General region overview
Key African export markets for New Zealand, including South Africa and Egypt, have been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
Remittances are also an important source of financial inflow for several Sub-Saharan African countries. As a result of the global recession and job losses, these are expected to drop in 2020, posing a significant economic challenge to countries in Africa that depend on them.
There are a number of other risks for the continent overall, particularly given the reliance on imported foodstuffs and medical/pharmaceutical products.
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 the long run.