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South Africa’s RCL Foods expands in pet food to beat drought

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Business, Economy, Environment

RANDFONTEIN, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africa’s RCL Foods has completed a 123 million rand ($10 million) expansion at its pet food plant to help reduce its exposure to a poultry business hit by drought and cheap imports.

Food companies in South Africa have been struggling with an El Niño-induced drought that drove up the price of ingredients such as maize, while poultry farmers have also faced competition from Brazil, the European Union and the United States.

RCL is aiming to tap into the country’s 5 billion rand ($418 million) a year pet food industry, which is less exposed to individual commodities, as part of a strategy to diversify, CEO Miles Dally said at a plant visit late on Thursday.

“Ideally we would like less impact from things like drought and dumping,” he said.

“Our vision has always been clear, to create a major food business,” he added, referring to the pet food division.

RCL’s expansion in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg, will boost its pet food production to 12,000 tonnes per month from 7,000 tonnes.

The company, which saw first-half profit plunge 54 percent last year, this week reported an increase for the first six months of its current financial year, boosted by a decline in input costs and higher chicken prices.

The firm cited lower poultry imports, which were reduced in part by an outbreak of bird flu in Europe.

RCL’s pet food business, which has annual revenue of around 1 billion rand, aims to grow by as much as 20 percent per year, Dally said, adding the firm would look for acquisitions to bolster the business.

The company currently produces over 20 brands including Rainbow chicken products, Nola mayonnaise, Yum Yum peanut butter, Bobtail dog food and Selati sugar products.

RCL cut 1,350 jobs and reduced production by 50 percent at its Hammersdale factory in the KwaZulu-Natal province in November 2016 as the chicken imports and drought took a toll.

($1 = 11.9204 rand)


(By Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by James Macharia and Mark Potter)

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Zimbabwe bans grain imports after higher maize output

Comments (0) Latest Updates from Reuters

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has banned grain imports to protect local farmers after producing enough to meet domestic demand, a government minister said on Tuesday, just a year after a devastating drought left more than 4 million people in need of food aid.

The southern African nation’s grain agency has also raised $200 million from the government and private sector to purchase maize from farmers, the Herald newspaper said.

The national treasury last week forecast output of the staple maize at 2.1 million tonnes this year, from 511,000 tonnes in 2016.

“It is true we have banned all grain imports because we have produced enough this year and also because we need to protect our local farmers,” Davis Mharapira, the deputy minister of agriculture said.

Mharapira said the Grain Marketing Board would pay $390 per tonne for white maize, almost triple the $143 for the September contract for white maize in South Africa, one of the countries from which Zimbabwe has previously imported maize.

The deputy minister said the higher price would encourage farmers to produce more maize while the import ban would make it impossible for dealers to buy the grain abroad and resell it at a higher price locally.

Zimbabwe has since 2001 been importing maize to meet domestic demand of 1.8 million tonnes, blamed in part on seizures of white-owned farms by the government of President Robert Mugabe that hit commercial agriculture production.

Mharapira said the national strategic grain reserve was holding 180,000 tonnes of maize, far below its targeted requirements of between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes.


(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Mark Potter)

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A second-hand clothing ban in East Africa?

Comments (5) Africa, Business, Featured

africa second hand clothes

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda consider ending imports of used garments by 2019 in order to increase domestic production.

Five East African countries may ban sales of second-hand clothing from abroad – a staple of many residents’ wardrobes – in order to bolster domestic garment making.

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda make up the East Africa Community (EAC), which directed its member countries to phase out textile and shoe imports by 2019. The heads of state of all five countries must agree before the limits could take effect.

The proposal comes as many African countries seek to increase manufacturing and other industries to fuel economic growth.

Charitable donations resold

Second-hand clothing, mostly from Europe and North America, are a mainstay of local clothing markets in Africa, according to Dr. Andrew Brooks, author of Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes.

In Uganda, for example, second-hand garments account for 81 percent of all clothing purchases, Brooks said.

East Africa imported more than $150 million worth of second-hand clothing in 2015. Brooks noted that the used clothing is less expensive than locally produced garments or even inexpensive new imports.

U.S., U.K. are largest exporters

Most of the second-hand clothing sold around the world comes from charitable donations by European and North American residents who are unaware the clothing will be sold, Brooks said.

The United States and the United Kingdom are by far the largest exporters of used clothing.

The United States exported used garments worth more than $685 million in 2013, according to United Nations data. Much of it went to Central and South America, Canada and Mexico but Tanzania and Angola also received major shares.

Uganda imports 1,500 tons of used clothing each year from the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The United Kingdom’s exports totaled more than $620 million with major shares going to Ghana, Benin, Kenya, and Togo.

Germany was the third largest exporter at more than $500 million, with large shares going to Cameroon and Angola.

Other major exporters are South Korea, The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Poland, Italy and Japan.

South Korea and Canada together exported $59 million worth of used clothes to Tanzania while the UK exported $42 million worth of used clothes to Kenya.

Regional industry declines

Garment manufacturing in Ghana

Garment manufacturing in Ghana

Brooks, a lecturer at King’s College in London, said local garment makers employed hundreds of thousands of people in East Africa before the debt crisis hit in the 1980s and 1990s when domestic producers struggled to compete and many factories closed.

