Archives For October 17, 2013

EastAfricaMapPeople’s Republic of China (PRC) officials are becoming increasingly apprehensive about the rise in the use of the westward corridor to export oil, diamonds, and rare minerals out of South Sudan and the Central African Republic via Cameroon. In other words, this creates a flow to Atlantic sea and air transportation routes, rather than routes eastward to Indian Ocean trade routes. Beijing is also concerned over the growing tension between Sudan and its neighbors – particularly South Sudan – because of the impact this might have on the PRC’s long-term designs to dominate Africa’s resources trade.

A key component of the Chinese long-term strategy has long been to converge all the flow of oil, gas, and minerals to a single export point on the shores of the Indian Ocean; that is, in the direction of China. This vision is getting closer to realization given the progress made toward beginning construction of the maritime complex in Lamu on the northern Kenyan shores of the Indian Ocean. The Lamu mega-port and adjacent industrial and transportation complexes are a major element of the Kenyan Government’s Vision 2030 initiative. Lamu is the key to the long-needed modernization of Kenya’s deteriorating infrastructure and boosting of economic output.

Although Nairobi keeps insisting that there will be international tenders for each and every phase of the Lamu project, the overall design in fact follows Beijing’s proposal, and Nairobi acknowledges that no international consortium has so far been able to remotely compete with the financial guarantees offered by official Beijing in support for proposals presented by Chinese entrants. This is because Beijing considers the Lamu mega-port and transportation complex to be the key to the PRC’s long term domination over African trade and resources.

The initial costs of the first phase of the Lamu project are estimated at $25.5-billion. The name of this first phase – the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) – points to the initial objectives. Significantly, the term used is “Southern Sudan” and not the state of South Sudan. When completed, the first phase of the Lamu complex will include a 32-berth port, three international airports, and a 1,500km railway line. As well, the Chinese plan oil pipelines from Juba in South Sudan, and from Addis Ababa via Moyale, Kenya, to converge into Kenya’s Eastern Province and end in a new huge oil refinery in Bargoni, near Lamu. The entire construction and pipelines will be supported by a 1,730km road network. In the longer term, the trans-African pipelines the Chinese plan on building from both Nigeria in the west and south-western Africa (most likely Angola) will also feed into the Lamu complex, thus giving the PRC effective control over the main hydrocarbon exports of Africa.

The strategic cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum constitutes the key to the Chinese confidence that their Sudanese allies be able to contain their Somali jihadist proxies so that the risk of terrorist attacks is minimal. Simply put, Beijing is ready to do anything just to ensure the flow of oil eastwards rather than westwards.

Ultimately, the significance of the Chinese long-term grand design for Africa can be best comprehended in the context of historic transformation in the grand strategy and polity of the PRC. Beijing has been arguing since the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline of the United States was also inevitable and that China was destined to rise as the global hegemon. Presently, Beijing is convinced that the time is ripe for delivering the coup de grace.

On October 13, 2013, the official Xinhua news agency published an official commentary stating that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world”. The commentary surveyed the “abuse” the entire world had suffered under US hegemony since World War II. The situation had only aggravated since the end of the Cold War, Xinhua argued. “Instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” To further its own unbridled ambitions, the US stoked “regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies”, Xinhua explained.

The Xinhua commentary warned that with US society and economy collapsing, Washington was now tempted to intensify the abuse of the rest of the world in order to save the US. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.” Xinhua concluded by suggesting that the PRC, being inherently a developing country, is the rising power best suited to lead this global transformation and de-Americanization.

Beijing has long recognized that any confrontation with the US would inevitably lead to major economic crises, a series of conflicts world-wide and possibly a global war against the US. To sustain this global conflict, the PRC would need huge quantities of hydrocarbons, rare metals, other natural resources and even agricultural products; and these could only be secured for it as a result of a China-dominated Africa. Source: http://www.tralac.org 

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South African Trade & Industry Minister Rob Davies

South African Trade & Industry Minister Rob Davies

South Africa has adopted a new trade policy approach aimed at looking at its own interest first, despite a drive for more regional integration to sustain Africa’s trade growth with the rest of the world. Importers of several products have been experiencing dramatic increases in tariffs from South Africa, as well as an increase in anti dumping and safeguard measures aimed at protecting South African industries.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies this week approved the increase of tariffs on frozen poultry following an application by the local poultry industry. George Geringer, a senior manager at PwC, said regional trade relations had been put on the back burner in favour of measures to protect South African manufacturing industries against cheaper imports.

“Government realised that manufacturing as a percentage of gross domestic product has declined from about 40% to about 12% in the past 20 years,” Mr Geringer said at the 16th Africa Tax and Business Symposium hosted by PwC in Mauritius.

Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by more than 200% in the past 13 years, with optimism from the World Bank that Africa could be on the brink of an economic takeoff, similar to that of China and India two decades ago.

A key element for Africa to sustain the trade growth is regional integration to build economies of scale and size, in order to compete with other emerging markets – but limited resources, internal conflict and the lack of a mechanism to monitor the integration process is blocking it, says trade analyst from PwC.

South Africa has been regarded as the “champion” of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). Sadc member countries eliminate tariffs, quotas and preferences on most goods and services traded between them. The member countries include Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The assistant manager at PwC’s international trade division, Marijke Smit, said less than 10% of African nations’ trade was with each other, compared with 70% between member states of the European Union. Benefits of regional integration include increased trade flows, reduced transaction costs, and a regulatory environment for cross-border networks to flourish. Ms Smit said an unsupportive business environment and cumbersome regulatory framework, weak productive capacity, inadequate regional infrastructure, poor institutional and human capacity, and countries’ prioritising their own interests stood in the way of integration.

Mr Geringer referred to the new action plan endorsed by leaders from the African Union in January last year. The plan will see the creation of a continental free-trade area by 2017. The enlarged free-trade area will include Sadc, the East Africa Community and the Common Market for South and East Africa (Comesa). The trade bloc will include 26 nations in three sub-regions. Source: BDLive.com

handshakeThe Southern African Customs Union (SACU) consisting of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland collaborates with the World Customs Organization (WCO) in a trade facilitation initiative funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The initiative in which also the SACU Secretariat participates, aims among others at developing a regional Preferred Trader (PT) scheme.

From 30th of September to 4th of October a core team consisting of National Project Managers, audit experts, PT-experts and site managers met in Windhoek, Namibia, with WCO experts to further prepare for the launch of the PT-scheme by developing regional processes to be applied related to the benefits selected and designed for the SACU regional PT.

The selected pilot operators have been engaged, and in the near future also the relevant cross border regulatory agencies and Customs officials at the selected border posts will be sensitized on the regional PT-scheme.

During the intense working week, all participants actively contributed to the preparations for the launch of the PT-scheme, planned for the first half of 2014. Source: www.4-traders.com