Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA sends first shipment under AfCFTA agreement (SAnews)

The implementation of the preferential trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has become a reality with South Africa sending its first shipment of products to other countries trading under the agreement. South Africa is the first among the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states, which consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland, to practically realise the AfCFTA Agreement.

“For South Africa, as with many other African countries, the start of preferential trade will create great opportunities for growth and development. Not only will it benefit our country’s producers, but it will also see a huge increase in traffic through our ports, our airports and our land-based border posts.

“The products made in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will flow through these ports to markets beyond our borders,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday in Durban.

“African countries trade with the rest of the world but we have limited trade among ourselves. The reason for this is clear: we are principally exporters of raw materials, selling rocks and black liquid to the world, instead of harnessing our oil and the minerals to industrialise our continent. We need to change this. “We have a unique opportunity to lift millions of people out of poverty by empowering women and young people to change the continent’s business environment. That is why, as the South African government, we are focused on implementing our Freight Logistics Roadmap to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the country’s rail lines and ports,” the President said.

Ramaphosa launches SA’s first AfCFTA trade shipments in Durban (SABC News)

South Africa: Merchandise imports and exports dropped sharply at end of 2023 (The Citizen)

Merchandise imports and exports dropped sharply at the end of 2023 thanks to high oil prices, diminished commodity export receipts and increased congestion at South Africa’s ports. The country’s cumulative merchandise trade surplus for 2023 decreased to R61.0 billion from R192.0 billion in 2022.

According to Sars, the value of merchandise imports as well as exports fell sharply at the end of 2023. The latest trade statistics show that goods imports dropped by 9.0% in December compared to November to reach R149.9 billion, while exports slumped 11.5%. In the end, South Africa had a preliminary trade surplus of R14.1 billion at the end of 2023, compared to a downwardly revised merchandise trade surplus of R20.6 billion in November.

In terms of trade partners, South Africa logged a R28.7 billion merchandise trade surplus in relation to the African continent during December, while recording a R1.2 billion trade deficit with Europe. At the same time, South Africa registered a trade shortfall of R18.5 billion with Asia.

South Africa’s Gaza stance threatens trade ties with Israel (Semafor)

Israeli companies have canceled the importation of grapes from South Africa, according to three people with direct knowledge. It is prompting fears the African nation’s businesses may face a broader boycott due to Pretoria’s stance over the conflict in Gaza. South Africa took Israel to the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this month over accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. The court subsequently ordered Israel to do all it could to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South Africa’s biggest trade union group, called on the country’s government to protect its workforce from the impact of any trade dispute with Israel. “We need to ensure no South African worker loses their job,” said its spokesman, Matthew Parks, while also calling for the international community to impose sanctions on Israel. It was important that South Africa’s trade department and other official bodies “provide support and assistance” to any company which “faces a boycott from Israel,” he told Semafor Africa.

Namibia and Botswana should ease current restrictions on SA vegetables – Agbiz (IOL)

Agricultural Business Chamber’s (Agbiz) chief economist, Wandile Sihlobo, said yesterday that South Africa should send a firm message to neighbouring Namibia and Botswana about its interest in maintaining smooth trade within the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and that these countries should ease the current restrictions on vegetables.

“If there are attempts to revive their domestic vegetable industries, such should be communicated clearly to South Africa, as an affected partner, with clear time frames of these bans. Such information would be valuable in assisting the South African industry and government to plant appropriately for export markets to other regions when the ban is in place,” Sihlobo said.

Closing South Africa’s SDGs Gap Requires Improving the Quality and Management of Infrastructure and Strategic Investments (World Bank)

Closing South Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gap will require significant infrastructure and related spending, informed by the right objectives and relevant metrics, according to a joint study by the World Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), launched today. The report, entitled: Going Beyond the Infrastructure Funding Gap - A South African Perspective, quantifies the spending needed in education, transport, and water and sanitation to achieve the related SDGs.

According to the study, South Africa needs to spend between R4.8 trillion and R6.2 trillion ($254 billion to $329 billion) on transport, water and sanitation, basic education, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) between the years 2022 and 2030, to close the SDGs gap in these sectors. The figures for the infrastructure spending are equivalent to spending between 8.7% and 11.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year on average. The study asserts that the solution is not always to spend more, but to spend better on the right objectives, with the use of relevant metrics.