In Kenya alone, a garment industry that employed 500,000 people was reduced to only about 20,000 garment workers today.

The East Africa Community pointed to the need to rebuild domestic production as it proposed the ban on second-hand imports.

“The region, like the other developing countries, is ready to transition into an industrial bloc with a higher level of production quality and manufacturing practices,” said Betty Maina, Kenya’s Principal Secretary at the EAC Ministry. “It will benefit industry and increase access to locally manufactured products in the region and create more employment opportunities.”

No ban on new clothing imports

Brooks noted that the ban does not include imports of new clothing, which could also undercut the domestic garment makers. While rebuilding the local garment industry may be beneficial in the long-term, higher prices could hurt local consumers.

In the near term, government would also suffer losses of tariffs collected from clothing importers. For example, Kenya collected $54 million in tariffs on 100,000 tons of imported used clothing in 2013.

Rwanda earlier this year nearly tripled its import duty on imported clothing from 35 percent to 100 percent in order to encourage purchases from the country’s lone textile mill. Two years ago, the factory was producing at 40 percent of capacity but that has dropped to 20 percent.

Comprehensive approach urged

To revive the garment industry, Brooks said, more comprehensive action than the ban must be taken.

These include improvements in transportation and power supplies to stabilize the distribution system as well as tax relief for factories and support for the sustainability of east Africa’s cotton sector.

“A revitalized local market would ultimately boost the (regional) economy by providing more jobs than the second-hand sector while retaining money that currently goes to Europe and the U.S. to pay for second-hand imports,” Brooks said.

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Egypt’s NBE bank sold $2.5 bil in 3 months to cover imports

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

SHARM AL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) – Egypt’s biggest lender, the state-owned National Bank of Egypt, provided more than $2.5 billion to cover import payments in the last three months as the country faces a currency crisis, Chairman Hisham Okasha told Reuters in an interview.

Egypt, which depends heavily on imports, has been suffering from a worsening dollar crunch since a 2011 uprising drove away foreign investors and tourists, both major sources of hard currency.

In its latest effort to curb dollar spending on imports, Egypt announced on Sunday it would raise tariff rates on a series of goods from Feb. 1.

“During November, December and January we opened letters of credit worth more than $2.5 billion to meet import payments,” Okasha told Reuters on the sidelines of a banking conference in Sharm al-Sheikh.

In December, the central bank said it sold $7.6 billion in previous weeks to help importers pay for goods. It was not clear whether NBE’s dollar injection was part of the central bank’s $7.6 billion.

No comparative figures for letters of credit opened were immediately available as banks are not required to disclose them.

The central bank has been keeping the pound artificially strong at 7.7301 pounds to the dollar, burning through its reserves which tumbled to around $16.4 billion in December from $36 billion in 2011.

In order to fight a black market the central bank imposed a cap of $50,000 a month on dollar deposits at banks, making it harder for importers to open letters of credit and clear cargoes.

It later raised the cap to $250,000 but only on specific imports of essential goods, capital machinery and manufacturing components and medicines.

Okasha also said his bank aims to increase its deposits and loans portfolio by around 15 percent by the end of 2015/16.

The bank’s loans portfolio was around 140 billion pounds in June 2015, while deposits were 447 billion pounds.

“Deposits reached more than 485 billion pounds by the end of December 2015 while loans reached around 178 billion pounds,” Okasha said.


(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Egypt’s central bank tightens import controls to boost local production

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s central bank will tighten import regulations from January in a bid to support local manufacturing and better preserve its dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Egypt, which depends on imports, has faced a currency crisis since a 2011 uprising drove foreign investors and tourists away. Hard currency reserves have more than halved $16.4 billion since then.

The decision excludes imports of medicine, foods, and other essential goods such as wheat.

The central bank said it aimed to “strengthen the national economy and promote local products, enhancing their competitiveness against foreign products,” in a statement on Tuesday.

Egyptian manufacturers have been pushing for stricter regulations to stop importers putting artificially low values on customs bills to avoid duties, a widespread practice that makes it difficult for local products to compete on price.

Egypt had imports worth $60.8 billion in 2014/15, compared with exports worth $22.1 billion, said Beltone Financial economist Ziad Waleed.

“They are just fine-tuning the present regulations amid the foreign currency shortage. This definitely could increase the pressure on importers,” he said.

The statement said that banks should obtain documents for imports directly from foreign banks, instead of obtaining them from the clients as is the practice currently. This is to stop any manipulation of receipts by importers, the Egyptian customs authority said on Tuesday.

Importers will also have to provide 100 percent of the cash deposit on letters of credit for imports instead of the current 50 percent.

“The central bank is trying to use all available measures to try to limit imports and this could limit the import of luxury goods, but it is not the key solution that would solve the foreign currency shortage,” Waleed said.

Egypt’s central bank has been rationing dollars and keeping the currency artificially strong at 7.7301 through weekly dollar auctions, giving priority to imports of essential goods.



(Reporting by Asma Alsharif and Ehab Farouk, editing by Louise Heavens)

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