Archives For KwaZulu-Natal

Durban_Harbour_Photo Hi-ResA tad of nostalgia? No, this is relevant and historic. Look what Africa’s busiest seaport looked like 60 (or more) years ago. I am very grateful to Lois Crawley and Cecil Gaze (fellow customs colleagues in Durban) for sharing these historic gems. For purposes of contrast see the modern-day harbour (above). Real estate in the harbour area is in short-supply and significant operational expansion over the last 10 years has placed huge strain on the road and rail networks and the surrounding industrial areas. In recent times the expansion of containerised handling facilities has radically affected the traffic flows, even in nearby residential areas such as the Bluff. With increasing demand for premium containerised port handling facilities, the old Durban airport has been sited for development of a new port, perhaps the biggest and most ambitious construction project yet in South Africa. While one can marvel at the development over what is a relatively short period of time (a generation), spare a moment and view the seemingly archaic slideshow of Durban harbour purportedly between 1940 and 1960 – which some amongst us can even remember. Enjoy!

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I really enjoy TRALAC’s Newsletter – their analysis is always concise and down-to-earth. This Hot Seat Comment is no exception. One often wonders about the impact and nett result of tariff changes and trade remedies. Here we get some insight.

The clothing and textile industry has a long history in South Africa and is still a very important source of employment, especially for women and in poorer communities. The industry is geographically bound to specific provinces, including the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and Gauteng. In many rural areas the clothing and textile sector is often the only source of formal employment. Since about 2002 the Rand appreciated substantially and South African exports became less competitive in the global market. Coupled with the trade liberalisation, in terms of South Africa’s WTO offer, the clothing and textile industry has experienced sustained import competition due mostly from Asian imports. In order to try and remedy large-scale factory closures and employment losses in the industry the Southern Africa Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) applied for an increase in the import tariffs of 124 clothing tariff lines to the WTO bound rates of 45 percent in 2009. These clothing tariff lines are classified under Chapter 61 and 62 of the South African Tariff Book and include various clothing items, including men’s woven and knitted shirts, jackets and trousers; babies’ garments; and women’s woven and knitted jackets, skirts, dresses and trousers. Although the retailers objected to an increase in import duties the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) granted the application and general customs duties on 121 clothing tariff lines were increased from 40 percent to 45 percent, while the general customs duties on three tariff lines (hosiery) was increased from 20 percent to 45 percent.

imagesIn its application SACTWU stated three reasons for the application: there has been a significant increase in imports under these 124 tariff lines flowing into South Africa; market disruptions in the SACU industry which have resulted in factory closures and retrenchments warranted increased protection for the domestic industry; and increased tariffs will provide both relief and show increased confidence in the industry. The retail industry objected to the application on the following grounds: the loss of business in the manufacturing industry can not only be attributed to price competition, but also inefficiency in the local industry; increased duties will have an inflationary effect impacting the ability of consumers to buy clothing at competitive prices; and increased duties will have a punitive effect on the rail sector and the end consumers. In its decision the Commission found the declining rate of investment and employment in the clothing sector coupled with increased imports a disturbing trend. The Commission decided that an increase in customs duties will enable manufacturers to protect existing jobs, increase market penetration and price competition and growth the domestic manufacturing sector in the export market. However, the question of whether the increase in these customs duties have been successful in reaching its goal of decreased imports and increased domestic production, sales and exports still remain.

Import and export data sourced from the World Trade Atlas (2013) and production and sales data sourced from Statistics South Africa (2013) show the following patterns in the clothing industry between 2009 and 2012:

  • Over the time period imports of the 124 clothing tariff lines increased by 15 percent, from approximately US$ 834 million in 2009 to approximately US$ 1.2 billion in 2012.
  • The top five importing countries were China, Mauritius, India, Madagascar and Bangladesh, accounting for 89 percent of the total imports of these clothing articles into South Africa over the time period.
  • China mainly exported men’s, boy’s, women’s and girl’s cotton trousers; knitted sweaters and pullovers; cotton and knitted t-shirts; and knitted babies’ garments to South Africa between 2009 and 2012.
  • South Africa’s exports of these clothing tariff lines increased by 6 percent, from approximately US$ 71 million in 2009 to approximately US$ 84 million in 2012.
  • These clothing articles were mainly exported to African countries, including Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
  • The production index of the physical volume of production (base year is 2005) show there has been a significant decrease in the volume of production of knitted and crocheted articles and wearing apparel in South Africa. The index decreased from an average of 108.11 in 2009 to an average of 79.82 in 2012.
  • The sales of knitted and crocheted articles and wearing apparel also declined over the time period. Actual value of sales declined by 3 percent, from approximately US$ 18 billion in 2009 to approximately US$ 16 billion in 2012.

