Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Trade Statistics for September 2023 (SARS)

South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R13.1 billion in September 2023. This surplus is attributable to exports of R174.65 billion and imports of R161.51 billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN).

The year-to-date (01 January to 30 September 2023) preliminary trade balance surplus of R43.0 billion is a deterioration from the R179.9 billion trade balance surplus for the comparable period in 2022. On a year-on-year basis, export flows for September 2023 were 6.0% lower compared to R185.7 billion recorded in September 2022, whilst import flows were 2.8% lower having decreased from R166.2 billion in September 2022 to R161.5 billion in the current period.

pdf South Africa Trade Statistics for September 2023 (SARS) (589 KB)

Revenue collection projected to decline (SAnews)

Revenue collection is expected to fall by some R56 billion below the 2023 Budget predictions, according to the National Treasury Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). The MTBPS notes that slowing commodity exports, slower growth, downward revisions of the tax base growth, slowing corporate tax collections and lower net VAT collections have all impacted tax revenue. The 2023 Budget had projected collections would reach some R1.78 trillion but that has now been revised down to R1.73 trillion.

“In recent years, revenue collection has benefited from a pattern of high prices for South Africa’s commodity exports. In the current year, commodity prices have fallen faster than expected and value‐added tax (VAT) refund claims have risen, resulting in revenue collections projected to be R56.8 billion below 2023 Budget estimates. “The moderate revenue outlook is limited by the domestic economic outlook and negative shifts in the global economy,” the department said. This as Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana tabled the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

pdf 2023 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement - 1 November 2023 (1.13 MB)

Kenya bans avocado exports (The East African)

The Kenyan government has stopped the export of avocados from Friday to allow the fruits to mature as part of measures to protect Kenya’s lucrative export market. In a notice on Tuesday, the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) suspended the export of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo avocado varieties by sea starting November 3, 2023.The directorate has, however, cleared air shipment of avocados, including those in transit from other East African Community (EAC) countries. The directorate says the decision follows a survey it undertook to authenticate the maturity indices of the avocado fruits in the major production zones.

“Following the findings of the survey, we hereby notify the Kenyan avocado stakeholders that the closing of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo harvesting season and export by sea for the 2023/2024 fiscal year shall be in force with effect from November 3, 2023,” said HCD acting Director-General Willis Audi. “Export clearance (including fruit consignments from the EAC region) shall be granted for air shipment, subject to inspection by the Directorate. Traceability information will be required for all consignments,” he added.

Annual Revenue Growth for 2007-2021 Stood At 11% (The Voice)

The Chairperson of the GRA Board of Directors, Mrs. Lucy Faye, has informed the Finance and Public Accounts Committee(FPAC) of the National Assembly that the average annual revenue growth for 2007-2021 stood at 11%. “This feat in revenue mobilization has given Government greater leverage in driving its development agenda forward,” board chair Faye recognized.

n a statement she delivered to the FPAC on GRA’s 2021 activity report on Tuesday, Mrs. Faye pointed out that one of the core mandates of GRA as a revenue collection agency is to promptly assess, collect and account for all revenues due to government in a fair and transparent manner according to the revenue laws. “However, this is a complex matter under our cultural setting in that many see non-compliance towards their tax obligation as normal. In such an environment then, the enforcement of the revenue laws becomes a daily occurrence which in itself is both challenging and resource intensive,” she pointed out.

Madam Faye explained that the GRA continues to account for most of the Government’s recurrent budget on an annual basis, having been operating as a single revenue administration since 2007. “The average annual revenue growth for the period 2007- 2021 stood at 11%,” she told FPAC.

Kenya moves to stem loss of cargo business to Tanzania (The East African)

Kenya has kicked off policies to salvage shrinking cargo business at its ports due to competition from the port of Dar es Salaam. Cargo owned by governments in the region will be handled by the Government Clearing Agency (GCA) while other policies include cutting port charges and doubling the storage period for transit cargo.

Kenya is scrapping destination charges, affording importers from the landlocked East African Community partners using the Port of Mombasa a saving of up to $1,200 per 40-feet container. Salim Mvurya, the Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime, issued a circular directing government agency to clear cargo through the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL).

According to the minister, the move is meant to revitalise the institutions, which have capacity to contribute to Kenya’s economy, and to ensure safety and confidentiality in clearing of sensitive government cargo. This will see private clearing agencies lose lucrative deals and over 20 million metric tonnes of cargo. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that about 52 percent of cargo cleared at different border points belongs to government ministries, departments and agencies.

