The impact of the escalating global trade war is likely to shave 0.1% off South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) baseline forecast in 2019 and 0.2% in 2020, according to Fitch Ratings' June 2018 "Global Economic Outlook" baseline forecast.

Fitch forecast that the escalation in the trade war is likely to reduce the world GDP by 0.4% in 2019 and by 0.3% in 2020.

"An escalation of global trade tensions that results in new tariffs on $2trn in global trade flows would reduce world growth by 0.4% in 2019, to 2.8% from 3.2%," the Fitch Ratings said in a statement on Wednesday.

The US, Canada and Mexico would be the most affected countries. Fitch expects China would be less severely impacted, with GDP growth around 0.3% below the baseline forecast. Fitch points out that China would only be affected directly by US protectionist measures, whereas the US would be imposing tariffs on a large proportion of its imports, while being hit simultaneously by retaliatory measures from four countries or trading blocs.

"The imposition of further tariff measures currently being considered by the US administration and commensurate retaliatory tariffs on US goods by the EU, China, Canada and Mexico would mark a significant escalation from tariff measures imposed to date," according to Fitch.

"The tariffs would initially feed through to higher import prices, raising firms' costs and reducing real wages. Business confidence and equity prices would also be dampened, further weighing on business investment and reducing consumption through a wealth effect."

Export competitiveness in the countries subject to tariffs would decline, resulting in lower export volumes. The negative growth effects would be magnified by trade multipliers and feed through to other trading partners not directly targeted by the tariffs. Import substitution would offset some of the growth shock in the countries imposing import tariffs.

Fitch forecasts that most countries not directly involved in the trade war would see their GDP falling below baseline, though generally at a much lower scale.

Net commodity exporters would be more severely hit, as slower world growth would push oil and hard commodity prices down. On the other hand, for some net commodity importers, the benefits from lower hard commodity prices would more than offset the impact of lower world growth.

 

Source: News25

China would invest 14.7 billion dollars in South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday after talks between the two countries, news that sent the rand one percent firmer.
 
Speaking at the same event, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s second-biggest economy would take active measures to expand imports from South Africa to support development in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
 
Xi arrived South Africa on Monday night for a State visit ahead of the much anticipated 10th BRICS Summit in Sandton.
 
This is Xi’s third visit to South Africa, having visited the country for the 2013 BRICS Summit, and the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. Xi made State visits to Senegal and Rwanda before arriving in South Africa.
 
The two presidents engaged in bilateral talks and evaluated progress achieved by the two countries on the Strategic Programme with specific reference to the six priority areas identified in 2015.
 
Those areas include the Alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process; Enhancement of co-operation in Special Economic Zones; Enhancement of marine co-operation; Infrastructure development; Human resources co-operation; as well as Financial co-operation.
 
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
 
Two-way trade has reached a historic 39billion dollars, 20 times the volume of that at the onset of official diplomatic relations. Direct Chinese investment in the South African economy has also grown eight fold, reaching 10 billion dollars.
 
While there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, both countries have implemented mechanisms to address these discrepancies.
 
 
Source: PMnewsNigeria
Eskom suffered a net loss of R2.3bn in 2018, compared with a R0.9bn profit the previous year, the state-owned power producer revealed at its financial results presentation on Monday.
 
CEO Phakamani Hadebe said the poor results were compounded by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, challenges of governance and negative investor sentiment.
 
The power utility said its net cash from operations declined from R45.8bn to R37.6bn, as it struggled with leadership and operational challenges.
 
Eskom Chair Jabu Mabuza also said there had been R19.6bn in irregular expenditure since 2012, with much of the irregular expenditure being reported in 2018. 
 
"This was a result of us shaking the cupboard so hard that so many skeletons came tumbling down," he said.
 
"The verification and cleaning up exercise resulted in a significant increase in the number of reported irregular expenditure in 2018 (from R3bn to R19.6bn), with many of the items reported arising in prior years. Where information was not readily available, alternative methods were used where practical to identify irregular expenditure," the utility said.
 
The power utility admitted that its "transition towards financial and operational sustainability required resolute, tough and decisive leadership".
 
