tralac Daily News
Cape Town calls for deadline on private sector port involvement (Engineering News)
The City of Cape Town says it wants a “clear deadline” from Transnet and national government on private sector involvement in the Port of Cape Town. With a private sector partner set to start operations at the Port of Durban in April, Cape Town Economic Growth MMC James Vos notes that “there is continued silence from national government on a timeline for a sorely-needed private sector partner boost for Cape Town”.
“Amid ongoing reports of extreme inefficiencies at the Port of Cape Town, the city calls for a clear deadline on introducing a private sector partner here, as will be the case at the Durban port. “The urgency of reform is underscored by a major shipping company recently announcing plans to bypass Cape Town’s port in certain respects.
“We are still awaiting the publication of the Freight Logistics Roadmap, which is being kept under wraps by national government, despite our repeated requests for transparency from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan,” adds Vos. “The city will continue to actively mobilise stakeholders, including the private sector, to pressure government into clear timeframes and deadlines for a private partner for the Port of Cape Town.”
According to the World Bank’s container port performance index 2022, Cape Town ranked 344 out of the 348 ports surveyed. Research presented by the Western Cape’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism shows that private sector participation at the Cape Town harbour has the potential to contribute an additional R6-billion in exports, roughly 20 000 direct and indirect jobs, as well as more than R1.6-billion in additional taxes over a five-year period.
The South African Government welcomed the decision by the People’s Republic of China to substantially reduce tariff rates on imports of South African Rooibos tea. Rooibos tea is a unique South African tea that has gained a strong foothold in global markets with hundreds of millions of rands of annual exports in 2022. South Africa led efforts at the World Customs Organization (WCO) for a specific tariff code applicable only for rooibos tea. China, the world’s largest tea market, previously had tariffs ranging from 15% to 30% on rooibos tea. This has now been reduced to 6%.
In August last year, South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel raised the tariff duties on rooibos tea with his counterpart, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao, during the 8th meeting of the China-South Africa Joint Economic and Trade Commission. He requested that China considers a request to reclassify rooibos tea and to reduce the duties. Following further consideration from the Chinese side, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council of China advised it will be adopting the new tariff code of the WCO to categorise Rooibos tea under tariff code HS 1211.90.39 with an import tariff rate of 6%.
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has reiterated his country’s plans to turn itself into a hub of export and import activities in West Africa. He made the announcement during the 2023 Comptroller-General of Customs Annual Conference recently. He lamented the lack of comprehensive data, saying it had been “a technological affliction” that has hindered the growth trajectory of Nigeria and the continent, impeding the ability to make informed governance decisions.
The President, who was represented at the conference by his deputy, Vice President Kashim Shettima, noted that the grand vision of his administration is to deploy data to make sound government decisions. “Our current governance landscape demands a transformative intervention… “We aspire to position Nigeria as the preferred destination for all stakeholders involved in export and import activities overseen by the Customs.”
The Information and Decision Support Centre at the Cabinet has prepared a comprehensive research project titled “Document Highlighting the Strategic Directions for the Egyptian Economy for the New Presidential Term (2024-2030).” Osama El-Gohary, Assistant to the Prime Minister and Head of IDSC, said: “The document includes policies that aim to establish the foundations of an economic renaissance based on enhancing local production capacities and increasing the resilience of the Egyptian economy in facing crises. It also includes policies that prioritize the continuation of efforts to improve the lives of millions of Egyptians, with key objectives such as achieving strong, inclusive, sustainable, and balanced economic growth of 6% to 8%, focusing on the quality of economic growth by enhancing the contribution of exports and investments in generating output and targeting a supportive economic growth rate to provide 7 to 8 million job opportunities during that period.”
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a 36-month arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), in the amount of SDR 74.64 million (about US$100 million), and concluded the 2023 Article IV consultation with The Gambia. The policy consultation focused on drivers of inflation, macroeconomic implications of the gender gap, climate-related risks and policies, debt sustainability, and external stability.
The Gambia has weathered more resiliently successive exogenous shocks, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, relative to peer countries. Economic growth, supported by tourism and public and private construction, is expected at 5.6 percent this year, up from 4.9 percent in 2022. In the medium term, growth is expected at around 5 percent, supported by strong remittance inflows, sustained recovery in the tourism sector, and new infrastructure projects.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva Welcomes Debt Treatment Agreement Reached by Ghana and Its Official Creditors under the G20 Common Framework. “I welcome Minister of Finance Ofori-Atta’s announcement that the Ghanaian authorities have reached an agreement in principle with their official creditors on a debt treatment, consistent with the objectives of the IMF-supported program, which aims to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, build resilience, and lay the foundations for stronger and more inclusive growth.
