Current Trade News

Africa, where close to half of its 1.2 billion have access to electricity, is set to become a world leader in renewable energy. As global business and development leaders met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), one of the key focuses of the deals being discussed was around sustainable, renewable energy.
Organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its various partners, the forum is expected to see $68 billion in deals closed over the next few days.
Leaders are doing all they can to encourage investment

In attendance where heads of state from South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and Mozambique. At an invitation-only discussion among the leaders, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said there was a lot of progress in Africa as a whole.
"I have always thought it was Africa's time. We African's have let ourselves down, we are now realizing it has always been our time. And we are now seizing every opportunity and be where we should be by now," Kagame said.
Kagame was the driver of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) during his time as chair of the African Union in 2018. The agreement had not been in existence during the first AIF last year.
Established in March 2019, the AfCFTA has now been signed by 54 of the 55 African member states.
Alain Ebobisse, CEO of Africa 50, the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform capitalized by the AfDB, said that there was a consensus from African leaders that they needed to do whatever they could to attractive more private investment. He said that the AIF attendance showed that there was a changing narrative for investment on the continent.
Earlier figures had been revealed by the South African premier of Gauteng Province, David Makhura, that over 2,000 delegates were in attendance from 109 countries. Of this, only 40 percent where from Africa with the majority of investors attending from Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Gauteng is South Africa's wealthiest province of and includes the financial centres of Johannesburg and Sandton, as well as the seat of government in Pretoria.
Renewable energy on a positive trajectory

Ebobisse said that a lot was already happening on the continent and while the media focused on the challenges there were huge success stories too -- like the 1.5 GW Benban Solar Park in Egypt, which is the world's largest solar photovoltaic plant.
"I'm sure that people are not talking enough about this major achievement which is the Benban Solar Programmer, 1.5 GW of solar that was invested mostly by the private sector in a record time," he said.
Africa 50 invested in 400 MW in that project and completed it from design to commercial operations in two and a half years.
Ebobisse went on to highlight Kenya's opening this July of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, which at a generation capacity of 300 MW makes it the largest wind power project on the continent.
"It was funded by the private sector," Ebobisse told the media. He also looked towards Senegal which was implementing many independent power producers or IPPs in the solar sector.
"So there is a lot that is happening. We need to also widely understand the challenges and understand what is happening on the ground. And people are actually making good money in this investment. And there is nothing wrong about that. Let's celebrate those successes," he said.
Making Africa a world leader in renewables

A few weeks ago, the Governors of the AfDB met in Cote d'Ivoire's capital Abidjan, approving a historic $115 billion increase to the bank's authorized capital base to $208 billion. "This is the highest capital increase in the history of the bank since its establishment in 1964," AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said today.
During the October announcement Adesina had said that a significant portion of funding would be invested in climate change.
Today, in response to a question from IPS, Adesina further explained that the bank had doubled its investment in climate finance from $12 billion to $25 billion by 2020.
"Almost 50 percent of our finance will be going to climate adaptation as opposed to climate mitigation. So we are the first multilateral development bank to actually reach that balance in terms of adaptation and mitigation," he said.
Climate mitigation is the actions taken to reduce or curb greenhouse gases, thereby addressing the causes of climate change to prevent future warming. However, climate adaptation addresses how to live with the impacts of climate change.
"I believe that coal is the past. I believe that renewable energy is the future and we as a bank are investing in not in the past, but in the future in making sure that we are investing in solar energy, in hydro energy, in wind, all types of renewable energy that Africa needs," Adesina said.
"We want Africa to lead in renewable energy."
He said one of the projects was the AfDB's Green Baseload Facility, which according to the bank, aims "to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable baseload power generation options and prevent countries from locking themselves into environmentally damaging and potentially economically costly technologies".
"It's a $500-million facility that we have set up to support countries that want to shift out of fuel-based energy into renewable energy and providing access to finance at a cheaper rate to be able to make that transition," Adesina said.
The bank's biggest investment is the Desert to Power project, which was announced in December at the United Nations' Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland.
The initiative plans to supply 10 GW of solar energy by 2025 to 250 million people across 11 Sahelian countries.
"That would make it the largest solar zone in the world," Adesian stated. The bank will work in partnership with various investors to also establish plants on the continent that will manufacture the solar panels for the project.
The AfDB has always stated "a lack of energy remains a significant impediment to Africa's economic and social development".
According to AfDB, energy poverty in Africa is estimated to cost the continent 2 to 4 percent GDP annually.
Africa's climate crisis

