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UK, East and Southern Africa sign trade deal

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Ahead of its March 29 exit from the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom has signed a deal with countries from East and Southern Africa to explore new and continue to trade with the region.

The UK-Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Trade Continuity Agreement is meant to replicate the Economic Partnership Agreement that the East African Community is yet to sign with the European Union, due to disagreements among members on its viability.

Yash Tandon, an academic, civil society activist and former executive director of the South Centre, a Geneva-based intergovernmental think tank, said the ESA deal that the Theresa May administration has pushed is a “panic measure” as the clock ticks to March 29.

The agreement is meant to ensure that trade between the UK and the African countries will not be disrupted by Brexit, and will allow the ESA signatories to continue duty-free, quota-free exports to Britain while they also reciprocate by lowering their tariffs on UK exports on a phased basis.

UK Trade Minister George Hollingbery signed the UK-ESA agreement in London on January 31 with Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

Although EAC countries are not yet part of the UK-ESA deal, trade experts say that Britain is considering a special arrangement with Kenya, for which the EAC-EU agreement offers more benefits than for its peers in the bloc.

The EPA Monitoring website said on February 4 that “some form of special arrangement is under consideration for Kenya.”

The website says the move could be attributed to the complications facing Kenya in signing any trade agreement without the concurrence of its fellow EAC Customs Union members — Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan — all of which are least developed countries.

Apparently, the UK has previously committed to roll over the existing EU duty-free quota-free market access regime for LDCs as a unilaterally UK-only scheme, an arrangement that would lock out Kenya, which is categorised as a developing country.

Critics argue that the UK singling out countries that are desperate to sign and leaving others out is a repetition of its divide-and-rule strategy.

Meanwhile, Kenya has four months to find out the fate of the EPA with Europe, after the recently concluded East African Community Summit gave Tanzania — the harshest critic of the deal — time to consult and make a final decision.

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Even as they set a four-month window to clarify pertinent issues, it is apparent that some partners are ready to sign the controversial trade pact, which will see the region liberalise its trade by 82 per cent.

However, Tanzania remains opposed to the proposal tabled by Kenya that partner states willing to sign may do so as individuals rather than as a bloc — a principle referred to as “variable geometry.”

The Principle of Variable Geometry is provided for in Article 7.1(e) of the EAC Treaty to allow “for progression in co-operation among groups within the Community for wider integration schemes in various fields and at different speeds.”

But the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (Seatini) cautions that the variable geometry formula invoked for a trade deal with the EU will impair the EAC’s regional integration.

“The proposal to evoke variable geometry in the EPA is a misapplication of this principle,” Seatini said.

“There is no doubt that this principle applies to integration within the EAC and does not apply to third parties. If wrongly evoked as proposed by Kenya, it will lead to unintended consequences of fusing the EAC with the EU Free Trade Area.”

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Manufacturing

Egypt, Toyota Tsusho discuss manufacturing natural gas-powered microbuses

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CAIRO – 13 October 2019: Egypt and Toyota Tsusho discussed on Sunday how the giant Japanese company can contribute to the government’s plans to manufacturing natural gas-powered microbuses.

During his meeting with President and CEO of Toyota Tsusho Mr. Ichiro Kashitani, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli emphasized Egypt’s keenness to best utilize its resources by reducing diesel exports’ expenses and transferring diesel-fueled vehicles to natural gas-powered ones or to bi-fuel vehicles that are capable of running on two fuels (natural gas and gasoline) through offering payment facilities.

Mabdouli further stressed that the transfer process needs to be implemented through manufacturing companies that working on Egypt’s soil, in order to enhance local manufacturing, and transfer expertise, according to a cabinet press statement about the meeting. He also ensured that the government is serious in its plans to implementing the transfer process through providing funding programs and incentives to encourage owners of old microbuses.

These ambitions go the lines with the government’s latest unveiled plan in August, aiming to turn 50,000 vehicles into gas-powered annually.

Mabdouli also stressed the government’s readiness to discuss the details of the implementation of the program and accelerate the process according to a specific schedule.

For their part, Toyota Tsusho delegation presented their proposal of “manufacturing high quality microbuses in a way that will meet the Egyptian government’s converting the fuel-powered vehicles.”

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In a previous interview with Business Today Egypt magazine, Toyota Tsusho Kashitani explained his company’s strategy about using diversified fuels, based on the global trend to electrification, while maintaining an environment-friendly technology.

“In order to realize the fuel transfer plan by government, natural gas field development would be necessary to be accelerated and we are ready to support it by expansion of the offshore rig project as referred above,” Kashitani added during the interview.

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Messe Frankfurt studies holding international textile exhibition in Egypt

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Shirts- CC via Maxpixel/ Sony Ilce-7

CAIRO – 19 May 2019: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH is studying holding an international fair for textile products in Egypt for the first time, announced Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry in a statement on Sunday.

“The exhibition will be an important platform for bringing together exporters and importers from around the world to exchange experiences and views in this field,” the statement read.

The exhibition comes in light of Egypt’s strategic plan to be a trade hub serving the African countries, the ministry said, noting that the country aims to be an international center for all international exhibitions.

Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH Uwe Behm said that the company has been cooperating with Egypt for 100 years, adding that the company aims to hold this big international exhibition due to Egypt’s distinguished and strategic geographic place in Africa and in the Arab World.

Egypt Today

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Durban Car Terminal handles over half a million fully built units

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DURBAN – The Durban Car Terminal broke a South African (SA) record, handling over half a million fully built units (FBU) in the 2018/19 financial year.

Amanda Siyengo, the Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) General Manager for Bulk, Break Bulk and Car Operations said, “A combination of a shift in the operating model, improved planning, dedicated operational teams and collaboration with customers and shipping lines have seen the terminal exceed its annual average of 480 000 FBU”.

This has resulted in the terminal handling 510 936 FBU which comprises of passenger, commercial, static mafi cargo and high and heavy vehicles.

The terminal had undergone an operating model change which entailed taking over the outsourced driving service function so that it was handled internally. Siyengo added that this achievement had not been an easy task, commending terminal management on and improving efficiencies such as units handled per hour with and ship working hours

“Facilitating seamless logistics planning and operational execution for original equipment manufacturers plus collaboration with shipping lines, is very critical in eliminating bottlenecks and ensuring that automotive exports and imports are handled efficiently for the South African economy,” said Siyengo.

The Durban Car Terminal is also focusing on creating more storage capacity to meet the industry demand, driving a high performance culture and being innovative in solutions it provides. Introducing the automated service instruction entry (SIE) to over 100 customers, supply chain partners and various other stakeholders is an initiative that is work in progress however, improves the SARS clearance process from 72 to 24 hours.

There have also been significant investments in the SA automotive sector that supported higher production capacity which led to better than expected export volumes countrywide.

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Automotive Production and Development Plan incentivizing the industry for increasing local content from 38% to 60% ex-factory price, has also played a significant role in increased numbers after its introduction in 2013. SA’s motor industry currently builds about 600 000 vehicles per annum, which is 0.7 percent of the global consumption. The SA government would like to see this grow to about 1 percent in 2035 when the SA Automotive Masterplan expires.

SA, through TPT’s Durban Car Terminal is the single largest car terminal in Africa. They have previously created a web-based, general cargo operating system called GCOS which enhances security of break bulk cargo and automotive, offering simple user interface and greater data integrity compared to the old manual method.

GCOS is a commercial product that some of the West African terminals are already utilizing and one of these is the Port of Cotonou in Benin.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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