tralac Daily News
National rail policy to support local industry, manufacturing (Engineering News)
The National Rail Policy White Paper has a deliberate bias towards local manufacturing to ensure industrialisation and the local production of steel, railway lines, rolling stock and supplies, and the State and private sector operators should procure all supplies from South African manufacturers, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said this week. “The obsolete state of much of our rail infrastructure and rolling stock, and the limitation imposed by narrow gauge tracks, as well as the underuse of the existing rail network, are some of the most notable challenges facing the sector,” he stated.
The Consulate-General of South Africa in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ms Nosicelo Mbele says the DRC Mining Week presents an opportunity for South African businesspeople to network and create ties that can be translated into exports of their products and services. Mbele was addressing the South African business delegation that is currently showcasing at the DRC Mining Week show which started today and will end on Friday, 3 June 2022.The twenty mining exporters are supported by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) to participate and exhibit their products and services at the DRC Mining Week, through its Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) Scheme. The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country.
“There are huge unexploited opportunities for South African exporters to increase exports of capital goods into the DRC’s mining industry with potential exports of mining equipment and related products estimated to be around R569 million. The country holds a wealth of opportunities, not just in mining, but as well as in agriculture and retail, telecommunications, mining and construction, logistics and other services, electricity and infrastructure,” said Mbele.
Zimbabwe’s trade balance narrows by 68% (NewZimbabwe.com)
THE gap between Zimbabwe’s imports and exports narrowed down by 68% in April, partly attributed to surging manufacturing output, Zimbabwe National Statistics’ (ZIMSTAT) recent trade report has established. The document released Wednesday, shows that the latest trade balance at minus US$49,9 million is far below the minus US$156,27 million recorded in March, signifying a 68,04% decline. The statistics are in sync with recent data by ZIMSTAT, indicating that the country’s manufacturing sector capacity utilisation increased to 66% for the fourth quarter of 2021.
During the period, the country’s main exports included semi manufactured gold (30.1%), nickel mattes, including platinum group of minerals (PGMs) (22.8%), nickel ores and concentrates (14.7%), tobacco (11.5%), industrial diamonds (5.0%), among others. “South Africa remained Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, with exports standing at 40,6% compared to 42,9% in March 2022. Exports to the United Arab Emirates constituted 34,1% in April 2022 compared to 313% in March 2022. “During this period, the value of exports to China increased to 9,9% on 2 April 2022, from 5,9% in March the same year,” the report said.
Zimbabwe abandons debt relief initiative (The Zimbabwe Mail)
The Zimbabwe government has abandoned its plan to access a debt relief facility under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, meant to resolve its unsustainable debt, Business Times reported. HIPC could have seen Zimbabwe’s unsustainable debt with international financial institutions cancelled. The latest development was revealed by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, George Guvamatanga on Tuesday this week. He said the government was now working on a new strategy to clear its debts. “The strategy we are pursuing now does not consider HIPC. I think it is a hybrid strategy which we think is fit for purpose,” Guvamatanga told Business Times on the sidelines of the European Investment Bank and First Capital Bank event in the capital on Tuesday.
Since early 2020, Lesotho has been hit simultaneously by the pandemic, declining transfers from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), climate shocks, and the impact of the war in Ukraine. Despite a swift response by the authorities, the fallout from the pandemic—including delays to large infrastructure projects, supply chain disruptions, layoffs in the textiles sector, and weak external demand—has weighed on social and economic development, amplifying legacy structural challenges. Growth has been revised down to 2.1 percent in FY21/22 after contracting by 6 percent in FY20/21, and is forecast by staff at 2.7 percent in FY22/23 and 1.4 percent on average thereafter. The war in Ukraine has hindered food imports, exacerbating agricultural disruptions due to floods and the pandemic. Global price increases in food and fuel, which account for over half of the consumer basket, are hurting the vulnerable, with inflation expected to reach 6.8 percent in FY22/23.
