tralac Daily News
Port concession saves Nigeria over $1.6bn in 16 years, says Haastrup (The Guardian Nigeria)
Chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has said the efficiency and other benefits brought by the port concession exercise saved the economy over $1.6 billion in the last 16 years.
Haastrup, who was represented by the spokesman of STOAN, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, at a maritime stakeholders’ event in Lagos, said the exercise has been a huge success and brought tremendous improvements to the nation’s port system.
She said the port concession programme has reduced the waiting time of vessels coming into the nation’s ports from an average of 45 days before 2006 to less than three days at present.
Kenya’s trade deficit widens to $11.3bln in first 10 months of 2022 (ZAWYA)
Kenya’s trade deficit reached 1.37 trillion shillings ($11.13 billion) for the first 10 months of 2022, up by 23.09% from a year ago, The Kenyan Wall Street newspaper reported, citing data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Essential commodities, such as petroleum products, wheat, edible oil and steel, saw prices surge year-on-year on the back of COVID-induced disruptions in global supply chains and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Expenditure on imports exceeded 2 trillion shillings, primarily driven by the cost of fuel, industrial supplies and foodstuffs.
SMEs key for Sudan's ability to harness the AfCFTA (UNECA)
Khartoum, 21 December 2022 (ECA) - The Economic Commission for Africa office for North Africa and the Sudanese ministry of Trade launched on 18 December in Khartoum a four day, joint workshop on Export Promotion and Access to Finance for the benefit of 50 Sudanese SME owners, mostly women.
The workshop aims to strenghten Sudanese SMEs' capacity to trade with the rest of the African continent and the world, seize new export opportunities within the framework of the AfCFTA and contribute to the transformation of the national industrial sector. Sudanese exports, which consist mostly of primary commodities such as gold, oil seeds or cattle, are currently very low, below 3% of GDP in 2021. Most exports go to China and Gulf countries, and only less than 20% to Africa, with Egypt being the main export destination on the continent. To help SMEs move upwards in the value chain, the training focuses on market access in Africa and product development strategies for SMEs as well as their access to finance.
"In an enabling environment, SMEs have a high potential for creating employment and innovation. They can also contribute to reducing poverty and to empowering the poor so that they can realize their productive capacities and integration into society, said Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski, Director of the ECA office for North Africa. "It is imperative that the climate for SMEs start-ups and growth is enhanced considerably, with the assistance of the public sector and key players in the private sector, especially finance", she added.
Export of raw lithium banned (The Herald)
Zimbabwe: Exports of lithium ore and unpurified lithium salts have been banned unless the producer can prove there are special circumstances, and even then exporters would have to pay the special 15 percent export tax, where the normal exporter of purified tradable product would be exempted.
The ban, except for ore samples being sent for analysis, came into effect on Monday with the gazetting by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando of Statutory Instrument 213 of 2022, the Base Minerals Export Control (Lithium Bearing Ores and Unbeneficiated Lithium) Order, 2022.
The move implements the general policy of the Second Republic that mineral exports should be refined or beneficiated within Zimbabwe to the standard levels required for international trade, with this processing adding value to the finite mineral resources and ensuring that the value addition is done in Zimbabwe, creating jobs as well as making the export a lot more valuable.
African trade and integration
EAC Partner States urged to address huge financing gaps facing MSMEs in the region (EAC)
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 18th December, 2022: East African Community (EAC) Partner States have been called upon to seek local solutions to the huge gap in financing facing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the region.
Uganda’s Minister of State for EAC Affairs, Hon. James Magode Ikuya, further urged the Partner States to address the twin issues of limited skills for production and poor standards and quality of products among others.
Hon. Ikuya said that addressing the challenges was critical, adding that MSMEs have a high mortality rate as they do not get to live and grow into sustainable businesses that can contribute to the economic development of the region.
AfCFTA, ITC partner on small business mapping (The Nation)
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and International Trade Centre(ITC) have announced the mapping to profile firms and the business ecosystem that supports them.
Both organisations have also launched the AfCFTA glossary to unpack the legal Agreement for small businesses.
