tralac Daily News
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for October 2020 recording a trade surplus of R36.13 billion. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). The year-to-date (01 January to 31 October 2020) trade surplus of R203.23 billion is an improvement from the R3.27 billion surplus for the comparable period in 2019. Exports increased by 21.5% year-on-year whilst imports declined by 5.7% over the same period.
The Ports Regulator of South Africa has elected not to increase the average tariffs for the financial year 2021/22 to aid the battling maritime industry amid Covid-19 disruption that has hammered SA’s ailing economy. At the end of July, the National Ports Authority (NPA) applied to the Ports Regulator in terms of a section of the National Ports Act for approval of the tariffs for services and facilities it offered for an average of 19.74 percent increase for the period April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, together with indicative tariffs of -0.29 percent for the period April 2022 to March 2023 and -7.86 percent for the period April 2023 to March 31, 2024.
The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said on Monday that while there was room for the localisation strategy in South Africa’s agriculture, food and beverages sector, the focus would not primarily be on the top-ten imported products, but rather on niche and labour-intensive value chains that the country had not yet explored optimally. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said determining such value chains would require deep research which the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) should lead, along with private sector players.
Nam advances regional logistics hub dream (The Southern Times)
The Namibian government’s plan of making the country a transport and logistics hub for Southern Africa got a boost with Monday’s ground-breaking ceremony for rehabilitation and upgrading of the railway line between Walvis Bay and Arandis. The project will be undertaken by China Gezhouba Group
Trade minister, UNBS to meet over digital stamps (Daily Monitor)
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde has said she will this week hold a meeting with Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UNBS) officials to discuss the planned introduction of digital tracking solutions. UNBS last week confirmed it was planning to introduce digital tracking solutions in which it would conduct a phased implementation starting with high risk products such as cosmetics and beauty products, construction material, electricals and electronics.
Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the October 2020 Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 14.23 percent (year-on-year). The rise represents 0.52 percent, compared to the rate recorded in September 2020 (13.71 percent). The CPI is used to measure the inflation
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent action as Ghanaian Authorities embarked on another round of closure of shops belonging to Nigerian traders on Monday. The National President of NANTS, Dr Ken Ukaoha, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, condemned the maltreatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana Ukaoha said that the entire process showed Ghana’s decision to undermine trade and economic integration process in ECOWAS.
A total of US$7.9 billion of investments involving private participation in infrastructure since the year 2000 put Ghana among the top three Sub-Saharan African markets, after South Africa and Nigeria. According to Fitch Solutions latest appraisal of the Ghanaian economy, considerable Private Public Partnership track record and pipeline underscore private infrastructure investment opportunities in the country since the year 2000.
AfCFTA: Africa readying for free trade come January 2021 (Africa Renewal)
The AfCFTA agreement itself requires countries to protect the vulnerable, including women traders, and to address corruption. African states with bilateral trade agreements with foreign countries or other regions such as the European Union will need to walk a tightrope in meeting prior commitments while implementing the AfCFTA. Optimistic projections of the benefits of Africa’s free trade are, in theory, based on orthodox economic calculations – a linear demand and supply correlation that may not fully encompass externalities such as the availability of countries’ implementation capacity, requisite infrastructure, policy coherence and so on.
One month to the commencement of trading at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, two more countries have formalized their ratification of the agreement. Lesotho and Tunisia submitted their instruments of ratification to the African Union Commission (AUC) which is the depository of the instrument on 2 November, according to the Commissioner for Trade Albert Muchanga.
As Covid-19 restrictions wreak havoc on the world’s major ports by exposing inefficiencies and lengthening delays, trade at sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest container hub is functioning well after a strict lockdown gave it room to test and institute new systems .A lull in activity amid the curbs meant authorities at the Port of Durban on South Africa’s east coast was able to try new ideas and “had an appetite to take little bits of failure but quickly recover because there wasn’t a lot of pressure,” said Moshe Motlohi, its general manager.
A leading African Immunization expert has called on African countries and the international community to take concrete actions to ensure the continent has equitable access to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines. Dr Omu Anzala, a Kenyan professor of virology and immunology said Africa should start planning logistics and distribution of vaccines instead of being skeptical and hesitant. “The emerging global issue right now is acceptance of the vaccines, availability and its access,” said Dr Anzala.
The fourth annual Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF 2020) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has highlighted the collective progress in achieving the ECOWAS regional sustainable energy targets. The forum emphasized the remaining challenges faced by stakeholders in building a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency market. ECOWAS Commissioner for Energy and Mines, Douka Sediko described the renewable energy opportunities in the ECOWAS region as huge and called for a concerted effort in mobilising necessary finances.
COMESA Secretariat has conducted a study on the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The study is expected to help Member States in developing policies to address the impacts of the pandemic on their economies. According to the study, only six Member States: Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda are projected to have positive growth rates post COVID-19 pandemic. The resultant contraction in economic growth in countries is likely to hit hard countries that are resource intensive, oil exporters, and tourism dependent. Non-resource intensive countries will be more resilient.
The Council of Ministers has endorsed the COMESA COVID-19 Food and Nutrition Security Response Plan developed to help the region deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on regional food security. The plan is designed to address immediate, short-term and medium-term food security and livelihoods needs while integrating the response effort to the long-term regional agriculture development and integration agenda.
There can be no meaningful and successful transformational development in West Africa in the absence of inclusive growth and development, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, said during the region’s just-ended 23rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for West Africa. “It is now up to you to identify drivers that will move the sub region forward. It is therefore necessary to develop and deploy human capital and improve our infrastructure stock to increase productivity and competitiveness,” he said.
