Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Yes, there are problems at SA ports, but World Bank report not entirely accurate (Engineering News)

The newest World Bank Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) report, which places a number of South African ports at the bottom of the list, covers the crisis-ridden 2023 period, and does not take into account the corrective action taken since Transnet has been under new management as part of a recovery and transformation strategy, says Southern African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) CEO Dr Juanita Maree. 

“To contextualise, this was a period at the height of the crisis. The timing of its release unjustifiably tarnishes today’s developments, casting doubt on the efficacy of robust corrective action underway and the hard work of the recovery teams and the leadership of the National Logistics Crisis Committee – a strong strategic public-private consultative initiative by government that serves as the anchor,” says Maree.

“At the same time, we must acknowledge that there are valid points in the report, and we must not simply dismiss it, but rather constructively use it as another building block and join hands to ensure that we improve our container port performance.”

The Online Trade in high-value marine products from South Africa - Wildlife Trade Report from TRAFFIC (TRAFFIC)

Luxury seafood products sourced in South Africa are predominantly exported to consumers in east and southeast Asia. Many of the species involved are CITES-listed – protected under international trade regulations – and are associated with either social status or traditional medicinal beliefs in consumer markets such as Viet Nam and China, and mostly consumed for food as rare delicacies. The combination of poor fisheries management, online anonymity, and lax monitoring of online adverts can facilitate the illegal trade in protected species.

Further investigation into businesses posting marine products online is essential if we are to curb this potential trend of illegal online trade in protected marine species,” said Oliver Wright, TRAFFIC Southern Africa project officer and author of the report.

The illegal trade in shark fins and abalone from South Africa is well documented, and persists despite numerous interventions from law enforcement. Abalone fisheries have all but collapsed in South Africa, with control of wild caught South African abalone in the hands of ruthless criminal syndicates.

The rising popularity and ease of online trade in the region poses another major threat to already-threatened marine populations. Online trade is difficult to investigate given proof of sale is harder to establish. Laws relating to e-commerce rarely prohibit the advertising of illegal wildlife and more often apply only to actual sales, which are more challenging to uncover if transactions are arranged through private messaging.

Botswana may fall short of 4.2% growth target (Engineering News)

Botswana’s economy may fall short of the government’s 4.2% growth target for this year, a senior central bank official said on Tuesday, citing global and domestic constraints. Finance minister Peggy Serame made the projection for a 4.2% increase in GDP in a budget speech in February, saying the government expected growth to accelerate from 2023 due to an improved performance in the diamond sector. Gross domestic product grew 2.7% in 2023. However, Botswana’s mining sector, which is dominated by diamonds, is still struggling, reflecting sluggish market conditions globally.

“From what we have seen in the first half of the year, unfavourable global economic conditions ... as well as domestic structural constraints, one would expect that we are unlikely to attain the projected economic growth,” Innocent Molalapata, the central bank’s director of research and financial stability, told an economic briefing. “A downward revision of the growth target might therefore be required,” Molalapata said, adding that mining output contracted roughly 27% in the first quarter.

Hundreds of Kenyans march in protest against controversial finance bill (CGTN Africa)

Some major tax proposals in the bill were dropped after a Tuesday morning meeting between ruling party lawmakers and President William Ruto. “We are going to end up with a product in Parliament that came from the Executive and has been interrogated by the Legislature. Through public participation, the people of Kenya have had a say,” Ruto said.

Among the dropped items were the proposed 16 percent value-added tax on bread, transportation of sugar, financial services, foreign exchange transactions, and the 2.5 percent Motor Vehicle Tax. Additionally, there will be no increase in mobile money transfer fees, and Excise Duty on vegetable oil has also been removed. According to an official statement, the proposed Eco Levy will only be imposed on imported finished products that contribute to e-waste and thus harm the environment when they are no longer in use.

Kenyan legislators are set to begin debating the bill on Wednesday, with the vote planned for Monday.

FG seals $3.5 billion deal with Afreximbank for textile industry, CNG Vehicles, others (Nairametrics)

The federal government has announced a $3.5 billion agreement with Afreximbank to enhance the textile industry and promote the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles, among other initiatives. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, made this disclosure in a statement on X on Tuesday. Uzoka-Anite said the deal was signed with the international financial institution during 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas.

In earlier statement, the Minister said the federal government is seeking to attract $3.5 billion in investments to enhance Nigeria’s textile, cotton, and apparel sector in Nigeria in one year. She said this investment is part of the ministry’s initiative to rejuvenate the long-dormant textile industry. She also noted that Nigeria’s textile sector encompasses the complete clothing value chain in the country. According to the minister, investment in the textile industry will generate employment for both skilled and unskilled labour across Nigeria.

