USAID Hub supports capacity building towards strengthening trade in the East African Community

Published on December 20, 2017

Sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) stakeholders from the East African Community (EAC) Partner States are now better prepared to develop national residue control plans because of the USAID Hub. These plans will help the EAC Partner States comply with today’s food safety standards and stem economic losses from trade rejection caused by high residue levels. Monitoring of hazards, residues and other contaminants is critical for effective food safety management and provides confidence to trading partners.

From November 27 - December 15, the Hub conducted a regional training on the development of residue control plans for the EAC Partner States. The aim was to sensitize stakeholders on the importance of official controls; enhance understanding of the conditions that need to be met; and review how to apply the tools for surveillance and risk management. Workshop participants reviewed policy considerations and were taken through the process for the development of national residue plans for priority sectors and value chains.

Workshop participants included representatives from competent/regulatory authorities responsible for food safety official controls; representatives of competent/regulatory authorities responsible for import and export of products of plant and animal origin; senior staff based at laboratories serving competent authorities and representatives of commodity professional associations.

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Farmers and pastoralists gain from USAID Hub-supported investment closure

Published on December 19, 2017

The USAID Hub recently closed a deal with a livestock and veterinary services company in Kenya. The company, Sidai Africa, works with farmers and pastoralists to improve the quality and access of inputs for increased productivity, security and profitability of livestock and crops. The company raised approximately $450,000 in a blended finance deal with debt from a commercial investor and grant from the International Livestock Research Institute under the Feed the Future Accelerated Value Chain Project. The company will use these funds to expand its retail network, grow sales and expand its portfolio of Sidai-branded products. 

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New on our Knowledge Center: The Food Sustainability Index

Published on December 19, 2017

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI), developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit in partnership with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, is a model designed to assess the sustainability of national food systems in a qualitative and quantitative manner. The FSI highlights best practices among different countries, establishes a comparable benchmark and measures progress over time.

The first edition of the FSI, published in 2016, ranked 25 countries according to their food system sustainability. In the 2017 edition The Economist Intelligence Unit is adding nine new countries—including seven from the wider Mediterranean region (Greece, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia), plus Hungary and Sweden. The FSI’s ranking offers a benchmark against which the performance of countries can be monitored vis-à-vis the main challenges confronting the global food system.

Indego Africa brings hope to women across Rwanda

Published on December 18, 2017

During the 11 years the Mitro family spent living in Africa, they were struck by the incredible talent and entrepreneurial spirit of female artisans. They were also struck by a glaring problem: these women, without access to markets to sell their goods or the education needed to run their businesses, were living in poverty with few ways out. The solution?  Father and son duo Tom and Matt Mitro founded Indego Africa in 2007.

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New on our Knowledge Center: Communique on the Regional Grain Trade Facilitation Forum

Published on December 14, 2017

The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) issued a Communique on the Regional Grain Trade Facilitation Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2017. The forum brought together over 90 sellers and buyers of rice and other grain commodities from the Eastern and Southern Africa nations.

The objective of the Grain Trade Forum was to create a forum for networking among the grain stakeholders in the EAC region, with a focus on strengthening regional trade by creating market opportunities that offer enhanced opportunities for trade and investment and by engaging policy makers and private sector actors for reducing barriers to grain trade, thus simulating increased productivity and trade in the grain sector. 

USAID Hub participates in launch of CSIS food security report

Published on December 14, 2017

On December 13, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) launched ‘The Human Face of Trade: Lessons on the Enabling Environment from Kenya and India,’ a report that combines field research with concrete policy recommendations to answer such questions as:  How to approach trade regulations in the context of food security and how the United States can support smallholder farmers through its Global Food Security Strategy. The report suggests a bottom-up approach to agricultural policy and regulations to bridge the needs of farmers with the demands of markets.

To further explore the report finding and provide more information from implementers on the ground, CSIS hosted a panel of agriculture experts, including the USAID Hub’s Chief of Party, Juan Estrada-Valle. During the panel, Mr. Estrada made several references to the Hub's work in supporting strategic grain transaction. You can read about the Hub's later intervention in Rwanda here. View profiles of all five panelists here, and download the new report here. You can watch the entire launch of The Human Face of Trade and Food Security here.

From the report: Agricultural markets are more connected and capable of delivering economic opportunity and food security today than ever before. As agricultural markets have evolved, so have the rules and regulations governing agricultural trade and value chains. For smallholder farmers in countries like Kenya and India, this new landscape presents both new opportunities and daunting challenges.  A bottom-up approach to agricultural policy and regulation is necessary to bridge the needs at the farm with the requirements of the market. Read the report here.

