tralac Daily News
Sugar industry making progress on implementing master plan (Engineering News)
The advent of the Sugarcane Master Plan has been a crucial intervention aimed at stabilising the sugar industry and putting it on an upward growth trajectory, especially as it has been impacted negatively by recent events, says the South African Sugar Association (SASA). The ambitious plan has sought to ensure that 95% of sugar is locally procured and that local demand doubles from 150 000 t to 300 000 t by 2023.
SASA reports that the industry managed to restore 170 000 t of sugar demand in the local market, against a target of 150 000 t in Year 1 of Phase 1 of the Master Plan. Phase 1 of the plan comes to an end in March after three years.
The local market comprises the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries of Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. The South African sugarcane industry produces about 18-million tonnes a year of sugarcane and two-million tonnes of refined sugar, much of which is exported into the SACU market.
Cabinet has approved the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) Bill, among others, for public comments. This was on Thursday confirmed by Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, during a Post Cabinet media briefing. He said the Bill follows approval of the OSBP Policy and its implementation strategy in March 2022.
The Bill, he said, seeks to harmonise the movement of people and goods between South Africa’s land ports of entry and its neighbouring countries. He said: “This will alleviate current congestions at our land ports of entry for cross-border travellers and traders. These interventions are also key in the country’s efforts in driving the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement”. The agreements envisioned in the Bill, he said, will ensure that the processing of goods, vehicles and people is seamless and fast.
The Bill also responds to relevant international legal instruments that relate to trade facilitation and movements of people and goods.
Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and severe in Mauritania, exacerbating long-standing challenges like land and infrastructure degradation, water stress, and food insecurity. After a severe drought in 2021, 20 percent of the population faced acute food insecurity—the highest level in the country’s history. Lower-income households and women were the most impacted, as they’re disproportionally reliant on natural resources.
The cost to Mauritania’s growth is significant as a result. Our research shows that on average Mauritania’s medium-term annual per capita growth could fall by around 0.8 to 1 percentage points if a drought intensifies by 10 percentage points. The rate of intense droughts is measured over 5-year windows, based on the impact on more than 0.01 percent of the population. If a flood intensifies by the same amount, the hit to medium-term growth would be around one-fifth to one-fourth of the drought-related effect on per capita growth.
DR Congo economy to grow faster on increased mining production (The East African)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised upwards the 2023 growth projections for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to 8 percent, following a “stronger-than expected” growth in mining production which downplayed several risks currently weighing down the economy.
The multilateral lender said Kinshasa’s mining yields rose 20 percent last year, compensating for the “downward revision to non-extractive growth,” which is now projected to increase by 3.2 percent, a drop from last year’s 3.7 percent.
MF’s DRC mission chief Mercedes Vera-Martin said that the ongoing conflict in the eastern parts of the country, uncertainty over the coming elections, the Russia-Ukraine war and other risks, however, continue to threaten the economic outlook despite the glam projections. “Sustaining prudent macroeconomic policies will help bolster resilience to external shocks,” she said, urging for a number of reforms that will mitigate the impact of the risks on the country’s economic prospects.
After a strong post-COVID-19 rebound last year, Morocco’s economy came under mounting pressure from overlapping supply shocks: a severe drought and a surge in commodity prices that have fed inflation.
Nonetheless, Morocco’s economic growth is expected to accelerate to 3.1 % in 2023, thanks to a rebound of the primary sector. Still, downside risks persist due to geopolitical tensions, including the war on Ukraine, the deceleration of Morocco’s main trading partners in the Eurozone, and new potential climate shocks. The report says real GDP growth dropped from 7.9 % in 2021 to an estimated 1.2% in 2022, while the current account deficit increased from 2.3% to 4.1 % of GDP.
To soften the impact of food and energy prices on households, Morocco adopted a policy package that included general subsidies on staples and maintained pre-existing regulated prices. This approach stabilized the prices of goods and services that absorb almost one-quarter of the average household´s expenditures, avoiding what could have been a higher increase in poverty. It required the mobilization of additional public spending amounting to almost two percent of GDP.
Notwithstanding these measures, modest and vulnerable households suffered the most from the impact of rising food and other prices due to inflation. The Kingdom’s major social safety net reform will allow for an effective concentration of subsidies on the poor and vulnerable.
Donated clothing worsening Kenya’s plastic pollution: Report (The East African)
One third of all second-hand clothing shipped to Kenya in 2021 was “plastic waste in disguise”, creating a slew of environmental and health problems for local communities, a new report said Thursday. Every year, tonnes of donated clothing is sent to developing countries, but an estimated 30 percent of it ends up in landfills — or flooding local markets where it can crowd out local production.
A new report shows that the problem is having grave consequences in Kenya, where some 900 million pieces of used clothing are sent every year, according to the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation.
