News in Brief 22 February 2017 (AM)

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Trade Facilitation Agreement has come into force. Photo: UNCTAD

Global UN-backed trade agreement enters into force

A global trade agreement has come into force on Wednesday making it easier, faster and cheaper for countries to trade, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was brokered by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2014.

Under the accord, says UNCTAD, countries commit to streamline procedures to increase international trade, reduce corruption and boost development.

The East African nation of Rwanda introduced an automated "single window" system which dropped times at customs points for trucks from 11 days in 2010 to 34 hours in 2014.

Red tape, incompatible systems across borders and opaque ways of collecting revenue hamper international trade.

The cost of trade for developing countries is estimated to be on average 1.8 times higher than for developed countries.

Funding needed to maintain aid operations in north-east Nigeria: UN

A little over US$1 billion is needed to continue to deliver life-saving aid to millions of people in north-east Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram-linked violence, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The eight-year-long conflict has left some 8.5 million people in that region in need of assistance.

The UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Peter Lundberg warned that food assistance alone will cost US$ 1 million a day to avoid a famine in a region where 450,000 children under five will suffer from acute malnutrition.

"Sustained and timely" financial support is needed to maintain aid operations in the region, he said.

UN commends peaceful handover of power in Somalia

Somalia has been praised for its peaceful handover of power following Wednesday's inauguration of President Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as Farmajo.

Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, made the remarks during the ceremony.

He also praised the vital role played by the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, and the Somali forces in protecting the political process and providing a secure environment throughout the elections.

The UN, the African Union, the European Union, the African regional trade bloc IGAD and the League of Arab States pledged to support the new government.

Here's Mr Keating.

"Their combined support illustrates our collective hope to see the people and government of Somalia united in building their country. This means taking on the hard challenge of strengthening the Somali National Security Forces to represent and protect the people of Somalia. It means resolving long standing local conflicts and a comprehensive approach to dealing with violent extremism. It means advancing the constitutional review and the basis upon which resources and revenues will be mobilized, managed and shared. It means extending basic governance and services to all cities and towns."

Somalia is also suffering from a devastating drought which is affecting more than six million people or nearly half of the population.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’14″

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