Current Trade News

Samson Ogbole is trying to solve a problem many aren't aware exists. In his native Nigeria there is a shortage of land needed to provide food for its ever-growing population of 190 million.
There are only 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation in Nigeria annually, short of the estimated 78.5 million needed for food production, according to the International Trade Administration of the United States.
It is this significant problem that Ogbole is tackling with an unconventional method of farming that involves growing crops in the air. Aeroponics, as this method is known as, is a process of growing plants in the air without the use of soil.
Ogbole first got involved in soilless farming in 2014, and two years later founded PS Nutraceuticals, a company that "implements cutting edge agricultural technologies for efficiency in food production to ensure food security."
"Soilless growing entails removing the soil component, bringing in substitutes, and applying fertilizer to enable the plants to grow," Ogbole says.
The advantages of this innovation are manifold, according to Ogbole. "Growing without soil means you can grow [crops] any time of the year," he adds.
"With soilless farming we have been able to push for what you call urban farming, where we now have farms in cities such that we are able to cut off the middlemen and marketers," he says.
"And with soilless farming we have been able to eliminate the pathogens that exist in the soil that naturally affect these crops."
Only 46% of Nigerian soil is fertile to grow crops, according to him, and as such the country must take a step towards self-sustainability in food production, as he believes the "war of the future will be fought through agriculture."
It's therefore imperative, he says, that technology plays a more prominent role in agriculture for a variety of reasons.
"We're bringing in technology into agriculture so that the youth can actually see this as a viable option," Ogbole says.
"We also want to ensure that food production is no longer seasonal, and we're also bringing in smart sensor technologies into agriculture so that you're able to get feedback from your plants."
As a child Ogbole wanted to be a doctor, but now armed with a degree in biochemistry, a master's degree, and a PhD, he wants to lead Nigeria on the path to increased food production.
"The future of the economy is dependent on the few people who have bright ideas, that can think outside the box for us to latch on," he says. "Money does not solve problems; ideas, solve problems."
Ogbole is now involved in programs to encourage youths to engage in agriculture, based on the belief that "people will always eat."
"Food will not go out of style, so this is one sector that will always remain relevant because people must eat," he says.
Source: CNN

At a meeting of the Council for Trade in Services (CTS) on 7 December, WTO members agreed to hold a dedicated meeting in the second or third quarter of 2019 to review how WTO members are making use of the Services Waiver that allows them to grant more favourable treatment to service suppliers in least developed countries (LDCs). The CTS chair, Ambassador Alfredo Suescum of Panama, will hold informal consultations in early 2019 to discuss how the dedicated session might unfold and agree on a specific date.

