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tralac Newsletter • Issue 20 • June 2020
Welcome to the tralac newsletter for June 2020

June is Youth Month in South Africa, and we’re very pleased to present perspectives on trade-related issues that matter for Africa’s youth. The youth, particularly in Africa, but also in other developing regions, is facing many challenges ranging from lack of stable economic opportunities to joblessness (unemployment and underemployment). Recent statistics show that one-third of the African youth is unemployed; one-third is in vulnerable employment. Countries across the continent are simply not creating enough formal and decent jobs for the youth coming into the labour market each year. Even the advanced economies like South Africa and Nigeria are experiencing high youth unemployment rates.

12 million youth enter the African labour market every year yet only 3.1 million formal jobs are created. The youth face greater structural barriers to entry into the labour market than adults. The continent’s economic growth and job creation trends are generally on the decline, not matching the increasing demand for economic opportunities and decent jobs. This situation provides significant challenges for governments to consider why their policies are not delivering on their promises of development outcomes.

The population of Africa is youthful and rapidly growing, with nearly 420 million aged 15-35, and this cohort is predicted to double by 2050. This population, if appropriately supported and nurtured, can be the greatest resource to accelerate the continent’s socio-economic development and transformation. It can also be a ticking time bomb if the young people do not find opportunities either in employment created by others or in their own entrepreneurial endeavours. This could pose dangers to social stability and perhaps even to the continent’s peace and security.

The African Union (AU) has adopted several initiatives to harness the youth demographic dividend to advance the socio-economic transformation of the continent. The AU Youth Division is responsible for the Youth Agenda at the African Union Commission. The African Youth Charter outlines the continent’s strategy for youth empowerment and development at the continental, regional and national levels. However, more work still needs to be done to implement the Charter and other youth initiatives of the AU so that they can deliver development outcomes.

Development partners and companies are stepping up with different initiatives to create opportunities for the youth. The African Development Bank, for example, has a transformative vision (Jobs for Youth in Africa) to create 25 million jobs and reach over 50 million Africans by driving inclusive growth across the continent and equipping youth to realise their full economic potential. The Multichoice Group, for example, has a range of youth support initiatives across the continent – one is a ‘talent factory for young film makers’ offering training and opportunities for young creative talents.

We further commend governments who are implementing international and national laws and policies to better the lives of the youth and next generations. We contend that harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend requires effective implementation of (national and regional or continental) laws, policies and strategies that will accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth and create opportunities for young people.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will severely impact the continent’s public health and economies. While young people and children are not bearing the brunt of the health crisis, the measures implemented by governments to curb the pandemic will have a short and long-term negative impact on the youth (school disruptions, loss of parents, job losses etc). COVID-19 is also projected to contract Africa’s FDI flows (an engine for economic growth and development and job creation) in 2020 and 2021. See a blog by Talkmore Chidede on COVID-19 to curtail FDI flows to Africa in 2020.

We recommend the development of post COVID-19 recovery strategies focusing on improving the lives of young people, better education, digital skills and quality jobs; policies that are forward-looking, reducing the damages caused by COVID-19 and resilient to future crises. See a blog by Trudi Hartzenberg and Talkmore Chidede on the Youth and post-COVID-19 recovery strategies in Africa and beyond.

Economies are digitising and future jobs are changing. Young people should be equipped with skills necessary for the needs and industry and commerce within a digital 21st century economy. Digital solutions are also changing the way of doing business and are essential to facilitate cross-border trade today. See the blog by Wilfried Deudjui Mbouwé on Digital Solution for Trade Facilitation and Rwatida Mafurutu’s blog on the Use of Electronic Certificates of Origin now and beyond COVID-19 in intra-African Trade.

The continent needs young people who are not only focused on getting employed but also creating employment. Youth entrepreneurship skills should be stimulated and supported in Africa. This can be achieved through enabling entrepreneurship policies and training hubs, ease of doing business, market access, and sustainable and inclusive funding for youth entrepreneurs. See a blog by Maria Immanuel – Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa: A beacon of hope for the continent.

Equally, the availability of natural resources and arable land gives the continent potential to be a key centre of agricultural production and improve food security. Governments need to assist young people to take up opportunities in agriculture by removing barriers related to factors such as access to land, finance and other resources. See Motlatsi Tolo’s blog – Challenges for youth entrepreneurs in agriculture.

Governments should encourage and support youth to trade and participate in governance matters. Leaving the youth behind in trade and governance developments will perpetuate inequalities. Youth participation in trade and governance matters represents a progressive perspective on the role of young people in society. The young people are key stakeholders with vested interests in trade and governance matters. See the blog by Obert Bore and Talkmore Chidede – Youth in trade and trade governance in Africa.

In addition, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a sine quo non for creating opportunities for the youth. See the blog by George Lwanda – Beyond SDGs: The role of African youth in reaping demographic dividends.

We are pleased to bring you this newsletter which presents perspectives from the youth in tralac’s network – they are alumni, members of tralac’s Women in Trade Governance Network and the growing network of young entrepreneurs participating in tralac’s research, training and dialogue activities. These are reflective contributions on key issues that need to be addressed to meet the challenges of the 21st century – they matter for all of us. 

