Current Trade News

Rwanda will host the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) next year and also serve as the seat of the organization going forward, a statement from AGRF Partners Group says.
The group made the announcement on September 6 in Accra, Ghana during the 2019 AGRF. The statement revealed that the move followed a competitive bidding process.
AGRF is now well established as the premier platform for leaders from across Africa and the world to advance concrete plans and share knowledge to tap the enormous potential of agriculture to drive equitable and sustainable growth across the continent, according to its organizers
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (in Rwanda) said that winning such a position was an indicator that Rwanda's institutions are strong and have concerted and coordinated efforts.
"Rwanda's hosting of AGRF 2018 featured the largest attendance on record and the leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame, both in presiding over that historic gathering and in his broader commitment to the transformational power of agriculture, has set a model for all to follow," said Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Desalegn was this month announced as the Board Chair for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and as chair of the AGRF Partners Group.
"The AGRF Partners look forward to working closely with the Republic of Rwanda in this new approach, particularly under the committed leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame," he observed.
The AGRF Partners noted that Rwanda's partnership as the home country of AGRF will also increase accountability and commitment of the continent's leaders to use the forum as a focal point for delivering on the goals laid out by African Heads of State and Government in the African Union's Malabo Declaration, United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Africa Agenda 2063.
AGRF is a partnership of institutions that care about Africa's agriculture transformation.
The AGRF Partners Group is made up of a coalition of 21 leading actors in African agriculture all focused on putting farmers at the center of the continent's growing economies.
Its partners currently include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank, the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Others are the Mastercard Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
AGRF has taken place in eight different countries over the last decade, ensuring that awareness, models, lessons, and the political will required to drive an inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa grow steadily across the continent.
At the end of its first decade, the statement said, the AGRF will now adjust its approach and adopt a "home and away" model where the Forum will alternate between hosting the event in Rwanda in even years and different host countries across the continent in alternate years.
The move will add the Republic of Rwanda to the AGRF Partners Group to help shape and drive the AGRF's long-term vision, deepen relationships with service providers to streamline organizational logistics and unlock partnerships with several new institutions looking to grow with the forum.
"We are honored to be the home country for AGRF and are committed to working closely and collaboratively with our many partners across Africa and around the world to ensure the continued growth and influence of AGRF as the voice of Africa's smallholder farmers and agriculture businesses," Gerardine Mukeshimana, Rwanda's Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said.
Talking about the implications of the move, Minister Mukeshimana told Sunday Times it will boost Rwanda's agriculture sector, and become a leader in shaping the Africa agriculture transformation agenda.
"[It will] attract the private sector in agriculture, and income to our tourism industry as the forum attracts close to 3000 participants," Mukeshimana said.
So far, about $60 billion commitments have been made to Africa's agriculture thanks to the Forum, according to information from AGRA.

Lilongwe — Malawi will this month (September) host a sensitization workshop that will bring together all trade stakeholders as it pushes to have the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement ratified.
The workshop, slated for September 17 (2019) in Lilongwe, is aimed at raising awareness on the pros and cons of the treaty with the hope of clearing issues that have delayed the ratification process.
According to Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Spokesperson, Mayeso Msokera, critical aspects of the AfCFTA Agreement are still outstanding.
She cited Rules of Origin under the Protocol on Trade and Negotiations being in progress as parties develop and submit their lists of product-specific rules of origin.
"Malawi wants to ratify AfCFTA when critical aspects such as those indicated above are negotiated and this will allow us to submit complete sets of documents according to our legal procedures.
"The private sector needs to be oriented on the pros and cons. So, we have lined up sensitization workshops for stakeholders together with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 17th September to make them understand more.
"From there, we hope the private sector would have understood and let us proceed to ratify the agreement," he said.
Although he could not commit himself on the time for ratification, Msokera said what remains is to get a nod from the private sector after the orientation is done.
"For example, if the private sector recommends that we proceed to ratify, immediately the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism together with Ministry of Justice, would commence putting in place documents for ratification.
"Ratification will be done when we have complete sets of documents since negotiations are not concluded. Once finalized, Malawi will ratify according to our legal procedures required in ratification," Msokera said.
In a recent commentary after AfCFTA achieved the required number of countries for ratification, Director of Trade and Customs at COMESA, Francis Mangeni said even though the process has some outstanding issues, a lot of successes have been registered.
"Rules of origin and tariff negotiations need to be completed. Tariff schedules should be produced. A mechanism for addressing non-tariff barriers is also required. Some Regulations and Guidelines are also needed in areas such as infant industries and export processing zones," he said.
Malawi signed the AfCFTA on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The agreement entered into force on May 20, 2019 when the threshold of 22 countries from the 54 that signed, ratified the agreement while its operational phase began on July 7, 2019.
Source: Malawi News Agency (MANA)

