Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South African food inflation continued a downward trend in April (Engineering News)

In April, for the second month in a row, year-on-year (y-o-y) South African food and non-alcoholic beverage (NAB) inflation (hereafter to be referred to as food inflation, for short) ran at a rate below that for consumer price index (CPI) headline inflation, the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) has reported.

April was also the fifth consecutive month which recorded a decline in food inflation. The food inflation rate in April was 4.7%, while that for CPI headline inflation was 5.2%. Food inflation contributed 0.9 percentage points to CPI headline inflation in April. (Y-o-y food inflation in March had been 5.1%.)

For the first time in many months, the BFAP did not list loadshedding (scheduled rotating power cuts) as an infrastructural challenge for South African agriculture. Instead, it listed municipal services challenges and port challenges. Other external factors affecting the sector were the CPI index for electricity and other fuels (up 15.3% y-o-y, but by zero percent m-o-m) and fuel (a 9% y-o-y increase, and also up m-o-m, by 1.9%).

ICYMI: S.Africa considers complaining to WTO against EU carbon border tax (CNBC Africa)

South Africa is considering lodging a formal complaint at the World Trade Organization against the European Union’s “protectionist” carbon border levy, Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Wednesday.

The EU’s proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), which will impose charges on imports of carbon-intensive goods like steel and cement into Europe, has faced criticism from some developing nations and sectors including China’s steel industry.

In October, the EU launched a trial phase of the world’s first carbon border levy, which from 2026 will impose costs on imports of steel, cement, aluminium, fertilisers, electricity, and hydrogen.

“We believe that first prize always is to reach agreement through engagement and negotiation and our door remains open to find a settlement with the European Union on this matter,” Patel told Reuters.

Warm reception for Zimbabwean blueberries in South Africa before global trade starts (FreshPlaza)

The Zimbabwean blueberry export season commenced in mid-April, with the first products being shipped to South Africa where blueberry prices remain favourable. “The market has to be good to make it worthwhile for Zimbabwean growers,” says Rossouw Lambrechts, blueberry account manager at Delecta Fruit, which begins its blueberry campaign (much like its stone fruit campaign) with Zimbabwean fruit.

Most farms, located north of Harare, pack blueberries from April until September, a period that avoids the highly competitive South African and Peruvian export seasons.The peak period for Zimbabwean blueberries is from the end of June through July when they are one of the few major suppliers globally, a market position on which Zimbabwean growers have effectively capitalized, Lambrechts observes.

Known for their high quality, Zimbabwean fruit are primarily flown out from Harare or Johannesburg. An increasing portion is also shipped to the UK or EU by sea via Cape Town harbour. Currently, with Morocco and Spain still at the height of their blueberry seasons, it makes sense for Zimbabwean growers to supply their blueberries to Delecta in South Africa. Here, they are sold to a diverse range of clients and prices are around 10% higher than the same period last year.

How the Finance Act 2023 hit Kenyans (The Standard)

Close to a year after the Finance Act 2023 came into effect, many Kenyans are still struggling to adjust to the realities that the law dealt them. This is even as the National Treasury proposes even more new tax measures that analysts have warned could have a similar kind of impact on Kenyans, making essentials such as bread and transportation more expensive. The Finance Act 2023 remains one of the most controversial money laws, with some of the clauses still being contested in court.

A look at the Economic Survey 2024, which shows how the economy performed last year, somewhat gives a view of the kind of impact that the Finance Act 2023 had on Kenyans. Different sectors reduced their consumption of petroleum products by reacting to the high cost of fuel, which could have meant a reduction in activities while construction also suffered a decline as Kenyans reacted to the higher cost of building materials.

ICYMI: 700 items get Ghana’s rules of origin credential to trade under AfCFTA (Fibre2Fashion)

Seven hundred products have received rules of origin certification to be traded under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) rules, Ghana’s minister of trade and industry Kobina Tahir Hammond recently announced.

