Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa achieves trade balance surplus of R10.5bn in April (Engineering News)

South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R10.5-billion in April, a the South African Revenue Services (Sars) reports. It attributes this surplus to exports of R169.5-billion and imports of R159.1-billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). The year-to-date (January 1 to April 30) preliminary trade balance surplus of R26.6-billion was an improvement from the R6.7-billion trade balance surplus for the comparable period in 2023.

On a year-on-year basis, export flows for April of R169.5-billion were 4.2% higher compared with R162.7-billion recorded in April 2023, while import flows were 0.8% higher having increased from R157.8-billion in April 2023 to R159.1-billion in the current period.

Export flows increased in April, driven by platinum group metals, gold and passenger vehicles. Imports flows increased on the back of sizable increases in the importation of petroleum oils (excluding crude), original equipment components and passengers vehicles.

Cars and primary goods dominate the export sector in South Africa (African Business)

Vehicle exports have been a success story and now account for two-thirds of domestic vehicle production. This is to an extent is reflected in South Africa’s trade with China. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner. In 2022 China accounted for 9.4% of South Africa’s exports and 20.2% of South Africa’s imports, according to the South African Revenue Service. South Africa’s exports to China are dominated by two categories: mineral raw materials and iron and steel products.

Mineral exports to China totalled R120.4bn or a massive 63.9% of total exports to China, while the products of iron and steel were R37bn or 19.6% of exports to China. These two categories therefore accounted for 83.5% of exports to China. South Africa has also become a renowned exporter. On the other hand, fruit and vegetables were responsible for a massive 81.1% of South African exports to Russia in 2022, while precious metal exports to the US accounted for 47.3% of exports to the US and vehicle exports were 10.7% of the total.

But there are challenges. South Africa’s manufactured goods cannot compete with the economies of scale enjoyed by Chinese producers, who are the factory of the world in the world’s largest exporter. Bulk exports have fallen since 2017 due to Transnet’s inefficiencies.

Businesses urged to tap into immense AfCFTA opportunities (The Herald)

Zimbabwe has the potential to reap huge benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with the Government rallying local businesses to embrace high quality standards for goods and services to improve the country’s image and competitiveness on both domestic and international markets.

In the face of artificial intelligence, rapid technological advancement, the effects of climate change and global market dynamics, the need for standardisation has never been more critical, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, said yesterday while officiating at the 2024 Standardisation and Business Leaders’ Conference here.

“Our continent is at the apex of a new era of economic integration and growth through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA). This agreement presents immense opportunities for Zimbabwe and our fellow African nations, to unlock economic potential, increase intra-African trade, and boost industrial development. “For Zimbabwe, it is imperative that we adopt standards, boost the productive capacity of our industries, and manufacture products that are acceptable in regional and international export markets.

Kenya plans to boost exports by 10% annually (Capital Business)

Kenya on Thursday launched a strategic plan that seeks to boost the country’s exports by at least 10 percent annually from the 1 trillion shillings (about 7.7 billion U.S. dollars) recorded in 2023.

Jaswinder Bedi, chairperson of the state-owned Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, told journalists in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that the strategic plan serves as a roadmap for propelling Kenya to become an export-led economy and a top global brand.

“To achieve the set export growth target, the strategic plan recognizes the importance of exploring new export opportunities across a number of other markets,” Bedi said. He added that the blueprint provides procedures to enable Kenya to expand its exports to Africa, which is already the country’s largest market, by championing the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Mauritius: 2024 Article IV Consultation (IMF)

Strong Recovery and Challenges. Mauritius has rebounded strongly from the pandemic on the back of buoyant tourism, social housing construction, and financial services. Supportive policies facilitated the strong recovery, but challenges remain for securing a sustainable and resilient economy: (i) fiscal and external buffers were eroded during the pandemic, and (ii) vulnerabilities to climate change and an ageing population loom over the medium- to long-term economic prospects.