The continent is facing climate change impact with rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.
The Sahel, which lies between The Sahara and the Sudanian Savanna, offers a blaze of sunlight with little rain as it is the region where temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth, according to the Great Green Wall initiative, a project that aims to reverse desertification and land degradation in the area.
Last month, IPS reported that as The Sahara Desert continues to expand, it tears apart families, forces migration from rural areas to cities and has contributed to conflict for precious resources of water, land and food.
In July, IPS reported that the parts of Kenya had already warmed to above 1.5˚C -- a figure deemed acceptable by global leaders during the 2015 Paris Agreement. But at such high temperatures a study found that over the last four decades livestock some Kenyan counties had decline by almost a quarter because of the temperature increase over time.
During the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015, all countries committed under the Paris Agreement to "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C".
But last year the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report warning that the world would face the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty at a temperature rise of 1.5°C.
However, the forum showed that there remain a number of investors looking to provide funding for renewables and other development project on the continent.
Siby Diabira, regional head for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean for PROPARCO, a subsidiary of Agence Française de Development (AFD) focused on private sector development, told IPS that last year the group did $1.76 billion in investment deals, half of which was in Africa. The AIF was still in its early stages to make a pronouncement on the success of the deals, Diabira said, but "so far so good".
Diabira said the French development agencies aimed to be 100 percent compliant with the Paris Agreement and hence were investing heavily in renewable energy.
She explained that PROPARCO was involved in "all types of renewable energy from hydro to solar to wind", adding that there was a need for a mix of both traditional and renewable energy generation.
"I have been attending some of the boardroom [discussions]. It is a quite interesting gathering to have for the second year and to have so many different types of investors and projects that are raising funds for these types of events," she said.
"We have been present in financing the first few rounds of renewable energy projects in South Africa and our idea is also as a [Development Financial Institution] DFI to be able to contribute to create this market for the commercial banks to come with us on those types of projects," Diabira said.
Admassu Tadesse, President of the Trade and Development Bank, also pointed out that partnership agreements among the various banks and partners had strengthen their position in deals.
"If you have smart partnerships you can scale up collectively. With the African Development Bank we have signed a risk participation agreement to the tune of $300 million, which will allow us to move speedily into fields and have partners coming into deals alongside us."
He said they expected to soon sign a deal with the European Investment Bank (EIB) that will again strengthen their position.
EIB vice president Ambroise Fayolle said they were attending this year with great intentions to develop transactions. He said it came on the back of their 2018 record year of investments in the continent, which amounted to some $3.6 billion - more than 50 percent of which was in the private sector. The bank signed 3 partnerships already, he said, none of which would have been possible without the AIF.

Dar es Salaam — Cashew nut farmers are putting on broad smiles as price for the crop has risen by about 6.5 per cent during the past two weeks of the ongoing marketing season. The price rise could be attributed to a slower supply amid a high demand for the produce from buyers.
During the first day of the crop auctioning this season on October 31, 2019, over 20,000 tonnes of Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) was auctioned by Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Union (Tanecu) as well as the Masasi and Mtwara Cooperative Union (Mamcu) at a minimum price of Sh2,409 and a maximum price of Sh2,559 per kilogram.
That was equivalent to a decrease of 24.7 per cent on average compared to what the government offered when it bought one kilogram at Sh3,300 after buyers offered only Sh1,500 per kilogram.
But in a thigh of relief to farmers, the prices have since appreciated to a maximum of Sh2,727 maximum and a minimum of Sh2,510 per kilogram.
Reports from the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania (CBT) show that eight auctions have taken place in various growing regions and that over 50,000 tonnes of the product have been sold.
Reports show that it was an auction by Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Cooperative Union (Runali) on November 10, 2019 that yielded a maximum price of Sh2,727 per kilogram. The auction was held at Hulia Village in Liwale District.
It was the auction by Mamcu on November 3, 2019 in Michiga Village in Masasi that recorded the lowest price of Sh2510 per kilo.
Buyers are demanding nearly 200,000 tonnes in the auctions but farmers supplied only over 50,000 tonnes of the produce, available reports show. Reports show that buyers were in need of procuring over 48,244 tonnes during the second auction held by Mamcu on November 3, this year but only 13,629.3 tonnes was supplied.
In total, Mamcu has supplied 20,907.3 tonnes for sale including 7,278 tonnes sold during the first auction held on October 31, 2019.
Buyers wanted 49,190 tonnes of the produce during the second auction that was held on November 3, but only 13,155 tonnes could be supplied.
"Buyers bade for 4,342.7 tonnes of cashews during the second auction by Runali. However, only 438.7 tonnes was availed," reports read.
Tunduru Agriculture Marketing Cooperative Union (Tamcu) took its 1,124.8 tonnes of cashews for auctioning on November 3, 2019 but buyers demanded at least 10,802 tonnes of the produce.
Lindi Mwambao also sold 1,963.002 tonnes of the produce on November 9, 2019 to nine buyers who offered a maximum and minimum price of Sh2,701 and Sh2541 per kilogram respectively.
It was the first auction for Lindi Mwambao after after postponement of its earlier auction that was slated for November 1, 2019 due to insufficient quantity of the merchandise.
Cooperative union leaders believe with low supply, prices will keep escalating.
"This is because of declining harvests registered in various cashew growing regions. For instance, Mamcu provided 13,000 tonnes during the second round of the auctions, despite demands for nearly 50,000 tonnes," Mamcu general manager, Mr Protence Rwiza, told The Citizen yesterday.
He said although many buyers have been registered by the CBT, they export to the same major dealer outside the country, something which reduce competition, hence leading to lowering of prices.
"They mainly differ in the quantity and timeframe for the product to be delivered, hence those contracted to supply a large amount within a short period render a large market competition and provide better prices," he said.
Tanecu chairman, Shaibu Aifai said farmers expected prices would hit over Sh3,500, noting however that they were disappointed with the ongoing trend.
"We are experiencing poor harvests this season, something that would increase buyers' competition and benefit our farmers. But things are going the opposite," he said.
He said farmers were frustrated because they were of the view that there was a limited time before December when buyers usually shift to other markets.
Mr Hamis Halfani, a farmer from Tandahimba said price should reach at least Sh3,500 per kilo for farmers to benefit, noting that they incur costs of production costs.
The CBT acting director general, Mr Francis Alfred, said there was no reason to worry, saying price will continue increasing as buyers demand remains high.

