Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa: Trade statistics for January 2024 (South African Revenue Service)

Today, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) releases trade statistics for January 2024, recording a preliminary trade balance deficit of R9.4 billion. The deficit is attributable to exports of R144.3 billion and imports of R153.7 billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). Export flows decreased in January, driven by Passenger and Goods Vehicles as well as Coal. Value of imports increased on the back of higher import flows of Original Equipment Components, Telephone Sets, and Wheat and Meslin.

The year-to-date (01 January to 31 January 2024) preliminary trade balance deficit of R9.4 billion was an improvement from the R24.4 billion trade balance deficit for the comparable period in 2023. On a year-on-year basis, export flows for January 2024 were 4.5% higher compared to the R138.0 billion recorded in January 2023, whilst import flows were 5.4% lower having decreased from R162.4 billion in January 2023 to R153.7 billion in the current period.

Speech by Deputy Minister Alvin Botes on the Second Free State Investment Forum, 27 February 2024 (DIRCO)

South Africa executes its foreign policy within the rubric of four concentric circles of Pan-Africanism, Global Solidarity, Deepening Cooperation with the Industrialised North and Transformation of Global governance institutions to deepen multilateralism. We are a substantive Pan Africanist state and we have championed the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU that met on 17 and 18 February 2024, in Addis Ababa congratulated South Africa for launching the first shipment under the AfCFTA regime on 31 January 2024. The first shipment went to Ghana and Kenya. South Africa joins other 8 countries that have started trading under the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) of the AfCFTA.

We should further welcome the Tariff Offer made by SACU countries comprising South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia and Botswana on 11 February 2023. This is a milestone development in the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, paving the way for South Africa and its neighbours to reduce tariffs by up to 90%, thereby facilitating the implementation of the AfCFTA.

Rubber actors defend ban on unprocessed rubber export (The New Dawn Liberia)

The Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL) says the Government of Liberia is in no error in banning the export of unprocessed rubber. The group which is a major rubber sector actor has unanimously declared its support of the ban, adding that exporting unprocessed rubber out of Liberia denies the government of generating needful taxes and takes jobs away from local employees.

Liberia currently has at least four companies that are engaged in exporting processed rubber. They include Jeety Rubber Factory, Firestone Rubber Plantation, Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), and the Lee Group. These companies employed thousands of Liberians at their factories and can only maintain their workforce and meet their production targets if the ban on unprocessed rubber remained in place.

The Gambia upgrades customs operations and boosts revenue from trade (UNCTAD)

The Gambia, mainland Africa’s smallest country, saw a 23% increase in customs revenue in 2023, one year after rolling out the latest version of UNCTAD’s Automated System for Customs Data software (ASYCUDAWorld). The Gambia Revenue Authority reported record monthly revenue collections in March 2023, reaching 1.5 billion Gambian Dalasi (approximately $22.1 million, using the current exchange rate), a figure that was exceeded in July with D1.6 billion (about $23.6 million). By the year’s end, customs revenue hit D15.6 billion (about $230 million), surpassing the government’s target for 2023 by 4%.

Announcing the results, Gambia Revenue Authority Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe, highlighted the impact of reforms and strategies to improve efficiency and transparency and optimize revenue collection, saying UNCTAD’s ASYCUDAWorld system’s contribution was “immense”. “The immediate impact of the joint effort between UNCTAD and the Gambia Revenue Authority in financial terms is impressive,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.

The Arab Republic of Egypt Accedes to the Establishment Agreement for Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) (Afreximbank)

The Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), a subsidiary of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) dedicated to fostering development impact, is pleased to announce the Arab Republic of Egypt’s accession to its Establishment Agreement. With Egypt’s longstanding position as a founding shareholder and the host country of Afreximbank’s headquarters, this recent development underscores Egypt’s commitment to supporting Afreximbank and FEDA’s mission of catalyzing intra-African trade and export development.

