Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Trade Statistics for February 2024 (South African Revenue Service)

South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R14.0 billion in February 2024. This surplus is attributable to exports of R161.8 billion and imports of R147.8 billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). On a year-on-year basis, export flows for February 2024 were 7.5% higher compared to the R150.6 billion recorded in February 2023, whilst import flows were 5.1% higher having increased from R140.6 billion in February 2023 to R147.8 billion in the current period.

Association expects higher export volumes across all citrus fruits (Engineering News)

As the citrus export season starts this month, the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) is confident that 37.9-million 15 kg cartons of lemons will be exported to key markets, which is an increase of 7% year-on-year. The increase in lemon and other citrus exports is testament to the resilience of South African citrus growers, producing more citrus under challenging circumstances including high inputs costs, loadshedding and deteriorating public infrastructure, the CGA states. The association also expects higher export volumes for oranges, particularly a 4% year-on-year increase in Navel orange exports to 25.6-million 15 kg cartons.

Overall, the quality of fruit for export this season looks to be excellent, despite possible smaller sizes of fruit coming from the Northern growing regions of the country owing to dry conditions, the association points out. In the 2023 export season, citrus growers packed 165.1-million 15 kg cartons for delivery to global markets, which marked an increase of 800 000 cartons compared with 2022. The CGA is positive that by working together, industry role-players can realise the targeted export of 200-million cartons a year in the next four years, and possibly 260-million cartons a year by 2032.

The association warns, however, that freight logistics group Transnet will have to ensure there are no delays in expanding private sector involvement in port logistics, as current port congestion can imperil the citrus export economy. The CGA also warns that, while export volumes are likely to increase, it does not automatically mean an increase in profitability or the viability of many citrus farms, given the steep prices of input costs across the value chain and other severe challenges that remain.

Related: Durban Container Terminal receives ten haulers before citrus season start (Engineering News)

African food sustainability needs greener production, less waste, PwC study shows (Engineering News)

Greener food production methods and the avoidance of food waste are required to future-proof Africa’s food supply and to meet the expected future demand for nutrition in a sustainable way, says professional services firm PwC in its 'The sustainable food revolution: Future-proofing the world’s food supply' report.

Africa, and the rest of the world, is facing a food crisis. Food shortages caused by supply chain disruptions emanating from various events across the world have amplified the long-term challenges to the sustainability of global food production, including population growth, climate change, and increased reliance on resource-intensive farming, the report shows.

Sustainability concerns are increasingly being understood and recognised across the continent, with food producers and their partners beginning to look at new sustainable agricultural practices. There is also a shift, with regulators beginning to shape new requirements, alongside consumers calling for change, PwC Africa says.

BAT South Africa scales down delivery supply chain as illicit trade hits record highs (Bizcommunity)

BAT South Africa (Batsa) has scaled-down its direct retail product distribution and delivery operations in the country, as the company continues to see volume declines as a result of heightened illicit trade. Until now, Batsa has had substantial contracts in place with third-party logistics and security companies to safely deliver its products directly to retail stores. However, these contracts have now been discontinued, with an estimated 500 jobs in the security and logistics part of the Company’s value chain being impacted.

This move significantly reduces Batsa’s need for logistics and security services from its external suppliers, impacting the broader value chain attached to the business. Further, the changes have impacted approximately 20 permanent Batsa employees.

“The decision to stop direct deliveries to lower-volume retailers is an unfortunate consequence of the increasing illicit trade in tobacco products, which has continued since the Covid-19 tobacco ban. Our internal estimates now show that illicit trade now accounts for more than 70% of all cigarettes consumed in the country – leaving the legal market with less than a 30% market share,” said Johnny Moloto, area head of corporate and regulatory affairs for BAT Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prioritizing Angolan Agriculture to Unlock Economic Diversification (World Bank)

Despite its vast arable land and abundant water resources, Angola still imports most of its food. In 2022, according to figures from the National Bank, Angola spent around $3 billion on food imports. In the last five years, however, the Government of Angola has prioritized the agricultural sector and has been promoting agribusiness in view of reducing its reliance on external markets for food supply.

One such initiative is the Angola Commercial Agriculture Development Project (PDAC), co-financed by the World Bank and the French Development Agency. The project aims to incentivize bank lending to agriculture by helping producers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) prepare and finance agriculture investments, providing the needed technical assistance, grants, and de-risking through partial credit guarantees. The support is helping the transition from subsistence to a more market-oriented, competitive agriculture sector in the country.

