Current Trade News

Rome — Cereals, vegetable oils and dairy drive FAO Food Price Index lower for second month in a row. Global food commodity prices fell in July for the second consecutive month, according to a benchmark United Nations report released today.
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 123.0 points in July 2021, 1.2 percent lower than the previous month although still 31.0 percent higher than its level in the same period of 2020. The index tracks changes in the international prices of the most globally traded food commodities. The July drop reflected declines in the quotations for most cereals and vegetable oils as well as dairy products.
The FAO Cereal Price Index was 3.0 percent lower in July than in June, pushed down by a 6.0 percent month-on-month drop in international maize prices associated with better-than-earlier projected yields in Argentina and improved production prospects in the United States of America, even as crop conditions in Brazil remained a concern. Prices of other coarse grains such as barley and sorghum also dropped significantly, reflecting weaker import demand. However, wheat quotations edged 1.8 percent higher in July - reaching their highest level since mid-2014 - in part due to concerns over dry weather and crop conditions in North America. At the same time, international rice prices hit two-year lows, impacted by currency movements and a slow pace of sales caused by high freight costs and logistical hurdles.
The FAO Dairy Price Index declined 2.8 percent from June, impacted by slower market activity in the Northern hemisphere due to ongoing summer holidays, with skim milk powder registering the largest drop, followed by butter, whole milk powder and cheese.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index reached a five-month low, declining 1.4 percent from June, as lower prices for soy, rape and sunflower seed oils more than offset rising palm oil values. A lower biodiesel blending mandate in Argentina pressured soyoil prices lower, while those for rape and sunflower oils were influenced by prospective record supplies for the 2021/22 season.
In contrast, the FAO Sugar Price Index increased by 1.7 percent in July, its fourth monthly increase. The rise was mostly related to firmer crude oil prices as well as uncertainties over the impact of recent frosts on yields in Brazil, the worlds largest sugar exporter, while good production prospects in India prevented a larger jump.
The FAO Meat Price Index rose marginally from June, with quotations for poultry meat rising the most due to increased imports by East Asia and limited production expansions in some regions. Bovine meat prices also strengthened, buoyed by high imports from China and lower supplies from major producing regions. Meanwhile, pig meat prices fell, following a decline in imports by China.
The free movement of people, goods and services are critical cornerstone in any development crusade. Africa is gifted with an abundance of natural and energy resources, outstanding geographical locations, as well as many ports that facilitate access to and within our African countries. Our region is also endowed with a wealth of human resources with a massive, 1.3 billion population, which constitutes a large market for African products and an abundance of labour which, if properly used, can enhance regional competitiveness.
But frequent new rules at our common borders are making this a far-fetch reality. It is time for Africans to work together be it in governments, private sectors and civil society to maximise the use of our available resources and claim the benefits of the AfCFTA.
The overarching objective behind the AfCFTA is the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 54 Countries that agreed to be members of the bloc by providing a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration and prosperity.
The question is, how far have we achieved these objectives.
Last year for example, The Gambia and Senegal had a boarder scuffle leading huge economic loss in trade.
While negotiation continued to find an amicable solution to the issue, Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal has ordered the removal of barriers for free movement of goods & services.
He further reaffirmed that Senegal will respect all the protocols on trade and transportation and thus instructed his ministers of Transport and Interior to liaise with their Gambian counterparts to remove all barriers to free movement of persons and goods between Senegal and Gambia.
This was a welcome development taking into account that The Gambia and Senegal are one people divided by colonial masters.
This decision couldn't have come at a better time than now when the countries are working to accelerate regional integration through borderless Africa. To accelerate regional integration, there is need to expand access to trade finance and reduce behind-the-border trade restrictions such as excessive regulations and weak legal systems.
There is much that African countries need to do to increase intra-regional trade.
There is need to eliminate or significantly reduce non-tariff barriers that are major roadblocks to intra-African trade.
The list of non-tariff barriers is as long as it is comprehensive, ranging from prohibitive transaction costs to complex immigration procedures, limited capacity of border officials and costly import and export licensing procedures. For this to happen, it will take much more than political commitments; it will require practical steps on the ground even if they come with some costs.
"Free Trade puts consumers at the centre of economic activity. it lowers the cost of imports, which gives people the opportunity to buy more with the same amount of money: domestic producers have to compete with the lowest global costs or invest in new business."
CASSAVA has in the recent past witnessed growing demand due to the increase in its industrial use and wide value chain. The increased demand for cassava has resulted in the rise in the price of the crop on both the local and regional markets.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global cassava starch market size is predicted to reach $66.84 billion by 2026, which local farmers should take advantage of by increasing production.
Among the factors that are encouraging demand is the popular use of the crop in various industries such as alcohol, textile and energy production among others.
