Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Local news

SARS records R19.70bn trade balance surplus (SAnews)

The South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) trade statistics for September 2022 recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R19.70 billion. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN), SARS said in a statement. “The year-to-date (01 January to 30 September 2022) preliminary trade balance surplus of R175.42 billion is a deterioration from the R346.88 billion trade balance surplus for the comparable period in 2021. Exports increased by 22.0% year-on-year whilst imports increased by 27.1% over the same period,” said the revenue collector.

SARS said the R19.70 billion preliminary trade balance surplus for September 2022 was attributable to exports of R191.56 billion and imports of R171.86 billion. SARS said the R8.62 billion preliminary trade balance surplus for September 2022 was as a result of exports of R174.54 billion and imports of R165.92 billion.

Trade Statistics for September 2022 | South African Revenue Service

South Africa: Structural constraints must be dealt with, Minister Godongwana says (Engineering News)

South Africa’s structural constraints must be dealt with as the country looks to spur on its economic recovery, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said on October 31. Speaking during a post-Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement briefing hosted by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said government was working to restore the health of public finances in the country. He pointed out, however, that there were many risks, given the global slowdown. In this regard, he said the biggest structural constraint facing the country was a lack of stable electricity supply. Another structural constraint that needed to be urgently addressed was the country’s logistics industry, Godongwana said, with the need to fix this and bring in private sector participation in both rail and ports.

Private sector eyes 5m jobs in five-year enterprise plan (Business Daily)

The private sector has launched a new plan to create five million jobs by 2027 in an effort to deal with the unemployment crisis facing Kenya’s youthful population. The new plan championed by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) will benefit youth from various job opportunities in the underserved sectors. Kepsa says it will scale up small enterprises through the Kenya Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (K-YEEAP) by unlocking financing, access to markets, business coaching and mentorship.

“The main goal of Kepsa is to encourage economic development and job creation in Kenya. This initiative aims to address barriers to youth employment such as demand and absorption capacity creation, given the dual challenges of a growing youth bulge and the systemic bottlenecks that youth face when entering the labour market,” said Ms Kariuki.

Kenya moves to avert potential foreign direct investment crisis (The East African)

Kenya is facing a foreign inflow crisis after the New York-based Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Inc. put the country on a watch list of troubled markets unfit for foreign investments. Trade, Investment and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria told The EastAfrican that the government would on Wednesday review measures meant to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.

Separately the CS said on Twitter that his is under strict instructions from President William Ruto to look at the issues surrounding the free flow of foreign portfolio investments into Kenya. “I will outline the measures that the government of Kenya is taking in the next 48 hours,” he said on Monday.

Gov’t outlines 12 measures to restore economic stability by 2028 (BusinessGhana)

Government has introduced a new set of macroeconomic and spending guidelines aimed at fixing Ghana’s economic meltdown. These measures, adopted at the recently held cabinet retreat according to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo are aimed at reviving the economy for at least the next three to six years as part of a framework for the country’s post-COVID-19 programme for economic growth and the IMF support for its implementation and the Ministry of Finance in preparation for the 2023 budget. Speaking in his national address on Sunday, October 30, 2022, the President said:

“We are aiming to restore and sustain macroeconomic stability within the next three to six years, with a focus on ensuring debt sustainability to promote durable and inclusive growth while protecting the poor.”

We will review the standards required for imports into the country, prioritise the imports, as well as review the management of our foreign exchange reserves, in relation to imports of products such as rice, poultry, vegetable oil, tooth picks, pasta, fruit juice, bottled water and ceramic tiles, and others which, with intensified government support and that of the banking sector, can be manufactured and produced in sufficient quantities in Ghana. Government will, in May 2023, that is six (6) months from now, review the situation.

We must, as a matter of urgent national security, reduce our dependence on imported goods, and enhance our self-reliance, as demanded by our overarching goal of creating a Ghana Beyond Aid. Much as we believe in free trade, we must work to ensure that the majority of goods in our shops and market places are those we produce and grow here in Ghana.

