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South Africa’s trade surplus narrowed to R24.2bn in June 2022, compared to the revised surplus of R30.9bn for the previous month. The surplus was slightly lower than market expectations of R25.5bn and was the result of a small increase in exports of 1.6% month-on-month and a higher increase of 6.3% in imports compared with May 2022. The small and disappointing growth in exports is partially explained by the widely reported problems experienced in and by the mining industry. This is evident from the fact that the exports of precious metals and stones increased by R2.5bn (+6%), and in contrast, the exports of mineral products declined by R3.2bn (-6%). Whilst both precious metals (PGMs, gold, diamonds etc.) and mineral products (different types of ores, coal etc.) are experiencing high global prices, only the precious metals industry is benefitting fully from the price bonanza.
The conundrum lies in the fact that the former is exported by air to its final export destinations, whilst the latter is dependent on transport by rail to the various South African ports. The inability of both rail transport and ports to provide an effective and efficient service to the industry is impacting the industry and the country. However, the mining industry also slightly contributed to the declining production volumes experienced by certain commodities amidst a commodity boom.
Poultry association says capacity built under masterplan may lie idle (Engineering News)
The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) says it is disappointed in the suspension of anti-dumping duties on certain imported chicken products, adding that the South African industry has invested R1.5-billion in expanding local processing capacity in support of the Poultry Sector Masterplan and created more than 1 500 new jobs. Emerging farmers have spent more than R600-million to build new farms to support the increase in capacity at a time when input costs are against the industry on the back of global macroeconomic issues, says Sapa Broiler Organisation GM Izaak Breitenbach.
Despite bulk mineral exports being State-owned Transnet’s single biggest client base, South Africa is unable to access the full benefits of minerals exports, Minerals Council South Africa CEO Roger Baxter told delegates attending the first day of the South African Heavy Haul Association (SAHHA) 2022 conference on August 2. He said it had been a challenging last couple of years, with a deterioration in Transnet’s rail performance.
EU increases agri-food exports to South Africa (Agriland.ie)
The latest EU agri-food trade figures released recently show that the total value of EU agri-food trade reached €31.4 billion in April 2022, a 14% increase on to April 2021. Exports of agricultural products from the EU decreased by 5.4%, mainly due to lower exports to Russia (-26%) and China (-11%). Imports of agricultural products from the EU reached a value of €13.5 billion (1.2% less than in March), giving an agri-food trade balance of €4.4 billion for April 2022. This is a decrease of 16% month-over-month. Overall, trade flows from January to April 2022 are significantly higher than the corresponding period last year, with exports increasing by 10% and imports increasing by 28% due to high world prices.
Cheap chicken gets dumping customs pass (Namibian)
NEITHER Namibia nor South Africa will impose anti-dumping tariffs on chicken imports from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, and Spain. This is because food prices are too high, the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) announced yesterday. After an investigation, the commission determined those countries were dumping chicken in the Southern African Customs Union (SADC) area at below the cost of production, “causing material injury” to local producers. Under global trade rules, this allows South Africa to impose extra import duties to level out the price and so protect local producers from predatory behaviour. Itac had recommended just such tariffs to South African trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, who makes the final decision on such matters.
“The minister approved the commission’s recommendation. However, in making his decision, the minister considered the current rapid rise in food prices in the Southern African Customs Union market and globally, and the significant impact this has, especially on the poor, as well as the impact the imposition of the anti-dumping duties may have on the price of chicken as one of the more affordable protein sources.”
Industry body Agri SA and the National Wool Growers’ Association of South Africa (NWGA) have noted concern about the “unjustifiable” ban on wool exports to China owing to Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in parts of South Africa. The first wool auction for the 2022/23 season is scheduled for August 17; however, with up to 80% of the clip normally destined for China, the ban will have a “devastating” effect on the local wool industry, the industry bodies point out. The value of the South African wool clip is about R5-billion a year. Since the ban was announced in April this year, the South African wool industry has lost an estimated R734-million in wool exports to China.
Shepherd Chowe pushes a cart filled with tins, iron rods and other metallic objects down a dusty pathway in Hopley, a poor settlement about 15 km west of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. “I start moving around the township at 8 a.m. ... asking people for scrap metal or anything metallic they are not using anymore,” Chowe said, adding that on a good day he takes home $40.
Chowe is among Zimbabweans selling scrap metal for survival as the cost of living soars, piling pressure on a population already facing food shortages and high unemployment, stirring memories of economic chaos years ago under veteran leader Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule.