In Zambia, the cassava sector has attracted investment in energy production, alcohol and milling among others.
For example, Zambian Breweries (ZB) is using the crop in the production of its clear beer, Eagle lager and currently has an out-grower scheme of small-scale cassava farmers in Luapula Province.
ZB is currently supporting more than 6,000 small-scale farmers and procures between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of cassava per year.
Cassava in Zambia is mostly produced in Luapula Province and the northern part. It is the country's second staple food after maize.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country produces between 800,000 to one million tonnes of the crop per annum.
In the recent past, government and cooperating partners have been working on commercializing the crop due to its various industry uses and growing demand after identifying it as a money spinner.
Musika Zambia has been a key player in supplementing the government's effort to grow and commercialize the cassava value chain sector.
Musika has so far facilitated investments of more than $1.5 million towards cassava commercialization through multiple interventions implemented by 10 private sector partners in Northern, Luapula, Central,Western and North Western provinces of Zambia.
Head of corporate affairs, Pamela Hamasaka says Musika partners are drawn from a diverse range of industry operators including brewery, food processors and confectionery, livestock feed, biofuels, and ethanol producers.
Ms Hamasaka says these partners played a pivotal role in meeting Musika's main objective of providing a ready and transparent market for the cassava crop, and access to inputs such as improved cassava varieties by smallholder farmers, coupled with training and extension services, to help meet the quality and quantity that the market demands.
" Recently Musika signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambia National Cassava Association (ZANACA) to increase industry level collaboration of key value chain actors and address industry wide challenges affecting the commercialization of the crop," she says.
Ms Hamasaka says one of Musika's partners has a target of 12,000 smallholder farmers of which 50 per cent are women and were set to benefit from its $9 million ethanol and livestock feed processing plant which requires a daily supply of 150 tonnes of cassava feedstock.
The company invested an additional $10 million to develop its farmer supply network and cassava production to meet its annual target of 50,000 tonnes of dry cassava chips.
She says Musika will continue contributing to the government's efforts towards the commercialization of cassava by playing a pivotal role in identifying potential investments through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the agriculture sector, including other value chains.
In addition, the Chifwani concept introduced and coined by Zambia's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Emmanuel Mwamba is another encouraging feat in cassava commercialization.
Since its announcement, Chifwani Concepts officials have continued to give cassava cuttings to farmers in Northern Province.
The team has been distributing a variety of cassava cuttings that are early maturing and disease resistant.
Former Mulilansolo Ward Councillor Aaron Zimba has been part of the team which is distributing cassava cuttings in Northern Province.
Mr Zimba says farmers have welcomed the initiative by Chifwani Concepts as it was long-term and promoted the farming opportunities of small-scale farmers.
Chifwani Concepts has established an office in Kasama to promote the wide farming of cassava.
Chifwani Concepts has also obtained a market for the cassava with manufacturers using the crop as raw material in industrial products such as ethanol, fertilizer and stock feed.
Promoter of the Concept, Mr Mwamba says he believes in the biblical wisdom which guides that; "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".
But the cassava commercialization in the country has continued facing setbacks among low production and productivity leading to limited supply for industrial and human demand.
Other challenges include the prevalence of crop pests and diseases, such as the cassava mealybug and brown streak disease, which have been affecting cassava yields.
According to the Draft Cassava Value Chain Assessment Report, which was commissioned by Musika, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a disorganized marketing arrangement, especially for small scale farmers was leading to limited aggregation of produce and bargaining power; as well as limited capacity in entrepreneurship and business skills among small scale farmers.
The report indicates that limited infrastructure to support cassava processing and marketing, which has caused huge post-harvest losses and limited financing options available to cassava industry players and limited use of mechanization in production and processing of cassava were among the major challenges.
However, the government is aware of the challenges in the commercialization of the cassava value chain sector in the country.
Ministry of agriculture permanent secretary Songowayo Zyambo says cassava was an important food and industrial crop which the government was promoting.
He says the government was aware that the production of cassava had huge potential in various parts of the country, the reason it was working with all stakeholders in improving the policy and legislative environment for the development of the cassava industry.
Mr Zyambo says the government was calling on stakeholders to continue creating partnerships in implementing measures that would address challenges in the sector.
For Zambia to fully commercialize and satisfy the growing demand of the crop on both the local and international market, there is a need for a multi-sectoral approach to grow the sector and address its challenges.
Source: Times of Zambia.
The price of commodities globally have not only recovered post 2020, but surpassed pre-pandemic levels in some cases – and African exporters are well placed to take advantage of this in the international markets.