USAID Hub activities contribute to increasing the access, availability and utilization of African-grown staple foods in regionally integrated markets. These objectives are aligned with the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Strategy 2017, which has the following objectives: inclusive and sustainable agricultural-led economic growth; strengthened resilience among people and systems; and a well-nourished population.

USAID Hub supports the revision, validation and adoption of 9 EAC staple food grains standards to boost intra-regional trade in staple foods

Published on December 13, 2017

The East African Community (EAC) Ministerial Council approved nine revised EAC Grain Standards after a record-quick revision, approval, and gazetting process led by USAID Hub-grantee Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC). Grain quality inconsistencies among EAC countries have been a major constraint on formal regional trade. The revised standards will improve the flow of quality grain commodities from surplus to deficit regions and, in turn, boost the EAC’s economic growth, resilience and integration.

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USAID Hub promotes U.S. footwear sourcing from East Africa

Published on December 11, 2017

The USAID Hub raised awareness of footwear sourcing from East Africa at the Fashion Footwear Association of New York’s (FFANY) trade show from November 29 and December 1, 2017, in New York City. Prior to the trade show, the USAID Hub organized an advertisement in the show’s directory, an email blast to attending footwear executives and an article in the December 2017 issue of Footwear Plus magazine to showcase East African footwear. Read it here on pages 18 and 19. USAID Hub technical advisors supported these efforts with an information booth on sourcing at the trade show and information on export-ready footwear firms in Kenya and Ethiopia. 

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USAID Hub and AGMARK launch the East African Cross-Border Traders Association

Published on December 07, 2017

Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, supported the launch of a regional East African Cross-Border Traders Association on December 7 in Nairobi. The new regional association will provide cross-border traders with a stronger voice in the East African Community and a platform to participate in the formulation of trade policies.

“The association will take a lead role in advocating for a conducive trading environment for it members in the East African Community. It is well aligned with the common market protocols. Through the association, small-scale cross-border grain traders throughout the region will have a voice of their own,” said James Mutonyi, Managing Director, AGMARK.

The association will expand and grow business in the region through partnerships and networks that build market linkages and create efficiencies among regional traders.

“The efficiency of cross-border grain trade in the region will depend on the existence of the association and its effectiveness in addressing issues around non-tariff barriers and building networks for enhanced food insecurity in the region,” said Allan Mukisira, project manager, AGMARK.

The association constitutes membership from cross-border traders of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. The association’s interim chairperson, Miria Akankwasa noted, “We, as small-scale cross-border grain traders, see the association as an opportunity for us to network with grain buyers from areas of deficit and traders from areas of surplus.”

The formation of the association is an accomplishment of the Regional Traders Association Development Project, which AGMARK implemented with the support of the USAID East Africa and Investment Hub.

Over the past few months, the project linked cross-border traders to financial institutions and markets; built the capacity of cross-border traders by training them on enterprise management and structured marketing systems; and laid the groundwork for the trader’s association. USAID’s support to cross-border trade efficiency contributes to economic growth and the attainment of the U.S. government's Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative objectives.

In East Africa, cross-border trade is characterized by inefficiencies, high transaction costs and low competitiveness. Studies have shown that cross-border traders lack business management skills and knowledge on the requirements to trade across borders. Traders also confront high storage costs and handling loses through spillage, pest damage and contamination, which lower the quality and quantity of grains and diminish profits. 


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New on our Knowledge Center: Global Investment Competitiveness Report 2017/2018 : Foreign Investor Perspectives and Policy Implications

Published on December 07, 2017

Global Investment Competitiveness Report 2017/2018 : Foreign Investor Perspectives and Policy Implications. This inaugural issue of the World Bank Group’s Global Investment Competitiveness Report presents novel analytical insights and empirical evidence on foreign direct investment’s (FDI) drivers and contributions to economic transformation. Three key features distinguish this report from other leading FDI studies. Firstly, its insights come from a variety of sources, including a new survey of investor perspectives, extensive analysis of available data and evidence, and a thorough review of international best practices in investment policy design and implementation. Secondly, the report provides targeted, in-depth analysis of FDI differentiated by motivation, sector, and geographic origin and destination of investment. Thirdly, the report offers practical and actionable recommendations to developing country governments. The report’s groundbreaking survey of more than 750 executives of multinational corporations investing in developing countries finds that—in addition to political stability, security, and macroeconomic conditions—a business-friendly legal and regulatory environment is the key driver of investment decisions. The report also explores the potential of FDI to create new growth opportunities for local firms, assesses the effectiveness of fiscal incentives in attracting FDI, analyzes the characteristics of FDI originating in developing countries—so-called South–South and South–North FDI—and examines the experience of foreign investors in countries afflicted by conflict and fragility.