Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Despite a 0.1% fall in GDP data in first quarter, the agriculture sector grew by 13.5% (IOL)

Despite a 0.1% fall in South Africa’s GDP data for the first quarter of this year, the agriculture sector grew by 13.5%. Thabile Nkunjana, a senior economist at the Trade Research Unit of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (Namc) said this was remarkable given the sector’s numerous fundamental constraints, including infrastructure to a greater extent. “However, the efforts of key government that collaborated with companies to address these difficulties have been partially neutralised, and more work is needed in the future,” Nkunjana said.

He added that the agricultural sector’s expansion was principally driven by increased economic activity for horticultural items. “In the first quarter, South Africa’s total agricultural exports were R57.8 billion ($3.1 billion). Grapes were the main export product, valued at R12.1 billion in the quarter, followed by apples (R2.1 billion), pears (R1.9 billion), wine (R1.8 billion), and plums and sloes (R1.4 billion). Maize products, such as maize meal, increased by 13% quarter on quarter to R1.2 billion, which is significantly more than R467.3 million for the same time last year.”

SA fingered as a major transit hub for illegal gold exports with a tally of R657bn (IOL)

Swissaid has shone the spotlight on South Africa for its role as a major transit hub for illegal bullion exports from the region with over $35 billion (R657bn) worth of gold smuggled out of Africa. Switzerland-based Swissaid runs development policy projects and raw materials is a focus area.

In a report entitled “On The Trail of African Gold” and released on Friday, the Bern-based non-governmental organisation said that between 321 and 475 tons of gold from the informal sector was smuggled out of Africa each year. This translates to a value of between $24bn (R451bn) and $35bn (R658bn), with gold smuggling from Africa to countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said to be rising.

In 2023, SA produced 110 tons of gold while the neighbouring Zimbabwe produced 37 tons, although most of it was informal and was smuggled out illegally, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera.

South Africa’s financial system stable despite headwinds, central bank says (CNBC Africa)

South Africa’s central bank said on Wednesday it expected the country’s financial system to remain resilient despite risks from worldwide elections, persistent geo-political tensions and weak domestic market conditions.

With more than 70 countries going to the polls this year – among them South Africa last month – the South African Reserve Bank said the possible changes in policy that might result had heightened market volatility.

The central bank said in the first edition of its Financial Stability Review, the biannual health check of the financial system, that high exposure to government debt and the weak fiscal position overall, undermined market resilience.

New SA Canegrowers chair calls on govt to fulfil its promise of a sugar tax review (Engineering News)

With major sugar mills remaining in business rescue and a possible increase in the Health Promotion Levy (HPL), or sugar tax, still looming, the sustainability of the sugar industry remains under threat, industry body SA Canegrowers has said. It noted that the sugar tax had suppressed the market for locally produced sugar and cost the industry more than 16 000 jobs since its implementation in 2018.

Newly elected chairperson Higgins Mdluli said at an AGM that the promise to review the HPL under Phase 1 of the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan had not been kept and that no meaningful engagement on the matter had taken place. He implored the South African government to support the sugar industry to safeguard the small canegrowers and jobs it sustained. He also called for the scrapping of the HPL in its entirety.

Plans to include blueberry in China trade protocol advanced (The Herald)

The country is mulling including blueberry among citrus fruits in the Zimbabwe/China citrus trade protocol, in a development that will add impetus to the national push to attain a US$1 billion horticulture industry by 2030. This was said by the local horticulture promotion body, Horticultural Development Council (HDC) in a recent X (formerly Twitter) post in which it hinted that growing agricultural exports needed the country to broaden its search for new markets.

“Work is underway to secure the protocol we need to access markets such as China and India for Zimbabwean blueberries. We are ready to collaborate with stakeholders to make this happen,” said the post.

The HDC quarterly seasonal update for June 2023 said progress towards new blueberry production had been slower than expected due to the economic constraints, as well as the increase in the cost of production and decrease in returns per kilogramme. “Under market access, the facilitation of China protocol for blueberries was of critical strategic importance for Zimbabwe, as our competitors in the region (including South Africa) do not have protocol as yet. An opportunity for us to gain market share prior to our competitors would be a huge win for the industry,” said the June report.