Commodity prices across the globe have increased when compared to 2020 for various reasons, including an increase in demand following the pandemic and strategic commodity price increases in West Africa. So far, 60% of the requests on the Orbitt platform were trade-related, from companies seeking financial support to meet increasing trade demand.
The increase in the price of agricultural commodities has been noted across the market, and is projected to keep increasing – presenting an opportunity for commodity traders as demand across the globe increases. Thirty-one percent of the trade-related funding requests this year were to support agricultural commodity trading.
From the requests analyzed, the most prevalent funding requirements came from companies trading cashews, cocoa, rice, sesame and edible oils. For these five commodities, the majority of the funding requests originated from West Africa, East Africa or companies operating across all regions. Many source commodities from Ghana, Tanzania, Benin and Nigeria.
Most of these companies were exporting commodities from their source countries to Asia (35%) or to Europe (32%), implying increased foreign currency revenue. At a time where investors are increasingly looking for ways to mitigate risk and further secure their investments, this is a significant advantage for these companies when seeking financial support.
Additionally, companies are more regularly working with collateral managers and using banking instruments to further secure their trading activities.
The Orbitt Perspective
Global commodity prices have increased notably this year, specifically agricultural commodities, presenting an opportunity for African commodity traders. As a result, companies exporting these commodities from Africa to the international markets continue to seek financial support to increase their trading capacity and meet the increasing demand.
Source: African Business
THE government plans to introduce a special department for business, investment and industrial development in all 185 district councils, which will enable regional business officers countrywide to have full autonomy to manage business and investment in the country.
The plan was revealed on Tuesday by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Investment, Geoffrey Mwambe during a two-day seminar for regional business officers held in Dodoma.
According to Mr Mwambe, his Ministry would accomplish the plan in collaboration with the Ministry of State, President's Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, the Ministry of Trade and Industries and the President's Office Public Service Management.
Minister Mwambe underscored the need for regional business officers to catalyse processes for business and investment in the country that is why the government wanted to have a special department to facilitate the matter.
Mr Mwambe further wanted business officers in all regions to supervise loans that ought to be provided to women, youth and People with Disabilities from the Prime Minister's Office.
"Currently these loans are being supervised by community development officers but in reality this should not be in their capacity because they do not know business issues as per their professions," he insisted.
The Investment minister further said regional and district business officers need to help groups obtaining loans from the government to process proper business plans as many of them took loans without knowing how properly to utilize them. He also called for the need to establish regional business centres, which would help to formalise all businesses in the country.
Earlier on, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) Executive Director, Dr Maduhu Kazi said his office had coordinated a special seminar for business officers from across the country in order to have an extended exclusive army to prefect business and investment in the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Prof Godius Kahyarara said his ministry would remain focused as President Samia Suluhu Hassan had already provided her direction on matters regarding to investment in the country.
He also insisted on the government's plan to have industrial Parks in all the regions countrywide in efforts to attract business and investment.
Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday pledged that over 10 million households will have access to electricity in their homes for the first time by 2024 in the framework of the "Energy for All" Programme, intended to secure universal access to electrical power.
Nyusi reaffirmed the government's commitment to achieve this goal at the inauguration of a power supply system in Macate district, in the central Mozambican province of Manica. This cost 238,000 US dollars disbursed by the government, and will benefit 250 households. Presently, 66 connections have been established.
"Six months ago, I announced the abolition of the electricity connection fee, a move intended to fast track new connections and hasten the achievement of universal access to energy. We are not only encouraged but enthusiastic with the results attained so far. About 500 new consumers are connected to the national grid, every day," Nyusi said.
Since the elimination of the fee, Nyusi added, 115,317 households have been connected, while neighbourhoods and other public spaces have been illuminated, thus transforming the lives of many Mozambicans.
"Macate is now in a position to improve its production levels and we would like to urge the district to step up such levels to justify the investment we have made," Nyusi stressed, pointing out that the impact of electricity goes beyond the economic front. Energy answers the consumption needs of households and its availability will leverage the use of health and education facilities, thus boosting the quality of life.
Because of these reasons and the urgent need to shake up the productive sectors, Nyusi advised the local government to spread the productive use of electricity, by promoting investment in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries, and agro-processing.
From now on, Nyusi said, the milling facilities must operate at full swing in Macate, and there should be an expansion in the size of the district capital, as a place to make a living and to do business.
Nyusi also urged every resident of Macate to stage a tireless struggle against possible vandalism and theft of electrical equipment, since such behaviour undermines collective welfare. "It is good to see electric lighting at night, but suddenly a criminal comes and rips out the cables to make a snare for poaching", he said.
The darkness into which Macate used to plunge every night is a thing of the past, and so Nyusi asked every resident to safeguard the correct functioning of the system and ensure the longevity of the equipment, taking into account that it is a collective asset.