Africa Must Look East to Revive Economy Post Covid-19

By David Monyae

The African economy has been severely impacted by the ravaging pandemic and a reeling world economy.

It has driven economies into recessions and reversed many developmental plans, with more people left unemployed.

This begs the question, where can Africa look for lessons to kick-start its economy? China, more than any country, has made remarkable strides in containing the coronavirus.

In a letter to the organisers of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (Ciftis), President Xi Jinping said: “With the deepening of economic globalisation, trade in services has become a key part of international trade and an important area for economic and trade co-operation among nations, injecting new impetus into world economic growth.

“China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, and the world needs China for global prosperity.”

China’s economy defied the downward trend in most economies across the world. Despite Covid-19 and natural calamities that brought unprecedented floods in the southern provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Zhejiang and Yunnan, the Chinese economy grew by 3.2% in the second quarter.

This impressive economic growth takes place at a time when the World Trade Organization warned that global trade is expected to fall by 13-32% this year. South Africa’s economy shrank by 51% on an annualised basis in the second quarter. These are tough times that should compel the government, business and civil society to think differently in search of pragmatic adjustments in our relations with China and all other partners.

How can South Africa and the African continent take advantage of the trade opportunities in China in postCovid-19? As it stands, Africa remains on the periphery of changes taking place in the global economy.

Given the well-established diplomatic relations between Africa and China through the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac), Africa must respond to President Xi Jinping’s assertion that “the world needs China for global prosperity”.

How can the continent tap into Chinese service trade that is growing at 7.8% per annum and contributing about $775.6 billion (R12.9 trillion)to its GDP?

As the US-China trade war is expected to continue beyond the 2020 electoral cycle, Africa must be an alternative source for the much-needed goods in the booming service sector in China.

Relations between China and Australia, for instance, are in a downward spiral. Africa should, and must, expand trade in products such as wheat, beef, wine and other agricultural products. Plans should be under way in Africa on how to create a conducive environment for tourism in post-Covid-19.

Therefore, Africa’s tourism sector must co-ordinate in transforming how it attracts a large Chinese middle class. The endless power shortage in South Africa and many African countries must be speedily addressed.

Similarly, questions about crime and unreliable modes of transport across the continent need urgent attention. Lastly, African countries must improve the visa issuing process in line with a changing world in post Covid-19. Perhaps sub-regions such as the SADC, EAC and Ecowas must issue common visas to maximise the flow of tourists across regions.

Views expressed in this article do-not necessarily represent DWC.

Joe Biden can display a new diplomacy-first US foreign policy by re-engaging Cuba

By John McAuliff.

Five years ago, I stood in a mostly Cuban crowd outside of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, excitedly watching our flag raised for the first time in 54 years. Two hours later, I was at a celebratory party at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, a beautiful building purportedly designed, but never used, as a winter White House for FDR. Scores of official and non-official Americans who had worked for normalization were there, along with diplomats from other countries. No one from the Cuban government attended because the embassy chose to invite a few prominent dissidents.

The path to this day had not been easy due to political distrust on both sides, but its success was a tribute to the determination of both Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro. None of us expected that future relations would be simple. However, we never anticipated that virtually everything would be undone by the election of Donald Trump.

Cuba relations will hardly be the largest problem or the first priority of a Biden administration, but it is low hanging fruit. While special interests are loudly in favor or against U.S. engagement with the island, two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Cuban-Americans, were quietly supportive of President Obama’s normalization path and ready to go further to completely open travel.

Joe Biden can rapidly and effectively build on Obama’s opening. He will do at least as well with personally affected Florida voters by convincing them his goal is a positive functional relationship with the land that is still the home of their parents, children, and other family members. He can counteract the narrow-minded regression of President Trump for whom Cuba policies were seemingly little more than a favor to Marco Rubio and Vladimir Putin.

Biden will be able to signal his concern for the well-being of the people of both nations, his desire to strengthen in practice pro-market reforms, and the need to effectively compete with growing Russian and Chinese influence. His administration could solidify a historic new chapter of post-Monroe Doctrine, post-Platt Amendment U.S. partnership with the hemisphere.

