BIZweek n°324 8 jan 2021
BIZweek n°324 8 jan 2021
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  • Parution : n°324 de 8 jan 2021

  • Périodicité : hebdomadaire

  • Editeur : Capital Publications Ltd

  • Format : (260 x 370) mm

  • Nombre de pages : 6

  • Taille du fichier PDF : 2,4 Mo

  • Dans ce numéro : les perspectives 2021 de JP Morgan Banque Privée.

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VENDREDI 08 JANVIER 2021 BIZWEEK ÉDITION 324 OF THE AFRicAN CONTINENTAL FREE'MME Creating one Mentan iiikantet BIZ ALERT REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS The African Continental Free Trade Area sets a new high-water mark for dispute settlement On 1 January 2021, trading began under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a regional trade agreement aimedat all 55 member states of the African Union. The agreement is publicized as encompassing the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Once fully implemented, the AfCFTA will establish a new high-water mark for dispute settlement under regional trade agreements à To date, most trade disputes have been resolved using the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, even when the matters concerned could have been resolved under a regional trade agreement. This is largely because the WTO was viewed as offering a better mechanism to address complex factual and legal issues. Disputes that reach the formal dispute settlement stage inevitably involve political sensitivities, particularly for the country whose measures are being challenged, but also for the challenging country. Whatever the outcome, both disputing countries must « sell » that outcome to their constituents. To best achievethis, particularly if the outcome is negative, the constituents need to be convinced that the strongest possible case was put forward, that the decision-making body understood and considered that case, and that the decision that was issued is factually accurate and legally well-reasoned. Although it has been the subject of criticism by some WTO Members, the WTO mechanism has generally been successful at meeting these requirements. This is due to its well-developed procedures, the ability to appeal findings of dispute settlement panels, and dispute settlement support by an experienced and professional Secretariat. Until now, the ad hoc trade dispute settlement mechanisms under regional trade agreements have lacked these components. The AfCFTA changes this by creating a dispute settlement mechanism that closely resembles the WTO mechanism, including panels, a process for appeals, a procedure governing the « suspension of concessions » (e.g., trade retaliation), and a supporting Secretariat. Although it does not have the 165-country membership of the WTO, the AfCFTA membership of 55 countries should generate enough formal disputes to reasonably utilize the mechanism. Study on the Socio-Economic Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic in COMESA Region Completed COMESA Secretariat has conducted a study on the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The study is expected to help Member States in developing policies to address the impacts of the pandemic on their economies. According to the study, only six Member States  : Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda are projected to have positive growth rates post COVID-19 pandemic. The resultant contraction in economic growth in countries is likely to hit hard countries that are resource intensive, oil exporters, and tourism dependent. Non-resource intensive countries will be more resilient. Specifically, the fall in commodity prices affected COMESA oil and mineral products exporters thereby leading to sharp declines in export earnings and balance of payment challenges, according to the report. The study identified the services sector as the most affected due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. These include business services, air transport, road transport and tourism. Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Madagascar, which heavily rely on services sectors have been the most affected. Promote regional tourism « Available data pointed to a double-digit reduction of 22% in the travel and tourism sector during the first quarter of 2020, with arrivals in March down by 57%, » the report stated. « This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about USD 80 billion in receipts. Current scenarios point to declines of 58% to 78% in international tourist arrivals for 2020. » A brief on the study was presented to the 41st meeting of the Council of Ministers last week. In their decision, the ministers urged Member States to fast-track implementation of the protocol on free movement of persons and easing regional movement. Specifically, they cited the movement of professionals like medical personnel, engineers, technicians, essential goods and services across borders and the development of a regional strategy to encourage and promote domestic and regional tourism. The study found that financial services were more resilient due to digitization including the use of the internet and mobile banking. It recommended greater liberalization of financial and telecommunication services to help reduce costs of services provision which are currently high. Increase in non-performing loans On inflation, the study found that the regional rate increased from 31.6% to 60.4% in the first of 2020, with some countries registering double digit month on month inflation. « Inflation was largely driven by drastic changes in consumption of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (89%), health (78.3%) and communication (69.6%) due to supply shortages and confinement measures, » the report says. However, many economies experienced increase in nonperforming loans (NPLs) especially in the following sectors  : tourism, restaurant and hotels, transport and communication, trade, real estate, personal/household, building and construction and manufacturing sectors. In addition, there was a cut down in remittance inflows in the region, attributed to shut down in economic activities in key source countries including France, Italy, Spain, United States, United Kingdom, Middle East and China. These account for a quarter of total remittances to Sub Saharan Africa. 3

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