The latest data from Statistics South Africa indicates that annual output came out worse than markets expected in September.
Factory output contracted by 2,4 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) in September after shrinking by 1,8 percent in the previous month.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, production shrank severely to 2,4 percent from growth of 1,9 percent.
The main drag came from the basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, machinery, petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products.
There was also a drop in the motor vehicles, parts and accessories as well as other transport equipment categories.
Nedbank's Economic unit noted that furthermore, the Absa/ Bureau for Economic Research (BER) Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) remained below the 50- point level for the third consecutive month in October, suggesting poor manufacturing activity for the coming months.
"Anticipated growth for the year is still weak as the local and global economic environment remains subdued," Nedbank stated.
"The risk of load-shedding and weak labour market also signal minimal recovery for the sector in the short- to medium-term," the bank's economic unit added.
The company noted global PMIs released last week continued to reflect lacklustre manufacturing conditions across all the major industrialized and developing countries, painting a bleak picture for global prospects.
Mpho Tsebe, economist at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), said the declining manufacturing output also added the precarious growth outlook for the South African economy.
Tsebe said the manufacturing data indicated that the sector would subtract 0,5 percentage points from the third quarter (3Q) 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) after adding 0,3 percentage points to growth in 2Q 19.
This indicates that 3Q 19 GDP growth will slow from the 3.1 percent quarter-on-quarter recorded in 2Q 19.
Absa economists described the September manufacturing output data as "quite disappointing."
The financial house, however, stated that positively, the Absa manufacturing PMI had improved slightly in October to 48,1 from 45,1 in September.
"This perhaps suggests some bottoming out," Absa stated. Manufacturing is South Africa's fourth-largest industry. It contributes 15 percent to GDP and accounts for more than 13 percent of jobs.
The food and beverages division is the most important player in the industry, contributing 25 percent to total manufacturing activity.