Its liquidity remained a going concern, with a massive R4.2bn owed to it by municipalities. 
 
"Eskom continues to face significant financial and liquidity challenges in the short term, mainly due to the high debt burden, low sales growth and increased finance costs".
 
Eskom debt has increased from R387bn to R600bn withing four years, but steps have been taken by the board to boost investor confidence, Hadebe said.
 
"We have raised 22% to date of [the] R72bn borrowing requirement for 2018/19, and have a firm commitment to increase funding to 62% of the 2018/19 borrowing requirement." He said growing investor appetite for Eskom bonds was a concern.
 
In March, Moody's downgraded Eskom's credit ratings from B2 from B1, citing an absence of concrete plans to place its business on a sound financial footing. B2 is the fifth rung of sub-investment grade debt.
 
The current wage demands by unions are also adding to the firm's financial woes, with labour unions currently discussing Eskom's latest options of 7% and 7.5% increases, which were tabled after a round of bruising negotiations.
 
The firm initially offered no increases, citing its difficult financial position. Eskom and the unions were drawn to the negotiation table by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in a bid to avert a crippling strike by workers.
 
In June, the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) has approved R32.69bn for Eskom's multi-year price determination Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA) applications – funds Eskom must recover due to an electricity shortfall or an escalation in operating costs.
 
 
Source: News24
Shoprite's weak sales could indicate that Pick n Pay may be taking market share, an analyst believes. 
Shoprite posted turnover growth of only 3.3%, to R145.6 billion, on Wednesday morning.
Its share price was slaughtered on Wednesday.
Shoprite’s weak sales performance could indicate that the long-suffering Pick n Pay may be taking some of its market share, an analyst said on Wednesday.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, Shoprite reported a trading update for the year to end-June. Turnover rose only 3.3%, to R145.6 billion.
 
Gryphon research analyst and portfolio manager Casparus Treurnicht said the update shows that the past six months were clearly horrible for Shoprite.
 
The group previously reported turnover of 7.4% for the first half of the year, which means that turnover must have lost considerable momentum over the last six months.
 
By comparison, Pick n Pay’s South African sales grew by 8.0% in the three months to end-February. 
 
After bleeding customers in recent years, Pick n Pay has reduced its labour force by a tenth and streamlined operations. It has also invested in logistics and new stores, and within six months, over R1 billion had been extended to new Pick n Pay credit card holders. And in the past year, Pick n Pay invested R500 million in price cuts to become more competitive. 
 
"I believe Shoprite took some strain due to Pick and Pay getting more competitive but just as important, Shoprite suffering from a much weaker than expected economy," says Treurnicht. 
 
The trading environment is extremely tough, as is evident from Statistics SA latest retail sales number, also released on Wednesday: retail sales rose only 1.9% in the year to May.
 
Shoprite also faced hard times in some of its African markets. Its latest trading update had to account for the effect of hyperinflation in Angola. 
 
By late afternoon, Shoprite’s share price was down more than 5% to R208.89, though it recovered slightly to above R211. Treurnicht thinks that the share, which is still trading at a price-earnings ratio of more than 20 times, is still expensive.
 
“I think we’ll see the retail sector sell off in general but also Pick n Pay starting to outperform Shoprite. Pick n Pay grew sales between 5% and 5.5% consistently over each half for the last two years. It seems [Pick n Pay CEO Richard] Brasher has a clearly-defined strategy.”
 
 
Credit: Fin24

SBV is offering a R1 million reward for information on a cash-in-transit heist that left two guards dead in Tsolo, Eastern Cape, on Friday.

It said in a statement that it took exception to loss of life and was offering the reward for information that would lead to the successful arrest and conviction of those involved.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo previously told News24 that the guards were loading money at an ATM machine near a supermarket when a group of armed men pounced on them.

Naidoo said the suspects fled with an undisclosed amount of money in a hijacked van.

 

SBV said two of its guards were killed. The driver of the van was unharmed.

Counselling was being offered to those affected.

The company was also offering R100 000 rewards for information on heists that took place in Pietermaritzburg and Hammanskraal on Monday.

