General region overview
Africa's confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers are quickly rising, as testing increases. This includes South Africa and Egypt, which represent New Zealand's key export markets on the continent. See this dashboard by Africa's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for live updates.
Economic impacts are expected to be significant for those countries with economies reliant on industrial commodities, particularly oil (Nigeria), as well as tourism (Egypt). The lag impact of China's COVID-19 response, given China's significance as a two-way trade partner across African markets, will also have an ongoing effect.
There are a number of other risks for the continent overall, particularly given the reliance on imported foodstuffs and medical/pharmaceutical products. Looking further out, the risk of reduced remittances from expatriate African nationals impacted by work reductions or job losses could have consequences for disposable incomes across Africa.
What can be challenging cross-border difficulties in the best of times may be exacerbated, and companies should work closely with their shipping agents to understand expectations and risk for product entering the market, particularly consignments requiring land border crossings to land-locked countries.
To date there have been no reported impacts at key ports, although with increasing quarantine measures applying to vessels and crew, this needs to be carefully watched.
For manufacturing exporters, a likely reduction in key specialised expatriate staff who have been repatriated to their home countries could have implications for technical, after-sales support or other areas. It's important for companies to review and understand the implication of these. Keeping close engagement with channel partners and distributors is critical at this time.
The ability for African countries to service high levels of debt, as well as maintaining foreign exchange availability, may have impacts for New Zealand exporters in coming weeks.