Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Patel welcomes VW’s R4 billion investment in SA (SAnews)

Volkswagen South Africa’s (VWSA) investment of R4 billion in their assembly plant in Kariega, in the Eastern Cape, has been welcomed by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel. The investment will introduce a new SUV model built on the Polo platform. The move also positions the facility as the sole manufacturer of the Polo brand globally and the new SUV model will be exported to global markets.

In the last five years, the department said government has undertaken significant work to bolster automotive production in South Africa. Patel highlighted 10 actions, which have been taken in the sixth administration to support the industry.

Private renewables procurement may mitigate boom-bust cycles curbing South Africa’s green industrialisation (Engineering News)

Published ahead of the release of the much-anticipated South African Renewable Energy Masterplan (SAREM), which will outline the country’s official approach to localising renewables value chains, GreenCape’s ‘Large-scale Renewable Energy’ report forecast that there will be about 32 GW of installed renewables capacity in South Africa by 2030.

Published as one of three sector-focused national studies released as part of its 2024 Market Intelligence Report, the non-profit organisation said the emergence of private procurement should help mitigate the boom-bust cycles associated with the market’s previous heavy reliance on public procurement.

Stakeholders advocate for enhanced mail security standards amid e-Commerce surge (Nile Post)

Amid the rapid growth of electronic communication and e-commerce, stakeholders have underscored the urgent need for improved mail security standards, cybersecurity measures, and mandatory data exchange protocols. This call to action emerged during the Sectoral Workshop on Supply Chain Security and Electronic Advanced Exchange (EAD) convened by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

Julianne Mweheire, representing the executive director of UCC, emphasised the importance of addressing vulnerabilities in the mail system. “As electronic communication continues to flourish, it’s imperative that we bolster our mail security standards to mitigate potential risks,” stated Mweheire.

Dawn M. Wikes, the programme manager for security at the Universal Postal Union, echoed similar sentiments, stressing the necessity for collaborative efforts to enhance cybersecurity across postal networks. “The evolving landscape of e-commerce demands a proactive approach towards safeguarding mail integrity and data exchange,” remarked Wikes.

State moves to promote avocado, coffee and cotton value chains (Kenya News Agency)

Machakos County has been identified as one of the counties for the promotion of avocado, coffee, and cotton value chains. Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Trade, and Industry Rebecca Miano highlighted that Machakos is among the counties that have strategized to become centres of investment promotion and facilitation in industrial and value chain development following devolution. Doing so, Miano added, made the county an ideal investment hub and destination in the country.

Miano also acknowledged that the county, in its annual development plan, prioritised food security, socio-economic empowerment, and infrastructure development as the three pillars in transforming the livelihoods of residents, which aligns with the government’s Bottom-Up Economic and Transformation Agenda (BETA).

Tanzania-Malawi Diplomatic Tensions Rise Over $30M Port Project (Business Day Africa)

Tanzania and Malawi are on the brink of a diplomatic standoff following Dodoma’s decision to commence the upgrade of Mbamba Bay Port, situated on the shores of Lake Malawi. Lilongwe accuses Tanzania of initiating the project without consultation, given the contested nature of the port between the two nations.

Malawi has formally requested Tanzania to suspend the project, a move likely to escalate tensions between the neighbouring countries. In a letter to Tanzanian authorities, the Government of Malawi asserts that proceeding with the project on Malawian territory without consent is both irregular and illegal. Malawi insists that the project should cease until proper consultations are conducted and consent is obtained from the Malawian government.

‘Efficient transport system key for horticulture exports’ (The Herald)

As Zimbabwe marches towards attaining Vision 2030, the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) is engaging Government to facilitate the upgrading of roads and border facilities for the easy conveyance of horticultural exports. According to HDC, each year trucks carry some 36 000 tonnes of fruit grown by farmers through the Chipinge-Birchenough Bridge Road. In essence, that is 1 440 twenty-five-tonne trucks yet the road is in bad shape. The deteriorating condition of roads has emerged as a significant obstacle to the transportation of produce and is negatively impacting the quality and profitability of exports, as produce is often damaged along the way.