Biden’s campaign is already publicly critical of the Trump administration’s latest punitive pettiness toward Cuba: prohibition of rare private charter flights. Biden himself has told Americas Quarterly, “as president, I will promptly reverse the failed Trump policies that have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”

Biden will certainly receive support from his vice president. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is among 46 bipartisan cosponsors of a bill to end all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

He can also expect an abrazo, a hug, from the new First Lady, whose moving cultural visit to Camaguey and Havana was portrayed in an Obama White House video.

Biden has four stages of opportunity that will cut the Gordian knot of six decades of intractable mutually destructive U,S,-Cuba relations.

First, during the campaign or right after election, he should announce that immediately upon taking office he will restore Obama’s policies on individual and group travel licenses, cruises, flights to regional cities, remittances, import of agricultural products, international shipping, specific types of investments, and banking and as well as facilitation of visas for educational and cultural exchange.

He should also clarify that Cubans granted visas for family and professional visits and for study in the United States will be deemed ineligible to claim status under the Cuban Adjustment Act, the law that provides legal status to those Cuban nationals who arrive to the United States illegally.  (Depending on U.S. success in controlling COVID-19, an announcement of intention allows planning for the winter season and spring semester by the travel sector and universities.)

Second, within his first year in the White House, Biden should fully restaff an embassy gutted by the Trump administration, which opportunistically exploited inexplicable health problems of U.S. personnel to abandon its responsibility .

He should also reopen consular authority and restore visa availability for immigration and family reunion visits. And Biden should support existing legislation to totally end restrictions on travel and other bills for comparable initiatives in agricultural and medical sales as well as on related financial transactions.

Biden should also enable collaboration in medicine and science, including on anti-COVID research, treatment, and international humanitarian assistance. He can also break new ground by testing and supporting economic reforms such as terminating application of the embargo to privately owned small and medium Cuban enterprises — thereby permitting their exports, imports, and U.S. investments.

Third, within his first two years in officeBiden should align with hemispheric and European goals by achieving through comprehensive negotiations a political settlement in Venezuela and an end to the unilateral U.S. embargo of Cuba.

He should open consulates in at least one Cuban and one U.S. city and allow ferry service between U.S. and Cuban ports. On the media front, he can seek reciprocal dampening of interventionist hostility by state funded publications, broadcasts, and social media, replaced by ongoing multi-sectoral dialog about conflicting human rights values and ideologies.

Finally, within his first term, Biden should follow the road map to restore full Cuban sovereignty of the Guantanamo base that was developed during the Obama administration’s normalization discussions by then-deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and Alejandro Castro head of Cuba’s National Security Council and Raul’s son.

As the result of the Obama-Castro opening, real differences were emerging in Cuba about whether reconciliation and mutual respect with the U.S. was truly possible or a Trojan Horse. But President Trump’s harsh renewal of Cold War-era hostility foreclosed the discussion.

Closer U.S.-Cuban ties can also help lead to more definitive conclusions about just what happened to American diplomats in Havana regarding the mysterious health issues. The Cubans may be able to help eliminate the problem by identifying and controlling the cause based on Canadian medical and scientific research and private collaboration with U.S. scientists, doctors, and security officials.

A potential Biden administration has an opportunity to move the United States in the right direction, but real trust is impossible as long as the U.S. maintains a devastating unilateral embargo and refuses to restore the Guantanamo base to national sovereignty, consistent with U.S. principles elsewhere in the world.

John McAuliff, Responsible Statecraft.

 

U.S. Violated Trade Rules With Tariffs on China, World Trade Organization Says.

By Bryce Baschuk, Bloomberg.

The World Trade Organization undercut the main justification for President Donald Trump’s trade war against China, saying that American tariffs on Chinese goods violate international rules.

A panel of three WTO trade experts on Tuesday said the U.S. broke international rules when it imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018. Washington has imposed levies on more than $550 billion in Chinese exports.

The panel said in its report “that the United States had not met its burden of demonstrating that the measures are provisionally justified.”

While the ruling bolsters Beijing’s claims, Washington can effectively veto the decision by lodging an appeal at any point in the next 60 days. That’s because the Trump administration has already paralyzed the WTO’s appellate body, a tactic that has rendered toothless the world’s foremost arbiter of trade.