“In our determined effort to take advantage of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative, the government facilitated exploratory market expedition missions to Kenya, involving 63 companies, and to Tanzania, involving 52 companies. As a result, a total of 700 products have received rules of origin certification to trade under AfCFTA,” Hammond stated. Deputy minister for foreign affairs and regional integration Mavis Nkansah-Boadu said over 70 per cent of products are passing global quality assessments.

Highlighting the progress of the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative, with 321 projects at various stages of implementation, the minister said of these, 169 factories are operational, employing 169,870 and contributing to import substitution and export diversification.

Oil and gas industry body shines spotlight on Angolan market (Engineering News)

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) has highlighted the opportunities provided by Angola’s oil and gas industry. The Chamber pointed out that oil and gas formed the lynchpin of the Angolan economy and that, since 2017, it had been subject to “aggressive reform”. Since 2019, the country has been undertaking multiyear licensing rounds for offshore blocks for both oil and gas exploration and production, open to foreign enterprises. So far, this policy has seen the awarding of more than 27 such blocks. The most recent of these rounds saw 53 bids for 12 blocks in the Lower Congo and Kwanza Basins.

“For decades, Angola’s oil and gas industry has delivered high returns for investors, with economic stability, proven petroleum plays and strong local partners underpinning the success of multimillion-dollar investments,” affirmed the AEC. “While recognised as a mature oil market, Angola continues to offer frontier opportunities for explorers.”

Reprieve for traders as court lifts ban on muguka in Mombasa, Kilifi (The Standard)

Muguka farmers and traders have gotten temporary relief after the Embu High Court issued conservatory orders lifting the ban in Mombasa and Kilifi. Justice Lucy Njuguna on Tuesday, ordered a stoppage on the enforcement and implementation of ‘Executive Order No.1” by the Governor of Mombasa pending the hearing of a petition filed by muguka farmers and traders.

The case filed by Kutherema Muguka Sacco Society Limited and the Embu County Assembly against the Mombasa and Kilifi counties will be heard on July 8, 2024. Muguka farmers and traders are now free to transport, enter, and sell Muguka in Mombasa and the Kilifi pending the hearing of the case.

Nigeria on the Rise: FDI Surges as Tinubu’s Administration Marks One Year in Office (openPR.com)

As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration completes its first year in office, Nigeria has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its economic and infrastructure landscape, having prioritized attracting foreign investment as part of its economic strategy. The president’s foreign trips and engagement with international investors, combined with Vice President Kashim Shettima’s expertise in finance, have played a crucial role in restoring the confidence of foreign investors’ confidence, resulting in a substantial increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) commitments, exceeding $30 billion, with over $20 billion already invested in various sectors.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global economic organizations have also acknowledged Nigeria’s efforts to improve its investment climate. The country’s economic diversification and restructuring initiatives aim to reduce its reliance on oil exports and foster growth in other sectors.

Digital financial inclusion is key to growing trade within Comesa (Business Daily)

As the largest trade bloc on the continent, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) holds immense potential for driving economic growth, fostering regional integration, and lifting millions out of poverty. Comesa’s trade statistics paint a picture of immense opportunity coupled with significant challenges. While the region exported goods worth $205 billion and imported goods valued at $ 272 billion in 2022, it also faced a trade deficit of $67.5 billion.

Furthermore, intra-Comesa trade, though substantial, remains below its true potential, with its exports and imports standing at $14.1 billion and $14.2 billion, respectively. Despite the region’s economic potential, challenges persist in strengthening trade facilitation mechanisms to ensure sustainable value chains and seamless supply chains across borders.

Africa needs to trade in higher-value goods to aid development (Brand South Africa)

African countries need to trade in value-added and intermediate goods with each other and the rest of the world in order to address the continent’s developmental challenges. Platforms like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must also be used to strengthen value chains across various sectors.