The country's largest chicken and egg producer, Irvine's has called on government to review expensive license fees being charged by the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) and the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) in order to improve the ease of doing business.
Irvine's chief executive officer David Irvine bemoaned the exorbitant fees being charged.
"NBA charges an annual registration fee of $6 500 per annum despite the fact that they do not provide a service nor do they inspect the plant. They also require a quarterly registration of imported feed ingredients which include minerals that are not possibly genetically modified which carry a yearly cost of $36 400," Inrvine said.
Irvine added that AMA also issues almost similar licenses for Feed Mill Registration for $ 1 000 and plant quarantine which costs $1 800 per annum despite the fact that they do not provide any service nor do they inspect the plant.
At the same time the department of veterinary services also charges $1 000 per annum that the chicken producer says the purpose of which is shrouded in mystery.
"In addition to the above there are extra charges raised at the border on every consignment as follows: Ministry of Agriculture charges approximately 20 trucks per annum a total of $6,600. National Biotechnology Authority charges the same trucks $4,400 per annum while the veterinary department charges $ 400.
"These border inspections are unnecessary as Zimbabwe Revenue Authority also carries out similar inspections on all consignments," he said.
Irvine also called for computerization of processes especially by tax authorities.
The company also pays for Biosafety Certificate for each product in the export line that includes $ 2 600 for hatching eggs, $ 2 600 for day old chicks and another $2 600 for render by product meal.
"In addition fines of up to $3,000 are levied for issues like sequencing of documents being wrong and these add to the cost of exporting. It is absolutely unnecessary as no GMO technology is used in the poultry industry worldwide.
Surely, such requirements should rest with the importing country and we have not been asked for these," he said.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed paramount producer of piping material, Proplastics, has finally completed its factory, with the plant expected to start operating by the end of the third quarter after the completion of pending minor electric works.
The firm manufactures a variety of piping products for usage in mining, agriculture and infrastructure development.
"The new factory construction work is largely complete except for a few remaining electrical works. Focus is now shifted on making the plant operational by the end of the third quarter. As envisaged when the Group embarked on this project, we expect operational efficiencies to improve with the migration to the new factory, thus driving down unit costs.
"In this regard, a more stable supply of electricity is vital in order to ensure export competitiveness and we will engage relevant authorities in order to seek a solution to this critical issue," said company Chairman Gregory Sebborn in a statement accompanying the company's half-year financials to June 30, 2019.
The new factory project was initially earmarked to be completed by the first quarter of 2018 but foreign currency shortages threw spanners into the works resulting in the about US$5 million project failing to be completed within the targeted timeframe.
The project is designed to boost the company's production capacity as well as enhancing its export competitiveness through factory efficiencies and economies of scale should electricity supply be stable. Earlier reports had indicated the new factory will see production capacity mounting from about 8000 tonnes to 32 000 tonnes per annum.
Meanwhile Proplastics manoeuvred through an "extremely challenging operating environment to post an 87 percent boost in revenue to $20,1 million compared to $10,7 million posted in the prior year comparative.
The boost, however, has come amidst a decline in production volumes by 28 percent compared to the previous year. The company managed to compensate the volumes decline with cost containment to 16 percent despite inflationary pressures.
Growth in revenues translated to a boost in gross profit to $11,6 million compared to the prior $3,4 million, more as a result of contained cost of sales. Profit after tax at $5,4 million compared to $1,2 million achieved in the prior period was commendable.
The financial positives were highly commendable despite an upsurge in overheads and financing costs.
"Overheads increased by 156 percent due to the inflationary environment and financing costs went up by 144 percent driven by costs in establishing new facilities with the banks and interest on lease liability arising on initial application of International Financial Reporting Standards," said Mr Sebborn.
Going forward, the piping concern is hopeful the interbank market will grow to meet its foreign currency requirements. However, short-term demand is expected to remain subdued within a challenging economic environment.

