Posts Tagged ‘BRICS News’

Black Friday more popular in South Africa than Cyber Monday

Transaction value rose by 8.4 per cent y/y to R2.5 billion ($183 million) on Black Friday

Is the South African economy on the rise again? [Xinhua]

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are American shopping “inventions”, South Africans did not follow American behavior slavishly as in the US, Cyber Monday had a higher online transaction value than Black Friday, whereas in South Africa Black Friday was more popular than Cyber Monday.

In another sign of the recovery in the South African economy, the value of transactions on Black Friday rose by 8.4 per cent year-on-year (y/y) or more than 3.5 per cent faster than inflation to R2.5 billion according to figures released by BankservAfrica, Africa’s largest automated payments clearing house. The volume processed was twice the daily average.

“The sheer size and value of the transactions processed during Black Friday, and the growth experienced on 2016’s figures, reflects the success of this annual shopper’s day,” said Chris Hamilton, CEO of BankservAfrica.

According to BankservAfrica’s figures, 260,552 transactions were cleared on Black Friday compared with Cyber Monday’s 129 458. The most expensive transaction for Black Friday was valued at just over R1 million. For Cyber Monday, this was R663 041.

By Helmo Preuss in Cape Town for The BRICS Post

Erdogan, Putin concerned about Mideast stability

Putin is to meet with Erdogan on Monday to discuss the issue of Jerusalem and Middle East tensions [Xinhua]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday Washington of further instability if the US embassy is moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last week, US President Donald Trump reversed decades of foreign policy and declared his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. He also signed an executive order to move the embassy there.

There are currently no embassies in Jerusalem as the international community considers it a disputed city with its final status only decided by agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

During a UN Security Council meeting on Friday, 14 of 15 members criticized Trump’s decision leaving US ambassador Nikki Haley having to defend her president’s position.

The other 14 members, including major US allies, reiterated their support for a peace agreement based on the territories of 1967. East Jerusalem, they said, should be part of a Palestinian state.

Erdogan and Putin said Trump’s declaration threatens peace efforts. The two leaders said they had serious concerns about the future of the region and feared further escalation, a statement from the Kremlin said.

Erdogan said that declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital was a “red line” for the Muslim world.

The Turkish President, who is the current chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said he would try and consolidate a unified Muslim response to the declaration.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Putin discussed the crisis during a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Putin is expected to raise the issue with his Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during his scheduled visit to Cairo on Monday.

He is also expected to make a stop in Turkey to discuss the status of Jerusalem.

The United Nations, European Union, and other organization have criticized Trump’s declaration.

China, meanwhile, reiterated its backing of the decades-old Middle East peace process and said it supported the “just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate rights and interests”.

Beijing said that “China supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty and independence on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

South African final demand surges 3.6% in Q3

South African GDP growth held back by inventory depletion as resurgent demand outpaces ability to deliver the goods  

File photo: The Mall of Africa in Midrand, near Johannesburg, South Africa [Xinhua]

South African final demand, which is the demand from households, government, fixed capital formation and net exports, but excluding the change in inventories, surged by 3.6 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter (q/q) seasonally adjusted annualised (saa) basis in the third quarter after a 2.9 per cent gain in the second quarter.

There was, however, inventory depletion amounting to R5.527 billion ($403 million) in the third quarter after a R5.767 billion ($420 million) addition in the second quarter. The R11.294 billion ($823 million) swing in inventories meant that gross domestic product (GDP) growth saw a 1.5 percentage point subtraction purely from the change in inventories.

As any good economist will tell you, one should look at final demand to assess the strength of an economy, even if it is GDP growth that dominates the headlines.

Inventory replenishment and surging net exports were supposed to be the drivers of economic growth this year, but it now seems as if domestic households, which account for some 60 per cent of economic activity, are joining the party as well.

In both August and September, real retail sales grew by 5.4 per cent year-on-year (y/y), which was the highest y/y increase since May 2013.

This brought the increase for the third quarter to 4.1 per cent y/y, almost double the 2.2 per cent y/y rise seen in the second quarter. The recovery in consumer demand was not confined to retail sales as new vehicle sales have shown a y/y increase from June to November with November sales up 7.2 per cent y/y.

The surprise in the third quarter data was that there was recovery in gross fixed capital formation given the fact that business confidence is so low given policy uncertainty, ratings downgrades to junk status and two very unpopular cabinet reshuffle that led foreign investors to question the wisdom of the government and whether it knows what it is doing.

After a 2.0 per cent  q/q saa drop in the second quarter there was a 4.3 per cent rebound in the third quarter.

This was the strongest quarterly increase in fixed capital formation since the third quarter 2015 and brought the decline in gross fixed capital formation in the first nine months to only 0.2 per cent y/y compared with a Treasury forecast of 0.6 per cent for the full year made by Treasury in October.

Treasury had anticipated only subdued domestic demand with household consumption only expected to grow by 1.0 per cent this year. Instead, household consumption expanded by 1.4 per cent in the first nine months, which is why wholesalers and retailers had to deplete their inventories to satisfy burgeoning demand.

That demand surge was based on solid income advances, as the compensation of employees grew by a nominal 7.9 per cent y/y in the third quarter from a 7.1 per cent y/y gain in the second quarter and only a 6.8 per cent y/y rise in the first quarter.