Outcry in Kenya over tax ‘harassment’ of travellers (CGTN Africa)

Ethiopia Serves as Gateway to Africa to Trade Across Continent (ENA)

Ethiopia serves as a gateway to Africa, making it easier for businesses to trade across the continent, Ethiopian Ambassador to Pakistan Jemal Beker said. The Ambassador made the remark while visiting the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), the daily Pakistani Newspaper, The Nation reported today. During the occasion, the ambassador highlighted the untapped business, trade and investment opportunities in Ethiopia and Africa as well.

Addressing the gathering of businessmen, Ambassador Jemal underscored the importance for Pakistan to establish a stronger presence in Africa, a continent with a population of over 1.4 billion people and immense potential. He stressed that Africa is the future of global commerce and encouraged Pakistani businessmen to align itself with these lucrative opportunities. Ethiopia, he pointed out, serves as a gateway to Africa, making it easier for businesses to trade across the continent.

FG commits to scaling up Nigeria’s global port rating (Vanguard)

The federal government, FG, through the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has expressed its commitment to scaling up Nigeria’s port rating in the global maritime space.

Disclosing this intention at the commissioning of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) centre in Lagos, earlier in the week, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, said the move is apt especially with increasing global competition which has become imperative for nations to make conscious efforts to deepen the competitiveness of their ports. He added that improving Nigeria’s balance of trade which is crucial to strengthening the value of the Naira and creating employment, is top on President Bola Tinubu’s policy agenda, stressing that given the pivotal role that the maritime sector plays in actualising the noble objective, the ministry under his leadership is determined to equip seafarers and all maritime workers with the enabling tools to tackle and overcome work-related challenges.

He added: “This is part of our concerted effort to ensure the maximisation of the comparative advantages that our maritime resources present. The reconstruction of this MTS facility will undoubtedly scale up Nigeria’s rating in the global maritime community.

Addis Abeba Trade Bureau cracks down on Sunday market traders selling overpriced products (Addis Standard)

The Addis Abeba Trade Bureau began to take action against Sunday market traders who have been selling goods at prices higher than the ceiling. So far, administrative measures have been implemented against traders in three sub-cities. Mesfen Asefa, the head of business marketing at the bureau, said that illegal business activities, such as selling onions above the official prices, have been observed in Sunday markets. Mesfen stated that appropriate administrative actions will continue in the future to address this issue.

The prices of essential food items have reached unprecedented levels in recent months. Particularly, the price of onions in Addis Abeba has experienced a significant and alarming rise, surpassing 100 birr per kilogram. City officials attribute this price surge to a supply-and-demand mismatch for the product. In September 2023, the year-on-year general inflation rate reached 28.3%, with food inflation recorded at 27.1%. The Ethiopian Statistical Service has identified the rise in average prices of key food items such as bread and cereals (40.7%), vegetables (31.8%), and meat (28.5%) as the primary factors driving food inflation.

IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement on the First Review of the Extended Credit Facility and Conducts Discussions on the 2023 Article IV Consultation with the Union of the Comoros (IMF)

The Comorian authorities and IMF staff have reached a staff-level agreement on economic policies and reforms for completion of the first review under the 4-year ECF-supported program. The review once formally completed by the IMF Executive Board would release about US$4.7 million in financing.

Expected growth in 2023 reflects an ongoing rebound in economic activity. Program performance has been generally satisfactory amidst continued challenges from the external environment. The authorities remain committed to achieving their fiscal consolidation targets, and there has been good progress on the structural reform agenda.

Article IV consultation discussions focused on reforms to boost fiscal transparency, protect tax revenue in the context of the WTO accession and declining trade taxes, reduce the fiscal drag from state-owned enterprises, and progress towards SDGs.

The Kingdom of Lesotho signs the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (SADC)

The signing ceremony was held on 27 October 2023, in Maseru, Lesotho and was witnessed by the Kingdom of Lesotho governmental authorities, parliamentarians, private sector, and representatives of the Tripartite Task Force (TTF) from the three Secretariates, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-East African Community (EAC)-Southern African Development Community (SADC),

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement was finalised and opened for signature in 2015 at the third Tripartite Summit, held in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt. The TFTA Agreement has three main pillars: market integration, industrialisation, and infrastructure development, and is complemented by cross cutting issues of resource mobilisation and free movement of persons, and sets out the following objectives:

Representing the Executive Secretary of SADC, His Excellency Mr Elias Magosi, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration at the SADC Secretariat, Ms. Angele Makombo N’Tumba, commended and congratulated the Kingdom of Lesotho for signing the TFTA Agreement. With the signature by the Kingdom of Lesotho, the TFTA Agreement has twenty-three signatures (23), and eleven (11) ratifications. Fourteen (14) ratifications by Member/Partner States are required to bring the Agreement into force.