Concern as South Africa hits lowest corruption perception index score ever (IOL)

South Africa is losing the fight against corruption as it continues to slide downward among countries perceived to have serious challenges with public sector corruption, the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index report shows. The report, which relies on the expert opinion of business people, experts, think tanks, risk companies, and global data sets, shows SA scored 41 out of 100, the lowest score since Corruption Watch started tracking the country’s public sector corruption index 12 years ago. The CPI was released on Tuesday by Transparency International, a global anti-corruption movement, in which South Africa scored 41, a two point drop from last year’s score of 43, which showed the country was moving in the wrong direction.

Egypt’s Accession to BRICS Group Leads to Activation of Preferential Trade Agreement with South Africa (asumetech)

Egyptian media reported that Egypt had reaped the first fruits of joining the BRICS group after South Africa announced the activation of preferential trade within the free trade agreement with Egypt. This matter adds a new chapter of economic cooperation and opens the door to enhancing the volume of trade between Egypt and South Africa, which witnesses great opportunities for cooperation, especially with Egypt’s accession to the BRICS countries this year.

Referring to the official figures, data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics monitored the development of the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and South Africa, reaching about 217.1 million dollars by the end of 2021, compared to 158.5 million dollars during the year 2020, an increase of 58.6 million dollars, with an increase rate of 37%. Distributed among Egyptian exports to South Africa worth $128.9 million during the year 2021 compared to $75.2 million during the year 2020, an increase amounting to $53.7 million, an increase of 71.5%, while the value of Egyptian imports from South Africa recorded about $88.2 million during the year 2021 compared to $83.3 million during the year 2020, an increase of about $4.9 million, an increase of 5.8%.

Goods, services imports fall (Tanzania Daily News)

The imports of goods and services decreased to 16,222.2 million US dollars in the year ending last November compared with 16,315.3 million US dollars in the corresponding period a year before ensuing from a fall in goods import bill largely white petroleum products.

The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review for December last year shows that imports of machinery, industrial transport equipment motor cars and food and beverages for industrial use increased, while that of refined white petroleum products fell by 14.5 per cent to 2,799.7 million US dollars on account of price effect.

Services payments slightly increased to 2,396.7 million US dollars from 2,385.4 million US dollars in the year to November 2022, due to a rise in transportation and travel services.

Safaricom triples M-Pesa users in Ethiopia to 3.1m (Business Daily)

The number of M-Pesa users enrolled by Safaricom’s Ethiopia unit has nearly tripled in four months to 3.1 million with Sh18.5 billion worth of transactions, offering hope for success in the populous country. The latest quarterly update showed that Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia closed in December 2023 with 3.1 million M-Pesa users. Safaricom’s Ethiopia subsidiary launched the mobile money service on August 15 last year.

“We are very pleased with the optimism that M-Pesa has evoked in the youthful population of Ethiopia, and we look forward with great excitement to the transformation M-Pesa will bring to financial inclusion in Ethiopia,” said Safaricom chief executive Peter Ndegwa.

At 3.1 million, Safaricom’s subsidiary in Ethiopia has nearly tripled its mobile money customer base given that it had 1.2 million users at the end of September. The increased usage has also seen the value of transactions rise over six times to Sh18.5 billion from Sh3 billion at the close of September.

Tax exemptions, incentives rob Kenya of growth in revenues (The East African)

According to an analysis of the tax policy and administrative changes in East African Community countries by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kenya’s tax-to-GDP ratio has been falling since peaking in 2014. The IMF analysis tracked tax policy and administrative changes between 1988 and 2022, revealing the bulk of changes undertaken in Kenya resulted in a reduction of taxes payable.

“While in all the EAC countries except Rwanda and Uganda, tax changes primarily consisted of base changes, in Kenya base-narrowing measures were announced more frequently than measures to strengthen administrative practices. Kenya was also the only country in the sample where the frequency of tax policy changes introducing a reduction in taxpayers’ liabilities exceeded 60 percent of total tax policy changes,” the IMF said.

“Kenya needs to strengthen tax collection consistent with the authorities’ objectives of sustained increase in tax revenues to meet their development agenda. In this regard, a key milestone is the timely adoption of Kenya’s first MTRS which aims to increase revenues by five percentage points of GDP by FY2026/27 through measures that broaden the tax base and strengthen tax compliance,” the IMF added.

AfDB wants Kenya, Tanzania electricity deals finalised (The East African)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) wants Kenya and Tanzania to speed up the signing of three key agreements to pave the way for the exchange of excess electricity between the two countries via a Ksh43 billion ($309.26 million) line. The three are a wheeling agreement between Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited, a power exchange deal between Kenya Power and Tanesco and a tripartite deal for the maintenance of the interconnected grid.