Ugandan old railway line rehabilitation on track (The East African)
Spanish firm Imathia Construction has completed replacing steel sleepers with concrete beams on the Namanve-Kampala section of the line, which is expected to be handed over this month, Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) publicist John Lenon Sengendo said, adding that the contractor will then embark on the final section, Namanve-Mukono. This will be the second section of the track to be completed.
While the Malaba-Namanve metre gauge track is now in fair condition, importers, exporters, and shippers remain sceptical about switching to rail, citing a shortage of rolling stock and inefficiency, which has resulted in 90 percent of traffic on the Northern Corridor being carried by road and only about seven percent is carried by rail because of the poor state of rail infrastructure.
As a result, transport costs are comparatively high on the Northern Corridor, ranging from 20 cents to 25 cents per tonne per kilometre for road transport, while the cost for rail transport ranges from US cents 6 to US cent 12 per tonne per kilometre, depending on the type of cargo.
Return of piracy on Somalia waters to push up costs (The East African)
The return of piracy cases off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea in the past few weeks continue to be a serious threat to international maritime safety, in particular to seafarers and international trade as well as to the security and prosperity of the regional countries. Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) head of policy and advocacy Agayo Ogambi said the attacks would disrupt supply chain as it will take longer to deliver the cargo.
“Kenyan exports such as tea will take longer to deliver, considering the routes are no longer safe. The vessels have to take longer routes or hire security for safe passage, which will delay supplies at an extra cost,” Mr Ogambi said. “We are in a difficult situation and this will need both political and military interventions to resolve the crisis but, at the moment, clients should plan accordingly to ensure they do not run out of stock.”
The East African Community (EAC), boasting a combined population of 301.8 million across eight member states, faces a critical juncture. Its ambitious development plans, including infrastructure investments and regional integration, stand threatened by a wave of escalating disputes between key members. The eight-member states include Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, Somalia and Tanzania.
However, recent tensions between Uganda and Kenya over trade barriers, Burundi and Rwanda over alleged rebel support, and the ongoing DRC-Rwanda tensions cast a dark shadow over the bloc’s future. In the $103.8 million budget for 2024/25, the EAC has prioritised promoting the execution of multi-sectoral infrastructure development, including roads, railways and airports, to enhance regional connectivity and facilitate the smooth movement of people and goods in the region.
Burundi shuts border with Rwanda amidst strained relations (Business Insider Africa)
Burundi has declared an indefinite closure of its border with Rwanda. This decision came weeks after Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of harboring and training the Red Tabara rebel group. Rwanda learned about Burundi’s decision through media reports, a government spokesperson told Reuters, adding it violated the principles of a regional bloc both are part of. “This unfortunate decision will restrict the free movement of people and goods between the two countries, and violates the principles of regional cooperation and integration of the East African Community,” said Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson for the Rwandan government.
Tanzania and Malawi reach accord on transparency for trade (Business Insider Africa)
As seen in the Tanzanian newspaper, The Citizen, the decision to be more transparent with each other came after a virtual meeting between the plant health and pesticide control officials from both nations. This is according to the interview granted to the publication by prof Joseph Ndunguru, the Tanzanian Plant Health and Pesticides (TPHPA) director general.
The TPHPA had imposed a ban on Malawian maize due to the risk of introducing genetically modified maize seeds into its food market. The organization opted to do a pest risk assessment before lifting the prohibition. This prohibition came immediately after a devastating cyclone damaged a large quantity of crops, leaving Malawians with a food shortage. On the other hand, Malawi banned unmilled maize from Tanzania and Kenya over a similar concern. Officials from the country seemed concerned about Maize Lethal Necrosis. Fortunately, during the virtual meeting on Thursday, both countries agreed to share information, which would enable them to make the best decisions.
“We have passed through different issues to enable trade to continue. Therefore, we are currently finalizing reports that will be shared amongst institutions on both sides,” prof Joseph Ndunguru stated. “We have agreed on the timeline that these reports should be shared in the next few days because we have taken the issue with a sense of urgency,” he added.