The future of trade in Africa (Business Daily)

The 8th Pan African Forum on Migration (PAFOM8) kicks off (AU)

We cannot achieve food security without improving intra-Africa trade – AGRA (MyJoyOnline)

The Director of Inclusive Trade, Markets and Finance at AGRA says Africa cannot achieve food security without improving intra-continent trade. Daniel Njiwa said the continent cannot ensure food system resilience if “our trade is not functioning very well.” “Trade will remain the lubricant for conversations around food systems. It encourages producing in a diversified fashion where you can easily meet food security and nutritional targets,” he said.

He was speaking at the 2023 Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security Commemoration and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, organised by the African Union and the African Union Development Agency.

“The trade environment on the continent is facing a lot of challenges which can be dealt with. Policy and predictability, countries deciding without numbers and evidence, how to deal with import and export policies, and infrastructure to get goods from one point to the other is a problem,” Mr Njiwa observed.

The meeting from October 30 to November 2, is under the theme; “Accelerating the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the context of CCAADP commitments for safer and healthier diets.”

“Women and youth are the most important players in agriculture. They are involved in moving over 80% of food traded in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “Many are involved in informal cross-border trade. We need to find a way to get to work with women and youth and provide them with the necessary tools to participate more efficiently and more effectively in trade,” he added.

The 14th Africa Day For Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) Commemoration and 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform

How a digital platform for ports speeds delivery of goods to your local shopping mall (World Bank Blog)

Ports are more than just docking points for ships; they are complex, busy hubs critical for the quick movement of international cargoes. Managing a port is a complex operation that involves various private parties and government agencies. And here’s where technology steps in to make everything smooth sailing.

Modern digital platforms allow port stakeholders to share data and information with each other. This capability improves port logistics performance and facilitates trade. The latest edition of port digital platforms is known as a Port Community System (PCS). How does a PCS differ from the other digital solutions used by ports?

When we zoom out to the broader scope of international trade, a PCS is the linchpin that can make global supply chains more resilient against shocks. The more information international logistics and supply chain companies share, the better they can adjust to unforeseen obstacles. And for low- and middle-income countries, a PCS serves as an advanced trade facilitation mechanism that enhances the logistics connectivity of international trade flows. And a Port Community System is a potentially big step on the road toward greater prosperity through trade: As efficiency improves, so does a port’s capacity , allowing more traffic to pass through each day.

Driving Digitalisation For Future Railway Innovation (Africa.com)

Huawei and the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the purpose of creating a non-exclusive framework of cooperation for the transformation of the SADC region’s railway transport and corridor logistics to enable seamless, efficient, smooth, cost-effective and quality railway corridor services on all SARA Corridors.

The MOU is designed to help address an urgent need in the railway space to make railways smarter, safer, more visualised, more efficient, and more reliable. As Guo Guoqing, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Enterprise Business explained, “Success in the railway industry depends on safety, reliability, and affordability, with both operators and its customers expecting flawless service – but this requires future-proofed communications networks based on single technology among all the rail operators.”

New USTR Agenda Disrupts Digital Free Trade (Americans for Tax Reform)

AGOA updates

African countries to seek extension of duty-free access to US markets (ABC News)

The extension of the U.S. program allowing sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets is expected to be high on the agenda of the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade forum that will begin in South Africa on Thursday.

The forum kicks off days after U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intention to boot Niger, Uganda, Central African Republic and Gabon off the list of beneficiaries as they have failed to comply with the eligibility criteria.

“We absolutely expect African countries benefitting from AGOA to push for its extension, because they have seen real benefits, even though some have benefitted more than others,” said professor John Stremlau, an international relations expert. He said that AGOA was particularly important as it was supported by both Republicans and Democrats to encourage economic development in Africa.

Biden said in a letter addressed to members of U.S. Congress that despite intensive engagements with Niger, Uganda, Central African Republic and Gabon, they hadn’t addressed U.S. concerns “about their noncompliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria.”

