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Kwanalu

The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Marktoegang-ellende vererger met Namibië, Botswana-verbod op SA groente | Market access woes worsen with Namibia, Botswana bans on SA veges

English to follow:

19 Augustus 2022

Agri SA het aan die Minister van Landbou, Grondhervorming en Landelike Ontwikkeling, Thoko Didiza, geskryf om haar dringende ingryping te versoek nadat Botswana en Namibië eensydig opgetree het en keer dat ‘n aantal Suid-Afrikaanse landboukommoditeite hul grense binnekom. Met werksgeleenthede en inkomste op die spel, moet die regering onmiddellik reageer op hierdie ongeregverdigde optrede wat in stryd is met die Suider-Afrikaanse Doeaneunie-ooreenkoms.

Die verbod sluit tans onder meer tamaties, aartappels, beet, kool en gekleurde soetrissies in.

Die optrede van Botswana en Namibië is veral ekstreem omdat dit nie spruit uit enige oortreding deur Suid-Afrikaanse boere nie. Hierdie lande beskerm hulle eie plaaslike produksie én voort te gaan om hul produkte na Suid-Afrika uit te voer. Hierdie is nie ‘n korttermyn-maatreël nie. Die regering van Botswana beplan om die verbod oor twee jaar te hersien, en het reeds aangedui dat hierdie hersiening waarskynlik die lys van beskermde produkte sal uitbrei en nie verminder nie.

Die Suid-Afrikaanse regering moet onmiddellik optree om hierdie skadelike tendens te stuit en om te keer. Indien die regering nie die ommekeer van hierdie eensydige verbod kan verseker nie, doen Agri SA ‘n beroep op die regering om wederkerige maatreëls in werking te stel en verdere stappe te wat nodig is om plaaslike boere te beskerm. Dit sluit in die moontlike staking van betalings aan hierdie lande uit die Gemeenskaplike Inkomstepoel (die fonds wat bestaan uit alle doeane, aksyns en bykomende belastings wat in die Gemeenskaplike Doeane-gebied ingesamel word) totdat die grense heropen word vir Suid-Afrikaanse kommoditeite.

Ongelukkig, ten spyte van die bedreiging wat die verbod vir die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie inhou, het die Landbouhandelsforum geen reaksie gehad op sy versoeke vir ‘n afspraak by die Departement van Landbou, Grondhervorming en Landelike Ontwikkeling (DALRRD) nie. Dit is diep kommerwekkend gegewe die implikasies van die ongeregverdigde verbod.

Suid-Afrikaanse boere staar reeds geweldige mededingende uitdagings in die gesig omdat die nasionale minimum loon van R23,19 die arbeidskoste in Namibië en Botswana teen onderskeidelik R12,23 en R5,05 oorskry. Die bykomende ontberinge wat die verbod op SuidAfrikaanse boere plaas, skend die letter en die gees van die Suider-Afrikaanse Doeane-unieooreenkomste.

Agri SA het ook bewus geword van beweerde pogings om Suid-Afrikaanse boere aan te moedig om bedrywighede na hierdie buurlande te verskuif, en as hierdie verbod ‘n voorloper van die agenda is, moet Suid-Afrika optree om plaaslike bedrywighede en werksgeleenthede te beskerm.

Suid-Afrika was tot op hede nog traag om op te tree deur te eis dat SADU-lidlande aan die ooreenkoms voldoen. Dit is ten spyte daarvan dat die Tuta Absoluta-plaag deur produkte uit Botswana aan Suid-Afrika oorgedra is. Die feit dat Suid-Afrika se akkommoderende benadering tot ooreenkoms begroet is met ‘n skadelike verbod, vereis daadwerklike optrede deur die Suid-Afrikaanse regering.

Dit is noodsaaklik dat DALRRD as ‘n saak van dringendheid met die Landbouhandelsforum vergader en dat dit gepaste stappe doen voordat die landbousektor onherstelbare skade ly.

Navrae

Christo van der Rheede

Agri SA, Uitvoerende Direkteur

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19 August 2022

Agri SA has written to Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development Thoko Didiza to request her urgent intervention after Botswana and Namibia took unilateral action to block a number of South African agricultural commodities from entering their borders. With the jobs and revenue at stake, government must immediately respond to this unjustified action in violation of the Southern Africa Customs Union Agreement.

The bans currently include tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot, cabbage, and coloured peppers amongst other commodities.

The actions by Botswana and Namibia are particularly egregious as they do not stem from any wrongdoing by South African farmers. Rather, these countries have cited the need to protect their own local production even as they continue to export their produce to South Africa. And this is not a short-term measure. The government of Botswana only plans to review the bans in two years, and it has already indicated that this review will likely expand – not reduce – the list of protected products.

The South African government must therefore act immediately to arrest and reverse this damaging trend. If government cannot secure the reversal of these unilateral bans, Agri SA is calling on government to implement reciprocal measures and take such further action as is necessary to protect local farmers. This includes the possible halting of payments to these countries from the Common Revenue Pool (the fund consisting of all customs, excise and additional duties collected in the Common Customs Area) until the borders are re-opened to South African commodities.

Unfortunately, despite the threat the bans pose to the South African economy, the Agricultural Trade Forum has had no response to its requests for engagement with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). This is deeply worrying given the implications of these unjustified bans.

South African farmers already faces immense competitive challenges as the national minimum wage of R23,19 far exceeds the labour costs in Namibia and Botswana at R12,23 and R5,05 respectively. The additional hardship the bans put on South African farmers violate the letter and the spirit of the Southern Africa Customs Union Agreements.

Agri SA has also become aware of alleged efforts to encourage South African farmers to shift operations to these neighboring countries, and if these bans are in furtherance of this agenda, South Africa must act to protect local operations and local jobs.

South Africa has to date been slow to act in demanding that SACU member states comply with the Agreement. This has been so even as produce from Botswana has introduced the Tuta Absoluta pest to South Africa. That our accommodating approach to the Agreement has been met with these harmful bans demands a response from the South African government.

It is imperative that DALRRD meets with the Agricultural Trade Forum as a matter of urgency, and that it takes appropriate action before the agricultural sector suffers irreparable damage.

Media Enquiries:

Christo van der Rheede

Agri SA, Executive Director