New World Bank Financing to Boost Safety and Efficiency of Tanzania’s Key Railway Line (World Bank)

A vital railway segment linking Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, to Isaka is set for major improvements benefitting nearly 900,000 people thanks to newly approved financing from the International Development Association* (IDA).

The $200 million financing for the second phase of the Tanzania Intermodal and Rail Development Project (TIRP-2) will improve safety, climate resilience, and operational efficiency along this railway segment. Apart from strengthening the infrastructure and supporting transport studies, the project is focused on strengthening the climate resilience of the Kilosa-Gulwe-Igandu section, providing operational and institutional support, and supporting emergency response measures.

“While the country’s transportation network is extensive, there are persistent bottlenecks in terms of maintenance and capacity that are limiting its full use,” said Nathan Belete, World Bank Country Director. “This investment will directly address the bottlenecks in the rail network to enhance efficiency, capacity, and competitiveness so as to maximize Tanzania’s unique position to facilitate regional connectivity.”

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2023 Article IV Consultation with Algeria

The Algerian economy was still emerging from the Covid pandemic when spillovers from Russia’s war in Ukraine and recurrent droughts pushed up inflation, while high international hydrocarbon prices boosted government revenue and exports.

The Algerian economy is estimated to have grown by 4.2 percent in 2023, a robust performance owing to a rebound in hydrocarbon production and strong performance in the industry, construction, and service sectors. The external position remained solid with a current account surplus for the second year in a row. However, inflation pressures persisted (primarily due to high food prices) and monetary policy remained accommodative.

Medium-term economic prospects hinge on efforts to diversify the economy and the ability to attract private investment, and are subject to several risks. Risks on the downside include stubborn inflation, volatility in international hydrocarbon prices, fiscal risks from contingent liabilities, large budgetary financial needs, and rising public debt. Extreme climate events would affect the economy and the budget while a disorderly energy transition is a longer-term risk. On the upside, sustained, bold, and deep structural reforms and resolute efforts to diversify the economy, improve the business climate, attract investment, and tap new export markets could spur growth and job creation further.

Ghana Ports to rollout Maritime Single Window Initiative (Norvanreports)

Plans are far advanced for the rollout of the maritime single window program intended to facilitate vessel clearance at Ghana’s ports. The digital platform will incorporate the activities of shipping lines and regulatory agencies and enable them share information so far as the clearance of vessels at the port is concerned.

This is in line with the International Maritime Organisation’s Annex to the Facilitation (FAL) Convention which makes the single window for data exchange mandatory in ports around the world. The Corporate IT Manager at GPHA, Francis Donkor highlighted the service offerings of this platform, distinct from the Integrated Customs Management System used for cargo clearance.

“Maritime single window really is about the vessel clearance, it’s not focusing on cargo which the other single window actually focuses on, this is about vessel. Before the vessel comes to our waters, it ought to be cleared. Before the vessel even docks at our ports, it ought to be cleared. Before we even start working on the vessel, that vessel have to be cleared by certain authorities. So we are building a platform that will enable all the stakeholders be it the shipping agents, the regulatory authorities, to share information and share files. That really is going to facilitate the maritime trade in Ghana.”

Nigeria to almost triple energy prices, keep subsidy for poor (Norvanreports)

Nigeria plans to almost triple energy prices within weeks, people in the presidency with knowledge of the matter said, in a bid to attract new investment and slash about $2.3 billion spent to cap tariffs.

Nigeria’s economy has been hobbled by the lack of power supply while an increasing subsidy burden has weighed on government finances, diverting capital from building roads and spending on health care. With the latest move, President Bola Tinubu wants to cut down on price distortions, which haven’t ended despite breaking the state-owned power firm into 11 distribution companies and six generation firms and selling them to investors.

Afreximbank to offer Supply Chain Finance in Nigeria in partnership with Sterling Bank (Afreximbank)

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has partnered with Sterling Bank to introduce the innovative supply chain finance product ‘Payables Finance’, in Nigeria. This product, branded as ‘Afreximbank Tradelink,’ is one of Afreximbank’s digital offerings under the umbrella of the Africa Trade Gateway (ATG). ATG provides African corporates and commercial banks with relevant digital tools to access market information, connect with buyers and sellers across the continent for efficient marketing and procurement, facilitate Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, and promote trade payments between African countries in local currencies.

Payables Finance enables suppliers to access financing from the banking system by obtaining early payment for invoices which have been approved for payment by their corporate buyers. The buyers continue to receive trade credit from the suppliers, and the suppliers finance their working capital through the early payment received, enabling them to grow their business.