The WCO supports the Djibouti Customs Administration to align its national tariff with the HS 2022 version (WCO)

From 13 to 16 May 2024, Djibouti hosted a national workshop aimed at updating the national customs tariff, in accordance with the current version of the Harmonized System (HS). Organised within the framework of the EU-WCO Programme on the Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Program), this workshop, funded by the European Union, brought together around 15 customs officials from Djibouti and was led by experts from the World Customs Organization (WCO).

The main objective of this workshop was to raise awareness among the Customs Administration of Djibouti, Contracting Party to the HS Convention, of the importance of aligning the national customs tariff and statistical nomenclature with international standards. It was also a matter of supporting them in the work of updating this tariff. This workshop also made it possible to recall certain key concepts concerning the theoretical and practical aspects of the implementation of the HS 2022.

In his opening speech, the Secretary General of the Djibouti Ministry of the Budget, Mr. Simon MIBRATHU dataunderlined the commitment of the Djibouti Customs Administration to align its customs instruments and tools with international standards, in particular those of the WCO, a global reference in customs matters. He insisted on the importance of customs controls, in particular the verification of the classification of goods, which is an essential pillar for the recovery of customs revenue. These revenues represent a significant part of the state budget of Djibouti.

Ghana Records Gh¢5.3 Billion Trade Surplus 2023 - GSS (Ghanaian Times)

Ghana in 2023 recorded a trade surplus of GH¢5.3 billion driven largely by gold exports, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) Trade Report, has revealed. This means that the country exported more products than it imported in the period under review.

The country in 2023 exported products to the value of GH¢186.0 billion, compared with the GH¢180.7 million worth of products it imported. Similarly, the value of the country’s exports increased to GH¢186.0 billion in 2023 from GH¢143.8 billion in 2022 and this represents an increase of GH¢42.2 billion and a 30-percentage points increase over the 2023 value of exports relative to the total export value of 2022.

Speaking at the launch of the GSS Trade Report in Accra yesterday, the Government Statistician, Professor Samuel K. Annim, said the total value of trade for 2023 stood at GH¢366.6 billion representing 43.6 per cent Gross Domestic Product.

African countries could unlock billions in local and global trade (The Conversation)

Despite the continent’s immense resources and untapped potential, Africa’s share of global trade remains small. It is estimated, for instance, that Africa could annually be generating US$21.9 billion more from exports to the world. This limits the continent’s economic growth and ability to lift millions out of poverty.

Trade among African nations is also low, at about 16% of the continent’s total trade volume. This is much lower than intra-regional trade levels in Europe (68%) and Asia (59%).

These statistics have serious implications. Enhancing Africa’s trade within the region and globally could spark development, create jobs and reduce poverty. A host of challenges get in the way of Africa’s trade potential. The continent faces infrastructural deficiencies, cumbersome trade regulations, and inadequate logistical support. These barriers inflate business costs and deter trade within the continent and with the rest of the world.

New financial priorities, goals to promote women’s empowerment (Capital Businiess)

Angaza Forum hosted a dialogue with stakeholders in the financial sector to discuss ways to empower women in the field. This was announced on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Annual Meeting in Nairobi in partnership with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center. Other participants were Old Mutual Kenya, the Organization of Eastern and Southern African Insurers (OESAI), and New Faces, New Voices—Kenya (NFNV).

Under the proposed ‘Manifesto for African Women in the Financial Sector’, attendees included senior women leaders from banking, insurance, investment banking, microfinance, and fintech. The Nairobi dialogue validated the priorities and goals that were proposed in Kigali towards finalizing the draft for public consultation.

Regional Meeting of West African IGOs: Accelerating Regional Integration and Sustainable Development in the Sub-Region (UNECA)

The annual meeting of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) of West Africa will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 10 to 11 June 2024. It will take place amidst increasingly complex economic, social, environmental and political challenges such as the reduction of fiscal space needed to finance growing development priorities, resulting from the post-COVID-19 crisis, geopolitical and security crises, and climate issues.