According to Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, “The AfCFTA glossary fills a void where knowledge material around the AfCFTA Agreement has failed to be small business-friendly thus far. I reaffirm our commitment as the Secretariat, to ensuring inclusivity in trade regarding African small businesses, particularly women and young entrepreneurs, whereby they will be able to be competitive, resilient and able to achieve their full potential.”
EAC Identifies Govt Policies For Trade Growth (The Tide)
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has stated the need for government policies to support the harmonisation of regional value chains in order to further trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
According to a statement, the Chief Technology Section, Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Division, ECA, Mactar Deck, disclosed this during the launch of two publications: “Annual Economic Report for Africa 2022” and “The Existential Priorities of the AfCFTA” in Mauritius recently.
“AfCFTA provides new opportunities for local businesses to build new linkages in the supply chains on inter-African trade and that governments must create enabling policies and support the harmonisation of regional value chains”, he said.
Speaking at a session, Principal Economic Affairs Officer, Macroeconomic and Governance Division at ECA, Joseph Atta-Mensah, said integrating 55 economies on the continent into one was a powerful development.
MOWCA, AfDB explore common interests in maritime infrastructure development (The Guardian Nigeria)
The Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have jointly identified areas of collaboration for maritime infrastructural development and employment creation.
This was part of the resolutions of the meeting between the Secretary General of MOWCA, Dr. Paul Adalikwu, and officials of the AfDB in Abidjan.
Adalikwu explained MOWCA’s importance and strategic positioning in harnessing the benefits of maritime transport development and the blue economy concept.
He disclosed AfDB’s plan to establish Regional Maritime Development Bank (RMDB) with headquarters in Abuja to serve as an avenue to provide funding for the African shipping industry to enable indigenous investors to own ships and play an active role in the industry.
Adalikwu stated further that nine member states have signed the bank’s charter document with 51 per cent equity share allotment to member states and 49 per cent equity set aside for private sector investors.
Border barriers within EAC hamper its trade ambitions with Africa — AfDB report (North Africa Post)
Immigration restrictions between citizens of East African Community (EAC) member states could derail the efforts by the bloc to align with the continental free trade policies, according to new data prepared by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The report released by the AfDB and African Union Commission on Sunday shows that while the EAC is generally supportive of integration and regional trade, members of the bloc have retained certain barriers on movement of people within partner states. The Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI), which tracks readiness of countries to accept each other’s citizens, shows that while the EAC had one of the highest openness scores in 2017, that grade dropped last year as member states increased and individual member states imposed their own restrictions.
The expansion of the EAC by South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seems to have derailed wider openness in the bloc. Both countries still require visas from some of the EAC member states but overall, each of the seven-member states still ask for visas from at least one other member states. It means that EAC member states are only 76% open to each other’s citizens. To that end, experts have warn that the slow pace of opening up may in fact hurt trade ambitions.
DG Okonjo-Iweala: During these difficult times, the WTO “cannot afford to stand aside” (World Trade Organization)
Speaking at the final 2022 meeting of the WTO’s General Council on 19-20 December, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged Geneva-based delegates to use the upcoming year-end break to reach out to their respective capitals for guidance and instructions and get the organization “back on track” in the new year.
In her capacity as chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee, the Director-General expressed disappointment with the lack of progress made since the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June, where members achieved breakthroughs on issues such as fisheries subsidies, WTO response to emergencies - including a waiver of certain requirements concerning compulsory licensing for COVID-19 vaccines, food security and WTO reform.
While MC12 remains a highlight of the year, "we've not done much serious negotiating in the past six months," she told members. "We have a lot of ground to cover and will have to intensify our efforts when we return from the winter break.
New commitments for domestic regulation of services move step closer to entry into force (World Trade Organization)
Following the successful conclusion of negotiations in December 2021 on a set of disciplines aimed at cutting trade costs for service providers, participants in the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation submitted to the WTO on 20 December 2022 their improved schedules of commitments for certification. This is the final step required to give these commitments legal effect.
Improved schedules of services commitments under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services were submitted for certification by 59 participants(1) in the initiative, accounting for 87 per cent of world services trade. The WTO membership has 45 days to review the improved schedules. The remaining 10 participants will aim to start their respective certification procedures as soon as possible.
