News

tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Containers First

01 Sep 2020

National news

New ‘single channel’ service created to help resolve barriers to South African exports (Engineering News)

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has launched a new ‘single channel’ online service through which South African exporters are able to register any problems they are experiencing in their trade interactions and secure dedicated support from government to resolve concerns. Through the Export Barriers Monitoring Mechanism (EBMM), which was officially launched on August 31, exporters can log both tariff and non-tariff obstacles using an online form being developed for the department’s website.

Agbiz CEO John Purchase has also welcomed the EBMM as a way of supporting export-led growth in South Africa. He stresses, however, that the competitiveness of the country’s agriculture and agroprocessing exports will also depend on effort to improve market access and to further developing those markets in which South Africa is already active.

Business has welcomed the creation of the EBMM service, with Brics Business Council chairperson Busi Mabuza indicating that having a clear point of contact with government was important for exporters. She called for more information sharing, however, and for the creation of a single portal where exporters could access information on South Africa’s trade agreements.

E-commerce has finally arrived in South Africa, says Dawn Wing CEO (Engineering News)

Despite going through a rough patch during the initial hard lockdown in South Africa, Dawn Wing couriers says it has since seen a significant surge in e-commerce. “The lockdown period business was really tough as volumes were low, but we made a decision to stay open to support our healthcare customers,” says Dawn Wing chief customer officer Hilton Eachus. “That said, post lockdown revenue has increased sharply by more than 40% off the back of aggressive growth in e-commerce and strong trade from our healthcare customers.”

“We believe e-commerce has finally arrived in South Africa and is now here to stay,” notes Eachus. “We made a decision over seven years ago to invest in this sector and we’re glad that it’s paid off for us as we are reaping the reward. That said we believe we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s to come in this space and we’re excited to be part of it for the long term.”

South Africa working towards reopening international borders (Engineering News)

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Monday said the South African government was working towards the reopening of international travel, which had been put on ice for months since President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. “Our next step is to work towards the reopening of international travel. With the risk of the virus spread on a downward trend, we are hopeful that the opening of our borders will happen sooner than we are expecting,” Kubayi-Ngubane told delegates as she launched Tourism Month in Cullinan, east of Pretoria.

South Africa must link tax laws to job creation, says ARMs Motsepe (Mining Weekly)

The private sector worldwide is the engine for job creation, in partnership with trade union organisations, government and communities, and South Africa must link its tax legislation to job creation. That is the view African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) executive chairperson Dr Patrice Motsepe expressed at ARM’s virtual results presentation on Monday.

“There’s a lot of good money that is on the sideline, huge money, and we have to incentivise. We’ve got to be creative and innovative. We’ve got to look at our tax legislation and link it up with job creation and I’m very confident that there’ll be huge investments in the mining industry. Create jobs, create a future for all our people. The big challenge for South Africa is the poor. The big challenge for South Africa is unemployment. The big challenge for South Africa is quality education and skills. This country has exceptional people. We will make success and grow in the medium to long term.

MFIs should embrace technology to survive Covid-19 (The Chronicle)

The Zimbabwe Association of Microfinance Institutions (Zamfi) has called on its members to embrace digital platforms if they are to survive the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and protocols, Zimbabwe has embarked on lockdown measures to curb the spread of the disease. Business operators have been heavily affected by the lockdown restrictions with technology coming in handy.

Zamfi said it conducted a mini survey on the impact of the Covid-19 on the microfinance sector whose outcome revealed the need for players to urgently embrace digital service platforms. “It was quite evident from the survey findings that the old model of brick and mortar in terms of branch network is no more relevant and worth investing in for the majority of MFIs, especially those still keen to remain viable and profitable in the lending business,” said the microfinance association.

Kenya allows Tanzanian airlines amid row (Business Daily)

Precision Air

Kenya will not cancel the traffic rights for Tanzanian-based Precision Air that will resume flights to Nairobi Thursday amid a standoff that has seen Dar es Salaam stop three Kenyan airlines from flying there. Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe said Precision Air has an existing traffic rights that will not be nullified on the account of the stalemate between Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya Airways, whose traffic rights to Tanzania were still valid at the beginning of this month when the carrier resumed international flights, were revoked by the Tanzanian authorities on retaliatory grounds after Nairobi excluded Dar from the list of safe countries.

