Editor’s Note: February 26, 2019

Reality is catching up with Britain’s post-Brexit Africa fantasy

South Africa has said it is close to signing an interim trade agreement with the UK, replicating arrangements with the EU, just over four weeks ahead Britain’s date with destiny on March 29th.

The announcement is part of Downing Street’s plan to roll over existing EU trade agreements with African countries.

It’s a far cry from talk about a new Africa-wide trade deal that has been part of Britain’s post-Brexit narrative. Once liberated from the shackles of EU membership, the story goes, the UK will be free to strike nimble and innovative deals with the continent.

This sounds like a distant memory, and in light of the chaos surrounding its EU exit, now resembles fantasy. Even the limited ambition of a wholesale rolling over existing trade treatieslooks doubtful.

A more realistic scenario is that Britain will eventually strike deals with a few countries on the continent, led by South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. It’s anyone’s guess how long this will take, and the UK is already playing catch up.

Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Belgium are among the countries that export more to Africa – nevermind the likes of China. The irony of Germany and France being the second and third biggest exporters to the continent in 2017 is also hard to ignore.

From The Continent

Initial results from Nigeria’s presidential election indicate that incumbent Muhammadu Buhari is on course to secure a second term, prompting allegations of vote ‘manipulation’ by the main opposition. Final results are expected between Tuesday and Wednesday. More: BBC

Mobile telecom tower infrastructure company Helios Towers hopes to build 1,000 towers in South Africa in the next three years, a month after announcing it was entering the market.The company is also active in Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Republic of Congo. More: Bloomberg

The Daily Stat


Tunisia’s trade deficit in December 2018, a new record. More: Reuters

The Global Perspective

U.S. president Donald Trump on Monday announced a deadline extension for Washington and Beijing to reach a trade agreement, raising hopes for and an end to a trade war that has dampened an already gloomy outlook for emerging markets including South Africa.The news lifted the rand, and could be a boon for other countries on the continent weighed down by concerns about global trade tensions. More: Reuters

BSG Resources, the mining group controlled by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz, is to walk away from Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project as part of a settlement ending a dispute with the country’s government. Simandou is one of the world’s biggest undeveloped iron ore deposits, with potential annual production capacity of 150m tons. More: Bloomberg

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