tralac Daily News
Citrus association urges that R100bn Transnet bailout be granted (Engineering News)
The Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) has called on Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to prioritise Transnet’s financial recovery in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement he presents on November 1. While other stakeholders such as North-West University Business School Professor Raymond Parsons and Nedbank have bemoaned the fact that the State continues to provide bailouts to State-owned entities, CGA says Transnet is the backbone of the country’s export economy and deserves immediate attention from government. The freight utility has requested a R100-billion bailout from National Treasury to fund its recovery plan.
The CGA cautions that, if this support is granted, it should be conditioned on the further expansion of public-private partnerships in rail and port projects. The association believes more private sector involvement, such as the selection of International Container Terminal Services for the upgrading of the Durban Container Terminal Pier 2, is key to a turnaround at Transnet.
Freight rail offers citrus growers, for one, significant advantages in getting produce to ports, however, owing to the decay of the rail network, 95% of all fruit in South Africa is currently transported by truck. The additional 100-million 15 kg cartons of citrus that will need to be moved from orchards to ports over the next nine years will be at risk without a functional rail network.
A two-day EU-Namibia Business Forum jointly organised by the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board and the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, officially kicked off on Tuesday with an opening statement by the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob. The President emphasized that the EU collaboration aligns with Namibia’s National Development Plans, Vision 2030, Industrial Policy, Growth at Home Strategy, the SADC Protocol on Industry, and the Mineral Beneficiation Strategy for Namibia.
“In the pursuit of a greener and cleaner future, both Namibia and the EU share a deep and practical commitment to engender a just energy transition. Our government adopted Harambee Prosperity Plans I and II to accelerate the implementation and impact of the aforementioned plans and strategies. Securing access to these critical resources is not just an economic endeavour but a strategic security imperative for the world’s aspirations in delivering on green and clean energy objectives,” he said.
At the business forum, the President pointed out Namibia’s readiness to collaborate with the EU, which recognizes hydrogen as a critical component for decarbonizing sectors like heavy industry and transport to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “By 2030, according to the REPowerEU, the EU estimates that it will require 20 million tonnes of clean hydrogen and half of this has been earmarked for imports from trusted jurisdictions, such as Namibia,” he said.
URA gets gadget to help curb tax evasion by rice importers (The Independent Uganda)
Uganda Revenue Authority-URA has secured a gadget that enables customs officials to ascertain the origin of imported rice, to curb tax evasion. This comes amidst reports of increased rice imports from other regions through Tanzania, hence illegally gaining from the East African Community Common External Tariffs (EAC-CET). This development comes at a time when truckloads of rice from Tanzania are being held at the Mutukula border over suspicion of traders importing mixed rice sourced from different countries including outside the EAC.
When declared as imports from Tanzania, the importers avoid the high taxes that are otherwise aimed at discouraging imports from other regions. According to EAC-CET, importation of rice outside the EAC is subject to import duty at a rate of 75 percent while rice from within the EAC is zero-rated.
COMESA’s global trade rises by 15% (COMESA)
COMESA’s trade globally and within the region has recorded a significant increase with the total exports to the world gaining by 15% from US$179bn in 2021 to US$205bn in 2022. The largest exporting countries in the COMESA region were Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan. These had a combined market of 98% in exported fuels in 2022. This was revealed during the 39th Meeting of the COMESA Trade and Customs Meeting held from 23 – 27 October in Balaclava, Mauritius.
A report presented by COMESA Secretariat on trade developments in the region indicated that the value of intra-COMESA total exports increased by 10% from US$12.8bn in 2021 to US$14.1bn in 2022. Exports in sulphur of all kinds, cobalt oxides and hydroxides, palm oil, refined petroleum oil, urea, electric current, cotton, sulphuric acid, main flour, gold and ammonia among others contributed to the increase. Most of the COMESA Member States recorded growth in their 2022 intra-COMESA total export values except for Congo DR, Ethiopia, Malawi and Seychelles whose exports to the region declined.