DHL Launches Digital Cross-boarder Trade Platform (Capital Business)

Digital freight forwarder Saloodo!, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Global Forwarding, an international provider of air, sea and road freight services has launched a new digital road freight platform for shippers and transport providers along the Northern Corridor. Saloodo Chief Executive Officer Middle East and Africa Tobias Maier Tobias Maier says the platform has provided reliability and efficiency to businesses access to a pool of reliable carriers in Kenya to cater to their on-demand shipments.

“One thing which was a bit of a challenge, we many borders were affected across Africa, there were additional testings required for drivers and many borders were closed completely. So with the platform and the tracking we have on the platform, we could actually have people coordinate these hussles but that was the challenge for the tracking industry,” he said.

None of our trade laws are in breach of ECOWAS, WTO protocols Oppong Nkrumah (Ghanaweb)

Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has affirmed Ghana has not breached any trade laws in regards to the ongoing trade impasse trade between Ghana and Nigeria. “As we speak, none of Ghana’s trade laws are in breach of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) or World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and regulations. Indeed, there has been occasions for some other countries to report the Republic of Ghana to some international platforms and it was ruled in Ghana’s favour,” Oppong Nkrumah said. Last year, some foreign-owned retail shops of Nigerians were forced to shut down on the basis that their presence was ‘illegal’.

Ghana anticipates US$10bn boost to economy from aluminum trade (Goldstreet Business)

Ghana is expected to witness a US$10 billion boost in its economy with government’s plan of exploiting bauxite and aluminum reserves into the Integrated Aluminum Industry. To achieve that objective, the Management of the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC), in partnership with the Volta Aluminum Company Limited (VALCO) has deployed a Recovery Plan of retrofitting the VALCO refinery plant to produce at its full capacity of 300,000 tonnes of aluminum per annum.

Mr Kweku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who announced this at the swearing-in of the reconstituted Governing Board of VALCO in Accra, said the aluminum industry was a strategic sector contributing significantly to the manufacturing sector of many key economies globally.

Nigeria sets capital rules for mobile money licences (Reuters)

Nigeria’s central bank said it will grant more licences for payment service banks but set a minimum capital base of $13 million, which could deter telecoms firms and some other potential new entrants to the digital financial services sector. Nigeria wants to open up its digital financial services sector, which will help millions of Nigerians who do not have bank accounts. But regulation has been caught up with intense lobbying from lenders seeking to protect their turf in the wake of intense competition and weakening asset quality.

The success of mobile money in east Africa has convinced investors and the industry that financial services are the next growth area for the telecoms sector, where prices for basic services are falling. But the licensing requirement in Nigeria risks putting off telecom companies. When the central bank issued preliminary guidelines for payment banks in 2018 for discussion, telecom companies argued that they are not banks and do not need a capital base.

Nigerias trade and investment environment challenges persist as Adebayo clocks one year in office (Premium Times Nigeria)

Minister of Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo[PHOTO CREDIT : @NiyiAdebayo_]

On August 21, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti State, as Minister of Trade and Investment. He succeeded Okechukwu Enelamah, his predecessor in that office. Mr Adebayo had the mandate to lead the promotion of government’s policies of Ease of Doing Business, job creation, poverty eradication and industrialisation. Twelve months afterwards, a number of the problems persist.

Mr Yusuf said that while the nation may have recorded improvement on the Ease of Doing Business Ranking due to some recent policy measures, realities on ground would continue to differ if the highlighted challenges were not properly addressed. He said the performance of the trade sector in 2020 would be shaped by the direction of government policies. Logistics at Nigerian ports, especially Apapa in Lagos, is another major hurdle for business owners as consignments spend months with huge cost to the businesses. No improvement has been witnessed in this area in recent time.


Regional and continental news

First Local Content Committee Meeting Calls for Local Content as an Enabler of Africa’s Economic Recovery (African Energy Chamber)

The African Energy Chamber held its first meeting with its Local Content Committee today, placing local content development at the core of its activities. With several established markets like Nigeria or Angola and frontier energy markets such as Senegal or Uganda, the oil sector supports several of Africa’s economies. As a result, the African local content has become a key priority for government, regulators and industry stakeholders.

The regionalization of the African content was identified as a key trend for the short and medium-term. With the roll out of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) and upcoming first oil and gas in many African markets, the potential to have local content move away from a pure international-local perspective is real.

COVID-19 crisis amplifies the urgency for economic diversification (AERC)

The low level of economic diversification in Africa is a leading factor to economic fragility across the continent. The global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the risks of low levels of economic diversity and the reliance on limited economic activities, products or channels for trade and foreign direct investments.

