Archives For BRICS

General_Administration_of_Customs_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China_logoChina Customs published Customs Interim Measures on Enterprise Credit Management (Interim Measures) on 8 October 2014. It is a part of an effort by the Chinese Government to establish a Social Credit System based on a 2014-2020 plan of the State Council. The new system will replace the existing Customs Compliance Rating Scheme and will come into effect on 1 December 2014.

The Interim Measures require China Customs to establish an enterprise credit management system to collect enterprise information, conduct credit appraisal, supervise enterprises accordingly and disclose the enterprise credit-related information to the public.

According to the Interim Measures, China Customs will place enterprises into one of three categories: the “Certified Enterprise”, the “General Enterprise” and the “Discredited Enterprise”.

A Certified Enterprise obtains China AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) status is further classified into two groups: “General” and “Senior”. Preferential customs treatment will be provided for all Certified Enterprises, this treatment includes a lower customs goods examination rate and a simplified customs review process. For companies that qualify as a Senior Certified Enterprise, China Customs will designate a customs officer to help coordinate between the company and various functions and offices of China Customs. China Customs will publish the detailed standard for the accreditation requirement/ procedure of the Certified Enterprise separately.

While the General Enterprise is a default category, companies should try their best to avoid being categorized as a “Discredited Enterprise”.

A Discredited Enterprise is a company which has been found committing non-compliance activities within the last 12 months. Non-compliance activities include smuggling activities conducted criminally or administratively and other violations being penalized by China Customs for a cumulative amount of more than RMB1million.

A Discredited Enterprise will be subject to a higher customs goods examination rate as well as to tightened review of customs declaration documents and tightened supervision when they conduct/ engage in processing trade activities.

Another key point that companies should notice is that China Customs is going to publicly disclose the enterprise credit system information on its website/ notice board. This will include the enterprise category of a company, as well as its customs penalties that a company has been imposed for the past five years. In particular, customs penalties will also be publicly disclosed via the National Enterprise Credit Information Disclosure System.

The National Enterprise Credit Information Disclosure System is to be established by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce according to the Interim Regulation on Public Disclosure of Enterprise Information which is come into force on 1 October 2014. Based on this regulation, penalties imposed against companies by any government agencies are to be disclosed publicly via this system.

Compliance counts, and it is now even more important with China’s establishment of its Social Credit System. Customs and trade compliance is often an area that a company does not pay much attention to until a major problem appears. Now a company could suffer huge financial and reputational loss. We recommend that companies take the launch of the Interim Measures as a special opportunity to initiate a self-compliance review of its trade activities and establish or upgrade its trade-related internal controls. This will enable the company to achieve a better balance between compliance and efficiency.

The Interim Measures have yet to provide detailed guidance on a number of areas. These include issues such as what are the appraising standard for Certified Enterprise, how will a company’s rating be reconciled between the previous customs system and the new accredited categories, etc. Source: Mayer Brown Consulting (Singapore)

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A gala ceremony was held last week to celebrate the official opening of BTP in Santos, Brazil, last week. (Image: APM Terminals)

A gala ceremony was held last week to celebrate the official opening of BTP in Santos, Brazil, last week. (Image: APM Terminals)

“Another BRIC in the Wall” – Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) was officially opened last week with a gala ceremony held at the Port of Santos’ new 1.2 million TEU capacity container terminal.

The development of BTP began back in 2007, with APM Terminals acquiring a 50 percent share from Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) in 2010. APM Terminals will operate the terminal alongside TIL for a 20-year period, whilst investing over US$20 billion into the project during this time span.

Although fully equipped and operational since March, commercial operations at BTP could not commence until the terminal was issued International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Certification in April, and granted an operating license from the Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Natural resources in July.

The first commercial vessel call took place in August, and with scheduled dredging having been completed in October, BTP has become fully operational with 1,108 metres of quay and a 15 metre depth, capable of serving three 9,200 TEU capacity vessel calls simultaneously.