Tanzania seeks to be key rice producer in Africa (The Citizen)
Tanzania is racing against time to become Africa’s rice hub. To begin with, the country wants to meet East Africa’s total rice demand, a senior government officer has said. Tanzania – which is the 4th largest producer of rice in Africa and the second-largest in Eastern and Southern Africa - has put in place plans and measures to increase rice production annually in an effort to reach a tipping point in 2030 and thus be able to feed the region and beyond, according to the director of the Mechanisation Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ms Anna Mwangamilo. “We have adopted a transformative technology-dependent agricultural system model for rice, which includes mass adoption of improved seeds usage and other tools, including modern irrigation,” Ms Mwangamilo told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
She noted the provision of substantial market opportunities for smallholder farmers in the last three years, has led to assured national self-sufficiency and a sizeable surplus for export, making rice one of the most significant cash crops in Tanzania.
The Executive Director of Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Ezra Yakusak, on Thursday, said one of the challenges bedeviling the nation is low capacity to galvanize the youths into productive ventures for economic development. Yakusak said that the country is blessed with a large portion of youthful population ready to contribute in building a strong and prosperous economy. “However, the challenge has always been low capacity to galvanize the youths into productive ventures for economic development”, he added.
Nigeria takes step towards gas pipeline deal with Morocco (The Arab Weekly)
Nigeria’s government has directed its state-run oil company NNPC to press ahead with a deal on a gas pipeline to Europe through Morocco. Africa’s gas resources are increasingly in the spotlight as the European Union looks to wean itself off Russian supplies following the invasion of Ukraine in February. Approval for a memorandum of understanding on the gas project with West African regional bloc ECOWAS was given after a cabinet meeting, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister Timipre Sylva told reporters in Abuja late Wednesday.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and a major supplier of gas and liquefied natural gas. The minister said: “This gas line will take gas to 15 West African countries and to Morocco and through Morocco, to Spain and to Europe”.
The African Development Bank has launched preparations for its next five-year Mozambique country strategy after a trying period that included cyclones, security challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic. The African Development Bank, in coordination with Mozambique’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, hosted a workshop on 12, 13 and 16 May 2022 on the Bank’s 2018-2022 Country Strategy Paper completion report, which will detail the results of the strategy. The event also covered the new 2023-2027 Country Strategy Paper and a review of the Bank’s portfolio of projects in Mozambique.
Minister of the Economy and Finance, Ernesto Max Elias Tonela, said the national economy was beginning to recover from external shocks and the economic contraction witnessed in 2020. “The country has experienced considerable macroeconomic and political stability, which has attracted greater volumes of domestic and foreign investment, including the valuable contribution of the African Development Bank. I would like to reaffirm our commitment to strengthen cooperation with the African Development Bank,” the Minister said. He said the government’s strategy was in line with the pillars defined jointly with the African Development Bank for Mozambique.
Economist, Dr Ishmael Yamson, has detailed reasons Ghana should consider an International Monetary Fund programme amidst the current economic crisis. According to Dr Yamson the Fund has all Ghana needs to solve its crisis. Ghana’s economy is currently facing a critical economic crisis due to the COVID-19 crisis and the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The Economist posits that even though the government had earlier stated that it would not opt for an IMF programme, the best solution to tackle these issues is to apply for an IMF.
Ghana-UK trade relations: UK plans to increase its £800m FDI (The Business & Financial Times)
The United Kingdom (UK) government says it will continue to increase its bilateral trade in Ghana – an investment which is currently more than £847million in key areas of the country’s economy – for the next decade. Briefing the B&FT on a recent quest by the two countries to deepen trade and bring more investment into Ghana, High Commissioner of the UK to Ghana, Harriet Thompson, said the over-£800million investment in the country remains the top FDI from Europe and one of the biggest in this generation. She said the two countries have renewed pacts to increase trade and investment and chart new paths which will consolidate their bilateral ambition.
