Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 7, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Robust growth in SA economy - IMF

  • International shipowners’ organisation critical of SA port security

  • SA blocks UK meat after foot and mouth outbreak

  • President Bush signs contentious port scanning bill

  • SA, Guinea-Bissau boost bilateral ties

  • Head of ISS-Voigt Shipping dies suddenly

  • Pic of the day – DON QUIJOTE

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    Robust growth in SA economy - IMF

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 6 August 2007 - Amidst real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, rising employment, a strengthening fiscal position and rising international reserves, South Africa's recent economic performance has been strong.

    This was the notion expressed by the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) 2007 Article IV Staff Report on South Africa released on Monday.

    Article IV reports are a result of bilateral discussions between the IMF and its member countries, about economic and financial information as well as the country's economic development policies.

    The report discusses six key issues including GDP growth, fiscal position, balance of payments, exchange rate, labour market issues and monetary policy.

    Speaking at the release of the report in Pretoria yesterday, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said the report can be seen as "a statement of the health of the country", and as "a hard analysis of the economy."

    Mr Manuel began by saying the IMFs growth forecasts expressed in the report "are a bit lower than we forecast in our Budget Review."

    Following the 5 percent Real GDP growth experienced in 2006, the IMFs projected growth for 2007 is 4.8 percent followed next year by 4.5 percent Real GDP growth.

    The National Treasury, however, noted it has a more optimistic growth projection of 5 percent for this year following on stronger capital information and employment growth as well as stronger total factor productivity (TFP) growth.

    According to the report, the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) has the ability to relieve pressing capacity constraints and productivity-enhancing reforms could further raise the potential growth rate of the economy.

    The Report raises the issue of supply relative to demand in the country, and the Treasury states the "mismatch between supply and demand is reflected in South Africa's significant current account deficit and rising inflation [rate]."

    With regard to this issue, the Treasury responded by saying "While we generally agree with that view, inflationary pressures are also being driven by adverse food and energy price developments.

    "These should start to abate over the next year, lowering the contribution of food and energy price inflation to overall inflation."

    The long standing issue of unemployment in the country has often been identified as one of the biggest challenges to economic growth in the country.

    The IMF believes rapid growth of female and unskilled labour including a structural shift in labour demand towards skilled labour; long distances between places of residence and work; and labour market regulations and practices that discourage job creation are some of the causes for the high unemployment level.

    The Report, however, states the "economy is undergoing its longest expansion on record, and in recent years has experienced elevated growth in an environment of rapid credit expansion, booming asset prices, strengthening public finances, and rising international reserves financed by large capital inflows."

    Mr Manuel said the IMF has applauded South Africa on its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and land reform initiatives calling them "very necessary" for the country.

    International shipowners’ organisation critical of SA port security

    Bimco, the international ship owners’ organisation based in Denmark says security in South African ports is lax.

    The organisation cites an incident involving a Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) at the port of Cape Town who twice failed to rendezvous with a ship owner who was required to log a stowaway incident.

    “It has also been reported that it is difficult or nearly impossible to contact a Port Facility Security Officer in South Africa at night,” says Bimco, which adds that the poor response by PFSO’s led another owner to conclude that he would have to take security into his own hands when his ships call at South African ports.

    Ports & Ships has in recent weeks reported an alarming number of stowaways that are being caught by private security firms specialising in ship stowaway searches. Yesterday we learnt of yet another two stowaways who were caught, this time on board a ship at the Durban container terminal; supposedly one of the more difficult places for stowaways to gain entry.

    The Bimco report reminds us of a conversation heard on board a ship one day recently, between the agent and another visitor. The latter had commented on how difficult it had been to gain access to the berth before boarding the ship, even though he was in possession of an official invitation and prior arrangements had been made with Port Security.

    “Ah, yes,” said the agent. “Things have really tightened up… at least during the day when not only must you have a permit but also the right protective clothing, reflective vest and so on. But wait until after dark, say ten o’clock then anyone and everyone can simply walk in, including the ladies of the night. Nobody cares then.”

    SA blocks UK meat after foot and mouth outbreak

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 6 August 2007 - The South African government has confirmed that until further notice, no veterinary import permits will be issued for cloven-hoofed animals and products derived thereof originating from the United Kingdom.

    En route consignments will be detained at the ports of entry and unused veterinary import permits will be cancelled, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the UK.

    Animal products subjected to a process complying with international requirements to ensure the satisfactory inactivation of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus are excluded from the suspension.

    South Africa's Department of Agriculture has in turn, welcomed the self-imposed embargo by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK following the outbreak.

    The British Government placed the farm where the latest cases emerged, and the surrounding area in Surrey under quarantine to contain the disease since its incidence was confirmed there last week.

    South Africa has surveillance and control programmes in place for FMD and earned the international free from FMD status from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) through years of dedicated animal disease control.