Despite these challenges, West Africa continues to demonstrate economic resilience. Indeed, in 2023, the average GDP growth rate in the sub-region stood at 3.4%, compared to 3.9% in 2022. However, forecasts for 2024 and 2025 indicate a gradual recovery in economic activity with an expected GDP growth rate of 4.1%.

In terms of regional integration, West Africa continues to make significant strides, particularly with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) despite institutional stability challenges faced by ECOWAS in recent years. To date, all the 15 countries in the region have signed the agreement and 14 have ratified it. Twelve countries are implementing national strategies in collaboration with ECA. For example, Ghana has engaged in the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) with seven other countries to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA, and other countries are also preparing to be part of this initiative.

This year’s meeting will highlight recent progress in regional integration and discuss key sub-regional initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development. It will also be an opportunity to assess the progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2023 meeting.

Annual Development Effectiveness Review 2024: Africa Demonstrates Resilience Amid Multiple Crises (AfDB)

The latest edition of the Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER), released on Thursday, highlights the African Development Bank Group’s critical contributions to the continent’s development priorities in 2023.

Amidst economic turbulence, geopolitical challenges, and climate shocks, Africa has shown remarkable resilience, steadily charting a course back to economic growth. The ADER 2024 report, titled ’Investing in Africa’s resilience and inclusive growth,’ reflects on the impact of recent global crises on the Bank’s member countries and its own operations, and examines the Bank’s contributions to Africa’s development in 2023.

Looking ahead, the Bank’s new and ambitious  pdf Ten-Year Strategy 2024–2033 (1.28 MB) outlines the vision of an Africa that is prosperous, inclusive, resilient and integrated. The strategy sets out the Bank’s response to the complex threats facing the continent today and outlines bold plans for accelerating progress on the High 5s through transformational investments.

“This is not a moment for half-measures. As the leading development finance institution on the continent, the Bank steadfastly commits to unlocking Africa’s potential for transformative change, accelerating sustainable development, and building Africa’s resilience, guided by our new Ten-Year Strategy.”

African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings 2024: the need for responsible, innovative solutions for African debt management (AfDB)

It is essential to find innovative solutions for managing the debt of African countries, taking proactive measures to secure development financing for Africa, according to members of the panel speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday at a side event during the African Development Bank Group’s Annual Meetings, which are taking place in the Kenyan capital from 27 to 31 May.

Albert Muchanga, Trade and Industry Commissioner at the African Union Commission, opened the discussion by warning of the risk of a possible “lost decade for development in Africa” between now and 2034, due to the following major challenges: the debt burden, the shortage of regional integration, the lack of competitiveness between businesses and inadequate economic diversification.

With 60 percent of African countries spending more on debt servicing than health, Mr Muchanga called for action on three fronts: “We need to ensure average growth on the continent of 10%, far higher than the current 3.5%, diversify our exports by developing our manufacturing industry, and strengthen regional integration by working towards a common market that will help harmonize our policies for greater resilience to climate change and to settle the debt issue.”

Related: Nigeria, other African nations need $400 billion annually for structural transformation: AfDB (Peoples Gazette)

Africa’s Economic Leap: AI and Tech Could Add $15 Trillion To The Continent’s GDP (elblog.pl)

Africa is on the verge of an economic transformation, with technology and artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront. Potential investors see a treasure trove of opportunity within these sectors that could drive the continent’s economy forward in the next decade. Experts predict that tech advancements could contribute over $15 trillion to Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Despite the accelerating growth in the tech and AI industries, Africa faces inherent challenges, specifically relating to its infrastructure. International experts have been working on solutions to this during the GITEX Africa 2024 expo hosted by Morocco, with participation from 130 countries worldwide. Lavinia Ramkissoon, from the United Nations University Policy Research Institute, noted at the event that AI is expected to have a significant global impact on GDP.

Ramkissoon highlighted that AI alone could account for 10% of the global output, which translates to an additional $1.5 trillion to Africa’s current $3 trillion GDP by 2023 – a considerable sum that could reshape the continent’s economy. However, she also pointed out that only eight African countries currently have an AI strategy, which indicates that Africa still has a long journey ahead to fully capitalize on this industry.

