Current Trade News

Nairobi — Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region is expected to perform well according to analysts at Cytonn Investments.
According to the analysts the growth will be supported by increased public spending on infrastructural development owing to the high demand for basic needs
Key risks remain difficult business conditions and poor infrastructure, reliance on commodity exports, political tension in some countries and debt sustainability due to high levels of public debt in most economies in the region.
According to the analyst’s stock markets valuations remain attractive for long-term investors.
SSA economic growth remained relatively strong in 2018.
This is according to the World Bank as preliminary data indicates that the region recorded a 2.7 percent GDP growth in 2018, a rise from 2.3 percent recorded in 2017.
In East Africa, a rebound in growth was recorded in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, which grew by 7.7 percent, 6.8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, as at the third quarter of 2018 driven by improved agricultural performance attributed to improved weather conditions.
A slowdown was however recorded in Tanzania mainly underpinned by an unfavorable investment climate following President John Magufuli's stringent policy changes.
In Western Africa, several countries recorded growths of 6. Percent and above which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, and Senegal.
There was however subdued growth in other countries in the region such as Nigeria with the subdued growth being attributed to a decline in oil production, which was due to pipeline closures during the period.
In the Southern Africa region, growth was subdued in South Africa and Angola, which are the two major economies in the region.
Growth in Angola, the region's second largest oil exporter was dampened by reduced oil output following the maturity of key oil fields.

PARLIAMENTARY Budget Committee Chairperson George Simbachawene has advised financial institutions in the country to look into alternatives of reducing loan interests, especially to small entrepreneur groups.
Speaking at the Mpwapwa Teachers' College Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Saccos) annual general meeting yesterday, Simbachawene said, "Saccos that offer high interest rates are going below their targets to reduce poverty and improve the economic status of their members," said Mr. Simbachawene.
"The majority of Saccos are short lived due to high interest rates, whose effects are down to the members as they cannot access the loans with set rates," added Mr. Simbachawene.
However, he challenged Mpwapwa teachers tallying at 1,500, saying if they all joined forces and contributed to the setting up of the Saccos the high rate interest problem would have been history.
For his part, Mpwapwa Teachers Saccos Chairman Piniel Loilole said last year they issued 82m/- loans both as development and emergence loans to members.
Moreover, he said, there were some members, who did not service their loans as required, thus failing some of its operations.
He mentioned a big challenge they encountered last year was that some of the members, who had taken loans were on the list of ghost workers and those with fake academic certificates, thus causing a 6.6m/- loss.

A group of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) is mobilizing resources to establish a sugar and sugarcane-related products manufacturing plant in the country to tap from opportunities that exist in the business.
The group has since established a steering committee for the initiative. Members of the Committee have elected Norman Lufesi, Adams Kalumbi, and Andrina Maxwell as Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer respectively. Lufesi said 12 entrepreneurs have expressed interest in venturing into the initiative.
@The investment is very exciting, but will require a lot of investment and we will ensure that we start small while aiming big. We have not approximated the investment but we are working towards that since it will involve acquisition of land, machinery, labour and more to ensure that we have raw materials,” Lufesi said.
He further said, so far, people interested have contributed a combined 100 hectares which is the prime advantage as the development is in progress.
Lufesi also said the venture would produce sweets, ethanol and fertilizer. “With the growing population, a market is available. We know Brazil has a large proportion of ethanol in their petrol and we are determined to move this agenda.” We are working with the government to ensure that this initiative is implemented and that the raw materials are being sourced. We will move into the next phase which will be studying from other SMEs in other countries so that this takes off as soon as possible,” Lufesi said.
Source: The Daily Times,

