Archives for category: Emerging Markets

A recent report released by the World Economic Forum  says that border administration and infrastructure are the biggest problem to international trade.

Reducing supply chain barriers to trade could increase GDP by nearly 5% and trade by 15%

If every country improved just two key supply chain barriers – border administration and transport and communications infrastructure and related services – even halfway to the world’s best practices, global GDP could increase by US$ 2.6 trillion (4.7%) and exports by US$ 1.6 trillion (14.5%). For comparison, completely eliminating tariffs could increase global GDP by US$ 0.4 trillion (0.7%) and exports by US$ 1.1 trillion (10.1%). The estimates of the impact of barrier reduction are conservative; they reflect improvements in only two of four major supply chain categories.

Why is lowering barriers so effective? The reason is that it eliminates resource waste, whereas abolishing tariffs mainly reallocates resources. Moreover, the gains from reducing barriers are more evenly distributed among nations than the gains from eliminating tariffs.

Of course, reducing supply chain barriers requires investment, while tariff reductions require only the stroke of a pen. However, many barriers can be traced to regulation. Detailed analysis can enable policymakers to prioritize the investments that are most critical and cost-efficient.

Tariffs are of course very important (see figure).

Source: WEF (2013)

Source: WEF (2013)

But removing supply-chain barriers would be even more successful, especially  in Africa (click on the image to enlarge).

Source: WEF (2013

Source: WEF (2013

Ernst & Young’s recent “Africa Attractiveness Survey” (pdf) shows that 2012 was a rather disappointing year for foreign direct investment in Africa. But digging more into the data leaves some space for optimism. Some excerpts from the report (click to enlarge):

Ernst & Young "Africa Attractiveness Report"

Ernst & Young “Africa Attractiveness Survey”

 At face value, 2012 was a disappointing year, in that it reversed the year-on-year growth we experienced in 2011, and somewhat dampened our expectations of steady growth in FDI projects. Having said that, we do need to put these trends in perspective:

  • Globally, greenfield projects were down by over 15% year on year in 2012, so the background is one of decline across the board.
  • In this context, Africa’s proportional share of global greenfield projects actually grew, continuing a trend that has seen this share grow, in the course of a decade, from 3.5% of the global total in 2003 to 5.6% in 2012.
  • It is also worth noting that the 764 new greenfield projects this year is still higher than the 678 in 2010, and significantly higher than anything that preceded the peak of 2008.

The geographical origin of FDIs in Africa is experiencing major changes:

Investment from developed markets in particular was disappointing.  Although FDI projects from the UK grew, those from the US and France, the other two leading developed market investors in Africa, were considerably down. In contrast, greenfield investments from emerging markets into Africa grew once again in 2012, continuing the trend of the past three years. In the period since 2007, this category of investment from emerging markets into Africa has grown at a healthy compound rate of over 20.7%, in comparison to investment from developed markets, which has grown at only 8.4%.

Intra-African investment has been particularly impressive over this period since 2007, growing at a 32.5% compound rate. (…) This underlines a broader trend of growing confidence and optimism among Africans themselves about the continent’s progress and future.

Other figures in the report show that -as we’ve often said in this blog- manufacturing in Africa has stagnated over the last decade. However several countries could reach a middle income status by 2025

Source: Ernst & Young

Source: Ernst & Young

Source: Ernst & Young

Source: Ernst & Young

The African Statistical Journal has an interesting paper by John C. Anyanwu on the driving factors of male employment in African countries. The journal -published by the African Development Bank- is available for free here (pdf). Some interesting facts:

 Fact 1 – There is a substantial variation in male and female employment ratios across African countries. The difference is particularly evident if we compare oil-exporting and North African countries with smaller Sub Saharan African economies. The latter tend to have higher employment ratios for both the male and female population.

 

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

Fact 2 – In some African countries, male employment decreased between 1991 and 2010

The author argues that the decline has been particularly intense in some countries such as Niger, Be­nin, Rwanda, Lesotho, Burundi and our beloved Kenya.

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

One of these days I’ll have to sit down and try to understand some of these dynamics. For example, Rwanda -the “super star” of the Doing Business Reports - has done so bad in terms of employment, while Zimbabwe – land of the highly criticized indigenisation law - is one of the best performers? I guess there is a number of historical and contextual factors to take into consideration. If you have quick thoughts or further questions please share them in the comment section.