AfDB— a major financier of the project— in its latest review said that the three deals are key to rolling out the regional power trade meant to boost electricity supply and cut reliance on the dirty and costly thermal power in the two countries.

The MoU Signed with Somaliland Depicts Ethiopia’s Continued Commitment for Regional Stability, Economic Integration: Ambassadors (ENA)

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland has far-reaching benefits for the region beyond the signatories and manifests Ethiopia’s continued commitment towards regional economic integration, Ethiopian Ambassadors to Canada, US, and China said.

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Canada, Fitsum Arega said that “the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland is a continuation of efforts that we had started decades back to integrate with the region and mutually benefit. So, the MoU is historic and Ethiopia’s economy is growing and we would like to have more access sea ports.” Through bilateral and multilateral discussions, Ethiopia will pursue for what has already started, he emphasized.

“Ethiopia will continue to have more sea ports access like Djibouti port, Berbera port and even Lamu port in Kenya and other ports within the Red Sea. Ethiopia will continue to network through infrastructure as well as ports. So, it is for the benefit of the entire region to grow together,” Ambassador Fitsum underscored.

Ama Dokua advocates women empowerment at AfCFTA Durban meeting (Asaase Radio)

Ghana’s deputy minister of trade and industry Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei has stressed the significance of adopting protocols related to women and youth in trade, as well as digital trade, in the effort to generate employment opportunities in Africa. Speaking at the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers Meeting in Durban, South Africa, Asiamah-Adjei said, “Ghana believes that these protocols, when adopted, will empower women and youth entrepreneurs, create skillful and meaningful job opportunities, and enhance overall economic goals and development across Africa.”

Uganda Women can lead in the realisation of intra-Africa trade (UNDP)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a Women Leaders’ Dialogue to explore how women and women-led enterprises can best utilize opportunities within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and how women’s leadership can help to address development challenges in sectors of strategic interest to Uganda. UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa Strategy Advisor Dr. Joy Kategekwa led a discussion on the AfCFTA, encouraging reflections on the role of women in trade and strategies to elevate women’s participation and integration within the One African Market.

EAC lawmakers meet to resolve Kenya, Tanzania frequent trade disputes (People Daily)

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have set up camp at the Namanga One-Stop-Border Point (OSBP) in a concerted effort to address trade disputes between Kenya and Tanzania. The MPs are engaging with traders, cross-border business community and government officials to assess the current and emerging challenges affecting business at this bustling border point.

Kanini Kega, who represents Kenya at the EALA and is leading the 11-member special committee, emphasised their commitment to promote seamless trade, fostering unity among member states, and improving communication on new policies to prevent diplomatic conflicts.

“We have witnessed numerous diplomatic disputes at this border point. These conflicts have a detrimental impact on businesses, resulting in multimillion-dollar losses, especially for perishable goods,” Kega said. Agricultural produce, the EALA member said, is particularly affected due to its short shelf life. We are seeking to engage all relevant government stakeholders to ensure smooth trade moving forward. However, Kenyan traders have raised concerns about the challenges imposed by Tanzanian authorities, affecting business at the border point.

Equatorial Guinea and Ghana Accede to the Establishment Agreement for Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) (Afreximbank)

The Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), the development impact-focused subsidiary of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has announced that the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Ghana have recently signed the FEDA Establishment Agreement. This important milestone is the result of several months of cooperation between Afreximbank, FEDA and government officials in Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

As Afreximbank member states, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana have taken another step towards closer collaborations with FEDA by signing the FEDA Establishment Agreement. This milestone marks the countries’ support for Afreximbank’s efforts to extend FEDA’s impact investing objectives across the continent. New memberships are crucial to broaden the scope of FEDA’s interventions and its mission of delivering long-term capital to African economies with a focus on industrialization, intra-African trade and value-added exports.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) withdrawal the latest chapter in relationship once seen as positive (ZAWYA)

The decision by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) opens a new chapter in a relationship that their citizens have generally seen in a favourable light in the past.

Afrobarometer surveys conducted in 2019/2021 showed that citizens in the three countries held largely favourable views of ECOWAS, rating its economic and political influence more positively than that of the African Union. The perceived positive influence of ECOWAS was equally widespread across all age groups and rural/urban locations, and increased with citizens’ level of education and economic affluence. But the three West African nations announced this week that they were withdrawing from the regional economic community, complaining of a lack of support and “inhumane” sanctions in the wake of the countries’ military coups.

