Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 19, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • IBSA to increase trade to US $ 15 billion

  • Kenya police intercept illegal sugar imports

  • IBSA plans joint naval exercise

  • Swedes undertake survey of Lake Victoria

  • US Africa Command deploys USS Fort McHenry to Gulf of Guinea

  • Somalia: forced entry and detention of staff prompts UN agency to suspend aid

  • Pic of the day – MOL CALEDON

    IBSA to increase trade to US $ 15 billion

    by David Masango and Sholain Govender (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 18 October 2007 – India, Brazil and South Africa have committed to increasing trade amongst themselves to US$15 billion by 2010.

    In addition, the leaders of the three countries have urged business and industry players to be more ambitious and to exceed that target.

    This emerged from the second India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Heads of State Summit that concluded on Wednesday.

    President Thabo Mbeki, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's President Lula da Silva led high-ranking delegations to the Summit to discuss a wide range of issues.

    These ranged from cooperation aimed at poverty eradication and development; further enhancing political and trade relations amongst the three countries and developments with regard to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations and the conclusion of the Doha Development Round, amongst others.

    During the Summit, the three Heads of State also received reports from representatives of the various IBSA working groups including business, academics, the Parliamentary forum, civil society forum and the women's forum.

    They also supported the establishment of two additional working groups on Human Settlement Development and on Environmental and Climate Change.

    In addition the three countries signed new agreements on cultural cooperation, cooperation in health and medicine, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on social issues, higher education, tax administration and wind resources.

    Speaking to reporters following the meeting, the three leaders concurred that the meeting was fruitful and constructive.

    "We all agree that the meeting was successful," said President Mbeki, adding that the signing of agreements further consolidated the trilateral cooperation.

    He said the Tshwane IBSA Declaration, following the summit, gave a "comprehensive picture on matter on which we have been focusing."

    "We were pleased to listen to the various working groups and we are impressed with the work that is being done," he said.

    Mr Mbeki highlighted that IBSA had set up a fund to assist other developing countries, particularly the poorest, such as Guinea-Bissau.

    "We set up the fund so that our pooled resources can contribute in countries poorest than us, to help them develop," he explained.

    Prime Minister Singh explained that the discussions "showed that there was a convergence of views" in many areas.

    He expressed his happiness that the discussions had been "very fruitful and constructive" and that the meeting had deliberated on how the three countries could pool all their resources for their collective benefit.

    Amongst the similarities that the three countries shared, Mr Singh explained that each had also established creative social development initiatives to uplift the lives if its people.

    "IBSA is a unique model of trans-national cooperation. We come from three different continents but we share the same views.

    "We also held very constructive discussions on the Doha Development Round of talks and it is important that we remain committed to achieve balanced, equitable outcome of this process," he said.

    President da Silva said the future success of agreements signed at this summit would be due to the political and ideological symmetry of the three countries, as well as the trust that exists between the leaders and staff.

    He said there was a great affinity amongst the IBSA states and that the countries had common interests, objectives and "we want the best for our people."

    "We know what we want. We know how to achieve that and we know that we can do much more than what we have achieved already," said President da Silva in his closing statements.

    He added that each country should aim to build a participatory model to encourage involvement and interaction of all the people.

    Kenya police intercept illegal sugar imports

    Acting on a tip-off, Kenya police swooped on a consignment of containers loaded with sugar which was imported into the East African country from the United Arab Emirates.

    The sugar with an estimated market value of US$512,000 had been loaded into 25 containers that entered the country through the Mombasa Container Terminal in February this year, but have so far remained uncleared. Each container had 25 tons of sugar packed into 500 x 50kg bags giving a total of 25,000 tonnes of counterfeit sugar, marked as being the product of a local sugar distributor.

    According to police sources the sugar originated in Brazil but was shipped from the UAE where it had presumably been re-packed into bags bearing the Kenya company labels. It is believed the tip-off came from the Kenyan company after it learned of the arrival of counterfeit cargo and advised the police.

    It seems the syndicate importing the sugar intended clearing the cargo from the container terminal using forged documents. Documents stated that the cargo was in transit for Uganda, in an apparent attempt to avoid a 100 percent duty payable on imported sugar.

    A spokesman for the local sugar distributor said the counterfeit cargo went a long way in explaining why the company had been experiencing a drastic reduction in sales.

    Police are continuing with the investigation.

    source – The Nation

    IBSA plans joint naval exercise

    It hasn’t been all trade and business at this week’s second India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) summit being held in Pretoria (see report above). The three countries confirmed earlier reports of a joint naval exercise that will be held in South African waters next year, involving ships from the navies of the three countries.

    A defence agreement involving India, Brazil and South Africa was expected to be among various agreements signed before the summit ended, but what can be confirmed is that ships of the three nations will conduct joint exercises off the Cape coast in May 2008.

    The IBSA naval exercise will close off a hectic start for 2008 by the South African Navy, with visits by ships of the German Navy followed by ships from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay taking part in the annual Atlasur exercises off South Africa early next year.

    These will be followed by the IBSA exercise which also constitutes an interesting ‘foil’ to increasing interest in African waters by NATO forces, particularly those of the United States intent on establishing a US Africa Command centre (AFRICOM) in African waters. The US also recently established Southeast Africa Task Group, which has the stated goal of building strong partnerships with southeast African nations and promoting maritime safety and security initiatives, but is seen as being part of the larger AFRICOM project.

    While AFRICOM is headquartered in Germany the intention is to establish a US presence in Africa, in particular in the region of the Gulf of Guinea giving the force strategic access to oil-producing regions from West Africa through to Angola.