Burundi, Kenya only countries with more expensive fuel than Uganda in EAC (Monitor)

Uganda currently has the third most expensive fuel in the East African region, according to a global fuel price tracker. A comparison by GlobalPetrolPrices.com – a site that tracks fuel prices globally – indicates that a litre of petrol in Uganda costs an average of $ (Shs5,529), which is slightly lower compared to Kenya and higher than what is charged in Tanzania

In East Africa, GlobalPetrolPrices.com data indicates that Kenya has the highest price for diesel with a litre costing an average of $1.487 (Shs5,666). Kenya is followed by Burundi with a litre going for an average of $1.476 (Shs5,624). Fuel prices remain a sticky issue across East Africa with an upward price movement impacting growth of the region and in particular economic health of member states.

EAC shelves one stop border post inspection at Namanga (IPPMedia)

The East African Community (EAC) has abruptly suspended the high-level border sensitization and inspection mission which was planned at the Kenya and Tanzania One Stop Border Post of Namanga. A statement released yesterday by EAC spokesperson, Simon Owaka, said the decision was taken due to some unforeseen circumstances. Originally scheduled to take place on 19th April, 2024, the mission aimed to assess the performance of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), identify areas for improvement, and review the status of implementation of agreed action plans.

“While this postponement is regrettable, the EAC remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering regional cooperation and enhancing border efficiencies,” reads part of the statement, adding that the EAC was actively working to reschedule the mission, and the new dates will be announced in due course.

From previous visits at other borders, it was discovered that there was a significant increase of traffic across the Uganda and South-Sudan border, indicating the growing importance of efficient trade facilitation measures between the two East African countries. Experts however point out the importance of consolidating various government agencies into one central location to expedite clearance times and simplify procedures for cross-border trade.

Africa’s Drought Ripples Through Global Food Trade (Bloomberg)

A devastating El Niño-induced drought across a swath of southern Africa is sending ripples through global food trade. Dry and hot weather in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe has decimated corn crops, prompting the countries to declare a national state of disaster in recent months. South Africa, the region’s top producer, has seen its output slashed by at least a fifth.

They’re now turning to other producers to plug the gap. Zimbabwe, whose corn output is likely to plunge by about 60%, is considering importing corn from Brazil for the first time in a decade. Zambia is talking to Tanzania and Uganda about imports. And South Africa may need to carry out significant imports of white corn for the first time since 2017.

Africa’s agribusiness sector can drive economic success (The Exchange Africa)

African economic growth remains commodity-based, mainly on commodity exports, with minimal processing and value addition involved. To foster sustainable and inclusive growth and development in Africa, there is an urgent need to promote a new development approach based on exploiting the continent’s full agribusiness potential.

Some pressing issues call for a reorientation to support agribusiness and agro-industrial development, namely, poverty reduction and ensuring equitable growth patterns that will address the concentration of employment and livelihoods in the agricultural sector.

An agribusiness development path involving incredible productivity growth throughout the entire agribusiness value chain—covering farms, firms, and distributors—represents a solid foundation for rapid, inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.

Africa’s $824 billion debt burden and opaque resource-backed loans hinder its potential, African Development Bank President warns (AfDB)

Africa’s immense economic potential is being undermined by non-transparent resource-backed loans that complicate debt resolution and compromise countries’ future growth, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said on Thursday. Adesina highlighted the challenges posed by Africa’s ballooning external debt, which reached $824 billion in 2021, with countries dedicating 65% of their GDP to servicing these obligations. He said the continent would pay $74 billion in debt service payments this year alone, a sharp increase from $17 billion in 2010.

Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, April 2024 (IMF)

Sub-Saharan Africa, home to 30 percent of the world’s critical minerals, is on the brink of a major transformation with the global move towards clean energy. Whereas the extraction of select minerals could boost the region’s GDP by 12 percent or more by 2050, advancing beyond exporting raw materials to developing processing industries presents an even larger opportunity.