Support to farmers and domestic industries, including those created under the 1-District-1-Factory initiative, to help reduce our dependence on imports, and allow us the opportunity to export more and more of our products, and guarantee a stable currency that will present a high level of predictability for citizens and the business community. Exports, not imports, must be our mantra! Accra, after all, hosts the headquarters of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

African trade and integration

OHCHR recommends explicit recognition of AfCFTA on women in Africa (The Point)

According to the recommendations labeled by the OHCHR, the role of women in trade in Africa is mostly overlooked, as they make up the majority of the informal economy, agriculture and cross border trade. The recommendations continue that most economic policies are drafted in gender neutral language, which ignores the differentiated impact of policies on women. However, the recommendations stated that African governments should analyse the impact of the AfCFTA on women, and design measures to ensure that the trade agreements do not increase discrimination against women.

Additionally, the OHCHR recommends that broad based stakeholder consultations should be organised during negotiating, drafting, and implementing processes of the AfCFTA. “They should particularly include vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and populations, such as women and rural populations, small and medium scale enterprises, and informal sector workers. “Other stakeholders should include agricultural producers and farming associations, consumer bodies, chambers of commerce and industry, specific-industry associations, professional associations, standard-setting bodies, the media, as well as CSOs.”

Africa Investment Forum: Green jobs can help shift the climate of gender equality for African women (AfDB)

The Africa Investment Forum has a strong track record of supporting the success of women business owners and entrepreneurs. Less well-known is that the Africa Investment Forum, an initiative of the African Development Bank and seven partners, also works to channel investment to sectors offering women better access to higher skilled and better paying employment.

As African countries mount robust climate action responses by ramping up adaptation and tapping sustainable energy resources, a surge of green jobs is expected. A significant proportion of these will be in the energy, transport, construction, and agriculture sectors, all priority areas of the Africa Investment Forum’s 2022 Market Days, which will open from 2-4 November in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Expanding opportunities for women to fill these jobs is a win-win situation. First, it has the potential to reduce persistent gender gaps in the African labor market. Green jobs are also projected to promote sustainable economic growth that can lift women and their families out of poverty.

There are additional reasons why women and green jobs are a natural complement. According to ILO, “women, with their unique knowledge and capabilities of natural resource management and use of energy sources are strong change agents and key contributors to climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes at local, regional and international levels.”

Echoing this, Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Centre said, “Women play a vital role in managing Africa’s natural capital assets and building climate resilience in our local communities.” Ushie was speaking following the launch of the Green Jobs for Women in Africa report in 2021. That report acknowledged obstacles to overcome to position women for higher-paying and more secure green jobs. Too often African women are shut out of formal sector employment owing to social norms and limited educational opportunities.

AfCFTA: The environmental case for the continental free trade area (Africa Renewal)

Some East African countries have taken advantage of such opportunities. For instance, Kenya’s annual export of horticultural products to Europe stands at over a billion US dollars, accounting for one-sixth of its total exports.

Yet the COVID-19 crisis exposed the vulnerability of these supply chains. We must also ask whether such production and consumption patterns are ultimately sustainable. Cash crops for export have always been controversial. While turning over good quality arable land for production of tea, coffee, vegetables, tropical fruits, or flowers has an economic rationale for cash-strapped developing countries, concerns have been raised (not always well-founded, it must be said) that it undermines food security.

What is clear is that currently in Africa many basic needs – food, housing, and access to energy - are unmet, and the triple shocks of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have made a bad situation worse.

A more vibrant regional market in food items under the AfCFTA will go a long way to addressing some of these challenges. Topographic and climatic differences across the continent mean that there is great potential for more intra-African trade in food crops. For example, when Kenya suffered a severe drought in 2016-17, imports from neighbouring Uganda cushioned the effects. A study by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) argues that more intra-regional trade like this could significantly help improve food security across Eastern Africa. It is a contention underpinned at the continental level by the Framework for Boosting Intra-African Trade in Agricultural Commodities and Services, jointly developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the FAO.

