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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: AP | Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

26 Apr 2019

Zimbabwe shoots down Masiyiwa’s rand proposal (Bulawayo24)

Industry and Commerce minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu has shot down the suggestion by billionaire telecoms tycoon Strive Masiyiwa for Zimbabwe to price all goods in South African rand to achieve price stability. Masiyiwa recently said the country would do well to abandon the United States dollar as the currency of settlement for rand imports which account for 80% of goods sold in Zimbabwe, while also calling for the pricing of goods in the South African currency without necessarily joining the Rand Monetary Union. But in an interview in Plumtree, Ndlovu said the multi-currency system was ideal and advantageous because it allowed the country to have choice when trading. “The multi-currency system is more advantageous in this regard than using one currency. We are flexible in trading in different currencies of the countries we trade in using their currencies. The issue of pricing needs a holistic approach. There is a tendency to profiteer. That’s why President Emmerson Mnangagwa made the clarion call that, although inflation is going up, we have to tackle it together with business and hope to address it in the near future.” [Botswana ready to increase Zimbabwe trade ties; Museveni eyes improved trade with Zimbabwe]

Botswana: AfDB extends $80m line of credit to help industrialization, regional integration

The line of credit will be provided to the Botswana Development Corporation, via the AfDB’s private sector window and will be used to finance local companies in the Botswana’s manufacturing, transport, logistics and services sectors. In total, the projects are expected to create between 2500 and 2800 jobs, including 1200 to 1300 for women, in particular in these sectors.

Andrew McGregor: South African companies must seize FDI opportunities in Africa (Africa Report)

Who Owns Whom ownership research shows that there are 2,599 foreign direct investments by South African companies on the rest of the continent. The finance, insurance and business services sectors are leading, followed by wholesale and retail, and manufacturing. The biggest FDI is by Bidvest, followed by Standard Bank, which secured 28% of its headline earnings from these investments in its last financial year. Imperial Logistics obtained 26% of its profit from Africa. While ShopRite does not feature in the top 10, it has 22 subsidiaries operating 419 stores in 14 countries outside South Africa, making it the biggest South African player in the retail space on the continent. It derives 16% of group sales from its African footprint.

Eighth Borderless Alliance Africa conference: Ghana, the sub-region’s trade and transit hub (GNA)

The Government on Thursday re-affirmed its commitment to make Ghana a major trade transit hub in the West African sub-region and all efforts will be made to actualise this objective. Mr Kweku Ofori Asiamah, Minister of Transport, said transport played a crucial role in trade facilitation, social development and growth of national and regional economies. “For this reason, reducing cost, delays and removing all unnecessary obstacles within the transport corridors within our sub-region will not only make trading more competitive and accessible, but will also bring about development,” Mr Asiamah stated in Accra. Mr Asiamah whose speech was read on his behalf at the opening of the Eighth Borderless Alliance Africa Conference said the Government had undertaken a number of reforms aimed at improving the business environment through various initiatives such as the implementation of the “Paperless System” at the nation’s ports.

The Transport Minister noted that Government was also pursuing an aggressive programme to expand ports infrastructure. He said construction works were also underway for the development of four container berths with deep-sea draught of 16 metres; stating that the new terminal, which had 50% automation would be the biggest within the sub-region on completion. He said similarly, the Government had also put in place a programme to develop a Dry Port at Boankra near Kumasi, as part of the integrated logistics system. He said the project when completed, goods bound for the middle belt and northern part of the country as well as the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali would be charged at the inland port for onward transfer. [ECOWAS examines PPP model to address budget constraints]

Nigeria seeks Saudi Arabia investment in building refinery (Premium Times)

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, says the Nigerian Government was looking at the possibilities of having the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia build a refinery in Nigeria. He said the government has begun talks with the Saudi official oil company, Saudi Aramco, for investment in Nigeria’s moribund refineries and liquefied natural gas-producing company. Mr Kachikwu said this whie speaking on Bloomberg TV On Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Financial Sector Conference, at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “We are looking at the cooperation across multi-levels, refinery, for example, we are looking for investment in four of our refineries. We are looking at the potential for Liquefied Natural Gas investment. We are looking at some straight trade deals in terms of our DSDP programme, to see how they (Saudi Arabia) can participate and bring in products into the country,” he added. [Nigeria will sign African free trade pact, ACCI assures AU]

