The three big stories of the week have been that: China and the US seem to be on their way to the first phase of trade agreements to mitigate the trade war; President Trump’s impeachment enquiry is heating up; and President Ramaphosa is focusing on gaining investment for South Africa.
- China and the US have agreed to roll back tariffs in phases as they work toward a deal to end the trade war. Global markets have ticked up over the last few weeks in anticipation of this.
- President Trump’s impeachment inquiry is intensifying, and it is stirring discontent within his administration. Two senior aides, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone are clashing over who should direct President Trump’s defence.
- The Washington Post reported that President Trump asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference to publicly declare that Trump broke no laws in his telephone call with the Ukraine leader – to which Barr refused.
- While the US prepares to leave the Paris Agreement officially, China and France have increased their commitment to combating the climate crisis, saying that the agreement is an “irreversible process” and a “compass for strong action on the climate”.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa held his second investment summit since becoming President, at the Sandton convention centre, this week. He started the conference by giving an update on the commitments received last year — of the 31 projects announced in 2018, eight have been completed, while 17 are in construction or at the implementation stage. This represents R238 billion out of the R301 billion in investment commitments received last year.
- Furthermore, the President made progress to his goal of receiving R1 trillion in new investments over five years. He received pledges of R363 billion at this year’s conference — with a further R8 billion awaiting regulatory and board approvals.
- After the news of Moody’s rating reprieve South African government bonds and the rand rebounded. Moody’s kept the country’s investment-grade credit rating intact but adjusted their view to negative. This was in line with our widely-held view, but our concern is that the downgrade reprieve may only last until February’s budget.
- South African consumer confidence has sunk to the weakest level since the fourth quarter of 2017. The consumer-confidence index fell to -7 in the third quarter from 5 in the previous three-month period.
- Ex-President Jacob Zuma has been accused of lying to the Zondo Commission by Themba Maseko. Maseko has said that he was removed from his post because he resisted the Gupta’s advances, Zuma testified the opposite.
- Additionally, Zuma has lost his application to appeal a defamation judgement in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Zuma must apologise to Derek Hanekom, an ANC veteran, for a tweet where Zuma called Hanekom a “known enemy agent”.