Dr Stavros Nicolau, a member of the BRICS Business Council in South Africa says the expansion of BRICS presents opportunities for the continent. Nicolau noted that Africa currently has a trade deficit with the original BRICS countries, as well as the new countries, especially with China. Nicolau says in order to address the deficit, African countries have to add value to some of the raw materials they exports as well the goods they trade with each other and the rest of the world.

Ms Busi Mabuza, the Chair South African BRICS Business Council says the BRICS plus provides a platform to explore and capitalize on the available opportunities for the Continent. These countries are emerging economies with a growing middle class and a substantial consumer market, expanding into these markets can lead to growth opportunities for the Continent. Some of the immediate benefits for the Continent include improving the trade patterns across new BRICS plus members through enhanced bilateral investment agreements, balancing of trade and exploring the value chain opportunities in line with AfCfTA private sector strategy.

Experts expect AfCFTA to promote inclusive growth in Africa (Xinhua)

African experts said here on Monday that the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will foster inclusive growth across the continent. Speaking at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Nairobi, Kenya, they said increasing continental trade will reduce Africa’s dependence on traditional Western markets.

Vincent Nmehielle, secretary general of the AfDB Group, said liberalizing trade across Africa by removing import duties on goods produced within the continent will boost intra-African commerce, benefiting small businesses. “More trade among African countries will also help the continent diversify its export basket, thereby creating more jobs and employment opportunities,” Nmehielle said.

John Bosco Kalisa, chief executive officer of the East African Business Council, the umbrella body of the private sector in East Africa, said the council is currently educating small and women-owned enterprises on the procedures for trading under the AfCFTA regime. He pointed out that Africa’s exports are predominantly unprocessed minerals and agricultural commodities. The AfCFTA, therefore, holds the promise of adding more value to these products within the continent, leading to inclusive growth.

See also: Industrial manufacturing must be at the core of AfCFTA – AfDB’s Adesina (The New Times)

2024 Annual Meetings: Africa’s Voice Needs To Be Heard, Says African Development Bank President (AfDB)

African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina says the world is changing and Africa needs to be at the table. Adesina told more than 150 journalists covering the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Nairobi that the Global South is becoming much more important and that as a result the global financial architecture needs to change:

“The global financial architecture is not addressing Africa’s issues nor delivering for Africa. Our voice needs to be at the table. The global financial architecture needs to be creating fairness, equality, justice, representation and inclusiveness.”

“Africa is coming of age on the strength of south-south cooperation, but I don’t see the world in a divisive manner. We should be looking at our ability to pool our energies and harness all our diversity for the good of the world. All our development banks cooperate and now there isn’t a single project in Africa that we can’t finance – not one”.

Annual Meetings offer platform for innovative ideas on global financial reform and provision of resources to develop Africa (AfDB)

The African Development Bank’s 2024 Annual Meetings start on Monday in Nairobi, and offer a unique opportunity to collectively promote innovative ideas for reforming the global financial architecture. 

The shareholders of the Bank, Africa's premier development finance institution, are encouraged to exchange views with a broad range of public and private sector leaders to reach a consensus on the reform needed to raise more finance to help transform the continent.  

“The reform of the global financial architecture must respond effectively to the increased budgetary costs that (African) countries are facing, so as to speed up their development,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Bank Group, at a session on SDRs held at COP28 last December in Dubai. “To do this, we must also adapt the instruments of the global financial architecture, in particular the Special Drawing Rights.”

Africa’s food security, is more fertilizer the answer? (The Exchange)

Africa’s food security relies on fertilizer access as the answer; the population is exploding, and climate change among other factors affecting food production, will more fertilizer solve this life-threatening puzzle? The USAID seems to think so, more fertilizer, better-improved fertilizer, more affordable (questionable), all in all, the USAID is proposing fertilizer as a key solution to Africa’s food security.

“In a landmark move for African agricultural advancement, USAID and OCP Group, the world leader in plant nutrition solutions and phosphate-based fertilizers, have partnered to tackle critical barriers hindering Africa’s agricultural potential,” announces a recent press release from USAID.