The Port of Santos, the busiest container port in South America, handled 3 million TEU during the 2012 calendar year. Source: Port Technology International

 

Another Tralac sponsored publication which should be of great interest to trade practitioners, economists and investors, and agricultural specialists. Herewith the foreword to the ebook which is available for download from Tralac’s website – Click here!

The accession of South Africa into the BRICS formation has attracted a lot of attention internationally. Some welcomed the step while others questioned it. A closer look at BRICS reveals that these countries share some fundamental features while they differ in others. On that note, this book does not attempt to define BRICS.

BRICS-front-cover-webBRIC, the acronym, was coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001. The founding members of this political formation are Brazil, Russia, India and China, aligning well with the word formulation. The formation of the BRIC was motivated by global economic developments and change in the geopolitical configurations. South Africa joined the group in 2011, thus opening the possibility of putting Africa on the BRICS’ agenda. South Africa’s admission to the group was motivated by China and supported by Russia. Its accession to the BRICS generated much discussion about the country’s suitability to be part of the formation. One of the real issues raised is that South Africa does not measure up to the other BRIC economies in terms of population, trade levels and performance, and growth rates. A formation such as the BRICS is of value to South Africa only if the country’s strategic development interests (relating, for example, to agriculture) are to be on the agenda. South Africa faces particular challenges related to market access into the BRIC countries.

Agricultural issues are discussed under the Standing Expert Working Group on Agriculture and Agrarian Development. The issues that are prioritised include:

  • The development of a general strategy for access to food (this is where market access needs to be tabled), which is tasked to Brazil
  • Impact of climate change of food security, which is allocated to South Africa
  • The enhancement of agricultural technology, cooperation and innovation that is allocated to India
  • Creation of an information base of BRICS countries that is allocated to China

In 2012, at the annual conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa, the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) co-hosted a workshop aimed at establishing a dialogue on how agriculture can benefit from South Africa’s membership of the BRICS. It came out clearly from the workshop that agriculture needs to be better positioned to benefit from the BRICS formation. One important issue that was noted was that market access for South African agricultural produce into the BRICS countries could be improved. In this regard, an honest question was raised whether, as the country’s agriculture stakeholders, we fold our arms and do nothing since this this is a political formation (while market access is an economic issue), or whether we use this political formation to address our socioeconomic issues as they relate to these countries. Market access is one of the issues of interest to South Africa’s agriculture industry within the BRICS formation, together with issues such as the diffusion of technologies and collaborations.

The research that is presented in this book addresses a range of important issues related to the trade and investment relations among these countries. The performance of their agricultural sectors as well as trade amongst these countries is also examined. There is also focus on the relationship between BRICS and Africa, and what this means for South Africa’s trade relations with other African countries. Source: Tralac

To reap the benefits of its recent membership of BRICS, South African businesses are looking at gaining a competitive edge through achieving global-standard supply chain performance, according to Supply Chain Junction, Manhattan Associates' Geo Partner in South Africa.

To reap the benefits of its recent membership of BRICS, South African businesses are looking at gaining a competitive edge through achieving global-standard supply chain performance, according to Supply Chain Junction, Manhattan Associates‘ Geo Partner in South Africa.

To reap the benefits of its recent membership of BRICS, South African businesses are looking at gaining a competitive edge through achieving global-standard supply chain performance, reports Supply Chain Junction, Manhattan Associates’ Geo Partner in South Africa. Unlike many other countries, South Africa was cushioned from the full impact of the world financial crisis thanks to the strict pre-existing credit controls it had in place. There were some knock on affects from close trading economies but over the last 15 months South Africa has enjoyed a growth economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) say this group will account for 61 per cent of global growth in three years time.

While South Africa’s economy (£506.91bn GDP) is dwarfed by those of the original BRIC constituents, the country is seen as the gateway to the continent of Africa, which as a whole has an equivalent sized economy ($2,763bn GDP), a population of one billion and rich resources. This has all made it a valued investment region for China in particular.