Payables Finance is the fastest growing trade finance product globally and there is an enormous opportunity for African businesses to benefit from it.

Other regional news: EU stepping-up trade, investments in West Africa (Ghana Business News)

Road map for new EAC financing mechanism beckons (The Citizen)

A road map for a new financing mechanism for the East African Community (EAC) budget is finally in sight. Recommendations made by experts will be discussed at a ministerial meeting next month before the matter is escalated to higher authorities. “A modality for implementation has been agreed upon at a recent meeting held in Dar es Salaam,” said Deng Alor Kuol, the EAC Council of Ministers chairperson.

A hybrid model of financing the EAC budget was recommended by the ministers of Finance way back in 2021 following directives from the Heads of State. Under the model, 65 percent of the budget is to be contributed equally by all the partner states; they are eight now. Another 35 percent of the total budget is to be assessed based on partner states’ average nominal GDP per capita for the previous five years.

How EAC can boost exports to rest of Africa (The Citizen)

The East African Community (EAC) bloc has been urged to aggressively invest in import substitution industries (ISIs) to promote exports. This will give the region, which trades more with the rest of the world than Africa, an edge in intra-African trade. Increased exports through local manufacturing would additionally reduce existing trade gaps from soaring imports.

These are among the recommendations made by a just concluded study which examined trade implications for the bloc under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The study by the East African Business Council (EABC), titled Study on Opportunities and Threats of the African Continental Free Trade Area to the East Africa Community, urged the EAC member countries to complement ISIs by embracing various AfCFTA instruments.

Those already operational include Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) but which is yet to be accessible to some partner states. Intensive investment in the EAC manufacturing sector would also enable the region to promote value addition and product diversification

The study revealed untapped trade potential between the EAC countries which, it says, needs to be leveraged following AfCFTA tariff liberalisation. It was found out that the EAC partner states import more from the rest of Africa than they export, creating a trade gap that presents an opportunity that needs to be addressed. “The business community in EA should focus their production on goods that EAC and the rest of Africa countries source from the rest of the world,” the report said.

On average, 80 percent of EAC countries exports went to the rest of the world and consisted of mainly primary products. On the other hand, 81 percent of their (EAC states) imports came from the rest of the world and largely consisted of secondary products. The report said only 20 percent of EAC countries’ exports and 19 percent of imports came from the rest of Africa and were mainly primary products.

Related: Lobby: Kenya could miss out on continental trade deal (The Standard)

Regional Optical Fibre Regulatory Policy and Framework Validated (COMESA)

Close to 50 experts in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector from Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean region have validated the draft Policy and Regulatory frameworks for fibre infrastructures. These frameworks will help enhance digital development in the region.

To promote efficient and cost-effective deployments and use of optical fibre cable infrastructure and services, the European Union funded Programme on Enhancement of Governance and Enabling Environment in the ICT sector (EGEE-ICT), supported several activities of this cause.

The first activity was a study on optical fibre cable infrastructure, which identified missing links, capital and operational costs associated with fibre networks, and recommended appropriate policy and regulatory interventions to enable efficient and cost-effective utilization and deployment of fibre networks.

The policy and regulatory frameworks will guide the development of national frameworks at a regional and national level and support an enabling environment to accelerate the rollout of fibre-based broadband networks and penetration and use of fibre-based broadband services through effective infrastructure sharing in the EA-SA-IO region.

African countries to dominate the world’s top 10 growing economies, ECA report (UNECA)

African countries are predicted to dominate the world’s top 10 highest growing economies in 2024, according to a report on Recent Economic and Social Developments in Africa by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The most notable growth drivers in Africa in 2024 will be Niger, Senegal, Ivory Coast, DRC and Rwanda.

Adam Elhiraika, Director, Macroeconomics and Governance Division at ECA said Africa was the fastest growing region after East and South Asia in the developing world in 2023, and Africa will continue this trend in 2024 and 2025. The report says that Niger and Senegal are expected to experience significant economic growth due to the increase in hydrocarbon production and exports. The report shows that the continent is expected to grow from 2.8% in 2023 to 3.5% in 2024 and reaching 4.1% in 2025, mainly underpinned by net exports, private consumption and gross fixed investment.

In 2023, the report says, the global economy showed resilience with declining energy and food prices, increased consumption in China, and improved US economic growth. Still, the outlook remains uncertain, with high debt, rising borrowing costs, weak global trade, and mounting geopolitical risks, constraining progress towards the SDGs and Agenda 2063 targets.