Security company Fidelity said on Saturday that despite figures indicating a reduction in cash-in-transit incidents during the month of June, it could be a different story for July.

"This week alone, there have been four cross pavement incidents and three vehicle attacks – one of these occurred in the Eastern Cape and two in Bloemfontein which is worrying as the crime could simply be dispersing into other areas," said Wahl Bartmann, CEO of Fidelity Security Group, in a statement.

Police officials on Friday welcomed the reduction of cash-in-transit robberies in the June figures, saying the implementation of the South African Police Service's nationwide stabilisation programme was paying off.

"These robberies have been reduced significantly by 61% in the month of June 2018, compared to the month of May 2018," Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole said in a joint statement.

More than 40 suspects had been arrested since June 4, 2018.

"Four of these suspects rank among the top 20 of identified suspects wanted for similar crimes," the statement read.

Cele and Sitole noted that despite the reduction in incidents, there had been several robberies and attempted robberies on cash-in-transit vehicles in the past week.

 

Source: News24

Domestic sales figures in June 1028 have exceeded industry expectations but export sales continue to disappoint, reports Naamsa.

Vehicles sales by the numbers

New vehicle sales at 46 678 units show an improvement of 1346 vehicles (3.0%) from the 45332 vehicles sold in June 2017.

Overall, export vehicle sales at 26 790 vehicles reflect a decline of 4805 units (-15.2%) compared to the 31 595 vehicles exported in June last year.

Industry break down

Overall, out of the total reported Industry sales of 46 678 vehicles, an estimated 38 498 units or 82.5% represent dealer sales, an estimated 11.0% represent sales to the vehicle rental Industry, 3.7% to industry corporate fleets and 2.8% to government.

Car sales

The new car market in June 2018 at 29886 units registered a marginal improvement of 1261 cars or a gain of 4.4% compared to the 28 625 new cars sold in June 2017. Naamsa said: "On the back of fleeting replenishment the car rental industry contribution had recovered substantially by 15.1% during the month."

Bakkie market

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses, at 14261 units, declined during June, 2018 by 58 units or 0.4% compared to the 14 319 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year.

Naamsa comments on June sales

Naamsa said: "The improvement in domestic sales, particularly new car sales, was encouraging given recent weak economic growth and investment numbers. It appeared that the new car market had been supported by improved business and consumer confidence.

"However, the decline in the leading indicator of the Reserve Bank over the past two months – suggested a challenging economic environment going forward. Normally new vehicle sales during the second half of a calendar year tended to show improvement on first half sales and this reinforced NAAMSA’s expectations of a modest annual improvement in 2018 domestic sales volumes compared to 2017.

The SA car market future

The organisation said: "Naamsa continued to project growth in export sales over the balance of the year. However, the industry’s export performance was likely to be affected by current protectionist policies in the United States which had increased the risk of a global trade war and this could impact on international trade flows, including vehicle exports."

Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission has said that economic challenges that prompted the VAT and fuel levy hikes announced in the budget could have been averted if the government had earlier demonstrated better management of the economy and clamped down on corruption. 
 
“Public and private sector corruption, according to the Auditor General, a fellow Chapter 9 Institution, costs the nation billions on an annual basis,” it said.
 
The commission, a national institution established to uphold constitutional democracy and human rights, said it believed a “significant portion” of the economic challenges facing SA could have been avoided had the state “demonstrated better management of the economy and demonstrated an intolerance toward corruption, inefficiency and maladministration”. 
 
In his maiden budget delivered on Wednesday, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that VAT would increase by one percentage point from 14% to 15%. 
 
The current zero-rating on foods including maize meal, brown bread, dried beans and rice would remain, and “limit the impact on the poorest households”. 
 
The SAHRC said it was “deeply concerned” that the VAT rate would go up, saying it was a tax that impacts the poor the most.
 
According to the budget, it is expected to bring in R22.9bn in additional revenue in the 2018/19 financial year. 
 
“Further, the SAHRC is also concerned with the increase in the fuel price through the introduction of a 52 cents per litre fuel levy,” it said. “This increase in fuel price particularly impacts on the poor as it affects the price of public transport and the price of goods as the vast majority of goods sold to the public are transported on the road.”
 
