Promoting and protecting the industry’s trade interests
The International Affairs Department within the External Affairs Division is responsible for promoting and protecting the industry’s trade interests regionally and abroad. This is done through monitoring and evaluation of government’s negotiating agenda as pursued in bilateral, regional and multilateral trade arrangements. In response, the department is required to develop industry positions that seek to secure the sustainability of the South African sugar industry through trade.
The sugar industry is both a strategic and a sensitive industry. This position is reflected in the SADC Trade Protocol wherein sugar is afforded a special trade dispensation through Annex VII of the Protocol. Annex VII (also known as the Sugar Cooperation Agreement), was established with the intention of increasing cooperation and support for sugar producers within the SADC region. In addition, it provides for:
- Market access into Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) in the form of duty-free sugar quotas allocated each year to non-SACU SADC surplus sugar producing countries, and
- Cooperation in areas of common interest between SADC sugar producing countries with the aim of developing efficient and competitive sugar industries in the region. It has also allowed for the creation of a SADC Technical Committee on Sugar (TCS) whose responsibility is to monitor the implementation Annex VII.
World Market Context
Despite the industry’s production efficiencies, it operates within the context of a highly distorted world market, characterised by subsidy-induced overproduction in a number of major sugar-producing countries. The department keeps abreast of international developments with a view to strategically positioning South Africa.