tralac Daily News
Ramaphosa reports constructive engagement with steel sector to grow industry (Engineering News)
President Cyril Ramaphosa met with business leaders in the steel and engineering industries on April 18 to discuss measures that government, the industry and other social partners will take together to grow the sector and ensure its future sustainability. The purpose of the meeting was to deepen engagement between government and this strategic sector of the economy. Ramaphosa welcomed the constructive engagement with the sector, the presidency said in a statement.
Poultry sector urged to agree on heat treatment protocol (Engineering News)
Frozen foods importer, exporter and distributor Hume International said South Africa urgently needs to agree on a heat treatment protocol for mechanically deboned meat (MDM), such as the protocol currently in place for pork sourced from approved markets abroad, in case of a bird flu outbreak. While the presence of bird flu typically does not impact the safety of poultry for human consumption, having such a protocol in place could simultaneously safeguard MDM supply chains while setting consumers’ minds at ease, said Hume International MD Fred Hume.
Citrus organisation in urgent appeal to government over EU FCM regulations (Engineering News)
On the eve of the start of the 2023 citrus season, industry body the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) has written to Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza requesting an urgent update about the government’s interventions to help resolve the current impasse between South Africa and the European Union (EU) concerning the new False Coddling Moth (FCM) regime governing the importation of South Africa oranges to the region.
“Despite months of consultations between both parties at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) level, it appears very limited progress has been achieved to avert the crisis that will face the industry should growers have to implement these new regulations when oranges start being shipped to European markets in less than two weeks’ time,” the CGA states.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says Namibia and South Africa will deepen trade and investment ties with a Bi-National Commission (BNC) expected to be held between the countries later this year. The President was speaking during a media briefing during the Official State Visit by Namibian President Hage Geingob and several of that country’s Ministers on Thursday.
President Ramaphosa said progress has already been made in various sectors of mutual interests with new agreements signed in order to “further expand our formal scope of cooperation”.
“Our ministers responsible for trade and industry will convene a Business Forum later this year to be attended by business people from both countries. We also agreed that the ministers of trade of the two countries should put in place a mechanism to protect investments in our respective countries.
UAE and South Africa look to boost trade and investment opportunities (Arabian Business)
The UAE and South Africa held high level meetings on Wednesday to enhance bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The two sides also explored avenues to promote development in key sectors such as logistics, food production, tourism and energy.
“Amid global challenges, the UAE is taking bold steps to reimagine our economy, and trade is central to our ambitions to accelerate economic diversification, create long-term, sustainable growth and attract new forms of investment.
“We are also at the forefront of a new era of global trade, championing multilateralism and pioneering the use of technology to drive new efficiencies and enhance access to the global trading system,” Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.
In an effort to fight counterfeits in the East African region, the Anti-Counterfeit Authority of Kenya (ACA) and Uganda’s Anti-Counterfeit Network (ACN Africa) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement signed on April 20, 2023, in Kenya’s capital Nairobi aims at strengthening strategic collaboration on matters pertaining elimination of fake goods in East Africa.
Worldwide, the World Economic Forum estimates that illicit trade presently deprives the global economy of $2.2 trillion annually, accounting for nearly three per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
ACA Executive Director Dr Robi Mbugua Njoroge Thursday said “the MoU represents a statement of mutual intentions between our two institutions- focusing on developing and strengthening a robust Intellectual Property (IP) system in the region.”
Export agency meets EU to discuss market opportunities (Capital Business)
The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) met with the European Union (EU) Trade Counsellors in Nairobi today as it sought market opportunities for Kenyan products in the EU. State Department for Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombundo said the government is rethinking export strategies to ensure SMEs reap big from the export business.
“Kenya is working towards being a 21st century exporter. It is not just about how we export and trade, we need to provide leadership in terms of the green economy,” K’Ombundo said. “We need to adhere to our international commitments especially in efficient energy resources use in our production processes. We want to have more products sold at premium terms in markets across the world,” he added.
Angola has risen five places in the Global Development Index, from 132 in 2021 to 127 in 2022, the Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Maria do Rosário Bragança said Wednesday.