The surveys were conducted in 2019/2021, before mounting tensions in the region in the wake of recent coups d’état and the imposition of sanctions by ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). Afrobarometer’s 2022 survey in Mali found that while most citizens did not see themselves as the primary beneficiaries of ECOWAS/UEMOA sanctions, only a minority expected the sanctions to lead to the country’s withdrawal from ECOWAS.

Well-Developed Africa Mutually Beneficial To Europe, Rest Of The World (The Presidency, Republic of Ghana)

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has called on world leaders to recognize that the increasing levels of inter-dependency amongst the comity of nations translates into shared destinies, whether good or bad, across the globe.

Speaking at the annual Africa Day event, on Tuesday, 30th January, 2024, Vienna, Austria, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering of global leaders that, he believes a well-developed and prosperous Africa would be good, not just for us Africa, but also for you, here in Austria and Europe.”

Citing antecedents of equitable balance of wealth, he alluded to the lessons of history that has shown that “a rich trading partner, operating within a fair, trading system, brings prosperity to both sides, far more than the exploitation of a poor partner,” he said.

Emphasising on the reasons for a fair and mutually beneficial trading system, he said, “the continent is in possession of thirty percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources, and two-thirds of the earth’s arable land.” However, he bemoaned the age-long practice where Africa has been largely dependent on the production and export of raw materials, without any meaningful value-addition processes.

More Than A Goldmine: Trade Partners Must Prioritise Sustainability In The Global Race For Africa’s Rare Earth Metals (The Organization for World Peace)

With developed global economies pushing for ever more digitisation, technological innovation and energy sustainability, there is one commodity for which demand has increased exponentially: rare earth metals (REMs). These raw materials are an indispensable component in the production of high-tech and low-carbon products that are essential to the growth that the US, UK and EU countries in particular are aiming for.

But with the major producer and refiner of REMs, China, witnessing a rise in tensions and rivalry with its western buyers over the last few years, the global technology supply chain appears worryingly precarious. The answer, according to US and European leaders, seems to be a swivel to the global south and with Africa’s emerging rare earth metals market.

MTN reiterates its position to be a ‘force for good’ for Africa’s growth and prosperity (MTN)

MTN has reiterated its commitment to Africa’s progress at the Africa Prosperity Dialogues, recently held at Peduase, in Accra, Ghana. The program, organised by the Africa Prosperity Network, was designed to drive Africa’s growth through high-level dialogues between government and business leaders from Africa and beyond to deliberate and exchange ideas on key issues and solutions for building and harnessing Africa’s growth.

Ebenezer Asante, MTN Group Senior Vice President, Markets, encouraged industry players as well as government officials from across Africa to support cross-border trade by putting an end to what he called the “tyranny of sovereignty”. He applauded the government of Ghana’s decision to facilitate visa-free travel for Africans and bemoaned the challenges Africans face in making cross-border payments and transactions.

He said, “The tyranny of sovereignty must end to allow proper trade and ease of doing business across West Africa. Technology continues to transform the way we trade, and we must leverage the immense opportunities it presents to trade within our borders. The tyranny of sovereignty is an impediment to progress because with our borders closed to each other, we cannot foster seamless trade. African countries must open their borders to each other to allow intercontinental trade.”

African Development Bank Country Gender Profiles reveal progress in addressing gender discrimination in Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Seychelles (AfDB)

African Development Bank reports on Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Seychelles show advances in addressing gender discrimination – despite uneven rates of progress – and provide new data to help develop policies to accelerate gender equality. The African Development Bank Group’s Country Gender Profiles assess the state of gender equality in each country and provide concrete recommendations on actions.

“We can only improve what we know, and what we know is what we measure. The data we see through country gender profiles are a critical development tool to improve the design, implementation, and tracking of policy and actions based on evidence,” said Basil Jones, the Bank’s Lead Gender Program and Policy Coordinator.

Despite progress, the profiles show that poverty disproportionately affects women. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the impact of global crises, particularly on food security, have worsened gender inequalities - especially gender-based violence.

Nairobi to host 2nd Canada-Africa Business Conference (The Exchange Africa)

Nairobi will host the second Canada-Africa Business Conference slated for February 2024, as the North American country looks to increase its grip on regional investments. The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business announced that the annual gathering slated for the 19th to 20th of February 2024 in Nairobi, will be inaugurated by Kenyan President William Ruto and will seek to foster bilateral trade relations and investment opportunities between Africa and Canada.

