tralac Daily News
South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R13.3 billion in August 2023. This surplus is attributable to exports of R181.3 billion and imports of R168.0 billion.
The year-to-date (01 January to 31 August 2023) preliminary trade balance surplus of R32.0 billion is a deterioration from the R160.5 billion trade balance surplus for the comparable period in 2022. On a year-on-year basis, export flows for August 2023 were 4.6% higher at R181.3 billion compared to R173.3 billion recorded in August 2022, whilst import flows were 0.1% lower having decreased from R168.2 billion in August 2022 to R168.0 billion in the current period.
The initial export component of South Africa’s yet-to-be-approved Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy is not premised on the trade of scarce renewable electrons – converted into molecules or other tradeable derivatives – to decarbonise the industries of developed economies in Europe and Asia, Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) commissioner Joanne Bates insists.
Instead, such exports are designed to ensure that South Africa can “lock in” the grants, concessional debt and contract-for-difference price subsidies that are currently being offered by countries such as Germany and Japan to stimulate the use of green hydrogen products in their hard-to-abate sectors of steel, cement, petrochemicals, shipping and aviation.
Bates, who is also chief operations officer at the Industrial Development Corporation and part of the panel set up by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel to finalise the strategy, offered this explanation in a presentation on the proposed strategy during a PCC meeting in Johannesburg.
Don’t kick SA out of AGOA – Anthony Carroll (Politicsweb)
“Examining the U.S.-South Africa Relationship” committee hearing, Washington DC
September 27, 2023
“The US economic relationship with SA also has some positives and some negatives. No country has benefited from AGOA as much as South Africa. Last year, according to the Africa Coalition for Trade, SA exported over $14 billion in goods to the US (with about a quarter of these goods benefiting from AGOA duty-free access), and the U.S. exported $6.5 billon of goods (an increase of 15% from 2021) and another estimated $2 billion of services.
Our imports from SA include manufactured goods and agricultural products that employ tens of thousands of people and have fostered the emergence of regional value chains. For example, automotive components are built in Botswana and transported for final assembly in SA. Over 600 US companies operate in South Africa, and many do so as a gateway to Africa. Indeed, South Africa’s leading trade partner is “the rest of Africa.”
In conclusion, while I understand and share the concerns of many about the direction of our relations with SA, I would oppose making it ineligible for AGOA.”
Download: pdf Prepared testimony (96 KB)
The expansion of the BRICS not only gives weight to the bloc but also grants South Africa the opportunity to deepen ties with the countries that are expected to join the formation next year. South Africa hosted the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg last month where President Cyril Ramaphosa as chair of the bloc announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will join the BRICS.
“It gives the bloc more weight politically [and] economically in an international space. Domestically, we can gain from ensuring that there’s deepened trade ties with these countries which would expand economic opportunities within South Africa itself and the other emerging markets you find in the BRICS bloc. “It increases your momentum within the global stage itself,” assistant lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, Ndzalama Mathebula told SAnews.
The six developing countries are set to become full members of the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] bloc from January 2024.
Trade deficit shoots up 16% to US$1,2 billion (The Zimbabwe Independent)
ZImbabwe registered a negative trade balance of US$1,24 billion during the seven months to July, up 16% compared to the prior period, as the effects of government’s relaxation of basic commodity imports filtered through, data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) showed this week. The trade deficit stood at US$1,07 billion during the same period last year. This means Zimbabwe is spending more foreign currency to import goods and services than it is exporting.
The data indicates that Zimbabwe exported goods and services worth US$3,83 billion during the review period, compared to US$5,07 billion imports, resulting in a US$1,24 billion trade deficit. On Tuesday, leading economists said Zimbabwe’s overreliance on primary commodities will not be sustainable. “The concern there is that, the global and Zimbabwe-South Africa trade deficit have widened, which I think is a concern,” Prosper Chitambara, chief economist at the Labour and Economic Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said. “The exports have increased but not very significantly while we see imports have actually increased quite significantly overall.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) held a workshop to review the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy at Rainbow Towers in Harare. The purpose of the workshop was to assess the implementation of the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (2019-2023) which is expiring in December this year, and to review and validate the draft successor policy, the Zimbabwe Industrial Development Policy (2024 – 2030).
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce with the support from UNECA SRO-SA retained a consultant to review the implementation of the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (2019-2023) and to draft a successor ZNIDP (2024-2030) aligned to the current national economic policies and thrust and with regional industrialization strategies and policies.
The Ministry also launched a report on the local content thresholds for the fertilizer, packaging and pharmaceutical sectors during the workshops. The sector thresholds, developed and validated in a fully consultative manner, provide a framework for the implementation of local content strategies in the three sectors as part of the overall national endeavour of strengthening domestic linkages of the industrial sector. UNECA SRO-SA provided the technical and financial support towards the development of the thresholds.