Zim entrepreneur launches Intra-Africa Trade easy digital platform (The Chronicle)

Zimbabwean entrepreneur and business influencer, Mr Chad Chawanda, has introduced an online platform that promotes ease of doing trade while promoting regional integration under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement.

The digital platform called ‘Insights on Africa’, which can be downloaded, is expected to be a catalyst as it provides digital space for African entrepreneurs to showcase their products, engage in business-to-business meetings and explore trade opportunities within the continent. It is expected to add value to initiatives such as the Intra Africa Trade Fair (IATF), which is a trade fair event that supports the objectives of the AfCFTA by facilitating trade and economic cooperation among African countries, being hosted in Algeria in 2025.

Kenya’s Economy Exhibited Robust Growth in 2023 Despite Persistent Challenges (World Bank)

Kenya’s real GDP growth accelerated to 5.6% in 2023, surpassing the previous year’s growth of 4.9%. However, GDP growth in 2024 is expected to slow down to 5.0%. This is according to the latest Kenya Economic Update (KEU) launched today, which adds that the 2023 growth was driven by the recovery of the agriculture sector, following improved weather conditions, and the services sector, with tourism and financial services contributing the most.

According to the 29th edition of the Kenya Economic Update: Fostering Trade for Robust Growth and Dynamic Job Creation, tight fiscal and monetary policies, elevated inflation, rising debt service obligations, high borrowing costs that constrained access to global capital markets, and the sharp depreciation of the shilling, framed Kenya’s macroeconomic performance in 2023. Despite this challenging environment, Kenya’s economic growth demonstrated resilience and accelerated, driven by the government’s strategic policy measures that have bolstered overall macroeconomic stability.

Ghana Launches New Initiative to Promote Sustainable Cocoa Production (UNDP)

Ghana has launched a new initiative in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Forestry Commission, and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), with funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). This collaboration marks Ghana’s entry into the third phase of the Green Commodities Programme (III), building on the progress made since 2010 towards sustainable agricultural production. This joint effort aims to drive meaningful change and promote environmentally friendly practices in Ghana’s agricultural sector.

The initiative, titled Effective Collaborative Action for Sustainable Commodity Production and Trade, aims to foster Hotspot Intervention Area (HIA) Governance Board relations between the six HIAs and strengthen the stakeholder effectiveness and efficiency to combat deforestation and forest degradation, improve farm resilience, increase cocoa farmers’ revenues, and reduce poverty.

Customs: Why we are intensifying efforts on trade modernisation (The Sun Nigeria)

The Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) has said it is intensifying efforts on trade modernization so as to enhance trade facilitation, efficiency and revenue generation. This is as the NCS said it is working towards deploying a Unified Customs Management system geared towards seamless transactions by importers.

The National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, stated this yesterday, in an interview with journalists, after a media tour of the Trade Modernization office, in Abuja. Maiwada noted that the ongoing modernization project is an effort of the Comptroller-General of Customs ( CGC), to consolidate on the past gains of the service, in the discharge of its statutory duties..

“This project started some years ago, and we need to update members of the press and public, and generally our stakeholders on what we are doing so far in trade facilitation which is the core and at the centre of what we are doing. The benefit of Trade Modernization Project, let me be more specific with you, is in terms of trade facilitation, efficiency in customs delivery, and in terms of revenue generation. That is the essence of modernization. Automation of our processes and procedures is part of our efforts to make sure that we facilitate trade, we effectively collect revenue for Nigeria.”

The guided trade initiative: documenting and assessing the early experiences of trading under the AFCFTA (UNECA)

The GTI was established in accordance with the decision of the 7th Ministerial Directive of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for Trade, which was adopted by Heads of State and Government in February 2022. The initiative is an interim solution to kick-start meaningful trade among interested State Parties that have met the minimum requirements for commencing trade under the Agreement, to test the readiness of the private sector, and to test the operational, institutional, legal and trade policy environment under the AfCFTA.

