SA attends WTO Ministerial meeting in India


Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies will this morning attend the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in India.

The aim of the ministerial meeting is to exchange views and ideas on how to best address the challenges facing the Multilateral Trading System (MTS), as well as discuss issues of concern to developing countries.

The two-day meeting which gets underway today, is taking place in New Delhi.

This as there are different diagnoses of problems facing the MTS. The meeting will provide an opportunity for the exchange of views among participating countries on current developments in the Multilateral Trading System with a view to promote inclusive growth and development.

“We need to shape a multilateral trade environment that is conducive and supportive of industrialization, and supports structural transformation and economic diversification. This includes recognizing the necessity of policy space for developing countries, especially African countries to pursue our development objectives and promote regional integration,” said Davies.

The Minister further highlighted that the meeting is taking place at a time when global trade is going through a period of uncertainty with an increase in protectionism in some countries and a backlash against trade agreements and globalization due to lack of inclusive growth.

The Government of India that is organizing this meeting, expressed the hope that this meeting will provide a direction on how to constructively engage on the various issues facing the WTO.

These include the current challenges in the appointment of Appellate Body Members in the build up to the next WTO Ministerial Council meeting that will take place in 2020.

The meeting in Delhi will conclude tomorrow.



SA expected to reach roll-over agreement with the UK



The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is expected to reach a roll-over agreement with the United Kingdom post-Brexit.

The department briefed Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on Wednesday on developments made by its negotiating team regarding preferential trade arrangements after the British exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU).

Brexit is expected to occur on 29 March, while the negotiating team expects to reach the agreement by 21 February.

Committee chairperson Joan Fubbs commended the department and other government departments for the work they are doing in ensuring a “form of continuity in arrangements after Brexit”.

The Chief Director for Trade Negotiation, International Trade, and Economic Development Division at the dti, Niki Kruger, explained the intricacies of the agreement.

“It is only once the UK leaves the EU without an agreement that the UK can draw up its own agreements with other countries. The impact of them not reaching an agreement with the EU before Brexit is difficult to quantify now,” said Kruger.

Fubbs said all should be done to ensure more positive agreements for South Africa and all African countries in the future.

The committee heard that a final agreement will be signed by the end of the first week of March.

In addition, the committee heard that no agreement has been reached between the UK and the EU about the UK’s continued use of existing EU trade agreements.

The UK is currently South Africa’s second biggest trading partner in the EU, despite South Africa having a negative trade balance with the EU.
South Africa has a positive trade balance with the UK and this has increased significantly over the last few years.

The South African and UK trade balance is currently at about US$1.5 billion in South Africa’s favor. The UK currently receives about 40% of all fresh food products or agricultural products exported from South Africa to the EU.


South African Minister in China for import expo

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is in Shanghai for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), which kicked off yesterday morning.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the hosting of the expo last year as part of showing China’s intention of firmly supporting trade liberalisation and economic globalisation and actively opening the market to the world.

Enterprises from over 100 countries and regions are expected to participate in this first CIIE, which will have supporting activities such as supply-demand matchmaking meetings, seminars and product releases.

Davies is leading a delegation of 27 South African organisations, which include provincial investment agencies, Special Economic Zones, export councils and private companies.

The delegation is being funded by the Department of Trade and Industry through the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) Scheme.

On Sunday, Davies said South Africa will participate in the three main platforms such as the Country Pavilion for Trade and Investment, Enterprise and Business, as well as Fair International Trade Forum.

“These platforms will enable us to promote South Africa’s trade and investment capabilities,” the Minister said.

South Africa will host an investment forum on the margins of CIIE that will be addressed by Davies.

The dti says the focus will be to address potential investors and importers of finished products manufactured in South Africa.

Sectors that are participating include agro-processing, footwear and leather, engineering, petro-chemicals, railway components, defence, and information and communication technology.

Total trade between South Africa and China grew from R205 billion in 2012 to R318 billion by the end of 2017.

The highest peak of total trade registered a growth rate of 24% and this occurred in 2013, due to China’s increased appetite for South Africa’s raw commodities, which decreased to only 6% in 2017.

The trade balance soared from R35 billion in 2012 to its peak of R105 billion in 2015 and then decreased to R87 billion by the end of 2017.

The trade deficit has been attributed to imbalances in the composition of trade between the two countries where South Africa continues to export primary products and commodities to China, whilst in turn, South Africa continues to import manufactured and high-tech products from China.




Russia an opportunity for South African companies

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Monday that a South African business delegation is in Russia to take part in the World Food Moscow Fair. The delegation seeks export opportunities in the country’s agro-processing market, the DTI said on Monday.

Moloko Leshaba, South Africa’s foreign economic representative in Russia said that fresh fruits export is essential. Leshaba further said that South Africa has seen growth in several products including rooibos, honey bush tea and spices.

Leshaba said that “South Africa has continued to see growth exports to Russia in a number of products. Bottled wines have been growing at more than 10 percent in the last four years, increasing the number of South African wine brands in the country”.

He further said that “Russia is actively looking for alternative suppliers of food and beverages to mitigate the effects of sanctions. South African companies have the opportunity to expand into a receptive market in Russia”.

CEO of cocktail manufacturing company, Snow Bliss, Karin Opperman says that the company is hoping to find importers and distributers for its products.

“We have discovered that Russia is a very attractive and good market for alcohol beverages. Since we have established our brand with different distributors and hotels back in South Africa and other African countries, we are now ready to establish a base here in Russia,” Opperman said.

The company is based in Gauteng, Boksburg and now employs 22 permanent staff and exports beverages to China, Hong Kong, Namibia, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Source: Africa News Agency