Zimbabwe’s steel industry has been struggling since the collapsed of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) more than a decade ago. However, in recent years, small steel producers working with scrap yard dealers are picking up the pieces.
High-Level Debt Resolution Forum on the cards (Chronicle)
Zimbabwe is planning to host a High-Level Debt Resolution Forum with development partners and other stakeholders aimed at building consensus on the process and procedures of resolving the country’s external debt and arrears clearance.
The country’s external debt continues to burden the economy by restricting access to low cost, long-term financing required to support the desired medium to long term growth trajectory. To address the challenge, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said the Government has developed the Arrears Clearance, Debt Relief and Restructuring (ACDRR) Strategy aimed at restoring debt sustainability. According to the strategy document, the country is ready and geared for private sector-led inclusive economic growth.
NRZ takes up import substitution challenge (The Chronicle)
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has set focus on substituting imports through domesticating critical engineering services under its Integrated Rail Technologies (Inter Rail Tech) arm.
The firm’s engineering services unit provides internal services to the parent company and also manufactures mining equipment spares for small-gscale and established mining businesses. NRZ participated at the recent Mining, Engineering and Transport (Mine Entra) Exhibition in Bulawayo where it showcased its diversified services. Company spokesperson, Mr Martin Banda, said the integrated rail technologies unit consists of different engineering departments capable of providing solutions to challenges faced by local industries, including miners.
“It has been noted that there is a need for industries and miners to work together, which will result in cutting down on looking for talent and engineering components out of the country,” said Mr Banda.
Zimbabwe’s industry is on recovery mode, riding on the back of efforts by the Government to create a stable operating environment through initiatives such as the foreign currency auction system.
Secure Mombasa port’s strategic trade position (Business Daily)
Kenya must protect its transport corridor by investing in the Mombasa port amid emerging competition from other facilities in the region. Mombasa currently handles 3,000 containers daily and many landlocked countries in the region rely on it. A report by advisory firm GBS Africa shows that plans to develop Lamu and Tanzania’s Bagamoyo into transshipment ports could in the long run give them an advantage over Mombasa in terms of the size and number of vessels handled and the time taken to move containers. A shift to other ports will remove Mombasa’s historic shine as a strategic trading post and the main gateway to international markets
Kisumu Shipyard will expand regional trade — Uhuru (The Star, Kenya)
Trade within the East Africa Community is expected to expand greatly with commissioning of the Kisumu Shipyard Limited and floatation of the MV Uhuru II. President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday commissioned the shipyard where the Kenya Defence Forces built its first ship, the MV Uhuru II cargo carrier. He said the project will be crucial in growing the country’s economy. The EAC member states are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan and DR Congo. “The port will create jobs and business opportunities for Kenyans and increase their income if put into good use,” Uhuru said.
Tanzania and Zambia on Tuesday agreed to mobilize resources to revive the TAZARA railway to make it modern and vibrant. “Tanzania and Zambia are long-time friends. We have agreed to further promote these relations which now should be translated into economic and trade relations to improve the lives of our people,” said President Hassan.
For his part, Zambian President Hichilema said: “We need to work together because our relationship and co-existence is historical, we were together in the struggle for independence, since then we have worked together and our people have been one.”
Uganda mulls revised borrowing model to manage debt (The East African)
Uganda is considering changes to future borrowing in the light of rising debt, with Ministry of Finance officials saying such a move is meant to manage debt and reduce the burden of repayments. Maris Wanyera, director for cash and debt policy at the Ministry of Finance, says one way will be to re-examine ratios of interest payments to tax revenues, as well as interest payments against export earnings, in addition to the debt-to-economic growth balances. “Future borrowing will be biased towards concessional loans and the domestic debt market for purposes of budget support, but we shall not acquire commercial loans for project implementation,” Ms Wanyera told The East African. Uganda’s debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, usually measured as the level of indebtedness based on national wealth, rose to 54 percent in June from 49.1 percent by end of May based on cumulative debt statistics captured between July 2021 and June 2022.
It means Uganda owes Ush73.5 trillion ($19.2 billion), with external debt valued in excess of Ush40 trillion ($10.5 billion), recent government data shows.
Ghana launches National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Action Plan (Ghana Business News)
Ghana government has outlined interventions geared towards the harmonisation of existing laws, programmes, policies, and regulations to boost Ghana’s trade with Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The interventions were highlighted in a National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Action Plan that provided policy prescription and strategic objectives with focus on trade facilitation, trade policy, infrastructure, enhancing productive capacity, trade information, market integration and finance. The document was put together by the AfCFTA Inter-Ministerial Committee, National AfCFTA Steering Committee and seven Technical Working Groups that comprised of representatives from the private sector, Senior Government Officials, and other technical experts.
