ACP news – Post date: November 13th, 2020.

COMESA economy shrinkS in 2020

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regional economy is projected to decline further by 0.6% in 2020, largely due to shocks induced by the Covid-19 pandemic (Chronicle, 16 October). The region’s average growth slowed down in 2019 to 5.2% from 6% in 2018. The contraction in 2020 is attributed to, among others, the impact of containment measures that include quarantine, lockdowns, travel restrictions and border closures – although the report also notes how Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated that with disrupted trade channels, local manufacturers have been able to rise to the occasion.

Business-ACP: COVID-19 and tourism

In the context of World Tourism Day, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) hosted a Business-ACP webinar on 25 September titled “Jointly addressing the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism industry of the Members of the OACPS”. The discussions highlighted, among other things, the links between tourism, hospitality and food suppliers. You can view the webinar here.

Covid-19 deals heavy blow to remittances

The UN Economic Commission for Africa warns of the decline in remittances from African diasporas (RFI, 13 October). In 2020, these money transfers were down by 21%, US$18 billion less than in 2019. In Mali these transfers represent more than 7% of GDP; and in the Comoros 20–30% of household income comes from the diaspora in Europe. The economic crisis is hitting migrant workers who find themselves unemployed in Europe, the Gulf countries and the United States.

APRA: Impact of Covid-19 on food systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Researchers in the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium are conducting telephone-based household surveys and key informant interviews to learn about the impact of Covid-19 on food systems and rural livelihoods in the region. Synthesis Report 1 presents results from the first round of that research in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe – from interviews conducted in June–July 2020. Reports on rounds 2 and 3 will be made available in the coming months.

OACPS gains observer status on FAO–AU Task Force

The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) is to join the FAO-AU Task Force on the impact of Covid-19 on Food Security and Nutrition in Africa as an observer (FAO, 21 October). The Task Force is an essential platform to scale up advocacy, mobilise partnerships and resources, and provide coherent and pragmatic support to address Africa’s challenges to food security and nutrition caused by the pandemic.

To build back better, make African trade greener

An opinion piece from the African Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa discusses the broad consensus emerging around the silver-lining opportunity to “build back better” from the Covid-19 crisis by creating more sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies – and what that means for Africa, which produces just 2–3% of global carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial processes (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 5 October). In building back better, Africa can take strategic advantage of the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to advance the green transition agenda.

COMESA: MSMEs employ 70%

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for 80% of the African economy and employ 70% of the total population in the region, according to the COMESA Business Council (Daily News Egypt, 15 October). MSMEs play a central role in regional value chains, particularly during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Strengthening their participation in formal markets reinforces production pathways and contributes to sustainable economic development.

Covid-19: Slow road to jobs recovery for LAC

A joint report published by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that the labour market in the region faces a slow recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic (UN News, 10 November). The report highlights the need for “active macro policies” to promote sustainable development alongside getting people back into the workforce.

Pacific: PACER Plus ready to go

PACER Plus – a trade and development agreement that will raise living standards, create jobs and increase exports in Pacific Island countries – will enter into force in 60 days (Scoop Business, 19 October). The Cook Islands is the eighth country to ratify it, after Australia, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand. John Fiso of the Pacific Co-operation Foundation said “In our current Covid environment and the fiscal pressures this has placed on New Zealand and the Pacific region, we need to all think strategically about how we can work better together for shared solutions.”

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