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) has undertaken numerous policy oriented research projects to address the issue of low economic diversification and lack of economic structural transformation and to provide appropriate policy advisory for the required reforms and interventions. To mitigate impact, African countries, especially those most at risk, need evidence-based policies and implement solutions that particularly promote economic diversity. Such solutions should note the negative effect of external shocks and crises.

Digital transformation should be top priority for Africa’s leaders (UNECA)

African leaders need to think digital always, especially now as the continent continues to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has affected millions across the world, participants attending a virtual session of the African World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Implementation Meeting on “COVID-19: A Catalyst to Achieving WSIS Outcomes” agreed Monday.

They urged African countries to implement the African Union Commission’s comprehensive Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa. The strategy builds on existing initiatives and frameworks such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), to support the development of a Digital Single Market (DSM) for Africa, as part of the integration priorities of the AUC. Its main aim is to serve as a frame of reference in order to achieve the common vision of creating an integrated and inclusive digital society and economy in Africa that improves the quality of life of its citizens, strengthens and enables the diversification and development of the existing economic sector, and ensures continental ownership, with Africa as a producer and not only a consumer in the global economy.

Debate rages as governments eye excess digital profits (The Guardian Nigeria)

As part of measures to widen tax nets in Nigeria and other African countries, the need for countries to invest in technologies and track digital transactions has been echoed. This formed part of observations made at the just concluded 4th High-Level Policy Dialogue under the theme: ‘Taxing Rights For Africa In The New World and Effects Of Covid-19: The Role Of Tax Policymakers And Tax Administrators,’ held virtually in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

While other sectors of the economy have come to a standstill, the digital sector has boomed. This has huge implications for business models going forward and makes it even more urgent that solutions be found for the taxation of the digital economy that are equitable for source and market jurisdictions.

How Blended Finance Can Accelerate MSME Growth in Africa (The Africa Report)

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, approximately $7 trillion in private sector capital needs to be unlocked in developing countries. As policy makers grapple with the reality that trillions still need to be raised to bridge the gap, innovative finance is proving to be instrumental in offering asset owners and investors options to meet strong policy action with improved funding, especially for underserved sectors like micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Tanzanias infrastructure focuses to promote SADC regional trade (IPP Media)

According to one economist from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Prof Mohammed Bakari, improvement of transport infrastructure such as ports, railways, roads and electricity power plant currently going on in the country, will help further drive the economic growth of SADC member states. Prof Bakari highlighted his findings at his recent presentation he made for the Virtual Workshop across SADC region for Tanzania’s NSAs and talked on Tanzania’s Performance in three areas namely Industrialization, Agriculture and Trade. He said Transport and storage are among the major drivers for the Tanzanian economy and the significant volume is already generated from landlocked SADC member states.

East Africa business recovery strategy on the cards (The Citizen)

A study on post-Covid-19 recovery strategy for businesses in the East African region is on cards. It will inform business entities on rebound strategies that would enable them to recover from the pandemic’s devastating impact. “Necessary measures to ensure businesses remain afloat will be suggested,” said the East African Business Council (EABC). The study, to be commissioned by EABC, coincides with the easing of travel restrictions earlier imposed to curb spread of the virus. The apex body of private sector associations believes that, despite the devastation, the region can still navigate out of the adverse impacts of Covid-19.

Value of Dubai Chamber Members’ Exports to Africa up 20% in June 2020 (Dubai Chamber)

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry recorded a 20% month-on-month (m-o-m) increase in the value of member companies’ exports to Africa in June 2020, which reached AED 2.94 billion ($800 million). The value of exports and re-exports to Africa, tracked by Certificates of Origin (COOs) issued to Dubai Chamber member companies, signalled a rebound in trade activity with Africa to average levels seen during the January-March 2020 period.

African carriers post 3% dip in July freight demand, says IATA (Logistics Update Africa)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released July data for global air freight markets showing air cargo demand is stable but at lower levels than 2019. African airlines posted a contraction of 3 percent in July. This was down from a 3.8 percent increase in demand in June. The small Africa-Asia market continued to support the region’s performance. International capacity decreased 33.7 percent

“Economic indicators are improving, but we have not yet seen that fully reflected in growing air cargo shipments. That said, air cargo is much stronger than the passenger side of the business. And one of our biggest challenges remains accommodating demand with severely reduced capacity. If borders remain closed, travel curtailed and passenger fleets grounded, the ability of air cargo to keep the global economy moving will be challenged,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Rethinking Healthcare Systems in Africa (International Policy Digest)

African countries have the advantage of being able to adopt the most recent information technologies without having to adapt them to legacy IT facilities. In doing so, healthcare could not only be cheap and cost-effective, but also help reduce bottlenecks, waiting times, and dependencies on health institutions especially where health workers are scarce.

