Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 19, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • South Africa, Russia discuss trade in ITEC forum

  • Suez Canal reopens and Massawa lands new cranes

  • Yet another detained ship escapes the net in Nigeria

  • Agriculture seen as key to diversifying trade

  • World Bank gives funds to rebuild Ivory Coast

  • Pic of the day – MARIEKE

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    South Africa, Russia discuss trade in ITEC forum

    Sochi, 18 July - A high-level South African delegation has arrived in Russia for the well established SA-Russia Inter-Governmental Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) forum.

    Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and her delegation are in Sochi, in the Krasnodar region of Russia where the minister is co-hosting the forum with the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, Yuri Trutnev.

    “ITEC is a mechanism aimed at regulating political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    Since the launch of ITEC, great progress has been made in strengthening bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries.

    The last session of ITEC was held in Pretoria in February this year in which it was agreed that implementation of agreements through the committee is an area which would be focused on, as the framework for co-operation has already been established.

    One of the advances made through ITEC was the establishment of a Joint Business Council between the two countries launched during President Putin's state visit to South Africa.

    “South Africa's trade with Russia does not reflect its potential and leaves much room for expansion,” said the department.

    “The establishment of the Joint South Africa/ Russia Business Council is now the means to achieve greater trade and economic co-operation between the business sectors of both countries.”

    In March 2003, Russia adopted a Decree to include South Africa in a list of developing countries that would enjoy preferential trade tariffs and duties with regard to exports to Russia.

    This followed South Africa's recognition of Russia as a market economy in support of World Trade Organisation membership.

    Bilateral relations also expanded significantly under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC) between South Africa and the Russian Federation.

    Minister Dlamini Zuma has just concluded her visit to India where she led a senior South African delegation to the India-Brazil-SA Ministerial Summit held in New Delhi within the context of consolidating trilateral political, economic and trade relations with India and Brazil and to advance South-South Relations.

    Suez Canal reopens and Massawa lands new cranes

    The Suez Canal, blocked to traffic on Tuesday when a tanker named STAR HERO became immobilised while sailing in the northbound convoy (see Ports & Ships News Bulletin for Wednesday, 18 July), has been cleared for navigation, reports GAC World.

    Several northbound and southbound convoys were held up in various parts of the canal but have since been able to resume their journeys and have now exited the canal.

    Further south in the Red Sea port of Massawa (Eritrea), three ship-to-shore container gantry cranes have arrived and been discharged on shore. The cranes were acquired in collaboration with the Netherlands Government.

    In addition to the new cranes the port has undergone an upgrading programme including the re-construction of a jetty and various other infrastructure improvements, reports the Massawa Port Authority.

    Yet another detained ship escapes the net in Nigeria

    Yet another ship under detention in Nigerian waters has sailed away from under the noses of Nigerian authorities, reports the Nigerian media.

    The latest ship to make a run for international waters is the Greek-owned tanker which is described as having the name Tritya (also spelt Titya). The ship was in custody in Lagos under a court order detention obtained from the Nigerian High Court pending a case against the ship’s owners. The charges related to an alleged short delivery of gas oil.

    The vessel was apparently on a berth in harbour with three security officers on board when the escape was made.

    The company which brought the matter before the courts has subsequently accused the Nigerian authorities and the navy in particular of acting in collusion with the owners and crew on board the tanker in allowing it to escape.

    Several other vessels under judicial detention have escaped from ports in Nigeria in recent weeks into international waters. The two most recent vessels were pursued by the Nigerian Navy and re-apprehended.

    The company bringing the complaint against the ship also says it wants action taken against foreign ship owners which it accuses of being guilty of illegal activities in Nigerian waters.

    Agriculture seen as key to diversifying trade

    by Jim Fisher-Thompson

    Accra, 18 Jul - A major goal now of the seven-year-old African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is to help sub-Saharan nations diversify their economies from dependence on oil and gas exports to exporting agricultural products.

    "We are here to put agriculture to work for the African people and economy," U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official Mark Keenum told journalists covering the sixth annual AGOA Forum, being held in Accra 18-19 July.

    Keenum, who is under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services at USDA, discussed the importance of agriculture at a 17 July press conference at the Accra International Conference Centre. He and his USDA team will offer a panel discussion on “Facilitating Agricultural Trade and Development under AGOA” at the forum.

    Chocolates and pineapples from Ghana, as well as cut flowers from Uganda and citrus from South Africa, are among the more than 6,000 products allowed duty-free entry into the US market under the landmark trade legislation, first passed by Congress in 2000.

    While their number is still small, compared to the figures for oil and gas, Africa's agricultural exports are growing and sustainable jobs are being created, Keenum said.

    The agricultural economist and former university professor said AGOA helped boost two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to “a new high” of $71 billion in 2006. The same year African exports to the United States rose 17 percent, to $59.2 billion, and African agricultural exports increased 33 percent, to $360.8 million.