Representatives from cotton producing economies, donor governments and international development partners met at WTO headquarters in Geneva on 7 October to review the support programmes and initiatives in place, and being planned, to aid cotton producers in Africa and least developed countries (LDCs). The Partners Conference on Support for Cotton and Cotton By-Products Development was organized as part of the inaugural “World Cotton Day” hosted by the WTO.
In opening the conference, WTO Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff told the attendees that the conference represented a unique high-level platform for development cooperation partners to discuss their prospective engagement for the sustainable development of the cotton sector, particularly in Africa and in LDCs.
“This conference and your presence today highlight that cotton development assistance is a non-contentious area of WTO work, characterized by a widespread pragmatic and cooperative spirit,” DDG Wolff noted.
Senior officials from the “Cotton 4” (C4) — Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali — as well as ambassadors and officials from Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Togo and Malawi spoke first at the conference, followed by ambassadors and officials from Brazil, China, the European Union and India, as well as the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). Also in attendance were representatives from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
“The challenge we face here today relates to how to calibrate development assistance projects in a way that concretely and effectively helps farmers to take advantage of the various untapped potentials linked to their cotton production,” DDG Wolff highlighted.
Cotton production in Africa provides income to over 3.5 million farmers and their families, of which 17 per cent are led by women-farmers, DDG Wolff noted. However, in spite of the importance of the sector, one of the key issues in Africa remains local processing and value addition. Of the 1,272 million metric tonnes of lint produced in French-speaking Africa in 2018, only 19,000 tonnes, or 1.5 per cent, was processed locally.
“This clearly reveals the existence of under-exploited potentials,” DDG Wolff said.
DDG Wolff said a good example is provided by cotton by-products, where, according to estimates from the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), Africa produces about 2.5 million tonnes of cottonseed, or 5.8 per cent of global production. Only 75 per cent of the seed is crushed for oil and seed-meal, meaning that 25 per cent of cottonseed produced in Africa goes unused. The estimated value of that unused seed is about US$ 237 million, he added.
Speaking on behalf of the C4, Shadiya Alimatou Assounan, Benin's Minister of Industry and Trade, said cotton was a principle export for Benin and other LDC producers. For Benin, where cotton accounts for 12% of the country's GDP and more than half of its exports, the sector plays an important social and economic role in generating employment and fighting poverty.
She urged donors to provide support for the “Route du Cotton” project outlined by the C4 last year and to the new initiative on cotton by-products, promoted by the WTO, UNCTAD and ITC, to improve the productivity and resilience of the cotton, textile and clothing sectors sector in the C4 and help diversify their markets both nationally and regionally.
India's WTO Ambassador Deepak Jagdish Saksena announced at the conference that India will launch a second phase of the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme based on the success of the first phase. In the second phase, the programme will be scaled up to cover five additional African countries over a five-year period and will focus on increasing cotton production and improving the post-harvest and plant by-products industry in the participating countries, as well as building the capacity of the cotton-based textile sector, the Indian ambassador added.
Gong Xifeng, counsellor with China's mission to the WTO, said the assistance provided to African cotton producers by China over the past two years has achieved substantial results, referring to the launch of the China Africa Modernization Plan.
“If we look to the future there is great potential for cotton cooperation and initiatives,” Mr Gong said, adding that China remains ready to support the cotton by-products and other initiatives with African partners.
Demétrio Carvalho, Vice-President of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), said that Brazil has dedicated $80 million to strengthening cooperation with cotton producers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. A specific example of such assistance was training on cotton production and the use of a specific Brazilian strain of cotton which, in the case of Benin, has helped it become the leading cotton producer in Africa.
Mr Carvalho stressed the importance of open markets to bolster the support initiatives. “They are only relevant if the cotton produced can enter world markets,” he said. He also underlined that Brazil stands ready to support the new project on cotton by-products development in African LDCs.
Leonard Mizzi of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development said what conference participants clearly heard was a “show of force” for helping cotton producers in Africa and LDCs and a need to look closely at the development of value chains. While assistance should focus on all aspects of the production chain, efforts should be concentrated on tracking how our progress is impacting the weakest link, which is the small farm holders.
Mr Mizzi argued that assistance needs to be structured in line with a more holistic strategy, with the objective of decent job creation at its core. He said the EU would continue to push for improved labour conditions and better conditions for women as well as focusing on climate adaptation and mitigation efforts as part of its assistance strategy. He noted the strong demand for assistance in developing parallel value chains from cotton by-products, and said that the EU stands ready to follow up on these calls.
Representatives from UNCTAD and the ITC informed the conference about activities they are proposing to support African farmers' efforts towards exploiting the full potential of cotton by-products.
Yanchun Zhang, Chief of the Commodities Branch at UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade and Commodities, said UNCTAD and ITC are ready to implement the next phase of a project financed by the Enhanced Integrated Framework on developing cotton by-products in eight African LDCs. During the conference, Togo and Malawi formulated formal requests to join this project, bringing the total number of beneficiary countries to ten.
This next phase will focus in particular on improving the capacity of stakeholders to develop commercialization plans for selected investments in value-added cotton by-products, improving the capacity of cotton farmers, including women farmers, to form strong cooperatives, help edible oil producers to invest in modern production techniques and improve the capacity of policymakers to formulate policies to support commercial investments in value-added processing of cotton by-products, Ms Zhang said.
Christian Fusillier, head of Agriculture, Rural Development and Biodiversity at AFD, said his agency had provided around €1 billion in support to cotton producers in West and Central Africa over the past 50 years through loans and subsidies that have helped modernize production and provide advice and support to farmers. Current projects focus on capacity building for farmers and increasing resilience to climate change by adopting environmentally friendly practices.
Mr Fusillier announced that AFD has allocated €18.5 million through the PHASE II project for helping transition production systems and improving the incomes of cotton producers in southern Mali.
Simon Hess of the EIF secretariat highlighted the engagement of the EIF in supporting project development and feasibility assessments on cotton by-products in requesting LDCs, and noted the importance of leveraging further resources in support of the implementation phase.
Riccardo Savigliano, Chief of the Agro-Industries Technology Division at the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that future initiatives include the development of sustainable cotton production in Burkina Faso, and support for a sustainable and transparent Egyptian “white gold” cotton.
The inaugural “World Cotton Day” was launched by the WTO Secretariat at the initiative of the Cotton-4 and in collaboration with the Secretariats of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNCTAD, the ITC and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
The event stems from the Cotton-4's official application for the recognition of 7 October as World Cotton Day by the United Nations General Assembly, reflecting the importance of cotton as a global commodity.
Source: World Trade organization