Poor power supply, decaying seaport facilities impeding trade - Bello-Koko (Daily Trust)

The Managing Director (MD) of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, has outlined some of the problems affecting the efficiency of the nation’s seaports to include multiplicity of government agencies, decaying facilities and inadequate power supply. The NPA boss explained that all the outlined problems were barriers impeding foreign trade.

The nation’s total imports for 2023 stood at N35.9trn, while total exports were N35.9trn. Nigeria posted a slim trade surplus of just N2.8trn in March, 2024. Bello-Koko said NPA was determined to see the country’s trade rise above what was recorded in 2023 by the time all barriers were eliminated.

Speaking as a panelist at the Business Day Conference on Nigeria’s Maritime with the theme: “Unlocking Potentials and Overcoming Challenges”, he emphasised the significant trade barriers in Nigeria. Bello-Koko said, “As a government agency vital to the nation’s economic revival, we are committed to addressing these trade barriers and implementing measures to revitalise and strengthen the economy.

“Our focus is on automating the port system to streamline trade, minimise congestion and reduce idle time. The Port Community System is a critical milestone in our journey to this automation, which has the potential to revolutionise port operations. “We aim to modernise our ports to regain lost transit and transshipment of cargo to neighbouring ports and tackle bottlenecks in our export processes through strategic initiatives like the Export Processing Terminals (EPT).”

Ethiopian coffee booms despite looming EU regulation (Addis Standard)

Ethiopia’s coffee industry is experiencing a robust year, with exports reaching a staggering $1.2 billion in the past 11 months, according to the Coffee and Tea Authority. This revenue stems from the export of 252,446 tons of coffee to international markets. Adugna Debela, Director General of the Authority, noted, “Ethiopia has a high chance of surpassing the all-time high revenue obtained two years ago” from coffee exports.

However, the future of Ethiopian coffee exports faces uncertainty due to the European Union’s upcoming Deforestation-Free Regulation (EUDR). The EU, a crucial market for Ethiopian coffee, accounts for roughly 30% of annual sales. The new regulation, set to take effect on December 30, 2024, will impose stricter requirements on Ethiopian exporters, potentially impacting this significant revenue stream.

Senegal outlines plan for robust digital public infrastructure development (Biometric Update)

The new Director General of the structure managing Senegal’s digital ecosystem, Isidore Diouf, says he will make the development of a sturdy digital public infrastructure (DPI) one of his priorities as he takes office. Diouf was recently appointed to manage Senegal Numérique SA – the government body overseeing the country’s digital development efforts. He said he will work to build on the digital gains made by his predecessor in order to actualize the digital policy and vision of President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, We Are Tech Africa reports.

Diouf takes over from Cheikh Bakhoum, who piloted the institution for almost ten years, with efforts to make it a model for digital in West Africa. Faye had promised during his presidential campaign to set the country on the rails of rapid digital transformation once elected. Among other things, Diouf says he will prioritize actions that seek to widen Senegal’s digital economy and make it contribute more to the country’s GDP. The contribution of the digital economy is currently valued at around 3.3 percent but the government aims to take this up to 10 percent as outlined in the Senegal Digital Strategy 2025.

Working Party Chair meets Somalian President to discuss WTO accession, Trade for Peace (WTO)

The Chair of the Working Party on the Accession of Somalia, Ambassador Nina Tornberg of Sweden, met President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of the Federal Republic of Somalia on 14 June in Lucerne, Switzerland, to discuss the country’s WTO accession process. At a roundtable discussion, President Mohamud pledged Somalia’s commitment to moving the accession process forward and stressed the importance of trade in promoting peace and stability in the country.

The accession process of Somalia started in December 2016 with the establishment of a Working Party. Somalia submitted the Memorandum of its Foreign Trade Regime in May 2020. Ambassador Tornberg was appointed as Chairperson of the Working Party in December 2023. Ambassador Tornberg congratulated the President on recent milestones achieved by Somalia, which include the debt relief of US$4.5 billion under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, the accession to the East African Community (EAC) as well as the lifting of the arms embargo and the election to the United Nations Security Council.

‘ECOWAS module on region’s economic prosperity, not successful’ (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, House of Representatives, Tochukwu Okere, said that the primary objective of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) module for the economic prosperity of the region, though laudable, has not been entirely successful. He said that the loss of focus is responsible for the apparent multidimensional poverty and fast-expanding insecurity in the sub-region.

Speaking on ‘Trade Conundrum: Expanding Understanding of ECOWAS Module as Catalyst To Prosperity In Sub-Saharan Africa,’ during the 15th Anniversary of Nigerian Eye Newspaper Lecture in Accra, Ghana, Okere said the revised Article of the Commission in 1983, clearly stated that the Community was founded to “promote co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of economic union in West Africa to raise the living standards of its people, ensure growth, foster relations among member states and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent.