At the launch on Tuesday, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, who launched the document on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said the implementation of the framework was crucial to ensuring Ghanaian businesses exported significantly into the African continent.
Trade Facilitation: Stakeholders fault Customs Bill (New Telegraph)
Stakeholders in the port sector have said that the 283 clauses in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)’s 2022 Draft Bill with grey areas could hamper trade facilitation, import and export activities and the nation’s manufacturing potentials, if not urgently reviewed
the Nigeria Customs Service Bill 2022, surfaced at the National Assembly with 283 clauses of grey areas. Top among the drawback of the new bill was the scheme to seek the creation of ministry of Customs with a further constitutional clause that seeks the appointment of a retired Customs officer as minister.
Redefining business models necessary for SMEs’ growth (Businessday)
With poor power supply in Nigeria, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) incur additional operational costs when they operate generators to power their businesses. Coronavirus practically changed the business models of many firms. Just about the time the world thought the crisis was gradually coming to an end, the prices of crude oil skyrocketed, thus increasing the pains for businesses, which come in the form of higher costs of raw materials. It is thus surprising that some Nigerian businesses still stick to the old ways of doing things. The old model produced poor customer convenience and a low customer satisfaction. That is why the order of the day now is innovation around technology adoption in businesses to improve performance and retain customers.
Nigerian businesses need to raise their game due to the increasing competitiveness on the African markets as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gains more traction and because of the urgency to create more jobs for the increasing number of unemployed Nigerians who are getting more frustrated daily.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has reiterated its commitment to achieving self-sufficiency and net exporter of energy resources by 2026. Mr Bala Wunti, Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS) said at the 2022 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE) on Tuesday in Lagos that though the government had pledged to achieve net zero carbon emission by 2060, its priority remains reducing energy poverty in the country with its abundant hydrocarbon resources.
Speaking during a panel session on “Sustainable Energy Transition Strategy: The Role of Legislative Frameworks and Investment Programmes”, he said the government’s target was to attain zero dependence on imported energy, both primary and secondary, as well as becoming a net exporter of secondary energy resources by 2026.
Minister tasks industries, pharmacists on vaccine production (The Guardian, Nigeria)
The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum, has urged Nigerian pharmaceutical companies to utilise the licensing provision of the TRIPS Waivers Agreement for COVID-19 to establish vaccine production plants for the country. Katagum gave the advice at the 9th African Day of Standardisation 2022 Symposium, organised by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in collaboration with the African Organisations for Standardization (ARSO) in Lagos. With the theme: “Promoting the African Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Industries Through Standardisation”, the Minister explained that following WHO’s declaration of the coronavirus as a global public health emergency and inability of some countries to get the COVID-19 vaccine, some countries have issued compulsory licences to enable them to start manufacturing of vaccines within the next five years.
Under the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the peace process to end South Sudan’s civil war has achieved some notable milestones since 2018. However, progress has been slower than anticipated, and the global pandemic and devastating floods have further impeded the recovery from the sharp contraction of the economy during the civil war years. South Sudan remains highly dependent on oil, which accounts for nearly all of exports and 90 percent of government revenue. This leaves the country exceptionally exposed to oil price fluctuations. Moreover, the population is critically reliant on international humanitarian aid. Off-budget support from international donors provides for most of South Sudan’s social spending but is set to decline amid shrinking aid budgets and the rising cost of providing such aid.
The West African Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Afrexim Bank, Eric Intong has underscored the need for Africa countries to introduce a common local currency on the continent as against the use of the dollar. This, he argues will help check exchange rate depreciation on the continent. Speaking at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Law School, Africa Trade Round Table 5, Mr. Intong warned that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will face serious challenges if a common currency is not introduced to facilitate trade. He stressed that the inability of African countries to develop a common currency to trade with adds more cost to moving goods on the continent”
“If we stop paying African trade in dollars that is going to reduce the pressure on our currencies. We have made that estimate and it is at $5 billion annually. This will even be more once we start operating and the data from the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS)”, he said.
He disclosed that trade assessments undertaken in the West African region show that pressure on local currencies in the sub-region could drop if common currency is used for trading even among West African nations
Commercial bakers from eight West Africa countries are doing what they can to reduce their dependence on foreign wheat and strengthen their nations’ food security by forming a trade association. For VOA Allison Fernandes reports from Dakar, Senegal.