"The launch of certification procedures for such a large number of participants is a real success," said Jaime Coghi Arias of Costa Rica, the coordinator of the initiative. "It moves us one step closer to giving legal effect to a set of disciplines that will increase transparency and predictability in the regulation of services trade and remove red tape for our business communities. This will in particular help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and women entrepreneurs."
Sino-African cooperation eyes more benefits (The Star)
BEIJING: Having seen African people benefit from decades of cooperation with China, which has ushered in new infrastructure, more job opportunities and greater momentum for the continent’s sustainable development, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told Xinhua News Agency he deems the partnership “a friendly cooperation between brothers”.
Over the past few years, the China-proposed BRI has helped enhance infrastructure connectivity across the continent and boost intra-African trade in the long run. It has become even more attractive to Africans, given that China has aligned the initiative with Agenda 2063, an economic blueprint proposed by the African Union.
China has promised to provide zero-tariff treatment on 98% of taxable items originating in the least-developed countries, including Togo, Djibouti and Rwanda, and has become Africa’s second-largest agricultural export destination.
US-Africa Leaders Summit yields scores of business deals in diverse fields (North Africa Post)
Business from the United States and different African countries announced nearly 15 new commitments during last week’s US-Africa Leaders Summit, in fields ranging from mining to healthcare to basketball.
One of the biggest deals made at the summit was an investment by US-based Kobold Metals, which will be “a commitment of over $150 million dollars into Zambia’s mining sector,” according to Gina Raimondo, US Secretary of Commerce. “I think this is a model of what we need to be doing more. It’s a big deal.”
“This investment is in copper and cobalt, which are critical minerals to gravitating us from carbon-driven fuels to green fuels. Electric vehicles, that’s what we are talking about,” Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said at the signing ceremony. Cobalt is an ingredient in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, tablets, laptops and smartphones.
Council approves reinforced rules on granting trade preferences to developing countries (Council of the EU)
EU member states’ ambassadors today agreed the Council’s negotiating mandate on the revised Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) regulation that grants trade preferences to developing countries.
The new framework maintains the main features of the current system, but includes some improvements, such as stronger links to respect for human rights and the environment, and a better monitoring and transparency of the scheme. There will also be a new link between the trade preferences granted to beneficiary countries and their cooperation on migration and the readmission of own nationals illegally present in the EU.
“The EU will continue supporting vulnerable countries by giving them preferential access to the single market. The objective of the reinforced regulation is to help these countries grow in a sustainable manner and to encourage good governance, including respect for human rights and the environment.” -Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic
Afreximbank, US EXIM Sign $500m MoU to Enhance Trade (THISDAY Newspapers)
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM) to enhance trade between Africa and the United States of America (USA).
It is also expected to expand commercial engagements of the African Diaspora community in the US towards facilitating transactions critical to the economic growth of both the US and Africa.
According to a statement, the two banks would support trade and economic integration in Africa and across a broad range of trade-enabling sectors, including helping to revive and strengthen the African aviation sector.
Global Supply Chains Face ‘Hangover’ as Excess Demand Softens (Bloomberg)
“There’s a reliability hangover,” Bill Seward, the new president of supply-chain solutions at United Parcel Service, said in an interview. He was referring to lingering headaches from more than two years of shipping congestion, delivery disruptions and component shortages around the world.
While ports may be opening a bit and transportation rates may be coming down, there’s still plenty of angst. “A lot of senior execs feel very kind of battered by the last two years with regard to reliability and there’s a heavy emphasis on the ability to de-risk and to be able to flex in different ways,” Seward said.
For instance, UPS is seeing reshoring trends shift demand for its services to markets like Mexico, and the courier company is trying to adapt with the changes.
Excellent news on the exports front, pace of growth in imports moderating (Economic Times)
Merchandise exports were resilient in November, recovering from a dip in the previous month. The broad-based recovery is reassuring with half the principal sectors posting year-on-year growth. The October contraction had raised fears of exports plunging, as high inflation in destination markets affects demand and interest rate tightening squeezes inventories. Yet, the underlying factors persist, and exports are on course to meeting the full-year target on spectacular showing earlier in the year ..
when pandemic restrictions had diverted consumption from services to manufacturing. Resumption of contact-intensive services has reversed the trend, affecting merchandise exports, and imminent recession in major economies is affecting the growth outlook for technology services.