The inclusion of Egypt in FEDA’s membership base significantly expands the reach of FEDA’s interventions with its primary objectives of providing sustainable capital to African economies. FEDA’s intervention places great emphasis on industrialization, intra-African trade, and the development of value-added exports.

SADC Business Council convenes Industrialisation Forum to discuss industrial priorities and investment opportunities in the region (SADC)

The SADC Business Council (SADC BC) held the First Southern African Industrialisation Forum from 26th to 27th February 2024 at the l in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration Ms Angele Makombo N’Tumba delivered the opening remarks. She said the objectives of the forum are well aligned to the SADC regional industrialisation and development agenda, encapsulated in the SADC Vision 2050 and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030), which are the strategic documents for SADC regional integration and development.

Mr. Ousmane Fall, Director of Non-Sovereign Operations and Private Sector at the African Development Bank, reiterated the Bank’s commitment to scale up its support to the regional industrialisation agenda and assist Member States in recovering from the recent economic shocks as they strengthen their industrial development. He reckoned that the Bank’s regional integration strategy for Southern Africa identifies two mutually reinforcing priority areas: infrastructure connectivity and market integration and industrialisation.

Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali: Only goods unloaded at the port of Lomé will benefit from the suspension of the statistical levy (Togo First)

Only goods that come to the Port of Lomé by sea and declared as transit bound for Burkina Faso, Mali, or Niger will benefit from the suspension of the statistical levy. The Togolese Revenue Office (OTR) disclosed the news on February 19, 2024. This levy, applied to imports and exports, finances the country’s statistical activities, including data collection, processing, and dissemination of economic and trade information. The statistical levy for Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger was initially set at 2% and then reduced to 1% under the ECOWAS Common External Tariff regime.

The new announcement aims to deter economic operators who unload their goods at neighboring ports and later pass them through Togo to reach the Ouaga-Niamey-Bamako corridor. This is an important move for Togo, especially since the closure of the border between Benin and Niger due to ECOWAS sanctions against the latter. Goods destined for Niger are now forced to pass through Ouaga, of which Lomé is the natural maritime gateway.

ECOWAS Laments Low Trade Volume Among Member States (Arise News)

The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr. Alieu Touray has decried that the current political situations within the subregion has overshadowed the efforts of the regional bloc at addressing the needs of citizens of the community. He said this, even as he lamented the low trade volume amongst member states, which hovers in the region of 12%.

Touray also said the trade volume within the larger African continent was not also impressive as it stands under 20%.

He said with the strategies and policies in place to encourage trading and movement of goods and people within the subregion, it is disheartening that trade amongst member states is abysmally low, noting that: “At the moment, our intra community trade stands around 12%. On the whole in Africa, intra continental trade is under 20% which is extremely low.” He said: “If you look at developed countries, countries that are sufficiently integrated or regions that are sufficiently reintegrated, intra continental trade alone is around 60 to 70%. “ So we have a long way to go. Very long way to go and this is why it is important that we open our markets for our own produce, our own manufactured items.”

WTO 13th Ministerial Conference extended by one day to facilitate outcomes (WTO)

Following the consultations by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with the MC13 Chair, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, and the Minister Facilitators, delegations were informed that MC13 will be extended, with the closing session scheduled to begin at 2pm Abu Dhabi time. At the meeting of Heads of Delegation (HoDs) on 28 February, DG Okonjo-Iweala called on members to go the extra mile to find convergence on the various negotiations at the ministerial gathering and to be mindful that time is running out to conclude meaningful agreements. The 13th Ministerial Conference was initially scheduled to close today (29 February) at 8pm Abu Dhabi time.

Indian Team Boycotts Thai Representatives at WTO Talks (The Times of India)

A comment by Thailand’s ambassador to WTO Pimchanok Vonkorpon Pitfield, accusing India of using ‘subsidised’ rice procured for the public distribution system for capturing the export market, has created a diplomatic storm with govt lodging a strong protest and Indian negotiators refusing to participate in some deliberations in groups where a representative from the southeast Asian country is present.