The performance of some of Africa's largest economies in 2018 does not inspire confidence for the year ahead.
Nigeria has endured a slow recovery from a recession caused by falling oil prices, as has Angola. South Africa entered recession for the first time in a decade.
But away from the flagship economies, emerging powers and international trends offer the prospect of new success stories.
Global management consultancy McKinsey & Company's new book "Africa's Business Revolution" identifies areas of potential progress and opportunity across the continent based on original research and interviews with hundreds of CEOs from leading African companies. The authors find regions that recall China before its own period of explosive growth, and suggest pathways that could yield similar gains.
Rapid urbanization will greatly expand the consumer class with disposable incomes, the authors predict, which will lead to a massive increase in business and consumer spending -- rising from $4 trillion in 2015 to $5.6 trillion in 2025. In the same period, increased Internet penetration will add $300 billion to the continent's GDP -- roughly equivalent to South Africa's output.
With the help of Acha Leke, co-author of "Africa's Business Revolution" and chairman of McKinsey's Africa office, CNN picks out some of the major trends and stories to watch in Africa in 2019 and beyond.
The ascendent middle powers
When McKinsey surveyed the top 30 African economies in 2011, they found 25 were experiencing "accelerated growth." In the most recent survey of the same countries, the figure was just 13. Rather than the continental powerhouses, it is the mid-sized economies such as Ethiopia and Ivory Coast that offer the greatest promise.
Leke picks out Ivory Coast as a model of stable progress, having recorded steady growth since emerging from a civil war and financial crisis around the turn of the decade. He cites high levels of government investment and infrastructure development in partnership with Chinese firms as key factors in the country's performance, and suggests that "huge investor interest" from the private sector can keep the economy buoyant. The coming years should see growth become more inclusive with progress in sectors such as health and education
A closer union
While the European Union is under strain from resurgent nationalism within member states, African countries are choosing closer alignment. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will create one of the world's largest free trade blocs, with 44 countries now signed up. Of the major economies, only Nigeria has abstained, and Leke believes that position is likely to change in the near future.
Progress on the deal will be supplemented by the easing of travel restrictions between African nations. McKinsey research shows 21 of the 54 states now allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all African nationalities -- up from just three in 1983 -- which has led to increases in business and tourism visits. Rwanda and Mauritius are among the leading beneficiaries
The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.
Leke cites ongoing progress with business-friendly reforms as a cause for optimism in the coming years, with faster processing times for permits and registrations and reduced tariffs becoming continent-wide trends. Four African nations feature among the World Bank's top 10 most improved for ease of doing business. With unprecedented numbers of major businesses in Africa seeking to expand and diversify in multiple countries, Leke believes it is imperative that barriers are further lowered -- and that governments recognize this too.
Manufacturing surge
"Africa's Business Revolution" projects the value of manufacturing across the continent will double to $1 trillion by 2025, and create up to 14 million jobs in the same period. This should ensure greater self-sufficiency as well as a healthier trade balance with a shift towards exports. Leke points out that in some cases falling commodity prices have forced governments to embrace diversification of their economies, breeding long term resilience. Nigeria's oil price crash led to greater emphasis on manufacturing which should lead to scaled-up exports in the coming years.
Factory employees work on a car assembly line at the Renault-Nissan Tanger Car Assembly Plant in Melloussa, east of the port city of Tangiers on March 12, 2018.
McKinsey research suggests the greatest gains are to be made through advanced manufacturing, citing Morocco's burgeoning car industry as an example. Ethiopia's industrial parks are also delivering strong returns and could be profitably imitated elsewhere. Developing partnerships with Chinese firms, drawing on their resources and expertise, will be a major asset for African manufacturers in the coming years.
Big pharma
Progress in the pharmaceutical industry is associated with multiplier benefits such as technology advances and improved health indicators. From a low base, pharmaceutical companies in Africa could see rapid gains in the coming years. McKinsey estimates the sector could be worth $65 billion by 2020 -- triple its value in 2013.
To realize such gains will require a more easily-navigable regulatory system, scaled-up production infrastructure, and shrewd specialization. Not all African countries have the resources to deliver in the sector but McKinsey suggests that regional hubs in more advanced economies such as Nigeria and Kenya could be "viable if carefully executed." Local production could lower the cost and improve the quality of medical drugs, as well as aiding the development of high-value skills and technology.
Off-grid energy
Rural electrification remains one of the continent's major challenges, with around 600 million people in Africa still unconnected. But one of the continent's most encouraging technology stories is that entrepreneurs and start-ups are stepping into the breach.
Kenya-based company M-Kopa's home solar energy kits have already connected an estimated
600,000 households, financed by mobile money, and that figure is likely to soar in the coming year with heavyweight investors supporting the venture. The company expects to pass $100 million a year annual revenue in the coming years.
M-Kopa's success is being followed up by Uganda-based Fenix, which had sold 140,000 solar kits by 2017, and BBOXX which distributes kits in 10 African countries. New start-ups are rapidly proliferating to fill the space.
These initiatives have created jobs and stimulated economic activity in rural areas. But their true power lies in "opening a whole university of opportunity" for marginalized people, says Leke. From allowing children to do their homework at night to the new possibilities of the Internet, off-grid energy could go a long way to releasing potential across the continent.
Source: CNN