The main purpose of this research is to document and provide practical information on how a few specific trade relationships that have taken place in the early stages of the GTI evolved and were managed. It also helps to draw lessons from the experiences of the participants that can enable other State Parties to navigate the AfCFTA implementation processes more effectively and ultimately catalyze increased intra-African trade under the AfCFTA in the years to come.

The study documented export/import processes in the participating countries analyzed to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of import and export procedures, regulatory and institutional structures put in place to support the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement. It also identified key challenges encountered and successes achieved and drew lessons and recommended remedial actions where necessary.

AfCFTA: African countries commit to increase intra-continental trade to 50% by 2030 (Businessday NG)

At the Summit convened in Abuja to propel the implementation of the AfCFTA, ignite economic growth across the continent, dismantle all obstacles hindering the full adoption of the agreement and elevate intra-African trade attendance top representatives of countries including Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa among others. Sam Ohuabunwa, President, of Africa Economic Summit 2024, briefing journalists on the key resolutions from the Summit said African nations have expressed readiness to tap the opportunities in the AfCFTA significantly.

He decried that Africa currently has the lowest intercontinental trade in the world and called on African governments to increase infrastructural development, provide an attractive investment climate, and promote private-public sector collaboration to facilitate productivity, wealth creation and poverty minimisation. He said the 3rd Africa Economic Summit was an opportunity for Africa to leverage strength and become truly competitive. “We call on all African Leaders to Preach the Concept of One Africa! One Family! One Economy,” he said. Other recommendations made by stakeholders at the meeting include investing in and strengthening Digital Transformation to drive Economic development.

Proposed visa restrictions raise concerns for SADC Tourism Alliance (Namibia Economist)

The contemplation of visa restrictions has stirred unease within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council Tourism Alliance, highlighting apprehensions over its potential impact on the nation’s tourism sector and overall economic progress. On 25 May, the cabinet greenlit the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety, and Security to enforce an entry visa requirement for nationals hailing from countries that haven’t reciprocated Namibia’s favourable visa policies.

Expressing dismay on Tuesday, the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance voiced concerns that this move might run counter to Namibia Airports Company’s ‘Air Connect Namibia’ strategy, aimed at enhancing international flights and connectivity. The Alliance warned that these proposed visa restrictions could cast adverse effects on various sectors of Namibia’s economy, including tourism, hospitality, transportation, and retail, all of which heavily rely on international visitors.

Regional workshop empowers East and Southern Africa to secure and facilitate cross-border e-commerce (WCO)

From 28 to 30 May 2024 the World Customs Organization (WCO) delivered a Regional Workshop on e-commerce for East and Southern Africa (ESA) at the Integrated Customs Clearance Centre in Plaine Magnien, Mauritius. The objectives of the event were to raise awareness of the WCO tools and initiatives aimed at facilitating and securing cross-border e-commerce and to provide a forum for the sharing of information on challenges and good practices, thus promoting regional cooperation.

Throughout the event, the Workshop facilitators provided detailed explanations of the 16 standards of the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce (E-Commerce FoS) and the tools available to support their implementation, namely the tools forming part of the E-Commerce Package and the Immediate Release Guidelines. Particular focus was placed on the submission of advance electronic data and risk management, along with efficient revenue collection in the e-commerce environment and the challenges faced by Members in that regard, notably those related to Customs valuation.

2024 Annual Meetings: The Africa Circular Economy Facility seeks to boost African economies through green growth innovation (AfDB)

“With over 62% of African countries relying on natural resources for their GDP, the circular economy is crucial for the continent’s growth. Strategic investments and innovative policies can unlock a 2.2% increase in GDP for Africa, generate 11 million jobs and access a global circular economy worth USD 526 billion,” said Dr. Anthony Nyong, Director of the Department for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Dr. Nyong was speaking in Nairobi on Friday on behalf of Kevin Kariuki, the AfDB Group Vice-President for Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, at a panel discussion on the theme: “Transforming African Economies through Circular Solutions – The Case of the Africa Circular Economy Facility”. Organised by the AfDB’s Climate Change and Green Growth Department through the Africa Circular Economy Facility (ACEF), the panel was held on the sidelines of the Bank’s 2024 Annual Meetings.