Where information requested from interested parties in this investigation is not provided within the time allowed, decisions will be made on the basis of the best information available. “All persons having substantial interest and wishing to be considered as interested parties in this investigation must make themselves known and may request a questionnaire from the ANMCC, the authority in charge of the investigation, within 30 days of from the start of the investigation.
African trade and development news
In an environment of elevated debt vulnerabilities exacerbated by increased fiscal exposure to the pandemic, extreme weather events and rising food and energy prices, improving Africa’s access to financing at competitive rates is vital for the continent’s recovery from the pandemic. Concessionary financing from multilateral and bilateral sources remains the dominant source of Africa’s development financing. However, notwithstanding their low-cost of use, concessional financing is lacking in scale and scope to adequately respond to Africa’s financing needs. For instance, with respect to scale, the continent’s SDG financing gap of $345 billion annually is about a third of the IMF’s total balance sheet of $1 trillion.
Rising financing needs, inadequate concessional financing and declining eligibility for such resources have compelled several countries to access capital markets to close their development financing gaps. But this has come at a cost.
Why Kenya is backing fresh UN agency calls for debt service relief (Business Daily)
Kenya has welcomed a renewed push by African ministers of finance backed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for rich countries to extend debt service relief for regional countries to help their economies recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and weather the impacts of the Ukraine war. Echoing calls by the UN agency and the African ministers, Kenya says calls for debt relief are timely and if heeded would provide a “breathing space” to help Kenya and other African countries cushion regional economies from the fallout caused by the latest Russia and Ukraine war crisis. Debt servicing obligations are feared could crowd out other critical expenditures by African governments in response to the economic fallout from the latest crisis, according to analysts.
East African states rush to impose new taxes on imported goods (The East African)
Following the May 5 decision by East African Community Finance ministers to adopt a 35 percent rate for the fourth band of the region’s common external tariff (CET), member countries are working to identify, review and impose new taxes on imported goods to protect local industries. The new tax whose implementation starts from July 1 will affect commodities such as iron, steel, dairy and meat products. Other affected imports are cereals, cotton, textiles, edible oils, beverages and spirits.
The CET’s four bands include one for raw materials, which attract zero percent tax, intermediate goods that attract 10 percent tax; secondary intermediate goods charged at 25 percent tax and finished goods, the fourth band, which now stands at 35 percent. “The process of identifying which products fall in the fourth band is now complete. Most of the products under this band are readily available in the region and, therefore, will attract more tax to import,” said Betty Maina, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development.
Finished goods that cannot be produced in the region have been allocated the third band, she added.
Deepening economic integration, strengthening regional peace and security mechanisms, and implementing the road map for the attainment of the EAC Monetary Union are some of Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki’s key priorities in steering the regional integration agenda in the next year. The EAC Secretary General underscored these priorities during a virtual forum dubbed, ‘State of the EAC Forum - SG’s 1 year in office,’ seeking to share the progress, achievements, and challenges of the EAC in the last year, and the way forward. The Secretary General listed the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the bloc, adoption of 35% as the 4th Band of the EAC Common External Tariff, and resolution of 23 pressing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) among the key achievements the Community registered during the last year.
Further, he shared that five EAC Partner States, had launched their own Trade Information Portal (TIP). The portals map out all imports, exports and transit procedures, including fees and time in the respective Partner States in an effort to enhance regional trade.
The Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) unit at the African Development Bank has published two evaluation reports that examine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the Bank’s work in transition states, countries where the main development challenge is fragility. The first report analyzed the implementation of the Bank’s 2014-2019 Strategy for Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa. During the evaluation period, the Bank approved 354 operations in 22 transition states, representing an overall investment of $6.48 billion. Four countries, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Chad, served as case studies in the evaluation. The report draws lessons from the experiences of the Bank and makes recommendations that informed the Bank’s recently approved new Fragility Strategy for 2022-2026.
