Working Papers

South Africa’s agricultural trading relationship with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS)

South Africa’s agricultural trading relationship with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS)

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19 Aug 2015

Author(s): Tumelo Modiba, Khothatso Mofolo, William Mwanza and Ron Sandrey

The objective of this paper is to analyse the Southern African Customs Union’s (SACU) agricultural trading relationship with particular focus on South Africa’s dominant trading position vis-à-vis the rest of SACU member states, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS). Aggregate trade data for the first section of the paper was sourced from the International Trade Centre (ITC), while for the second section of the paper, the trade data that was used was sourced both from the ITC and from the SACU Secretariat. All data is expressed in rand (millions) and relative market shares.

South Africa’s aggregate exports to the SACU region steadily increased from R80.6 billion in 2010 to R131.3 billion in 2014 and recording a 62.9% growth over the period. Its aggregate imports from SACU similarly increased from R18.3 billion in 2010 to R29.6 billion in 2014, recording a 61.5% growth over the period. The agricultural products in the top 25 listing of exports to SACU were maize, sugar, wheat, cigarettes and juices, with maize, sugar and wheat accounting for 6.5%, 5.3% and 4.4% respectively in 2014.

South Africa’s top three imports from SACU were odoriferous mixtures, diamonds and chemical industry products, totalling R3.5 billion, R2.4 billion and R2.0 billion respectively in 2014. Within the top 25 there were the agricultural products of sugar, beer, beef, sugar confectionery, live cattle, and sheep and goat meat. Total agricultural imports from SACU increased from R5.1 billion in 2010 to R6.5 billion in 2014, representing a 28% growth over the period. Sugar ranked the highest followed by beer and beef.

Intra-BLNS agricultural trade is extremely limited. Namibia exports some beer to both Botswana and Lesotho and imports some beef from Botswana. Lesotho has virtually zero exports to the other BLNS partners but imports cotton from Botswana. Botswana imports various products in minor amounts from Namibia, while Swaziland is not actively involved with the BLNS partners. 


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