitted from strong export orders, particularly in Germany, in recent years.
Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight volumes increased 7.4% in February 2018 and capacity increased 7.6%. Seasonally adjusted freight volumes continue to trend upwards, however, they have slowed to an annualized rate of 4% since late 2017. This largely reflects the weak conditions on the routes to and from Europe which have seen demand trend downwards at a double-digit rate over the past five months.
Latin American airlines experienced growth in demand of 8.7% in February 2018 and a capacity increase of 6.9%. The pick-up in demand over the last 18 months comes alongside signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are now back to the levels seen at the end of 2014.
African carriers saw freight demand increase by 15.9% in February 2018 compared to the same month last year – the largest increase of any region. Capacity increased by 3.9%. The increase was helped by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia driven by ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa. While the surge in demand on the route looks to have stabilized, volumes still increased by nearly 24% in year-on-year terms in January.
Source: APO

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

South Africa: Minister Mokonyane condemns the stratcom narrative on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Source: APO
PRETORIA, South Africa, April 3, 2018/ — Minister Mokonyane has noted reports from a local broadcaster and some international news agencies which continue to use an apartheid era narrative to cast aspersions on the revolutionary character of Mama Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The narrative is not only a mischievous distortion, it is devoid of truth and a clear example of the lack of journalistic research amongst the media establishment. The attempt to present the legacy of this great liberation struggle stalwart as a compromised and divisive history is reminiscent of the stratcom strategy to undermine what was a fight by Mama Winnie and her generation against a brutal apartheid regime whose killing machinery found enemies in children and adults alike on the sole basis of them being black.
In addition to the apartheid era style distortion, the narrative on the liberation stalwart is also grossly gendered and seeks to cast aside that Winnie Mandela was a freedom fighter first and foremost and not merely a wife to our leader Nelson Mandela.
“Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was her own person. The notion of boxing her as former President Mandela ex’s wife is unfortunate and deliberately intended to undermine the woman, Winnie Mandela” said Minister Nomvula Mokonyanye.
Publication houses and media outlets would do well to heed these salient remarks by Mam’ Winnie , who said “I said I was not going to bask in his shadow and be known as Mandela’s wife, they were going to know me as Zanyiwe Madikizela. I fought for that. I said, I will never even bask in his politics. I am going to form my own identity because I never did bask in his ideas.”
To this end media houses ought to report with the requisite sensitivity, historical facts and respect for the family and the millions of South Africans who through her efforts and fearless fight against apartheid won their freedom against oppression.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Ghana Rugby Eagles in full flight for Bronze Cup

ACCRA, Ghana, April 4, 2018/ — The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) (http://GhanaRugby.org) is in full flight towards destination 2018 Rugby Africa Bronze Cup when the Ghana Eagles will engage Lesotho, Mauritius and Rwanda in Cape Coast-Ghana on 9 and 12 May 2018.
The tournament forms part of Rugby Africa’s men’s 15s Rugby tournaments with the winner of the Bronze Cup automatically progressing to the Silver Cup and, on winning that, progressing to the Gold Cup that will also serve as qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup.
According to the President and Board Chairman of Ghana Rugby, Mr. Herbert Mensah, many project teams have been placed on flights that have taken off with no landing gear.
“The Rugby Africa Bronze Cup is a national event and we, Ghana Rugby, has the responsibility to represent Ghana and fly its flag high as a very first priority. The next priority is to win the Bronze Cup in pursuit of our vision to take the Ghana national teams, the Ghana Eagles, to global tournaments such as the various Rugby World Cups, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics,” Mensah said.
Technical preparations for the important encounter in Cape Coast was boosted with the arrival of South African coach, Ludwiche van Deventer, for the second of three stints on Saturday the 31st of March 2018.
Mensah also said, “Ghana Rugby, like many sports associations and federations globally, is under extreme financial pressure to fund all it needs to do. The pro-bono support by Coach Van Deventer is therefore highly appreciated and we believe and hope that this sacrifice by him will lead to greater things in future for both him and Ghana Rugby.”
According to Mensah, the association with Coach Van Deventer started in 2017 with Mission Kampala when the Ghana Eagles took part in the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens tournament for the first time.
He also expressed his appreciation to the newly elected President of the Blue Bulls in South Africa, Mr. Willem Strauss, for having facilitated the relationship and who is indeed the sponsor of this contribution.
The social media also saw an escalation in the announcement of various fundraising projects embarked on by Ghana Rugby (https://goo.gl/ghFYoi).
“Hosting an international sports event of this nature on a global standard takes a lot of preparation and indeed a lot of money on top of the grant by governing body, Rugby Africa. We are very appreciative of contributions by various parties at this stage including the Panafrican Group, Golden Tulip Accra, the Blue Bulls, various top-class restaurants and others,” Mensah said.
According to the Ghana Rugby President, the search for money and new sponsors is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but that the Union will be announcing some exciting additions to its list of “Friends of Ghana Rugby” before the Bronze Cup kicks off.
In addition to mainstream sponsorships Ghana Rugby also embarked on a range of initiatives to boost the empty coffers of the Union.
The fundraising initiatives included crowdsourcing campaigns on two platforms (youcaring and payPutt), a Bronze Cup Pledge & Challenge campaign aimed at individuals and Clubs, the selling of a limited number of Ghana Eagles replica jerseys and competitions to win items.
According to the commercial arm of Ghana Rugby these initiatives never produce fireworks but that it serves as a means to keep the Rugby Family engaged and to give them an opportunity to enjoy the great feeling of making some sort of contribution without expecting anything in return.
To acknowledge the contributions especially by individuals Ghana Rugby is also issuing certificates of “Friendship”.
Mensah also reached out to other stakeholders including the government and corporate bodies to join hands with Ghana Rugby in this opportunity to make Ghanaians proud and to further position Ghana as the destination to “do business with”.
Source: APO

Monday, 2 April 2018

ICD highlighted the role of SMEs during the 43rd Annual Meet of IsDB

TUNIS, Tunisia, April 4, 2018/ — The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) (www.ICD-PS.org) held interactive sessions during the IsDB group (www.IsDB-pilot.org) private sector forum alongside with IsDB Group 43rd Annual Meeting in the Four Seasons Hotel.
The event entitled “The SMEs: engine of growth and sustainable development”, raised awareness with regard to ICD’s contribution in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and explored the IDB Group’s various interventions with regard to Entrepreneurship, Startups and Innovative SMEs. ICD also informed developmental partners on practices and tools to be used for designing SME resilience support programs. It also discussed the importance of SME Funds and ICD’s interventions in Private Equity and Mezzanine Financings under the SME Funds Program to help strengthen SMEs in member countries.
ICD organized three sessions. The first session focused on the IDB Group’s contributions in supporting the growth of innovative SMEs, the second session discussed the challenges and needs of SMEs in fragile and conflict settings and the third session reviewed the role of SME Funds in developing economies.
The event witnessed remarkable interventions from leading figures in the finance industry commencing from H.E. Slim Feriani, Minister of Industry and SMEs in Tunisia, ICD’s acting CEO Mohammed Al-Ammari and ending up with reputable CEOs and experts in the SMEs field from all over the world.
At this occasion, Mr. Al Ammari stated: “We feel proud in contributing to the inclusive development and sustainable growth through strengthening the role of private sector in our 54 member countries. ICD is the first Islamic multilateral development organization in the world that aims at developing the private sector in its member countries through Shari’ah-compliant products and services. Our pioneering role in multiple geographies enabled us to achieve success in providing finance to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), offering advisory services, promoting integration, and enhancing productive capacities and resilience of private corporations”.
Source: APO