The announcement comes on the heels of a visit by USAID Administrator Ms. Samantha Power to the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic in Morocco. While at the university, the USAID Administrator is reported to have signed ‘a collaborative agreement to pursue two sustainable and innovative initiatives designed to enhance agricultural efficiency and productivity across the continent.’

A New Dawn for US-African Cooperation? by Vera Songwe (Project Syndicate)

Kenyan President William Ruto’s recent visit to the United States could well mark a turning point in US-Africa relations. Closer cooperation would yield mutually beneficial results on issues ranging from economic growth to planetary sustainability. Yet a lack of investment, depreciating currencies, and high interest rates are choking African economies and derailing critical initiatives like green industrialization.

Africa holds great potential for the US and other countries that are willing to invest in a greener future. Many governments have placed electric vehicles, digitized schools, and resilient, energy-efficient housing high on their policy agenda. The continent has a young, fast-growing population, and it is embarking on an industrialization path fueled increasingly by solar and renewable energy. In Kenya, 90% of the power supply already comes from renewable sources.

But Africa will need international assistance to overcome various economic challenges and achieve sustained growth. The US can offer three forms of support. First, African countries should be included in US efforts to shore up distressed allies, especially now that spending packages have already been broadened beyond Ukraine to reach a broader array of recipients. Both sides would benefit if this support was designed to drive investment in green industrialization and climate-resilient infrastructure throughout Africa.

See also: Kenyan President Ruto’s White House visit spotlights US-Africa policy (Devex)

Global aviation IT specialist enters the maritime sector (Engineering News)

Global air transport IT solutions group SITA announced on Tuesday that it was expanding into the maritime sector, with the launch of its new subsidiary company, SmartSea. It also announced that SmartSea had entered its first agreement, with Cyprus-based global major ship management and maritime services company Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM).

“SITA is taking a bold step into the maritime sector, where our longstanding leadership in aviation can serve to overcome economic and capacity challenges, enhance security and unlock new revenue streams for companies across the industry,” explained SITA CEO David Lavorel.

“The global maritime industry plays a vital role in fostering economic growth, human development and global connectivity. By facilitating international trade, creating jobs and driving technological innovation, the industry contributes to better living standards and economic prosperity around the world. By using valuable cross-industry synergies and our international reach, we are collaborating with companies such as [CSM] to elevate their operations to the next level. This is a significant step for us and demonstrates our ability to revolutionise end-to-end travel, regardless of the mode of transport.”

Beyond GDP measurements, carefully designed nature-based solutions could accelerate development and social equity – ECA’s Antonio Pedro (UNECA)

Nature-based solutions present a unique way for Africa to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 while contributing to the conservation of continent’s rich biodiversity, promoting ecological connectivity, and enhancing climate resilience, said Antonio Pedro, Deputy Executive Secretary, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), today at the African Natural Capital Alliance Annual Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaking leaders in the financial markets sector, Mr. Pedro said, “With careful design of its development pathway, Africa can harness the value of its natural resources through responsible management practices that recognize planetary boundaries and balance economic growth with environmental conservation and social equity, beyond GDP metrics.”

Referencing a study by the ECA and Dalberg, Mr. Pedro said Africa could mobilize $82 billion per annum if the price of carbon reached $120 per tonne of CO2. However, there is a need to eliminate market fragmentation and invest in building high integrity carbon credit markets.

Post-COVID, China is back in Africa and doubling down on minerals (Yahoo Finance)

China’s flagship economic cooperation program is bouncing back after a lull during the global pandemic, with Africa a primary focus, according to a Reuters analysis of lending, investment and trade data. Chinese leaders have been citing the billions of dollars committed to new construction projects and record two-way trade as evidence of their commitment to assist with the continent’s modernisation and foster “win-win” cooperation.

But the data reveals a more complex relationship, one that is still largely extractive and has so far failed to live up to some of Beijing’s rhetoric about the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s strategy to build an infrastructure network connecting China to the world.