Experts cautiously optimistic amid positive forecasts – Dr. Mbiah on maritime trade in 2024 (Norvanreports)

Citing these predictions from UNCTAD, Drewry, Clarksons, Clyde and Co, Maritime Law Consultant and Legal Practitioner Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah has attributed the expected growth largely to demand and supply dynamics around the world favouring increased trade, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is happening now affects global trade so even though the United States of America and Europe have put in place a mechanism to ensure that vessels are shepherded along key routes, big companies like CMA- CGM, Maersk line have taken a decision that they will go around the Cape of Good Hope.

ECOSOCC organizes continental dialogue on the upcoming Summit of the Future (African Union)

One of the much-awaited global events for this year is undoubtedly the Summit of the Future (SOTF) scheduled in September 2024. SOTF is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments including to the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Charter, and move towards a reinvigorated multilateral system that is better positioned to positively impact people’s lives. UN member states will be asked to endorse a ‘Pact for the Future,’ a blueprint for international cooperation in the twenty-first century.

The African Union’s Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) has undertaken a number of civil society consultations to provide feedback and inputs on the ‘Pact of the Future’ for the Continental Dialogue on the Summit of the Future which took place on 28th March 2024. Dr. June Soomer, Chair Designate of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, said: "The summit of the future must look to the past. Let's create financial sustainability within the continent. We must also have more global financing to deal with climate changes. We should marry Agenda 2063 with the African Financial System but let us not forget the 6th region (diaspora) in this drive towards building financial resilience and climate justice.”

Expert says up-skilling is critical in trade finance success (Businessday Nigeria)

Seyi Ebenezer, a finance and banking professional with extensive experience in trade finance, has stressed that upskilling is a paramount criterion for success in the industry. He made this known at a media briefing recently stating that the trade finance industry requires constant upskilling to attain desired progress.

Ebenezer emphasised that continuous learning and skill development are essential for staying competitive and adapting to the changing demands of trade finance. “In trade finance, where regulations, technologies, and market trends are constantly evolving, upskilling is not just beneficial but imperative for professionals aiming to excel in their careers,” he stated. According to him, trade finance encompasses a broad range of financial services and products used by companies to facilitate international trade and commerce.

China remains Africa’s largest trading partner – envoy (New Vision)

China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade exceeding two trillion United States dollars in this period, the Chinese ambassador to Uganda has said. According to Zhang Lizhong, the Chinese Government has participated in large-scale infrastructure projects, including railroads, highways, ports, and electrical infrastructure, continuously benefitting Africans. In addition to financial support, according to Lizhong, China has dispatched about 9,000 medical personnel and provided more than 100,000 training opportunities to African countries.

He said that the President of China, Xi Jinping made three proposals at the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue held in South Africa last August. They include the initiative to support Africa’s industrialization, agricultural modernization, and cooperation on talent development, to advance modernization and create a great future for African countries including Uganda. The three proposals, he explained, have drawn the focus of high-level China-Africa community of a shared future on bringing numerous opportunities for China-Uganda practical cooperation in the future.

What 22 Years of China-Africa Trade, Development Finance, and FDI Reveals About Renewable Energy Support for African Countries (The China-Global South Project)

A new report by the Boston University Global Development Policy Center and the African Economic Research Consortium analyzes China-Africa trade, overseas development finance, and foreign direct investment (FDI) from 2000-2022 and provides lessons for aligning China’s engagement with African countries’ energy objectives. “Given current economic challenges and future energy opportunities, China can play a role in contributing to Africa’s energy access and transition through trade, finance and foreign direct investment”, says Boston university global development policy center.

From the trade angle, Africa-China trade features expansion, trade deficits, and resource extraction. From 2000-2022, Africa’s total goods trade with China swelled from $11.67 billion to $257.67 billion, as China became many African countries’ largest trade partner. However, Africa experienced sustained trade deficits due to fluctuating commodity prices and external global shocks. About 89% of Africa’s exports to China included oil, copper, iron, and aluminum commodities, mostly hailing from Angola, South Africa, Sudan, the Democratic of the Congo, and Congo.

Chocolate price hikes bittersweet reason care about climate change (UNCTAD)

Chocolate-loving consumers around the globe are being hit by higher cocoa prices due in part to the climate crisis. Extreme weather and changing climate patterns have upended crop harvests, which are expected to fall short for the third year in a row, tightening global supplies and raising prices.