By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will lift 30 million people from extreme poverty and another 68 million people from moderate poverty. To boost intra-African trade, the continent has embarked on the gradual elimination of tariffs on 90 percent of goods, and the reduction of barriers to trade in services aimed at increasing Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035. The successful implementation of the AfCFTA will lead to the creation of more decent jobs, improved welfare and better quality of life for all citizenry, and sustainable development. Beyond the policy transformation and reforms, the AfCFTA seeks to ensure inclusivity of women and youth, including youth in the rural areas, development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and overall industrialization of the Continent.
As at February 2022, eight countries representing the five regions of the continent - Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia – participated in the AfCFTA’s Guided Trade Initiative, which seeks to facilitate trade among interested AfCFTA state parties that have met the minimum requirements for trade, under the Agreement. This initiative supports matchmaking businesses and products for export and import between State Parties. The products earmarked to trade under the Initiative include: ceramic tiles; batteries, tea, coffee, processed meat products, corn starch, sugar, pasta, glucose syrup, dried fruits, and sisal fibre, amongst others, in line with the AfCFTA focus on value chain development.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade of the United Republic of Tanzania Mr. Ally Gugu said, “Tanzania is ready to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area Guided Trade Initiative.” Mr. Gugu elaborated that the Ministry has rolled out awareness campaigns for businesses interested to import intermediary inputs or exporting products to the continent through the AfCFTA Guide Trade Initiative.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary said the Ministry has developed the National Implementation strategy for AfCFTA which will be validated by the private sector.
Tanzania has great potential to export rice, Sacks for packing, and kraft paper to the continent. In particular, Tanzania has an untapped potential of USD 136 million from the export of rice alone to the continent.
Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, has urged African nations to accelerate implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in order to become more resilient and globally competitive. “Only through an accelerated and effective implementation of the AfCFTA can Africa build sufficient shock absorbers to build resilience,” said Mr Pedro in his remarks at the 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council meeting in Addis Ababa on February 15, 2023.
The Acting Executive Secretary pointed out that by fast-tracking the implementation of the AfCFTA, Africa can provide solutions to the global challenges of supply chain disruptions, food insecurity, climate change, and migration.
Highlighting that the AfCFTA provides the economy of scale to invest in manufacturing and increased intra-Africa trade, Mr. Pedro said the free trade area would bring supply chains closer to home and inject self-sufficiency in essential products such as medicines, food and fertilizers.
The African Union International Centre for Girls and Women’s Education in Africa (African Union CIEFFA) has convened the 7th High-Level Dialogue with discussions centered around “Leveraging the AfCFTA to foster Girls and Women’s Education and Skill Development for Entrepreneurship Opportunities”.
While opening the ceremony, H.E Prof. Mohammed Belhocine, Commissioner of the department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation at the African Union Commission, highlighted the fact that, “The empowerment of African girls and women should then comprise of education and training systems that carry these as fundamental components to fuel the social, economic and political spheres of human development. It is equally imperative to create equal opportunities for girls and women in economic growth through small and medium enterprise businesses or the private sector.”
This year’s summit comes at a “delicate moment” for Africa, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, citing Ethiopia’s nascent peace process, conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sahel region, South Sudan and jihadist insurgencies in Somalia and Mozambique. The 64-year-old Assoumani will “require the support of other senior African leaders to discharge the role, given his country’s limited diplomatic heft”, according to ICG.
Coups in West Africa, upcoming elections, external factors such as the war in Ukraine, the strengthening of the promising African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), and conflict on the continent are part of what will make up the agenda of major side events at the African Union (AU) Summit. The AU Summit 36th ordinary session will take place between Wednesday and Sunday. The International Crisis Group (ICG) suggested that African heads of state that will convene in Ethiopia should look into eight key areas.
“The AU should focus on in 2023: Reforming its institutions; nurturing agreements in Ethiopia and Sudan; urging regional cooperation around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam; easing tensions in the Great Lakes and Central Africa; and steering talks to unlock Libya’s stalemated transition,” said the ICG.
Delivering Africa’s great green transformation (Brookings)
Africa’s extreme exposure to external shocks — from climate to COVID-19 to the energy and food crisis — poses a fundamental economic strategy question. How to build resilience and accelerate growth simultaneously in an unfavorable global economic environment?
For Africa, green transition means transformation to a higher value-added economy that integrates net zero emissions into the pathway to zero poverty and zero hunger.