The event highlighted approaches to stimulating African economies through circular solutions, with each panelist contributing their view on advancing the circular economy across the continent. As it promises to unlock multi-billion-dollar economic potential and help Africa respond to the challenges of the triple global crisis, the circular economy is crucial for sustainable development in Africa, the panel agreed.

New data centre funded by African Development Bank will cement national and subregional digital sovereignty (Intelligent CIO Africa)

“Congo will soon be the only country in Central Africa to have its own data centre,” said Michel Ngakala, Co-ordinator of the Central Africa Fibre-Optic Backbone project, which includes Congo. With the project’s funding of €66.55 million (€52.47 million from the African Development Bank and €14.50 million from the government of Congo) 600 kilometres of fibre optic cable on the major interconnecting routes with Cameroon (341km) and the Central African Republic (281km) via the Congo River will be laid and the data centre built. Some €13.8 million of the total has been allocated to build and run the data centre. “This project will cement the country’s digital sovereignty,” said Ngakala.

Korea Pledges Billions of Dollars at Inaugural Leaders’ Summit with Africa (AfDB)

The Republic of Korea will commit $14 billion in export financing to support Korean companies investing in Africa while increasing its official development assistance (ODA) to $10 billion by 2030.

The President of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol announced this on Tuesday in Seoul at the opening of the first Korea-Africa Summit, attended by 25 African heads of state and government, as well as the president of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwumi Adesina. Up to 48 African countries were represented at the summit to discuss, “The Future We Make Together: Shared Growth, Sustainability, and Solidarity.”

President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged that Korea would extend its Trade and Investment Promotion Frameworks, and Investment Protection Agreements to African countries. African leaders praised Korea for its open and mutual approach to strengthening cooperation with the continent. They highlighted investment opportunities in their own countries and across the continent.

Benin hosts steering committee meeting of WTO-FIFA “Partenariat pour le Coton” initiative (WTO)

The Government of Benin is hosting in Cotonou on 4-6 June a Steering Committee meeting of the Partenariat pour le Coton, an initiative aimed at supporting African countries’ participation in cotton value chains. It is the first time the Steering Committee has met in Africa since the project was launched by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the 13th Ministerial Conference in February 2024. Participants, including the WTO, were updated on the latest progress and discussed next steps to achieve concrete results for cotton producers.

Global public debt hits record $97 trillion in 2023, UN urges action (UNCTAD)

In a new report released on 4 June, the United Nations sounded the alarm over the escalating debt burdens to global prosperity. Titled “A world of debt 2024: A growing burden to global prosperity”, the report highlights the unprecedented surge in public debt – comprising both domestic and external general government borrowing – which reached a historic peak of $97 trillion in 2023, up by a notable $5.6 trillion from the previous year. Particularly in Africa, faltering economies in the wake of multiple global crises have resulted in a heavier debt burden. The number of African countries with debt-to-GDP rations above 60% has increased from 6 to 27 between 2013 and 2023.

With the crisis intensifying, actions to limit global warming to 1.5°C become urgent. Despite this urgency, developing countries are currently allocating a larger proportion of their GDP to interest payments (2.4%), than to climate initiatives (2.1%). Debt is limiting their capacity to tackle climate change.

With developing countries facing dire outlook, United Nations Secretary-General and world leaders aim to stimulate economies to achieve SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development)

With many developing countries reeling from repeated economic shocks and debt burdens that far outstrip their ability to pay, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will meet today with Heads of State and Government to advance efforts to put countries back on a sustainable development path.

