On 21 February 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued OFAC Compliance Communique: Guidance on Authorized Transactions Related to Earthquake Relief Efforts in Syria. The Guidance responds to specific questions OFAC received related to earthquake relief efforts in Syria and explains how to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people in compliance with US sanctions.
As a top producer of numerous critical mineral commodities, Africa is set to benefit from the rapid increase in the rate of global energy transition, with the continent’s mining industry playing a role in sourcing and supplying these critical minerals for use in clean energy initiatives. Exporting these critical minerals as raw materials, however, reduces Africa’s trading position to one of price takers, and the current disruptions in global supply chains are hampering the trade of these commodities in Africa, with mining companies subject to long delays and higher costs. The African Continental Free-Trade Area, implemented in 2021, acts as a strong impetus for African governments to address their infrastructure gaps, streamline their supply chains, boost their manufacturing capacity and overhaul regulation relating to trade, cross-border initiatives, investment-friendly policies and capital flows.
The availability of climate financing to assist developing countries, the most vulnerable in the world to climate change, with the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future was one of the key topics under discussion COP 27. There were numerous funding and climate action announcements focusing on Africa at “Africa’s COP”. It is hoped African countries will soon be able to access some of the financing required to fortify the continent against the impact of climate change. Achieving this is essential, not only to address urgent climate change adaption and mitigation challenges, but also to unlock the great potential of the continent.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) recently launched the Guided Trade Initiative to test meaningful, continuous trade under AfCFTA and to assist in the development of shorter, regional value chains that will allow for more climate-resilient, sustainable trade across the continent. But for Africa to make the most of free trade, it is essential that large gaps in continent-wide infrastructure and manufacturing be developed in a sustainable way.
The Partnership for Global Infrastructure Initiative (PGII) was launched in June 2022 at the G7 Summit in Germany. The PGII is a USD 600 billion lending initiative to fund infrastructure projects in the developing world, with a particular focus on Africa. One of the aims of the initiative is to help address the massive infrastructure investment gap in Africa.
Voluntary carbon credit markets are rapidly expanding with significant increases in both trade volumes and investors looking for emission reduction/sequestration projects. Key to investment decisions are assumptions on the ability to use GHG reductions/sequestration achieved in a host country as the basis for issuing voluntary carbon credits that can be traded internationally. Please join us on 27 July for a 45 minute webinar in which Baker McKenzie will provide an overview of these issues and some of the themes that can be drawn from recent developments in Asia and Africa.
In the midst of regulatory developments, increased enforcement and greater coordination amongst customs and transfer pricing regulators, businesses need to stay abreast of the latest considerations with respect to the interaction between transfer pricing and customs valuation within their supply chain.
In the session on 23 June, senior tax and transfer pricing professionals will share their observations on the latest customs and transfer pricing developments in the EMEA region and provide practical guidance on how to mitigate risks on these issues.
On May 12, 2022, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued Syria General License No. 22 (“GL 22“), authorizing certain activities in particular sectors of the Syrian economy that are otherwise prohibited under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations in specified regions of Syria not controlled by the Assad regime. According to the US Statement Department’s press release, GL 22 was issued in support of the Biden Administration’s strategy to defeat ISIS by promoting economic stabilization in areas previously controlled by ISIS.
New solutions are being implemented to address Africa’s power challenges. These solutions center around the energy transition and utilization of renewable energy, smart power technologies, the role of green hydrogen and ammonia, and the global drive towards a decentralized, decarbonized, affordable and secure energy supply.
Countries in Africa will benefit from the increase in commodity prices and the growing demand for green energy, but the continent must address its infrastructure gap to better enable it to do so. At the same time, the commodity bull run, and growing focus on ESG policies, is boosting investor interest and unlocking finance for Africa’s infrastructure development.