The commission also acknowledged that the budget was a “complex and difficult balancing act”, saying it was “fully aware” of the difficulties in limiting expenditure while collecting revenue through taxes and stimulating economic growth. 
 
Going up  
 
Gigaba had argued that the government was doing all it could to reduce the impact of the VAT hike on poor households, noting that the state was also boosting social grants payments and increasing the bottom three tax brackets.
 
He said plans to spend R57bn over three years on fee-free tertiary education for students with a family income below R350 000 per annum was another “important step forward in breaking the cycle of poverty and confronting youth unemployment”.
 
“Labour statistics show that unemployment is lowest for tertiary graduates,” he said.“Higher and further education and training is being made accessible to the children of workers and the poor.”
 
Source:News24
JOHANNESBURG - Old Mutual Plc returned to its South African roots on Tuesday when it listed its $11 billion African financial services business in Johannesburg, a move which largely completes a major overhaul of the company.
The 173-year old group has been disentangling its conglomerate structure created after a series of acquisitions since it moved its headquarters and primary listing to London in 1999.
Chief Executive Bruce Hemphill set the break-up in motion in 2016, saying the company’s four main businesses — a U.S. asset manager, a British wealth manager, an African financial services division and a South African bank — would achieve higher investor ratings as separate entities.
Old Mutual Plc’s African financial services business, Old Mutual Ltd, listed roughly 5 billion shares on Tuesday. They traded at 29.39 rand each during the session, valuing the company at roughly 145 billion rand ($10.7 billion).
Old Mutual Ltd, now the parent to what is left of Old Mutual plc, will also have a standard listing in London, and secondary listings on the stock exchanges of Malawi, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of Old Mutual Ltd’s employees, blowing green vuzuzelas and beating drums, danced through the streets of Johannesburg ahead of the listing.
“What’s most exciting about our listing as an independent, standalone entity is that it enables us to unlock shareholder value and create a business with a strong strategic focus on sub-Saharan Africa,” Old Mutual Ltd’s chief executive Peter Moyo said.
MUTUAL AID
Old Mutual, which traces its roots back to the mid-19th as South Africa’s first mutual aid society with 166 members, has already sold its U.S. asset management business and on Monday separately listed its U.K wealth arm, renamed Quilter.
 
The break-up is part of a growing global trend for conglomerates to hive off bits of their businesses, sometimes in response to pressure from activist investors.
 
General Electric said earlier on Tuesday it would spin out its healthcare business and sell its stake in oil firm Baker Hughes, leaving the U.S. company focused on jet engines, power plants and renewable energy
 
“The nice thing about this Old Mutual break up is that you now have a vehicle that’s purely emerging market, if you want to buy that, and another vehicle that’s purely UK,” Michael Treherne, a portfolio manager at Vestact, said.
 
Later this year, Old Mutual’s African business will spin off part of its 53 percent interest in South Africa’s fourth largest lender, Nedbank.
 
Old Mutual, which will retain a roughly 20 percent stake in Nedbank, bought into the bank in 1986 when it was forced by apartheid South Africa’s strict capital controls into being a major shareholder in several local companies.
 
The company’s head office in London will be wound down this year. It has been cutting staff in London since it first announced the demerger two years ago. Staff numbers in London are expected to fall to around 40 this year from 120, Old Mutual has said. 
- REUTERS 
In 2014, the South African government announced a new direction in housing policy. The aim was to phase out smaller low cost housing projects of a few hundred units and focus exclusively on megaprojects – new settlements made of multitudes of housing units combined with a host of social amenities.
 
Given the uneven access to housing that resulted from apartheid, housing delivery has been a major focus of since 1994. Government’s 20 year review - 1994 to 2014 - reported that 3.7 million subsidised housing opportunities were created, undoubtedly a remarkable achievement.
 
Nevertheless in 2014 the then Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, became extremely concerned that house production had been falling. And, a backlog of 2.3 million families remained. The Minister favoured megaprojects (also referred to as catalytic projects) as a way of getting delivery back on track.
 