However, there are many cultural, logistical and geographical challenges the further one travels North from South Africa towards the Sahara. As an example, while there is 24,487 km of rail track in South Africa, there is just 259 km in Uganda; there are 92 mobile phones per 100 people in South Africa but just two per 100 in Eritrea. However, there is a great deal of raw potential, especially in countries such as Angola and Nigeria.

Participation in BRICS will drive a new competitiveness for South Africa and a key factor will be developing world-class supply chain management. Unlike in Europe, the US and Australia, few supply chain directors in South Africa sit on the board, which makes it harder for them to demonstrate how effective management of the supply chain can deliver competitive advantage. But this is likely to change as companies realise that they must align their supply chain and business strategies. If the recession failed to drive home the need for this, then the presence of Chinese companies in Africa will create significant pressure to do so.

This was an observation of the 2011 Supply Chain Foresight survey, conducted by Frost & Sullivan, which annually samples the opinions of South African supply chain executives. It found that while over three quarters of the respondents feel that the supply chain and business strategies of their companies are aligned, less than a third felt that the supply chain and logistics operations are fully optimised. Businesses are looking at how to optimise their distribution networks through building new facilities, streamlining existing processes or collaboration between trading partners. This has seen a lot of current activity surrounding warehouse management systems, forecasting, planning, replenishment and collaboration technologies, in particular.

Two thirds of respondents are considering investment in technology to enable collaboration with service providers. With the recession claiming many key suppliers the environment is changing from one where major companies squeeze suppliers on cost to one where they adopt a more collaborative approach. Cost reduction was the focus of the past recession, but now the objective is to satisfy customer expectations and to deliver value. Just over half of respondents to the Supply Chain Foresight survey cited customer service as the top supply chain objective. Reducing waste and improving efficiency in the supply chain are the perennial shorter term challenges with companies looking for better forecasting and planning tools to bring down inventory and shorten lean times. One interesting aspect of South African supply chain technology is the large number of in-house designed legacy systems, which is a consequence of the country’s isolation during the times of Apartheid. A propensity towards in-house designed systems remains today.

In terms of industry sectors, retail dominates but it remains firmly entrenched in the traditional channels. While some retailers have online retail websites, online and multi-channel is by no means a significant part of the current retail picture. Internet use is still quite low compared to other countries there are 4.42 million internet users in a population of 49 million and this figure is expected to remain low for some time yet. A further obstacle to the expansion of online sales is a high crime rate which leads to security issues in delivering goods to customers.

Wholesale distribution is quite small in size and complexity so the supply chain challenges tend not to be too complicated. There remain companies that feel they have been reasonably successful – being self-sufficient – and want to maintain that approach, along with a general tendency to look within, when it comes to benchmarking supply chains. However, a growing number of companies in South Africa recognise that there are other organizations across the globe doing similar things, but perhaps, a lot more efficiently.

Supply chain managers within these businesses are evolving a mindset focused on global best practice and the means of achieving it. These South African companies want to be best in their class. By building knowledge, benchmarking and improving against those benchmarks the win for this retailer is a supply chain that gives competitive advantage. As in other countries, companies looking to benefit from external expertise and a reduction in their capital costs will often outsource their logistics to third party logistics (3PL) operators. South Africa has numerous small local players and a handful of large lead logistics providers who tend to drive innovation. It is a small but highly competitive market. Logistics infrastructure and skills shortage in the supply chain continue to be huge issues in South Africa. The Supply Chain Foresight survey found that to deal with the skills shortage, in almost all areas companies either expose employees to new jobs through rotation, or development programs, or mentoring. These are generally in-house driven schemes. South Africa is an emerging market that is growing fast and offers a tremendous wealth of opportunities. In fact, the country has a great many successful businesses, and while many talk about becoming world class, many have already achieved it. Source: Supply Chain Junction

In 2013, the prospects for trade for the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will diverge. While the BRIC economies have been at the forefront of emerging market growth for the past decade, weaker export demand from the developed world since 2012 is impacting the trade balances of each BRIC country, reports Euromonitor International.

