tralac Daily News
South Africa’s trade minister proposed new regulations to prohibit the export of used rail tracks and increase restrictions on copper-product shipments as the government tries to combat theft and vandalism of public infrastructure. Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel proposed banning the export of the rail tracks until Dec. 15 and limiting the sources of copper that can be used to produce semi-finished products for export, so the source of the metal can be more easily verified when issuing permits.
Exporters are shipping ferrous scrap rail tracks that may have been stolen, using a loophole in measures that currently prohibit scrap-metal exports, Patel said a request for comment published in the Government Gazette on Wednesday. The theft and export of copper cables and other infrastructure has been a major contributor to power cuts and disruptions on rail lines that hamper transportation by companies such as Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. and Exxaro Resources Ltd.
Genesis Analytics has estimated that copper theft cost the South African economy more than 46 billion rand ($2.6 billion) in 2020-21, according to the notice.
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. and the world’s largest express transportation company, announced the enhancement of its International Priority® (IP) service in an effort to improve the efficiency of goods circulation and enable customers to seize global opportunities.
FedEx has improved transit time of FedEx International Priority (IP) for exporters in South Africa. With this enhancement, shipments can now be delivered to major markets and territories around the world within two to three business days. This represents at least a one-day improvement compared to previous transit times for major markets
Shipments from South Africa to the U.S. and major markets in Europe can now be delivered within two to three business days. Shipments to major markets in AMEA can be delivered within two to four business days.
As part of its mission, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) member states have committed to lifting tariffs and barriers to trade. This will boost intra-Africa trade and increase demand. Now more than ever, African businesses require timely delivery solutions to meet the increasing and evolving demands of global markets.
Zambia’s success in restructuring its $6.3 billion bilateral debt under the G20 Common Framework continues to draw support from regional and global institutions. These institutions seek to ensure that the country sticks to the agreed debt arrangement, tackles debt owed to private commercial creditors—including Eurobond holders—and implements reforms critical to its economic recovery and growth.
The African Development Bank Group convened meetings in Lusaka last week
African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina led a delegation to the meetings. “The starting point is to now make sure the debt treatment works, and that Zambia does not again return to a debt crisis,” he said.
Adesina outlined several measures that, once approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors, will deliver a total of $318 million comprising $150 million for budget support to Zambia from the Bank. The remaining annual allocation of $168 million will be drawn from its concessional window, the African Development Fund, to finance large transformative infrastructure, including energy, road and rail transport connections with Mozambique, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu does not shy away from throwing jibes at Kenya from time to time. Her recent remarks claiming that Tanzania is seeing an influx of foreign investors in the wake of the opposition-led protests in Kenya have kicked up another political storm between the two neighbouring countries that have had an uneasy trade relationship over the years.
Speaking during celebrations to usher in the new Islamic Year, President Hassan emphasised the importance of peace in a nation, saying it creates the right environment for investors. “If we fight, those [investors] who show up will say ‘that is not a good business environment’,” she said.
Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) Director General Gilead Teri, during the interview referenced by President Hassan aired by Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, detailed how the country between January and March saw investments worth $1.3 billion (Sh195 billion), equivalent to Tsh2.8 trillion. This is from 93 projects, which will provide employment to about 16,000 Tanzanians.
Weighing in on the supposed influx of investors to Tanzania over Kenya’s unfriendly political environment, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chairman Rajan Shah said the lobby body is continuously striving to advocate for reduced costs and ease of doing business.
“Whether is power, taxation or regulatory environment, we continue to do that. And whilst Kenya still remains a preferred destination, we are also opening up the region and for sure, there will be investments which will go to our neighbouring countries as well based on the competitive advantage of what are the resources available.”
Report: Nigeria Increases Share of ECOWAS GDP to 62.7% (THISDAYLIVE)
Nigeria’s share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) grew to 62.7 per in 2022. This was revealed in the 2023 West Africa Development Outlook (WADO) released on Monday by the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID). The report also revealed that poverty worsened in West Africa in 2022, as the number of the working poor increased by 3.9 per cent (5.4 million persons) to 142.3 million persons in 2022.