To attract the right kind of investments, Ramkissoon emphasized the need for strategic and clear policies. She mentioned the potential of AI to reset the continent’s economies. But to make significant progress, Africa must bridge the growing digital divide that leaves many excluded and unconnected.

Digitalization: it is time to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas (FAO)

The United Nations has a key catalytic role to play in leveraging the power of digital technologies, which is of utter importance particularly in rural areas, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu said today.

“Digitalization is reshaping our world at its very core, and is having a deep impact on our societies and economies, and our mindsets,” he said stressing that digitalization may have a significant positive effect on agrifood systems transformation to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable to serve for four betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

However, he pointed out that new emerging issues related to safe and ethical use of digital agriculture should be taken into consideration. This is crucial “to ensure a holistic perspective and an open, free and secure digital future for all as outlined by the Global Digital Compact and other key UN led initiatives towards which we are working together.”

AI for Good Summit: Digital and technological divide is no longer acceptable (UN News)

With robots greeting delegates at the entrance to the venue, the AI for Good Global Summit opened on Thursday in Geneva, bringing together thousands of participants from all sectors around the world to discuss the hopes and fears about artificial intelligence (AI) development.

Organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the annual forum is the place where humans meet artificial intelligence. It is popular to the extent of being oversubscribed for attendance, with the queue to enter stretched for hundreds of metres, along one of Geneva’s biggest conference centres, and internet bandwidth barely coping with the flood of digital information.

The venue has become a showcase for advanced technology, including AI-powered robots, brain-controlled tools, generative AI solutions as well as the hardware, the backbone of the global AI ecosystem. However attractive to the eye and entertaining, the machines are not the highlight of the summit. On the centre stage, both metaphorically and literally, are the people. The two-day summit’s main stage will see a tight line-up of presentations and panels discussing all aspects of human interaction with artificial intelligence, both pros and cons.

New global dataset reveals the hidden costs of international trade and transport (UNCTAD)

The new dataset developed by UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Bank provides the first comprehensive global picture of the transport that enables trade, including the costs associated with moving different products between economies.

Launched at the first Global Supply Chain Forum, it draws on official national data available through UN Comtrade. The dataset covers the value and volume of merchandise trade, along with the costs and transport work required per shipment between over 170 economies from 2016 to 2021.

It’s the first time that trade data is paired not only by country and commodity but also by mode of transport, providing new insights into the transportation costs and efforts required by different countries for their imports and exports.

UN Conference on Small Island Developing States delivers new era of resilience amidst SIDS’ crippling debt crisis (United Nations Sustainable Development)

The Fourth United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) wrapped up today in Antigua and Barbuda with unanimous support for a bold new 10-year plan of action that will deliver meaningful change for this group of vulnerable countries.

Small island developing States (SIDS) remain a special case for sustainable development because of their unique challenges, from their small size and geographic remoteness to their narrow resource and export base, which makes them vulnerable to shocks and crises.

The Conference closed with the unanimous adoption of The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) – a Renewed Declaration for Resilient Prosperity which sets out the sustainable development aspirations of SIDS over the next 10 years and the support required from the international community to achieve them.

“The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS, adopted here today, outlines a clear pathway for SIDS to develop smart, context-specific, and inclusive development strategies,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the SIDS4 Conference. “The Agenda has the potential to transform the economies of SIDS and put them on a clear path towards sustainable development. Now the real work begins. We are committed to working alongside SIDS to implement the ABAS comprehensively, and with no time to waste.”

Quick links

How Is China’s Economic Transition Affecting Its Relations With Africa? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

G20’s Contribution to Inclusive and Resilient Global Value Chains While Promoting Involvement of Least Developed Countries (Asian Development Bank)

India’s foreign ministry says there are criteria for decision on BRICS enlargement (TV BRICS)

Project to Scale Urban Nature-based Solutions for Adaptation in Africa (SDG Knowledge Hub)


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