Fact 3 – The data from 1991 and 2009 show an U-shaped correlation between male employment ratio and GDP per capita

 

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

Source: Anyanwu (2013)

 

The paper uses employment data from the ILO and the World Bank –which are probably the most reliable sources currently available – but we should be always highly suspicious when it comes to employment stats in African countries. Informality is too widespread, and employment happens far too often outside the radar of government institutions and statistical agencies. Not long ago, Shanta Devarajan called it the African Statistical Tragedy. Should we therefore discard the arguments in the paper?

Although the stats might not be extremely accurate, I think that the trends could be right, especially if we consider how economic growth is happening in most parts of Africa. As I said in my last post, growth is happening without a structural transformation of the economies towards labour-intensive sectors. In particular, the manufacturing sector, which absorbs large part of the labour force in most emerging economies, is not expanding in most parts of Africa. But more research is definitely needed in this field.

The full paper is here.

Just like I did last year, this morning I played around with data on imports and exports from the Kenya Bureau of Statistics. Understanding the trends of international trade in Kenya is extremely important – as I have said a hundred times in this blog, the imbalance between imports and exports is one of the major weaknesses of the Kenyan economy and one of the root causes for macroeconomic volatility. So, what is Kenya exporting to the outside world? What are the major export destinations?  How about imports?  Are they still growing faster than the exports?

Let me say in advance that here I am showing some basic figures. If you want to know more about imports and exports for specific commodities (tea, fruits, flowers, etc) in specific months you can find very detailed data here. So, let’s  take a look at imports first  (Click on the images to enlarge).

Kenya - Major origin of imports in 2011-2012

Kenya - Imports by broad economic category

The two graphs show two very interesting trends. First, India has officially outgrown China and the UAE as the major importer to Kenya. The value of imports from the UAE has decreased because the Kenyan Shilling has gained strength and therefore its oil bill has gone down significantly. When it comes to China and India, I would like to see an analysis of the political economy behind these trends.   Which African countries are “going Indian” and why? And is this trend relevant only for trade or also in terms of foreign direct investments? A recent article on The Star explained the trend in these terms:

Analysts say India has managed to clinch the lion’s share of Kenya’s import volumes because of, among others, the prevailing cordial foreign policy between the two countries since Kenya gained independence, relatively cheaper goods, quality, and proximity of its ports to Kenya.

The main imports from India include textiles, petroleum products obtained from bituminous minerals (other than crude), medical equipment and drugs, pharmaceuticals, flat-rolled iron and non-alloy steel products, electrical goods, food-processing machinery, special purpose motor vehicles and trucks among others.

“There are quite a number of factors why Kenya is importing more from India. For instance, you will realise that many products on sale in Kenyan retail stores – such as textiles (garments) – come from India. They are cheaper and as we know, Kenyan consumers are sensitive to price, making these a top choice,” said Tiberius Barasa, the executive director of the Centre for Policy Research, a governance and public policy analysis think-tank.

If you know of any paper on this issue please leave it in the comment section.

The second trend is that imports in the broad economic categories have gone up substantially between 2011 and 2012, but we cannot say the same about exports, which remained stagnant over the two-years period. What I find more worrying is that exports to the East African region have decreased (look at Uganda and Tanzania) or increased slightly (Rwanda).

The East African has an interesting analysis on the stagnation of Kenyan exports over the last decade. At the regional level, Kenya is growing as a major importer, but definitely not as an exporter:

Kenya’s standing as East Africa’s trade giant is under threat from neighbouring nations with fresh data showing the growth rate of its exports to the region has been declining over the past eight years.

…The study shows that Kenya’s contribution to total intra-EAC exports declined from 78.3 per cent in 2005 to 57.2 per cent in 2010, although its contribution to total intra-EAC trade increased from 7.5 per cent in 2005 to 16.7 per cent in 2010 on the back of increased imports.

Comparatively, Tanzania and Uganda’s contributions to total intra-EAC trade increased sharply from 6.6 and 4.2 per cent in 2005 to 20.67 and 19.2 per cent respectively in 2010, taking up the share that Kenya lost. On imports, however, Tanzania and Uganda have lost ground.

Tanzania’s contribution to intra-EAC imports declined from 22.4 per cent in 2005 to 18.9 in 2010 while Uganda’s dipped from 70.1 per cent in 2005 to 36.9 per cent in 2010.