The theme of the report was, “A Mixed Bag Outlook: Debt Distress, Flagging Growth and Declining Inflation.” According to the report, “Nigeria increased its share of the sub-regional GDP to 62.7 per cent in 2022 from 60.6 per cent in 2021 at the expense of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and the rest of ECOWAS, with Ghana being the biggest loser from 10.9 per cent in 2021 to 9.6 per cent in 2022). The report, however, added that, “on a more positive note, no ECOWAS Member State recorded a negative growth in 2022, in spite of the very turbulent socio-economic environment.”
Congo & Rwanda consider waiving visas to nationals (FurtherAfrica)
Rwanda and the Republic of Congo announced last week that citizens from the two countries may be exempted from Visas while entering both sides. “President Kagame met with President Sassou Nguesso for bilateral discussions aimed at strengthening cooperation in various sectors including trade and investment, agriculture, air service, visa exemptions and more,” said the Rwandan Presidency.
The Presidency added that the two Presidents also witnessed the signing of an agreement of cooperation on accelerating the implementation of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, before addressing members of the press.
While addressing the Rwandan Parliament both chambers, President Sassou-Nguesso pushed for free movement of all Africans on the continent. “We should work towards irreversible integration of African people, an option that defies borders, brings people together and enables solidarity and complementarity,” the Congo leader said.
How intra-EAC exports thrived despite Covid-19 (The Citizen)
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, exports within the East African Community (EAC) bloc showcased remarkable resilience, surging from $3 billion in 2019 to $5.2 billion last year. The growth of exports within the region led to an increase in intra-EAC export share, reaching 24 percent of the total exports in 2022, up from 22 percent in 2019. This encouraging development was announced in Kampala during the official launch of the East African Business and Investment Summit and Expo, scheduled to take place from August 31.
With the theme “Private Sector-Driven Regional Integration for Increased Intra-African Trade, Investment,” the summit is set to be a critical facilitator of trade and business promotion. The summit will gather stakeholders to discuss successes, challenges, and opportunities in trade and investments not only within the EAC but also in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Africa pursues free trade amid global fragmentation (World Bank Blog)
Defying the trend toward deglobalization and economic fragmentation, African nations are uniting to form a free trade area. The project promises to offer the rest of the world a renewed message of hope on the benefits of removing – not erecting – barriers to free flows of goods, services, investment, and ideas across borders.
Turning the aspiration into reality will require sustained effort and strong collaboration among African governments, the private sector, civil society, and the international community. That was the consensus among leaders representing those stakeholder groups during a forum in Washington in April alongside the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“The agreement is riding on a wave of unprecedented political support and will,” AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene told the forum. “But delivering on its promise needs the effective and aggressive implementation of its protocols.”
No doubt, Africa faces myriad challenges. Some countries are plagued by persistent conflict. Difficulties in transacting among 42 currencies impose an estimated $5 billion a year in extra costs on traders. Border procedures can be cumbersome and time consuming. Small-scale cross border trade is flourishing but comes rife with risks, especially for women, who often face harassment and violence.
But Africa has made a start: Its eight Regional Economic Communities can serve as building blocks. It will be incumbent on wealthier African nations, who are likely to be the first to benefit from freer trade, to catalyze opportunities for economically weaker states, Amany al-Wassal, executive director of Egypt’s Export Development Fund, told the forum.
“We have to lift the small countries and emphasize to them the importance of implementing the agreement,” she said.
North African countries are projected to see a slight increase in economic growth to 4.6 percent in 2023 and 4.4 percent in 2024, and should make green growth an urgent priority, according to the African Development Bank. The pan-African institution published its 2023 North Africa Economic Outlook report in Tunis on Thursday 27 July, under the theme “Mobilizing Private-Sector Financing for Climate and Green Growth in Africa”.
“To sustain inclusive growth, the region should implement structural reforms that support the development of the private sector, improve productivity and employability, and create job opportunities,” stressed Ms Verdier-Chouchane.
According to the Bank Group, growth in the region is essentially driven by the service sector, particularly trade and tourism. Growth in North Africa in 2022 was moderate: 4.1 percent compared with 5.4 percent in 2021.
North Africa should take full advantage of its significant natural resources while making green growth an urgent priority. North African governments, foreign and domestic private investors, multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as the private sector, should invest in green growth. Private-sector financing, in particular, can play a crucial role by investing in green energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and land restoration.
The private sector can also provide the expertise, technology and management skills needed for effective and efficient implementation of green development projects.