Cost, efficiency to determine future of EAC ports business (People Daily)
Competition for port business has gone a notch higher in the East African coastal strip as cost and efficiency now threaten to snatch the pie from Kenya. This as Tanzania signed a multi-billion, long term modernisation project of the Port of Dar es Salaam with Dubai-based ports operator DP World to improve the port’s competitiveness. According to Dar es Salaam, the intention is to get a bigger share of the lucrative regional marine trade, currently controlled by the Port of Mombasa.
On October 22 2030, Dar es Salaam inked a $250 million (Sh37.6 billion) 30 year concession agreement with DP World, for the later to operate and modernise the multi-purpose Dar es Salaam port, the largest in the country to improve its efficiency, competitiveness and trade opportunities for Tanzania and the region. While the port of Mombasa has been on top gear, due to its fairly modern facilities, earning it the moniker of the ‘Gateway to East Africa”, this position is gradually attracting the likes of Dar es Salaam, Djibouti and Somalia’s Berbera ports, according to the latest ranking by the World Bank’s Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) released in June this year.
Partners of Lobito Corridor target construction completion in five years (Engineering News)
Following the signing of a seven-sided memorandum of understanding (MoU) between two financial institutions and the governments of the US, the European Union, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia for the development of the Lobito Corridor and the Zambia-Lobito rail line, a coordinator involved in the project has confirmed that a feasibility study will start before the end of the year.
Acting special coordinator for the Partnership on Global Infrastructure Investment (PGI) Helaina Matza told members of the media during a briefing on October 31 that the partners aim to conclude the feasibility study within six months and thereafter start with construction of the massive project.
The project partners are targeting completion of the works within five years. The funding partners on the project are the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). This endeavour marks the most significant transport infrastructure that the US has helped to develop in Africa in a generation.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), Yofi Grant, has called for a strong collaboration among African Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) to optimise opportunities that would help position the continent as the world’s most important investment community. He explained that Africa’s large youthful population presented a significant growth potential such that collaborative initiatives would harness its demographic advantage by developing targeted investment strategies that focus on sectors such as technology, agribusiness and renewable energy.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which entered into force in May 2019, promised to unlock the full potential of Africa’s agricultural sector and accelerate sustainable economic growth and food security throughout the region. However, recent crises, from the conflict in Ukraine to the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and the accelerating impact of climate change, have given rise to significant setbacks for continental food security and prosperity.
A new report published by AKADEMIYA2063 and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) analyses continental and regional trends in African agricultural trade flows and policies, with a special focus on the East African Community (EAC), the cotton value chain, and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on African countries.
In particular, the report finds that intra-African agricultural trade has increased significantly since the early 2000s. Nonetheless, intra-African trade represents a relatively small share of Africa’s total agricultural trade. Data indicates faster growth in imports from the rest of the world than from intra-African sources. Hence, while there has been an absolute increase, market share has remained flat, suggesting that the continent has yet to capture a growing slice of the rapidly growing demand. This should be the ultimate focus of and measure of success for the AfCFTA. The report also finds that Africa’s regional trade agreements (RTAs), which mostly focus on tariff reductions alone, have had a limited impact on stimulating the agrifood market.
The African Union Commission in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Botswana, will be hosting the 8th Pan African Forum on Migration Forum (PAFoM8) from the 31st October to 2nd November, 2023 at Royal Aria Conference Centre in Tlokweng. The theme for the conference is “Bolstering Free Movement and Trade Nexus in AfCFTA: Optimizing Benefits of Migration, Labour Migration for Development” and it will be focusing on migration and trade.
The conference, will, amongst others, contribute to the AU theme of the year 2023 theme “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation” by unpacking the linkages between the AfCFTA, Free Movement of Persons, and Migration across the continent. Emphasis will be placed on mobility of labour and skills of women and men migrant workers, as well as discuss the good examples and mechanisms through different stakeholders (countries of origin and countries of destination, civil society organizations and social partners) which can highlight benefits derived from an integrated economic development for Africa.