ZIMBABWE is expected to participate in the sixth Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) annual industrialisation week, a platform that brings together multiple faceted players to explore ways on how the region can contribute to poverty reduction through industrialisation and structural transformation of economies. The Democratic Republic of Congo is hosting the event which kicks off today and runs until Saturday under the theme “Promoting industrialisation through agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth”. In a statement, the SADC secretariat said the annual event provides a platform for member states, the private sector, international cooperating partners, multinational corporations, regional and global policy makers, research institutions and academia, small and medium enterprises, development finance institutions and civil society to interact and share experiences on how best the region can contribute to poverty reduction through industrialisation and structural transformation of our economies.
The SADC Council of Ministers endorsed the convening of the annual SIW to intensify engagement with various partners, including the private sector to accelerate the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.
EABC launches online SMEs finance access platform (New Vision)
The East African Business Council (EABC) has launched the EAC Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) online platform to ease access to cheap and affordable finances from the available capital in the region. According to John Bosco Kalisa, the EABC Chief Executive Officer, the level of regional intra-trade is low and there is a need to negotiate better. Kalisa says that the region is blessed with the unveiling of Equity Bank’s $6b SME fund and $1b from Afriexim Bank and the joining of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the East African Community. “Our role as EABC will be to coordinate SMEs focal points across all the 6 partner states in the region hoping to double opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to benefit from over 130 million people in the region,” he explained during the launch of the EABC portal at Hotel Africana last week. However, Kalisa acknowledges that there are numerous challenges facing SMEs in the region despite the fact that 90% of the SMEs play a vital role in the livelihoods of the people.
In February 2022, the African Union endorsed the continent’s first collective climate response framework. The AU’s Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032) released at the end of June, comes at a time of growing evidence Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change. This is due to high exposure to climate hazards, reliance on climate-sensitive sectors (such as agriculture) and low adaptive capacity.
A booming tech sector can unleash pan-African trade (Chatham House)
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) not only lays the groundwork for a single market across the continent, it can act as a driving force to unleash the full potential of the technology revolution that is under way across the African continent. To help achieve this, the AfCFTA must go beyond simply lowering barriers to the movement of goods and services, to what the World Bank calls an ‘FDI [foreign direct investment] deep scenario’. This requires harmonizing policies on investment, competition, intellectual property rights and e-commerce to encourage FDI at a greater scale.
There is no doubt the African tech industry is growing. In 2021, 681 African technology companies raised $5.2 billion in equity venture funding, up from $2 billion in 2019, according to Partech Partners’ annual Africa Tech Venture Capital report. It is understandable why the industry has attracted global venture capital. While tech businesses are often initially focused on meeting needs in their home markets, most have a strong desire to tap into the pan-African market, with its 1.3 billion consumers across 54 countries and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion. This in turn should attract global venture capital to invest in Africa.
The AfCFTA has created a framework for technology-led companies to scale across the continent in a way that will impact digital infrastructure, logistics, energy and much else. For example, Africa’s hyperscale data centre capacity would benefit from the ability to locate centres in the lowest cost jurisdiction with the best energy availability and to use that to power cloud storage across the continent.
Similarly, logistics and other sectors would be transformed if the information on goods in transit, such as digital customs documentation, could move easily across borders while being tracked across all 54 countries. Financial services would also benefit from the ability to pay across borders in a low-cost, frictionless way.
African airlines caught in Ukraine turbulence (The East African)
The war in Ukraine is eating into earnings by airlines that have had to endure rising costs of jet fuel. And since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, cargo air freight and air tickets charges have increased to match the rise in jet fuel prices, engaging a reverse gear to an industry already struggling with post-Covid-19 recovery. According to the African Airlines Association, airlines on the continent are likely to post losses of up to $4.1 billion this year on the back of expensive jet fuel. This is equivalent to 23.4 percent of 2019 revenues. In a fight-back, the airlines have joined forces to negotiate better prices and a steady flow of jet fuel in a bid to help stave off a potential crisis caused by supply issues and soaring costs.
African Airlines Association Secretary-General Abderahmane Berthe’ said last week that a committee, which includes major carriers such as South African Airways and Kenya Airways, is set to secure deliveries for 12 months starting this month.
