Current Trade News

Tobacco sales have reached a 113 million kilogrammes, with contract system dominating the marketing season. At least 60 049 farmers have sold their tobacco through the contract system, while 20 938 have used the auction system. According to the statistics released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, farmers have to date realized $307 million, 27 percent higher than the $240 million realized during the same period last year.

To date, 21,5 million kg has been sold through the auction floors, while contract floors received 91,7 million kg. Contract farmers contributed 81 percent of seasonal total tobacco sales against 19 percent for the auction floors.

The average price for the three auction floors was $2,83 per kg, two percent lower than the $2,88 of the 2016 marketing season. The highest price was $6/kg, while rejected bales stood at 91 047 compared to 62 568 last year.

Reasons for rejection of bales included oversized, underweight, badly handled and mixed hands. A total of 1,6 million bales were laid, with 1,5 million being sold.

Seasonal exports have increased by nine percent from the same period last year, with 41,7 million kg having been exported to 47 destinations, compared to 42,5 million kg exported to 38 destinations during the same period last year.

China remains the major export destination followed by Belgium and South Africa. The 2017 export price is 19 percent lower from $5,79/kg to $4,70/kg this year. New tobacco grower registration has increased by 80 percent from 18 826 in 2016 to 94 849 this year.

Extracted from The Herald, Zimbabwe

WTO members gathered on 16 May for the inaugural meeting of the Committee on Trade Facilitation, the body responsible for overseeing implementation of the WTO’s historic Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA entered into force on 22 February 2017 following its ratification by two-thirds of the WTO membership. In line with the Agreement, the Committee on Trade Facilitation was established in order to provide WTO members a forum to consult on matters related to the operation of the TFA and the advancement of its objectives.

At the inaugural meeting, members elected Ambassador Daniel Blockert (Sweden) as chair of the committee. “Having the committee now in session marks an important milestone in our longstanding efforts to foster the facilitation of trade around the globe,” Ambassador Blockert said. “We have finally reached the stage where our collective engagement over the past years is bearing fruit. In doing so, we are testimony of what can be achieved – even under challenging circumstances – when working in coalitions of a common cause.”

The chair said there were a few procedural matters to settle before the new committee could undertake its assigned tasks, and that he would be consulting with members before reconvening the committee with the goal of adopting an agreed framework.

The committee will develop procedures for the sharing of relevant information and best practices among members. After four years, the committee will review the operation and implementation of the TFA.

A seminar will be held on 2 June at WTO headquarters to commemorate the entry into force of the TFA.  Members will review the negotiating history of the TFA and be invited to share their thoughts on how to secure effective implementation of the Agreement.

Since its entry into force, six additional WTO members — Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Armenia, Fiji, Costa Rica and Sierra Leone — have submitted their instruments of TFA acceptance to the WTO.  This brings up to 118 the number of WTO members that have ratified the Agreement.

The TFA will help expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders. Full implementation of the TFA is forecast to slash members’ trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries having the most to gain,  according to a 2015 study carried out by WTO Economists. The TFA is also likely to reduce the time needed to import goods by over a day and a half and to export goods by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average.

Developed countries have committed to immediately implement the Agreement. Developing countries, in comparison, will immediately apply only the TFA provisions they have designated as “Category A” commitments.

For the other provisions of the Agreement, developing countries must indicate when these will be implemented and what capacity building support is needed to help them implement these provisions, known as Category B and C commitments. Developing country members’ notifications of A, B and C commitments are available.

A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facilitation (TFAF) was created at the request of developing and least-developed countries to help ensure they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new agreement by all members.

 

Extracted from World Trade Organization.

Kenya is now seeing the impact of Brexit following the drop in tea volumes purchased by Britain as European countries increasingly chose to bypass UK with direct imports.

An industry performance report by the Tea Directorate indicates the volume purchased by Britain dropped from 5.4 million kilogrammes in March last year to 3.1 million kilogrammes in the same month this year.

The directorate indicates that Britain is no longer buying same amount of tea from Kenya due to a reduced re-exportation market to other European countries who have been securing the commodity from the UK.

"We can comfortably attribute this decline to Brexit, Britain has been a major buyer of our tea in Europe and it was buying for both local consumption and re-export to other European countries," said Samuel Ogola, head of the directorate.

Experts had last year warned that the exit of Britain from European Union (EU) could see a drop in volumes of tea that the UK imports from Kenya due to anticipated decline of its (UK) re-export market to other nations.

The UK is a major re-exporter of tea and in 2014 it exported 17 per cent of the beverage it imported, with countries like Republic of Ireland, Germany, Poland and France being its major markets.

Mr Ogola said the countries that used to buy Kenyan tea indirectly from Britain are now procuring it directly from Kenya. The report indicates that volumes of tea exported to Poland and Germany grew by 39 and 12 per cent respectively in the period under review.

The data from the directorate indicates that the volumes exported to Germany went up from 75,000 to 85,000 with sales to Poland jumping to 504,787 from 363,554 in March last year.