The conference will serve as a platform for government officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs from both nations to engage in constructive dialogue, explore potential collaborations, and showcase innovations across various sectors. Program Chair for the event Deepak Dave said that the Canada-Africa Business Conference signifies an opportunity for stakeholders to explore avenues for investment, further solidifying the bonds between Canada and Africa.

Italy announces $6 billion plan to strengthen partnership with Africa at Italy-Africa Summit (AfDB)

The government of Italy unveiled a near US$6 billion plan to support African development at a one-day Italy-Africa summit in Rome on Monday. African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina joined 25 African leaders and European Union officials at the summit. The summit—which took place as Italy assumes the Presidency of the G7 this month, and a few weeks ahead of the 37th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa—was one at which Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni called for a new Italian partnership with Africa.

The Italian leader announced various initiatives designed to bolster economic links and create an energy hub for Europe while curbing African emigration to Europe. They included an initial pledge of €5.5 billion (US$5.95 billion) including guarantees. African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki welcomed the pledged support, while noting that prior consultation with the African continent would have been desirable, particularly when the Mattei Plan was being drafted. He said the plan, nonetheless, aligns with Africa’s priorities.

Op/ed: Europe And Africa Forging A New Relationship (Eurasia Review)

Roadmap for trade single windows: UNCTAD helps countries cut red tape, costs and emissions (UNCTAD)

Jamaica’s trade facilitation and paperless trade rating jumped from 50.5% in 2017 to 79.6% in 2023, after rolling out a national electronic single window with UNCTAD’s support. The strategic move in 2020 revolutionized the Caribbean island nation’s trade processes by simplifying, standardizing, automating and coordinating the exchange of regulatory information and documents between traders and government agencies.

The electronic single window trimmed the approval time for import and export permits from three days to just 24 hours, significantly cutting the costs related to storage and demurrage – when goods are not removed from the port or terminal within the allotted free time. It also improved the ease of doing business, helping to boost Jamaica’s imports by 29% and exports by 28% in 2022 compared to 2021.

“An electronic single window for trade is one of the most effective measures to enhance trade facilitation in a country,” says Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s technology and logistics director. “Its potential impact is underscored by its inclusion as an obligation in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.” The system not only simplifies and speeds up trade but also ensures the transparent and uniform application of duties and taxes, generates additional government revenue, helps to combat corruption and ensures compliance with standards for public health and safety.

Gaza: Unprecedented destruction will take tens of billions of dollars and decades to reverse (UNCTAD)

UNCTAD released on 31 January a report on the social and economic deterioration in Gaza since the beginning of the military operation after 7 October 2023. The report quantifies GDP loss, recovery timelines and the enduring effects on poverty and household expenditure, painting a daunting picture of the development challenges ahead.

Utilizing innovative satellite imagery and official data, UNCTAD estimates that Gaza’s economy had already contracted by 4.5% in the first three quarters of 2023. However, the military operation greatly accelerated this decline, resulting in a 24% contraction of GDP and a 26.1% drop in GDP per capita for the entire year. If the current military operation were to end immediately with reconstruction starting right away and the 2007-2022 growth trends were to persist with an average growth rate of 0.4%, it would take Gaza until 2092 just to restore the GDP levels of 2022, with GDP per capita and socioeconomic conditions continuously declining. However, even with the most optimistic scenario that GDP could grow at 10% annually, it would still take Gaza’s GDP per capita until 2035 to return to its pre-blockade level of 2006.

The recovery of Gaza’s economy from the current military operation will demand a financial commitment several times more than the $3.9 billion that resulted from the 2014 military operation in Gaza and will require a concerted international effort to restore pre-conflict socioeconomic conditions.

WTO reform among Brazil’s priorities at G20 (Agência Brasil)

During its inaugural technical meeting this week, the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group unveiled the priority issues outlined for the sector under Brazil’s rotating presidency of the G20, a forum that encompasses the world’s 19 largest economies, alongside the African Union and the European Union.

The meeting with representatives of the G20 member countries was conducted via videoconference and concluded on Tuesday morning (Jan. 30). Brazil highlighted four priorities: developing trade policies related to sustainable development in environmental and social domains; mapping sustainable development clauses in investment agreements; enhancing women’s participation in international trade by identifying their main access barriers; and reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Fish Fund Steering Committee holds inaugural meeting (WTO)

The Steering Committee of the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism held its first meeting on 31 January to get ready to provide assistance to developing members and least-developed country members (LDCs) to help them implement the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard said it is crucial that the assistance is ready to be provided once the Agreement enters into force.


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