Kenya - Exports by broad economic category in 2012

Kenya - major export destinations in 2011-2012

Interesting new paper by Bruce Blonigen from the University of Oregon:

Industrial policies (IPs) include such varying practices as production subsidies, export subsidies, and import protection, and are commonly used by countries to promote targeted sectors. However, such policies can have significant impacts on sectors other than those targeted by the IPs, particularly when the target sector produces goods that are key inputs to downstream sectors. Surprisingly, there has been little systematic analysis of how IPs in targeted sectors affect other sectors of the economy. Using a new hand-collected database of steel-sector IP use in major steel-producing countries from 1975 through 2000, this paper examines whether steel-sector IPs have a significant impact on the export competitiveness of the country’s other manufacturing sectors, particularly those that are significant downstream users of steel. I find that a one-standard-deviation increase in IP presence leads to a 3.6% decline in export competitiveness for an average downstream manufacturing sector. But this effect can be as high as 50% decline for sectors that use steel as an input most intensively. These general negative effects of IPs are primarily due to export subsidies and non-tariff barriers, particularly in less-developed countries.

The Kenyan government provides some support to the few steel industries in the country; as far as I know, it is mostly in the form of cheaper (or free) electricity and water. But that of course does little against growing international competition, especially from India and China. So the sector has stagnated: most firms have not expanded in any significant way, some have ceased their operations. (More info on this document, PDF).

The steel sector was (and still is) considered crucial for industrialization in China, so the government has protected it with heavy tariffs and subsidies. If I was the next President of Kenya, I would work day and night to find a market-friendly way to support innovation in this sector. I would definitely not let it collapse.

HT Circle Bastiat

Lorenzo Rotunno, a PhD student at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, together with Vézina and Wang, wrote an interesting paper (pdf) questioning the effectiveness of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Their argument is that far from being a trade policy success, AGOA turned Africa into a trade corridor for Chinese firms circumventing US import quotas.

The core point here is about how stringent the Rules of Origin (ROO) should be – ROO basically determine how much value addition has to take place in the country in order to fall under the AGOA trade agreement. Rotunno et al argue that Chinese firms had a ‘symbolic’ presence in Africa – very little value addition was taking place in the region. US officials strongly denied these claims, saying that a minimum of 35% value addition has to take place in the region:

If China had invested in a factory in Mauritius or Lesotho and the company is producing apparel with Chinese investment and inputs but meeting all the rules of origin requirements and shipping to the US, that would not be transhipment. Transhipment would be where the apparel was being produced in China and sent to Lesotho where they illegally sew in a label that says ‘Made in Lesotho’ and then shipped it to the US.

The ROO are a major headache for trade agreements in SS Africa. The problem is that stringent ROO requirements squeeze out local exporters, who are usually unable to source their inputs domestically. On the other hand, if ROO are abolished, then there are problems like the ones discussed in Rotunno et al’s article. Africa-EU trade agreements are facing very similar issues.

Interesting new article by MIT professor Yasheng Wang in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (ungated pdf here)

There are two prevailing explanations of what caused China’s rate of economic growth to take off. The first view gives the pride of place to globalization. According to this view, Chinese growth started when Deng Xiaoping liberalized trade and foreign investments by setting up special economic zones in the in the coastal provinces. In this view, China’s export-oriented manufacturing, largely foreign-funded, employed millions of rural migrants, boosted their income, and reduced poverty far and wide. The second perspective emphasizes the importance of internal reforms—especially in rural, interior regions—of the agricultural pricing system, land contracting, and the entry of rural businesses known as township and village enterprises.

Huang argues that township and village enterprises were the key to China’s take-off

 … the economic contributions of foreign investments do not remotely match those of China’s rural industry. At their peak, firms funded by foreign capital employed 18 million people (in 2010). By contrast, at their trough in 1978, township and village enterprises employed 28 million people. Between 1978 and 1988 China’s poverty headcount declined by 154 million, by far the most impressive  record during China’s three decades of reforms.

And he dismantles some “myths” about China’s village enterprises

 Many China scholars believe that township and village enterprises have a distinct ownership structure—that they are owned and operated by local governments rather than by private entrepreneurs. That these firms could be so dynamic and efficient, yet government-owned, is often treated as a paradox in the economics literature.

But my own historical narrative—formulated on the basis of voluminous government and bank documents and data from the 1980s—directly contradicts this heterodox interpretation of Chinese reforms. I will show that township and village enterprises from the inception have been private and that China undertook significant and meaningful financial liberalization at the very start of reforms.

Source (PDF)

What has happened in the global wine industry is extremely interesting from a development point of view because the latecomers in the international market have radically changed how wine is produced, sold and consumed.

Up to the end of the 1980s, ‘Old World’ (OW) countries, and particularly France and Italy, dominated the international wine market. Since the beginning of the 1990s, their supremacy has been challenged by new international players, who are recording spectacular performance in terms of both exported volumes and values. These ‘New World’ (NW) countries include affluent frontrunners that are relatively new to the wine sector, such as USA and Australia, and less developed but rapidly growing latecomers such as Chile, Argentina and South Africa.