The widening trade deficit for India in particular, the only BRIC member in which imports outstrip exports, is threatening the country’s growth prospects for the year. India’s trade deficit widened in 2012 to 10.3% of GDP, as high oil prices further increased the cost of the country’s imports, while export growth slowed, leading the imbalance to worsen. This is compared to 2.9% surplus in China, 9.9% surplus in Russia and a 0.9% surplus in Brazil in 2012.  Both Russia and Brazil’s exports are buoyed significantly by primary resources, such as oil and gas. Euromonitor International expects India’s trade deficit to widen to 12.3% in 2013.

GREENEARTH INDIA 3India’s situation is unique. The country has not posted an annual trade surplus since at least 1977, primarily due to two key factors. First of all the country is highly dependent on imports of energy to maintain the country’s energy consumption. For example, the country imports 75.2% of the crude oil that it consumes, as a result, in 2012, imports of mineral fuels accounted for 33.9% of the country’s import bill. The rising costs of fossil fuels after 2010, as well as the low levels of energy efficiency have exacerbated India’s trade deficit issues;

Secondly, the economy’s external sector remains comparatively small in comparison with the other BRIC economies. The Indian economy has maintained growth through rising domestic spending and a burgeoning services sector, which in 2012 made up 53.4% of the economy. As a result, India’s exports made up just 15.7% of the country’s GDP in 2012, compared to 25.3% in China and 27.2% in Russia, Brazil is the exception with exports making up just 10.8% of GDP in the year;

However, over the majority of the period studied, the trade deficit has been offset by capital accumulation in India from FDI inflows into the country. Since 2006, a rapid acceleration in imports has led to a much larger trade deficit, while the financial crisis of 2007-2008 has meant FDI flows have tightened across the world. The trade deficit is therefore, a growing burden for India, as capital is diverted from India’s economy to fund rising import costs.

Although there are challenges for India’s external sector in 2013, the economy has seen very high trade growth, the fastest of the BRIC economies. Between 2007 and 2012, exports increased by 103.6% in US$ terms, while imports increased by 123.2%. Growth will continue in 2013, with 15.2% increase in exports and a 22.2% increase in imports. The rapid growth is a result of a burgeoning middle class and the development of export industries in the country. The long term prospects for India remain bright as a result, as the growing population and continued economic development offer considerable opportunities for investment. However, the trade deficit will continue to drag on economic growth until investor confidence in India returns. Source: Euromonitor International

Delegates who attended the first BRICS Customs Heads of Customs Meeting [SARS]

Delegates who attended the first BRICS Customs Heads of Customs Meeting [SARS]

At a meeting hosted by the Commissioner near Bela Bela, South Africa from 7 to 8 March 2013, delegations from the Customs Administrations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) met for the first time. The BRICS Customs administrations exchanged experience and ideas in a spirit of openness so as to identify areas for cooperation so that they can most effectively and efficiently facilitate legitimate trade and combat illicit trade and Customs fraud. From 27 to 28 March, South Africa will also host the BRICS Summit in Durban, to be attended by various Ministers and the BRICS Heads of State.

Key points of discussion, focus and future cooperation –

Customs cooperation
The Heads of Customs committed themselves to consolidating and building on the cooperation that has already been established so that they can collectively curb Customs offences, safeguard the international supply chain and achieve effective enforcement of Customs legislation, while facilitating legitimate trade,both among BRICS countries and also globally.

Capacity building
As part of their cooperation to build Customs capacity in relation to human resources, technologies and procedures,the administrations would look into various practical and innovative solutions and endeavour to share their resources, knowledge and best practices with each other.

Cooperation at multilateral forums
A BRICS Customs mechanism will be established, including attachés networks based in Brussels and other strategic places, to identify issues of common interest, develop common responses and ensure regular engagement and interaction, including before important multilateral meetings.

Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance and the Exchange of Customs Information
The administrations also agreed to ensure that there is an enabling legal basis between them to support intra-BRICS Customs mutual administrative assistance and the exchange of Customs information. Such assistance and exchange will assist in combating illicit trade and protecting revenues and societies.