    However, oil and gas account for more than 80 percent of all African exports to the United States under AGOA, compared to less than 1 percent for agricultural products. Although it provides revenue for African governments, the energy sector creates far fewer jobs than agriculture and has been prone to corruption, Keenum said.

    These facts are disturbing to many development and trade specialists, including House Africa Subcommittee Chairman Donald Payne, who recently said he believes the imbalance between energy and agricultural exports is undermining the poverty-alleviation efforts of AGOA.

    Sindiso Ngwenya, assistant secretary-general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), agreed, telling Payne's subcommittee that Africans believe “the most effective means of raising livelihood standards for Africa's poor - particularly women and children - is by growing Africa's agricultural and rural sectors, where the majority of people live and work.”

    At the forum, Keenum acknowledged that oil and gas still dominate the two-way trade, but said examples like the Cargill Corporation's decision to build a $70 million cocoa processing plant in Ghana show the trend could be reversed.

    Keenum said the Cargill plant will have the potential to produce 120,000 tons of cocoa butter, powder and liquor – “a real range of products intended for diverse markets.” The US investment also will contribute to local prosperity through the jobs it creates, he added.

    Alan Kyerematen, Ghana's minister of trade, industry, private-sector development and president's special initiatives, also placed responsibility squarely on the African side as he told a pre-forum meeting, “To have the opportunity to export over 6,400 products duty-free, quota-free to the largest consumer market in the world ... should be enough incentive for every African country to strive to produce a variety of products on a mass scale for export.”

    After all, he said, “to create jobs, earn foreign exchange and thereby increase the level of incomes, particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, is what poverty reduction is all about.”

    Keenum said the government of Ghana, the forum's host, has done “a superb job in organizing a visionary forum which brings together policymakers, business leaders, academics and international organization representatives - a true reflection of the global marketplace.”

    The United States is confident, he added, that Ghana will continue “to set an important example for the entire continent” in the political and economic reforms and progress it has made.

    USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov

    World Bank gives funds to rebuild Ivory Coast

    by Lavinia Mahlangu (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 18 July - The World Bank this week announced an extensive funding package for the Ivory Coast, to help rebuild the nation following the Ouagadougou peace pact struck in March.

    The Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved an International Development Association (IDA) grant of US $120 million in support of the Ivorian government's crisis recovery program, which is being implemented within the framework of the Ouagadougou Peace Accord.

    Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader, concluded the accord on 4 March, 2007 in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, with President Laurent Gbagbo.

    This was in a bid to reunite the country and pave the way for elections which are aimed at re-establishing lasting peace in the West African nation.

    The agreement sets out a series of measures to deal with the political divide in the Ivory Coast, which has been split between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north since 2002.

    “The Post-Conflict Assistance Project (PCAP) will be a critical component of the peace process, supporting key elements of stabilization in Cote d’Ivoire,” the World Bank said in a statement.

    “The project seeks to sustain the peace momentum generated by the Ouagadougou Peace Accord by contributing to the national identification process and by improving economic opportunities and access to social services for conflict-affected communities and individuals.”

    The project will notably provide funding for:

    * the economic (re)integration of ex-combatants, youth associated with armed groups, and of youth-at-risk in general;

    * the national identification process, including the modernisation of the national civil registry, which is a pre-condition not only for free and fair elections but also for restoring equitable access by the whole population to social services;

    * the rehabilitation and re-equipment of social and economic infrastructure in the communities most affected by conflict, and

    * the strengthening of social capital throughout the country.

    The United Nations Security Council on Monday renewed the mandates of the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and of the French forces which support it, until 1 January, 2008.

    The UN mission and the French forces backing it, whose mandates expired on Monday, will “support the organization in Cote d'Ivoire of free, fair and transparent elections,” the 15-member council said in a resolution adopted unanimously.

    The resolution requested UNOCI to “support the full implementation of the Ouagadougou political agreement,” which was signed in last March by rival Ivorian parties.

    It called for the protection of women and children and urged the concerned parties to ensure the protection of civilian populations.

    The council also said it would review the mandates of the UN mission and the French forces by Oct 15 “in light of progress achieved in the implementation of the key steps in the peace process.”

    Two days after the Ouagadougou Peace Accord was signed, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki received a copy of the landmark Ivorian peace agreement from Ivory Coast Special Presidential envoy, Madam Sarata Ottro-Toure in Pretoria.

    South Africa, at the request of the African Union, has been mediating to defuse the crisis and help the Ivorians establish peace in their country.

    In January, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad attended the 12th International Working Group (IWG) on Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan.

    This was in the context of South Africa's commitment to assist the leadership and people of the Ivory Coast find a political solution to their current challenges.

    Pic of the day – MARIEKE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The trailing suction hopper dredger MARIEKE at work outside Durban harbour on 30 June 2007, preparing the seabed for the widening and deepening of the entrance channel. Picture Terry Hutson

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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