Roberta Rabellotti, professor of economics at the University of Pavia, argues that the spectacular performance of emerging markets is not explainable with the traditional “catching-up theories” of development. Rather, things changed thanks to the opening-up of new windows of opportunity in the industry.

 the traditional catching-up theories fall short in explaining what has occurred in the global wine industry, as they treat developing countries as non-innovators and contend that their catching up is possible essentially through the import of frontier technologies and/or organizational business models from the advanced forerunner countries (Abramovitz, 1986). As opposed to this, what has happened in the wine industry is an excellent empirical illustration of Perez and Soete’s (1988) windows of opportunities opening up for lagging countries at times of relevant discontinuities.

  a first significant window of opportunity in the sector opened up in the 1970s, as UK regulations changed and allowed supermarkets to retail wine, giving rise to a new market dominated by the baby-boomers. This new market boosted Australian wine production and exports and was followed by a radical transformation in wine demand, which included consumers from countries where wine has never been a traditional beverage, such the UK, the USA and the European Nordic countries.

 … While most of the rhetoric about innovation systems in developing and emerging countries is that weak linkages characterize them, what has happened in the wine industry shows the opposite. Both in Chile, Argentina and South Africa firms have managed to create a web of relations that has positively affected the sector’s product and process upgrading. Besides universities, intermediary bodies play a role in connecting firms to new technological knowledge.

Full article

We mentioned several times that Kenya has a huge problem with its current account deficit (the country’s imports are way larger than its exports) and this was one of the main causes of last year’s massive depreciation of the Kenyan Shilling. What can Kenya do about it?

Wolfgang Fengler suggests a three-pronged strategy: a) Increase exports b) Encourage long-term capital inflows c) Get a share of China’s manufacturing jobs (over the next decade)

In order to balance its current account, Kenya would have to more than double the volume of its three top exports—tea, tourism and horticulture. In addition, Kenya is vulnerable to shocks, like increasing oil prices.  Oil is one of Kenya’s top imports, and the oil import bill alone rose from $2.7 billion in 2010 to $4.1 billion in 2011, further weakening Kenya’s fragile current account.  A large current account deficit does not automatically translate into a falling currency, so long as capital inflows fill the gap. But in Kenya, capital inflows have increasingly been short-term (by contrast to Foreign Direct Investment which finances factories and offices). Short-term capital can leave a country as fast as it comes, and this uncertainty is an additional source of fragility for the national currency. [..]

Kenya’s first engine—domestic consumption—which is fuelling vibrant service and construction sectors, has always been strong. But the second engine—exports—needs to perform better. If not, Kenya will continue to operate below potential, for years to come.

What products could Kenya realistically export? Picking winners is typically not a good idea. The government needs to provide the conditions—such as infrastructure, the rule of law, and basic social services—for businesses to thrive, but not run them. At the same time, it is clear that Kenya needs to move into new products, because it cannot grow rich on tea and flowers alone. The natural starting point is manufacturing.Kenya has a good location and a skilled labor force, which is rapidly urbanizing. The global manufacturing market is also changing. Today, Asia is the world’s workshop, producing almost everything from clothes, shoes, toys and increasingly cars. But Asia’s economic success translates into higher wages, and many manufacturing jobs will soon leave its emerging economies. The World Bank projects that 85 million manufacturing jobs will leave China over the next decade. Where will these jobs go? Can Kenya get a share?

More here

Wolfgang Fengler, the lead economist for Kenya at the World Bank, writes in the excellent Africa Can .. End Poverty

Kenya could be the first EAC country to reach Middle Income status by 2020, but only if it achieves its potential of about 6 percent uninterrupted economic growth.  However, if Kenya’s economy only grows at 3.7 percent (the average of the last decade), the train will likely be overtaken by Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the next ten years. Middle income status would still be possible, but only by 2037.

Today, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have per-capita incomes of around US$ 550, substantially below Kenya’s.  If past trends continue, Kenya would still be ahead in 2020 but the gap would gradually narrow (see table) and by 2022, Rwanda would take first place soon followed by Tanzania and Uganda.

[...]

Today, the EAC [East African Community] is one of the fastest growing regions in the world.  If Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda maintain their ongoing growth momentum and if Kenya accelerates, all four countries will reach Middle Income status within the next ten years. For the first time since independence, sustainable development appears possible for East Africa, even for countries that started off from very difficult positions.

Here’s the full post. Interesting throughout.

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