A second evaluation examined the ability of the Bank’s Transition Support Facility to reduce fragility and build resilience in eligible countries. At the heart of the lessons captured by IDEV are the four main principles that form the fragility lens adopted by the Bank: flexibility to adapt operations and objectives to various contexts; responsiveness to unforeseen urgent needs; selectivity to achieve the greatest impact; and staying engaged across the spectrum of fragility.
The African Development Bank affirmed its commitment to supporting African countries to harness their mineral resources at the recent Mining Indaba held in Cape Town. The African Development Bank and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) took the opportunity to compare notes with governments, investors, partners, and other collaborators involved in the African mining industry at the Indaba. The Bank delegation convened a side-event to discuss ways to finance the development of Africa’s green minerals and effective African participation in the global battery and electric vehicle value chain. “Africa needs to promote policies that enable the creation of more value on the continent through resource-based industrialization, build productive capacities and develop intra-African exports and trade by leveraging on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Dr. Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Centre.
The discussions were premised on Africa’s significant green mineral resources, which provide a unique opportunity for the continent to contribute to the energy transition, and attracted a large audience from various African countries, industry, development finance institutions, commercial banks, and mining professionals.
Entrepreneurship in Africa is booming. There is enormous potential for small businesses and entrepreneurs to become a transformative force in powering both local impact and economic growth. At the Jack Ma Foundation, we believe that the future will be built by entrepreneurs. That is why, four years ago, we launched the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition to spotlight and support talented entrepreneurs across Africa. Each year, 10 “heroes” win a share of a $1.5 million grant and gain access to unparalleled mentoring, networking, and training opportunities. Through their ventures, these outstanding entrepreneurs are generating positive impact for their communities. As we launch our fourth competition, we’d like to reflect on the achievements of our Heroes thus far. Collectively, our Heroes have created over 2,000 jobs and raised over $10 million USD. They’ve launched new products and services, expanded geographically and highlighted the transformative power of entrepreneurship.
Global economy news
Ministers from across the globe are convening for a conference at the World Trade Organization in Geneva for the first time in more than four years from June 12-15. It comes at a critical juncture for the body and for global trade. read more The meeting, delayed twice by COVID-19, is a chance for the 27-year-old body to prove it can respond to what Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has described as a “polycrisis” of economic, health, environmental and security challenges. Nobody expects a package of deals but Okonjo-Iweala has urged negotiators to work continually to get “at least one or two” concrete outcomes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the chairman of the African Union, Senegal's President Macky Sall on Friday for talks expected to focus on how to get grain supplies stuck amid the fighting in Ukraine moving again. African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020, according to U.N. figures, and wheat prices have soared around 45% as a result of the supply disruption, according to the African Development Bank.“Africa has no control over production or logistics chains and is totally at the mercy of the situation,” Sall said recently.
Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, has urged the West to lift sanctions imposed over its military action in Ukraine so that grain starts flowing freely to global markets. While food and fertilizer are exempt, sanctions have targeted Russian shipping and made international shipping companies reluctant to transport Russian cargoes.
Stronger Trade Systems for Better Health (World Bank)
Governments used a wide range of trade and trade-related policies to bolster domestic availability of critical medical goods and services. Measures to liberalize imports and limit exports of medical goods surged in the first two quarters of 2020. According to an analysis conducted for this report, these measures increased average trade costs for medical goods by about 60 percent. Governments also adopted emergency measures to facilitate trade, ease regulatory bottlenecks, and promote the diffusion of health technologies. To reduce physical contact between traders and border authorities, many countries expedited a transition from paper-based to electronic documents. Countries also simplified trade procedures to facilitate the flow of critical supplies. The pandemic uncovered gaps in international cooperation, including a lack of information on the stocks and availability of critical inputs; a lack of mechanisms to mobilize financing to develop vaccines and therapeutics; and barriers to the rapid movement of certified medical products across borders.