The country is trying to open up new markets and expand the existing ones such as China, which has the potential of buying more of the local beverage as a way of protecting farmers from low earnings.

Local tea consumption for February was 2.18 million kilogrammes against 2.5 million kilogrammes in the same period last year while cumulative tea consumption for the two months to March was 47.08 million kilogrammes against 6.95 million kilogrammes in 2016.

Extracted from Daily Nation Kenya

Malawi Government is said to be set to send a Malawian delegation to Brazil to learn how to deal with army worms. This was disclosed in Lilongwe during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government of Malawi and Brazil.

Both Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil Aloysio Nunes Ferreira and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Internal Cooperation of Malawi Francis Kasaila witnessed the signing of the MOU. According to the two foreign Ministers, the bilateral relations of Malawi and Brazil dates back to independence but the relations were dormant.

Said Kasaila; "His Excellency Prof. Peter Mutharika has been urging us to make bilateral relations to countries which Malawi can benefit from and one such country is Brazil. "They are experts in agriculture which Malawi can learn from and also deals with army worms which is a problem in Malawi.

"So the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security will soon identify people to go to Brazil to learn on how to deal with these army worms." According to Kasaila, government also intends to connect the northern region of Malawi with a railway line that will help reduce the number of goods that come to Malawi by road.

On his part the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Brazil Aloysio Nunes Ferreira said Brazil has been supporting Malawi on school feeding program. "We would like to invest in trade and investment to see more investors from Brazil come to Malawi," said Ferreira.

In the MOU the two governments have agreed to shorten the process of visa for investors, process of visa for diplomatic passport holders as well as spouses for diplomats are free to work in their diplomatic country to contribute to nation development.

Extracted from Malawi News Agency (MANA)

TANZANIA is among the potential beneficiaries of additional Chinese financing amounting to 14.5 billion US dollars (over 30tri/-) to execute infrastructure projects through the Belt and Road initiative.

And this week, Tanzania and the world's second economy are scheduled to ink two agreements to open Chinese markets for cassava from Tanzania and set up an industrial park and cement factory in Tanga. Speaking at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged the additional 14.5 billion dollars into the existing Silk Road Fund.

Launched in 2013 by the Chinese to create an open economic system based on balanced trade, the Belt and Road initiative tracks down the ancient silkroad route used by the Chinese traders. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Aziz Mlima, said the implementation of the Bagamoyo Port and its associated Special Economic Zone are among issues to feature at the global forum. Launched in 2013 by the Chinese to create an open economic system based on balanced trade, the Belt and Road initiative tracks down the ancient silkroad route used by the Chinese traders.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Aziz Mlima, said the implementation of the Bagamoyo Port and its associated Special Economic Zone are among issues to feature at the global forum.

"Agreements for the projects were signed during President Jinping visit to Tanzania in 2012; the stage is now for their execution," Dr Mlima told 'Daily News' in a telephone interview, naming other African countries that will benefit from the funding as South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Congo-Brazzaville.

The Minister for Works, Communication and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa, is representing President John Magufuli, at the meeting that has drawn leaders and officials from all over the world. And, speaking to this paper shortly after President Jinping opening speech, Tanzania Ambassador to China, Mr Mbelwa Kairuki, said cassava farmers in Tanzania have been assured of ready market in the Asian country.

"It is a good opportunity for our farmers; Nigeria for instance exports 3.2 million tons of cassava to China every year, earning up to 800 million US dollars," Ambassador Kairuki stated. The envoy explained further that there would be agreement on a joint venture by the two largest Chinese cement producers, China-SINOMA and Hegya to build the industrial park and cement factory in Tanga region.

"The plant is expected to produce seven million tons of cement and create 4,000 jobs," he stated. Tanga Regional Commissioner Martin Shigela is also attending the meeting. In his opening speech, President Jinping said the China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank will set up special lending schemes worth 250 billion Yuan (about 36.2 billion US dollars) and 130 billion Yuan (18.8 billion dollars) to support cooperation on infrastructure and industries.

The Chinese leader as well pledged aid amounting to two billion Yuan (290 million US dollars) to developing countries along the Belt and Road and additional contribution of one billion US dollars to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation. He said China will sign business and trade co-operation agreements with over 30 countries and enter into consultation on free trade agreements with related countries.

Also, President Jinping sought to attract countries to join the ambitious "Belt and Road Initiative" as China seeks to connect nations along the new Silk Road routes through economic cooperation and infrastructure development. He said during the past four years, there had been deepened policy connectivity, enhanced infrastructure and trade link in addition to expanded financial inclusion in line with the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative.

President Jinping hailed achievements made over the past four years, saying over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. He said China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations and carried out the framework cooperation on production capacity with over 30 countries.

At least 29 Heads of State and Government are attending the forum, the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road since the Chinese President proposed the initiative in 2013.

Extracted from The Daily News (Dar Es Salaam)