Facilitation of legitimate trade between BRICS countries
To further facilitate trade and reduce the Customs administrative burden on both trade and the administrations themselves, the administrations will exchange information in various areas of common interest and concern, including on the simplification of Customs procedures and the use of modern technologies and techniques.

The administrations will also work towards possible solutions for achieving mutual recognition of Customs controls and of trader management programs aligned to the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) concept of the World Customs Organization (WCO), establishing Customs interconnectivity and supporting the WCO’s work on developing the Globally Networked Customs (GNC) model.

Opportunities for enforcement cooperation will also be explored, including possible joint actions, information sharing and other enforcement assistance. The use of international instruments developed by the WCO, including Conventions, Recommendations, Decisions and Declarations that support Customs trade facilitation, compliance and enforcement will be actively promoted.

Governance issues
A Governance Framework aligned to the overall BRICS commitments will be established. An annual BRICS Customs Heads meeting has been proposed whose deliberations would be informed to other BRICS forums, including in particular the Summit. Such a BRICS Customs Heads Meeting would be supported by a Customs working group under the guidance of the BRICS Heads of Customs. Source: SARS

Is Nigerian's President Goodluck Jonathan on the road to success?  - Photograph by IITA Image Library

Is Nigerian’s President Goodluck Jonathan on the road to success? – Photograph by IITA Image Library

Posted with special permission and credit to Think Africa Press. Projections that Nigeria’s economy will be more important than South Africa’s by 2020 underplay serious instabilities in Nigeria’s economy, political systems and surrounding region.

Following Nigeria’s announcement that calculations of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may have been underestimated over the last two decades, the country’s economy has been portrayed much more optimistically by mainstream media. The Financial Times headline ‘Nigeria: No 1 in Africa by 2014?’ in its special edition on emerging markets, Beyond Brics, is a case in point. Similarly, headlines such as ‘Nigerians optimistic about economic prospects’ or ‘Nigeria wins ratings upgrade for tight fiscal policy’ from The Guardian and Reuters, respectively, capture the media‘s changing attitude towards Africa’s most populous nation.

And Nigeria’s economic performance has not only caught the attention of the media. The traditionally cautious business community, major global players such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and influential private institutions such as Goldman Sachs, have warmly embraced this favourable analysis, setting the scene for more positive depictions of Nigeria’s economy. It appears academia, too, has joined the chorus in praising Nigeria’s apparatchiks for supposedly bringing in reforms that have resulted in “unprecedented” growth.

Several commentators are now asserting that Nigeria’s economy will be more important to Africa than South Africa’s by 2020. These analyses in particular require a closer look.

South Africa vs. Nigeria

There is little doubt that the Nigerian economy, simply in terms of size, will reach the top rung by 2020, if not earlier. By some measures, it could already be seen as the biggest economy in Africa. Its massive population has seen its economy grow at speeds unimaginable not long ago. But does that mean Nigeria will automatically become a more dynamic and important regional economy than that of South Africa?

Measured analysis is less convincing, and show that such predictions focus heavily on Nigeria’s current high growth rates at the expense of serious weaknesses and instabilities in its economy, political systems and region. In comparison to South Africa, Nigeria is still confronted by numerous challenges.

First, Nigeria’s high growth rates have been driven by consistently high crude oil prices. Indeed, the story about Nigeria’s growth is predominantly about oil. The primary engine for such high oil prices on the world market has been demand from BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. However, since the 2008 global financial crisis, BRICS countries have been showing signs of struggling, with growth forecasts for this year cut by almost half. If oil demand continues to weaken due to their sluggish economic performance, Nigeria’s economy could prematurely plateau in a manner analogous to Japan. On the other hand, South Africa’s economy is more diversified, and as a result, its growth rate, though more measured, is likely to be steady.