A regional strategy built on cross-border collaboration and integration can leverage the diversity of minerals and create a larger, more attractive regional market for much needed investment. Moreover, structural reforms at the country level to nurture domestic firms in processing and supporting industries, while steering clear of inward-looking industrial policy, will amplify the gains from these minerals.

Unlocking this potential can drive broader economic development, encourage technology transfer, and ensure sustainable, higher returns from the region’s critical mineral resources. Be it extraction or processing, this transition requires sound fiscal regimes and policies to manage these gains responsibly.

BRICS grain cartel unlikely (The Western Producer)

Russia is spearheading efforts to establish an OPEC of the grain trade, but industry officials in North America doubt it will happen or that it will have much influence if it does. Russia is urging the BRICS trade alliance to form an inter-bloc grain exchange, according to an article published by World Grain.

“The officially declared purpose of the alliance is to facilitate trade between member states, but analysts warn that the new structure will aim to become an analogue of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for the global grain market, with the goal of influencing free pricing,” stated the article.

The grain exchange proposal was first tabled by the Russian Union of Grain Exporters (RUGE) in December 2023 but didn’t gain traction until March when the idea was endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, stated the World Grain article. Putin said it was a good idea and promised to work on it at the top level of government.

Women should be empowered in tech and entrepreneurship: BRICS CCI Report (ThePrint)

A new report by the BRICS Chambers of Commerce and Industry, titled “New Era of BRICS – Horizons in Tech and Business for Women Empowerment,” highlights the evolving landscape of technology and entrepreneurship for women across the BRICS nations. It also indicates the progress made and the persistent challenges faced by women in STEM sectors. The major highlights of the report include the critical role of women empowerment in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fostering economic and social growth.

Pandor welcomes Egypt into family of BRICS nations (SAnews)

International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has welcomed Egypt into the family of BRICS nations. “This development further enhances the role the South plays in global matters,” she said on Friday. Pandor was speaking in Pretoria where she was co-chairing the 10th Session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) with her counterpart, Egypt Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry.

The Minister announced on Friday that a decision on the Business Council has been taken and once operational, this structure will go a long way in coordinating and galvanising trade and investment opportunities. She also asked her counterpart to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which will facilitate easier trade.

Energy transition requires cooperation between all G20 countries (G20 Brasil 2024)

On Monday, April 15, the Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira, arrived at the G20 headquarters in Brasilia for the first day of the face-to-face meeting of the Energy Transitions Working Group. During a press conference, he spoke about Brasil’s potential in renewable energies and access to financing for the energy transition.

The minister also stressed the importance of cooperation between all countries, since carbon dispersion has no borders. In addition to arguing that the energy transition cannot be launched without recognizing that the 4.5 trillion dollars established in the DUBAI COP, for the production of clean and renewable energies by 2030 will only happen if industrialized countries start to comply with the Copenhagen Accord. The Accord established 100 billion dollars in yearly clean energy investments from 2020.

Assembly President calls for massive investment in sustainable infrastructure (UN News)

In a special meeting dedicated to building resilience and promoting sustainable development through infrastructure connectivity, Dennis Francis emphasised the importance of quality and endurance.

“Quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure – including regional and transborder infrastructure – is important to sustain trade and commerce, facilitate effective transportation, connect us to virtual grids, maintain energy flows and make populations safer against natural hazards,” the Assembly President said. He stressed the urgency of adapting transport infrastructure to withstand both human-induced and natural disasters exacerbated by climate change.

Chair’s Statement Forty-Ninth Meeting of the IMFC (IMF)

A soft landing for the global economy appears to be drawing closer. Economic activity has proved more resilient than expected in many parts of the world, though it continues to diverge across countries. However, medium-term global growth prospects remain weak. Ongoing wars and conflicts continue to impose a heavy burden on the global economy. Even though inflation has fallen in most regions, owing to the unwinding of supply shocks and the effects of tight monetary policy, its persistence warrants caution. …

We emphasize the importance of international cooperation to improve the resilience of the global economy and the international monetary system. We will act collectively, as appropriate, to support climate and digital transitions, including artificial intelligence, while accounting for country-specific circumstances. We reiterate our commitments on exchange rates, addressing excessive global imbalances, and governance, and our statement on the rules-based multilateral trading system, as made in April 2021, reaffirming our commitment to avoid protectionist measures. We will also continue working together to strengthen the global financial safety net and address global debt vulnerabilities. We will continue supporting vulnerable countries as they undertake reforms to tackle their vulnerabilities and address their financing needs.

