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Mauritius exporters see Brexit crimping textile export earnings to UK by 10%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – Revenues generated by Mauritius from textile exports to Britain will decline by about 10 percent this year as a result of the British vote to leave the European Union, the country’s export association said on Monday.

The EU is Mauritius’ largest trading partner. The Indian Ocean island nation earns an annual average of 25.55 billion rupees ($722.77 million) from goods shipments to the bloc.

Britain remains the largest buyer of Mauritian goods within the EU, accounting for 18 percent of total exports to the bloc. Textiles are Mauritius’ top export to the UK, followed by seafood and sugar.

“Quantity wise, there will be a drop of 10 percent in our exports to the UK as a consequence of the fall in consumerism level in UK coupled with the depreciation of the pound,” the export group said in a report.

The Mauritius Exports Association (MEXA) report said 90 percent of all revenues from exports of textile and apparels to the UK comes in pounds while imports are in U.S. dollars.

MEXA said exporters’ profitability is expected to be “squeezed both in terms of exports and imports; exports revenue being depleted with the depreciation of the pound…and costs being inflated with the appreciation of the U.S. dollar.

“Companies are thereby faced with a double whammy.”

In 2015, textile and apparel exports to Britain amounted to 6.57 billion rupees, according to MEXA data.

($1 = 35.3500 Mauritius rupees)


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; editing by Elias Biryabarema and Mark Heinrich)

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Brexit: Challenges ahead for Africa

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

British Prime Minister David Cameron visits South Africa

The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union could slow trade and investment in the continent.

Brexit could not be happening at a worse time for Africa.

The economy of the continent is already struggling with falling commodity prices and the economic slowdown in China. The decision by British voters to withdraw from the European Union could trigger decreases in trade with Africa as well as aid and direct investment from the United Kingdom.

The vote, which followed a bitter campaign that centered on immigration, may signal that Britain will increasingly turn away from its support for world development, according to the Brookings Institution.

“Perhaps the biggest impact of the Brexit on Africa would be the end of British ‘outwardness’ – the country’s concern with and responsiveness to global development issues,” Amadou Sy, a senior fellow and director of the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, said.

Britain contributes significant aid

The United Kingdom is one of the largest contributors to the European Union’s development assistance fund for low-income economies. The nation contributes $585 million, nearly 15 percent of the total fund, second only to Germany (20 percent) and France (18 percent).

While the U.K. might provide aid directly, new mechanisms and policies would first have to be put in place, a potentially complicated and lengthy process.

Sy said Brexit also is expected to weaken trade ties between the U.K. and Africa.

Britain is one of Africa’s largest trading partners within the EU, accounting for more than 12 percent of all European Union trade with the continent (down from a peak of nearly 18 percent in 2012).

Dozens of trade pacts must be negotiated

According to General Robert Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, Brexit would require the United Kingdom to renegotiate trade agreements with the organization’s 161 member nations, a complex and time-consuming effort that could slow down trade with African and other nations. With Britain’s exit, the European Union also would have to renegotiate dozens of bilateral trade agreements, Sy said.

For example, a recent agreement between the EU and the Southern Africa Development Community allows free access to the EU market for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia. However, with Brexit, the value of that access would be significantly diminished as it would not include the U.K. market and a separate agreement might have to be negotiated.

African agriculture may also be affected. According to Sy, the United Kingdom has been a strong opponent against agricultural subsidies the EU provides within the Eurozone because they put African agricultural imports at a disadvantage. With Britain’s departure, Africa would lose a strong voice in the EU for its farmers.

Nigeria, South Africa will feel impact

money nigeriaAfrica’s largest economies may be hard hit.

The U.K. is the fourth largest destination for exports from South Africa. That nation’s battered economy took a further hit as the rand fell by 7 percent the day after the British vote.

Economists at South Africa’s North-West University estimated that Brexit could shave 0.1 percent off South Africa’s annual economic growth, which already declined by more than 1 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

“With current growth in South Africa in 2016 expected to be close to zero, [Brexit threatens] a loss in growth South Africa can ill-afford,” Raymond Parsons and Wilma Viviers, professors at North-West, said.

Nigeria’s market reforms may be delayed

Trade between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is estimated at more than $8 billion and had been expected to more than triple by 2020. However, those advances also are likely to be interrupted as new trade deals are negotiated.

Nigeria, on the brink of recession, has been liberalizing market controls in order to spur the economy. But fallout from Brexit may also slow that effort.

Razia Khan, chief economist for Standard Chartered Bank said risk aversion world wide as well as soft oil prices could slow investment and delay normal operations on the newly liberalized market.

Africa is not alone in feeling the impact of Brexit, and stabilizing markets is the first step to blunting the economic impact, Kahn said.

As emerging markets come under pressure globally, “much will depend on how quickly financial market stability can be restored.”

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Morocco enters free trade pact with China

Comments (0) Business, Featured, Middle East

morocco china trade

The north African nation seeks to diversify its trading partners through agreements with the Asian giant as well as India and Brazil.