African countries have demonstrated a strong post-Covid-19 recovery, with an average economic growth of approximately 5 per cent between 2020 and 2021 among the countries participating in the African Tax Outlook (ATO) initiative, aimed at closing revenue leakages in tax collection.
During the same period, tax revenue mobilised by the ATO participating countries increased by 7.7 per cent. This growth was attributed to the fiscal stimulus measures implemented by countries to counter the impact of the pandemic.
Uganda is among the 37 ATO countries which provided data for ATO 2022 and type of revenue administration agency. According to the report, Uganda posted a six percent increment in GDP in 2021 and a 10 per cent growth in nominal tax.
The African Union called today to urgently reinstate a United Nations-brokered deal allowing Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain that was terminated at Russia’s behest.
“The problem of grains and fertilizers concerns everyone,” Comoros President Azali Assoumani, who heads the 55-nation African Union, told Russian state newswire RIA Novosti. He was speaking in St. Petersburg, where Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting a summit with African leaders.
Putin last week pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that had allowed Ukraine — one of the world’s breadbaskets — to export grains and oilseeds through three Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea: Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdenny.
Russia-Africa 2023-24 Trade and Development Prospects (Russia Briefing)
The 2023 Russia-Africa summit is currently taking place in St.Petersburg, with delegations from 49 African countries (from a total of 54), 17 of which are led by their respective heads of state. Despite a dip in trade in 2021, due to shipping disruption created as a result of the Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions, Russia’s trade with continental Africa rebounded somewhat in 2022 to reach US$18 billion.
With over 330 major infrastructure and industrial facilities in Africa, Moscow has a significant historical contribution in the region. However, recent Russian investment is less than 1% of Africa’s total foreign direct investment and significantly less than European, American, and Asian competitors. The St.Peterburg event will be looking at stimulating this.
Creating a more efficient system of logistics and passenger and cargo transportation has a significant impact on the development of cooperation. Therefore, it is possible for East Africa countries such as Egypt to join the North-South International Transport Corridor (INSTC) project. That feeds directly into the Persian Gulf, heads north via Iran to the Caspian Sea and to markets in Russia, Turkiye, and Central Asia. Coordinating east African ports and logistics to the INSTC will be a major development area.
Moscow has welcomed economic relations with individual countries in Africa as well as regional-African associations (SADC-ECOWAS), greater economic integration, the formation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and the establishment of mutual relations in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
The cooperation of African associations with Russia, as an EAEU member state, is also being strengthened, as this also opens up markets in Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in particular. The EAEU and African Union have already signed agricultural agreements.
Africa’s commercial infrastructure is also a way to circumvent sanctions, and the banking sector, government and monetary and financial system, while safe mutual settlement mechanisms, including free from adverse external influences can help Russia. These include proposals such as a joint Russian-African Trade Bank and discontinuing the use of the US dollar and Euro in multilateral trade. Russia and Africa are also establishing a US$5 billion online trading platform to further facilitate trade.
The Director-General’s mid-year report on trade-related developments shows that WTO members continued to facilitate imports and generally exercise restraint in the use of trade-restrictive measures from mid-October 2022 to mid-May 2023. However, while the number of export restrictions on food, feed and fertilizers has come down substantially, many such measures remained in place, contributing to supply uncertainty and price volatility.
Speaking at the launch of the report, DG Okonjo-Iweala said: “The fact that WTO members have been taking more steps to facilitate imports illustrates how trade is a valuable tool for pushing back against inflationary pressures.” Pointing to the introduction of export restrictions on food, feed and fertilizers since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, DG Okonjo-Iweala noted that several such restrictions have been phased out.
The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) closed on Wednesday at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) after three days of high-level events, meetings and dialogues bringing together over 2000 participants from 180 countries, including over 20 Heads of State and Government and 125 Ministers, to explore challenges and opportunities to transform agrifood systems.
“The path is long and we need to accelerate our step,” added FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, underscoring that the Organization is committed to supporting members along with their national pathways toward better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life- leaving no one behind.
The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, officially closed the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment by presenting Call-to-Action on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
She advocated for urgent action at scale to close the implementation gap, highlighting the linkages to financing for development, debt relief, inclusion, engagement with non-state actors, and access to science, technology and innovation for all. She also outlined key priorities for further action, including establishing food system strategies across all national policies and promoting multi-stakeholder partnering.