Trade Winds Volume 63

Feb 20, 2024 Posted by: Abeyla Exports Trade Winds


Despite the many challenges of trade, Abeyla Exports continues to deliver a reliable import and export service to customers. Our success is built on relationships with our international and regional manufacturers to mitigate any quality issues and add value to your supply chain.

The mining sector faces uncertainty, and we are mindful of the pressing need, as traders, to provide even more value by saving costs and improving longevity of product wherever possible. Although there are always roadblocks, broken bridges and potholes to navigate and overcome, our strength is finding solutions, making it work, quickly – without the hassle, and with a smile at the end. 

For all your import requirements, from an independent, capable team, please email  


Fuel price hikes hit transporters. 

Price hikes in March are forecast because of rising international fuel prices (at around US $82 a barrel), meaning transporters will consider raising their prices.

In turn, this will ripple through the economy. Transporters face increasing challenges, needing to fund operations, rising fuel costs, delayed payment for services – sometimes by as long as three months, and border delays of several days or even weeks.

Flat Steel products hike

The base price for the following Flat Steel products will be increased for orders confirmed for delivery from 1 March 2024:

Hot Rolled Coil

– Hot Rolled increase by R250/ton

– “Vastrap” Floorplate increase by R250/ton

– Pickled and Oiled increase by R350/ton

Cold Rolled Coil

– Cold Rolled increase by R250/ton

Galvanised Coil 

– Galv – <0.3mm increase by R250/ton

– Galv – >0.3mm to <2mm increase by R250/ton

– Galv – ≥2mm increase by R250/ton

All price movements are exclusive of VAT.

Red Sea Crisis continues. 

Hundreds of vessels are still being forced to reroute around Africa – a 4,000-mile detour (to each journey) – as Houthi rebel attacks continue in the Red Sea. As a result, transport times and freight costs are rising by up to 40% and global container shipping has declined by almost 10%.

What’s the impact on supply chains?

As 30% of global container trade usually passes the Suez Canal, supply chain disruption is hurting business.

Are shipping costs affected?

Asia to Europe costs have surged nearly five-fold

China to US costs have more than doubled

By how much prices increase depends on how long the crisis continues. We need to wait and see if these rising transport costs will increase the prices of goods. For now, it is still too early to tell but we should have clarity in the second half of 2024. 

What’s the outlook?

Shipping costs may be higher than normal for some time. Fortunately, there is an excess of container ships globally, so once the disruptions end, shipping rates could normalize quickly.

1 billion US$ China Zimbabwe investment deal 

Chinese West International Holding and Labenmon Investors have sealed a US$1 billion two-phase agreement over 24 months, creating 5,000 jobs, to establish a building materials industrial park in Zimbabwe to increase local production of cement, glass, and high calcium white ash, reducing its dependency on imports.

Phase 1 construction

– a building materials industrial park in Karoi, Mashonaland West Province with a dry-process clinker cement production line with an annual output of 1.8 million Tonnes

– a 100MW generating unit for uninterrupted power supply

Phase 2 construction

– a grinding plant in Bulawayo, with an annual production capacity of 900,000 Tonnes

West International Holding has invested in similar deals in Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, and the DRC.

AMSA long steel unit open for 6 more months

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) is delaying closing its long steel business for 6 months to pursue initiatives with the government, state utilities, and workers, to try save the business and 3,500 jobs.

Measures to save the business include.

– a proposal to lift a scrap metal export ban because it hurts integrated steelmakers that process iron ore – such as AMSA. The industry is confident the ban will not return.

– talks with worker unions to freeze labor costs

– reducing costs by improving rail and port efficiencies

What is produced in AMSA’s long steel business?

Fencing material, rail, rods, and bars used in construction, mining, and manufacturing.

Why is it making a loss?

Low demand increased Chinese imports, and infrastructure challenges have increased costs.

More job losses for SA platinum industry

Rising costs and falling prices could cause up to 7,000 job cuts as SA’s platinum group metals (PGM) industry looks to restructure. SA produces around 70% of the world’s platinum, but prices fell by a quarter (15%) last year, mainly because of weak Chinese demand.

The sector relies heavily on automakers using PGMs to reduce exhaust emissions. There is a lot of uncertainty as electric vehicles become more popular – especially with production ramping up in China. Lower demand is made worse with the high costs of deep mining (especially when prices are low because of weak demand). High electricity and labor costs are also adding to these issues.

South Africa / USA relationship becomes fragile. 

SA’s close ties with China, Russia, and Hamas (declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Iran proxy by the US) are straining its US relationship. As concern grows that it is no longer ‘non-aligned’ globally, the ‘US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act’ will review if SA activities undermine US interests. This means the SA/US relationship could change dramatically.

Why does this matter?

The US is one of SA’s top 3 trading partners, giving exporters duty-free access to one of the biggest markets in the world (through the African Growth and Opportunity Act. US companies have large investments providing thousands of much-needed jobs. 

Zimbabwe / UAE trade on the up 

Trade continues to boom since both countries signed a tax treaty in 2018 (Bilateral Promotion and Protection of Investments Agreement). Trade increased by 1 billion US Dollar in 2023 – totaling $3 billion (up from $2bn in 2022).

28 UAE companies have set up shop in Zimbabwe, deepening economic ties in transport / logistics, agriculture, and climate change prevention. Zimbabwean exports include precious stones and pearls, tobacco, macadamia nuts, bananas, avocados and berries. In signs that trade will increase, the Zimbabwe Embassy in Abu Dhabi announced a Dubai Consulate will soon open. The agreement also enables Zimbabwe to explore other markets including Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

That’s it for this edition, thanks for reading!