Current Trade News

The government of Australia is contributing over AUD 1.4 million (CHF 1.1 million) to WTO trade-related programmes to help developing countries and in particular least-developed countries (LDCs) participate in multilateral trade negotiations and better access global markets.
AUD 430,000 (CHF 330,000) of this contribution will help LDCs participate in the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11), which will take place on 10-13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
AUD 1 million (CHF 770,000) will be provided to the standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), a global partnership aimed at helping developing countries comply with international food safety, animal and plant health standards and access agricultural markets more easily.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: “I welcome Australia's continued support. These generous contributions will help developing and least-developed countries gain the skills they need to trade and to increase their participation in the multilateral trading system, reaping the rewards for growth and development that this can bring.”
Australia’s WTO Ambassador, Frances Lisson, said: “Australia is deeply committed to a multilateral trading system in which all countries can participate. We are pleased to contribute to helping LDCs attend MC11 and ensuring that the important work of the STDF on sanitary and phytosanitary compliance can be carried out.”
These contributions continue Australia’s longstanding record of generous assistance to the various WTO trust funds over the past 15 years

Extracted from WTO

The retreat in cotton futures slowed to a crawl amid scepticism over a hefty upgrade to the official US crop forecast which sent futures plunging in the last session – and an estimate of hurricane damage totalling 1.4m bales.
December cotton futures in the last session plunged the exchange limit of 3.0 cents in New York, after the US Department of Agriculture hiked its forecast for the domestic crop by 1.21m bales to 21.8m bales.
However, on Tuesday, the December contract settled down only a further 0.02 cents a pound at 69.09 cents a pound.
The stabilisation came amid growing doubts over the validity of the 21.8m-bale figure, with Louis Rose at Rose Commodity Group flagging "many reasons to be sceptical of the USDA's latest US production estimate".
'About 1m bales in damage'
The questions reflected in part the failure of the data – as highlighted by the USDA itself - to include accurate assessments of damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, appraisals of which will be included in updated forecasts next month.
In fact, while market estimates for damage from Harvey, which struck Texas in late August, have shown relatively limited losses, typically of 500,000 bales or less, that from Irma, which moved up through Georgia and Alabama earlier this week, could be far greater, some believe.
"Harvey's path through southern Texas, and on through Louisiana and Mississippi, brought an estimated 400,000 bales in damage," Rabobank said.
"Irma, although still fresh, could bring approximately 1m bales in damage, predominantly across the Delta and within Georgia," the second largest cotton-growing state after Texas.
'Premiums to widen'
The losses would be largely felt in terms of quality, the bank, viewing this as the "primary concern this season.
"As a consequence, we anticipate higher-quality fibre premiums to widen."
Nonetheless, a forecast by the bank of US stocks of about 5m bales at the close of 2017-18, while showing inventories rising "heavily" from the 2.75m bales and the start of the season, implied substantial scope for volume losses.
The USDA on Tuesday raised its forecast for season-end inventories to 6.0m bales.
'Twisted cotton'
In Georgia itself, Ron Lee, at McClesky Cotton, said that there was "still a great deal of uncertainty of the impact" of Irma on cotton crops.
Still, even in south east Georgia, where the merchant is based - and which escaped relatively lightly from Irma, receiving less than 3 inches of rain – "in most every field you ride by, the cotton is twisted and the stalk is pushed toward the ground", Mr Lee said.
"I have no doubt that the damage is worse to the south and east of us where rainfall totals were between 6-10 inches."
One of the concerns for Georgia farmers is that the storm struck as roughly one-half of the crop was opening bolls, a developmental stage vulnerable to weather damage.
'Many questions raised'
Even excluding hurricane talk, Mr Rose flagged reasons to question the USDA assessments, and an upgrade to a record 908 pounds per acre in the forecast for the average US cotton yield this year.
"There have been many questions raised regarding the USDA's domestic projection figure," Mr Rose said.
"We certainly agree that the strong yield enhancements do not correlate with producer and consultant reports that we have gleaned.
"Nor do they coincide with our own field observations," a discrepancy "particularly true within the Mid-south".
Indeed, Mr Rose questioned the evidence for some of the state upgrades, saying that "it should be recalled, too, that the USDA does not make field assessments in many of the areas where yield expectations were notably enhanced".
Price outlook
Mr Rose added that cotton prices looked likely now to find resistance to price moves above 70-71 cents a pound, while finding support at a little over 65.50 cents a pound.
However, market performance also "now likely relies on finding a level at which fresh US export business and on-call fixations can be accomplished en masse".
Extracted from Agrimoney

By the end of the decade, there will be more than half a billion mobile subscribers in the region, up from 420 million at the end of 2016.
Among the growth drivers is the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17 percent less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts.
Mobile is now also a significant contributor to the sub-Saharan African economy. In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated $110bn of economic value, equivalent to 7.7 percent of regional GDP.
This figure is expected to grow to $142bn, or 8.6 percent of GDP, by 2020. The mobile ecosystem also employed about 3.5 million in the region last year, and contributed $13bn to the public sector through taxes. Here are some of the key trends industry group GSMA has observed:
Transforming industries
Across Africa, mobile is transforming traditional industries and enabling innovative business models to deliver affordable and sustainable services.
Perhaps one of the best examples is mobile money, which has been critical in advancing financial inclusion over the last decade. There are now 140 live mobile money services in 39 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for nearly 280 million registered accounts.
Today, more than 40 percent of the adult population in seven countries – Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe – use mobile money regularly.
Utilities are another area where mobile is driving innovation. Mobile-based, pay-as-you-go solar enables access to clean energy solutions, with entrepreneurs partnering with mobile operators to deliver the solution.
Growing by nearly 40,000 systems per month, there are now one million home systems installed globally. Some 95 per cent are in sub-Saharan Africa, impacting about 4.8 million people.
We see similar innovation in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture and others. This is just the beginning as we move forward in Africa’s digital age.
Fuelling economies
Local mobile operators have invested $37bn in their networks over the past five years, mainly to deploy new 3G/4G mobile broadband networks across the region.
Fuelled by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, the local mobile ecosystem is flourishing, supported by investments from operators and others in mobile-focused start-ups and tech hubs.
Seventy-seven tech start-ups across the region raised almost $370m in funding in 2016, up 33 percent from the previous year.
However, this continued growth and investment is not a given. The mobile industry faces several challenges, such as high levels of taxation and outdated regulatory frameworks.
Positive collaboration is needed between governments and the mobile industry to enable innovation and extend connectivity to all.
Connecting everyone
Looking beyond the numbers, mobile is positively impacting African society and helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in time for the 2030 deadline.
Mobile operators across Africa are working together to deploy mobile-enabled solutions to deliver key services such as health and education, increase women’s access to mobile, create employment opportunities and decrease poverty.
Of course, the mobile industry cannot solve the challenges of the SDGs alone – no one can. Governments, industry, humanitarian organisations and individuals must come together to build sustainable partnerships.
Having just visited Tanzania and witnessed much of this first-hand, I am struck again by the power of mobile to foster innovation, to fuel economies and to transform lives across Africa.
Extracted from News - This is Africa.

Brazil's coffee exports last month recorded their lowest July volumes in at least a decade, sapped by a shortage of supplies, Cecafe said, amid ideas of a slow arabica harvest and a hold-out by producers for higher prices.
Brazil shipped 1.52m bags of green coffee last month, a drop of 8.1% from the July 2016 figure which was itself a weak total, sapped in particular by the dent to robusta supplies from successive years of drought.
Indeed, last month's total was the lowest July figure since at least 2007, reflecting in part a further drop, of 57% year on year, in robusta shipments to a minimal 16,346 lots.
The five-year average for July robusta shipments is just shy of 250,000 bags.
However, arabica exports dropped notably too, by 6.9% to 1.50m bags, a nine-year low for the month, and more than 600,000 bags below the average of the previous five years.
'Below expectations'
The July coffee shipments from Brazil, the world's top exporter, were "below what we had estimated", said Nelson Carvalhaes, the Cecafe president.
He attributed the shortfall to factors including a low level of pipeline stocks, and a new crop which has come onstream from Brazil's recent harvest "at reduced speed, weakening supply".
The comments tally with reports from other sources of weak supplies, thanks in part to 2017 being an off-year in the country's cycle of alternate higher and lower arabica production years.
Analysts peg Brazil's overall coffee output this year at some 50m bags, down 5m bags year on year.
This fall comes despite some recovery seen in production of robusta beans, thanks to drought relief, albeit with volumes seen remaining at historically soft levels of about 12m bags.
'General resistance to sell'
However, weather has maintained some hindrance to progress, with research institute Cepea warning last week that "low temperatures delayed the processing of beans, mainly the drying process, limiting supply in the spot market".
Furthermore, there has been talk of a reluctance among growers to sell at prices which, on New York's arabica futures market, touched a 15-month low in June of 113 cents a pound.
In Brazil, where strength in the real has enhanced the fall in dollar prices local terms, arabica values in June hit their lowest in nearly two years, according to Cepea.
Cepea said that, in the robusta market in particular, "many growers expected prices to rise more sharply to close trades… trading only when in need of cash flow".
Separately, merchant I&M Smith flagged "an apparent continuation of general resistance from largest arabica producer Brazil to participate as sellers".
Supply rise ahead?
Reports of pest damage to arabica crops in Brazil have also raised concerns over supplies of quality coffee for export, besides supporting price gains.
Nonetheless, Mr Carvalhaes said that "we estimate that, by September, exports should resume normal levels, as a result of the harvest entering, albeit slowly, into the market".
Extracted from Agrimoney