Ruto, Museveni to meet over fuel import dispute (The East African)
President William Ruto plans to meet his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to resolve the fuel import dispute that saw Kampala take Nairobi to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peninah Malonza confirmed that the two leaders had scheduled a meeting to diplomatically mend fences over Kenya’s decision to block Uganda’s use of its pipeline to transport fuel.
Uganda had applied to use Kenya’s pipeline to transport its fuel from the port of Mombasa directly to the capital, Kampala, but Kenya rejected the request, arguing that such a move would affect its local oil marketing companies. Malonza downplayed the dispute, saying each member state of the East African Community (EAC) was founded on its own democratic principles and is therefore entitled to pursue its best trade interests.
East Africans look to Somalia, DRC for expanded investment market (The East African)
Tourism, investments in renewable energy, oil, transport and logistics are set to drive business opportunities in the East African region this year, according to industry leaders. And these will draw largely from Somalia’s entry into the East African Community and the re-election of President Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of Congo - two factors that are expected to fuel trading opportunities especially in the services industry, financial services/banking, and logistics.
The now eight-member EAC, with an estimated population of 301.8 million citizens, of whom 30 percent are urban-based, is already seeing resurgence in tourism. John Kalisa, chief executive of the East African Business Council, says the impact of visa removal by some countries in the bloc is likely to be felt in the tourism sector as well as transport.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has asked other leaders in East Africa region to emulate Kenya’s visa-free move that allows for borderless movement to spur socio-economic transformation. Speaking during the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Zanzibar Revolution, the DP said easing movement will enhance seamless trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and other among other collaborations for the benefit of the people of Africa.
“We reject being defined by the boundaries of colonialists. That is why Kenya has removed visa requirements for anyone visiting our nation. We want to grow beyond the borders of our country because there is more to gain in breaking boundary barriers than closed-door policies,” he said.
The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Hon (Dr.) Peter Mutuku Mathuki, this morning held a briefing meeting with the Chairperson of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State and President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit at State House, Juba, South Sudan.
The Secretary General briefed the Chair on a number of issues critical to the progress of the Community in the calendar year 2024 and interventions on strengthening EAC inter-state relations. The deliberations focused on setting targets on deliverables under the leadership of President Salva Kiir, anchored on the need to foster a predictable and stable security environment that can catalyse the regional integration agenda.
On the ongoing expansion of the bloc, Dr. Mathuki updated President Salva Kiir on the Secretariat’s readiness to fast-track the integration of the Federal Republic of Somalia once the nation deposits the instruments of ratification with the Secretary General.
The theme of the 2023 Economic Report on Africa is “Building Africa’s Resilience to Global Economic Shocks.” The report focuses on the impact of multiple and recurring global shocks on African economies. It examines how these shocks impede Africa’s prospects of reaching the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), how to achieve inclusive economic transformation and how to build resilience.
The analytical and conceptual framework used in the report outlines a typology based on the magnitude of the shocks and on the resilience or preparedness of economies to withstand and buffer the shocks and identify pathways for sustainable recovery
Shocks of various magnitude, duration and recurrence have shaped economic performance in the last several decades. They have undermined Africa’s aspirations for sustained growth and rapid economic transformation and benefiting from demographic (youth bulge) and geographic (urbanization) trends. They have also had scarring effects that make it difficult for African economies to recover fully even after a short-lived shock such as the global financial crisis.
More important, their damage could morph into other domains such as political instability and conflict, thus undermining recovery, and the resilience to future shocks. The report also emphasizes the opportunities to implement long overdue structural and public finance reforms and to take full advantage of regional initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area to reduce Africa’s exposure to external shocks.
The only recourse that Africa has in the face of the challenges of our time is its unity and solidarity. A unity that we build with perseverance and tolerance, in a cooperative effort that transcends particularities, neutralises considerations contrary to the general interest and constantly draws inspiration from mutual understanding.
If I mentioned earlier the painful divisions on the international scene, it is to remind us that at the heart of these geopolitical storms, Africa, in addition to strengthening its unity, will have to draw conclusions for itself and chart out a way of managing its problems that integrates the challenges of the future.
This amounts to constantly reflecting on the scope of the decisions we take, by considering their prospective dimension to align them with the long term of Agenda 2063. What impact a decision taken, today, will have on the trajectory of the attainment of the general objective of our Union, namely peace, integration and development of the Continent?
Niger, Senegal, and Rwanda will be among the world’s highest growth economies in 2024, the World Bank said in its report on global economic prospects released this week.