US renews commitment to supporting AGOA in Malawi (Malawi Nyasa Times)

United States (US) Ambassador to Malawi, David Young, has reaffirmed his government’s commitment to continue supporting AGOA in Malawi, stressing that the implementation of the Growth Poles and the African Trade and Investment is a testament to that commitment.

The US is implementing the projects through its United States Aid for International Development (USAID) to equip businesses with skills that will help them explore market opportunities in the United States. Young has therefore described the upcoming AGOA Forum scheduled to take place in South Africa this week as “a valuable moment in Malawi’s economic engagement with the United States”.

“AGOA is an example of how we can use trade as a force for good. To maintain eligibility, countries must uphold several values that are core to free and fair societies—rule of law, respect for human rights, combatting corruption, and protecting workers’ rights. And I look forward to a robust, forward-looking conversation — at the AGOA Forum and beyond,” wrote Young in his Op-Ed shared with Nyasa Times on Tuesday.

According to the envoy, Malawi ranks 15 out of 35 countries in Africa that have most utilized the AGOA trade window over the past 23 years.

Agoa trade deal talks: South Africa will need to carefully manage relations with the US and China (The Conversation)

AGOA deal a key part of South Africa’s citrus future (Fruitnet)

Visit AGOA.info for more on the 2023 AGOA Forum

Decades-old South-South trade deal offers new hope for sustainable future (UNCTAD)

The Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among Developing Countries, established in 1989, is not only a historic agreement but also an effective instrument for addressing today’s challenges. Created by the G77 bloc of developing countries, the GSTP aims to promote trade among nations in the Global South, primarily through preferential tariff reductions. Its 42 members across Africa, Asia and Latin America represent a combined market of $16 trillion, generating some $4.4 trillion in import demand for goods – almost 20% of global merchandise imports.

While the latest GSTP tariff reductions still require one more ratification before entering into force, its members can at the same time step up ambitions and key areas of South-South cooperation to advance sustainable trade and development.

“Under the current context of ‘polycrisis’, the GSTP can provide a valuable platform for advancing trade cooperation to achieve sustainable energy transition, decarbonization and greater food security,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said.

Country largest trade partner of 25 BRI economies (Hellenic Shipping News)

China has become the largest trade partner of 25 economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, a report said.

The import and export value between China and other BRI markets grew from 6.46 trillion yuan ($883 billion) in 2013 to 13.76 trillion yuan in 2022, according to the report released during the second conference of the Global Economic Development and Security Forum of the Boao Forum for Asia being held in Changsha, Hunan province, from Sunday to Tuesday. The total trade value among China and other BRI economies reached 6.89 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, up 9.8 percent from a year earlier, the report said

Moreover, as connectivity has been a priority for the initiative, a large number of strategic infrastructure cooperation projects — such as roads, railways, ports, aviation and power projects — have been built in BRI economies, it said.

Scholz’s Africa visit: Germany looks to boost economic ties (DW)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, his third trip to Africa in two years, had the aim of deepening economic ties between Germany and the two African nations. Nigeria is struggling, with the value of its economy reportedly declining to $477 billion (€451 billion) in 2022 from $546 billion in 2015.

During bilateral talks, Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu wooed investors to the country’s mining sector, which has been underdeveloped for decades. He also said he had discussed with Scholz the potential of exporting gas to Europe. “The [possibility of the] energy [sector] to facilitate the shipment of liquified gas to Europe is well discussed in advance. We have an eye on this,” Tinubu said.

German companies aimed to boost their activities in Africa this year, especially in areas such as green hydrogen and liquefied natural gas.

Tanzania, Germany eye to boost trade, investments (Tanzania Daily News)

New Import Licensing Notification Portal now available (WTO)

An Import Licensing Notification Portal was launched on 31 October at a meeting of the Committee on Import Licensing Procedures. The platform allows members to draft and submit notifications online. Members also reviewed 42 notifications submitted since the last meeting of the Committee and discussed several specific trade concerns about import licensing regimes. The WTO Secretariat held an information session on the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures for new delegates following the meeting of the Committee.

Working group on food security moves closer to finalizing report and recommendations (WTO)

The working group on food security reviewed on 31 October a revised report of the coordinator, with the aim of reaching consensus on a final report and set of recommendations by end-November to help address the concerns of least-developed countries (LDCs) and net food-importing developing countries (NFIDCs). The meeting was facilitated by Mr Kjetil Tysdal of Norway, the coordinator of the food security work programme, which is conducted under the Committee on Agriculture.


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