In this working paper, Adam and Songwe propose a comprehensive transformation of the economic system in Africa. They discuss several regional approaches, including carbon taxation and pricing, greening supply chains in trade agreements, addressing weaknesses in the international financial architecture, and common positions on transition fuels, green hydrogen, and country platforms, helping individual countries make the transformation. The working paper conveys a signal that “great green transformation” is the most viable route for a truly African-owned process built on Africa’s energy independence and its ability to multiply trade and investment massively.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Afreximbank will convene the 2023 African Business Forum, an annual platform for dialogue between the African business and political leaders and policy makers, on realizing Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The sixth edition of the Africa Business Forum convened with the support of the African Union Commission and Sustainable Energy for All, will be held under the theme “Making Carbon Markets Work for Africa” on 20 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“Carbon markets present a great opportunity for African countries to utilize their abundant natural resources to unlock economic value and accelerate sustainable industrialization and economic transformation and diversification,” ECA Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Antonio Pedro, said.
“As Africa seeks to recover from the multi-crises of the COVID pandemic, energy crises and climate change, it is critical that we invest in sustainable value chains that will deliver jobs and resilience and inclusive economic growth. The carbon market presents such an opportunity for African countries. We must seize it,” said Mr. Pedro.
EU carbon border tariffs could knock $16bn off Africa’s yearly GDP (Engineering News)
Concern is growing in South Africa and across Africa about the implications of the European Union’s (EU’s) decision to proceed with the implementation of a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) as a way of preventing so-called ‘carbon leakage’ by imposing a tariff on imports equivalent to the carbon prices being paid by European companies.
In terms of an agreement reached in December, the CBAM will be implemented later this year and will initially cover the carbon-intensive sectors of iron and steel, cement, fertilisers, aluminium, electricity and hydrogen, as well as some precursors and a limited number of downstream products.
While several details still need to be finalised, the imposition of a CBAM would have significant implications for South Africa, a new working paper produced for the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) warns.
Expansion proposal will be on the agenda for Brics in 2023 (BusinessLIVE)
More than a dozen countries have asked to join, says SA ambassador Anil Sooklal
The Brics group of nations plans to decide whether to admit new members and what criteria they would have to meet, with Iran and Saudi Arabia among those that have formally asked to join, according to SA’s ambassador to the bloc.
Enlarging the group — made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA — would benefit Beijing, as the world’s second-biggest economy tries to build diplomatic clout to counter the dominance of developed nations in the UN, IMF, World Bank and other institutions. ..
“Today, we are here to start the job of moving the recommendations in Our Common Agenda from ideas to action – from abstract to concrete,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. Briefing the world body on Our Common Agenda, launched in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a guide to realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) he provided a progress report and call to action.
“Halfway to 2030, we are far off track,” he said. “This must be the year when we lay the foundations for more effective global cooperation that can deal with today’s challenges as well as new risks and threats down the line.”
He reiterated a call on the Group of 20 countries to agree on a $500 billion annual stimulus to support countries of the global South before the SDG Summit. Meanwhile, he said his office will be issuing 11 policy briefs addressing such pressing issues as cyberwarfare and a building a more effective global economy.
Trade and technology are closely interlinked. From the invention of the earliest sailing ships, to steam engines, railways, and steamboats, to the advent of containerization, ever more sophisticated logistics, and the demand for climate friendly transportation, technology has always played a vital role in shaping the way we live and trade. This trend is accelerating like never before. We are living in an era of unprecedented technological change, experiencing and shaping innovations that could have a major impact on how we trade, who trades, and what is traded.
Technological developments can unlock new opportunities for businesses and individuals around the world. To realize this potential, we need to understand how to harness new technologies to make sure that they translate into job creation, economic growth, and helping to deliver Sustainable Development Goals in line with the WTO’s stated mission to improve living standards.
The Aid for Trade work programme for 2023-24 will focus on “Partnerships for Food Security, Digital Connectivity and Mainstreaming Trade”, WTO members decided at a meeting of the Trade and Development Committee on 10 February. The Committee was updated on recent Aid for Trade activities aimed at enhancing trade opportunities for developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs).
The UN Secretariat has published a report on the trends and progress in international development cooperation, analyzing the state of play and challenges the most vulnerable countries, communities, and people face. It highlights key sectors where development cooperation can help address the diversity of interlinked vulnerabilities and build resilience.
Titled, ‘Trends and Progress in International Development Cooperation,’ the report (E/2023/48) was released on 3 January 2023. The report highlights the UN’s critical role in advancing more effective development cooperation in the face of overlapping global crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and inequalities. It calls for renewed effort to better understand the origins of asymmetric and multidimensional vulnerabilities and “how they exacerbate the cascading nature of existing and future global crises.”
UNCTAD published the first Pacific edition of its Digital Economy Report on 16 February. It’s the first in-depth research report on the digital economy in the Pacific, examining opportunities and challenges of digital transformation in the region. Digital technologies and e-commerce have the potential to transform livelihoods in the Pacific by enhancing trade across sectors and industries.
“The digital economy means small businesses can access new markets, reduce transaction costs, encourage financial inclusion and boost exports,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said.