Sweden is contributing SEK 10,000,000 (just over 1,100,000 CHF) in 2019 to help developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) participate more actively in global agricultural trade. This grant to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) aims to support developing countries in complying with international food safety, animal and plant health standards with the objective of increasing their access to world markets.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: "As one of the biggest contributors to our technical assistance activities, Sweden is demonstrating its continued commitment to help developing countries and LDCs maximize the benefits of trade. In particular, Sweden's new donation will help these countries improve their sanitary and phytosanitary standards so as to connect more easily to global agricultural markets."
Sweden's Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Ann Linde, said: "Enhancing the capacities of developing countries to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards is critical to helping them increase their exports of agricultural products and better integrate into global trade. Given the important contribution the STDF is making to inclusive growth, poverty reduction and to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, Sweden is pleased to be continuing our long-lasting partnership.” Sweden has donated over CHF 51 million to WTO trust funds over the past 18 years.
The STDF is a global coordination platform that brings together leading trade, health and agriculture experts worldwide to share knowledge, tools and good practice and strengthen the effectiveness of SPS technical assistance provided to developing countries. The STDF also provides support and funding for the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that promote compliance with international SPS requirements. The STDF is housed and managed by the WTO.
Source: World Trade Organization

France is donating a total of EUR 4.5 million (CHF 5 million) to finance technical assistance programmes and training activities for developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) over a period of three years (2018, 2019 and 2020). This amount will be directed to five funds housed by the WTO.
The Chairs Programme will receive each year EUR 50,000 (CHF 56,000) aimed at supporting and promoting the knowledge and understanding of the multilateral trading system through universities and research institutions in developing countries and LDCs. To date, 19 WTO chairs are undertaking curriculum development, research and outreach activities.
The Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund will benefit from EUR 400,000 (CHF 450,000) each year to finance training workshops for officials in Geneva and elsewhere to help them better understand and implement WTO agreements and to take part in multilateral trade negotiations.
A yearly amount of EUR 150,000 (CHF 170,000) will be allocated to the Standards and Trade Development to help developing countries and LDCs implement food safety, animal health and plant health standards and improve their sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity.
Another annual contribution of EUR 800,000 (CHF 900,000) will be directed to the internship programme sponsored by France and Ireland and aimed at assisting the permanent missions of developing countries in Geneva.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility will receive an annual contribution of EUR 100,000 (CHF 113,000) to help developing countries and LDCs implement the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and to support the objective of full implementation of the Agreement by all WTO members.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: "France's contribution is very welcome as it will help to strengthen the trading and negotiating capacity of developing countries and LDCs over the next three years. It shows the importance that France attaches to helping poorer countries benefit fully from global trade and further integrate into the world economy."
The Permanent Representative of France, Jean-Marie Paugam, said: “Trade-related technical assistance is a crucial way of helping developing countries and least-developed countries integrate more fully into the multilateral trading system. France is pleased to be renewing its financial commitment, which has already allowed 194 interns from these countries to work in their permanent missions in Geneva and to strengthen their knowledge of global trading issues."
Since 2000, France has contributed approximately EUR 25 million (just over CHF 22 million) to WTO trust funds.
Source: World Trade Organization