Section 301

The dispute centers on the Trump administration’s use of a 1970s-era U.S. trade law to unilaterally launch its commercial conflict against China in 2018.

China claimed the tariffs violated the WTO’s most-favored treatment provision because the measures failed to provide the same treatment to all WTO members. China also alleged the duties broke a key dispute-settlement rule that requires countries to first seek recourse from the WTO before imposing retaliatory measures against another country.

The U.S. tariffs against China were authorized under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which empowers the president to levy tariffs and other import restrictions whenever a foreign country imposes unfair trade practices that affect U.S. commerce. The Trump administration has claimed the tariffs were necessary to confront China’s widespread violations of intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer policies.

Though the use of Section 301 isn’t unprecedented, the provision largely fell out of favor in the 1990s after the U.S. agreed to first follow the WTO’s dispute settlement process before it triggered any retaliatory trade actions.

While the European Union has so far been spared U.S. levies based on the controversial Section 301, the 27-nation bloc may breathe a sigh of relief over Tuesday’s WTO verdict. That’s because the Trump administration has threatened to use Section 301 to hit European goods with levies in retaliation over the taxation of digital companies in the EU.

 

Beyond Coronavirus & Mask Diplomacy: East African Community Must get Economic Security Right

Of course, risks will always be there! This coronavirus global pandemic is a perfect example of how global and regional blocs supply chains can turn upside down in the blink of an eye. A closer and most applicable example is countries’ dependency on imported medical supplies and or medical tourism. The dependency of imported medical supplies or poor medical or health services at home give a perfect example of human health risks which may be extended to states whenever there is uncertainty thus interrupting supply. For EAC partner states, the coronavirus crisis should be an eye-opener for the community to forge a clear, and working new economic approach meant to manage dependencies and make EAC work for all citizens of member countries if the bloc is to make sense for citizens in partner states.

[DOWNLOAD PDF] Beyond Coronavirus & Mask Diplomacy: East African Community Must Get Economic Security Right

Politics of Pandemic: How Zimbabwe is Using Covid-19 to Stifle Human Rights.

Harare, Zimbabwe.

Arguably, no country has not been affected by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic. But for Zimbabwe, many believe Covid-19 presented an opportunity for authoritarian regime to use Coronavirus measures and entrench itself while grossly violating fundamental freedoms.

Strict measures characterised by one of Zimbabwe’s tough lockdown which authorities say are meant to slow the spreading of the virus saw majority of Zimbabwe’s 16 million people already suffering a parsimony economy face unprecedented hardships as many got trapped into the city as a result of lockdown which police enforced sometimes mercilessly.

The July 21st dusk to dawn curfew indefinite curfew and strict travel restrictions announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa was resulted into a debate and many critics claimed was regimes effort to curtail opposition and dissenting voices against economic hardships and corruption cases in the country. Indeed, Tendai Biti, the vice president of Zimbabwe’s major opposition party, claims that government’s restrictions had nothing to do with controlling Covid-19 adding that; “It’s madness. You can’t impose a state of emergency, he has no right to declare state of emergency, it’s a serious curtailment of rights. You need parliament [to rectify the declaration].”

Emergency Powers, Political Tensions and Arbitrary Arrests.

Arguably, Covid-19 has provided political leaders especially authoritarian regimes across the globe a rare opportunity to dismiss critics and entrench their leadership through different measures in hiding behind the fight against Coronavirus. In Europe for example, prime minister Viktor Orbán Used the Coronavirus to Seize More Power as he maintained and justified state of emergency rule.

Arguably, Covid-19 has provided political leaders especially authoritarian regimes across the globe a rare opportunity to dismiss critics and entrench their leadership through different measures in hiding behind the fight against Coronavirus. In Europe for example, prime minister Viktor Orbán Used the Coronavirus to Seize More Power as he maintained and justified state of emergency rule, while in the U.S, Trump Administration’s history of attempting to avoid institutional checks left Americans shocked as he used Covid-19 to achieve this. Though the possibility of politicians using coronavirus excuse to grab more power seems to be a global phenomenon, in Africa where institutions lack independence, as was indicated in 2019 Democracy Index which reported half of 44 governments in sub-Saharan Africa as authoritarian with the other 22 categorised as hybrid regimes or flawed democracies, is a clear signal that more African states are likely to use coronavirus for political reasons which analysts argue will hinder democracy and entrench dictatorship.

In Zimbabwe, president Mnangagwa who came to power through a 2017 coup against Robert Mugabe, his regime has used covid-19 measures to deny opposition political space and arrested journalists and critical voices and forced many into hiding — highlighting how a man who came to power promising renewal has in the eyes of the opposition, slipped from bad to worse compared to president Mugabe many linking him to corruption, financial missteps, teetering economy, and authoritarian rule.

Activists and opposition politicians argue that Zimbabweans charged with a form of treason during Mnangagwa’s three years in office is already much higher than during Mugabe’s 37 years tenure, according to research by a coalition of 22 Zimbabwean rights groups, a signal that Mnangagwa is not ready dissenting voices.

By mid-July, over 105,000 had been arrested for what police say they had violated regulations aimed at controlling the spread of the virus which critics deny branding arrests as government’s tricks of using the measures to target the opposition and arrest activists.

International bodies such as United Nations and Human Rights Watch have all criticized politicians in Harare for using Covid-19 to stifle human rights and called on African Union and regional bloc SADC to denounce human rights abuse in Zimbabwe.

Journalist and writers targeted

Journalists and writers have also not been spared as authorities intensify crackdown on critics. Hopewell Chin’ono, a Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker was arrested after exposing corruption in government. He was later charged with incitement to commit public violence and has been severally denied bail while country’s health minister, Obadiah Moyo whose $60 million corruption case Hopewell exposed was granted bail.  Mduduzi Mathuthu, an investigative journalist has been in hiding for fear of being arrested for doing his work. Lawyers contend several journalists have been targeted for exposing theft of public funds by some government officials including corruption scheme involving the country’s top officials.

Mathuthu told The Associated Press he decided to hide for he was fearing for his life as many journalists and critics have been detained, or abducted and tortured by state operatives. “The president has labeled us terrorists and has spoken of flushing us out, and that has dark connotations because it gives me a picture of an animal being startled and chased into the open to be killed,” Mathuthu noted. His sounded his fears after Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vowed to continue with the clampdown against those he described as threatening the countries peace and calling his critics “dark forces,” “Opposition terrorists groups” and “a few bad apples” that should be “overcome.”

Zimbabwean Human Rights activists and lawyer, Doug Coltart decried president Mnangagwa’s language tweeting that; “When @edmnangagwa talks of “opposition terrorist groups” destabilizing the country what he means is: •Students carrying the Zimbabwean Flag • Journalists investigating corruption • Nurses asking PPE and a living wage • Citizens exercising their Rights. #ZimbabweansLivesMatter,” while Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director, Human Rights Watch investigating Zimbabwe, South Africa, eSwatini and Malawi tweeted photos of alleged “victims abducted & tortured by elements in the Zimbabwe security forces” who visibly looked frail and tortured.

Author, Tsitsi Dangarembga who has also been critical of corruption in the country was detained by police just three days after her novel “This Mournable Body” was listed for Booker Prizes Award.

Western diplomats have also consistently accused Harare of poor human rights record. Several western countries including United States of America have amplified their voices against what they described as using covid-19 to stifle human rights and argued president  Mnangagwa to keep the inauguration pledge he made in 2018 to respect human rights.  The ruling party described diplomats warning as “rubbish” arguing there is no human rights abuse and all those arrested have cases especially violating regulations meant to counter covid-19.

Zimbabwe has registered over 6,388 cases of covid-19 with 195 deaths which includes high profile officials such as agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, army spokesperson among others officials. The country is struggling with cases as health workers protests over poor pay, and lack of personal protective equipment while handling covid-19 cases.

If you are in Zimbabwe and want to contribute to this analysis send your comments or message to info@dwcug.org or WhatsApp message to +46729349395.

 

 

DWC

Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda

ADDRESS

Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga

CONTACT

+256 703 380252

info@dwcug.org

FOLLOW US
© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy