Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

Featured tweets:

@KendalHembroff: G20 Trade and Investment Working Group meeting [15-16 January] to discuss challenges facing international trading system and need for WTO reform

@SabatucciEU: Next Monday, the AU and the EU will have their first Ministerial meeting after Abidjan Summit. On the agenda: peace and security, economic integration, and global issues.

Continental drifts in a multipolar world: Challenges for Africa-Europe relations in 2019 (ECDPM)

Yet, there are windows of opportunities to revamp the EU-Africa partnership in 2019. This paper examines some of those and looks ahead at what to expect in the coming year. We pay particular attention to converging and diverging interests, across member states, between the member states and their respective continental organisations – the EU and the AU, and between the two continents themselves. Extract (pdf): The follow-up to the 2017 AU-EU Abidjan Summit and the run-up to the post-Cotonou negotiations have revealed major divisions in Africa as well. Thinking and acting continentally is still a bridge too far for many African states, as illustrated by their reluctance to give the AU a clear mandate to negotiate on their behalf in the post-Cotonou process. As a result, the ACP-EU framework is again the starting point and organising principle for the post-Cotonou arrangements, though this is in contradiction with today’s geopolitical realities and regional dynamics. This demonstrates that the AU is at a crossroads. Pan-African and regional institutions are clearly as strong as their member states allow them to be. It is not evident what role member states see for the AU when it comes to their representation in legally binding partnerships. This, however, does not diminish African states’ commitment to continental integration. Granted, the integration process in Africa, just as in the EU, is not linear but a bumpy road with ups and downs. [Mauritius is a key player in the post-2020 Cotonou Agreement; The EC’s Task Force Rural Africa is expected to submit its final report by the end of January.]


Highlights from two ECA AfCFTA side-events held during December’s IATF

  1. Africa set for massive transformation with AfCFTA, says ECA’s David Luke. “Getting the AfCFTA right will depend on getting the level of ambition that we have as a continent,” said Mr Luke, adding the ECA had recently carried out an assessment of the AfCFTA modalities on goods to support the process as more countries are expected to sign and ratify the agreement in 2019. “The findings demonstrate that a double qualification approach to liberalize trade in goods under the AfCFTA would generate larger trade-related benefits for African countries than a tariff line approach.” Liberalizing trade in goods within Africa using a double qualification approach would also support Africa’s industrialization process, since it ensures that intermediates are liberalized early, and therefore rapidly utilized as relatively cheaper inputs towards value addition. The ECA’s analysis also clearly illustrates that African countries should keep their exclusion lists to a minimum in order to maximize the trade-related gains. “Indeed, any excluded list greater than 1% of the total tariff lines under a tariff line approach, or 3% under a double qualification approach, would be expected to bring insufficient trade-related benefits to African countries.” [Download:  pdf An empirical assessment of the AfCFTA modalities on goods (553 KB) ]

  2. Communications on gender and trade issues crucial for successful implementation of AfCFTA. Women-owned businesses tend to focus on local and national markets due to various barriers in accessing export markets, hence the need to ensure the gender sensitive implementation of the AfCFTA, participants agreed. Participants also agreed that to scale-up AfCFTA impact, there was need for coordination through a network for the exchange of information. The ECA is planning a continental training on the AfCFTA for journalists to influence and advocate for the AfCFTA, which should reflect the gender lens. Participants agreed, among other things, that a Champion was needed to advocate for gender considerations in the AfCFTA. [Tender: Develop a responsive communication strategy for COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS, and member states, for the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform Project]

54th ECOWAS Summit (22 December): the text of the communiqué includes decisions on economic performance, implementation of regional integration programmes, monetary union, and free movement of persons and goods.

Trade statistics

Selected country trade statistics posted during the holiday season break

  1. South Africa: November 2018 records R3.49bn trade surplus. The R3.49bn trade surplus for November 2018 is attributable to exports of R118.84bn and imports of R115.35bn. Exports decreased from October 2018 to November 2018 by R2.79bn (2.3%) and imports decreased from October 2018 to November 2018 by R10.57bn (8.4%). Exports for the year-to-date (01 January to 30 November) increased by 6.1% - from R1 080.48bn in 2017 to R1 146.01bn in 2018. Imports for the year-to-date of R1 150.17bn are 13.0% more than the R1 018.18bn imports recorded in January to November 2017, leaving a cumulative trade deficit of R4.16bn for 2018.

  2. Botswana: Gross Domestic Product Quarter 3, 2018 (pdf). Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter of 2018 reached P48, 912.3m compared to P46, 967.4m registered during the previous quarter. This represents a quarterly increase of 4.1% in nominal terms between the two periods. In the case of foreign trade, real exports of goods and services increased by 13.5% in the third quarter of 2018 compared to a decrease of 31.9% realized in the same quarter of 2017. Imports of goods and services recorded an increase of 0.6% during the quarter under review, compared to 16.4% decline realized in the same quarter of the previous year.

  3. Tanzania: December 2018 economic reviews (pdf). Exports of goods and services declined to $8,531.5m in the year ending November 2018 from $8,731.4m in the year ending November 2017 on account of a decline in goods exports. Value of goods exports decreased in the year ending November 2018 compared with the similar period in 2017, largely driven by non-traditional goods exports, which accounted for 38.0% of export of goods and services and 71.4% of goods exports. The value of non-traditional goods exports declined by 9.7% to $3,239.0m, with all of its major categories recording declines, save for horticultural products (see Chart 5.1). Manufactured goods export income decreased by 4.4% to $816.1m in the year to November 2018, largely following decline in earnings from export of textiles, cotton yarn, footwear, fertilizer, edible oil, cement, and sisal and tobacco products. Imports: Goods (f.o.b) and services import bill amounted to $10,301.3m in the year ending November 2018 - a 8.2% increase from the year ending November 2017 position, largely driven by goods imports. All major categories of goods import recorded growth in the year to November 2018 compared with the corresponding period in 2017 (see Table 5.2). The increase in import bill for capital goods was associated with the ongoing infrastructural development in the country, including construction of standard gauge railway; roads and bridges; airports; and ports. [November 2018 economic review]

  4. Tanzania’s exports to SADC rise. The industrialisation drive, which is targeting to transform Tanzania to a middle income country by 2025, continues to bear fruit by cutting the country’s imports and increasing exports to other members of SADC. The Bank of Tanzania economic and operations annual report for the year 2017/18, ending June 2018, shows that Tanzania continued to be a net exporter to others, with a trade surplus of $445.5m in 2017, up from $397.2m in 2016. Specifically, the BoT report indicates that Tanzania recorded a trade surplus with South Africa, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana. The trade surplus is a result of decreased imports, mainly from South Africa. The report reveals that South Africa remained the major trading partner of Tanzania accounting for 70.9% of the total Tanzania’s intra-SADC. In 2017, Tanzania’s exports to South Africa increased by 10.7% to $699.8m, from $631.3m in 2016, while imports declined by 12.1% to $415.2 million in 2017 from $472.2m recorded in 2016. The DRC is Tanzania’s second intra-SADC trade partner with export value amounting to $153.6m in 2017, lower than $291m in 2016. Tanzania recorded a trade deficit with Zambia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Seychelles and Lesotho due to low exports.

  5. Tanzania’s direction of trade (pdf). Tanzania’s exports were concentrated to India and South Africa, which accounted for about 40% of exports, while above 34% of imports originated from China and India. See Table 6.2: Direction of Trade in 2017/18, for a list of Tanzania’s main trading partners. [Tanzania grants free access for Uganda’s soya, sugar exports]

  6. Kenya’s trade deficit jumps to Sh715.7bn. Kenya’s reliance on the international market for most of its goods continued in the first 10 months of 2018, with the country shipping in nearly a trillion-shillings worth of products. During the period, Sh997.1bn goods were imported compared to Sh291.8bn exports. According to the just-released Leading Economic Indicators (October 2018), exports grew by 5%, or Sh14.2bn, to stand at Sh295.6bn compared to 2017’s Sh281.4bn. China remained Kenya’s largest source of imports for machinery and transport equipment, accounting for Sh291.8bn, followed by India at Sh161.2bn, Saudi Arabia (Sh138.4bn) and UAE (Sh126bn). Japan sold to Kenya goods worth Sh78bn, while South Africa brought in Sh54bn worth of goods, US (46.3bn), Germany (39.6 billion), UK (Sh26 billion) and the Netherlands, Sh16.6 billion.

    The LEI October report showed that Pakistan remained Kenya’s biggest trading partner, buying fresh produce mainly tea, coffee and flowers worth Sh50.2bn followed by Uganda (Sh42.2bn), the US (Sh39.5bn), the Netherlands (Sh38.9bn) and United Kingdom at Sh37bn. Tanzania bought goods worth Sh22.5bn, UAE (Sh19.5), Egypt (Sh16.6bn), Germany (Sh9.4bn) while France settled for Sh6.7bn. While China remained a major infrastructural construction contractor, its imports dropped by 17.2% from last 2017’s first 10 months where imports, mainly machinery and transport equipment accounted for Sh341.9 billion. [Download: Leading Economic Indicator October 2018]

  7. Egypt’s exports to East Asian countries up by 126% in 2017. Egypt’s exports to East Asian countries hit EGP 41.8b in 2017 compared to EGP 18.5bn in 2016, a 126% increase, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said on Wednesday. In its annual bulletin, the agency said imports from East Asian countries (China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, and Bangladesh) stood at EGP 300.7bn in 2017 compared to EGP 182.8bn in 2016, a 64.5% increase. India topped the list of Egyptian export-recipient countries with exports totaling EGP 16bn in 2017 against EGP 6.5bn in 2016. China came next with EGP 12.4bn in 2017 against EGP 5bn in 2016, though it ranked first in terms of countries sending exports to Egypt. China’s exports to Egypt totaled EGP 144.2bn in 2017 against EGP 90.2bn in 2016. [Egypt’s Doing Business ministerial committee meets]

IMB piracy report 2018: attacks multiply in the Gulf of Guinea (ICC)

Piracy increased on the world’s seas in 2018, with a marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s latest annual piracy report reveals. Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017. The Gulf of Guinea remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers. Reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018, accounting for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom.

Air freight demand flat in November (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), was flat (0%) in November 2018, compared to the same period the year before. This was the slowest rate of growth recorded since March 2016, following 31 consecutive months of year-on-year increases. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers, rose by 4.3% year-on-year in November 2018. This was the ninth month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand. African carriers saw freight demand decrease by 7.8% in November 2018, compared to the same month in 2017. This was the eighth time in nine months that demand contracted. Capacity shrank 7.4% year-on-year. Demand conditions on all key markets to and from Africa remain weak. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are 7% lower than their peak in mid-2017, nonetheless, they are still 28% higher than their most recent trough in late-2015.



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