The bottom line is that the South African economy has exited recession and is on its way to surprising most economists with its renewed vigour.

Helmo Preuss in Cape Town, South Africa for The BRICS Post

Children’s progress in South Africa stalled – report

There are far fewer children living under poverty in South Africa, the Child Gauge 2017 report found [Xinhua]

A new report from South Africa’s Children’s Institute is raising alarm bells that development of children in the country appears to be lagging behind.

The South African Child Gauge, published in Cape Town every year since 2005, monitors the progress of children in the country with particular emphasis on their rights.

This year, the report warned that violence against children remained widespread in South Africa.

Its research revealed that 33 per cent of children under 18 are victims of sexual violence and abuse.

This feeds into aggression, anti-social behavior and further violence.

The report stated that

“Violence has inter-generational consequences, as children who experience violence are at higher risk of victimisation
and perpetration – including adopting harsh or violent parenting practices. Violence against children cost South Africa an estimated R239 [$17] billion – or 6 per cent of the gross domestic product – in 2015.”

The report goes on to say that education has largely under-served South African children with 27 per cent under five years of age classified as stunted.

Fifty-eight per cent cannot read fluently. This is of particular importance since it “undermines [children’s] chances of receiving a quality education and minimizes their opportunities for employment and active engagement in society”.

But there are positives.

The study found that since 2003, the number of children living under the ultra-poverty line fell from 43 to 12 per cent. By the same token, the number of children living under the standard of “upper bound” poverty line fell from 79 to 62 per cent.

In terms of development, more children than ever before were going to primary school while 68 per cent had access to clean and adequate water in their homes.

“Survival rates have improved too, and the under-five mortality rate dropped from 81 to 37 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2003 and 2015,” the report added.

The BRICS Post

Russia hosts Eurasian SCO meeting

China and Russia have fat-tracked their cooperation and alliance in recent years. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will meet on the sidelines of the SCO Meeting in Sochi November 30, 2017 [Xinhua]

The 16th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which opens in the Russian port city of Sochi on Thursday, will look at global economic recovery, regional security and counter-terrorism efforts among its Eurasian members.

The SCO was founded in 2001, built on the foundations of a former organization – the Shanghai Five – and currently includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan.

India and Pakistan, formerly only observers in the SCO, joined as full members in June 2017.

Indian Foreign (External Affairs) Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Sochi on Wednesday night, and is likely to press Delhi’s calls for tighter cooperation among members to combat transnational terrorism.

Last week, India marked the ninth anniversary of the Mumbai terrorist attacks which left 170 people dead.

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Moscow on Wednesday and also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin before heading to Sochi.

Li told reporters that both China and Russia will play a constructive role to “strengthen communication and coordination on international affairs, and cement cooperation within multilateral frameworks including the SCO”.

China-Russia cooperation has great potential and broad prospects, added Li.

Putin said he hopes that China and Russia can increase their win-win cooperation.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will lead Russia’s delegation at the Sochi SCO meetings.

Meanwhile, the SCO Council – which has increasing embraced strategic economic cooperation in addition to security – is likely to consider new membership applications.

Iran, which maintains strong ties with founders China and Russia, is close to achieving full membership

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

China accuses US of unfair anti-dumping measures

China has repeatedly accused the US of straining their vast economic relationship through a slew of anti-dumping measures [Xinhua]

Beijing has again criticized the US for its recent anti-dumping investigations on general aluminum alloy sheets imported from China.

“China is strongly discontent with the trade protectionism tendency shown in the U.S. move,” a statement from the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, US media reported that the Trump administration had taken the unusual step of initiating an anti-dumping probe into these Chinese exports despite not having been prodded by American companies and industries.

The move appears to follow criticism voiced by US President Donald Trump of what he said were unfair Chinese trade policies.

Just a month ago, Beijing accused Washington of distorting reality after Washington slapped penalties of up to 243 per cent on aluminum imports from China.

The US Commerce Department has been imposing such punitive measures against Chinese exports for some time.

In July 2014, it moved against Chinese exports of photo-voltaic products after a petition filed by Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries.

A few months later, the Commerce Department accused China of exporting the industrial compound Melamine far below fair value prices in US markets.

China’s Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged the United States to abide by its commitment against protectionism and work with China to maintain a free, open and just trade environment.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Bill Gates receives top science honor in China

Bill Gates has dedicated millions to helping farmers around the world with new farming innovations. In this file photo, new research by scientists at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) shows that China consumed 162,000 tons of antibiotics in 2013, or more than half of the global total. About 52 percent was used on livestock and 48 percent by humans. More than 50,000 tons ended up in the water and soil [Xinhua]

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and at one time the richest man in the world, was honored with one of China’s highest academic honors on Monday.

The Chinese Academy of Engineering, a state body and of the two leading advisory think tanks, elected Gates among 18 foreign academics for lifetime membership in the organization.

He is the only non-academic picked to the membership which is usually focused on scientists and engineers.

The 18 were chosen from a list of over 500 candidates and will be expected to inspire and work with young people to innovate in the scientific and social sciences fields.

Since leaving Microsoft’s role of Chairman in 2014, Gates has dedicated his time to charity and development work. He has recently been involved in building a “smart city” in Arizona and Toronto, Canada.

He has also donated millions to vaccination drives around the world, including in Uttar Pradesh in India.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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