2 million Ugandan women to benefit from continental entrepreneurship program (The Kampala Post)
2 million Ugandan women involved in entrepreneurship are set to benefit from an initiative that the government has adopted to help them expand access to capital financing, business information and networks across the Africa continent to support their businesses, Sarah Kanyike, the minister of state for Disability and Elderly Affairs, said in a statement. The 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform “is an online social network that allows women in Africa learn from each other and be able to share lessons, as well as conduct business,” Minister Kanyike said.
According to the World Bank’s latest economic update for the Central African Republic (CAR), entitled The Central African Republic in Times of COVID-19: Diversifying the economy to build resilience and foster growth, the country’s pace of economic growth for 2020 will have slumped to between 0 and −1.2% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic following five years of robust growth (4.1%, on average). In 2019, although the country’s growth rate slipped to 3.1%, it was still higher than the rates recorded by neighboring countries that are facing a similar situation of fragility, conflict, and violence., the update notes that the global slowdown has not spared CAR, where production of its main export products, such as coffee and cotton, has plummeted. The health crisis has weakened public finances and deepened the country’s balance of payments deficit.
Beitbridge to get R4.5bn upgrade to stop delays – and bribes (Business Insider)
The Zimbabwean side of the Beitbridge border post is now on track to get a $296 million (R4.6 billion) upgrade after key investments. Bloomberg reported this week that private equity firm Harith General Partners and the Phembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund are buying stakes in Zimborders, which has a concession to design, build and operate the border post for more than 17 years as part of a public-private partnership project. Large banks in South Africa also committed funding to the project.
Beitbridge, Plumtree borders open on low note (The Herald)
The country’s southern borders with Botswana (Plumtree) and South Africa (Beitbridge) re-opened as planned at 6am today with low activity under a new set up where passenger traffic including motorists and pedestrians is now allowed passage through the port of entries. Strict and safe covid-19 screening methods are being carried on all those leaving or entering the country. Before the reopening of the borders to more traffic, today, Plumtree and Beitbridge were handling 5000 and 15 000 people daily.
COVID-19 Policy Briefing Series
Wednesday 2 December 2020, 1500 – 1600 GMT
COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of foreign direct investment (FDI). The pandemic has led to a slowdown in the implementation of existing investment projects, resulting in delayed FDI flows; and many firms have deferred investment decisions amid heightened uncertainty, significant income losses and, in certain cases, factory closures and supply disruptions. As a result, FDI inflows into all Commonwealth countries are expected to fall by 50 per cent to US$178 billion in 2020. A significant loss of FDI will undermine economic growth and transformation in Commonwealth countries and could constrain Commonwealth trade in the medium- and long-term. This webinar will discuss the findings of a recent study by the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCTAD.
The Trade Hot Topic is available here: https://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/inline/THT-170.pdf
Register for the webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3588335773032029456
EAC upbeat Biden will revive stalled trade talks (The East African)
The East African Community is optimistic that the US President elect Joe Biden will revive the negotiations and implementations of the EAC-US Trade and Investment Partnership. This came to the fore as leaders from the EAC congratulated Biden for his election win, with many expressing hope that his presidency will boost ties with the regional bloc. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which is a trade pact that establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between countries, was agreed between US and EAC partner states in June 2012 but was never implemented.
UK-Kenya trade pact awaits approval from EAC Council of Ministers (The East African)
East African Council of Ministers will, this week, hold their last meeting of the year with Kenya hoping to get approval to separately sign a trade agreement with the United Kingdom ahead of the December 31 deadline. The EastAfrican has learnt that the virtual meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of the Ministers of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) will also discuss other regional matters such as EAC policies on trade, non-tariff barriers, Customs, budgets, standards and quality, industrialisation and the tripartite agenda.
China to cut back lending to Africa in the post-COVID-19 era (The Africa Report)
Chinese infrastructure lending to African countries is widely expected to slow over the next 1-2 years amid mounting debt sustainability concerns. This would mark a dramatic change over the past twenty years when Beijing emerged as a key source of development finance that helped Africa close its gaping $100 billion-a-year infrastructure deficit. At least 18 countries are currently renegotiating debts with China, with 12 others still in talks to restructure an estimated $28bn of Chinese loans, according to the New York-based consultancy Rhodium Group.
It’s Time for an Africa Policy Upgrade (Foreign Policy)
U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy toward Africa will be remembered by its tone of disrespect, from his calling African nations “shithole countries” to canceled cabinet-level trips to the region. But while he needs to restore civility to U.S. foreign policy, President-elect Joe Biden shouldn’t fully reject Trump-era Africa policy when he takes office. In part, that’s because Africa policy is unique. It has historically been uncontroversially bipartisan, and U.S. presidents from Bill Clinton to Trump have continued their predecessors’ Africa programs.
This paper explores the shifting roles of Africa’s traditional external powers: China, the United States, the EU, and India. Section 1 introduces the evolving postures and colliding interests of these powers. Section 2 maps out the competitive post-COVID landscape and outlines economic and security flashpoints. Finally, Section 3 identifies opportunities for African nations to pursue their own ambitions while resisting the imposition of a new Cold War–style competition on the continent.
Improved Internet connectivity and skills have helped many countries to cope with the health and economic crisis from COVID-19. Yet the pandemic has raised the bar for the digital transition and underscores the need to close the digital divides that risk leaving some people and firms worse off than others in a post-COVID world, according to a new OECD report.