African growth requires good governance - Lamola (SAnews)

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister, Ronald Lamola, says good governance is critical in ensuring the African continent begins to thrive in sectors such infrastructure development and innovation. The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the first ordinary session of the sixth parliament of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand.

“We cannot continue to govern in the same way we have been governing in the past. Corruption and misgovernance should never define us. Instead Africa should be defined by digitisation, innovation, world class infrastructure and modernisation of the African continent. “As our continent has always been a reservoir of innovation and dynamic leadership, we need a generation across the continent that will give rise to the ideas of the likes of Professor li Mazrui, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Jean Martine Cisse, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela and Samora Machel,” he said.

Turning to unifying the continent through integration, the Minister highlighted that a key area of work is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). “The [AfCFTA] is also one of the tools at our disposal to contribute to greater integration but it would require the finalisation of harmonisation of standards across the continent and the streamlining of our supply chains among others. “Much depends on the progress that we make at the national level to adopt the relevant legislation that will allow the commencement of preferential trade for instance, on trade in goods,” Lamola said. He said another key area is the engagement of Africans not only on the continent but also abroad.

Five things hindering businesses from seizing AfCFTA benefits (The New Times)

As there have been various efforts geared towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), calls continue to grow for the private sector to step up and leverage the available opportunities. But in a continental market of 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of more than $3.4 trillion, businesses are yet to see the benefits of trade mechanisms and policies. Business executives indicate some of the challenges hindering the implementation at Small Medium Enterprise level.

UNCTAD Project: Inclusion of green initiatives in AfCFTA National Implementation Strategies

A just transition to renewable energy future in Africa (Africa Renewal)

“And by the way, when people talk about emissions, if Africa were to triple the use of natural gas for energy generation, it will contribute 0.67 per cent to global emissions.” At the same time, Mr. Adesina, who is considered a top African development expert, underscores the AfDB’s renewable energy bona fides.

Africa Investment Forum: African continental free trade area provides fresh impetus for deeper railway networks (AfDB)

Demand for more extensive rail infrastructure in Africa received a boost following the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in early 2021. The agreement aims to boost intra-regional trade and integration, two goals that rail corridors meet. In March 2022, during virtual boardroom sessions organized by the Africa Investment Forum, investors, deal brokers and government ministers came together looking to spur more railway deals. Deeper rail networks would boost Africa’s economic integration and the participants in these meetings, which work to bring transactions to financial closure, are well aware that the needed financing will come from the private sector and international financial institutions.

At Africa Investment Forum Market Days 2022, taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from November 2 to 4, railway infrastructure will again be an important sector. Also mobilizing resources for railway transport systems through public-private partnerships will be an important part of the discussions.

African Development Bank Vice President For Private Sector, Infrastructure And Industrialization Solomon Quaynor, captured some of the challenges of building out railway systems during a September 2022 conference held in Johannesburg. “We need to explore various financing models, and we need to think of this differently,” he said. “For example, we need to finance corridors and not just national railways networks. We need to think Public Private Partnerships to leverage limited public capital, but we have to be aware of the risks that private sector will not bear,” Quaynor added

COP27: ‘The African COP’ (China Dialogue)

When this year’s UN climate talks open in Egypt on 6 November, it will be the first time since 2016 they have taken place on African soil. COP27 is being dubbed “The African COP”. Under the theme “together for implementation”, the Egypt presidency is set to emphasise the climate issues most pertinent to African and other developing nations. Central to this will be the climate finance owed by the developed to the developing world, and the mobilisation of finance for adapting to climate impacts and compensating for the loss and damage they cause.

Africa is the least climate-resilient region of the world. Climate shocks are contributing to direct loss of economic assets and livelihoods. This increases the risk of famine, providing impetus for destabilising migration and threatening economic growth. The Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) estimates that by 2040, the impacts of climate change could cost Africa between 2 and 4% of its GDP. Adaptation – societies and economies adapting to existing and expected climate change impacts – will be central to this year’s COP in Sharm el-Sheikh.

In their 2021 report on adaptation in Africa, the GCA estimated that the costs of adaptation on the continent will total US$50 billion per year by 2050, even if global warming is kept beneath 2C. While adaptation is expensive, studies show that the sums involved would be far smaller than the losses if nations do nothing. John-Paul Adam, director of the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), notes that investment in adaptation brings significant return on investment, and dividends in terms of reducing future risk. “There are also opportunities to link adaptation more directly to the creation of value in African economies and the evolution of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will also help define this,” Adam says.

ESEF 2022 opens with ECOWAS Leaders, Nigerian Government, and International Stakeholders pledging Commitment to Sustainable Energy (ECOWAS)

The 7th Edition of the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF2022) has opened with a High-Level opening ceremony featuring ECOWAS leaders, and international partners reaffirming commitment to improving energy access for all and setting a path for energy transition in the West African region.

H.E. Sediko Douka, ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, said 50% of Africans have access to electricity, but less than 10% are accessible to those in the rural areas. He revealed that ECOWAS is working hard to integrate all communities into the grid, noting that: “By next year we will have electricity market where contractors can buy electricity.” He further added that: “We are developing a new energy policy for the region that will be operational by June next year.”

H.E. Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, Nigeria’s Minister of Power said: “Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan is a prime example of the needed evolution of policies to deliver both the growth in energy consumption necessary for development and the climate response required for the preservation of our planet.” He noted that: “The importance of energy to human development cannot be over emphasized. Its relevance extends beyond socio-economic development to include security and sovereignty, foreign policy as well as international trade.

Countries seek joint approach to fight climate change in Horn of Africa (The East African)

Development organisations predict that up to 5 billion people will face water shortages by 2050 globally as the climate change bug continues to bite and the effects intensify. The Horn of Africa region is already highly affected by climate change and is facing the worst drought ever experienced in the last four decades. Besides the impacts of climate change, other significant trends and issues affect the continent, including rapid population growth, with urbanisation rates expected to triple by 2050.

The HoRN acts as a platform for interaction and knowledge sharing among stakeholders. It is also an opportunity for creating partnerships through engaging in effective multi-stakeholder partnerships to leverage the comparative advantages critical to making developing countries and communities more resilient and self-sufficient.

“Everyone around the globe is vulnerable to climate change. Even though other countries are more vulnerable, climate shocks and stresses are increasingly impacting all of us,” said Laurie Ashley, the Resilience and Climate Adaptation Advisor-Centre for Resilience at USAID.

SADC to Hold Joint Meeting of Committee of Ministers Responsible for Energy and for Water on 4th November 2022 (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold a Joint meeting of the SADC Committee of Ministers responsible for Energy and Water hosted by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 4th November 2022 in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The meeting will evaluate regional projects in the energy and water sectors that are aligned to the SADC’s objectives and targeted outputs articulated in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and Vision 2050. The Ministers will also assess the status of implementation of key initiatives recommended by the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in August 2022 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Global economy

Climate adaptation: The case for Aid for Trade (Trade for Development News)

On 30th and 31st July, almost 300 mm of rain fell on Banjul and the capital region[HS1] of The Gambia. The resulting flash floods directly affected more than 45,000 people. It was the worst floods seen in the country in the past 50 years. A few weeks later, an extreme rain event hit neighbouring Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and caused severe damage to roads and infrastructure. Uganda and Sudan were similarly affected this summer with floods that destroyed houses and infrastructure. The floods displaced thousands of people, disrupting lives and livelihoods. Taken together, all these events showcase how least developed countries (LDCs) are at the forefront of the climate crisis and how much they stand to lose. According to the International Institute for Environment and Development, 69% of worldwide deaths in the past 50 years caused by climate-related disasters were in LDCs[HS2]. This affects livelihoods too. It was reported that Malawi annually lost up to 1.7% of its gross domestic product between 2005 and 2010 due to extreme climate events.