The youth will drive Africa’s digital economy; hence the need to invest in their skills development to accelerate innovations and growth on the continent, African Development Bank Director General for East Africa Nnenna Nwabufo said. Speaking at the 9th World Financial Innovation Series in Nairobi, Kenya, on 19 July, she noted that the youth are ambitious, enterprising, and eager for change. “Africa’s young people are the most avid adopters of ICTs and digital solutions.” Recent statistics show that 60% of Africa’s population is below 25 years old. “We anticipate a future that will be very different from today in terms of innovation, enterprise, and job and wealth creation,” Nwabufo added.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat is implementing the Intra-African Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) Climate Services and Related Applications (ClimSA) programme across the Southern Africa region. ClimSA is a six-year project which aims to improve the production, access to and use of climate information, services and applications for decision-makers.
As one of seven regional organisations, SADC Secretariat signed the Contribution Agreement for ClimSA with the EU in October 2019 and launched the programme in April 2021. The total cost of the programme is US$8,748,000 and is funded by the 11th European Development Fund. The ClimSA programme also features a Focus Country, in which some activities will be implemented at the national level. In the SADC Region, Angola has been identified as the first Focus Country.
More than 37 million people are facing acute hunger, with approximately seven million children under the age of five acutely malnourished in the region. While finding food and safe water is the absolute priority, WHO said that ensuring a strong health emergency response is needed to avert preventable disease and deaths. The UN agency is calling for $123.7 million to respond to rising health needs and prevent a food crisis from turning into a health crisis. “The situation is already catastrophic, and we need to act now,” said Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO Assistant Director General for Emergencies Response. “We cannot continue in this underfunding crisis”.
Climate change, conflict, rising food prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded one of the worst droughts in the region in recent decades, according to the WHO appeal.
How can we harness aid for trade for a just transition to sustainable trade? (Trade for Development News)
Aid for trade is a crucial part of the integrated policy approach needed for trade and trade policies to advance sustainable development and support environmental objectives in least developed countries. At the Eighth Global Review of Aid for Trade on 27–29 July 2022, governments and stakeholders shared views on how best to harness aid for trade to support a just transition to sustainable trade that addresses the needs of developing and least developed countries.
As governments and stakeholders work to promote the economic transformations vital to achieving resilient, low carbon, and sustainable development, aid for trade is an important component of the financing and partnerships required to support a just transition for LDCs that supports new economic opportunities and decent work.
UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller took part in the World Trade Organization’s Eighth Aid for Trade Global Review with the theme “Empowering Connected Sustainable Trade”. In his introductory remarks at the Opening Plenary session, Müller called for a move towards a fairer global trade system, with increased investment in productive capacity in developing and least developed countries. Moreover, he declared it a “moral must” that international social and ecological standards be established, respected and enforced to prevent the exploitation of nature, people, and especially children, in global supply chains.
Müller later participated in the roundtable discussion on “Better Trade for Better Health” focusing on the fight against illicit trade in medical products. He drew attention to the urgent need to combat substandard and counterfeit products and expand high quality manufacturing capacity for vaccines and essential medicines worldwide to assure a fair availability of these life-saving medicines and to avoid a repetition of the disastrous imbalance in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and the Republic of Botswana conducted, in close collaboration with World Trade Organization (WTO), a session on improving the connectivity of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) last week. The session took place during the Aid for Trade Global Review 2022.
IRU’s TIR Director Tatiana Rey-Bellet outlined the benefits of TIR in improving transit connectivity, facilitating cross-border trade and turning landlocked countries into land-linked countries. The recent implementation of TIR and digital TIR solutions in LLDCs of Central Asia is a successful example of the economic growth potential when transit runs under TIR.
Highlighting the relation between the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the TIR Convention, Tatiana Rey-Bellet commented: “The TIR system provides the necessary mechanisms, ensuring both security and facilitation of traffic in transit. The principle of mutual recognition under TIR eliminates the burden of filing a transit guarantee at the entry to each country. With TIR, transport does not need to stop at each border and the same guarantee applies for the whole journey. Moreover, identical information on the transit movement is provided in advance to all customs authorities along the itinerary. This way, TIR supports the implementation of the WTO’s TFA and contributes to boosting intra- and inter-regional trade.”
Transforming the Global Economy: A Key Role for the IFIs (Modern Diplomacy)
SMEs play a significant role for the economic growth in developing countries, such as Indonesia. They are estimated to represent around 90% of the businesses and 50% of employment worldwide. Data per May 2021 from the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs shows that there are more than 64 million SMEs actors in Indonesia that contribute to roughly 61% of national GDP with over 97% of total labour absorption. With this such huge scale of business representation, it is rather important to put more effort bolstering SMEs in Indonesia to be more resilient and sustainable for the benefit of the national economic growth as well as public welfare improvement.