    No animal or animal product - including samples - may be imported without a veterinary import permit and all consignments of animals or animal products must be cleared at the port of entry by officials of the Department of Agriculture.

    The last outbreak of foot and mouth occurred in the United Kingdom in 2001, and saw over 2,000 cases in farms throughout the countryside.

    The outbreak resulted in the slaughtering of about seven million sheep and cattle to halt the spread of the disease.

    Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly communicable viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved animals.

    The virus can persist in contaminated fodder and the environment for up to 1 month, depending on the temperature and pH conditions.

    There are at least seven separate types and many subtypes of the FMD virus.

    Meat animals do not normally regain lost weight for many months. Recovered cows seldom produce milk at their former rates.

    FMD can lead to inflammation of the muscular walls of the heart and death, especially in newborn animals.

    While the disease is widespread around the world, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and some countries in Europe are considered free of FMD.

    Various types of FMD virus have been identified in Africa, South America, Asia, and part of Europe.

    President Bush signs contentious port scanning bill

    Monday, 6 August 2007: US President George W Bush has signed into law a Bill that requires that within five years all containers leaving a foreign port for the United States must be electronically scanned.

    The Bill aims specifically at detecting nuclear devices that might be shipped to the US in containers.

    Bush said the legislation builds on the progress made by the US in strengthening its defences since the attacks of September 11.

    Nevertheless the Bill has come in for some considerable criticism from outside the United States on account of practicalities with implementing the requirement, which it is claimed will create further burdens and costs on the shipping industry that will be passed on to the consumer.

    There is also a fear that the harshness of the Bill will affect trade with the United States. There is a however a loophole within the legislation that gives authority to the Homeland Security secretary to delay its implementation.

    In addition to requirements that screening of all shipping containers must be implemented within five years, the Bill requires that steps to screen all cargo airfreighted on passenger aircraft must be in place within three years.

    SA, Guinea-Bissau boost bilateral ties

    Pretoria (BuaNews) 6 August 2007 - South Africa and Guinea-Bissau are to strengthen their economy and political ties this week.

    Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is hosting her counterpart from Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi at the Presidential Guesthouse for bilateral political and economic discussions.

    Prime Minister Cabi is on a working visit to South Africa from Sunday 5 August until Saturday 11 August.

    "Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka will host Prime Minister Cabi within the context of South Africa's commitment to consolidate bilateral, political, economic and trade relations with all African countries as part of efforts of consolidating the African Agenda," said Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

    Issues on the agenda of discussions between Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka and Prime Minister Cabi are expected to include:

    * The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between South Africa and Guinea Bissau;

    * The opening of a South African Diplomatic Mission in Guinea Bissau in December 2007 and the role this will play towards the consolidation and expansion of these relations; and

    * Developments in western and southern Africa.

    Through the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Facility for Hunger and Poverty Alleviation, South Africa is involved in the development of the agricultural and livestock sectors in Guinea-Bissau.

    The project was launched in 2004, as a South-South Co-operation project meant to assist in the upliftment of the Bissau-Guinean society. It is administered by the United Nations Development Programme.

    The purpose of the IBSA Fund is to implement duplicable, phased projects in needy developing countries. In Guinea-Bissau, the project aims to achieve the following results:

    * Reduction of the country's rice deficit

    * Improvement and diversification of horticulture

    * Improvement of short-cycle livestock production and

    * Promotion and development of small and medium scale agro-industry

    While in South Africa, Prime Minister Cabi will participate in a South Africa - Guinea Bissau Business Forum hosted by Minister of Trade and Industry Mandisi Mphahlwa.

    "The South African business sector can play a crucial part in the development of the processing capacity of Guinea-Bissau in the area of cashew nuts and fish," the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    The country has an abundant supply of unexploited natural resources such as bauxite, phosphates, unexplored crude oil, fresh water and highly fertile soil suitable for agricultural activity.

    There are also opportunities in the banking sector, electricity generation and the development of infrastructure such as roads, ports and bridges.

    Head of ISS-Voigt Shipping dies suddenly

    Paul Voigt, managing director and founder of ISS Voigt Shipping, a ships agency firm with offices at the major ports around South Africa, died suddenly on Sunday from what is believed to have been a heart attack. He was 57.

    Voigt spent his whole working career in shipping. In the 1990s, together with his partners he founded the business that bore his name. More recently the company became part of the Grindrod Group, with Voigt staying on as MD. ISS-Voigt today acts for some of the leading shipping lines and is the nominated agent for a number of international Naval Attaches.

    Paul Voigt is survived by his wife Karin and a son and daughter.

    Pic of the day – DON QUIJOTE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The 67,141-gt Wallenius Wilhelmsen car carrier DON QUIJOTE at Durban R berth car terminal, loading motor vehicles for export. Picture Terry Hutson

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