President Donald Trump has withdrawn benefits for Rwanda to export apparel duty-free to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). In March, the Trump administration had threatened to review Kigali's status in 60 days after the latter banned importation of used clothes and shoes.

"The President, therefore, has decided to suspend Rwanda's duty-free access to the United States for apparel products until Rwanda comes back into compliance with Agoa's eligibility requirements," the deputy US Trade Representative CJ Mahoney said in a statement on Monday. "We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary.

"If the Agoa eligibility criteria are to have any meaning, they have to be enforced-particularly where, as here, other Agoa members took action in order remain in compliance," he said adding that Trump's action was "measured and proportional".

Rwanda increased tariffs on imported used clothes in 2016 with the aim of boosting its local textile industry and eventually phase out second-hand apparel. The planned phased out was to be implemented by East African Community member countries.

But Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda abandoned the joint position after threats by the US to review their Agoa status. Despite the suspension, Rwanda will remain eligible to receive non-apparel benefits under Agoa.

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The Kenyan-based company Global Tea & Commodities has obtained a USD4.0 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank group, to expand its macadamia and coffee production in Malawi.

The company will plant more macadamia trees and replant existing coffee plantations, using modern irrigation techniques to reduce water consumption. In addition, IFC is analyzing another USD4.0 million loan to extend its processing plant in Kenya.

Global Tea is one of the largest macadamia producers in Kenya, exporting to multinational corporations such as Intersnack.

“By investing in companies like Global Tea, IFC supports African branded products and supports livelihoods for local farmers. We are advising Global Tea on sustainable agricultural practices, which should boost sustainable production of commodities in Malawi,” Mary Jean Moyo of IFC noted.

Extracted from Agribusiness Intelligence

Twenty-six government officials from across the world took part in an Advanced Course on the Economic Analysis of Trade Policy at the WTO from 26 July to 3 August 2018. The course taught participants ways to carry out trade policy research, collect data and implement quantitative analysis in a more autonomous way

The course highlighted the importance of analyzing economic data and assessing the impact of trade policy decisions at the national level and in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade negotiations. Participants became familiar with sources of data and methodologies to analyze trade and trade policy, including to estimate the impact of certain determinants on trade flows, and to calculate trade policy indicators. The course also provided a platform to discuss ways of enhancing the use of research in policy making.

The course was opened by the WTO's Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun. In his address, he said that analyzing the economic effects of trade policy quantitatively can be very useful in helping WTO members formulate efficient trade policies.

The activity is based on two joint UNCTAD/WTO publications, "A Practical Guide to Trade Policy Analysis" and "An Advanced Guide to Trade Policy Analysis". Participants also heard from Professor Yoto Yotov of the American University Drexel about the latest advances in trade policy analysis, including a model to simulate the long-term impact of trade policy changes.

The chief of the Course Design and Training Section of the WTO's Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC), Raymundo Valdés, closed the course by encouraging the participants to use the tools they learned, including by sharing among their colleagues, to support well-informed policy making.

The course – designed by Marc Bacchetta, Cosimo Beverelli, Jose-Antonio Monteiro and Roberta Piermartini of the WTO's Economic Research and Statistics Division – was delivered jointly with the ITTC and was offered as part of the WTO's technical assistance and capacity building courses. It represents the highest level of “specialist” training within the WTO's progressive learning framework.

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Sugar exports under the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) reached just 350,000 tonnes by the end of July, or less than 20% of the 2.0 million tonne quota fixed by the government for sale by September 30, according to industry sources

Some consignments are on their way to ports, but the industry is till "completely off the target", Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) director general Abinash Verma said.

As there is a huge difference between the domestic and export price of sugar, the loss to be incurred on each kg of sugar to be exported is around INR10-11 whereas the government’s financial assistance, through the cane price route, works out to around INR7.7/kg. As a result, a large number of mills are not releasing sugar, and exporters, in turn, do not have sufficient quantities available for shipping, he said.

"The current policies do not encourage sugar exports. Domestic prices are artificially up as the government has put a cap on the quantity of sugar that can be sold in the market,” Verma said. While the demand for sugar ahead of the festival season is estimated to be around 2.15-2.2 mln tonnes, the quota fixed by the government for August is about 1.75 mln tonnes. It was 1.65 mln tonnes in June, Verma said.

Domestic prices are currently around INR32 per kg, said Verma. He called on the government to fix the minimum sugar price at INR35-36. “Once this is done, there may not be any need for giving financial incentives for meeting exports requirements. The mills will then be in a position to bear the losses as they can make it up from the domestic market,” the ISMA official said.

According to the latest data released by the government, cane price dues to be paid to the farmers were around INR168 bln until July, the highest ever at this time of year, Verma said.

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The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), will host the first-ever Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (NAIF) in Nairobi, Kenya on October 16-17, it has been announced.

According to the African Business Forum, the aim of the forum is to bring together to and engage private sector investors to play a key role in improving nutrition across Africa.  The event is hosted in partnership with Royal DSM, a purpose-led global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living recognized for its global fight against malnutrition, the SUN Business Network and African Business magazine.

The Nutrition Africa Investor Forum will highlight business opportunities in a largely underdeveloped market. From farm to fork, nutrient gaps in diets within low and middle-income markets constitute a largely untapped market worth USD$120bn. According to a recent study, no African country is expected to reach the UN target of ending childhood malnutrition by 2030.  In fact, malnutrition indicators remain “persistently high” in 14 countries, stretching across from Sahel from Senegal in the west to Eritrea in the east.

This challenge needs to be addressed. GAIN argues that engaging the private sector is key in addressing this issue. Nutrition-sensitive capital investments along the entire food value chain are critical to drive better availability, access, affordability — and finally — consumption of nutritious foods. 

GAIN, an international organization founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and driven by the mission of a world without malnutrition, works with nearly 1,000 companies across the food value chain in Africa, but many of these cite access to capital as a challenge. At the Forum, experts will present a number of viable investment opportunities from these enterprises to venture capital funds, private equity groups, finance institutions, foundations and impact investors. The forum will showcase current and future investment potential for nutritious foods in Africa. There will also be an opportunity for the private sector and investors to discuss key challenges and discuss opportunities for unlocking greater investment in nutrition market with the instruments and vehicles that are currently available and those under development. 

Lawrence Haddad, GAIN’s Executive Director, says: “One in three people in the world suffers from some form of malnutrition. Moreover, poor diet is the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease. We believe in the enormous potential of national food businesses in Africa to address this challenge by producing more affordable, nutritious foods. However, for this to happen new private investments must be unlocked for SMEs along with new policy and lending instruments. We’re aiming to help bridge this gap.”

Fokko Wientjes, Vice President Malnutrition Programs & Partnerships Royal DSM and member of the SUN Business Network Executive Committee, added: ‘Nutrition is the new asset class of a dynamic African food industry. Businesses, governments and investors don’t just have a moral case for investing in nutrition – they now have a business case too. Businesses in Africa adapt their approach as governments and consumers increasingly demand access to safe, affordable nutritious foods. Smart companies and investors will start building now the African food industry of the future, serving the African consumer of the future’.  

Extracted from Africa Business Forum