African Statistics Day 2023 (UNECA)
African Statistics Day is an annual event that is celebrated on 18 November to raise public awareness of the importance of statistics in all aspects of social and economic life. In 2023, it will be held under the theme “Modernizing data ecosystems to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): the role of official statistics and Big Data in the economic transformation and sustainable development of Africa”. The theme aligns with the African Union theme of the year 2023, “Acceleration of the AfCFTA Implementation”, and encapsulates the call to modernize data systems on the continent to produce and use high-quality official statistics and seize the opportunities that big data presents.
The role of the national statistical systems in Africa and their commitment to the modernization of data systems are critical for informing policy interventions related to the African Continental Free Trade Area. Moreover, the statistical community has recognized that producers of official statistics need to transform and modernize to respond adequately to all the data demands arising from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union, the 10-year strategy of the African Development Bank for the period 2023–2032, subregional and national development plans, and other agendas and frameworks.
US President Joe Biden has revealed plans to expel Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic (CAR) from a special US-Africa trade programme. The countries were either involved in “gross violations” of human rights or not making progress towards democratic rule, the president said.
The US introduced the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in 2000. It gives eligible sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US for more than 1,800 products.
President Biden said that Niger and Gabon - both of which are currently under military rule following coups this year - are ineligible for Agoa because they “have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law”. He also said that the removal of the CAR and Uganda from the programme was due to “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights” by their governments.
“Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the Agoa eligibility criteria,” President Biden said on Monday, in a letter addressed to the speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The four countries are yet to react to the announcement, which comes just before South Africa is due to host the 20th Agoa forum from Thursday this week. Their expulsion from Agoa is set to take effect from the start of next year and is likely to impact their economies, as Agoa has been credited with promoting exports, economic growth and job creation among participating countries.
AGOA future critical after US officials table lifespan expansion bill (Engineering News)
The future of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will come into sharp focus this week after United States (US) officials tabled a bill for the expansion of its lifespan. AGOA, legislated by the US Congress, allows some African economies to benefit from duty-free access to the mega economy’s trade market. Trade ministers from South Africa and the US and several African countries are expected to meet in Johannesburg from Wednesday, as the continent’s most industrialised economy hosts the annual summit.
Director at the Trade Law Centre Trudi Hartzenberg said an extension could help boost investor confidence. “The longer we can have certainty about the arrangement, the better for attracting the kind of quality investment that we need, which will also help us to achieve the objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement Area and our own development agenda.”
The WTO issued today (31 October) the 2023 edition of Trade Profiles, an annual publication providing key data on merchandise trade and trade in commercial services for 197 economies. Each two-page profile provides a breakdown of the economy’s major exports and imports and its main trading partners.
For merchandise trade, top exports and imports are broken down by agricultural and non-agricultural categories. For trade in services, data is provided for transport, travel and other commercial services. Statistics on intellectual property, such as patent and trademark applications, are also provided.
The co-convenors of e-commerce talks — Australia, Japan and Singapore — outlined to participants at the latest round of negotiations on 25-27 October the next steps towards concluding the talks by year-end. The package on the table “is a result of five years of hard work and even though it does not meet all our expectations, it is a substantive package that delivers benefits to consumers, businesses and members,” they said. The initiative welcomed The Gambia as the 90th member of the talks.
“We must fix our sight firmly on the goal in the coming weeks,” Ambassador Hung Seng Tan of Singapore told participants. He said the co-convenors intend to circulate an updated consolidated text, which will show the progress achieved so far in finding “landing zones” this year. He noted that the issues that have not gained broad support from members will be removed from that text.
