New support system is key in addressing SA’s export barriers
The South African Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) has launched the Export Barriers Monitoring Mechanism (EBMM) that will put South Africa in a strong position to provide the type of consistent, ongoing support that is needed to continuously improve the country’s export environment.
The dtic’s Deputy Director-General of Export Development, Promotion and Outward Investments, Ms Lerato Mataboge, said the fundamental aim of EBMM is to make the government’s support to exporters facing barriers more effective, more flexible, and more accessible.
According to Mataboge, by creating a systematic approach to monitoring these barriers, the government can develop a long-term agenda to target the most important export barriers. She said by addressing each individual barrier, government can begin to manage each problem with the level of nuance and detail needed for these complex challenges.
“During an initial pilot project, 28 key export barriers were processed by the EBMM and during the initial phase of the national lockdown, the EBMM methodology was used to process 76 barriers related to COVID-19. From today, the EBMM is open to any firm that encounters an export barrier of any kind, whether locally or in any foreign market. We strongly encourage you to tell us whenever you encounter a challenge, no matter how big or small,” Mataboge said.
Mataboge added that in 2018, South African exporters faced an estimated 154,571 unique customs requirements worldwide. She said over the last ten years, 23,795 new or amended technical barriers to trade have been registered with the World Trade Organisation; while over the same period 13,364 sanitary and phytosanitary barriers were registered or amended.
“While our priority must be to work progressively to smooth these barriers, the experience of the last decade of trade has demonstrated that we need to be prepared to manage this growing complexity. Increasingly, a key component of global competitiveness will be how we manage a constantly changing global trading environment. Managing this environment will only be possible through a close working partnership between the government and the private sector,” noted Mataboge.
Speaking at the same launch, the Executive Director of the South African Electrotechnical Export Council, Ms Chiboni Evans, highlighted the importance of maximising content and projects in the African continent, and the important role played by export barriers in reducing competitiveness in the region.
“Persistent logistics barriers meant that transporting goods by road took longer from all our major cities to mines in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It was then easy for these countries to import goods from Asia, Americas and Europe rather than waiting on South Africa,” said Evans.
Highlighting previous experiences of partnering with the dtic to resolve export barriers, Ms Evans noted that a lot of the barriers to export can only be resolved by the private sector working together with government. She added that this new mechanism will assist greatly in opening up government support to a much broader spectrum of private sector individuals.
About the Export Barriers Monitoring Mechanism
The EBMM is a single channel for companies to report and receive assistance in resolving export barriers. It will be part of a comprehensive programme of work to address the non-tariff barriers that stifle regional trade.
According to the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Fikile Majola, the EBMM is open to all companies that require assistance in overcoming export challenges. It is able to assist with barriers encountered locally and in foreign markets. Companies reporting to the EBMM will receive dedicated government support, with a comprehensive resolution strategy developed for each individual barrier.
“While the EBMM is open to receive barriers encountered in all markets, it will have a particular focus on smoothing trade with the rest of Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers unprecedented opportunities on the continent, and building a conducive environment for the movement of goods in the region is key to unlocking the potential of the agreement,” says Majola.