See also: Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable (World Bank)

What Africa should push for in Bretton Woods debt review (The East African)

One of the highlights of the just concluded International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, was the announcement that the two Bretton Woods lenders are working to review the DSA framework for low-income countries within the next two years.

The DSA framework for low-income countries was conceived in 2005 when the executive boards of the IMF and the World Bank’s concessional arm, the International Development Association, agreed to adopt it as a tool that would help guide the borrowing decisions of low-income economies based on their funding needs and with due regard to their ability to comfortably service obligations.

Coming at a time when Ghana, Zambia and Ethiopia have defaulted and are chasing what has emerged to be extremely elusive and arduous restructuring engagements with their creditors, the prospect of reviewing the DSA for low-income countries is indeed a welcome development.

See also: G20 to review multilateral development banks reform roadmap in October, says Brazil

Global economic growth set to slow to 2.6% in 2024, just above recession threshold (UNCTAD)

A UN Trade and Development report released ahead of the 2024 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank warns that the prevailing focus on inflation overshadows urgent issues like trade disruptions, climate change and rising inequalities. It calls for structural reforms and coordinated global efforts, proposing a comprehensive strategy that includes both supply-side policies to boost investment and demand-side measures to improve employment and income.

The report highlights an uneven post-pandemic recovery. Africa is projected to grow at 3.0% in 2024, up slightly from 2.9% in 2023. Armed conflicts and climate impacts pose significant challenges in several countries. The continent’s largest economies – Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa – are underperforming, affecting overall prospects.

Net finance flows to developing countries turned negative in 2023 (ONE Campaign)

New analysis by The ONE Campaign shows that net financial transfers to developing countries have fallen from their peak of US$225 billion in 2014 to US$51 billion in 2022 (the most recent year for which data is available). More than one in five emerging markets and developing countries paid more to service their debt in 2022 than they received in external financing. This could rise to more than one in three by 2025.

As G20 Finance Ministers meet for the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, ONE is calling for three things: 1. Multilateral development bank reform: Reforms could unlock up to US$1 trillion in low cost lending by: 2. Increased investments in low-income countries: By tripling the size of the World Bank’s low-income country fund (IDA), and increasing donor contributions by 25% to US$30 billion. 3. Expedited debt relief: Reforming the G20’s Common Framework, which has proved too costly and too slow for countries in debt distress, would enable additional countries to seek relief.

Financing the fight against poverty and hunger - mobilising resources for a sustainable development goal reset (ODI)

The world’s governments are falling far short of the pledges they made in 2015 to eradicate extreme poverty and create a world with “zero hunger” by 2030 – the first and second Sustainable Development Goals. On current trends, the poverty goal will be missed by a wide margin.

Behind the raw numbers of the SDG data, millions of people are living with avoidable poverty and preventable hunger. In response, the Brazilian Presidency of the G20 has proposed a Global Hunger and Poverty Alliance to galvanise change.

Fresh thinking needed to move agriculture talks forward, says Chair (WTO)

The Chair of the WTO's agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye, told trade officials that “fresh thinking” was needed to break the persistent deadlock in the talks. At the first meeting of the agriculture negotiating body since the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), he also urged WTO members to acknowledge the work undertaken so far.

Quick links

How Technology is Weaving African Markets Into the Global Fabric (Markets Media)

Why AU, AfCFTA failed to deliver local content for energy security (Businessday NG)

Chinese navy steps up African port calls in push to cement diplomatic ties (South China Morning Post)

An Alternative Approach to the Unsustainable UN SDGs (Earth.Org)

IATA and Partners Release Aviation Net Zero Roadmaps Comparative Review (IATA)


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