Policymakers and practitioners, international institutions and leading academics discussed key policy issues regarding product market competition and regulation and growth. Topics included: How and why has product market competition, overall and in key sectors, changed since the 1990s? What are the consequences for productivity growth, innovation and income distribution? What are the implications for competition policy and market regulation?
With the theme “Examining the challenges and opportunities of firms’ productivity in Africa”, the conference covered topics pertinent to firms in sub-Saharan Africa. It was organised by the World Bank Office of the Chief Economist for the Africa Region and the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development.
Multilateral and regional trading systems, global agricultural value chains and trade inclusiveness for increased economic growth were on the agenda when representatives from 42 least-developed countries (LDCs) met at the first Global Forum on Inclusive Trade for LDCs at the WTO on 13-14 June 2018. The goal of the gathering was to seek ways to further integrate the world’s poorest countries into the multilateral trading system. Helping women overcome barriers to doing business was discussed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a meeting with the heads of six multilateral agencies on 11 June in Berlin to discuss ways to foster international economic co-operation to address global challenges and improve the prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth. A press release was issued after the gathering. Speaking after the meeting, WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said: “Many would agree that the trading system is imperfect and that it needs reform… The best way to do this is through a new dialogue among leaders. We must find constructive ways of engaging and bringing leaders together.”
The second meeting of the Energy Transitions Working Group and the meeting of Energy Ministers, from 13-15 June 2018, looked at energy access, transparency and subsidies. On Friday, 15 June at 5.15 pm, once the ministerial meeting was concluded, the G20 troika gave a press conference which was livestreamed on the G20 YouTube channel.
The ministers welcomed South Africa’s two-pronged outreach approach through the BRICS-Africa Dialogue and the BRICS Plus co-operation, to be held during the summit next month. They also commended the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area as an important step towards economic integration on the continent.
Global economic growth was expected to remain robust at 3.1% in 2018, according to the World Bank, before slowing gradually over the next two years, as advanced-economy growth decelerated and the recovery in major commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies levelled off. It said on 5 June that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa was projected to strengthen to 3.1% in 2018 and to 3.5% in 2019. South Africa was forecast to expand 1.4% in 2018 and 1.8% in 2019 as a pickup in business and consumer confidence supported stronger growth in investment and consumption expenditures.
At its annual Ministerial Meeting, the OECD started the development of a joint work programme with South Africa, one of its five Key Partner countries, aimed at promoting stronger and more inclusive growth. The initial focus will be on developing small, micro and medium enterprises, promoting trade and investment (including by South Africa adhering to the OECD Code of Liberalisation of Capital Movements) and improving the skills of the South African workforce.
The multilateral trading system provided a stable and predictable business environment that helped to drive economic growth, WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said an OECD Ministerial Council meeting on 31 May. It was important to defend this stability but also to strengthen and safeguard the system so that it continued to help governments and businesses meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global economy.
India, Brazil and South Africa foreign ministers met informally in Pretoria on 4 June, 2018 for the informal meeting of IBSA Foreign Ministers, adopting and jointly releasing the IBSA Declaration on South-South Cooperation, to contribute to greater understanding of development co-operation as a common endeavour of the Global South. It includes increasing advocacy for reforms of global governance institutions in multilateral fora, as well as driving people-centric social policies for restructuring the international financial architecture and reforming international organisations.
The GEGAfrica project has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.