According to the minister, the improvement in position is still unsatisfactory, pointing to the need to focus more on education, science, information technology, engineering and mathematics. The focus on these areas, the minister said, also aims to improve the business environment and the diversification of the economy in the country.
DRC and Zambia to establish SEZs for electric vehicle production (The Independent Uganda)
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have signed a framework agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia for the establishment of special economic zones for the production of electric vehicles and batteries as the continent looks to add value to surging demand for its critical minerals.
Both countries have major reserves of some of the critical minerals needed to produce batteries for electric vehicles and other technologies key to the green energy transition: the DRC accounts for approximately 70% of global cobalt supply and 88% of cobalt exports, and the two countries collectively contribute 11% of all copper supply globally. Both countries also possess reserves of lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries. But until now both nations been relegated to the role of suppliers of unprocessed critical minerals to foreign manufacturers.
In order to ensure that the countries move higher up in the value chain, Afreximbank and ECA will lead the establishment of an operating company in consortium with public and private investors and Afreximbank’s impact fund subsidiary, the Fund for Export Development in Africa. The new company will develop special economic zones (SEZs) dedicated to the production of battery precursors, batteries, and electric vehicles, in both nations.
Zim strengthens global ties to boost trade (The Herald)
ZIMBABWE will continue to strengthen its relations with the global community as part of strategies to grow international trade and open up new markets, a Cabinet minister said. This was said by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, Dr David Musabayana at the tripartite inward trade mission for Kenya, Malawi, and Equatorial Guinea markets held by the national trade development and promotion organization, ZimTrade.
“In pursuit of trade and investment cooperation, I would like to urge you to consider collaborative efforts, particularly in the areas of innovation, technology transfer, and sustainable development, which are critical to our shared future. “These are part of the building blocks for sustainable industrialisation for the African continent,” said Deputy Minister Musabayana.
Paradoxically, while agriculture appears to be a buffer sector during the COVID-19 crisis in several Sub-Saharan African countries with agricultural production, food insecurity in Africa seems to be increasing. The negative effect of COVID-19 in addition to border disruptions and anti-COVID-19 policy measures have impacted all stages of agricultural value chains, from input supply to production, distribution logistics, and consumption, elevating the risks of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition. All pillars of food security (availability, access, utilization, stability) have suffered from COVID-19-induced disturbances in the global food system. With global food exports barely affected, it was expected that developing economies, particularly those in Africa that rely on food imports, would suffer the worst effects. Rising food prices due to import shortages of certain grains, such as rice, were expected to pose a particular challenge to food access and availability.
The East African Community (EAC) private sector is taking steps to adopt a self-regulatory framework for food safety and quality standards for coffee, fresh fruits, and vegetables as required by national, regional, continental, and global markets, reads a statement from a high-level stakeholder workshop held on April 18, 2023, in Tanzania.
This framework aims to influence value chain stakeholders to observe safety and standards that make their goods competitive in international and regional markets and safe for consumers and to improve the quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the region.
On her part, Estella Aryada, the GIZ MARKUP Program Coordinator, pointed out that the respective Partner States should support the Private Sector in implementing the Framework. “The benefits of reduced certification costs and delays can create an environment of trust among consumers in both local and international markets”.
AFGRI highlights turnaround success (Engineering News)
Following a “tumultuous and challenging” period, agricultural services company AFGRI Group has entered its centennial year “restructured, refocused and re-aligned”, it says in a statement.
Over the last 24 months, a far-reaching and extensive turnaround programme has been successfully implemented to realign the group around its core focus of partnering meaningfully with those involved in the South African agribusiness industry by delivering tangible value to its clients, the company highlights.
China backs Africa in pursuing independent path for development: Xi (Anadolu Agency)
China said on Wednesday that Beijing strongly supports Africa in pursuing “a unique and independent development path.” “China and Africa need to strengthen solidarity and cooperation more than ever,” President Xi Jinping told his Gabonese counterpart Ali Bongo Ondimba who is on a state visit to China.