We are also pleased to share with you feedback from some of our alumni – they reflect on the training at tralac and what this has meant for their careers. Click here to read more.

We look forward to your feedback; and wish you all the best.

The tralac team.
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In July 2019, on the occasion of its Twelfth Extraordinary Session when the Operational Phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) was launched, the Assembly of the African Union decided that 7 July should be designated Africa Integration Day.

To mark Africa Integration Day this year, the African Union Commission, in collaboration with a range of partners, has prepared a 7-day program of virtual events.
tralac will be hosting a webinar tomorrow (4 July) from 15:00 - 17: 00 East Africa Time on ‘Leveraging the AfCFTA for Africa’s development: Lessons from COVID-19 experience’. For further details, see the following:

REGISTER HERE to join the webinar via Zoom.

tralacBlog is a forum to share and engage with the views of tralac researchers and Associates, as well as guest contributors, on pressing regional integration and trade policy issues affecting African countries in order to encourage relevant, topic-related discussion and debate. View more here.

The Wild West is Dead; Long Live Data Protection
Paul Esselaar
An Agenda for the AfCFTA Protocol on E-Commerce
Ify Ogo
Digitalise transport and trade procedures to ease the supply of essential goods during COVID-19 and beyond
Trudi Hartzenberg, Talkmore Chidede
How Should the Covid-19 Pandemic Inform Economic and Trade Policy?
John Stuart
EU investment governance developments: Implications for African countries
Talkmore Chidede
South Africa’s April 2020 trade statistics – reduced exports lead to a significant trade deficit
Willemien Viljoen
Trade-related policy responses to COVID-19
tralac is monitoring trade-related policy measures and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, adopted and implemented by African countries and beyond. Take a look at our resources pages to find out more:
Recent Publications

tralac promotes active debate on trade law and policy issues in Africa and engages in applied trade law and policy analysis with the aim of addressing the most pressing trade matters for countries in the region. Our research is presented in trade briefs, working papers and books, among others. View more here.

Trade Brief

African Continental Free Trade Agreement – what can the AfCFTA add to trade liberalisation if the regional economic communities remain?

Willemien Viljoen

View accompanying infographics here.


Trade in the Digital Economy: a tralac collection

This volume brings together tralac’s work over the past five years (updated where necessary) on the digital economy, e-commerce, information communication technology and related developments. We present data on the current state of the digital economy in Africa; identify some of the most important interventions for catch up; examine some of the key trade policy issues arising from digitalisation; and offer policy recommendations for making the most of this fundamental economic and social shift.

Trade Data Analysis

tralac engages in applied trade law and policy analysis, with the aim of addressing the most pressing trade matters for countries across the continent. As we move towards the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, assessing African countries’ intra-African trade and tariff profiles becomes an important exercise. View our selection of infographics here.

Key trade stats for AGOA beneficiaries to end April 2020
Aggregate exports to US: 2020 YTD to April:
$ 5.77 billion (-3.27% year on year)
(Share) of AGOA exports: 2020 YTD to April:
$ 1.27 billion (represents 22% of total exports)

Overall exports from AGOA beneficiaries to the United States are slightly lower in the period to April 2020 compared to the same time last year. These figures are influenced significantly by lower AGOA exports from Nigeria (mainly oil) and others. A number of exporters have however seen a year-on-year increase in exports under AGOA, including Kenya (currently the third-largest beneficiary), Ethiopia, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania.

Kenya – US Free Trade Agreement

On 6 February 2020, US President Trump announced that the United States intends to initiate trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Kenya following a meeting at the White House with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The announcement came while the US-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group held its third meeting in Washington (see inaugural meetingsecond meeting) - having been established earlier by President Trump and President Kenyatta in 2018 in order to lay the groundwork for a stronger bilateral trade relationship. On 18 March 2020, the Trump Administration, through the USTR, formally notified the US Congress in line with the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (Trade Promotion Authority) which, inter alia,  subjects “trade agreements to congressional oversight and approval, consultations…”. In May and June respectively, the United States and Kenya published their negotiating principles. The negotiations are expected to start on 7 July 2020.  
Follow developments on the Kenya-US FTA on at this link.

AGOA Business Connector

The AGOA Business Connector is an online facility on to help enable trade and business connections between producers, exporters, importers, sourcing agents, trade-related service suppliers including trade finance, logistics and related services, support organisations (such as business chambers and exporter associations and others), both from within sub-Saharan African AGOA beneficiary countries and the United States. Registered users are also able to list their businesses or professional trade-related service on the platform, and to communicate with other listings through a messaging facility.

> Download the AGOA Business Connector Brochure at this link

Download: AGOA guides and info-graphics

tralac has produced a number of info-graphic type brochures (see section on / Exporter Toolkit) covering a range of AGOA-related topics, including on AGOA’s legal provisions with regard to eligibility and annual/out of cycle reviews, rules of origin, AGOA FAQs, sector-focused brochures (textiles and clothing, agriculture), as well as national AGOA brochures relating to Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.

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