Following six quarters of sustained growth, the value of international merchandise trade for the G20 reached a new high in Q1 2022. Exports and imports increased by 3.6% and 5.8%, as compared to Q4 2021 and measured in current US dollars. The increase is largely explained by rising commodity prices, as the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 containment measures in East Asia placed further pressure on the prices of traded goods and on already strained supply chains. Growth in exports and imports of services for the G20 are estimated at around 2.0% and 1.1% in Q1 2022, respectively, compared to the previous quarter and measured in current US dollars. The preliminary estimates are well below the rates of 6.2% and 3.1% recorded in Q4 2021 for exports and imports, reflecting weaker trade in the transport sector in East Asia and a general slowdown in services trade across most of the G20 economies for which data are available.
Cloud tools help minimise supply chain disruptions (Business Daily)
Manufacturers and distributors can leverage cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools to revolutionise the way they do business and manage disruption as the impact of the global pandemic, regional instabilities, and natural disasters continues to cause supply chain volatility. Supply chain disruptions have resulted in the need for highly agile organisations that are responsive to ever-changing market needs. A recent survey shows that 70 percent of manufacturing and distribution businesses experienced supply chain disruptions and 60 percent of businesses were unable to engage and collaborate with customers and suppliers in real-time. While collaboration and supply chain disruptions have been the biggest areas of impact, only 45 percent of businesses have the systems in place to address these disruptions and effectively collaborate with external suppliers and customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a surge in e-commerce and uptake of digital solutions by businesses and consumers. It has also underscored the significant divides that exist in terms of digital readiness, hampering many countries’ ability to harness e-commerce and the digital economy. UNCTAD’s eTrade Readiness Assessments (eT Readies) have already helped 29 countries, mainly Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to identify the main barriers and opportunities for e-commerce development. But the assessments are only the beginning. Their real value comes to fruition when moving from policy recommendations to implementation. That is why UNCTAD set up the eT Ready Implementation Support Mechanism (ISM) in 2020. Since then, several capacity-building, knowledge sharing and stakeholder engagement activities have been organized to strengthen incountry implementation capacities and better empower in-country Focal Points, that are playing a pivotal role in mobilizing national stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, although not without challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in slowing progress toward universal energy access. Globally, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment. At the current rate of progress, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030—10 million more than projected last year. The 2022 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report shows that the impacts of the pandemic, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains, and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have affected the pace of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030. Advances have been impeded particularly in the most vulnerable countries and those already lagging in energy access. Nearly 90 million people in Asia and Africa who had previously gained access to electricity, can no longer afford to pay for their basic energy needs.
Africa remains the least electrified in the world with 568 million people without electricity access. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77 percent in 2020 from 71 percent in 2018 whereas most other regions saw declines in their share of the access deficits. While 70 million people globally gained access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, this progress was not enough to keep pace with population growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Legal Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment (IMF Finance & Development Magazine)
When women begin to participate more in the economy, good things happen. There’s more growth, less inequality, and greater financial stability. So, why is women’s labor force participation still so low in so many countries? Katharine Christopherson is an Assistant General Counsel in the IMF Legal Department and coauthor of some new research that looks at the legal impediments to women’s economic activity across the globe. In this podcast, journalist Rhoda Metcalfe and Katharine Christopherson discuss the outdated laws that hold women back and what drives countries to reform them.
The responses reveal that trade remains prominent in governments’ development strategies in 2020 and highlight its role in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and in assisting in economic recovery. WTO members and their Aid-for-Trade partners were able to reorient their strategies to meet the challenges arising from the pandemic, with high priority now being given to trade facilitation, growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), trade connectivity, women’s economic empowerment, e-commerce and green economic growth. Introducing the latest figures on Aid for Trade, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported an increase in global Aid-for-Trade disbursements and noted that Aid for Trade represented 30 per cent of Official Development Assistance worldwide. Disbursements amounted to USD 48.7 billion in 2020, up 3 per cent from 2019. Commitments have also increased, up 18 per cent from 2019 to USD 65 billion in 2020. The highest share of Aid-for-Trade flows — 38 per cent — was directed to Africa, with 35 per cent to Asia.