Large human settlement projects weren’t entirely new to South Africa. Several were already at an advanced stage of construction in 2014. What was new in this announcement was the idea that all housing would be delivered exclusively through the construction of megaprojects across the country. From 2014 to 2017, the Department of Human Settlements developed a list of 48 catalytic projects which was finalised last year.
 
In a recently published academic paper we argue that the policy was underdeveloped. The megaprojects approach moved swiftly from announcement, to discussion documents and frameworks, to the creation of lists of large scale projects. Most of this process occurred behind closed doors, with little consultation. And there has been little space to examine the limitations of the megaprojects approach – as well as the merits of alternatives, such as smaller urban infill projects.
 
Nevertheless the paper attempts to account for the uptake of the megaprojects idea within the human settlements sector, and understand the motivations and agendas of those who promoted it.
 
Rationales for megaprojects:
 
In a broad sense megaprojects are glamorous because they are much more visible and impressive than diffuse small-scale projects. As a result, politicians can brand their delivery more effectively. Megaprojects convey a sense of decisive action in which the state can flex its muscle in big hit interventions.
 
South Africa is focusing on new megaprojects to address its housing gap but it’s being urged to look within existing cities. Shutterstock
More specifically, champions of the megaprojects approach believed that large scale projects could deliver more houses quicker. When announcing the policy in 2014, the then minister of human settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, stated that megaprojects would help deliver 1.5 million units by 2019.
 
Some advocates of the megaprojects approach, notably the Gauteng provincial government, were particularly attracted to the idea of creating whole new “post-apartheid cities” which could meet the “live, work and play” needs internally. Starting afresh with new settlements would be a way of designing urban spaces to avoid the inequalities and inefficiencies that beset existing cities. They would also bring major projects to poor areas that had little else to drive any significant economic growth.
 
Megaprojects were also intended to solve a variety of governance problems. In particular, it was extremely difficult to manage the 11 000 human settlement projects that were at various stages across the country. Consolidating these into just a few dozen projects was a way of focusing government’s attention and reducing administrative burdens and costs.
 
The megaprojects approach also seemed to be a way of managing the division of work and some of the tensions between different spheres of government and various departments. With some local authorities having taken on more responsibility for housing projects, national and provincial government considered megaprojects to be a way of bringing housing under more centralised management.
 
Concerns:
 
Some critics are less concerned about the scale of the projects than the fact that they could be poorly located. That’s largely because better located land is more expensive. In addition, there isn’t a great deal of well-located land that is large enough to accommodate new settlements of this scale.
 
The history of attempting to construct new towns shows how difficult it is to create new urban centres with enough jobs for the people who live there. There is a fear that megaprojects will be no different and once the construction jobs run out, residents would have to bear the cost of travelling long distances to jobs outside the settlement.
 
Megaprojects on the urban periphery are also counter to the plans expressed in a wide variety of policy documents to curb urban sprawl and densify existing cities. Peripheral locations also have other challenges. If new projects are located far from sewage, water, electricity and roads then these would have to be laid out great financial and environmental costs.
 
Other concerns have focused more directly on the huge scale of new projects. Big projects take many years to get off the ground, and so delivery can sometimes be suspended for a long time.
 
Towards a balanced policy:
 
In a recent parliamentary address, the new Minister of Human Settlements Noma-Indiya Mfeketo stated that catalytic projects “worth more than half a Trillion Rand” had been initiated. Yet she also announced that the budget had suffered a “massive cut” as a result of the fiscal challenges facing the state.
 
We believe that the moment should allow for some reflection on the now four year old megaprojects direction. This reflection should consider whether all housing should be delivered in megaprojects as originally intended by this policy, or whether a range of project sizes should be encouraged to facilitate, in particular, urban infill projects within existing urban areas.
 
Planned megaprojects should be evaluated with respect to their location, total cost to the state and long term sustainability. While some are reasonably accessible, others are peripheral, with marginal economic opportunities at best. South Africa cannot afford to construct housing in spaces that have few economic prospects and limited benefits for urban residents and the country.
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