At their first meeting, under the leadership of the 10-member “SDG Stimulus Leaders Group,” countries will discuss recommendations and actions needed to address the dire financial conditions holding back developing economies. “We need a surge in action now for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Developing countries — and billions of people — are facing the worst economic outlook in more than a generation,” the Secretary-General said. “Financing is the fuel of development and we must ensure that countries are not forced to run on empty.”

At today’s meeting, leaders will discuss the Secretary-General’s call for an SDG Stimulus, a wide-ranging proposal for near-term actions to provide developing countries with the financial resources to alleviate their immediate constraints and put countries back on an accelerated development path.

The SDG Stimulus identifies three areas of action: tackling the high cost of debt and rising risks of debt distress; massively scaling up affordable long-term financing, especially through multilateral development banks (MDBs), by at least $500 billion per year; and expanding contingency financing to countries facing liquidity constraints.

Oceans in focus: DP World and un global compact spearhead action at g20 dialogue (Government of Dubai Media Office)

DP World and the UN Global Compact have joined forces to drive solutions at the G20 Ocean Dialogue in Dubai today, bringing together industry leaders and sustainability experts to shape a concrete plan to protect the health of our oceans. The G20 Ocean Dialogue focuses on developing a 10-point action plan to tackle issues such as decarbonization, plastic pollution and the preservation of marine ecosystems. Discussions will also include nature-based solutions and financing to address climate change and build resilient communities.

This is the latest collaboration on ocean conservation by DP World and the UN Global Compact – a voluntary initiative which encourages businesses to adopt sustainable practices. Last year, they launched the first Ocean Climate Nexus Centre (OCNC) in the UAE to foster research, collaboration and innovation in sustainable ocean practices.

Break free from pollution, climate chaos and ‘biodiversity decimation’, UN chief urges (UN News)

In a message marking Wednesday’s World Environment Day, António Guterres emphasized that countries “must deliver” on all their commitments to restore degraded ecosystems and land, and on Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework, the global agreement to protect biodiversity. “ By restoring ecosystems, we can slow the triple planetary crisis : the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, including desertification, and the crisis of pollution and waste.”

Related news from the UN:

World heading towards new temperature records, UN weather watchdog warns

There is an exit off ‘the highway to climate hell’, Guterres insists

WTO spotlights inclusive trade for clean energy transition on Environment Day (WTO)

International cooperation on trade is critical for the fast and fair transition to clean energy needed to combat climate change, speakers said at an event organized by the WTO Secretariat on World Environment Day on 5 June. Deputy Directors-General Jean-Marie Paugam and Xiangchen Zhang underlined trade policy opportunities to support the transition to clean energy, including for developing members and least-developed country (LDC) members.

DDG Paugam said: “The clean energy transition is a crucial objective in our path to sustainable development. Trade policy tools — such as rebalancing tariffs in line with climate ambitions or aligning standards to accelerate decarbonisation efforts — can fast-track transition efforts and expedite inclusion of developing economies into green value chains.”

West African nations call for firms to be able to offset carbon (Reuters)

A group of 10 West African countries has weighed into a debate over whether companies around the world should be allowed to use carbon offsets to cut emissions, arguing they are critical to attracting financing for climate and conservation efforts.

While some scientists and technical advisers have criticised offsets as undermining efforts to rein in climate change by permitting continued greenhouse gas emissions, others see them as a necessary tool to boost crucial finance.

In a letter to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the world’s top corporate climate-target verifier, the 10 countries called on its trustees to ensure offsetting is included within net-zero guidance to companies. The letter, signed by Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Togo, said recent reports questioning the validity of offsetting emissions were the work of “misguided activists”.

Quick links

Africa doesn’t have a choice between economic growth and protecting the environment: how they can go hand in hand (The Conversation)

Cross-border payments are still costing businesses in Africa too much (CNBC Africa)

Daring to win against the odds (Trade for Development News)

Artificial Intelligence: A game-changer for sustainable development (OHCHR)

India Seeks WTO Arbitration With Australia Over Services Trade Issue (NDTV Profit)


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