tralac-NAMC capacity building at Rhodes University, 30 August-3 September 2010
As a part of the tralac-NAMC capacity building programme, a ‘Geek Week’ was held at Rhodes University during the last few days in August and the first few days in September. It was attended by three persons from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), two from the National Department of Agriculture, two from the NAMC and two from tralac (see participant list).
A Geek Week is designed to take participants through a complete and comprehensive training exercise that makes a valuable contribution to areas of interest to the NAMC and others working in these trade data research and policy advice areas. tralac considers that this objective was met, and that the week provided participants with valuable training covering the full spectrum of what is needed from the modern trade policy analyst. A special thanks to Niki Cattaneo and Professor Hugo Nel for their assistance in setting up the logistics at Rhodes University.
During the week the focus was on teams of generally two people who worked on a specific project. These projects are briefly discussed below, and our objective is to take these projects and mold them into a tralac Working Paper. We do note at the outset however, that though these reports are not a detailed and comprehensive examination of an often complex topic, it is well to keep in mind that a Geek week is a training exercise.
The five topics were:
1. Access conditions for South African agriculture
Before assessing the potential gains from agricultural trade liberalisation it is essential to examine the current (and known future) market access conditions for South Africa. This includes both the tariff and non-tariff barriers, both as they apply (a) to South African exports and just as importantly (b) competitor exports of these main products of interest. An interesting “window” to potential market access problems for South Africa can be gleaned from agricultural products that tripartite countries have designated as “sensitive products” for either the EU EPA negotiations of the WTO Doha Round negotiations. One group explored these issues
2. The effects of the 2008 commodity boom on South African agricultural trade
An earlier tralac Working Paper looked at one side of this effect – namely the effects of the upside of the commodity boom. One person examined the more recent quarterly trade data through to June 2010 to look more closely at agriculture trade prices now that the dust has somewhat settled on the 2007-2008 commodity boom. The preliminary results confirm that import prices rose much higher than export prices
3. Agribusiness trade data
Increasingly agricultural trade is about processed and semi-processed products. Another team used FAO data to examine (a) African imports of agribusiness products and (b) South African agribusiness exports to the world to preliminarily assess the export potentials for South Africa
4. Trade widening versus trade deepening
A question surrounding FTAs is whether they (a) increase trade in the current products (Trade deepening) or (b) open up new areas of trade (Trade widening). The South African-EU TDCA has been operational long enough to provide some empirical insights into this question. Basically it was examined by downloading the trade data between South Africa and the EU (using the South African WTA data base) at the HS 6 level. The analyst took a base period of 2002 and divided both imports and exports from the EU into ten equal blocks using the HS code definitions assess the trade at 2009 in the same ten blocks to compare the differences over time. This was supplemented by a separate analysis of EU imports from (a) the world and (b) South Africa since 1999 from the World Trade Atlas from the EU itself. Using the disaggregated HS 6 data assessments were made of how well South Africa was doing in the EU market relative to its competitors in both overall trade and agricultural trade
5. Intra-industry trade (trade in similar products)
Increasingly trade is being conducted in like products. For example, at the general level, South Africa both imports and exports motor vehicles, and perhaps wine as an agricultural product. The empirical question as to whether this intra-industry or trade in very similar products is increasing over time between selected partners was examined for the EU and several other trade partners.
Aviwe Ganyaza - Assistant Director: SADC International Trade and Economic Development Division (ITED): Department of Trade and Industry
Bonani Nyhodo - Senior Researcher, Trade Analysis: National Agricultural Marketing Council
Nico Scheltema - Intern, Trade Analysis: National Agricultural Marketing Council
Noma-Efese Mxi - Assistant Director: SADC International Trade and Economic Development Division (ITED): Department of Trade and Industry
Nomonde Mampuru - Deputy Director: International trade & economic development (ITED), Department of Trade and Industry
Ron Sandrey - Senior Research Fellow: tralac Associate and Hobart Houghton Research Fellow at Rhodes
Sam Legare - Senior Agricultural Economist: the Directorate International Trade of DAFF
Shonisani Madzivhe - Senior Agricultural Economist: the Directorate International Trade of DAFF
Taku Fundira - Researcher: tralac