The Thai ambassador’s comment on Tuesday during a consultation meeting was cheered by some representatives of rich nations, angering the Indian delegation here. Thailand is seen to be fronting for the US, European Union, Canada and Australia, among others, which have blocked a permanent solution to public stockholding for over a decade.

Union leader Sarwan Singh Pandher stated: “In recent years, the share of Indian rice in the global market has gone up and the recent export curbs have angered western nations. Developed countries have been trying to paint a picture that India was distorting global trade by selling subsidised foodgrain in the international market, which was not the case.”

WTO enforces new rule for simplifying services trade, India stays out (Mint)

These regulations, which apply on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) basis, aim to make authorization processes more transparent and accessible, with commitments to gender equality. However, only 72 out of the WTO’s 164 members are a party to the agreement. India and South Africa were among countries that did not sign this agreement.

The regulations are a response to the bureaucratic challenges faced by businesses in cross-border service trade, aiming to simplify procedures and promote equal opportunities for service suppliers worldwide.

“While details of the Agreement are still awaited, the new agreement looks like plurilateral agreement, where not everyone is a party. India and South Africa have not signed this Agreement. WTO, being the top multilateral trade body should rather focus on core issues of interest to all members and not of a few,” said Ajay Srivastava, the founder of Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI).

India, South Africa block China-led investment facilitation pact (The Economic Times)

India and South Africa on Wednesday blocked a China-led initiative on investment facilitation at the WTO, in a move that will make it unlikely for the proposed Investment Facilitation Development to be part of the WTO agenda and outcome. Officials said the two nations protested and filed a formal objection as China brought in the issue at a session on development. Around 52 countries made statements at the session and the proponents have sought separate deliberative sessions on the issue.

India and South Africa’s objection was on three grounds - exclusive consensus is needed to bring in any issue on the agenda, it’s debatable if the proposed pact is a trade agreement and it can’t be called an agreement since the signatories haven’t ratified. The group of 123 members wants to bring the proposal through Annex-4 of the WTO under which the proposal would be binding on only the signatory members and not on those who are opposed to it.

“The delegations presenting this statement state that no exclusive consensus exists to add the proposed Agreement as an Annex 4 Agreement. We underscore that given the lack of exclusive consensus, this is not a matter for the MC13 agenda,” India and South Africa said.

India pitches re-examination of customs duties moratorium on e-commerce (The Economic Times)

India on Thursday pitched for a re-examination of the implications of the customs duties moratorium on e-commerce for developing and least developed member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) amid attempts by the developed countries to extend the moratorium beyond March 31.

The issue came up for discussion during a session of a work programme on e-commerce at the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference, which entered its last day on Thursday. India is not in favour of extending the moratorium as it is causing tariff revenue losses of an estimated $10 billion to the developing countries every year. For India, the losses could be about $500 million every year. The moratorium can't be extended in the absence of a consensus decision. Countries can choose not to raise duties on e-commerce transmissions, said officials.

India said this emerging segment of the global economy holds the promise for economic development and prosperity for developing countries, including the least developed countries.

Why developing countries must unite to protect the WTO’s dispute settlement system (The Conversation)

Summit of the Future: Advancing African Perspectives for a Networked and Inclusive Multilateralism (International Peace Institute)

In September 2024, the UN will hold the Summit of the Future in New York, bringing together world leaders to “forge a new international consensus” on how to “deliver a better present and safeguard the future.” One of the outcomes of the summit will be a Pact for the Future covering five key areas: sustainable development and financing for development; international peace and security; science, technology and innovation, and digital cooperation; youth and future generations; and transforming global governance. While the intergovernmental negotiations on the Pact for the Future are meant to be consultative, they could include a broader cross-section of perspectives, including from the African continent.