Niger is forecast to grow at 12.5% this year driven by its oil sector which has made up for low uranium production.Its growth rate will only be surpassed by Guyana’s 38.2%, the South American country is also benefiting from an expanding oil sector. Three other African countries expected to be in the top 10 of highest growth economies are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia.
It reflects an expectation that while growth in Africa’s largest economies — Nigeria, South Africa and Angola — will drag on the rest of the region, economies that are not rich in resources will grow above the expected regional average of 3.8%. Indeed, sub Saharan Africa is expected to grow at 5% this year when Nigeria, South Africa and Angola are excluded from the analysis.
In a significant move that reinforces the economic bonds between the United States and Africa, a preliminary trade agreement has been reached to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for an additional ten years beyond its current expiration date in September 2025. Enacted in 2000, AGOA has been instrumental in allowing over 30 African nations to export goods to the U.S. market duty-free, fostering economic growth and development in these countries.
While the preliminary agreement has been reached, the extension of AGOA is not yet a done deal. The proposal must be ratified by the U.S. Congress before it can take effect. This is a significant hurdle, but given the economic benefits that AGOA has delivered, both to the U.S. and the African nations, there is optimism that the extension will be approved.
Outcomes of the 2024 India-US Trade Policy Forum Meeting (India Briefing News)
The India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) recently concluded its 14th Ministerial-level meeting in New Delhi on January 12, 2024. Co-chaired by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry for India, and Ambassador Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Forum plays a pivotal role in reinforcing the strength of bilateral trade ties between the two nations and fostering an overarching economic relationship.
At the end of the Forum, Goyal and Tai (their team referred henceforth as the ministers) released a Joint Statement. In it, the ministers highlighted the momentum witnessed in India-US bilateral trade in goods and services, expecting it to have surpassed US$200 billion in the calendar year 2023 despite global trade challenges.
Recognizing the yet untapped potential in their trade engagement, given the size of their economies, both parties expressed a shared desire to further intensify initiatives aiming to enhance and diversify bilateral trade.
Trade in processed food (UNCTAD)
Access to safe and nutritious food is essential for good health and is linked to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To understand the complex environment around the question of health, food, and nutrient intake, UNCTAD paired with WHO to undertake the study on trade in healthy food. The food supply chain, from origin to consumer, encompasses a complex journey involving harvest, farming, production, transportation, storage, processing, packaging, wholesaling, retailing, and eventual consumption. It also extends to international trade. This technical paper aims to quantify and elucidate trends in the imports and exports of whole or unprocessed foods and more processed alternatives.
Least developed countries (LDCs) have a variety of needs and equally have a variety of IPRs at their disposal to serve their domestic socio-economic and development needs, as well as their international obligations. This paper looks at how LDCs can innovate using traditional intellectual property rights (IPR) policies and then looks at how innovation is developing in the informal sector. The analysis focuses on six kinds of IPRs and provides case studies based on the experience undertaken in LDCs or in other developing countries.
Trade powers productivity. It is an engine of innovation that drives knowledge-sharing and technology upgrades, says Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum. It can encourage improved governance and institutional reform. “Slowbalization” has held back trade since the mid-2000s. After the slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must again harness trade’s capacity to support growth, employment, and sustainable development.
The alternative, trade deterioration, put our current prosperity at risk. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and others have calculated that the direct cost to global output from trade fragmentation and technological decoupling could reach 8-12% in most-affected economies. U.S.-China trade skirmishes have already led to significant trade diversion and income losses. A more uncertain environment depresses economic growth by reducing consumer confidence and spending and removing firms’ reasons to invest.
The flagship forecast launched in New York on Thursday indicates that last year’s stronger-than-expected GDP growth coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic masked short-term risks and structural vulnerabilities in the world economy.
The sombre short-term outlook is based on persistently high interest rates, further escalation of conflicts, sluggish international trade, and increasing climate disasters, which all pose significant challenges to global growth. “2024 must be the year when we break out of this quagmire. By unlocking big, bold investments we can drive sustainable development and climate action and put the global economy on a stronger growth path for all,” said UN chief António Guterres.
Global unemployment is expected to rise this year, with growing inequality and stagnant productivity also a cause for concern on the economic horizon, the UN labour agency ILO said on Wednesday. Just over five per cent of the world’s workforce is without a job, according to the International Labour Organization’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2024 report.
This is a better situation than before the pandemic, but it isn’t set to last, as an extra two million people are expected to be looking for a job over the next 12 months, the ILO said.