Recalling the Nairobi Waiver Decision, LDCs invited members to seize this opportunity to engage in an information sharing exercise, including on how to build awareness of how LDCs benefit from the waiver and how to increase access to LDC suppliers of services. LDCs underlined the importance of carrying out an information sharing exercise which will allow them to showcase their experiences as beneficiaries, and stressed that the dedicated discussion will not in any case replace the standing item on the CTS agenda with respect to the LDC Services Waiver.
Many of the WTO members providing preferential treatment to LDC services suppliers stressed the need for the discussion to take a broad approach, extending beyond the preferences permitted under the waiver. They said that the exchange of information should cover the full scope of trade opportunities available to LDC service suppliers. Moreover, they called for the information sharing to be flexible and in no way compulsory, based on a balanced engagement from all members, including the LDCs.
Other matters
The United States reiterated its concerns in relation to existing and proposed cybersecurity measures by China as they would allegedly restrict cross-border transfers of information and require the localization of data in China. According to the US, China’s proposed legal approach to cybersecurity requires a burdensome security assessment for transfers of any data Chinese government officials consider to be "important data". This would almost imply explicit consent by the owner of the information before any cross-border transfer can take place, said the United States.
The US pointed out the provision in China's cybersecurity framework that any "important data" or "personal information" that operators of critical information infrastructure collect or generate in China must be stored in China. All these elements combined could disrupt, deter and, in many cases, prohibit cross-border transfers of information in the ordinary course of business, according to the US. Japan, the European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Chinese Taipei echoed these concerns.
China noted that it had already supplied detailed answers in the last CTS meeting in October. However, it took the floor to state that the implementing measures of the Cybersecurity Law are still being drafted while the Chinese authorities receive suggestions from various interested parties with a view to designing their policies on this matter in a more scientific and reasonable manner and creating an orderly market environment for both domestic and foreign enterprises.
After stressing that ensuring cybersecurity was a difficult challenge that all members face, China underlined that enhanced cybersecurity measures are essential for protecting national security, public interest and the rights of citizens, legal persons and other organizations, and that these measures are in line with relevant WTO rules.
The United States and Japan also reiterated their concerns with regard to existing and proposed cybersecurity measures by Viet Nam. They underlined that service suppliers in data-intensive sectors depend on cross-border data flows and often rely on data centres that cannot economically be replicated in every market they serve; as such, they should not be subject to data localization and local presence requirements. These delegations' concerns were shared by the European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Chinese Taipei.
The Vietnamese delegate noted that the National Assembly had carefully considered all comments before passing the law at issue, which had been adopted in pursuit of the legitimate policy objective of ensuring cybersecurity and in strict adherence to Viet Nam's WTO obligations. Relevant implementing regulations were being drafted in an open and transparent manner, and had been already revised in light of the concerns raised, Viet Nam said.
Working Party on Domestic Regulation
The CTS was preceded by a meeting of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR) on 5 December 2018, where members discussed a proposal by India to develop regulatory disciplines on measures relating to the temporary entry of natural persons, also known as "mode 4".
The proposal includes making measures relating to licensing, qualification and technical standards affecting mode 4 trade more transparent and facilitative. To this end, the proposal suggests enhanced publication requirements, streamlined procedures for licensing and qualifications, and adequate procedures to ensure that natural persons who are qualified outside a member's territory are permitted to supply services to another member.
Many members highlighted the importance of easing access to markets through mode 4 to create meaningful commercial opportunities in services. In particular, developing countries emphasized that reducing trade barriers created by such measures would help them use trade to better meet their development objectives. In addition, they underlined the need for special and differential provisions for developing members. These include, for example, adequate transitional periods, reduced administrative fees and technical assistance for services suppliers from developing countries.
In addition, Korea reported the adoption of non-binding disciplines on domestic regulation at a meeting of APEC ministers in Papua New Guinea held in November 2018.
Source: World Trade Organization

MsTimbuNtjenje, 43, has found a niche in the rabbit production business.This is despite frustration of losing her job after being involved in a road accident in 2011.She said she lost her job as a heavy-duty driver after injuring her spine, but she had a family to take care of, so she opted to do rabbit production because it did not require much labour.

MsNtjenje revealed in an interview that she had to do research from the internet and read books to acquire the knowledge she needed.

Through the help of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund officials and the social workers, she explained that she was enrolled in the poverty eradication programme so that she could do something to sustain her life.Even though it took some years to get the stock and materials to start her business, she finally got them towards the end of 2017.

MsNtjenje said though the materials were not complete, she could start her project, revealing that she was given 11 rabbits, 10 does and a buck, the structure and cages.
"My package came with a shortage of nest boxes and due to financial constraints, I did not manage to buy them, three months later I lost 50 kids and that was a huge set back," she added.

However, she said her business survived the hardships and she now has 36 rabbits; three California, two New Zealand Red and 31 New Zealand White.She said her customers are mainly farmers, individuals (who sometimes want to keep them as pets).
Ms. Ntjenje said she also slaughtered for customers for consumption and sold the pelt to individuals going into business."Rabbits skin can be used to make fur goods like clothing, hats and handbags," she highlighted.

She noted the advantage of being involved in this business was that rabbits matured quickly and multiplied fast, offering opportunity for one to quickly recover costs and investments in a short period of time.

Ms. Ntjenje further said rabbits werenot easily attacked by diseases therefore they were cheap to maintain."This is a relief because all I have to do is to keep a clean environment so that they do not attract mice and feed them properly so they grow well," she added.

She, however, highlighted a challenge of expensive feed, but noted that she supplemented the pellets with the vegetables she grew in her backyard garden.She added she also used their urine and waste as manure in her garden.She said the other challenge was lack of market, noting that the profits were low.
Through social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, Ms. Ntjenje said she managed to reach a wider audience to advertise her business and had been getting a positive response.

