Capacity building at tralac – Geek Week, 10-13 April 2017
tralac hosted a ‘Geek Week’ at the tralac offices outside Stellenbosch from Monday 10 April to Thursday 13 April 2017. This practical data and trade policy training session was led by tralac Associate Ron Sandrey and afforded the participants a practical trade data and policy analysis learning experience.
The Geek Week was attended by ten trade policy analysts who worked in teams on four main topics. The teams completed their draft papers on the relevant topics during the week and these will be published as either tralac Working Papers or Trade Briefs on the tralac website. The topics focused on during the week were:
Brazil, Russia, India, China-Africa trade – is it all about China’s trade with South Africa? In the past two decades, Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) have had growing trade and political relations with Africa and South Africa (SA) culminating in the formalisation of the BRICS forum, with South Africa becoming one of the BRICs. Alongside these developments, Africa’s trade ties with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) have remained strong. This paper will examine BRIC-Africa and BRIC-SA trade profiles from 2001 to 2016 against this background. An assessment is made of Africa’s trade with the BRIC countries relative to its trade with the EU and US in the last fifteen years, and in particular for 2016. We use data sourced from the International Trade Commission (ITC) TradeMap, and unless otherwise stated this is BRIC trade data.
Africa’s agricultural performance since 1961: an analysis of the net production index and the net per capita index. Africa as a continent has extensive potential, not only to feed itself and alleviate hunger and food insecurity, but also to be a vital contender in global food markets. The paper assesses Africa’s agricultural performance over the past five decades. A closer look is taken at the top 10 leading African countries according to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (2015); with comparative analysis focusing on the BRICS, Thailand, Chile and Vietnam as the latter are growing economies and small countries (comparable to South Africa).
Overview of the rebate facilities in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland are members of SACU, and they apply a common external tariff to goods imported from outside the customs territory. In terms of Article 20 of the SACU Agreement rebates of these customs duties can be granted in line with certain stipulated provisions. The aim of the rebate system is to facilitate the achievement of the objectives in Article 2 of the Agreement which include increasing investment opportunities, enhancement of economic development as well as promoting industrialisation in the Member States. The inner-workings of the rebate system are very complex and the aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the rebate facilities in SACU as a baseline for determining how the system functions and to what extent countries are using this facility.
The trade relationship within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). South Africa is the biggest economy in SACU, while the rest of the SACU member countries are the smaller BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) states which are bordered by South Africa; they have geo-political and historical ties with South Africa. The SACU region is an integrated commercial space, and the trade profiles of the customs union member states reflect the dominance and diversified nature of the South African economy. This paper examines intra-SACU trade relationships to shed light on the, sometimes, complex relationships among these member states.
Geek Week participants: Margot Sheldon, Thandeka Ntshangase, Khutsafalo Sekolokwane, Maria Immanuel, Moureen Matomola, Rodney Hoab, Willemien Viljoen, Melanie Mugrefya, Talkmore Chidede and Taku Fundira.
The participants suggested some topics for future Geek Weeks, including issues pertaining to foreign direct investment, the utilization of the AGOA arrangement by SACU countries, an assessment on the utilization of preferential trade agreements thus far completed by SACU and detailed analyses of rebates for specific products (including sugar).
Feedback from participants:
‘The training allowed us to brainstorm as much as possible and share ideas on what the subject matter possibly requires.’
‘I have worked on a topic which was new to me. It was challenging and it helped me understand how rebates work in SACU. This is something interesting to my country as there is currently no capacity on rebates in my country.’
‘I have gained experience in working with data, constructing graphs and above all analysing the data and graphs.’