Egypt grows as an investment gateway to Africa (Euromoney)
Egypt has long been a strategic partner for many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. In recent years, it has also emerged as a gateway for trade and investment in Africa thanks to its geographic location, economic reforms, and regional integration efforts.
A strategic location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, and the Suez Canal (which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea) provide Egypt with a competitive advantage in terms of connectivity, logistics, and market access to consumers globally. Moreover, Egypt has undertaken significant economic reforms in the past few years aimed at improving its macroeconomic stability, business environment, and investment climate. These reforms include fiscal consolidation, exchange rate liberalisation, energy subsidy reduction, tax reform, and structural reforms in various sectors.
Global Gateway: Ghana and the EU mark a new chapter in the battle against illegal timber trade (EC International Partnerships)
Ghana will be the first country in Africa and second worldwide to provide the EU with export licences that verify the legality of their timber products. Meeting in Brussels, the implementation body of the Ghana-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which brings together Ghanaian public authorities in charge of forest administration, the private sector, civil society and the European Commission, reached an agreement on the last steps towards issuing FLEGT licences, marking a new chapter in the battle against illegal timber trade.
European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “The dedication of the government and the forestry sector, in cooperation with European partners, has brought FLEGT licensing to within our reach. This achievement underscores the power of international cooperation in addressing critical global challenges such as deforestation and illegal logging.”
The Hon. Minister for Lands and Natural Resources of Ghana, Mr. Samuel A. Jinapor, said: “Ghana has seen significant improvements in forest governance with the implementation and operationalisation of the timber legality assurance system. The impending issuance of FLEGT licenses to the EU market and licenses to other international destinations will be guided by the same legality standards. This will be the next logical step in consolidating the gains towards sustainable forest management and forest governance as a whole. Ghana’s commitment to the VPA, as well as halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030 remain absolute.”
African top economist urges Uganda to fast-track oil and gas (The Independent Uganda)
The African Development Bank has warned it is “a race with time” for Uganda to begin pumping its oil out of the ground or risk future losses. Edward Sennoga, Second Lead Economist for the AfDB’s East African office said there is an opportunity for Uganda to earn from its newly found oil, but time was running out.
“So we are racing against time for Uganda. We need to harness this fossil fuel for short-term energy security but time is not on our side,” said Edward Snnonga. He was one of the speakers at the launch of the African Development Bank’s Uganda Country Focus Report 2023 at Hotel Africa in Kampala. The warning by Sennoga and other experts is based on the fear that the global shift or transition to low-carbon economies or the energy transition could affect the demand for oil globally.
Some experts have indicated that Uganda should have begun pumping its oil before 2030 or 2040 when the world shifts to electric vehicles. The Energy transition bringing new pressures to bear on the oil and gas sector from stakeholders and regulators.
TCCIA urges manufacturers to use AfCFTA to create wealth (The Citizen)
The Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture (TCCIA) has urged manufacturers and exporters to utilise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to help Tanzania create wealth, create jobs, and increase foreign earnings. TCCIA acting managing director, Ms Mwanahamisi Hussein, said the continental free trading bloc offers many opportunities that Tanzanians cannot afford to miss.
“We are offering these training sessions to expose our manufacturers and traders to the benefits and opportunities found in the AfCFTA. “One of the many benefits is that the bloc creates a market for Tanzanian products, and the business is free from tariffs. We appeal to our exporters to use this bloc to strengthen our industrial base, create wealth and jobs, earn foreign currency, and strengthen our national economy,” she said. She said Tanzania wants to seriously engage in continental and world trade instead of being on the receiving end.
Visiting South Sudan President Salva Kiir agreed in a meeting with Russia’s president to expand their relationship in energy, trade and other areas, notably oil.
According to a video of the leaders’ public statements posted online by the Kremlin, Putin said the development of oil refineries in South Sudan with the participation of Russian companies would strengthen ties. “This is only the beginning. We have many good opportunities in a variety of fields, including energy,” Putin said. Currently, Russia’s Safinat Group is working on an oil refinery in South Sudan’s Unity state.
“It Is time for Africa to take her destiny in her own hands and to determine her own developmental agenda. However, doing so will not be easy. It will require commitment, courage, and deliberate action. Traders need to seek out new market opportunities rather than the conventional route of turning to markets abroad”. Rallying words from Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, in her opening remarks as she addressed delegates at the High-Level Business Roadshow in Algiers, Algeria.
Mrs. Awani congratulated Algeria for becoming a Member State of Afreximbank in June 2022. She stated that the African Continental Free Trade Area “promises to revolutionise trade, reshape markets across the region, boost output in the manufacturing and service sectors, and fundamentally transform Africa’s economic structure”. She lauded the opportunities that it will provide to Algeria’s businesses.