WTO reform: DDG Wolff suggests members look at accessions as source of inspiration

Is there scope for members to look at the experience of WTO accessions for additional inspiration in the ongoing WTO reform debate, asked Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff at a meeting of the Informal Group of Acceding Governments on 25 April. Governments that have joined the WTO since 1995 and observer governments currently seeking WTO membership are “key stakeholders in the ongoing debate and have a voice that should be heard,” he underlined. Extract from the speech:

“With over one-fifth of the WTO Membership now composed of economies that have gone through the accession process, and with a further 22 (and possibly more) economies in the accession queue, it is inevitable that the results of accession negotiations will continue to inform discussions on the future of the multilateral trading system and will accompany the evolution of WTO rules. WTO Members who come in through Article XII are generally better equipped to exploit the multilateral trading system than many of their senior partners who had an easier time getting in. Thanks to the rigours of the accession process, they have in place WTO-compliant legislation and institutional mechanisms. Their awareness of the system’s challenges and its weaknesses and strengths has been honed by the negotiating process. And more importantly, their political commitment to the WTO should normally be assured due to the difficult political choices that have had to be made at home to meet the demands for domestic reform. In other words, Article XII Members tend to be very good and active friends of the system. All members need to increase their efforts, exercising collective leadership, it the multilateral trading system is to progress and continue to be fit for purpose.” [ICC/JETRO symposium considers WTO reform]

World Bank’s new president skips China’s Belt and Road for Africa trip (Reuters)

David Malpass, fresh from a senior Trump administration post at the US Treasury Department, is instead making his first foreign trip as the World Bank’s leader to sub-Saharan Africa to highlight his vision for the bank’s poverty reduction and development agenda. A World Bank spokesman said Malpass will be traveling this weekend to Madagascar, Ethiopia and Mozambique before flying to Egypt and a debt conference in Paris. Malpass has said that Africa is a key priority for the bank due to its high concentration of the world’s poorest people.

Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation: selected updates

  1. President Xi Jinping’s keynote address. Over the past seven decades, we in China have, based on its realities, constantly explored the way forward through practices, and have succeeded in following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Today, China has reached a new historical starting point. However, we are keenly aware that with all we have achieved, there are still many mountains to scale and many shoals to navigate. We will continue to advance along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, deepen sweeping reforms, pursue quality development, and expand opening-up. We remain committed to peaceful development and will endeavor to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Going forward, China will take a series of major reform and opening-up measures and make stronger institutional and structural moves to boost higher quality opening-up. First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas. Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection. Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies. [SCMP infographic: How China is looking beyond borders]

  2. Christine Lagarde: Stronger frameworks in the new phase of Belt and Road. At the same time, history has taught us that, if not managed carefully, infrastructure investments can lead to a problematic increase in debt. I have said before that, to be fully successful, the Belt and Road should only go where it is needed. I would add today that it should only go where it is sustainable, in all aspects. Fortunately, the Chinese government is already taking some steps to ensure this is the case. The new debt sustainability framework that will be utilized to evaluate BRI projects is a significant move in the right direction. BRI 2.0 can also benefit from increased transparency, open procurement with competitive bidding, and better risk assessment in project selection. The launch of the green investment principle at this conference is a further important step forward for the BRI — and a step forward for green, low-carbon and climate-resilient investment. Debt sustainability and green sustainability will strengthen BRI sustainability. [Jaindi Kisero: We [Kenya] should go slow on Chinese loans, they are hurting us]

  3. Deborah Brautigam: Is China the world’s loan shark? (New York Times). In most of Africa and Latin America, in other words, China’s lending is significant, but fears that the Chinese government is deliberately preying on countries in need are unfounded.

  4. Related CSAE workshop (19-20 March 2020), call for papers: China’s engagement with the African continent.

Today’s Quick Links:

Turkey-Africa trade volume totals $179bn in last decade

ECOWAS develops training on corruption assessment

Egypt’s CIB looks to East Africa for growth

Suriname establishes 1st African embassy: in Accra

26th EU-Japan Summit: joint statement (pdf), European Commission press release

Japan’s Abe urges EU to avoid no-deal Brexit ‘by all means’

Japan opposed to linking currency to trade despite American fears over US dollar devaluation

China goes hi-tech, giving Indian exporters the opportunity to fill the void

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