The 2022 WTO/OECD Aid for Trade at a Glance report highlights how environmental aspects are being incorporated into AfT whereby 93% of the LDCs that responded to the survey indicated that environmental objectives are featured in their development strategies. However, environment-related AfT may be somewhat generally overstated, with prior assessments through the OECD indicating that a stricter definition of environmental aspects could mean that fewer than 2% of the AfT projects would have a clear environmental purpose.

In the past, trade has been accused of contributing to environmental degradation and of fuelling climate change. It is now seen as a powerful channel to disseminate more environmentally friendly technologies and achieve efficiency gains. These aspects will prove essential for LDCs to properly mitigate, and more importantly, adapt to climate change. Indeed, trade provides opportunities to create win-wins for both climate mitigation and adaptation. This is where Aid for Trade (AfT) comes in to support them in achieving these goals and continuing their march towards sustainable economic growth.

The 2022 report also notes that 69% of Aid for Trade projects that include climate-related objectives focused on mitigation in 2020, which compares to 47% for adaptation. The importance of adaptation objectives in commitments has however been growing, with a 77% increase in 2020.

At this point in time, LDCs and other vulnerable countries need to build their climate adaptation capacity. A recent WTO Climate Change Adaptation and Trade policy brief highlights that adaptation finance is particularly important for the poorest and most vulnerable countries with only 36% of climate finance dedicated to adaptation. While traditional export crops may suffer from more frequent floods, wildfires or drought, methods of production can adapt, and more climate resilient export products scaled up.

Wheat prices jump by nearly 6% after Russia withdraws from vital Ukrainian export deal (CNBC)

Global wheat prices rose sharply Monday following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain export deal over the weekend.

The increases come after Russia announced Saturday that it was suspending its involvement in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed vital agricultural products to be exported from several Ukrainian ports. Russia announced it was withdrawing from the deal for an indefinite period after it accused Ukraine of a “massive” drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in Crimea.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said, meanwhile, that Russia had suspended its participation in the grain deal on “a false pretext of explosions 220 kilometers away from the grain corridor” and that by doing this, it was blocking “two million tons of grain on 176 vessels already at sea.”

The United Nations and Turkey, which helped Ukraine and Russia to reach the grain deal in July, were scrabbling to rescue the initiative on Sunday and said they had agreed a plan with Ukraine to help move 16 vessels (12 outbound and four inbound) that were stuck within the established maritime corridor.

The organization overseeing grain exports, the Joint Coordination Centre, added in a statement Sunday that “in order to continue fulfilling the Initiative, it was proposed that the Turkish and United Nations delegations provide tomorrow [Monday] 10 inspection teams aiming to inspect 40 outbound vessels.”

WTO issues information note on technical barriers to trade discussions relating to COVID-19 (WTO)

The note points out that 34 WTO members have submitted 225 COVID-19 related notifications to the TBT Committee, accounting for 46 per cent of all WTO notifications relating to COVID-19. The notifications mostly deal with the extraordinary and temporary streamlining of certification and related procedures and the introduction of new regulatory requirements for medical goods in response to the pandemic.

The majority (68 per cent) of the COVID-19 related notifications covered regulations on medical goods such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. A substantial number of the notified measures were reported as temporary — generally applying for a period of six months or one year, or for the duration of the public health emergency.

E-commerce talks progress, aim at issuing a revised negotiating text by end-2022 (WTO)

Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki of Japan, who chaired the meetings, emphasized the importance of expediting work on achieving consensus on each article of a future agreement. In his introductory remarks, one of the co-convenors, Ambassador Mina of Australia, stated that the coming weeks are critical for the negotiations, adding: “This text will showcase the good progress we’ve made across the agreement. It will make it clear to negotiators … where the energy in these negotiations is currently concentrated and which provisions are moving forward.”


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