While new Chinese investment in Africa increased 114% last year, according to the Griffith Asia Institute at Australia’s Griffith University, it was heavily focused on minerals essential to the global energy transition and China’s plans to revive its own flagging economy. Those minerals and oil also dominated trade. As efforts falter to boost other imports from Africa, including agricultural products and manufactured goods, the

Aid to small islands falls even as temperatures rise (UNCTAD)

Global warming continues its upwards march, posing an existential threat to many small island developing states (SIDS). In the last six months of 2023, these vulnerable nations faced record heat, with the average surface temperature 1.7°C higher than in the 1951-1980 reference period.

In 2022, despite a record $287 billion in global Official Development Assistance (ODA), aid to SIDS fell by 13% to $5.9 billion, according to the latest analysis by UN Trade and Development. For economies that rely heavily on imports of essential goods like food and fuel, as well as on external financial flows – such as many SIDS – this decline in aid is a significant blow.

UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan will join world leaders in Antigua and Barbuda for the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States. She will underscore the urgency to step up aid to SIDS, especially for climate adaptation and mitigation.

UN Global Supply Chain Forum calls for resilience amid world trade disruptions (UNCTAD)

The inaugural United Nations Global Supply Chain Forum, hosted by UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Government of Barbados, convened from 21 to 24 May 2024. The event brought together over 1,000 participants from around the globe to address escalating disruptions in global supply chains.

UN Deputy-Secretary General Amina Mohammed, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados, and UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan inaugurated the forum amidst a volatile global trade landscape. Global disruptions are causing ships to spend more days at sea and emit higher levels of greenhouse gases, highlighting the growing unreliability and uncertainty of our interconnected world.

The forum highlighted the complexities and opportunities in decarbonizing global shipping, focusing on developing countries with renewable energy resources. Ports are central to this transformation, with their authorities serving as facilitators and connectors for various stakeholders. Efforts to incentivize low- or zero-carbon fuels, establish safety frameworks for new fuels, and develop port readiness assessment tools were underscored as critical steps towards preparing ports for handling various fuels and ensuring safe bunkering operations.

The forum also saw the launch of the UN Trade and Development Trade-and-Transport Dataset. Developed with the World Bank, this groundbreaking repository of global data is the first of its kind. It covers all countries and trading partners, with data on over 100 commodities and various transport modes, offering a holistic view of trade, including mode of transport and associated costs. Accessible for free, the dataset is expected to significantly contribute to better understanding and optimizing global trade flows, as well as improving evidence-based policymaking.

BRICS’ push to reduce US dollar dominance with digital currencies (Al Mayadeen)

The practicality of establishing a common currency is challenging; instead, the BRICS organization has focused on increasing trade and lending in local currencies to diminish reliance on the dollar, writer Huileng Tan says.

An op-ed published on Business Insider by writer Huileng Tan delves into efforts led by the BRICS group in advocating for a move away from US dollar dominance. Last year, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proposed a common BRICS currency, though this idea faced skepticism from economists. The practicality of establishing a common currency is challenging; instead, the bloc has focused on increasing trade and lending in local currencies to diminish reliance on the dollar.

Christopher Granville, managing director of global political research at GlobalData TS Lombard, suggested that discussions on reducing dollar dependence might gain momentum during the BRICS summit in Kazan, Russia, scheduled for October 22-24.

A significant development in this context is the interest of central banks in digital-currency transfers. Granville noted that a potential systemic solution involves a platform from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) that facilitates direct, peer-to-peer settlements of commercial invoices and foreign-exchange trades using central-bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Brics bank mulls funding for non-member States projects (Business Daily)

A multilateral infrastructural projects financier owned by the Brics countries is mulling over funding projects in countries outside the bloc’s 11 members, unlocking additional finance for infrastructure upgrades in African nations like Kenya.