The country's trade promotion body, ZimTrade has asked Government to decentralise the issuance of export permits as part of the latest round of Ease of Doing Business reforms.
ZimTrade manager for export development Mr Tatenda Marume said such a move was in tandem with Government's drive towards devolution.
"A critical issue is the decentralization of permits. In the spirit of devolution, some of our exports have already been devolved because if you look at it, areas like Chipinge are strong in terms of horticulture.
"But why do they have to come here and get an export permit in Harare when we know that almost all the exports of avocados and macadamia are coming from that region.
"So, we are looking at a situation which begs for decentralization, and probably with time if the permits can be accessed on e-platforms the better," said Mr. Marume.
Devolution essentially refers to the cascading of powers and responsibilities to lower levels of governance by a central Government.
Zimbabwe has made a commitment towards the devolution agenda, with Section 301 of the Constitution providing for Inter-governmental Fiscal Transfers from central to provincial and local tiers of Government to support devolution.
Observers contend that decentralization of export permits will help boost the country's horticulture sector, the majority of whose products are typically destined for exports markets, especially the European Union (EU).
Official figures show that Zimbabwe's horticultural exports recorded significant growth last year, with over US$112 million worth of produce exported, up from $50,9 million previously.
The country's horticultural products include flowers, passion fruit, fine beans, peas (mange tout and sugar snap, all berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries), baby vegetables such as carrots, baby corn, baby marrow, courgettes, chillies namely the birds’ eye, serenade among others, broccoli, citrus, avocado and macadamia nuts.
Mr. Marume was speaking at the launch of the 2020 to 2021 Ease of Doing Business Reforms Programme last week.
He told the meeting that an uneven operating environment was making Zimbabwe's exports uncompetitive, even at regional level.
"From a market survey we did of Botswana in 2017, we found that Zimbabwean products are at least 15 percent more expensive than what you would get from our regional competitors.
"Because of that competitiveness gap, our situation is so sensitive so any extra delay or any extra cost no matter how small you think it is, will probably affect our exports to the point where they are going to be non-existent in the future," said Mr. Marume.

Khartoum — Undersecretary Ministry of Industry and Commerce Abdel Rahman Al Ajab affirmed his ministry's concern on commercial exchange with COMESA.
He pointed out the importance of providing the required facilities for COMESA member states regarding drafting and implementing the program that served the economy, the exchange of commerce and industry at regional and international levels.
In his meeting Sunday at the Ministry Headquarters with COMESA visiting delegation chaired by the Head of Regional Integration Projects Department, Hub Sambiko - AL Ajab explained that the African continent in general and COMESA member states in particular enjoyed abundant human and natural resources.
He said this characteristic facilitated sustainable industrial development.
For her part Sambiko underscored the COMESA concern on Sudan. She pointed out that COMESA gave priority for implementation of its projects and program particularly after the recent positive development in Sudan.
She added that the COMESA came to Sudan in response to direct instructions from COMESA Secretary General in order to resume the implementation of building capacity institutional project in Sudan at a cost of 2.2 million Euro.
Besides she said reviewing and closing the previous project account implemented in Sudan at a cost of 1.2 million Euro. She also said COMESA was at stage of preparing roadmap for offering Support to Sudan in various fields.
As well COMESA Secretary General is expected to visit Sudan in coming two months' time, Sambiko said.