Africa trade round-up: Tunisia-to-Cameroon shipment, Arab-African 'food bridge' and grain deal

Tue 25 Jul 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Continent of Africa coming out of phone

In the IOE&IT Daily Update’s latest round-up of African trade news, we cover the first Tunisia-to- Cameroon goods movement under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the impact of the collapse of the Black Sea Grain deal on the continent and the progress of the US-Kenya trade deal.

AfCFTA trade heralds importance of pan-African markets

Tunisia exported its first shipment to Cameroon under AfCFTA terms last week (17 July).

Customs clearance of a shipment of resin was carried out by the Cameroonian Port of Kribi and was hailed as a “new era of trade” by the AfCFTA secretariat.

The event was celebrated by a delegation at the port including Cameroon’s minister of trade, Luc-Magloire Mbarga Atangana and Tunisian ambassador Karim Ben Bécher.

Two Tunisian export companies operating in the chemicals and food industries have also been awarded the first certificates of origin under the AfCFTA agreement for transporting goods to Cameroon.

This allows the companies to benefit from the reductions in customs duties that are due to be abolished within two years, reports All Africa.

The continental trade agreement came into force in May 2019 and aims to remove customs barriers to the free movement of goods and services between African countries, 46 of which have signed the deal.

Grain worries

Meanwhile, there are fears that the Russian withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative could lead to rising consumer prices in East Africa at a time when both farmers and aid organisations are struggling with food supply chain challenges such as conflict and drought.

More than 30 million tonnes of Ukrainian corn, wheat and other grains have been exported since the agreement was signed last year, with more than half of going to developing countries.

Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty has hindered the use of Black Sea ports for grain exports and led to price increases, Al-Jazeera reports.

A Kenyan trade official called the move a “stab in the back” by Moscow.

Programme addresses food security

The Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) has launched a $1.5bn programme to address the ongoing food security crisis in Africa.

AATB, which aims to promote and increase trade and investment between African and Arab countries, hopes to address food challenges using the programme, which is centred around the organisation's four pillars of trade, investment, insurance and infrastructure. 

AATB hopes that by attracting “investments, upgrading infrastructure, optimising value chains and fostering cooperation, the programme aims at building resilient and sustainable food systems that ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food for all”.

US slow on Kenya deal

US trade representative Katherine Tai was non-committal about when negotiations for a free trade deal with Kenya will be concluded despite expectations of a December deadline, reports Business Daily.

Tai told a press briefing in Nairobi that the US “focus right now is on substance as opposed to setting an actual deadline”.

The proposed trade deal – which does not have clauses on tariffs – is expected to shield Kenya if the US Congress chooses not to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives sub-Saharan Africa countries duty- and quota-free access to the US market and expires in 2025.

According to Zawya, Kenya wants to become a manufacturing hub for American companies looking to relocate or diversify from China.

UK African strategy seeks mutual benefit

In the UK, the government has outlined its pan-African development strategy, with an emphasis on investing in long-term and building mutually beneficial partnerships.

A newly published policy paper summarises the approach to delivering sustainable development in Africa through “the combined power of the UK’s global economic, scientific, security and diplomatic strengths”.

It outlines four priorities:

  • To deliver reliable investment
  • Support women and girls
  • Step up humanitarian work
  • Advance work on climate change, nature and global health.

The Pan Africa Department has increased its work on trade and food security, helping to promote intra-African trade through support to the AfCFTA, including supporting increased trade, productivity and investment in the agriculture sector.

With one in five of the world’s population forecast to be African by 2030, the continent will play an increasingly important role in shaping global dynamics, the report notes.

As previously reported in the Daily Update, last week IOE&IT Africa opened its first office in Nairobi as part of IOE&IT’s continued commitment to supporting Kenyan and intra-African trade.