Trade restrictions – what is essential cargo?
The 21-day lockdown period in South Africa is having a major impact on international trade, in particular, as confusion reigns over the operation of the ports throughout this period.
Initial regulations were that only ‘essential’ cargo would be handled – what is deemed essential cargo?
Every export container must be treated as ‘essential’ cargo as, exports, are not only creators of employment, but also assist in bringing foreign currency into SA, which we dearly need!
We have our wine exporters to consider, who have only 2 weeks left to complete their harvest, however, current legislation prohibits the export of wine, leaving the industry in a conundrum. This can have a ripple effect on the economy as 290000 lives are dependent on this sector alone! Let alone the yield of over R9bn boost to the economy!
There are many manufactures in the same position, one example is the 2nd biggest employer in Atlantis (near Cape Town), mainly focusing on exports; as the ports are only accepting ‘essential’ cargo for export, they may as well shut their doors, with the resultant loss of jobs and the impact on the struggling Atlantis economy.
Importers face a similar dilemma, as orders that were already shipped prior to the lockdown period, and on the water, now on arrival at their SA port of discharge, are no longer allowed to receive their cargo, as again, only ‘essential cargo, is allowed to be discharged, cleared and delivered! Even more confusion reigns, as nobody knows what happens to the containers of non-essential goods – a complete grey area!
Note: On Thursday 2 April, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition announced relaxation of some measures related to cargo. For details, see https://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/cargo-ships-airfreight-port-regulations-relaxed
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