According to him in 2022, the total trade volume, including imports and exports, intra-community trade in the ECOWAS region was just $277.22 billion according to data sourced from the Trade Information System (ECOTIS). This volume of trade, according to the President of ECOWAS, Omar Touray, was considered far below the sub-region’s estimated trade potential. He observed that this intra-community trade stood at 12 per cent compared to other regions that were fully integrated and that have consistently recorded as high as 60- 70 per cent in intra-community trade is unacceptable.

African states defy global shocks to grow trade (The Star)

In its latest report titled ‘A Resilient Africa: Delivering Growth in a Turbulent World’, the lender says African economies face several downside risks, including increasing levels of sovereign debt, associated sustainability risks, and excessive exposure to adverse terms-of-trade shocks. Other risks include escalating geopolitical tensions in some cases, volatile domestic political environments in certain African countries, high commodity prices and inflationary pressures, and potential food insecurity.

The report, that analyses the economic environment, trade patterns, debt scenarios, and future projections for African economies, shows that the continents economies will grow on average by 3.8 percent in 2024 slightly outpacing the predicted global growth of 3.2 percent. According to the report, the growth is expected to maintain the upward curve reaching four percent in 2025.

Afreximbank group chief economist and managing director Yemi Kale said ongoing global challenges undermined the performance of Africa’s trade, decreasing it by 6.3 percent in 2023, down from 15.9 percent in 2022. However, intra-African trade expanded by 3.2 percent over the same period, Kale noted.

“This performance is reflective of the resilience of the African economy and the potential impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) single market for the continent as a tool to protect them from global shocks,” Kale said. “Our analysis in the report also revealed large untapped potential in intra-African trade, especially in machinery, electricity, motor vehicles, and food products,” he continued.

Prime Minister Philip Davis’s Vision for Global Africa: Charting a Path to Economic Empowerment (Afreximbank)

The Honourable Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, delivered a stirring speech at the Afreximbank’s annual meetings in Nassau, Bahamas, articulating a vision for “Global Africa” that transcends geographical boundaries to unite African and Caribbean nations in economic prosperity and self-determination. “Global Africa” is a movement that celebrates the shared heritage and potential of African and Caribbean nations. This vision, underscored by initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and regional economic summits, aims to empower over 2 billion people of African descent worldwide to define their economic destiny on their own terms.

Mr Davis outlined a blueprint for financial integration between Africa and the Caribbean, emphasizing collaboration in banking systems, digital finance, and regulatory frameworks. He highlighted the Bahamas’ leadership in pioneering initiatives like the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank digital currency, as a model for enhancing financial inclusivity and resilience across the regions.

BRICS expansion offers opportunity to boost African trade, say experts (African Business)

The expansion of the BRICS bloc offers African countries an opportunity to trade value-added and intermediate goods with the world and move away from the trade in raw commodities, according to experts at a BRICS roundtable. In January, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates joined the emerging markets economic bloc originally comprised of founding members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

At a business breakfast hosted by Brand South Africa and the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council during the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Nairobi in May, experts focused on how the expansion of BRICS to include five new countries offers an opportunity to bolster trade and investment in Africa. The new formation, dubbed BRICS+, accounts for around 40% of crude oil production and exports, one-quarter of global GDP, two-fifths of global trade in goods, and nearly half of the world’s population, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Stavros Nicolau, a member of the BRICS Business Council in South Africa, highlighted the opportunities presented by the expansion. Nicolau emphasised that Africa’s trade deficit with both the original BRICS countries – particularly China – and the new additions can be addressed by adding value to raw materials and traded goods.

See: An Evolving BRICS and the Shifting World Order (BCG)

Malaysia Is Planning to Join BRICS, Anwar Says Ahead of Li Visit (Bloomberg)

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the Southeast Asian nation will join the BRICS economic bloc, becoming the latest country to take part in an expanding group seen challenging the western-led global order. “We have indicated as a policy that we are” joining, Anwar said in an interview with the Chinese news outlet Guancha aired ahead of a scheduled visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Malaysia. “We have made a decision. We are placing the formal procedures soon.”

Report: As African Apparel Imports Dwindle, the Time for AGOA Renewal is Now (Yahoo Finance)

The clock is officially ticking on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and uncertainty about the trade preference program’s future is already eroding U.S. imports from sub-Saharan African (SSA) nations.

Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) data from April revealed a concerning trend: imports from AGOA beneficiary countries decreased by more than 23 percent in value and nearly 22 percent in quantity compared to the same period last year. In a study released this week, Sheng Lu analyzed the region’s capabilities and capacity to take on more apparel sourcing from Asia as China continues to shed market share. “The SSA region was often regarded as one of the most popular alternative sourcing destinations thanks to its large population, relatively low labor costs, and shorter shipping distance to U.S. ports compared to most Asian [sourcing hubs],” he wrote.

But despite the U.S. government’s aim to boost trade with Africa through the creation of AGOA 24 years ago, growth has been slow-going. The trade deal, which allows a multitude of products from nearly three dozen sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. duty free, creates substantial financial incentives to source from members, but “empirical trade data shows that U.S. apparel imports from SSA members have stagnated over the past decades without evident growth,” the report said.

See: New Study: Is Sub-Saharan Africa Ready to Serve as an Alternative Apparel Sourcing Destination to Asia for U.S. Fashion Companies? A Product-Level Analysis

Geopolitical uncertainty, trade restrictions and divergence on AI ‘biggest risks’ to growth for global companies (CXOToday.com)

The findings in KPMG’s Top risks forecast: Bottom lines for business in 2024 and beyond shine a light on the multifaceted, complex challenges facing companies looking to grow internationally at a time of increasing divergence on regulation, conflict, technological advancement and political uncertainty. The report’s analysis identifies the three most critical risks for businesses right now, known as ‘bottom lines’, likely to impact operations this year and beyond: Trade policy restrictions, Vulnerability calls for operational resilience, and AI Governance Gaps.

Global trade restrictions have been on the rise, with approximately 3,000 restrictions imposed, nearly tripling since 2019. This trend of protectionist trade policies poses challenges for organizations operating in international markets. Such restrictions can create barriers and hinder economic growth, affecting supply chains and market access. Organizations should be prepared to navigate these trade policy restrictions and explore alternative strategies to mitigate potential disruptions.

See also from KPMG: Supply chain trends 2024: The digital shake-up

‘Without nuclear, it will be almost impossible to decarbonize by 2050’, UN atomic energy chief (UN News)

The issue of spent fuel, the highly radioactive waste produced by the process of producing energy in nuclear power plants, has also been periodically raised as a cause for concern. But the image of nuclear power got a boost at the 2023 UN climate conference in Dubai (COP28), when 198 countries included nuclear energy in the list of low emission technologies that need to be scaled up if we’re to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

Ahead of an international conference on the safe management of spent fuel, UN News spoke to Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss the growth of nuclear energy, and the difference the COP28 declaration is likely to make to the way it is perceived.

Rafael Grossi At the moment there is no international financing for nuclear, partly because of policies that are hostile to the technology. But that is starting to change, and international financial institutions are starting to review these policies. We are seeing the growth of nuclear energy in the global South, from India and China, to Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh, and South Africa. Several African countries are interested, due to the development of small modular reactors, which are more affordable.

Increasing energy investment in Africa is vital for the continent’s sustainable economic growth (IEA)

Meeting growing energy demand in Africa requires a surge of spending on clean energy projects, with swift action to tackle financial barriers so investment can reach the levels that are needed, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report, Clean Energy Investment for Development in Africa, supports a flagship initiative launched by Italy’s G7 Presidency at the Leaders’ Summit in Apulia. Called Energy for Growth in Africa, it aims to help foster a strong pipeline of bankable clean energy projects in Africa and to improve access to financing so the projects can come to fruition, with an emphasis on technical assistance and capacity building.

According to the report, meeting Africa’s rising energy needs, as well as the energy access, climate and development goals set by governments in the region, requires annual energy investment to more than double to over $240 billion by 2030, with around three-quarters going to clean energy.

SDSN Releases the Sustainable Development Report 2024 (Sustainable Development Solutions Network)

None of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are on track to be achieved by 2030, and only an estimated 16% of the SDG targets are progressing, reveals the 9th edition of the Sustainable Development Report (SDR) released on 17 June 2024 by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, President of the SDSN and a lead author of the report, emphasizes the following: “Midway between the founding of the UN in 1945 and the year 2100, we cannot rely on business as usual. The world faces great global challenges, including dire ecological crises, widening inequalities, disruptive and potentially hazardous technologies, and deadly conflicts, we are at a crossroads. Ahead of the UN’s Summit of the Future, the international community must take stock of the vital accomplishments and the limitations of the United Nations system, and work toward upgrading multilateralism for the decades ahead.”

Quick links

Africa’s trade paradox: A tale of exporting raw and importing processed (Businessday NG)

The Power of Working as One: Connecting the Small Island Developing States (UNDP)

US cheats more than China on free and fair trade (Asia Times)

The 1.5°C Target for Global Warming Must Prevail (Project Syndicate)

Strong Electric Utilities Critical to Clean Energy for All (World Bank)


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