Djibouti and China have agreed to build a $3.5bn free trade zone Africa’s biggest free-trade zone in the Horn of Africa nation. The zone, one of several new port and trade facilities being developed by Djibouti, will span an area of 4,800 hectares. The zone will be jointly operated by Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority and China’s Merchants Holdings company. The zone which will house manufacturing and warehouse facilities, an export-processing area and a services centre, is expected to handle trade worth $7 billion within two years, and create 15,000 jobs when complete. Djibouti – which is also the site of China’s only overseas military base – is a critical part of China’s “Belt and Road” global infrastructure initiative and in a prime position along what has been dubbed the “Maritime Silk Road”.
South African retailer Steinhoff has wiped off $12bn in charges related to accounting irregularities discovered last year. The write-down is the latest setback for the multinational retailer, which has been fighting to stay afloat since it revealed holes in its accounts last December that wiped $15bn off its market value. The company, which grew rapidly from a small local furniture outfit to a multinational retailer, said 10.2bn euros ($12bn) of charges related mostly to overstated profits, asset values and transactions having to be reversed.
Glencore has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice to hand over documents related to corruption and money laundering charges. The documents relate to the company’s business in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela from 2007 to the present. The world’s biggest commodity trader’s shares plunged as much as 13% before writing off some of the losses, wiping up to £6.7bn ($8.8bn) off the company’s market value. This was more than half the $14.8bn of profit the company made last year. It’s been a tumultuous year for Glencore, mostly due to challenges linked to its business in the Congo, where it operates giant copper and cobalt mines. The Swiss trader and miner is already facing the possibility of a bribery by UK prosecutors over its work with Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire and close friend of Congo President Joseph Kabila.