South Africa had to outperform and outsmart its competitors in the scramble for the UK market, he said.
“This calls for careful negotiations. It must also be kept in mind that the future of Brexit is still in the balance, given the recent decision by the UK’s High Court that the decision to exit the EU had to be tabled in parliament. The court found the cabinet’s decision to that effect insufficient and ordered the matter to be decided upon by parliament,” Willemse said.
This followed an announcement by Mr Rob Davies, SA minister for trade and industry, that South Africa saw opportunities to sell more of its agricultural produce to the UK under a post-Brexit trade agreement.
Davies reportedly said that the UK was less “sensitive” than some southern European countries, which saw South Africa as a competitor. South Africa might improve its access, particularly wine and fruit, to the UK market in the medium and longer term.
Willemse said that exports of SA citrus to the EU, for example, had been periodically blocked in recent years due to objections from citrus producers in Spain. This might change in a post-Brexit UK.
He added that UK post-Brexit offered a potential market for poultry imports from South Africa. The bottom line nevertheless remained that SA needed to address the matter in a professional and convincing manner, outsmarting its competitors.