Commonwealth, African Union renew call for reform of Global Financial System (The Commonwealth)

The Commonwealth Secretariat and the African Union have renewed their call for a reform of the global financial architecture to improve Africa’s access to international finance.

During a Presidential Dialogue in the margins of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, leaders highlighted the urgent need to rectify the existing quota system, which often favours wealthier nations, leaving Africa with disproportionately limited resources and influence. The meeting took place in Addis Ababa from 16-20, February.

Speaking from the Ethiopian capital, Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said: “The global financial architecture lacks balance and fails to consider the vulnerability of many African economies in climate adaptation. As far back as 2018, the Commonwealth said that it’s not fit for purpose. “If you look at what is happening in so many of our countries when it comes to climate change, you can see that the financial structure does not consider Africa’s vulnerability. It simply doesn’t work, and it cannot be fair.

UNCTAD Report Reveals Dual Trend in Global OFDI Policies Amid Rising Sustainability, Security Concerns (BNN Breaking)

The latest Investment Policy Monitor by UNCTAD has cast a spotlight on the evolving landscape of outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) policies worldwide. As nations grapple with balancing economic growth with sustainability and national security, the report underscores a dual trend of both facilitating and restricting OFDI.

The Monitor’s findings indicate that while there is an increasing inclination towards facilitating OFDI for sustainable development, restrictive measures are also on the rise. This reflects a global effort to harness the benefits of OFDI, such as economic diversification and access to new markets, while mitigating potential risks to national security and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Particularly, developed countries are leading the charge in integrating sustainability criteria into their OFDI promotion policies, aligning foreign investments with the SDGs. However, the engagement in promoting OFDI towards developing nations remains limited, highlighting a gap in leveraging foreign investment as a tool for international development.

G20 ministerial meeting in Rio: reaching out to the “Global South” (EEAS)

Brazil took the Presidency of the G20 last December. It is the next of a series of emerging economy Presidencies, starting with Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023, and to be followed by South Africa in 2025. The current Brazilian government wants to show that “Brazil is back” on the multilateral scene after the Bolsonaro era and enhance the role of the “Global South”. G20 meetings are always a critical moment in international relations. G20 members represent indeed more than 80% of the world’s GDP and they can play a crucial role in steering the world away from a global confrontation.

The G20 is a useful framework to exchange views, but not really a decision-making body. Nevertheless, a successful Brazilian G20 Presidency would be particularly important to show that, despite political differences, this forum can help make progress on critical global issues such as social inclusion, the green transition and the reform of the multilateral governance.

The G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro was also the first such meeting with the African Union as a permanent G20 member. This matters greatly, because in 25 years from now, one out of four people in the world will be living in Africa.

At UNEA-6, Heads of State call for greater cooperation on the environment (UN Environment)

Heads of State and Government, Ministers, senior UN officials, members of civil society and the private sector gathered today at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi for the High-Level Segment of the sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6). World leaders expressed determination to accelerate multilateral action on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

“UNEA-6 is the first intergovernmental global meeting after COP28. This places upon this Assembly a tremendous responsibility to expeditiously deliver on its agenda in full, and thereby demonstrate the power of international cooperation and effective multilateralism,” President Ruto told delegates. “This is a challenging task, which is complicated by the fact that nations of the world are all grappling with a dynamic complex of interconnected and multifaceted threats, risks, uncertainties and shocks, ranging from sluggish economic growth, conflict and wars, and geopolitical fragmentation.”

“We can push back against the triple planetary crisis if we show unity of purpose, at this Assembly and beyond. Purpose to shun fossil fuels and look to renewable energy sources. Purpose to conserve and restore the natural world and our lands, which give us life. Purpose to keep harmful chemicals, pollution and waste out of our ecosystems and yes, out of our bodies,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

See also: World must move beyond waste era and turn rubbish into resource: UN Report (UN Environment)


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