Ambassador Tan added: “I am encouraged to hear the strong expression of support and commitment from all of you for substantial conclusion [of the talks]”. He said that the co-convenors will schedule consultations with members to share the “contours of the substantial conclusion”. They will also circulate a road map and highlight key steps to achieve a timely conclusion of the negotiations.
Although the global economy is in a much better position than it was in the 1970s to cope with a major oil-price shock, an escalation of the latest conflict in the Middle East—which comes on top of disruptions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine—could push global commodity markets into uncharted waters, according to the World Bank’s latest Commodity Markets Outlook.
Under the Bank’s baseline forecast, oil prices are expected to average $90 a barrel in the current quarter before declining to an average of $81 a barrel next year as global economic growth slows. Overall commodity prices are projected to fall 4.1% next year. Prices of agricultural commodities are expected to decline next year as supplies rise. Prices of base metals are also projected to drop 5% in 2024. Commodity prices are expected to stabilize in 2025. The outlook for commodity prices would darken quickly if the conflict were to escalate.
“Higher oil prices, if sustained, inevitably mean higher food prices,” said Ayhan Kose, the World Bank’s Deputy Chief Economist and Director of the Prospects Group. “If a severe oil-price shock materializes, it would push up food price inflation that has already been elevated in many developing countries. At the end of 2022, more than 700 million people—nearly a tenth of the global population—were undernourished. An escalation of the latest conflict would intensify food insecurity, not only within the region but also across the world.”
Africa, Caribbean move to strengthen relations (Caribbean Life)
For decades, Africa and the Caribbean have been taking about cementing close relations, establishing air links and taking advantage of tourism opportunities among other topics. Not much has actually fructified in recent decades, but if the speed at which the two are moving this time to forge concrete links is anything to go by, then strong and fruitful relations lie ahead.
In late 2021 Africa and the Caribbean held their first leaders summit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, laying the groundwork for what is occurring today. By mid 2022, Africa’s Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) had opened an office in Barbados and told the region that it had set aside $1.5 billion in concession loans for areas which governments and the private sector can identify.
And just this week, more than 250 African delegates flew by chartered Ethiopian Airlines jumbo jet to the Caribbean Community headquarters in Guyana for the two-day, second Afri-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum, that began on Monday.
Attempting to give a proper context to Africa-CARICOM relations meanwhile, regional Secretary General Carla Barnett noted that total CARICOM-Africa trade for 2021 had reached $538 million with a trade balance in Africa’s favor of $110 million, noting that “total trade in 2021 declined from a high of US$1.177 billion in 2018 when trade was nearly balanced. There is much work to be done. CARICOM is a strong performer in services, especially in sectors such as travel, tourism, and financial services, and there are real opportunities for investment and trade in the services sector as well as in the agriculture and industrial sectors. And, of course, we have among us the country categorized as the fastest growing economy in the world, Guyana,” urging the region to cash in on trade with the continent.
Ms. Mohammed, delivering opening remarks to a preparatory meeting, or Pre-Cop, being held in Abu Dahbi, underscored that the next UN climate summit was being convened at a critical moment in the fight against the climate crisis.The summit’s main outcome is under the so-called Global Stocktake, and it needs to respond decisively to the alarming findings of science and the existing gaps in mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, said the deputy UN chief.
The Global Stocktake is the handle given to the sequence of UN-facilitated meetings and events held over the past year to enable countries and other stakeholders to see where they have – or have not – been making progress toward meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Pre-COP in Abu Dhabi aims to help countries lay the groundwork for negotiations at the next global climate summit, the 28th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known by its shorthand COP28.
For his part, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell acknowledged that the Pre-COP was taking place at a time of serious conflict and strife in several parts of the world. “It is a difficult and yet critical time for multilateral engagement; and a time of anxiety,” he said, and emphasized: “Let us be united by the knowledge that climate change is our common challenge, and that here, we will all benefit from the solutions, and we will all suffer from the failure to find them.”