The cost of cocoa, the key ingredient for making the beloved sweets, shot up by 136% between July 2022 and February 2024, according to UNCTAD commodities price monitoring. The price per tonne on the futures market crossed $10,000 for the first time ever on 26 March. The hike has filtered through to consumers worldwide, already reeling under inflation and a generational cost-of-living crisi

Côte d’Ivoire to raise cocoa farmgate price by 50% (Norvanreports)

Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara will increase the official cocoa farmgate price to 1,500 CFA francs (US$2.47) per kg from Tuesday from the current 1,000 CFA, sources at five different export companies said. The sources, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said they were citing a decision at a government meeting on Saturday.

Cocoa prices have more than tripled over the last year as disease and adverse weather pushed the global market to a third successive deficit, but the official farmgate price that growers can charge for their beans in Ivory Coast, a top producer, has yet to reflect this.

Trade in Low Carbon Technologies: The Role of Climate and Trade Policies (IMF)

Curbing carbon emissions to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement requires the deployment of low carbon technologies (LCTs) at a global scale. This paper assesses the role of climate and trade policies in fostering LCT diffusion through trade. Leveraging a comprehensive database of climate policies and a new database identifying trade in low carbon technologies and the tariffs applied to these goods, this paper shows that the introduction of new climate policies has a positive and significant impact on LCT imports.

World Bank Group Publishes New Data, Aiming to Boost Investment in Emerging Markets (World Bank)

The World Bank Group has published sought-after proprietary statistics that reveal the credit risk profile of private and public sector investments in emerging markets. Making this data publicly available is the latest in a concerted effort to drive more private sector investment to emerging and developing economies.

Two separate reports are being provided for the first time ever. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is sharing sovereign default and recovery rate statistics dating back to 1985. This information will help credit rating agencies and private investors gain a deeper understanding of IBRD’s credit risk. 

At the same time, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing private sector default statistics broken down by internal credit rating. The report provides insights that could help private sector investors feel more confident about investing in emerging markets.

Members discuss digital and remittance services, MC13 follow-up in Services Week (WTO)

WTO members explored the cost of cross-border remittance services and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on ICT and digitally delivered services at two events on 25 and 27 March organized under the Committee on Trade in Financial Services and the Council for Trade in Services respectively. At a Council meeting on 27 March, they followed up on outcomes of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) and previous ministerial conferences and reviewed the participation of least-developed countries (LDCs) in services trade among other issues.

Brazil Should Use G20 Momentum to Join the OECD (Council on Foreign Relations)

Brazil’s presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) presents a unique opportunity for the United States to support Brazil in its ambition to be a powerful bridge between the developed world and the developing countries often referred to as the Global South.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s (Lula) has had a longstanding objective to give the Global South a larger voice in decision-making in multilateral institutions. He made this objective one of three pillars of this year’s G20 presidency, together with social inclusion and the fight against hunger and poverty, and energy transition.

BRICS Countries Preparing Major Announcements At 2024 Summit (Watcher Guru)

BRICS Countries Russia and Brazil are reportedly preparing major announcements for the upcoming BRICS Summit in October. Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Brazilian counterpart, Mauro Vieira, held discussions to prepare for the upcoming BRICS and G20 summits.

The BRICS summit is scheduled for October 2024 in Kazan, Russia. The summit will bring together founding nations Brazil; Russia; India; China; and South Africa, as well as newly inducted nations. Several interested countries are also expected to receive invites to the annual summit, where multiple topics will be on the menu.

As the summit comes closer, Russia and Brazil appear to be strengthening their ties and relationship. The BRICS countries are expected to address global challenges to the alliance at the summit. These include the importance of de-dollarization, expansion, and the development of a new currency.

More BRICS news:

BRICS: China Unveils Blockchain Project to End US Dollar in Trade (Watcher Guru)

China’s Jiangsu province’s trade volume with BRICS countries surges to record high in new year (TV BRICS)

Is brics offering an alternative model for global governance (East Asia Forum)

BRICS’ new step to end US dollar dominance (PressTV)

Global trade news

Experts cautiously optimistic amid positive forecasts – Dr. Mbiah on maritime trade in 2024 (Norvanreports)

The great trade collapse of 2020 and the amplification role of global value chains (European Central Bank)

Charting a Course for Sustainable Global Trade: UNCTAD’s Inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum (Global Trade Magazine)

Replacement of human artists by AI systems in creative industries (UNCTAD)

Europe finalises rules for more recycling, less waste exports (EURACTIV)

EU says plan to ensure critical raw materials supply is not aimed at China (EURACTIV)


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