Webinar discusses coronavirus impact on macroeconomic planning

Dakar, Senegal, May 7, 2020 (ECA) - The ongoing coronavirus crisis is making economic planners rethink the world’s economy and macroeconomic planning, from both regional and country perspectives, says Institute of Economic and Development Planning (IDEP) Director, Ms. Karima Ben Soltane.

In remarks during a webinar on “Principles of macroeconomic planning: sustainability and health emergencies” held May 7 in the context of African responses to the current global crisis, Ms. Soltane said leaving no one behind meant adapting to the present to ensure an inclusive future.

She said COVID-19 was a strong wake-up call, especially to those in financing for development.

“Efficient planning is important as we seek to strengthen member States’ capacity to prevent, respond to and mitigate constraints to achieving Agendas 2030 and 2063. Achieving sustainable and inclusive societies remains crucial even under these very difficult days of the coronavirus,” said Ms. Soltane.

Discussions during the webinar centered around current growth rate/regimes and the need to achieve sustainable and inclusive societies, in relation to resilient economies in Africa.

Acting Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Macroeconomic Policy Division, Bartholomew Armah, stressed the importance of why the Commission is advocating for a two-year debt standstill for all African countries in light of the pandemic.

He said the ECA is also advocating for grants to support vulnerable groups and the strengthening of the banking sector.

The Coordinator of the ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), David Luke, said health-related and social services were not immediate priorities on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) but countries should still submit services schedules with liberalization in this sector.

“This is the time to take maximum advantage of the AfCFTA, taking into account that Africa’s global GDP is particularly dependent on its commodities’ trade,” said Mr. Luke.

The Economic Adviser to the President of the Republic of Senegal and Former Executive Director at the IMF, Daouda Sembene, advised on discretionary measures between crisis-mitigation and crisis-resolution phases.

On the resolution phases, he stressed the underpinning of financing options for COVID-19 response plans, by means of realistic assessments of resource mobilization capacities and external financing prospects, coupled with resilient contingency plans in the event of a shortage on external financing.

For his part, UN Resident Coordinator, Lena Savelli, said the 27 UN agencies in Senegal had united efforts to support the government in compliance with the UN Secretary General’s priorities and those of the country.

She stressed the country and the world should focus on finding the way forward and target the most vulnerable communities and people to ensure they leave no one behind. Human right principles should not be forgotten as multi-sectoral and sustainable responses to the current crisis are being put in place.

WTO Deputy Director General, Alan Wolff, for his part focused on the 2020 trade forecasts, showing that world trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32%, a clear indication, he said, that African countries will bear a substantial burden. The AfCFTA, said Mr. Wolff, should drive the post-pandemic economic recovery and sustainable development on the African continent, through increased intra-African trade, as well as trade with the rest of the world.

He recommended that national trade policy responses should focus on facilitating imports of food and medical supplies, including the simplification of the customs procedures for their entry and waiving applicable customs duties.

The webinar provided a platform for the high level participants to discuss challenges African countries are facing and propose possible tailor-made responses to address efficient economic planning in the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

More information on the webinar could be found in the site of IDEP: https://www.uneca.org/idep/, where you will also find the direct link to the live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzkzWGPtdE&t=60s

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: eca-info@un.org