Morocco has signed a free-trade agreement with China, the North African nation’s largest trading partner in Asia.

While the overall effect on the Moroccan economy is under debate, experts say the agreement will create more purchasing power for Moroccans, who will have access to Chinese goods that are typically less expensive than those produced in country or elsewhere.

The move underscores China’s growing role in the economy of the continent as well as Morocco’s determination to diversify its trading partners. Morocco has also entered trade agreements with Russia and India and an agreement with Brazil is under negotiation.

China is Morocco’s fourth largest trading partner after Spain, France, and the United States. Morocco is China’s seventh largest trading partner in Africa. While trade between Morocco and China has grown in recent years, it is still dwarfed by Chinese trade with neighboring Algeria. Trade between China and Algeria reached $8.6 billion in 2013 compared to $2.3 billion in trade with Morocco.

Experts debate impact

Analysts say the new agreements could have mixed results.

Moroccan textile factory

Moroccan textile factory

On the plus side, competition from Chinese goods could force Moroccan industries to better serve consumers in their country and Moroccan businesses will gain greater access to one of the largest markets in the world.

At the same time, they say, more than half of Moroccan exports are minerals, fertilizers and metals produced by large industries while small businesses struggle to compete.

Some argue that the opening of trade will cost jobs in Morocco, but others note that Moroccan and Chinese workers seldom compete for the same jobs. China’s economy is based on heavy and light industry, while agriculture, food processing and precision manufacturing dominate Morocco’s. The two countries do have some direct competition in textiles and leather.

The agreement will create more wealth in Morocco. With access to cheaper goods, even poor Moroccans will gain spending power.

Economic progress

With a gross domestic product of $252 billion and a population of about 33 million people, Morocco has made significant progress in integrating its economy into the global market through efforts including streamlined procedures for operating a business and launching a nascent aeronautics industry, according to the Heritage Foundation.

After a strong performance in 2015, with growth in the gross domestic product of 4.4%, the Moroccan economy has slowed this year, according to the World Bank. Drought has reduced cereal production, and GDP growth is expected to be less than 2% in 2016.

While Morocco has been a U.S. trading partner, as well as a key ally in the war on Islamist terrorism, the nation in recent years has sought to expand its trading partnerships, notably with members of the BRICS coalition of emerging economies that seeks to break Western domination of the global economy.

BRICS is made up of the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Agreements with India, Russia

In October, Morocco and India signed agreements designed to encourage more trade between the two nations. Morocco’s major exports to India are rock phosphates and phosphoric acid.

In November, Morocco announced a free trade agreement with Russia. Morocco is Russia’s main trade partner on the continent and its exports include citrus fruit, vegetables and frozen sardines.

In June, Moroccan representatives met with trade officials of Brazil to discuss a possible free trade agreement. Brazil is another importer of Moroccan phosphates and its derivatives.

Chinese influence grows

Meanwhile, China is a major trading partner with other African nations including South Africa ($20 billion), Nigeria ($15 billion) and Angola ($36 billion).

China in recent years has been developing relationships with many African countries through investment, aid and trade relationships, driven largely by China’s energy needs.

Morocco, a net oil importer with strong ties to the United States and Europe, has not been of great interest to China until recently. However, Morocco has sought allies in its territorial dispute with the separatist Polisario Front in the Western Sahara.

Given China’s strong trade ties to Algeria, it seems unlikely, however that the Asian nation would support Morocco in that dispute.

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South Africa considering emergency steel tariffs: WTO

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

GENEVA/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa is considering imposing emergency tariffs on some iron and steel imports, it said in a filing to the World Trade Organization published on Monday.

South Africa’s steel industry body requested the temporary trade barrier because a surge in import volumes had caused the industry “serious injury” in the form of lower sales, output, market share and capacity utilisation, the filing said.

It blamed a global steel glut and measures by other countries to protect their steelmakers, as well as new investments by current steel importers, which meant South Africa could expect further increases of imports, the filing said.

The analysis was based on data from ArcelorMittal South Africa, which accounts for 70 percent of local production of the affected goods.

South Africa’s steel sector is facing catastrophe and ArcelorMittal may have to close down if the government does not act soon, labour union Solidarity said.

“If there are no concrete plans on the table to assist the struggling steel industry by the end of April, the primary steel industry in South Africa will perish,” said Solidarity’s steel spokesman Marius Croucamp. Another steelmaker, Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium, shut its doors in February, shedding around 2,200 jobs in the process. South African trade authorities indicated earlier that they would decide in June whether to aggressively protect steel manufacturers, Solidarity said, but this would be much too late according to the union. ArcelorMittal last month said it would raise steel prices from April as it tries to stabilise its business after heavy losses due to competition from cheap imports. South Africa last year slapped a 10 percent tariff on imported steel, but the emergency tariff, which would not apply to imports of stainless steel or silicon electrical steel, would provide much greater protection.


(Reporting by Tom Miles and TJ Strydom; editing by John Stonestreet)


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