The 2019 edition of the WTO’s World Trade Report highlights that services have become the most dynamic component of international trade and that its role will continue to expand in the coming decades. It stresses the need to enhance cooperation in the international community to support this expansion. The report was launched during the WTO Public Forum on 9 October 2019 by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

“From logistics, to finance, to informatics, services have become the indispensable backbone of our economies. Services generate more than two-thirds of economic output. They account for more than two thirds of jobs in developing countries, and four-fifths of employment in developed ones.
“But services also play an increasingly important role in international trade. Global value chains for merchandise could not function without logistics and communications services. And thanks to digitalization, services that once had to be delivered face-to-face, like education, can now be delivered remotely.Yet services are often overlooked in discussions on global trade, and the extent of their contributions to global trade is not always fully appreciated. This report attempts to remedy this oversight.”, said DG Azevêdo in his opening remarks.
The report underlines that trade in services — ranging from distribution to financial services — can help countries boost economic growth, enhance domestic firms' competitiveness and promote inclusiveness. It illustrates how the share of services in international trade has continued to grow, and how technology, climate change, rising incomes and demographic changes will have an impact on services trade in the future. It also suggests ways to maximize the potential of services trade globally in the years to come.
On average, services account for about half of GDP worldwide. For developed economies, they account for around three-quarters of GDP and their proportion is increasing rapidly in developing economies.
According to the report, services trade has grown 5.4 per cent per year since 2005, while trade in goods has grown at 4.6 per cent on average. Trade in computer services and research and development have recorded the most rapid annual growth over the past decade. According to the WTO Global Trade Model, a new quantitative trade model used by the WTO to make projections about global trade, the share of services in global trade could increase by 50 per cent by 2040. This is thanks to lower trade costs and the reduced need for face-to-face interaction due to digitalization. It is also dependent on policy barriers to services trade being lowered.
Many developing economies are becoming increasingly services-based and their share of world services trade has grown by over 10 percentage points since 2005. However, services trade is concentrated in five developing economies — China; Hong-Kong China; India; the Republic of Korea and Singapore — accounting for over 50 per cent of developing economies’ services trade in 2017.
The report says that services trade may help women and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) play a more active role in world trade, particularly in developing economies, helping to reduce economic inequality. When MSMEs in developing countries start exporting services, they are on average two years younger than manufacturing firms. However, they export less than 5 per cent of total sales. Services are the main source of employment for women. However, the service sectors that account for most women employment have been so far among the least traded.
Despite their decline by 9 per cent between 2000 and 2017, barriers to trade in services remain much higher than in goods trade. This is largely due to the limited possibilities to supply certain services across the border and the regulatory intensity of many service sectors.
Technologies are key drivers of services trade, enabling cross-border trade of services that have traditionally needed face-to-face interaction. Digital technologies are also reducing the cost of trading services. The report finds that if developing countries are able to adopt digital technologies, their share in world services trade could increase by about 15 per cent by 2040.
The report notes that policy barriers to services trade — mainly regulatory measures — are much more complex than in goods trade. The authors of the report note that for services trade to be a powerful engine of economic growth, development and poverty reduction international cooperation will need to be intensified and new pathways will need to be found to advance global trade cooperation and make services a central element of trade policy.
Source: World Trade organization

Rwandan President Paul Kagame Monday officiated the launch of Mara Phones manufacturing plant, which will make smartphones in the country.
The first 'made in Rwanda' phones rolled off the assembly line last week, the presidency said, through a partnership with Mara Group.
"The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country... It is another milestone on our journey to high-tech, 'made-in-Rwanda' industry," President Kagame said.
In a series of tweets from the presidency, Kagame was quoted saying: "The introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans."