tralac’s Daily News Selection
African trade events to diarise:
(i) Africa Industrialization Week 2018 (19-23 November, Addis Ababa). The theme for the AIW2018 is Promoting regional value chains in Africa: a pathway for accelerating Africa’s structural transformation, industrialization and pharmaceutical production”. The 1st AU-NEPAD Africa Pharma Conference will be the flagship event of the Africa Industrialization Week. Some of the side events during the week include: the Continental Forum on Regional Value Chains; the Second Symposium on Special Economic Zones and green industrialization; an Africa Enterprise Network workshop; and workshops on Youth entrepreneurship, Quality infrastructure within the value chain to improve SME products; and Financing industrialization.
(ii) UNCTAD, partners expert meeting on Maritime transport in Africa: challenges and opportunities, and an agenda for future research (11 September, Mombasa)
FOCAC 2018: China’s Xi offers another $60bn to Africa, but says no to “vanity” projects (Reuters)
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered another $60bn in financing for Africa on Monday and said Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than $10bn over the next three years, but he also warned against “vanity projects”. Speaking at the opening of a major summit with African leaders, Xi promised development that people on the continent could see and touch, but that would also be green and sustainable. Xi, addressing leaders at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, said the new $60bn will include $15bn of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of $20bn a $10bn special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5bn special fund for imports from Africa. Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than $10bn in the continent in the next three years, he said.
China and Mauritius are preparing for the final signing of a bilateral free trade agreement after concluding months-long negotiations Sunday, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, minister-level officials from both sides signed a memorandum of understanding on wrapping up the talks, leading to the first free trade agreement between China and an African country. China and Mauritius will conduct a legal review of the negotiation outcomes and the agreement text to make preparations for sealing the deal.
The South African Revenue Service, Friday, released trade statistics (pdf) for July 2018 which recording a trade deficit of R4.66bn. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia. The year-to-date (01 January to 31 July 2018) trade deficit of R6.51bn is a deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017 of R33.21bn. Exports year-to-date increased by 3.6% whilst imports for the same period showed an increase of 10.2%. The July trade deficit is attributable to exports of R107.06bn and imports of R111.72bn. Exports decreased from June 2018 to July 2018 by R2.96bn (2.7%) while imports increased from June 2018 to July 2018 by R13.58bn (13.8%)
Algeria’s energy earnings rose 15.23% in the first seven months of this year from the same period in 2017, reducing the trade deficit by 53.5%, official data seen by Reuters showed on Sunday. Oil and gas exports, which accounted for 93.09% of total sales abroad, reached $22.021bn, up from $19.111bn in January-July last year, according to customs figures. The overall value of exports reached $23.656bn against $20.205bn in the first seven months of 2017, while imports fell 1.06% to $26.908bn.
Nigeria: Government calls for inputs to new trade policy (Premium Times)
The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations made the call in a statement issued on Saturday. It said the call was part of the process of preparing “A 21st Century Trade Policy for Nigeria: a welfare and prosperity trade agenda that works for all”. NOTN called for contributions from key players in the public and private sectors: the deadline for submissions is 30 September. Inputs are invited on the following themes:
Trade policy, foreign policy and national security; Trade, competitiveness and rules-based safeguards; Trade and companion policies (enabling environment for business, industrial policy, technology and the spectrum of regulatory policies); Trade in services; Trade in goods; Trade in the “knowledge economy”: digital economy and data, intellectual property and innovation; Trade and investment facilitation and global value chains; Informal economy trade; Empowerment of women in trade; Standards and quality infrastructure; Trade capacity-building and training; Institutional rramework for the management of trade policy; Trade remedy and trade dispute settlement; and Monitoring, review and evaluation. [Nigerian Coalition of Services Industries elects co-chairpersons from NSE, NBA]
MTN Nigeria, Banks and CBN action: an update and initial commentary (Proshare)
Last week, MTN Nigeria was sanctioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria over allegations of impropriety in the repatriation of funds from Nigeria. This is a thread to help people understand the issues surrounding the recent fine imposed by the CBN on 4 banks and the request that they should refund $8.1 Billion in “illegally repatriated” dividends. [Uncertainty beclouds MTN’s planned IPO due to $8.1bn controversy]
Egypt: Public-sector revamp (Al Ahram)
Minister of Public Enterprise Hisham Tawfik recently announced that the ministry would begin plans to restructure the public sector in September with a view to improving companies’ performance and paying off their debts. Meetings would be held with each of the state-owned companies to discuss the ministry’s vision for reform according to the situation of each company, he said. He added that plans given to the companies would be set according to a comprehensive study of each sector. Egypt’s public sector includes 121 companies in different areas affiliated to eight holding companies with 210,000 employees. These companies have been criticised for being inefficient and making losses that in some cases have reached 90% of their capital. President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has asked the government to draw up plans to reform the public-sector companies and increase their share of the economy. Besides tackling the debt burden of most public-sector companies, the government’s plans include a programme for initial public offerings of 23 of the most successful companies over a period of 24 to 30 months.
Recognizing the complexity of the trade facilitation environment and the unique Customs-to-Customs capacity-building model of the WCO, the scoping exercise (13-17 August) included extensive consultations with different ZRA directorates, along with the Zambian Ministry of Commerce and Industry and other cross-border regulatory agencies in Lusaka and at the Chirundu border post. Discussions covered a wide range of technical issues, including risk management, post-clearance audit, measurement of release times, authorized operators, coordinated border management, Customs brokers, Single Window and consultations with the private sector. The private sector’s perspectives were explored through further consultations with the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. [WCO’s WACAM project supports Nigeria Customs Service in preparation of the Time Release Study]
South Africa: Fruit sector predicts major disruption if new road legislation is implemented (FruitNet)
The South African fruit export sector has warned that a lack of sufficient truck capacity to transport the 3m tonnes of containerised fresh fruit in 151,000 Hi Cube containers which is expected to be produced by 2020, will have a major negative impact on the country’s agricultural sector and could severely hurt export volumes in the future. This comes after news emerged last week that new regulations regarding the height of these containers when transported on the fleet of trailers currently used by haulers on South African roads, will be enforced from 1 January 2019. This has already resulted in the port company Transnet Port Terminals warning that it will not off-load empty High Cube containers from vessels in South African ports from 1 November 2018 unless shippers and haulers can prove that they are able to forward them on. Haulers have indicated that they will only be able to give these assurances until December 2018, warning that from 1 January 2019, if nothing changes and empty containers arrive in South African ports, they will very quickly block the ports.
Dewele – Tog Wajaale corridor report: update (IGAD)
The IGAD Security Sector Program last week concluded a workshop where high level participants from the Djibouti and Ethiopia governments exhaustively reviewed and validated improved recommendations to enrich the findings in the report “Mapping and analysis of the cross-border security threats in the IGAD region: a case study of the Dewele – Tog Wajaale corridor”. The corridor is a tri-border area that stretches from Dewele to Tog Wajaale where Dewele has a common rail and road border crossing between Djibouti and Ethiopia while Tog Wajaale has a road crossing border point between Ethiopia and Somalia (Somaliland) connecting to Hargesya and Port of Berbera on the Gulf of Eden. In the report it was found out that the corridor is faced with multiple cross-border criminal activities including migrant smuggling, illegal cash flows, contraband and smuggling of prohibited goods and counterfeiting to mention few.
The State of Health in Africa report (pdf) provides a comprehensive overview of the state of health in the region, the related services people need, the performance of their health systems and analyzes what impacts these have on health of people in the region. There has been a significant improvement in the state of health in the region with healthy life expectancy - time spent in full health - in the region increasing from 50.9 years to 53.8 between 2012 and 2015 - the most marked increase of any region in the world. What is making Africans sick is changing. Spending on health is low in the region and increased investments are important, but it is not only how much funds are spent, but what they are spent on. An examination of the link between health expenditures and well-being showed a weak association between funding and healthy life. Thirteen countries spent less than US$ 300 but had comparable healthy life expectancies to some countries spending more than US$ 500. Additionally, a number of countries are spending above US$ 500 but their level of health is similar to countries spending under this amount. Specific recommendations for each of the 47 countries of the region are made in the report and countries with good practices are identified so that others can learn lessons across the different dimensions of universal health coverage and other SDG health targets
Monday’s Quick Links:
Peter Leon: The resurgence of resource nationalism in Africa
Volkswagen signs assembly, policy MoUs in Nigeria, Ghana
Ghana: Tema LNG Terminal Company Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Company sign agreement on LNG terminal
EAC pre-budget conference for FY 2019/2020: update
UNCTAD, Indonesia collaborate on first global creative economy conference (6-9 November, Bali)
India’s e-commerce market to grow fourfold to $150 billion by 2022