Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, shares highlights in his update on agricultural commodity markets.

Key wheat importers in sub-Saharan African region

Yesterday (16 April 2018), we indicated that sub-Saharan Africa’s 2017/2018 wheat imports could reach 26 million tons, up by 18% from the previous season (2016/2017). The leading wheat importers within the sub-Saharan African region are Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, with imports estimated at 5.1 million tons, 2.5 million tons, 1.9 million tons, 1.7 million tons, 1.3 million tons and 700 000 tons, respectively (see chart below).

Chart: Key wheat importers in sub-Saharan African region Source: USDA, IGC, Agbiz Research

In the case of South Africa, the 2017/2018 marketing year’s wheat imports currently stand at 1.2 million tons, which equates to 63% of the seasonal import forecast of 1.9 million tons. In the past few weeks, however, the imports were sluggish. The last consignment was received in the week ending 16 March 2018.

The slow import activity was either partially influenced by the delays in wheat tariff adjustments or mainly weak demand, or both. The wheat import tariff triggered to R394.85 per ton on 13 February 2018, which is a 45% decline from the previous rate of R716.33 per ton, but was only published in the Government Gazette to make it official on 6 April 2018.

The week ending 13 April 2018 was the first with the tariff at the new rate of R394.85 per ton. SAGIS will release the weekly trade data for this week (ending 20 April 2018) at midday, which should give us a sense of whether a relatively lower import tariff will stimulate imports or could remain sluggish for some time.

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