She also explained the broad range of Afreximbank programmes and initiatives that can facilitate Algeria’s intra-African trade, such as the Africa Collaborative Transit Guarantee Scheme, which will mean for example that goods going from Algiers, Algeria to Lagos, Nigeria, will not need “a Customs Bond on every border as is the case today.” She also discussed the Bank’s programmes that support trade-enabling infrastructure especially those that address mobility and connectivity (road, rail, air, maritime, ports and logistics).
Maiden train cargo trip set to decongest Apapa Port (Channels Television)
The first-ever train cargo trip carrying containers from Apapa Port to Ibadan has set in motion a transformative initiative aimed at alleviating congestion and enhancing efficiency in Nigeria’s transportation sector.
The development comes as a result of the efforts of the Minister of Transportation, Senator Said Alkali, who inaugurated the loading of 30 coach container wagons on September 12.
The maiden train cargo trip, which commenced on Wednesday marks a milestone in the ongoing mission to relieve the burden on Apapa Port and streamline the movement of goods across the country categorized with traffic congestion and logistical bottlenecks at Apapa Port.
The 1st round table of development partners and major regional and international DFIs on the financing of the Construction of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway held on Tuesday 26 September 2023, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire under the auspices of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID).
This flagship project preliminary estimated at US$15.1 billion, lies at the heart of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 and the 4x4 strategic objectives of the ECOWAS Commission Management. The 1,028 km supranational highway will connect the economic capitals of five West African countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, forming an important part of the Trans-African Highway Network that commences from Praia in Cabo Verde through Dakar, Abidjan, Lagos which connects Central and East Africa to end at Mombasa in Kenya.
The solemn opening of the round table took place, with a speech delivered by Mr. Stéphane Ezoa, Deputy Director of Cabinet on behalf of the Minister of Equipment and Maintenance of Roads for Cote d’Ivoire, Dr. Amédé Koffi Kouakou who stressed that the authorities of his country attach great importance to this highway and are committed to work with the other corridor countries and ECOWAS to achieve this great vision of the five Presidents.
The Thirteenth Meeting of COMESA Ministers in charge of Transport, Communications and Information Technology and Energy was held on 14th September 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda. The main objectives of the meeting were to consider the progress made in the implementation of Council Decisions on infrastructure projects in transport, ICT and energy sub-sectors at the Secretariat and Member State levels. Selected extracts:
ENDORSED the review of the Model Energy Policy, the development of Model Solar Standards and commended the efforts to develop a Model Common Customs Tariff Framework for solar products;
COMMENDED the COMESA Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) initiative and directed the Secretariat to prioritize in the implementation of projects under DFTA as it has the potential of changing lives of COMESA citizens by using technologies to boost intra-regional trade and accelerate regional integration;
APPRECIATED the efforts made by the COMESA Secretariat to improve access and reduce cost of ICT services through the development of open access frameworks on fibre networks and humanized regional roaming and interconnection frameworks;
Stakeholders push intra-African trade in fashion industry (Voice of Nigeria)
Stakeholders in the fashion industry are calling for improved intra-African trade and business relationships amongst entrepreneurs in the fashion and arts industries on the continent. This is as the African Fashion & Arts Award (AFAA) emphasised the need for fashion and art creatives to be empowered, rewarded and celebrated.
Founder and President of AFAA, Mr. Kingsley Amako, noted that over 65% of the African 1.4billion population is made up of youths between the creative ages of 12-35 years and that fashion and arts remains the most viable and potentially the creative industry vertical generating the most revenue enough to effect a significant change on the continent’s GDP.
Ahead of the 28th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 28), the African Development Bank Group has launched country-by-country economic reports to guide African policymakers in their discussions at the global event.
The new Country Focus Reports (CFRs) provide analysis and policy recommendations to strengthen countries’ active participation at COP 28, which takes place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November to 12 December. The theme of the reports is “Mobilising private sector finance for climate and green growth in Africa”. The reports foster policy dialogue on macroeconomic performance and outlook and provide insights on mobilising private sector and natural capital finance to drive the continent’s climate resilience and green growth policies.
“As countries prepare for COP28, the reports provide each African country with independent, verified analysis and recommendations for evidence-based negotiations during the global conversation on climate finance and green transitions,” Urama said.
DG Okonjo-Iweala stressed that LDCs’ trade priorities form an integral part of broader trade and development discussions, including in the context of WTO reform. “We need to keep examining development-related matters across the spectrum of the WTO — from regular Committee work to trade negotiations to dispute settlement,” she said. She also acknowledged ongoing efforts by development partners and others to ensure more effective trade support for LDCs.
Delivering the opening remarks, DG Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the ratification of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies by many members and encouraged other members to follow suit. “We also need to keep making progress on the second wave of fisheries negotiations,” she noted.