One recommendation to African countries is that while they pursue reforms in their healthcare sectors, they ought to secure their cyberspaces. Couple this with the rise of 5G and increasing interoperability across healthcare systems, and one may see a large-scale attack based on the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices as the gateways of entry and spread.

Mobile health technology holds the promise of taking healthcare technology outside the four walls of medical centres and transforming it into a much more modular network. The critical part of this open system is embodied by access to health data that could be used, reused, and shared to facilitate coordination between different health professionals as well as other institutions and private sector companies such as insurance and pharmaceutical companies or any entity willing to conduct a research project of general interest.

“It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector” (UNECA)

Tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors. It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. It boosts economies and enables countries to thrive. It allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity. Indeed, one might say that tourism is itself one of the wonders of the world.

That is why it has been so painful to see how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some $320 billion dollars in exports from tourism were lost. Overall, some 120 million direct jobs in tourism are at risk.


Global news

Kenya denies secret plastic deal reports in US trade negotiations (The Star)

Kenya will not accept any proposal that goes against environmental laws in its trade negotiations with the United States of America, Trade cabinet secretary Betty Maina has said.Speaking exclusively to the Star Newspaper, she rubbished a story by an international outlet claiming that the Free Trade Agreement is centered on a deal that will see US corporations import plastic and chemicals, targeting the African market. “No such proposal has been brought to the negotiating table. Claims in the story are neither here nor there. We will negotiate with US-guided by Kenyan laws,’’ Maina said. She added that talks are still ongoing and that no agreement has been arrived at yet.

Algerians warn EU trade agreement could further decimate economy (Al-Monitor)

The last restrictions on commerce between the European Union and Algeria are set to expire Sept. 1. The Association Agreement, signed 15 years ago, provides a glimpse into the lucrative future then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his immediate circle saw for themselves and the country they governed. In 2020, the position, unfortunately, is quite different.

According to figures provided to The North African Journal by the president of Algeria’s national association of exporters, Ali Bey Nasri, between 2005 and 2017, Algeria imported $283 billion in goods from EU countries, while exports, principally of petroleum-based products, only reached $12 billion. The agreement as it stands, Nasri said, would be “a disaster for the national economy.”

Reassessing the magnitude of the growing Russo-African ties (ORF)

Compared to China, India the USA and European Union countries, Russia’s trade with Africa is almost negligible. By August 2019 it has registered growth by 17 percent and yet the total trade with Africa had reached the figure of $20 billion. Algeria has continued to be the major and traditional trading partner of Russia. The Russian network of trade ties has yet to penetrate significantly in Sub Saharan Africa.

WTO faces uncertainty amid Trump threats, successor search (DW)

Whoever takes up the now vacant position of director-general of the World Trade Organization will have an unenviable job on their hands. Roberto Azevedo, the Brazilian, whose period in charge ended this week after seven years, has left the role a year earlier than originally planned. The two favorites are Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. If either emerges from the process, they will become both the first woman and first African to hold the role. Okonjo-Iweala’s lack of extensive experience in international trade may tilt the balance toward Mohamed.

The director-general does not make global trade policy but it’s akin to a chairperson role, in that it chairs the trade negotiations committee and can intervene in trade disputes by appointing people to adjudicating panels when members disagree. But an even more demanding task will be restoring the WTO’s credibility as a relevant international organization. That will require someone capable of convincing the most powerful WTO members that the organization is worth supporting and keeping.

Chinas intl trade fair to help resist global economic shrinking: Egyptian expert (Xinhua)

Amid the global economic recession, the world should not give up but hold such fairs to try to promote trade and resist economic shrinking, “and this is what China is doing,” said the head of the Cairo-based Arab Investors Union. “In my opinion, we should encourage and take part in the fair, for it is beneficial for us as both exporters and importers,” the Egyptian expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Bayoumi said he believes China, as the world’s second-largest economy, plays a good role in maintaining the global economy. He said that amid the global economic recession, the world should not give up but hold such fairs to try to promote trade and resist economic shrinking, “and this is what China is doing”.