The New Development Bank (NDB), which is owned by the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) intergovernmental organisation, may soon be sending money to finance projects across the region, even as it lobbies for more African countries, including Kenya, to join the bloc. South Africa is seeking to have the financier fund projects across Africa to ease trade and as an investment opportunity for Brics companies. If successful, this bid could unlock access for African private and public institutions to the over $50 billion capital of the NDB, which was previously accessible only to companies domesticated within the Brics countries.

“We would like the NDB, where there is sponsorship by a member country and there’s intra-regional connectivity opportunity, to consider that as a fundable opportunity,” said Busi Mabuza, the Brics Business Council South African chapter chairperson. Ms Mabuza said South Africa has launched the campaign to rally the Brics member states behind the plan in a bid to boost investment opportunities for member countries.

BRICs confident of Russia’s chairmanship, special attention to solving problems of “Global South” (Indianarrative)

The International Scientific and Practical Conference “BRICS in the Era of Global Social Transformations” was held in Russia, where an Indian professor expressed his confidence that during Russia’s BRICS chairmanship, special attention will be paid to solving the problems of the global south. The International Scientific and Practical Conference “BRICS in the Era of Global Social Transformations” was held in Moscow at the Faculty of Global Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), TV BRICS reported.

Cabinet approves Brics membership bid (Bangkok Post)

Thailand is moving ahead with a plan to join the intergovernmental organisation Brics, which is beginning to expand beyond its founding members: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said the cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft of the official letter that indicates Thailand’s intention to become a member of the group. Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates officially joined the Brics bloc on Jan 1. Thailand is currently in the next queue of 15 countries being considered for admission.

Becoming a Brics member, the letter said, would benefit Thailand in many dimensions, including enhancing the country’s role in the international arena and increasing its opportunities to co-create a new world order. Mr Chai said Brics had invited non-member countries aspiring to join to participate in the 16th Brics summit in Kazan, Russia, from Oct 22 to 24.

Business e-commerce sales and the role of online platforms [Advance copy] (UNCTAD)

In 2021, approaching US$ 25 trillion of e-commerce sales were generated by businesses across 43 developed and developing economies accounting for around three quarters of worldwide GDP. This represents a 15 per cent increase over pre-pandemic (2019) levels and sales are estimated to have risen a further 10 per cent - to almost $27 trillion - in 2022.

The share of business turnover generated through e-commerce varies widely in the economies analysed, from less than one per cent to as much as 30 per cent. In almost all cases, the majority of e-commerce sales by businesses are made to other businesses or organizations. In most, the share of business-to-consumer sales is less than a quarter. While developing economies generate around 40 per cent of global GDP, their share in business e-commerce sales is considerably lower.

This technical note presents the latest statistics on the value of e-commerce sales by businesses. It benefits from a notable increase in availability brought about by the release, by Eurostat, of figures for many EU and partner countries.

New WTO publication highlights strategies to tackle illicit trade in food and food fraud (WTO)

A new WTO publication launched on 28 May looks into the challenges of combating illicit trade in food and food fraud and discusses the role the WTO could play in helping to address this issue. At the launch event, leaders from business and international organizations and other trade experts discussed the urgent need for the international community to act collectively and explored strategies for overcoming current challenges.

In her opening remarks, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explained the importance of the WTO’s engagement in this conversation, emphasizing its role in disciplining international trade and preventing the “law of the jungle.” She said: “The levelling of the playing field must extend to weeding out all forms of illegal trade and fraudulent activities,” including sub-standard food, falsely labelled food, counterfeit goods and smuggled products

Quick links

Africa Can’t Prosper Without Regional Trade by Kingsley Moghalu (Project Syndicate)

International trade statistics trends in first quarter 2024 (OECD)

Profits and value ‘central’ to producing more feed protein in EU (Agriland.ie)

The missing links in India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, as shown by the Gaza war (The Hindu)

Regional payment infrastructure integration: insights for interlinking fast payment systems (Bank for International Settlements)


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010