Second, Nigeria has, in comparative terms, a smaller entrepreneurial community than South Africa. Dependency on oil appears to have profoundly discouraged would-be innovators and entrepreneurs from other sectors, such as the ‘smart’ industries of finance or telecommunications. With the exception of well–established conglomerates such as the Dangote Group, Nigeria also struggles with internationalising its companies. Indeed, there is a sense that Nigerian entrepreneurs have more interest in accumulation than in global expansion. The Nigerian economy needs to reach out to international markets if it wants to sustain the momentum initiated by high GDP growth rates.

South Africa, on the other hand, has shown that it has the ability to take advantage of regional and international markets, with its companies such as Nandos Restaurants, MTN Multinational and Stanbic Bank, amongst many, showing the potential to become global brands. In a manner akin to the US, South Africa has also successfully ‘exported’ its currency, with the rand being used as official currency in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland, a move that has boosted trade with its neighbours.

Third, Nigeria struggles to retain skills and continues to see an outflow of its best minds to London, New York and Johannesburg. For the past 30 years, it has been a country exporting future engineers, economists and doctors. With its workforce, Nigeria will be hard pressed to keep up with the mature knowledge of South Africa, a country whose dynamic economy continues to see it attract some of the best people in Africa. South Africa’s top industries and universities are manned by highly qualified and some of the most sought after professionals in the region, including Nigerians. For the foreseeable future, human capital will remain South Africa’s comparative advantage.

Fourth, intractable corruption in Nigeria is a formidable barrier to sustained growth. Corruption is pervasive and the problem is compounded by the fact that Nigeria lacks the political will and effective institutions to address it. To be a dynamic economy, Nigeria needs to demonstrate interest in countering corruption by building the trust of its own people and investors. In contrast, South Africa has comparatively stronger institutions for tackling corruption, including an effective judiciary system, the very elements that are missing in Nigeria today.

Fifth, Nigeria lags behind South Africa in terms of infrastructure. Its infrastructural systems are not fully competitive, nor do they resemble 21st century standards, with its rail and road networks requiring serious attention. Nigeria needs to invest in infrastructure that will better connect its regions to each other and the country to the rest of the world. More of everything, from ports and bridges to airports and industrial clusters, is required for trade with its neighbours, along with extensive broadband internet connections. The same is not true of South Africa, which has the region’s most extensive infrastructural development.

Sixth, for an economy to grow sustainably, its immediate periphery must be stable and prosperous enough for trade. In West Africa, Nigeria is in the middle of a rough neighbourhood, with social unrest in the Ivory Coast and the unpredictable politics of Mali and Chad, amongst others, posing a threat to regional stability. South Africa benefits from its relatively peaceful immediate region, with the ‘Post–Apartheid Regional System’ having seen increased stability in Southern Africa over the past 15 years.

Last but not least, Nigeria is confronted by religious violence that poses an ‘existential’ threat to its state, and relentless socio-ethnic tensions. In the predominantly Muslim North, for example, the activities of groups such as militant Islamists Boko Haram threaten security and political order – public goods upon which dynamic economic activity is dependent. The former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar recently expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation, admitting that insecurity was constraining Nigeria’s potential.

South Africa has its problems too

So far South Africa has been looked at as a stable entity. However, it’s important to continue this analysis from the opposite direction: the sustainability of South Africa’s stability. Indeed, the real threat to South Africa’s leadership of the Africa region is not Nigeria, but its increasingly tense social atmosphere, undermining its fragile stability. Despite the promise that its economy shows, incidents such as the Marikana massacre give a strong sense that South Africa’s post–apartheid society still faces serious problems. Concise definition of these problems, though, has appeared difficult, with even some of the most incisive voices struggling to provide convincing explanations of what is haunting the Rainbow Nation.

South Africa’s state elites and the civil and business communities need to urgently explore the causes of such a tense social atmosphere, and confront them head on. The 2000 crisis across the Limpopo River in Zimbabwe is a stern reminder that an insecure social atmosphere bodes ill. It may only be, though, when South Africa faces a crisis of ‘Zimbabwean’ proportions, which may not be impossible, that Nigeria gains that precious title of being the regional powerhouse. Otherwise, the continental economic order is likely to look the same come 2020.

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