Although there has not been a significant lapse of time since the increase of import tariffs the data gives the short term response of imports, exports, and production to the change in import duties in November 2009. Immediately after the increase in tariffs there was an initial decrease in exports, production and sales.  However, exports recovered by the end of 2012, while production and sales are still significant lower than pre-2009 levels. SACTWU has also recently indicated that employment in the clothing, textiles and leather sector seems to be more stable over the last two years. However, one of the main objectives of the increase in import duties, to deter lower priced imports mainly from Asia, has not been accomplished. Source and content credit – Willemien Viljoen, TRALAC Researcher.

According to the latest data from South Africa’s department of environmental affairs (20 June 2012), the total number of rhinos poached  since the beginning of this year now stands at 251 with the number of arrests at 170.

The North-West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces continue to be targeted by poachers, collectively accounting for 86 of the total rhinos poached this year. The Kruger National Park, alone, has lost a total of 149 rhinos since the beginning of this year.  At this rate the carnage will almost certainly exceed the 448 slain last year.

Thus far, a total of 170 arrests have been made of which 147 of the arrested were poachers, 10 receivers or couriers, six couriers or buyers and seven exporters.

Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal part of Asia’s scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of newly affluent Asians.

A film made by UNTV and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can be seen on YouTube on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3m7FOXOLbY. Rhino horn has long been used in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam and the film quotes a doctor at Hanoi’s biggest hospital who sings its praises. According to the film, rhino horns have also been stolen from museums and private collections in more than 15 countries. Source: DoEA

State-owned freight logistics group Transnet has followed up its recent R1.8-billion purchase of the old Durban International Airport site, in KwaZulu-Natal, with the release of a number of separate tenders in support of its proposal to develop, in phases, a new dig-out port on the property.

The first phase, which was currently scheduled for completion in 2019, was expected to require an initial investment of R50-billion, with the balance of the project to be completed by 2037.

The first request for proposals (RFP) relates to the appointment of a transaction adviser for the project. The adviser will provide technical assistance relating to the establishment of a business model for the development of the harbour.

Transnet currently envisages a phased development of a facility comprising 16 container berths, five automotive berths and four liquid bulk berths. Its high-level infrastructure plan indicated that the container terminals would have the collective capacity to handle 9.6-million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, once all four phases were completed. That, the group argued, would be sufficient to address South Africa’s container capacity requirements to 2040.

The transaction adviser would be expected to complement and supplement the work, resources and expertise that Transnet had dedicated to the project internally. The consultant was expected to cover the legal, financial, environmental, economic and technical aspects of the proposed development. In order to facilitate the opportunity for financial planning and policy engagement, it is necessary to complete the assignment within an 18-month period.

The second RFP invites consultants to conduct conceptual and prefeasibility studies for the development . Transnet will employ a four-stage project lifecycle process for its capital expansion projects, with the two front-end loading (FEL) studies making up the first two stages. FEL implies upfront planning and engineering in order to reduce, as much as possible, the risk of scope creep and to ensure financial accuracy for the project. The FEL-1, or conceptual study, is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2013, while the FEL-2 study should be finalised by the end of March 2014. Source: Creamer Media

Cargo Dwell Time in Durban

September 28, 2011 — 2 Comments

An acquaintance in the forwarding industry brought this working paper to my attention. Titled “Cargo Dwell Time in Durban“, it is very useful reading for logistics operators, Customs and government agencies, and policy makers. The object of the working paper attempts to identify the main reasons why cargo dwell time in Durban port has dramatically reduced in the past decade to a current average of between 3 and 4 days. A major customs reform; changes in port storage tariffs coupled with strict enforcement; massive investments in infrastructure and equipment; and changing customer behavior through contractualization between the port operator and shipping lines or between customs, importers, and brokers have all played a major role. The main lesson for Sub-Saharan Africa that can be drawn from Durban is that cargo dwell time is mainly a function of the characteristics of the private sector, but it is the onus of public sector players, such as customs and the port authority, to put pressure on the private sector to make more efficient use of the port and reduce cargo dwell time. The Working Paper is the product of the World Bank’s Africa Region, Transport Unit, being part of a larger effort  to provide open access to its research and make a contribution to development policy discussions around the world. Policy Research Working Papers are also posted on the Web at http://econ.worldbank.org

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