“China firmly supports Africa in pursuing a unique and independent development path,” Xi added. His comments on Beijing’s relations comes as bilateral trade between China and Africa surged last year to a record $282 billion, which is an 11% rise year-on-year. Chinese exports to Africa were recorded at around $164.49 billion, which posted an increase of 11.2% last year while imports from the African continent rose to $117.51 billion last year.
We are living through a dramatic moment for global food security: international trade can help respond to it in both the short and long term; China is a key player on international markets that can provide leadership in this response. These are the key messages that I’d like to convey today.
First, WTO members must continue avoiding unjustified restrictions on food trade, to alleviate price pressure and volatility. Second, WTO members, in coordination with other organisations, should address the needs of vulnerable people in net food importing developing countries and Least Developed Countries. Third and most importantly, WTO members must improve global food security by revitalizing negotiations on agricultural trade reform, including issues such as domestic support to the farm sector, and the question of public food stockholding.
WTO members need to do more to boost global trade growth by investing in multilateral cooperation and contributing solutions to the economic challenges the world is facing, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on 19 April.
In remarks delivered to a meeting of the WTO’s Trade Negotiations Committee, which she chairs, the Director-General noted that the slowdown in global trade which WTO economists projected in their recent annual forecast “should be a cause for concern for all of us.”
WTO economists said on 5 April that the volume of world merchandise trade is expected to grow by 1.7% this year following 2.7% growth in 2022. “Slower economic growth will, over the long-term, mean lower living standards and opportunities for people around the world,” she told members. “It is important to internalize digital trade as a new source of growth and ensure we’re providing the enabling environment, the level playing ground and the rules for this to thrive.”
The World Trade Organization, the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum on 20 April launched “Action on Climate and Trade” (ACT), a new initiative that aims to help participating developing economies, including least-developed countries, use trade to meet their climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. The new initiative, which starts with a pilot phase, will focus on working with participating developing economies to develop climate-related analysis specific to their trade circumstances.
ACT will provide participating developing economies with tailored insights so that they can plan for the impacts of climate change on trade, leverage opportunities for climate action and trade growth, and define areas of collaboration with trade partners.
Our latest World Economic Outlook forecasts that growth will slow from 3.4 percent last year to 2.8 percent this year. Growth is then expected to accelerate to 3 percent next year.
Risks to the outlook are heavily skewed to the downside, with heightened chances of a hard landing. In a plausible alternative scenario with further financial sector stress, global growth would decelerate to about 2.5 percent in 2023.
Looking further ahead, growth is expected to remain around 3 percent over the next five years. This baseline forecast of 3 percent five years ahead for 2028 makes it the lowest medium-term growth projection since 1990, and well below the average of 3.8 percent from the past two decades.
The anemic outlook reflects the tight policy stances needed to bring down inflation, the fallout from the recent deterioration in financial conditions, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and growing geoeconomic fragmentation.
IMF to consider debt restructuring for countries facing insolvency (The East African)
The International Monetary Fund will address the debt crisis country by country, and for countries facing insolvency, debt restructuring might be necessary. The Fund made the call during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC this past week as civil society and pressure groups called for debt forgiveness.
A number of countries including Zambia, Ghana have defaulted in debt repayment and Kenya is facing a potential crunch point in June 2024 when a 10-year Eurobond worth $2 billion will be due, unless a yield retreat allows for refinancing.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has called for debt restructuring for countries facing insolvency and debt stress, admitting that the lending landscape has changed drastically while debt resolution mechanisms have not.
“We take it upon us to support a more inclusive and more effective debt resolution. If we create a fair inclusive atmosphere for discussion as we have done now then the part of the resolution is clear. We will address the debt resolution country by country basis,” she said.
Antonio Guterres was addressing via videolink, the fourth meeting of the Major Economies Forum, convened by the United States President Joe Biden, which is designed to galvanize efforts to keep the global temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, within reach – in line with the Paris Agreement.
“You are the major economies – but also the major emitters. And our world has a major climate challenge before us”, said the Secretary-General in his remarks to world leaders. “Today’s policies would make our world 2.8 degrees hotter by the end of the century. And this is a death sentence.”