She added that by attending workshops and exhibitions, she managed to network and benchmark with those in the same business.To her, rabbit production did not benefit her as a business only, she revealed that she had developed a relationship with the animals.

"They are like my children, I check them every day when I wake up and when I go to bed in the evening," she said.Furthermore, she said the animals had been part of her healing process, as touching their soft fur, cleaning and feeding them gave her peace of mind.

MsNtjenje wished for her business to grow and be successful and to have a wider market, saying that rabbit meat was known to be nutritious and good for health.
She said some studies had revealed that rabbit meat contained less fats and cholesterol, which was known to contribute to the growing rate of heart diseases and other health complications.

Therefore, the meat could also be used as a substitution of poultry and fish."I have already started an association in the north region and have 12 subscribers and still counting, and we are going to come up with ways to be able to expand and sell our rabbits better to make desirable profits," she added.

Ms. Ntjenje also encouraged other poverty eradication programme beneficiaries to be focused on changing their lives and meeting the government halfway.

Source: Botswana Daily News
At a meeting in Bali, Indonesia last recently, the heads of four international organizations issued a strong call to ease trade tensions and refocus on the importance of trade and the multilateral trading system in fueling economic growth. This call was made by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, together with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Kim and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, at a jointly-organized conference under the theme “How global trade can promote growth for all.”

According to the Director General of the World Trade Organization Mr.Azevêdo, the trading system is not perfect — but it represents the best efforts of governments around the world, working together for 70 years, to find ways to cooperate on trade issues. He pointed that it took a lot of people and a lot of time to push the boulder this far up the hill. Thus, even keeping it in place requires constant effort.

Mr. Azevedo said that currently, the WTO covers around 98% of global trade and has overseen a historic opening of markets and integration of economies. Since 1980, average tariffs have been cut by two thirds. The system has provided stability and predictability in global trade — holding firm even during the financial crisis. And, as a result, it has helped to fuel unprecedented growth and development around the world, as well as a dramatic reduction in poverty. To him, the system has real value so there is need to keep working on it.

Mr. Azevedo then pointed out the need to explore all avenues which could ease the current tensions and strengthen the trading system.  “We all know the risks of further escalation — risks to the economy and risks to the trading system itself, which would multiply the economic risks over the long term. We can’t let that happen. We need trade and the trading system to play their part in fueling growth — just as they have done so effectively for seven decades.” He said.

Source: World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization and six other international organizations have recently pledged to deliver greater financial inclusion in trade.
At a special session during the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, the organizations committed themselves to finding ways to close the gaps in trade finance provision.


During the event held in October 2018, the Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said that despite the importance of trade finance, a number of problems have emerged since the financial crisis. Supply and demand have become unbalanced. Perceived regulatory risk, combined with the low capacity of the financial sector in some countries, has resulted in big gaps in provision. The Asian Development Bank estimated that the global gap in trade finance is about $1.5 trillion. This gap represents a significant barrier to trade. It is of particular concern that this gap affects developing countries and smaller businesses the most. Today, 60% of trade finance requests by SMEs are rejected.


Mr. Azevedo said that opportunities for growth and development are being lost, which to him was a clear indication that action is required. He pointed that over the recent years they have been building a coalition to that end. Philippe (Le Houérou, CEO of the International Finance Corporation) and Mr. Azevedo joined forces and started reaching out to the heads of the regional development banks, the Chair of the Financial Stability Board, and many others.

He outlined the significant progress that has already been made in recent years, including to enhance the trade finance programs of key institutions. These programs are expected to support over $35 billion of trade this year, which is an increase of more than 50% over two years. He also outlined progress in addressing the knowledge gaps in local financial institutions, and in increasing dialogue with regulators to ensure that necessary financial regulations do not have unintended consequences for trade finance, which is a very low risk form of lending. He pointed to further actions which are needed in each of these areas.


Mr. Azevendo pointed that there is need to make global trade more inclusive, but further added that trade inclusion needs financial inclusion. He then explained that there was need to continue developing concrete ideas and solutions that make a real difference. Working with a range of partners – including the private sector – which can then help provide momentum to this work.

Source: World Trade Organization