    The US is also thought to be concerned at the growing influence of China in Africa, after China has made considerable investment in recent years.

    Swedes undertake survey of Lake Victoria

    A US$1.5 million survey of Lake Victoria is being undertaken by the Swedish company Marin Matteknik, according to Nairobi’s Business Daily.

    The survey follows concern at the rising number of accidents on the lake because of a lack of accurate charts indicating rocky outcrops, turbulent currents and areas of water hyacinth infestation. The survey forms part of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission that aims at opening the lake to private investors.

    The East African Legislative Assembly is reported to be preparing a transport Bill aimed at governing the entry of transport sector investors. The aim behind the survey is to create safe movement of cargo and people on the lake, which will have immediate benefit for lake users and also for the movement of cargo from the port of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam to landlocked Rwanda and Burundi.

    Surveys in the Mwanza area of Tanzania on the southern edge of Lake Victoria have been completed and further surveys will now commence in the regions of Belle in Uganda and Kisumu port on the Kenyan side.

    The newspaper reports that the last proper survey was conducted on Lake Victoria in 1901.

    source – Business Daily (Nairobi)

    US Africa Command deploys USS Fort McHenry to Gulf of Guinea

    USS Fort McHenry (LSD43) dock landing ship. Pic US Navy

    by Donna Miles (American Forces Press Service)

    Washington, 15 October 2007 – USS Fort McHenry was due to leave Little Creek, Va., on Tuesday (16 October) for a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea that the chief of US Africa Command said will exemplify how his new command will operate.

    The amphibious dock landing ship will serve as a platform for the Africa Partnership Station Initiative, which aims to work cooperatively with US and international partners in promoting maritime security in Western Africa, Army Gen. William E ‘Kip’ Ward told Pentagon reporters.

    USS Fort McHenry will sail to Spain to take on passengers from several European partners – Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Germany, among them – before heading to the Gulf of Guinea, explained Navy Adm. Henry G. ‘Harry’ Ulrich III, commander of US Naval Forces Europe.

    Its full complement will include representatives of US and partner nations’ government agencies and non-governmental organisations, all working together to help African nations increase their ability to provide maritime security.

    In addition to the US military, US agencies to participate will be the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, US Agency for International Development, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and US Coast Guard, Ulrich said.

    HSV2 SWIFT, when the vessel appeared in Durban during November 2003 while on her delivery voyage to the US Navy from the builders in Australia. Picture Terry Hutson

    The High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift will join USS Fort McHenry in the Gulf of Guinea, where it will transport students as well as trainers during visits to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroun, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, he said.

    Training teams will focus on a broad range of areas, including maritime domain awareness, leadership, seamanship and navigation, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, civil engineering and logistics.

    Support provided will vary between visits, said Ward. He emphasised that the Africa Partnership Station Initiative and AFRICOM as a whole will strive to help African countries build capacity, "Those things that are within our means to do, we look forward in working with the African nations in providing that kind of assistance."

    The new initiiative "provides a good example of what the newly established US Africa Command is all about as it relates to helping our pertnet nations on the continent of Africa build their capacity to better govern their spaces (and) to have more effect in providing for the security of their people," he said.

    In addition, Ward said, the Africa Partnership Station Initiative will help globalise African economies and develop societies for the betterment of their people.

    AFRICOM declared itself to have initial operating capability by 1 October and began bringing the military's activities on the continent under its umbrella.

    Ward said the command will give a 'consolidated focus' to work currently being conducted by three combatant commnds. US Central Command, US Pacific Command and US European Command.

    "As we work over the source of the coming weeks and months to stand up the command, we are focused on building the team that will cause value added to be brought to the various programs we do on the continent," he said.

    Ward said AFRICOM will reinforce efforts under way "by creating a greater synergy of the entirety of the ork being done."

    source - Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State

    Somalia: forced entry and detention of staff prompts UN agency to suspend aid

    Ban Ki-moon

    The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food distribution in the Somali capital after Government forces invaded the UN compound in Mogadishu yesterday (Thursday) and abducted the local head of the agency in a move immediately condemned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    According to WFP, the incident took place yesterday morning at 8:15 local time, when between 50 and 60 armed members of the Somali National Security Service (NSS) entered the UN compound in an unauthorised manner, over the protests of UN staff members.

    No shots were fired but WFP’s officer-in-charge, Idris Osman, was taken away at gunpoint. He is currently being held in a cell at NSS headquarters near the presidential palace.

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the incursion and called for Mr Osman’s “immediate and unconditional release,” in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

    “Today’s actions are in flagrant violation of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunity to which the Somali government formally committed in the January 2006 agreement,” Mr. Ban declared, while reminding the Transitional Federal Government of its obligation to protect all UN staff members and property.

    In light of Mr Osman’s detention and the need to safeguard its staff, WFP says it has been forced to immediately suspend a food distribution programme that began in Mogadishu on Monday.

    The programme – the agency’s first distribution in the Somali capital since June – sought to provide food to more than 75,000 people through local mosques.

    The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that this comes at a time when more than 1.5 million Somalis need assistance and protection – a 50 per cent increase since the beginning of the year.

    Inadequate rainfall, as well as continuing internal displacements and a possible cholera epidemic, has led to a deteriorating food security situation in central and southern Somalia.

    Pic of the day – MOL CALEDON

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    One of six container vessels on the SAECS service, recently increased in number to seven, the 4,900-TEU MOL CALEDON (the former P&O Nedlloyd LIVINGSTONE) seen at Cape Town in March 2007. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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