The pace of growth in imports also continued to moderate in November with energy prices and decelerating domestic growth. This has a positive bearing on inflation control and interest rate management. Import demand is strong against the global scenario with 19 out of 30 principal categories posting growth during the month. The import picture improves when energy and jewellery are excluded, providing a pointer to economic momentum. Support for imports is also emerging in accelerated infrastructure build-up as well as India's pivot to manufacturing exports. These themes could counteract any deceleration in domestic demand due to a global rise in borrowing costs.
GAC to ramp up efforts to boost foreign trade in 2023 (The Global Times China)
The General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China said it will optimize anti-COVID responses at ports and promote land border reopening amid government efforts to boost foreign trade.
Efforts will be made to ensure smooth customs clearance at ports and promote international trade while guarding against imported COVID cases from overseas, the GAC said on Monday.
“We will boost exports of competitive products, support companies to secure orders and expand markets, and give full play to the role of export in supporting the economy” the GAC said.
The optimized measures come as China steps up a push for foreign markets and encourages exporters to make overseas trips to grabmoreorders.
Members consider EU requests for dispute panels regarding Chinese trade measures (World Trade Organization)
WTO members considered two requests from the European Union for dispute panels at a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body on 20 December: one regarding Chinese measures affecting trade in goods and services with Lithuania, and a second regarding China’s enforcement of intellectual property rights. In both instances, China said it was not in a position to accept the EU requests.
China: Growth of 6% possible if policies tailor-made, more evenly balanced (Hellenic Shipping News)
Due to the impact of COVID-19, economic recovery momentum has weakened in recent months, weighing on achieving this year’s GDP growth target. It is estimated that this year’s GDP will be around 3.3 percent, well below the pre-pandemic growth rate of 6 percent and the average growth rate of 5.1 percent over the past two years. Behind the relatively low growth forecast, we see not only the triple pressure of demand contraction, supply shocks and weakening expectations, but also the impact brought by COVID-19 resurgences, leading to more complex challenges for China’s economy.
However, China’s economy is resilient and has sufficient policy adjustment space. Looking forward, if the government can better minimize COVID-19 impacts on economic and social development, and make good use of policy space to help the economy return to a normal and reasonable growth track as soon as possible, the economy will see faster recovery. This is not only necessary to ensure employment and people’s livelihoods, but also a must to achieve the medium and long-term goals of high-quality development.
Then what is the possible and reasonable growth range of China’s economy next year? Many experts and scholars have suggested that the government set the economic growth target for next year at about 5 percent, while we think otherwise.
Indo-Pacific Trade Talks Get Underway (Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, PA)
The first negotiating round for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework was held Dec. 10-15 in Australia.
IPEF was launched this past spring with the aim of strengthening U.S. ties to the region and creating a stronger, fairer, more resilient economy for families, workers, and businesses. Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are the current participants, and each of them except India has pledged to take part in all the initiative’s four pillars: trade (which India opted out of), supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy. An initial ministerial meeting held in September outlined the objectives in each of these areas.
Ahead of the recent meetings, U.S. officials shared trade negotiating text with IPEF partners for the following topics: trade facilitation, agriculture, services domestic regulation, and transparency and good regulatory practices. In addition, U.S. officials held detailed conceptual discussions for the following trade topics: environment, labor, digital economy, competition policy, and inclusivity. Also before the negotiating round the Department of Commerce shared text on supply chains and tax and anti-corruption as well as a concept paper on clean economy.
UAE-Israel trade more than doubles in 11 months of 2022 (ZAWYA)
Bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel has more than doubled in the first 11 months of this year, helped by the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa).
The UAE and Israel signed the Abraham in September 2020 to normalise relations and improve trade relations.
The UAE-Israel Cepa deal, signed earlier this year, will further build on the exponential growth in trade and investment the UAE and Israel have enjoyed since the signing of the Abraham Accords.
From September 2020 to March 2022, UAE-Israel non-oil trade surpassed $2.5 billion, while it reached $1.06 billion in the first three months of 2022 – five times the total from the same period in 2021.